The virus has reached Western Sydney University!

No, not Kung Flu, the “everything is racist” virus, (yes, I’m aware “Kung Flu” could be said to be racist, but it’s still funny).

Here’s an academic hot take on “whither quarantine?” in response to COVID19. Spoiler alert; you’re racist.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin:

The effectiveness of quarantines, however, is doubtful, raising the question of what value there is to quarantines if it’s not public health.

Said nobody on the uninfected side of a quarantine barrier, ever.

There is political value in the quarantine for those who implicitly believe biological-racial purity is a condition of health…

There’s also value to those who believe not catching a dangerous virus is a condition of health. Which group is the larger, do you think?

For some, the quarantine rationalizes xenophobia and calls for ethnonationalist separation.

Who are these people and why haven’t I heard any of their “calls for ethnonationalist separation”?

Drawing on a long history of anti-Chinese sentiment, the Australian government has prohibited the entry of noncitizens from China and proposed to transport Australian citizens—many of whom will have traveled to China to celebrate the New Year with relatives—directly into a period of confinement at the immigration detention center on Christmas Island.

Which is an interesting way of saying, “they were medically evacuated, at great risk to the airline crew and taxpayer’s expense, from China to a safe but contained part of Australia. You’re welcome“.

The effect of these policies on some 200,000 students (a proportion of whom are returning from China for the new academic year in Australia) is unclear but will be enormous.

As enormous as the consequences of a national infection? Oh, they’ll just have to postpone a term? That enormous.

As with the extralegal approach pursued by the Australian government…

Extralegal? Do you have any references to cite to back that up? I’ll wait.

There’s more:

These practices highlight what Howard Markel describes as “quarantine’s aggressive potential for harm.” The harm is—as Markel suggested in his history of the treatment of East European Jewish immigrants in New York at the end of the 19th century—exacerbated for those who happen to find themselves on the “other” side of a quarantine border; its spread cannot be restricted along those lines because a virus is neither synonymous with a group of persons nor can it be identified by a passport.

Right, so quarantine is really bad for those on the infected side of the barrier. What would be the corollary of that, do we think? Bueller, anyone?

Read the next paragraph closely:

Measures other than quarantine have been found much more effective in preventing widespread contagion. In a lengthy review of the research on the comparative effectiveness of a number of measures (short of vaccines and antiviral drugs) to prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses—screening at entry ports, medical isolation, quarantine, social distancing, barriers, personal protection, and hand hygiene—the use of surgical masks and regular handwashing emerged as the most consistently effective set of physical interventions.

Anyone spot the problem?

In any event, expenditure and focus on quarantine restrictions tend to represent a redirection of resources away from measures likely to be more effective in both the immediate and longer term.

So what you’re saying is, I should catch the virus because the survivors will get the vaccine quicker? I’m not liking that deal as much as I think you want me to, to be honest with you.

SECOND, the resort to quarantines draws on the biological-racial understanding of nations as discrete organic entities and prevents or displaces a social understanding of health and disease.

Or it’s just a rational response to not wanting to get sick?

It is however doubtful that humans could have evolved without the species-jumping, recombinant action of bacterial genetics transmitted through viral infections. More to the point, all vaccines involve the modified administration of an infection, and immunization is only effective at the largest (rather than national) population scales.

Are there any other events that happened half a billion years ago we should factor into our public health policy decisions in 2020?

…the privatization of health care and the socialization of ill-health remains largely ignored as a contributing factor in both infection and mortality rates.

She’s talking about China, that champion of the free market in all aspects of life. No, really.

China’s decentralized, commercially oriented health system and the lack of health-care coverage have, in all likelihood, worsened the impact of any single disease…

Yes, I miss Chairman Mao too. He’d have known what to do. Probably shoot everyone in Wuhan, but at least they wouldn’t be sick.

THIRD, therefore the combination of the declared emergency, quarantine confinement, and lower regulatory standards significantly diminishes the cost of human drug trials and inflates the value of and market for patented drugs.

What? A lowering of the cost to trial new drugs increases the value of the drugs? (Flicks through every economic text book known to man)…. erm, how do you draw that conclusion?

As it happens, the Australian government has required anyone interned at Christmas Island to sign a waiver—presumably one that indemnifies the government and the private contractors who manage the facility in the event that internment results in infection or other health issues.

