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Monday 08 November 2010


Proclamations of the Red Queen

28th September 2010

“Bishop” Eddie Long: Brian’s Shepherd Goes Astray…???

Posted by: Craig Young

I’ve been monitoring the Bishop Eddie Long story for about five years, since I first realised that there were some profound parallels between Long and his New Zealand counterpart, “Bishop” Brian Tamaki and his Destiny Church flock. Some early observers of Destiny Church suggested that it was in the Maori religious mainstream, but I question that. There’s a discernable Maori political mainstream, and it centres on cultural, linguistic, religious and philosophical reconstruction and renaissance, as well as questions of resource ownership. Tamaki may appeal to urban Maori morehu, alienated from the land and culture, unable to speak te reo, but he is mostly distrusted by iwi-based Maori, as proven by the rejection of his successive political vehicles, the Destiny Party and Family Party, within Maori electorates.

If Tamaki doesn’t belong to the Maori cultural and religious mainstream, then where does he get his pulling power from? How did Destiny Church become a megachurch? The answers would seem to be more within the Pentecostal tradition that Tamaki professes. According to Sara Diamond, longtime US Christian Right observer, there’s a phenomenon called “shepherding”, which seems to act as a form of networking and mentoring within Pentecostal megachurches. Some time ago, I suggested that Bishop Eddie Long was Brian Tamaki’s ’shepherd’ and I see no reason to change that view. If anything, it has been reinforced by successive events on both sides of the Western Hemisphere.

Consider this. Long campaigned against same-sex marriage proper from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Therefore, Tamaki organises the “Enough is Enough” march fiasco in August 2004, alienating mainstream New Zealand from opposition to civil unions. Long has an inhouse ‘exgay’ group, so Tamaki started up “Spiritfilled Sexuality”, of which little else has been heard.  It’s not just the ‘prosperity gospel’, although that theme of personal enrichment plays a role within both sects. Unfortunately for Brian, his South Auckland parishioners may have the economies of scale to provide Hannah and he with a lavish lifestyle, although the recession must be adversely affecting the practice of rackrent ‘titheing’ that goes on within Pentecostal prosperity gospel sects, particularly within economically deprived areas that were close to the breadline. Such is the case within Long’s own upmarket Lithonia, Atlanta upmarket African-American suburb, and they are reportedly experiencing mortgage defaults at a record level.

Where does Long’s purported ‘fall from grace’ fit into this? Pentecostal megachurches are centred on their celebrity preachers, who derive funds from the faithful, and in times of severe recession, there is liable to be economic turmoil as the financial demands on the flock become too onerous. As a consquence, faultlines begin to develop within the sects, and if there is evidence of financial or sexual shortcomings (or abuse) on the part of the pivotal figure or her or his entourage, then the cards may come tumbling down. In the case of Long’s sexual harrassment scandal, three young African-American male parishioners allege that he has had gay sex with him and they are sueing Long for millions of dollars.  One hopes that Brian Tamaki watches and learns from the unfolding crisis in Georgia.

Not Recommended:

Destiny Church: http://www.destinychurch.org.nz

New Birth Missionary Baptist: http://www.newbirth.org

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

27th September 2010

Auckland: Family First and “Value Your Vote”

Posted by: Craig Young

As they did at our last general election, fundamentalist pressure group “Family First” has done a survey of mayoral opinion on a range of issues. They submitted questions to Banks, Andrew Williams, Len Brown, Colin Craig and Simon Prast about affordable housing, liquor outlets, ’suggestive’ billboards, brothels and soliciting, loan sharks, Rates GST rises, gambling and public nudity.

For once, Family First actually seems to be expressing concern about issues that affect real New Zealand families, like secure housing needs, loan shark profiteering, rates affordability, liquor regulation and problem gambling. However, I do think we should be concerned at their pontifications against brothels and street sex work, which have been legal activities since the Prostitution Law Reform Act was passed in 2003; as well as ‘public nudity’ when it comes to prospective gay street marches as a freedom of expression issue.

How did the candidates do? I was quite concerned at Andrew Williams and Colin Craig when it came to the above questions of sex work and freedom of expression, as well as Brown, although I was encouraged to see Banks and Brown stand up for freedom of expression when it came to street marches.  However, otherwise, Brown seems to be the most liberal contender. As for Prast, his P/crystal meth use has probably torpedoed his prospects.

I take it that Auckland doesn’t want a repetition of the Mills/Hay bully pulpit era of the mid-nineties. In that case, I’d suggest not voting for either Andrew Williams or Colin Craig particularly. They seem far too risky.

