Freedom Of Choice

Posted: January 16, 2013 in Politics, Random Stuff

I have to admit, when I first read David Marrs opinion piece on the anti-discrimination legislation that is due to go through the senate, my first emotion was outrage.

Giving religious organisations a free pass to discriminate against those with a lifestyle they don’t approve of seems to be encouraging the wrong sort of behaviour and attitude.

The self-appointed righteous seek to be able to discriminate when it comes to employing those who have made lifestyle choices that don’t fit the mould of what they determine as normal or holy. These types of lifestyles would include being in a same-sex relationship, being a single mother, or living with a partner without being married, and many other things that most of us unholy types would see as quite normal and perfectly acceptable.

If one were to judge from recent Catholic and Anglican history though, apparently being a paedophile doesn’t warrant discriminating against, but that’s another story….

When those who preach non-judgement actually seek the legal right to pass judgement on us all, I can understand why so many of us go and get all postal about it. It does seem rather hypocritical, highly immoral and more than a touch daft in the extreme.

However, my thinking on this legislation is a little different, and although many of you will struggle with this, I actually agree with the legislation in this regards, despite my verging on fanatical hatred of discrimination in all its forms.

Some I suspect will try to say I agree with anything PM Gillard says, however this is not true. I have disagreed with many of her statements and policies, her stand on same-sex marriage for example I would describe as gutless. Others may accuse me of being a poster boy for the right which, and as anybody who has seen me post-Xmas could attest to, the only thing about me that is likely to make a poster would be a “before” poster for Jenny Craig, and anybody who has read a few of my previous rants would also know my left leg is somewhat shorter than my right giving me a distinct left leaning.

Not the discriminating type...

Not the discriminating type…

The reasoning for my opinion is this, you cannot legislate how someone thinks, and trying to legislate people’s opinions seems to me to be discriminating against those who have a different opinion to us. It also seems to be an exercise in pure futility. I mean does anyone seriously think that making it illegal for those with narrow minds to discriminate means Fred Nile will be on the lead float next Mardis Gras? That would be like expecting Andrew Bolts PA to rock up in a burqa.

The other thing that can’t be legislated is common sense.

To expect someone not to discriminate on an issue that is part of their organisations beliefs or standards is ridiculous, this would be like expecting the Greens not to discriminate against Tony Abbott for his beliefs should he apply for their party’s leadership.

David Marr uses Penny Wong as an example:

The new law will back any religious organisation refusing to hire Penny Wong if having a lesbian on their payroll would injure ”the religious sensitivities of adherents of that religion”.”

I’m sorry, any employer who does not employ Penny Wong for a role she is qualified for has every right to be a complete and utter retard, and I’m sure Penny would feel better being in a role where she was appreciated for who she is at any rate. Stupidity is the right of every employer, or else we would not have a Liberal Party would we?

Now I’m not gay, nor am I lesbian, and I don’t pretend to know how they think, however I know this about myself, if I was gay I would not really be wanting to work with a bunch of bigots every day at any rate. I don’t expect 2GB receives a lot of job applications from Muslims, and I wonder why that is? Maybe it’s because they want to work where people will recognise them as humans and treat them as such, they put common sense into practice.

We keep hearing about this alleged “Nanny State”, surely to legislate against common sense would have been yet another shining example.

Everybody has different ideals and principles, to put into law that everybody has to abide by the views of the majority when it comes to hiring staff seems to me to be discriminating against a minority. Kind of like discrimination in reverse.

Other examples David uses are those of staff at St Vincents hospital or Anglican nursing homes, currently having the right to sack or not employ those who don’t suit the religious standards of lifestyle. These are actually great examples, because if ensuring that the churches right to discriminate remains as it is currently, then nothing will change.

I would challenge anybody to state for a fact that there are absolutely no gays working in a Catholic or Anglican hospital or nursing home. For that matter any single mother, or someone living with their partner without being married. If someone can state as fact that no religious organisation has anybody employed that fits these guidelines, then I will rapidly change my mind, however I know that is not the case.

These religious organisations want this legislation in place as a safeguard against lawsuits for future applications for high positions. This is so that when Boy George or George Michael applies for George Pell’s job as Cardinal when he retires, the church won’t face civil action for discrimination for not embracing them with open arms.

