30 April, 2010

"The internet is for porn" (sic).

Have you seen that Rowan Atkinson skit where he's the devil welcoming people into hell, and segregating all of the sinner groups? He just goes through the list: murderers, liars, thieves, the guys that owned Enron, , ..." and then he does a double take and exclaims "oh snap there are a lot of you!" Even the devil is shocked by the sheer number of philanderers. Well, here's a smooth segue: porn is a massive problem and tonnes of people's lives are ruined by it. Oh snap.

I'm not making this up. Porn is men's worst kept best kept secret and that's a problem all on it's own. Let me tell you a relevant and shocking story: A woman bought a Playboy and was surprised/disgusted at the contents: especially when she got the interview with John Mayer. The article uses fairly graphic and embarrassing language. But it was interesting.
(the link is http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2848775.htm#comments).

... did you read it? Don't get caught up on Mayer - I don't want to talk about Mayer, but he says something that gives a better idea of the problem at hand:
"Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation’s expectations. How could you be constantly synthesizing an orgasm based on dozens of shots? You’re looking for the one photo out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still don’t finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back and continue your shot hunt and continue to make yourself late for work. How does that (porn) not affect the psychology of having a relationship with somebody? It’s got to."

Creepy, right?

The problem isn't only that every other guy I know can't get enough of it but also the fact that it seems to have seeped into our everyday lives, and it's starting to show, and more surprisingly, we just don't care very much.

the pornofication of culture.
This thing effects culture at large.

It has been referred to as 'the pornofication of culture'. Yuk.

Perhaps we're starting to catch on. Both yesterday and the day before I caught new articles online about the issue of music videos being too sexual. Here's a quote from one:
"The pornification of pop means children may be encountering very adult ideas about sex at an age when they're developmentally ill equipped to deal with them...
Last year in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, writer Penny Marshall told of a 12-year-old girl who was suspended from school for posting a pornographic poem on its intranet. The poem read like a call girl's ''graphic boast''. But the girl was merely trying to write a Top 40-style song. ''What I wrote didn't seem so bad when everyone else writes and talks like that too,'' she said.
"There are plenty of grey areas here. For instance, I like Lily Allen's song It's Not Fair, a painfully honest account of a one-sided sexual relationship, and I think it might be reassuring for a teenage girl to hear this. My chief objection is the way so many [music] videos depict women as being endlessly sexually available, in the style of porn."
Sorry, long quote. But look at it: you've got a 12 year old writing stuff that could've originated from the journal of a prostitute - and she was merely drawing simple inspiration from stuff she hears every day on the radio, and can see on the telly every Saturday morning with a PG rating.

the stats.
Some straight up disturbing stats on the porn industry's size and accessibility:
"The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. 2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues ballooned to $97.06 billion."
The annual budget for America's occupation of Iraq for the entire year of 2006 was a whole ten billion less than that.

And yes, you read billion.

A total of 4.2 million websites contain pornography. That is 12 percent of the total number of websites.
In 2005, Hollywood made 603 movies. The porn industry in the U.S. made 13,588.

Pornography ruins us.

The way we think is changed, spoiled, perverted.
I get the impression that there is a lot of talk flying around that suggests porn only encourages a "natural" thing but it actually changes our perception of natural things and makes it unnatural. Someone suggested to me once that some people only have issues with breastfeeding in public because of the overly sexualised perception we have of a woman's body - and the availability of porn and its creeping into our everyday lives will only accelerate and exacerbate the problem. Even Mayer realizes that this stuff changes us - and not for the better. I'm picturing marriages/relationships that suffer a kind of ADHD thing worse than ?uestlove's Twitter account.

Porn is the extreme and obvious deep end of the “what messes up our opinions on how we should look/think about our bodies” pool. The shallow end consists of subtler and more mainstream things like music videos, teen mags and prime time television. It’s all steeped with negative body image and objectification. But I don’t have creepy stats or Mayer quotes about any of that so for the time being I’m sticking with porn.