See: http://www.valueyourvote.org.nz

→ 1 CommentTags: Politics · Religion

23rd September 2010

Florida: Lesbian/Gay Adoption Ban Overturned!

Posted by: Craig Young

Thanks to the mischief-making of fallen US Christian Right seventies icon Anita Bryant, Florida banned eligible lesbian and gay adoptive parents from assuming parental responsibilities to children in need. However, Miami’s Third District Court of Appeal has overturned the ban, and what’s more ex-Republican and State Governor Charlie Crist agrees with them, arguing that the Florida State Supreme Court is unlikely to reverse the decision.

The decision was unanimous (3-0), and according to the Miami Herald, the following rationale was advanced:

“Given a total ban on adoption by homosexual persons, one might expect that this reflected a legislative judgment that homosexual persons are, as a group, unfit to be parents,” the opinion states. “No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument.

“To the contrary, the parties agree ‘that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.’ “

Frank Gill and his partner adopted two male children in 2009 after fostering them for several years and was the adoptive parent at the centre of the appeal. The Florida American Civil Liberties Union has welcomed the decision, although it will have to proceed to the Florida State Supreme Court for further deliberation.

 Postscript: Meanwhile, according to CNN, two Florida lesbians, Jennifer Haseman and Hilary Jovi, have started proceedings to adopt a child of their own with Family Services of Metro Orlando, Florida’s state adoption agency.

Recommended:

Carol Miller: “Crist won’t enforce Florida gay adoption ban after ruling” Miami Herald: 22.09.2010: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/09/22/1836822/floridas-gay-adoption-ban-ruled.html#ixzz10IYPgRpH

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

22nd September 2010

“Biographical and Incidental” Homosexuality and Criminality

Posted by: Craig Young

In a recent Gaynz.Com article on ‘gay evil,’ I advanced the hypothesis of ‘biographical and incidental’ homosexuality. What does that mean in practical terms, such as a recent murder case with a plaintiff who had had sex with men before entering a straight relationship and who was found guilty of murdering his stepson?

There are many levels to gay identity. At the most remote level, some men have sex with men without engaging in a gay social identity or participating in gay social and political activities. I wonder if this can be explained in another way. It’s possible to envisage situations where someone is brought up in an abusive and dysfunctional background that leads them to develop mental illness or substance abuse problems (or both). They end up having sex with men, but that’s not the most pertinent biographical variable in their lives. I should note that only a tiny minority of mentally ill people engage in violent behaviour- in most cases, they manage their condition through appropriate medication, or may even be the victims of criminal activity themselves.

Unfortunately, there are some with pre-existing, undiagnosed specific mental health conditions like antisocial personality disorder who encounter the criminal justice system or otherwise escape detection and treatment for such a condition. Because sex on site venues and more structured gay community venues have rules and codes of conduct, these men seek out sex in other contexts. They do not end up identifying as ‘gay’ although they may be homosexual in terms of sexual preference, because their sexual orientation isn’t the problem- their mental illness or substance abuse problems are.

Indeed, it is probably unhelpful for prosecutorial strategies and media coverage to dwell on putative sexual identity as the key defining attribute in this context when it may be incidental or circumstantial. Such offenders may have more in common with kindred offenders whose victims are female than with gay men who don’t share their mental illness and/or substance abuse problems.

→ No CommentsTags: Politics

20th September 2010

Australia: Return of the Euthanasia Debate?

Posted by: Craig Young

It seems that there’s a slight social liberal thaw afoot across the Tasman. Unlike Kevin Rudd, who was a hardline social conservative, Julia Gillard has said she’ll allow her ALP parliamentary colleagues a free conscience vote as the Australian Greens try to repeal Australia’s federal ban against Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory legislative sovereignty in the context of voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide.

In 1995, the Northern Territory briefly decriminalised voluntary euthanasia, under libertarian Country Liberal Party Chief Minister Marshall Perron. However, predictably, the Howard administration pandered to the Christian Right over the issue, and it passed remedial legislation to remove the right of the Northern Territory and ACT to legislate specifically on the question of VE/PAS, in 1996. Time has passed, and although the Gillard administration remains resolute on its right to retain discriminatory same-sex marriage legislation, this seems to be the first sign of a thaw on social issues from the quarter of the ALP for quite some time.  It is unclear which way the ALP will vote, though, as it still has a conservative Catholic faction retarding outreach to new social movements.