In which the author demonstrates magical powers of remote vision.

In other words, the quarantine on Christmas Island will be little more than a means of observing people who are confined for the average time that it takes COVID19 to incubate—if, that is, the virus is present among those detained.

And then draws a conclusion based on the magic remote document reading.

Here comes the finale, Le Grand Salade des Mots:

By way of a summary, this recent history of quarantine measures does not exactly replicate the cordon sanitaire of earlier centuries. The practical importance of virology in the development of the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries means that quarantine zones are not outside circuits of value, even while the quarantine acts as a means of segregation. The contemporary quarantine represents a merger between the authoritarian governance of populations and the facilitation and growth of private, selective health-care infrastructure. Given the importance of nonselectivity and scale to public health, nationalist approaches to health are more accurately described as a way of privatizing public health by other means.

No, I don’t have a fucking clue what that means either.

Bill’s Opinion

Angela Mitropoulos is a political theorist. Mitropoulos is a fellow at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University, Sydney.

Btw, I’m not sure how many Nobel laureates WSU has produced but the winners hold their annual dinner in a phone box on Pitcairn Island every 2nd February 29th.

I’m thinking “virologist”, “emergency ward doctor”, “mathematician” and “economist” would be the best disciplines to determine responses to pandemics.

Hi, emergency services? My kids have severe upper respiratory problems, get me a political theorist here as soon as you can”.

Periodic fable

More dispatches from the ABC’s correspondent in ClownWorld;

The backlash to inclusivity was real

Last year, Ms Harrison ran a handful of focus groups in her community to hear more about peoples’ experiences with menstrual taboos and stigma.

She wanted to be inclusive of the fact that not everyone who menstruated was a woman.

Wait, what?

“I put a callout asking for anyone who menstruates to come along and I was very surprised by the responses,” she said

As one does.

“People definitely put up a wall and made it very clear that they thought only women can menstruate and that if you don’t menstruate, you’re not a woman; this idea that that’s what defines an individual as a woman.

Your post-menopausal grandmother might have something to say about that. But, as a general rule, it’s a good indicator.

“Considering the spectrum of gender identities, this is a very narrow way of looking at things. Your femininity and your identity is so much more than whether you do or do not bleed.”

I’m starting to wonder whether Ms Harrison is really that interested in helping people with toiletries or just has a weird obsession with periods?

The backlash has not stopped Ms Harrison from working to make her movement more inclusive, starting with the language she uses to describe periods and the people who get them.

Backlash“, or as 99.9% of the world calls it, “biological reality“.

Who is highly likely to experience homelessness?

Generally, I’d take a guess that those with severe mental illness make up a large ratio.

There are currently no reliable figures on the number of trans and non-binary people in Australia, according to Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society researcher Jennifer Power.

No shit? Given that, about five minutes ago, we were told self-identification is reality and the alphabet people’s categories expand annually (Q? Plus sign?). Jazz hands up who’s surprised nobody can accurately measure who fits in which demographic?

“We just don’t have that population-level data in Australia for transgender people or for people of different sexual identities.”

Dr Power says this means we cannot know how many trans or non-binary people experience menstruation.

No, that’s wrong, we can solve that numerical question for you; it’s all the trans people who have “female” on their birth certificate who aren’t taking testosterone and haven’t experienced the menopause yet. You’re fucking welcome.

But the most comprehensive available data on trans homelessness rates in the country, in 2016, reported 22 per cent of trans people aged 14-25 had experienced either accommodation issues or homelessness.

See the comment above about mental illness.

Speaking from his lived experience as a trans person who has periods, Mx Blundell said menstruation itself could distress trans and non-binary people.

“Trans people can be really terrified of getting their periods. For me, it meant that puberty had started and that my body was no longer in my control.”

Really terrified“, or in other words, “reminded of biological reality“. Oh, and if you think you are in full control of your body before puberty, you might want to read about a thing called “disease”.

“Even the idea of opening a pad or a tampon packet and that being heard by people [in the men’s toilet], there’s an added anxiety,” Mx Blundell said.

{note to readers: if you’re feeling disoriented at this point, don’t panic, it’s the ABC that’s insane, not you}

“And sanitary bins are often limited to women-only spaces.”

Oh just fuck off.