Cardinal George?

Cardinal George?

Don’t think for a minute think I support the church in their discrimination, I remain steadfastly opposed to their judgemental nature, and almost violently opposed to their self-righteous discrimination of those who don’t think like them.

My view of religious organisations as tax-free havens for paedophiles, bigots and con-men who preach hatred, judgement and ignorance remains completely unchanged.

I also believe that people can change, and be rehabilitated, but I won’t be lining up to condemn the judicial system, or the police department for their discrimination when it comes to policy on employing those with previous criminal convictions. This seems like the same debate to me…

When David Marr says

“It’s a curious spectacle, a PM legislating against people of her own kind.”

I wonder what the ”kind” he is referring to is. A human with the freedom of choice perhaps? Or maybe the kind who thinks her opinions on morals should not be imposed on religious organisations no matter how epical in their prehistoric nature those organisations views are?

Sorry Mr Marr, we can't always agree...

Sorry Mr Marr, we can’t always agree…

I have the utmost respect for David Marr, and agree with the vast majority of what he says, just not in this case.

Whilst I can see the merit in yelling and screaming about a seeming endorsement of bigotry, I just fail to see the logic in it in this case.

I may not like racists or gravity, but I have learned to live with them, as I know to try to make them illegal is futile.

Lets pick a fight that can be won….

Maybe even their tax free status….

Comments
  1. MWS says:

    In WA a new hospital (replacing a run-down one) is to be run by an arm of the Catholic Church. While receiving public money, they can discriminate by not hiring medical and admin staff whose lifestyle they disagree with. This means that some of the staff of the old hospital will lose their jobs, and have to travel elsewhere to work, because the new operators are permitted to discriminate. How is this fair?

    In addition, the new hospital won’t offer some reproductive services, meaning that patients will have to travel to other hospitals, incurring expenses and loss of time.

    If you want to discriminate, don’t accept money from the Government. That’s fair!

    • wixxy says:

      I agree totally, and it pisses me off that some people will get less options in a religiously run hospital than a regular one.

      I don’t agree with their beliefs at all, and if they can’t get decent staff, or lose good staff than that is their loss and someone elses gain.

      However, my take is if I want to buy a decent CD or book, I won’t go to a religious book and music store, in the same way if I wanted to recieve all medical options I would not go anywhere near a Catholic Hospital.

      I totally agree in stripping them of funding, I’m sure the churches have plenty of money, they pay no taxes aleady, so that is a major advantage.

      I can assure you, I own a business and would not employ a religious freak if at all possible, but I don’t think that makes my discrimination any better or worse than theirs….

      • CB says:

        Agree that if religious hospital administrators are prepared to accept public funds, they should provide services for all as provided at public hospitals. If not, they should fund their own services.

        Still hard for me to accept that a person’s lawful choices about their private life can be a reason for them losing/not getting a job. Any talented ‘Penny Wong’ or ‘Tony Abbott’ has a right to be considered for employment on her/his merits. She/he may also decide that a particular employer is not for them. Many of us have done this for all sorts of reasons. Similarly, an employer may quite reasonably decide that a particular candidate is ‘not for them’ for valid reasons to with the role, their personality/experience etc.

        On your final point, I would not exclude a “religious freak” for that reason alone. Is she/he the best person for the job? If their ‘freakiness’ would interfere with their capacity to do the job, then I would exclude them. If another candidate is ‘freaky’ in some other way (‘better’/more to my liking perhaps?), I should apply the same test. Their particular ‘freakiness’ may actually enable them to excel in the role.

      • wixxy says:

        In my line of work, sales, freakiness definitely affects ability, as most of my work is relationship based

      • Hypocritophobe says:

        About the choice of hospital.Our rural area has NO choice.Therefore we get religiously qualified staff instead of the medically skilled ones.And I can tell you from experience,it shows.
        WAs is continually building ‘dual class hospitals, where all the best well maintained gear is in the Catholic half.

    • Catching up says:

      Agree. If one accepts money to provide a public service. That is what they should do. This has nothing to do with personal morality.