Recommended:

Exit International: http://www.exitinternational.net

Jewel Topsfield: “Gillard opens door on euthanasia” Melbourne Age: 20.09.2010: http://www.theage.com.au/national/gillard-opens-door-on-euthanasia-20100919-15hyz.html

Not Recommended:

Right to Life Australia: http://www.righttolife.com.au

→ 1 CommentTags: Politics · Religion

16th September 2010

Post-Winstonian?

Posted by: Craig Young

Given that he has a totally negative voting record on all LGBT issues of significance, why do some gay men persist in voting for Winston Peters and New Zealand First?

Given a single, possibly rogue opinion poll to the contrary, several straight media pundits want to resurrect Winston Peters’ political career. It’s not going to happen. It won’t happen even if he stands in John Key’s true-blue Helensville

constituency. It’s only a year from the next election now. Where’s his party organisation?

Winston Peters and his New Zealand First were in Parliament for fifteen years, largely as a result of several factors. They made initial progress in the Maori seats, given admitted Labour deadwood there and the relative novelty of a Maori-born parliamentary party leader, as well as anti-market social conservative anger at National amongst some elderly voters. It also benefited from Labour’s “Mad Mike” era, when vindictive former Leader of the Opposition Mike Moore unsuccessfully sought to undermine Helen Clark, his successor.

However, Peters’ charisma and populism proved unable to save the party as it mushroomed and became one of the partners in the first, National/NZF coalition government. As a consequence, the NZF caucus split down the middle after National’s Jenny Shipley became New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister after a party room coup, and Peters abandoned the coalition. As a result of this instability, NZF was reduced back down to Peters and four NZF List MPs.

 Over the next decade, the party’s fortunes fluctuated. In 2002, it benefited from National’s weakness, factional intrigue and voter share plunge. In 2005, National’s Bob Clarkson unseated Peters in Tauranga. In 2008, the axe fell as Peters failed to regain Tauranga and the party failed to make the required MMP list-only five percent threshold.

Could a comeback ever be possible? In the New Zealand context, the demise of the Alliance suggests not. It is now a vestigial microparty, bleeding support to the Labour Party. In Germany, the German Greens did survive their temporary ejection from the federal Bundestag in the early nineties, but then Germany is a federal state, and there were always provincial legislature fallbacks, a strong coherent political philosophy and resilient party organisation. New Zealand First has none of these things. It is dependent on Peters’ charisma, and when he becomes too elderly and infirm to campaign, then what will happen?

(Certainly not a Michael Laws feint and switch. Elderly social conservatives are probably aghast at Laws recent revelation of his rather boring consenting middle-aged heterosexual male relationship with sundry heterosexual women of poor taste. No-one else has noticed, apart from Sunday papers which should know better).

Unbelievably, there are some rural, provincial, ignorant and elderly gay male NZF voters. They are isolated from mainstream metropolitan LGBT communities and liable to share their age cohort prejudices about Maori political assertion and East Asian immigration, as well as weak LGBT community identification. To them, it is irrelevant that Winston Peters has had a vile track record on LGBT issues ever since he voted against homosexual law reform. He hasn’t voted for a single LGBT-affirmative legislative reform since then. The rest of us are far more wary.

Not Recommended:

New Zealand First: http://www.nzfirst.org.nz

→ No CommentsTags: General

16th September 2010

New Zealand: Unfashionable Fascism…?

Posted by: Craig Young

Ordinarily, I write about organised social movements and political parties in this column. However, New Zealand’s neofascist individuals don’t fall into that category anymore. Thankfully.

Outside Australia and the United States, organised anti-immigrant racism, anti-indigenous racism and organised racist (and homophobic) violence appears to be trending downward. The British National Party suffered badly during the recent UK council elections and fortunately lost support. In New Zealand, New Zealand First is finally out of Parliament, hopefully for good. And further to the right?
The New Zealand League of Rights quietly dissolved several years ago. However, the New Zealand National Front replaced it, for a while, until it too quietly sputtered out. In any case, “New Zealand” white supremacism is a pale (…) and derivative carbon copy of its Australian, European and North American counterparts. There’s a tiny coterie of racist rock fans, usually neofascist skinheads who are too blitzed on alcohol and drugs to form a coherent organisation. All that they can do is apparently commit antisocial acts like vandalism and assault against tourists, Chinese and Indian shopkeepers, immigrants, and any lesbian or gay man unfortunate enough to encounter them in a darkened alleyway. They’re nowhere near a sizable politicised constituency, and their criminality, substance abuse and stunted interpersonal skills don’t exactly endear them to the general public. They are no longer a meaningful movement, more like a set of sorry and dysfunctional individuals.