But there’s more. Christ, there’s always more:

What can we do to erase the gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

Hands up who, until just now, didn’t realise there was a gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

To start, Mx Blundell says we need to get the language around periods right in the first place, whether they are being discussed in schools or on the labels of period products — but not for the reasons you might think.

We need to get the language around periods right“. Oh, we do, do we?

Do we get to express an opinion on this language change, the like of which hasn’t been seen since The Great Vowel Shift?

No? We just have to fall in line, right?

Yes, ma’am sir. What else should we change, pray tell?

“It’s not just about including people, it’s about being factually accurate,” he said.

“If you’re talking about a cervix, call it a cervix, if you’re talking about ovaries, say ovaries rather than ‘the female reproductive system’.

“And if you’re [using the phrase] feminine hygiene products, just call them pads and tampons.”

This may come a surprise, but the number of occasions I’ve found myself speaking about any of those nouns in the last 12 months is about zero. I have spoken about my (female) wife’s periods however, and subsequently picked up a packet of tampons for her whilst I was doing the weekly shopping.

Guess what? I managed to buy them without stigma too. Stunning and brave.

The stream of consciousness from the Bedlamite continues;

The companies behind period products have a role to play too, he said.

“The images used of bodies on packaging are often thin, hyper-feminine-looking bodies. Maybe go for some diversity there.”

What, like a builder in a dress waving a box of Tampax around at his colleagues on the construction site? Maybe to a Motörhead soundtrack?

Mx Blundell has a great future career ahead of zher in the advertising industry, clearly.

And then there is the wall of pink packaging in chemists and supermarkets.

“I personally love pink, but we’ve got to stop linking periods so explicitly to womanhood,” he said.

Yes. Quite right. We should probably do more to link periods to crop rotation in the 16th century or the pentatonic musical scale. What were we thinking, with our insensitivity linking periods to womanhood. Madness.

Mx Blundell explained using the right language and having the right imagery was important because calling and depicting things as they are would help break down society’s gendered notions of periods, making menstruation itself less likely to distress trans and non-binary people.

“.…calling and depicting things as they are“.

Yes, I think we can all agree that’s important.

From there, Mx Blundell said talking to trans people about their needs when it came to periods was paramount.

Paramount (adjective): more important than anything else; supreme.

We’ve solved all the other big issues in the world then, phew.

I’m getting bored now. One more quote:

There are some things that should happen regardless of location though, he added, such as ensuring access to specialised bins for period products in all bathrooms.

How many public bathrooms do we think there are in Australia? Maybe somewhere between 1 and 2 million?

Let’s say a quarter of those are gender neutral. Let’s estimate a tampon disposal bin costs $100.

That’s about $75,000,000 we’ll need to find from public coffers to install a new sanitary bin in every male toilet in the country to satisfy the demands of perhaps 1,260 people in Australia.

You read that number correctly. The 2016 census found 1,260 “non binary” people.

Let’s assume that number is too low by a factor of ten. We’re still expected to spend $6,000 (not including labour and administrative costs) on for each “non binary” person to put a new bin in every male toilet, to help them not feel stigma. Probably double that, if we assume only half are women people who menstruate.

Bill’s Opinion

Here’s a thought experiment for you to try:

Imagine you had a time machine and a universal translation device. Go back to various points in human (and even pre-human) natural history and ask the question, “who has periods?”.

When would be the first time someone answered the translated equivalent of anything other than “women“?

Probably about 2012, right?

This is a bizarre social experiment, isn’t it, the aim of which is something like; throw away all language and definitions of everything we rely on to navigate around life without serious daily conflict, and see what happens.

In fact, if you read the works of Rousseau and Foucault, that’s exactly what this is. It’s an attempt to destroy “constructs” to enable the tabula rasa to be re-written upon.

It’s my strong suspicion there are three broad categories of people pushing this crap;

1. Those who know what it is, or at least suspect, and are enjoying the destruction and their new super power to get people to act as they please. Mx Blundell, for example.

2. Those who just want to be kind and haven’t worked out what’s really going on and the likely highly-negative consequences. “Useful idiots”, in other words. Ms. Harrison, most likely.

3. Those who are utterly petrified of expressing an impure thought and having the mob completely destroy them forever. The journalist Yasmin Jeffrey, would seem to fall neatly into this description.

Perhaps there’s a quiet 4th category; the 99.9% of the population who are reading this in utter despair and rage.