    • Hypocritophobe says:

      And how is it fair on patients who end up with a dangerous butcher,who sews a scalpel in their Golden staph infected body,but at least they can kiss the rosary beads, and defend the Pope on the internet.Not interested in defending religion period,nor sponsoring or tolerating a government who panders to their discrimination.Marr was right.And the tax exemption is wrong.I hope it costs Gillard et al their jobs,(This is not their first far right pro-church act of political fellatio, they have foisted on the people) .If a lawyer, or QC, in this day and age cannot draft a fair law,shoot the lot.

  2. Madeleine Keil says:

    Usually I don’t reply to your emails but:-

    1. Being gay / lesbian is not a lifestyle choice (as with straight people)

    2. People who are gay / lesbian lie low when employed in most industries and especially religious organisations.

    That’s all

    Maddy Keil.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • wixxy says:

      I totall agree, being gay is not a choice.

      Most religious institutions have no issues with being gay, just as Catholics have no issue with being hetrosexual, they only have a problem with the practice of it. When I say choice of lifestyle that is what I mean sorry, they make a choice to never have sex.

      I know it is a sad state of affairs, but I seriously fail to see how legislating will change behaviour or attitude.

      If legislation totally changed behavoiur, there would be no sexual abuse in the churches, and no cover up of what abuse there is…

  3. You cannot legislate against stupidity; however a framework needs to be in place to protect people from the stupidity of others. Discrimination is an entrenched mindset that is usually broken down with intelligence and education. Growing up in the Burbs of Sydney I would hear things said against minorities that would make your hair curl, then when confronted with the reality of meeting someone who is in that minority the fear subsides and embarrassment takes over.

    What we need in Australia is to legislate against people with an agenda hijacking free speech to preach intolerance for personal gain. This fear is a lethal weapon of the highest order. Jones with Muslims, Bolt with Aboriginals or questions on a job application that are of the most personal nature. What’s next, show someone a naked picture and measure their response?

    It would seem the more egalitarian we aspire to be, the less tolerant we become. Fear of change is a powerful way to fuel intolerance and discrimination. No-one should be able to discriminate against anybody because of their choice. My mate is an openly gay paediatrician who is widely respected; some of low intellect in the catholic church of supreme hypocrisy would say that is inappropriate. I say move on. The same people pushing work choices are the same who are most discriminatory.

    Good read Wixxy…

  4. monicaswickedstepmother says:

    So what happens if you are a gay doctor or nurse and the Government decides that all public hospitals are to be operated by religious groups – no more employment for you! Or you have to hide in your closet (assuming that you can get back in, and haven’t left your “lifestyle” online to be searched by potential employers).

    I wonder how gay people who were working in the CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) when Howard privatised it to (mostly) religious groups managed to get new jobs?

    It’s fine to allow small groups to discriminate, but what happens when they become the majority? Then nobody who isn’t part of the “in” group will get employment.

    BTW, do Catholic schools know when their male teachers have a child outside of marriage, or is it only the female teachers who are left to (literally) carry the baby? This is a clear case of sex discrimination!

  5. Lisa Vantanen says:

    Religion meddles, or attempts to, enough already in our everydayness of life. If laws can be enacted to prevent this from happening, I say all the better…

    Religion and politics make such uneasy bed-fellows, if we do not make every attempt to stem that union, (legally), before we know it, we will be following the way of the U.S.A.

    I’m also a leftie, and felt very bothered by Rudd’s church-going photo-opportunities. Note, Abbott is doing no such thing, although he was doing the Boris Yeltsin thing for a time there, poor silly bugger:)

    While I can relate to your opinion, I must say that I cannot agree…I personally post up diatribe against religion as much as possible, even though I know it’s a losing battle.

    I am an atheist, my children have decided to be atheists, and are raising theirs to take all matters into consideration…

    Yet, the little darlings are being bombarded by religion at every turn.

    It’s time to change the tide…and if law is our only recourse for sane dealings, so be it…it hasn’t prevented racial discrimination either, but bloody hell, at least you can now be charged for it!!!