Much the same can be said about New Zealand’s equally miniscule coterie of conspiracy theorists. For a taste of their peculiar worldview, take a look at Uncensored, their local house journal, which is full of cut and paste pieces, predominantly from Australian, British and US conspiracist websites. We don’t have all that many examples of that species here, apart from Auckland’s Barbara Faithfull, veteran radio talkback caller, emailer to dodgy far right websites and collector of yellowed, decades old ephemera from long-since disbanded transitory early feminist, LGBT rights and social reform groups. Their individual members have since grown up, acquired professional qualifications and gotten lives. Incidentally, claiming that someone currently has political views that they long ago disavowed may be grounds for defamation charges, according to New Zealand case law. However, unlike the United States, talkback radio doesn’t rate particularly highly in our own highly fragmented radio demographic markets.

They’re archaic, sad relics of a long-since past era- the seventies, when they were allowed to fester out of control. Fortunately, the liberal New Zealand mid-to-late eighties broke the back of their kind, and they’ve never really recovered. They’re nuisances, but they’re also ageing and eventually, they’ll evaporate altogether. Like neofascists, the conspiracy theorist coterie will eventually fade out of existence, unnoticed.

It says much for our national maturity that neofascists and conspiracy theorists are at a low ebb. One hopes that these minor blemishes on our political landscape become so dispirited at their marginality that they decide to close down altogether sooner, rather than later…

Recommended (for Historical Reasons):
Paul Spoonley: The Politics of Nostalgia: The Extreme Right in New Zealand: Palmerston North: Dunmore Press: 1986.

→ No CommentsTags: General

8th September 2010

Australia: Bob Katter’s Deathly Embrace and the Australian Liberals

Posted by: Craig Young

After a fortnight, Australia’s hung federal House of Representatives has finally resulted in a satisfactory conclusion of negotiations between ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard and two Independent NSW MHRs, Tony Windsor and Bob Oakeshott.

There seems to be pessimism about the long-term survival prospects of the Gillard administration in the current electoral context. It’s difficult to see why that should be the case. In scrutinising Windsor and Oakeshott, I noted that both Independents are relatively sane when it comes to the reality of climate change and the need to introduce an Emission Tradings Scheme to reduce carbon consumption levels as compensation. 

However, it cannot be denied that both the ALP and Coalition need considerable internal reform if either are to emerge as a viable electoral prospect at the next Australian federal election. The ALP now needs to do something about its woefully dysfunctional factional system. It needs to stop pandering to the likes of populist and opportunist voters when it comes to issues like refugee and asylum policy and junk the federal same-sex marriage ban. The latter is losing the ALP progressive Australian support to the Greens.

As for the Coalition, it needs to dispense with Tony Abbott and do so quickly. While ALP factionalism, and Queensland and NSW backlash against unpopular and incumbency fatigued ALP State Governments were Gillard’s pitfalls, the Coalition is delusional if it thinks that those factors mean Abbott is a viable long-term Leader of the Opposition, let alone Prime Minister. He fell down badly when it came to adequately costed post-election policies and proved himself a scientific and technological illiterate when it came to Broadband rollout and climate change. 

And I wouldn’t be too proud of the fact that right-wing extremist Queensland MHR Bob Katter is now back onboard. This bloke used to be a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly and served as a Cabinet Minister in the corrupt and authoritarian Bjelke-Petersen administration of the sixties, seventies and eighties. While he opposes privatisation and a market economy, he’s a backward bumpkin homophobe and racist. He voted against the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994, which decriminalised male homosexuality in Tasmania and more recently, the Same-Sex Relationships Act 2008, which provided some degree of substantive relationship equality to Australians. He has also made neanderthal racist remarks about Chinese and Asian-Australians and aboriginal communities. Like Abbott, he is a climate change denialist.  To me, Katter’s embrace epitomises the current rancid nature of Australian social conservatism.

To stop this rot, the Liberals need to follow the lead of the British Conservative Party and thoroughly repudiate their extremist past under the Howard administration. However, that will only happen once they remove the Howard relic that currently governs it.

As for the Australian Senate, things are more salubrious there, due to its far more proportional Single Transferable Vote electoral system. The Australian Greens increased their senatorial numbers to nine and now hold the balance of power there. As for  fundamentalist and social conservative Senate microparties, there are mixed reports from Victoria.