Defund the ABC, it’s long past its sell-by date.

Losing faith in the Police

Well, most of us did ages ago, ever since Regatta de Blanc.

Anyway, it turns out most people in the UK have realised the cops can’t do their job.

Clearance rates are falling and the study shows the public are not blind to this.

Statistics like this are hard to hide after a while:

Of course, victims of crime in the garden of England (that’s Kent, in case you didn’t know) are not the only ones to realise there’s less than a 19/20ths chance of not being charged for a crime; the criminals know it too.

It becomes a vicious self-reinforcing cycle.

Historically, the public and the police have had a unique relationship, markedly different to most otherwise similar countries. This is often described as “policing by consent”, and that phrase is often referenced.

In fact, it’s worth reproducing the original wording of the 9 point instructions….

…..devised by the first Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis (Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne). The principles which were set out in the ‘General Instructions’ that were issued to every new police officer from 1829 were:

1 To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2 To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3 To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4 To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5 To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6 To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7 To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8 To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9 To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Consider then, how this type of statement on the West Yorkshire Police website aligns with those well-meaning statements of intent (italics mine):

What is a Hate Incident?

A Hate Incident is any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity or perceived disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Examples include:

Verbal or online abuse, insults or harassment, such as taunting, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace.

A hate incident doesn’t mean that we won’t take it seriously if someone reports it.

Of course, it’s not even legally correct; dumping rubbish through letter boxes certainly is illegal already in West Yorkshire.

But what an interesting comparison to make; the West Yorkshire police force have time to investigate a non-crime that has been perceived to be offensive to anybody yet are managing to charge fewer than 7 out of 100 actual crimes.

It feels like there may be just a slight mis-allocation of resources going on oop north.

Bill’s Opinion

A police force that allocates more than zero expensively-trained uniformed coppers on an investigation into a case of hurty tweets yet has a clearance rate for real crime (those crimes with actual victims) of less than one in ten cases should have the entire managerial level replaced immediately and their pensions cancelled.

TransIndigenous Mediation

Australian author Bruce Pascoe is in a spot of bother. His ancestry has been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation into his ethnicity.

Ponder that for a moment; in 2020, it’s in the purview of the police to question and, presumably, lay criminal charges as consequence of what they might find regarding someone’s ethnicity.

How on earth did we get here?

In Pascoe’s case, it’s been a lengthy journey and one which, depending on which “team” you are on looks like this chronology listed by Andrew Bolt or the more sympathetic version (presumably written by supporters) in his Wikipedia entry.

What’s apparent from either side of the story is Bruce’s claimed Australian Aboriginal ancestry is not likely to amount to many actual relatives who existed anywhere but his fertile imagination, if any at all.

But how did he manage to get away with this fantasy for so long?

Obviously, the opportunity was created by well-meaning politicians. When trying to rectify centuries of appalling and egregious treatment of the first people of Australia, politicians needed to create a definition against which they could allocate the additional state funding and resources.

That definition is as follows:

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.

Can any bright students see the problem with that?

Yes, young girl at the back of the class, what’s the answer?

The words identify, accept and community all require definition to remove subjectivity.

If not, there is a situation ripe for exploitation by people who want free money.

As in most situations, where America leads, Australia follows.

Famously, 2020 Presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren, was the recipient of a place at law college reserved for a Native American after claiming to be Cherokee.

Cheekier still, Rachel Dolezal claimed to be of African American ancestry to become chapter president of the NAACP without having any black ancestors.

What can we learn from this?

Bill’s Opinion

As always, incentives matter.

In a situation where there’s free value (money, housing, academic places, increased employment prospects, perception of victimhood) and little obvious consequence for lying, there will be fraud.

The fact that this isn’t obvious to legislators says more about their IQs and knowledge of human nature than the dishonesty of the people who claim to be an ethnicity they are not.

Warren and Pascoe and Dolezal (see what I did there?) are at the top end of the fraud town. It’s not beyond imagination to suspect there are likely countless more frauds at the bottom end.

And who can blame them; presumably people already living an underprivileged life have a great incentive to invent a memory of an distant indigenous background like Pascoe’s to get to the front of the queue for housing or free dental care, for example.

What is going to be interesting about Pascoe’s case is to see what the decision might be regarding the potential crime committed. I’m not a lawyer so my research for precedent utilises the same resources as you, i.e. Google.