  6. If the the Constitution says we respect liberty of religious choice, surely we have the right to be free of religious bigotry in getting and keeping a job in publicly funded institutions?(or receive the best healthcare).
    Peter I don’t know your life experiences, but the dignity and equality of paid work is central to the ALP. PM Gillard took credit for raising pay of low income workers, then put single parents on the dole and this legislation could decrease the opportunites that could be available to them.
    Like Marr said, cleaners, nursing aids, activities programers, gardeners all in local hospitals, hostels for disabled, homeless etc. are likely to be the only jobs around in your neighbourhood, close to schools, family support etc.
    Cost of housing, transport and car, phone – all stressful barriers to employment. The Govt is helping to fight these barriers only to countenance new ones.
    We should not be frightened of sticking to our secular principles in the National interest. Aged Care, disability, mental health services are being left to private and religious organisations with a lot of taxpayer money.
    I have been a patient and employee in cases where somebody’s religious beliefs have prevented me from getting health services and staying at a job I was good at. Instead being bullied and suffering because of the intolerance or the perceived threat – ie they can’t convert you.

    • cooeerup says:

      Your argument that these discriminatory laws are needed to prevent religious institutions from being sued is wrong. Boy George etc would not be able to apply for George Pells position because they are not members of the clergy. They would, however, be able to apply for a job as a manager in a hospital for instance, or a secretary in a school, if they were qualified for those jobs. If they were denied those jobs for discriminatory reasons they should be able to sue, but only if that institution receives no tax payer funds.
      You appear to agree these institutions should not get public funding, but think they should be allowed to discriminate. Well I agree they should be allowed to discriminate if they don’t get public funding; but here’s the real kicker, they do get public funding and until they don’t I will remain as mad as hell that my atheist tax dollars are propping up an institutions that are allowed to discriminate against my fellow citizens.
      Yes there are people working for these institutions that they can discriminate against if they wanted to. Me included. Have you any idea what it’s like to work somewhere with this hanging over your head, especially in Queensland where no-one knows whose going to lose their job next? I can’t go anywhere else. There isn’t anywhere else, unless I move interstate. I’m 55 and shouldn’t have to move if nothing about my work would incline my employer to sack me other than things they are able to discriminate against me for.
      It’s 2013 and we’re still giving people who believe in these erroneous books the right to operate outside of the rules the rest of us have to follow. When is it all going to end.

  7. Lanternz says:

    Can nobody see that Julia is clearing the decks for gay civil marriages? Wedging Abbott and the social conservatives into their own self imposed compounds of bigotry.

  8. Ben Chifley says:

    Peter,

    Love your work. You write so well. However, in my opinion your writing to an audience which tolerates other religions. The history of the apolistic church needs to be examined before people make up there mind in which your article ignores. I posted some links on facebook to have a look at.

    The best youtube clip is Matt Damon on Sarah Palin and giving her the Nukes. So I am one who disagrees with you on this one. It is not a case of discrimination. You’ve failed to make mention of the Fashion designer in France who made the headlines and even Rupert Murdoch’s recent anti jewish owned press remarks

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywGFBTFrKas Matt Damon

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct4_ze_FjNo Hagee

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20004671 Twitter bans antisemitism

    http://open.salon.com/blog/jlw1/2012/08/25/anti-semitic_racist_speech_illegal_punished_–_good
    French Designer

    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2013/1/9/212540/8800/Front_Page/Newtown_Shootings_an_Israeli_US_Plot_Suggests_Conspiracy_Mongering_Professor

    Talk to action a great site writing about these religious nuts in America. Most sites closed down and articles removed.

  9. Ben Chifley says:

    Pastor’s Blessing – YouTube
    Michael Smith of 2UE being blessed by Pastor Hagee in America
    ► 1:09► 1:09
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfLauzz5fnE
    6 Jul 2012 – 1 min – Uploaded by HAGEEMINISTRIES
    You can pre-order Pastor John Hagee’s new book “The Power of the Prophetic … Michael W. Smith …
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/media/media-diary/ues-michael-smith-reappears/story-fnab9kqj-1226372337139

  10. Ben Chifley says:

    http://www.adl.org/mobilehatesymbols/symbol-20.html

    What the Anti Discrimination league in America says about people preaching and teaching the lost tribes of Israel.

