Letter to the editor

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 24-Aug-2017

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Social justice an issue

The letters page in the Bendigo Weekly, August 18, made for very interesting reading.

Of the six letters printed, four made mention of marriage equality, and on either side of the page were letters from clerics, each representing one end of the religious spectrum.

This placement was a nice illustration of how broad the issue of marriage equality has become, even if community opinion is still basically divided into Yes or No categories.

The message in the opening letter “Uniform approach” from the Bishop of Sandhurst, while polite and respectful, is quite clear. 

The Bishop’s church is implacably opposed to marriage equality, on the basis that “the deeper effects of changing the definition” will be detrimental to society. 

He does not explain what he thinks these “deeper effects” might be. Nor does he specify how he intends to remain fully compassionate towards all people regardless of their gender preference while at the same time denying same sex couples the possibility of a church-blessed union.

The closing letter “Belief in a fair go” from the Archdeacon of Albury and the Hume is a different matter entirely. 

The Archdeacon’s frustration and anguish are palpable, and his bravery in expressing these views is commendable. 

His suggestion that the church has “backed the wrong horse” on so many key issues points to the same conundrum faced by the Bishop of Sandhurst – how is it possible for the church – any church – to be implacable in the face of human need at such deep and fundamental levels? 

The Bishop’s response is to remain firmly entrenched in his adherence to doctrine. 

The Archdeacon, however, indicates passionately that such responses throughout history have cost the church its credibility and its relevance, and will do so again if it refuses to listen to its people on the issue of marriage equality. 

What these two letters indicate in different ways is that religious groups of all persuasions seem to have forgotten one important point – marriage equality is not a religious issue, it is not a moral issue, it is an issue of social justice. 

If they are to have any relevance at all in the matter, these groups must see it from this perspective, and behave accordingly.

Julie Hopper,

Bendigo 

Naming the pool

As a resident who lives in the city of greater Bendigo I am writing to express my disappointment in the council for what I believe is the wrong name for the new pool complex currently being built in Kangaroo Flat.

It is my belief that the pool should either be named after someone who has contributed to the greater community of Kangaroo Flat, or alternately just to be politically correct these days and cause no offence to anyone just called the Kangaroo Flat Aquatic Centre.

Bill Greenaway

Strathfieldsaye 

Survey is wrong

This $122 million marriage equality survey is wrong because fundamental issues of non-discrimination and equality ought never be determined by popular vote, whereby an indifferent or ill-informed majority may vote away the human rights of a minority. 

Wrong because no respectful or responsible government should be in the business of encouraging public discourse which is forseeably likely to include the abuse and vilification of vulnerable people and their families.

Ironically, all the wrongness makes an emphatic “yes” vote vitally important. If ever there was a time for the City of Greater Bendigo to fly the rainbow flag, it is now.

 Michelle Goldsmith,

Eaglehawk

Outliving expectations

I read the paid advertisement of Go Gentle Australia concerning assisted dying.

It is interesting the advert criticises their opponents for pressurising their MP when that is exactly what they are urging everyone to do.

I would like to respond to the question posed “why should any church decide for all of us?”

My understanding is that the fundamental law relating to the wellbeing of the community is grounded in the 10 commandments of the Christian church.  

Other fundamental tenets contained in the bible are the basis for other laws but also for attitudes within the community such as care of and charity toward our neighbours. 

The work of The Salvation Army and Anglicare are two expressions of this care.

The other concern is the ability of doctors to predict life expectancy. How many examples are there where people have defied medical assessments of future outcomes? 

TV programmes give countless accounts of people overcoming medical adversity. I personally know of several cancer sufferers who have far outlived their doctor’s expectations.

David Yum,

Junortoun 

At the limit

The ABS has shown inequality in regional Victoria is higher than Melbourne and is growing worse. 

Labor’s Bill Shorten has made the issue centre stage of Labor’s call against the coalition. Yet City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke continues to promote the plan on radio to double Bendigo’s population, which will double poverty and inequality in regional Victoria. 

When will both parties who want their massive immigration cake and eat it too understand that Australia has reached peak immigration limit, and from now on inequality and poverty will skyrocket until they cap immigration.

Paul Wells,

Bendigo

The only recourse

I agree that the Bureau of Statistics survey on marriage isn’t important enough to divert parliament’s attention away from things like the energy reliability and affordability crisis, the resultant industry struggle and unemployment, national security, the Murray Darling Basin impact on agriculture and other issues; but if we must debate an institution as important as marriage, then I believe a plebiscite to gauge the opinion of all Australians, not just 150 politicians, is the only recourse.

However, on the subject of marriage “equality” – which you refer to several times in your editorial – I would like to know if the redefinition of marriage will include “equality” for people who identify not as man or woman, but as pangender, gender queer, androgynous or identity as being a point on a spectrum between 100 per cent male and female? 

Facebook lists about 58 different gender identities. Will a new definition of marriage legally allow these people to marry, as well as gay and lesbians?

Helen Leach,

Bendigo

Editor’s comment:  Hopefully, yes.

Cultural bias the norm

Because I belong to a local cultural organisation, I have just received an emailed copy of a proposed workshop to be hosted by the council. 

The somewhat unwieldy title of the workshop is Creating Culturally Inclusive Workplaces and Challenging Unconscious Bias.

The information supplied with the invitation suggests that all of us are biased, especially with regard to gender, cultural background and age. 

Did all of the councillors feel that they are in that enviable and superior position of making such a judgement? Might it not be that such an assumption of bias is, itself, a particularly egregious form of bias?

On the suggestion that we are all “culturally biased”, can I suggest that, if we were not all culturally biased, there would be no such thing as a particular culture. 

Belonging to a particular culture actually requires that you are culturally biased – you feel a particular affinity towards the music, food, customs, etc, of a certain ethnic background. 

In my case (as a third-generation Australian), I have an affinity towards an Australian culture or, more correctly, what used to be called Australian culture before the term was deemed politically incorrect. 

Can we therefore expect that council will follow the lead of some Melbourne councils in banning the celebration of Australia Day?

Now, let us consider the notion that we are all biased in relation to gender. Exactly what do the councillors mean here? 

Could it be, for instance, that anyone who happened to vote against the re-definition of marriage in the forthcoming plebiscite is, by definition, biased and non-inclusive? 

It is hard to avoid such a conclusion and it is just as hard not to see this as a form of blatant partisanship and political interference in the democratic process. 

It is not the business of council to tell us how we should think or act beyond those basic requirements for the operation of a civil society. 

The proposed workshop on inclusion and bias is a blatant form of social engineering and political interference in the lives of ordinary people. 

Brian J Coman,

Strathfieldsaye

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