The best I could find was this campaign, which infers there’s definitely suspected cases of Aboriginal identity fraud but doesn’t describe any consequence.

My suspicion is, the crime rarely, if ever, results in a successful prosecution for two reasons; 1) there would need to be proof of intent rather than a mistaken “family memory”, and 2) until Pascoe, the people committing the crime were already in relatively humble conditions so the authorities took a lenient view.

Of course, like Elizabeth Warren, Pascoe has a low cost and quick remedy to clear his name; take a DNA test with 23 and Me.

We’ll wait, Bruce. We’ll wait.

In the USA, people who fraudulently claim to be military veterans are guilty of the crime of “Stolen Valor” (in the UK, they’re referred to by the name “Walt“).

In Australia, the Aboriginals suffered the pain and trauma of the Stolen Generation.

Now it would seem Bruce Pascoe and others might be accused of Stolen Victimhood.

Again, incentives matter; when victimhood is increasingly seen as having value, don’t be surprised to see fraudulent claims to it.

The ballad of Israel Folau

We’ve been following the petty story of Israel closely for some time now. It was obvious it wasn’t going to end well for Rugby Australia and, lo it came to pass.

They’ve settled with him before the court case, probably because of the minor difficulty that they forgot to insist on a social media clause when his contract was renewed 10 months ago.

I’d guess that mistake is worth about 5 years’ of his salary, so somewhere between $7m and $8m.

The missing social media restriction clause would have been no more than 50 words. So, about $150k a word.

Even Ed Sheeran doesn’t get paid at that rate.

In the main, the commentators on this organ knew what was going on; this was the latest skirmish in the Great Culture War of 2019. Obviously, ever the contrarian, Bardon decided Folau wouldn’t win the case.

If he’d gone to court, perhaps he wouldn’t. But, as we say in our house, “if me mam had wheels she’d be a trolley“.

I daren’t look at Pirate Pete’s opinion piece on the settlement. I genuinely haven’t read it but I imagine it will contain virtue signalling to the diverse (but not religious brown people), wokescolding against the religious bigots (but only one type), and soft criticism of Rugby Australia for signing inadequate contracts of employment.

Bill’s Opinion

As I have said repeatedly on this subject, I don’t care nor want to know what an athlete’s views are on theology.

I also would prefer to live in a world where those views, as long as they don’t call for violence, don’t result in them losing their job either.

Finally, the heuristic remains; if you need to quickly determine what is correct or to predict the future, check what Peter Fitzsimons has preached and assume the 180 degree position.

Brian’s bunker

Good friend of this organ, Brian Hartzer, CEO of Wokepac, hasn’t had the greatest of weeks.

It turns out that, while he was spending much of his working life making diversity hires, virtue signalling with drag queens and using shareholder value to project pretty coloured lights on the HQ for whatever victimhood day it happens to be, he took his eye off the less important part of his job description; running a bank.

Don’t worry, nothing bad happened, just a few illegal international money transfers in breach of the anti-laundering laws.

How many, you ask?

Oh, just 23 million.

Any issue in that number? Oh, only a load of payments likely used to facilitate sexual abuse of children in third world countries.

Nothing to see here then.

What’s really interesting though is how quickly Brian managed to recruit Prince Andrew’s PR manager.

Well, one assumes that’s what’s happened, otherwise how else can the press release be explained?

Bill’s Opinion

If facilitating extensive sexual abuse of children through professional incompetence isn’t a firing matter, I’m struggling to work out what is.

The most likely explanation is that the bank needs a little time to sort out the work visa for Brian’s replacement.

We can exclusively confirm that this will be none other than Prince Andrew who has fortunately suddenly become available for new work.

Nobody named Brian is ever competent

It’s an uncomfortable but unconscious truth that some first names are not associated with success. Those which immediately spring to mind include; Wayne, Kevin, and Nigel.

Brian is another example. Yes, the guitarist from Queen is highly competent in the fields of music and astrophysics, but he’s the exception, like Farage is amongst all the Nigels.

Australia has a classic “incompetent Brian” running (ruining?) the bank, Wokepac.

Luckily for Brian, he’s a member of The Club, which is handy because this time next year he’ll need to find a new job.

Why?