Fundamentalist Victorian Family First Party Senator Steve Fielding hasn’t been re-elected, but instead,  one Bob Madigan (Democratic Labor Party) has. The DLP is a conservative Catholic state and federal parliamentary party that used to consist of hardline anticommunists during the Cold War, but which now consists of equally hardline sectarian conservative Catholics, who want to ram their church dogma about abortion, stem cell research, assisted suicide, same sex marriage and parenting down the throats of those of us who don’t share them.

Recommended:

Bob Katter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Katter

Family First: http://www.familyfirst.org.au

DLP: http://www.dlp.org.au

→ 2 CommentsTags: Politics

6th September 2010

The New Right and Disaster Relief

Posted by: Craig Young

There’s a distinct lack of critical analysis related to the current Christchurch earthquake and questions of disaster relief policy. Can we trust New Zealand’s New Right political parties, pressure groups and apologists not to foolishly compromise preparation and strategic management of relief efforts in the name of insane public sector slashbacks?

Current US Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) controversies demonstrate what can happen when doctrinaire ideology, political opportunism and sheer executive incompetence is allowed to interfere with civil defence preparation. Until the sixties, the United States lack an adequately centralised and properly funded federal disaster relief and civil defence infrastructure. During the sixties and seventies, that changed, culminating in the formation of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, in 1978. It was designed to counter prior criticism about service fragmentation and inadequacies.

Predictably, under the incompetent federal Republican-led Congress of the nineties and early twenty first century, and the Bush Presidency, disaster relief policy suffered considerably. Under President Clinton, disaster relief and civil defence had warranted a federal Cabinet portfolio.  Under Bush, that was downgraded. After 9/11, FEMA was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security and the mantra of ‘antiterrorism’ and public sector retrenchment prevailed over any semblance of comprehensive and coherent disaster relief policy management. According to the subsequent House of Representatives Hurricane Katrina inquiry, Bush era FEMA manifested  inadquately trained personnel, evinced an inadequate reponse to preparation, early warning and relief coordination efforts and woeful contracting and logistical frameworks.

I’m sorry to have to ask this, but what about New Zealand’s New Right? Given the scale of damage to Christchurch infrastructure and its economic impact, let us hear no more ridiculous and dishonest New Right mantras about welfare policy provision retrenchment and cutback euphemistically referred to as ‘reform’. The so-called Welfare Working Group should be immediately disbanded under the current circumstances.

And would it really hurt ACT, the Business Roundtable, the Centre for Independent Studies, Centre for Political Research and their ilk to come clean with what exactly their excuse is for the manifest incompetence and shameful disaster relief provision shortfall evidenced in the United States due to their own brand of doctrinaire ideology? Do they share the same rationale for indiscriminate public sector capacity reduction in this context? If so, why?

Recommended:

Jed Horne: Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Death of a Great American City: New York: Random: 2006.

→ No CommentsTags: Politics

5th September 2010

Civic Responsibility, Gay Men and the Blood Donor Ban

Posted by: Craig Young

On Saturday morning, Christchurch residents were shaken by a heavy intensity earthquake that left buildings with severe structural damage, chimneys collapsed, water supplies compromised, electricity outages and road and bridge impairment. Fortunately, there are only two reported cases of severe contingent injuries at Christchurch Hospital as a result of the carnage, probably due to its fortuitous timing in the early morning. Had it occurred several hours earlier or later, there might have been far more severe injuries and possible loss of life.

Under such circumstances, there would have been resultant heavy demand on blood supplies at medical facilities. However, while other responsible citizens would have been only too willing to play their part and donate blood for the use of their afflicted fellow New Zealanders, gay men cannot do so, due to the current NGO blanket ban on gay male blood donation.

Relatively speaking, the inhabitants of Christchurch were “lucky” this time. However, after due attention has been paid to the urgent immediate needs and ongoing concerns of the inhabitants of Christchurch in the field of water supply, medical needs, food and housing, LGBT New Zealand now needs to demand that the government urgently review the existing evidence-based rationale for blanket gay male exclusion from blood donation. If it turns out not to be based on robust evidence, then the government and NGOs need to adjust their policies accordingly, so that potential gay male blood donors can perform our civic responsibility and meet the needs of others at times of severe injury and hardship.

Strongly Recommended: Both organisations cited below are engaged in critique and remedial action against the blanket gay male blood donor ban. Contact them for further information:

Rainbow Wellington: http://www.rainbowwellington.org.nz

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group: http://www.tglrg.org

→ 6 CommentsTags: Politics