    For myself the Australian Christian Lobby which was run by Paul Weyrich a former member of the Nazi Party. They should be outlawed!!!!!!!!

    I mean the American President shut them down in 1938 for unAmerican activities so why can’t shut them down for unAustralian activities?

    Keeping up with all there rants deflects attention from the Australian economy and makes people switch off when conversations about economics and politics begin. The Liberal Party are becoming the Teflon Don’s of economic policy in this country relying on gibberish to take over the minds of the masses.

  11. Diana says:

    ‘I am not gay, nor am i lesbian’…..really wixxy! but I am seeing your view..and the others…..its a hard one hey…happy to roll with this one! But I guess if they accept tax funded dollars then they better be ready to roll that way too….otherwise fund your own agenda!

  12. oldfart says:

    definitely agree with getting rid of tax free status. Have vivid recollections of local priest berating congregation that the collection plate wasn’t taking much and he needed to trade his merc in for a new one and that was many decades ago.

  13. oldfart says:

    just to add, these religious preach that jesus is the lamb of god. Well I think they have lived off the fat of the lamb for far to long. A selective foloowing of his teachings I think

  14. clarittee says:

    I’ve kicked this one around in my head Peter and I come to the simple conclusion.
    No tax free status and NO discrimination.
    Where do you stop the notion of offending someone’s sensitivities where it comes to religion? If it was live and let live i might think about it. I see it as a class issue. They regard them selves as being superior to the ones that offend them. IF they were so sure of their precious religion, they wouldn’t be so sensitive. The Christ associated with all kinds but directed his anger to the ones who had made his father’s house a “DEN of THIEVES”.( for me, One of the advantages of being atheist is the ability to reason, rather than have a head full of prejudice & dogma)
    Tearing up a koran equates to being beheaded publicly!!!!. Which one offends humanity? Which action IS really offensive/outrageous in the real sense?

  15. MWS says:

    According to the SMH, in 1984, religious groups argued that they should be able to discriminate against pregnant or “potentially pregnant” women. So that’s all females who haven’t reached menopause? I suppose that’s one way to avoid the inconvenience of maternity leave!

    Funnily enough, never any suggestion of not employing men who are fertile and might have children outside of marriage. And they have a God of Love?

    Men and women should be treated the same – just because a woman carries a baby to term doesn’t make her more culpable for the pregnancy than the man she had sex with.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/religious-groups-free-to-discriminate-against-pregnant-women-20130116-2ctsz.html

  16. I am a regular reader of yours Wixxy and admire so much of what you have written and done, but you have the wrong end of the stick here I’m afraid. Objection to this proposed legislation is not about not wanting to work with people who don’t like you. It’s about having the right to make a living without being discriminated against, or having to live in fear.

    There are whole employment sectors where church organisations have most of the jobs and do the hiring and firing. Mostly the people you actually work with don’t give a hoot if you are lesbian, gay or spend your weekends hunting moose, as long as you are not a bludger and can do your job. The problem is that these organisations are run by people with ‘agendas’, who want everyone different to what they believe to be punished and ostracised, even if that means they can’t earn a decent living, and they are the people who make the decisions.

    In those sectors where employment is mainly controlled by churches, employment is majority female and wages are kept low through it being NGOs, people are already fearful for their jobs after seeing non-church organisations de-funded when they could not compete against the tender figures presented by churches (they can tender low because among other things they have no taxation costs).

    People really have no idea how widespread this type of influence is in our society, although the government SHOULD. To present this as some sort of ‘oh, I’ll just wander off and do some other job’ is total fantasy in the employment situation not just in many sectors but also many places where employment is high and jobs are limited.

    I have worked in some of these sectors and for religious organisations over many years, and people who say this is about ‘tolerance’ are either uninformed or naive. This is about money and power, and the churches managing to infiltrate more and more public money to themselves, artificially depress wages and have a ‘get out of gaol free’ card when they treat people badly or want to get rid of inconvenient people.