Two reasons:

Firstly, he’s been at the helm during the latter phases of the multi-decade ongoing decline of the weakest of Australia’s “big four” banks, culminating in the apologetic letter (from page 10) in the annual report.

Secondly, he’s got to find $8m cash in his personal bank account between now and March next year.

Now, I’ve no doubt Brian’s personal wealth easily exceeds that; he earns over half of that a year in the salary component of his package alone, notwithstanding his generous decision to waive his performance bonus.

The more pertinent question is whether or not he has enough personal belief in the future of Wokepac, the Australian banking industry and the Australian economy in general, to cash in $8m of his investments and personal wealth and transfer it to shares in the dog of the banking sector?

Bills Opinion

Since joining The Club, Brian has feathered his nest nicely whilst virtue signalling, using shareholder’s money, on matters LGBTQ+, Aboriginal, diversity and every other cause célèbre.

The time has come to see quite how committed he is to this as a future business strategy. Chicken or pig, Brian?

Lifting the veil on the narrative

Consider this tragic story of prejudice and bigotry:

The mood after the race was jubilant. Sixteen-year-old Noor Alexandria Abukaram, who had just run her best time yet, hugged her high school teammates as they realised they were headed to regionals.

So far, so inspiring.

Then the students went to check their individual times at last Saturday’s Ohio cross-country meeting, Abukaram remembers. It seemed there was a mistake – her 22 minutes 22 seconds was not listed.

Oh no! Why not?

Other team members who’d sat out Abukaram’s race told her what they’d heard: an official at the Ohio High School Athletic Association approached their coach just before the race to say Abukaram needed a waiver to wear her hijab. Without it, she couldn’t compete.

That’s awful. Imagine thinking you’d competed and won fairly only to discover an obscure rule you’d never known previously had disqualified you.

Abukaram had never experienced this type of bureaucratic nonsense over religious clothing before, after all.

Abukaram says she’s watched her older sister come home crying from soccer games, after being told to change out of religious garb like the long pants she wears in addition to a headscarf.

Oh, that’s awkward.

The article then mentions a different, elite-level, athlete with similar problems:

Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first US athlete to compete in the Olympics with a hijab, has described sticking out uncomfortably at competitions and being asked to remove her headscarf for an event ID photo.

Well, unless everyone is forced to wear a headscarf, then I suppose she would look different, wouldn’t she?

As for ID photos requiring an unrestricted image of the competing athlete, I’m sure someone with even the mildest ability to hypothesise could think of how waiving that rule might result in a bad result.

Back to Abukaram’s tragic case. What say the athletics event organisers?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says it wasn’t singling out Abukaram last weekend, just enforcing its rules. Students need a waiver to run cross-country in “religious headwear”, spokesman Tim Stried told The New York Times, and Abukaram’s school had not requested one.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they, the bigots.

Abukaram’s request after Saturday’s race was approved “immediately”, Stried said. That means Abukaram can run this weekend in regionals.

Oh.

For Abukaram, the decision to strike her time was still hurtful. She wants the waiver requirement dropped – something OHSAA is now considering, Stried told the Times.

Quite right too. Everyone should be forced to change because of one person’s inability to ask for a waiver….which was granted immediately when requested.

Bills Opinion

Crybully is an interesting noun which explains much of what we see in cases involving participants in “The Oppression Olympics”.

In the entire article linked above, and the countless clones of it available via a Google search, the word “why” is conspicuously missing.

As in, “why does the Ohio High School Athletic Association ban head coverings unless agreed in advance?

I can’t find the reasons on the association’s website, mainly because the bylaws and general rules pages have been removed. Interestingly, they are proud enough of their transgender policy to leave that up (spoiler alert; it’s a fudge, like Cricket Australia’s).

We’ll have to speculate then.

I imagine the rule was made because, unless they legislated for every possible religious headgear, they had to reserve the right to review each individual case and not be unreasonable in granting the waivers.

How might a general rule allowing headgear be abused?

Well, we could ask why cyclists wear this type of helmet, for example:

Then there might be reasons of safety; headphones are banned because its restricts competitors’ ability to be aware of other runners.

It seems reasonable, therefore, to check each proposed headgear before a race.

But, claiming victim status and throwing accusations of bigotry is rewarded because incentives matter.

Little Forethought by the Sea

From the book of faces:

This follows on from the Sydney suburbs of Leichardt and Haberfield being renamed to “Little Italy”.