So what do we do about it?

How do we curb the pornofication of culture? Is there any way we can reclaim our innocence, at all? Are we even willing to? Porn isn't growing for free - those billions of dollars come from us buying the stuff. I wonder how much money we could raise if we all stopped buying porn during OWSOMS? A million dollars? Half a million? Ten thousand? Maybe when you're entering your credit card details into one of those 4.2 million websites that offer the stuff you could think about where the money goes - and instead use it to sponsor one or five mission projects overseas.

As Captain David Collinson says, it's just a thought.

18 April, 2010

Australians: Redneck or reasonable?

The asylum seeker debate has reared its ugly head again. Why? Because it is election time and it is a political hot potato. But again, why? Why is it that Labor will dip in the polls the second they even utter the term ‘asylum seeker’???

Well, let’s start with the basics.

What is an asylum seeker?
'An asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.’


Why are they coming to Australia?
They are not coming here for the sandy beaches and the sweet number of public holidays. They are fleeing their country of massive persecution and death for a democratic country that signed a UN treaty stating it would accept them.

What happens when they get here?
If they can make it to the mainland of Australia, they will be detained and processed, and possibly released into the community to await the outcome of their application for refugee status. However, with no guaranteed right to work, or financial assistance through government pensions, or health schemes, asylum seekers become the most vulnerable group of people in the country. Almost all asylum seekers rely on charities for 100% of their welfare; from food to housing to legal and medical care.
If they don't make it to the mainland, they will be taken to Christmas Island to be housed in an overcrowed detention centre.

Why are they suddenly flooding into Australia?
The rate of people arriving here by boat has always been tiny. The largest number to arrive in any 12-month period over the past three decades is 4100. Compare that with about 200,000 new permanent migrants every year. Boat arrivals so far this year amount to less than three days' worth of ordinary migration. Even at the current arrival rate, it would take 30 years of boat arrivals to fill the MCG. Almost all of them are fleeing real and terrible persecution. (info from Julian Burnside)

Why does Tony Abbott dislike asylum seekers so much?
Abbott claims that floods of asylum seekers are coming here by boat (which is exaggerated); they pass through other countries to get here (fun and safe countries like Burma and Indonesia!); they can and should stay in those other countries but they come here because, after all, Australia is such a great country who wouldn't want to come here (Indonesia, population 230 million, never promised the world they would…Australia population 21 million, did!)
I am not certain Mr Abbot dislikes asylum seekers as people, but he really like the votes he can win off them.

What would Jesus do?
Mr Abbot has answered this with the following:
"Jesus didn't say yes to everyone," (Hmmm...except for that little chestnut of ‘knock and the border, I mean door, will be open)
"Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it's not necessarily everyone's place to come to Australia." (Actually, I’m not sure whether the itinerant evangelist who had ‘nowhere to rest his head’ would have thought this. What was the advice to his disciples…”And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." That sounds more like Jesus.)
"Don't forget, Jesus drove the traders from the temple as well." (eh???)
"This idea that Jesus would say to every person who wanted to come to Australia, 'Fine, the door's open', I just don't think is necessarily right," (Jesus literally used the phrase, ‘the door will be open’!)
"(But) let's not verbal Jesus, he is not here to defend himself." (Did someone not tell Tony about that whole Easter Sunday thing??)

Those of us that are Christian do know what is required of us.

Leviticus 19:34 says “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” And let’s not forget the story of the good Samaritan. Our neighbour is not the fellow Australian born. It is any one of God’s children.

Is Rudd a better alternative?
As much as I would like to say that the Rudd Government is the more humane party, the government’s plan to suspended asylum applications causes me to doubt. The decision on April 9 means that Sri Lankans will not be processed for at least three months while Afghans will face a wait of at least six months. The government flagged that people from these countries will face a much tougher battle for entry and suggested that the reason for this move is the increased security and stability within these countries. (google The Age for more details)

However, the latest information from key agencies, including the UNHCR, is at odds with the government's statements. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a Geneva-based group that monitors movements of people uprooted by conflict states that ''efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan have so far been unsuccessful in ensuring access to justice for the vast majority of Afghans''.