    • wixxy says:

      I totally understand Christine, and I’m not saying I like it in the slightest, but I think asking those in religious circles to not discriminate is like thinking you can train a lion to become a vegetarian…

      The real thing we should be fighting for is to open these sectors up so that they don’t remain under religious rule so to speak, and to stop funding their expansion, and take away their tax free status

      • SG Warren says:

        We need to start taxing religious organisations at the same rate as normal businesses.

        No Representation without Taxation.

  17. Christine Says Hi says:

    I laughed when I read your comment: “I may not like racists or gravity, but I have learned to live with them, as I know to try to make them illegal is futile.”

    You may be right about the futility of trying to regulate about how people think and feel about things, but you wouldn’t be rushing to grant racists exemptions to anti-discrimination law because it would ‘offend’ or ‘distress’ their deeply held convictions to work with people from Finland or Iran, or who have brown skin instead of olive.

  18. Min says:

    Wixxy, this is it to my way of thinking also..

    Now I’m not gay, nor am I lesbian, and I don’t pretend to know how they think, however I know this about myself, if I was gay I would not really be wanting to work with a bunch of bigots every day at any rate.

    .

  19. Marilyn says:

    It’s the height of hypocrisy when there is now a royal commission into the sexual abuse of thousands of kids in church care don’t you think?

    They have their exemptions and the results are horrendous.

  20. Catching up says:

    They should not be exempted, unless they can show the workers beliefs and lifestyle impinges on their ability to carry out the work.

    There was be very few occasions where this would be shown to be true.

  21. Catching up says:

    Perfect example.

    .”Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s department says Weet-Bix manufacturer Sanitarium – which advertises for job candidates who share its ”Christian-based principles” – is not a religious body, but would not say whether the company’s actions were unlawful.
    Sanitarium was founded and is operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is not required to lodge the company’s financial reports.
    A number of its online job ads require successful candidates to have Christian principles. A cereal machine operator job ad says: ”If you share our passion for what we do . . . and you are aligned with our Christian-based principles, this will be a great opportunity for you.”………..”

    Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/opinion/political-news/sanitarium-ads-raise-question-marks-20130117-2cwb3.html#ixzz2IHow5K24

  22. Wixxy, anti discrimination legislation doesn’t make anyone change their prejudices, whether they’re religious or not. There are plenty of non religious people who discriminate against gays, lesbians, and women. However the legislation punishes them for their discrimination, while the religious get to do it scott free.
    Legislation doesn’t stop people doing anything, even murdering one another. So would you argue there should be no legislation about anything because it won’t stop people wanting to do stuff and it won’t make them use their common sense?

  23. hudsongodfrey says:

    I think it is in the nature of discrimination that it should be judged according to who it harms most.

    If for example you have something about you that prevents you from being able to do your job then obviously whoever your customer is in that job will be affected by your performance or lack thereof. Pacifists make lousy soldiers, and I hope folks with religious objections to blood transfusions don’t practice medicine in any hospital I’ve the misfortune to visit.

    If on the other hand your job is unaffected by your personal life then a requirement to fit a certain social template or to conceal your identity in some way is completely irrelevant. And if that affects you ability to secure employment then there is real harm to you done by others.

    We have in effect enacted anti-discrimination laws that make those clear distinctions throughout all of society except religious groups by exception. Everyone else is expected to abide by the law. The question now is how are those exceptions justifiable.

    I think anyone who argues this as them and us, or tries to bring persecution into it is actually playing to the strength of apologists for exceptionalism. Religious institutions are just going to say that the only way they can remain free of persecution is to cement themselves behind a wall of exceptionalism, and thus the problem of divisiveness this creates within our society will worsen.

    Whereas discrimination isn’t just wrong because secularists say that it is, or because religious groups recognise it in persecutions that they also have suffered. It is wrong because in a straightforwardly basic kind of way it offends the one moral code that we all pretty much agree about. It’s the Golden Rule, the “do unto others…” quote, the basic idea that like Wixxy I’m not gay or female either, but I don’t think any of us need to be in order to be quite sure it’s no fun to be treated like you’re inferior because of what you are when the real criteria should be what you’re able to do in the context of your employment.

    Blind Freddy ought to be able to see that this is a moral issue that shouldn’t be too hard to argue for a talented politician. Sadly however we’re lacking volunteers!

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