More than 2.5 million Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan and Iran, with just 54,000 returning last year. The biggest factor deterring them was worsening security. From this we can conclude two things. Afghanistan is not a safe place and it’s people are justified in seeking asylum. And second, Iran and Pakistan accept 2.5 million Afghan refugees, and yet we are having a ‘crisis’ over a couple of thousand???!!!

It boils down to this
Asylum seekers are political fodder for both parties, and neither are prepared to accept their obligation to help. They cannot be allowed to destroy hope and opportunity because their potentially racist and ignorant constituents are willing to decide their election votes on the tough handling of asylum seekers.

Just Salvos Live!
To hear this issue discussed in more detail, and to find out what you can do to help, tune into isalvos.net for Just Salvos Live, from Wednesday 21st April at 10am, and listen to the thoughts of Kon Karapanagiotidis, CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne.

Gen Peterson

07 April, 2010

Just Salvos Live - Indigenous Issues: Let My People Go!

A world apart

Today in the news we see two pieces which show just how out of step we are here in Australia with world views on the treatment of women.

In Iceland where around 50% of MP's are women, strip bars (and any establishment where employees are expected to work not fully clothed) were banned. It is clear to the majority of Iceland MP's that women are more than objects to be lured at and used for short term sexual gratification. A spokesman stated that "women - or people in general - are not a product to be bought and sold" - Praise God for their enlightenment!


Here in Australia the NT Government is currently reviewing a request from someone (interestingly enough, a woman!) who wants to run a "mobile brothel" to miners. It seems miners "only have one thing on their mind" when they come out of their hole in the ground. This operator hopes to run her shaggin wagon around the mining settlements with girls on a two week on, two week off roster fulfilling the sexual needs of the miners (and - no pun intended - drillers).

This bus - if approved (which is looking likely) - it seems, would leave women 'locked in' for two weeks while they are driven around the desert being used and discarded by hoards of men "with cash to burn".


We really are a world apart!


01 April, 2010

Six reasons NOT to buy fair trade

Six reasons NOT to buy fair trade:
“It is too expensive.”
I agree. Justice does cost a few extra dollars. But injustice will cost someone their life, so let’s keep it in perspective.

“I seriously can’t afford it! I am on a low income”
Whatever you are earning is likely more than the slave who produced the unfair product.

“I don’t like the taste. I like my regular coffee.”
When a coffee bean is picked by a worker being paid properly, it doesn’t radically take on a new taste. Fair trade is not a flavour; it is a principle. So shop around and find a flavour you like that has been traded fairly. You may have to give up that quality International Roast until their producers see the light!

“There is not enough variety”
You are correct. It is time more of us start demanding that our favourite clothes, chocolates, coffee, sporting goods, furniture and all those other items we love to spend our wealth on are produced fairly. It is time for you to start paying attention, and demanding justice. When you increase demand, supply will inevitably follow.

“I am scared I will turn into a hippy if I buy that stuff!”
It’s true, fair trade and justice in general is often associated with left wing, op shop-wearing, placard-waving university students. But buying fair trade doesn’t mean you have to stop showering and start sporting plaid. Buying fair trade is simply a demonstration that you care more about your oppressed brothers and sisters than you do about saving a couple of dollars.

“I like to see England beat Australia in all forms of competition”
If you take a stroll around London, you will find fair trade options everywhere. They are miles ahead of Australia in relation to awareness and application of justice. As an Australian, you must know how important it is to rectify this, and increase our demand for fair and ethically traded goods…if for no other reason than to overtake the Poms!

Ok, so the last two reasons may seem a little peculiar, but to me, they are all peculiar. You see, there are no legitimate reasons NOT to buy fair trade products where the option is available. There are only excuses.

So, please buy fairly traded and ethically produced products. And, please prompt more retailers to provide fair trade options for you to buy…and then buy them.