What a great idea and an utterly genius way to improve the social cohesion between various ethnicities living in the melting pot of Australia.

Let’s step through some versions of the possible logic behind this decision:

  1. Everyone is envious of Chinatown having a name other than “the southern part of Sussex Street”, so we should let everyone else name their place accordingly, or
  2. We love multiculturalism so much, although we can’t really explain what it means but it feels like it’s a warm and lovely version of that 1971 advert for Coca Cola, or
  3. There’s a majority of a particular ethnic group in my constituency and this locks their vote in for me next election.

As with all political decisions, the implications of this are only considered when they directly impact the next election cycle.

More curious minds might ask whether naming areas of a city after the majority ethnic groups residing there is a sound long term strategy?

Where might this lead?

Slippery slope fallacies are to be avoided but, if we now have three areas named in such a way, there’s obviously some level of trend to be observed.

It’s not hard to imagine a situation in the near future where tensions are inflamed because of a perception that this is “our area” and a particular ethnicity isn’t welcome.

It probably happens already to a certain extent but now such an attitude has a perception of legitimacy through Council decree.

Bill’s Opinion

Where might this end? Here’s some suggestions for future naming changes:

Lakemba: Little Lebanon

Glebe: Big Lesbos

Mascot: Little Guangzhou

S’nives: Little Jo’burg

Point Piper: Little Taxation

Paramatta Road: Little Hope And Maintenance

Gosford: Little Dentistry

Mosman: Little Empathy On Sea

Canberra: Little Accountability

Bondi: The Irish and the Jewish communities will have to fight it out for naming rights. The clever money is betting Mossad will beat Continuity Backpackers by a cricket score.

As fun as this is, there’s a couple of versions of the future that could be reasonably envisioned. They are both probably unrealistic, but I suspect only one was ever in the minds of the people behind this push to rename suburbs:

The war is won, go back to your farms and families

Let’s pick an arbitrary moment in history; the OJ Simpson car chase, perhaps. People who are old enough to remember that event are of an age where they will have also witnessed a huge change in society from that time to the present day.

If you were old enough to be aware of the OJ Simpson case in 1994, you’ll also remember how it was still considered a massive problem to be openly gay in many areas of public life.

Some obvious examples:

Freddie Mercury – it wasn’t until just before his death of AIDS in 1992 that his sexuality was publicly acknowledged. 

Liberace – also not publicly acknowledged as being gay until after his death in 1987, despite some fairly obvious clues.

Rock Hudson – same story, died in 1984.

It seems ridiculous now to think that homosexuality would be in any way a bar to career success, particularly in the entertainment industry, in 2019. In addition, most western countries have laws explicitly banning discrimination against someone based on their sexual orientation and recognising same sex marriage as equal in law as that between men and women.

 

Similarly, someone who grew up in  the 1970s and 80s would have seen a large change in the attitudes of the media and the general public towards the acceptability of racism.

Examples from the UK:

The Black and White Minstrel Show – a “light entertainment” show on the BBC featuring singers and dancers in blackface that ran for 20 years until 1978…. and continued on stage in London until 1988.

The Goodies – the Pythonesque comedy show regularly used offensive racial terms in the show, including at least one reference of the “N word”.

Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, most mainstream TV stand-up comics – many relied heavily on racial stereotypes in their humour. Even the black comedian, Lenny Henry, had a rasta character of which he is probably somewhat embarrassed these days.

 

The same is true with the western societies’ attitudes to women in the workplace. At the highest level of office, many countries have elected female leaders, with New Zealand and the UK having had two (albeit with mixed results). There have been huge shifts in the numbers of women having successful corporate and governmental careers.

On a personal note, the majority of my corporate bosses over the 2nd half of my career have been female, completely the opposite of the previous half.

 

When one considers where we’ve come from to where we have arrived today, the improvements have been overwhelmingly positive. Someone uttering a racist, sexist or homophobic comment in society today would be, rightly, quickly criticised.

Perhaps we have an altogether different problem now……

If I had to give the problem a name, I’d offer something like, “the asymmetry of lobbyists and issues“.

To understand what I mean by this, consider the following thought experiment; 

If you could plot two lines on a graph over time, where one line measures the organisation size (by staff or perhaps revenue) of a campaign group against racism, sexism or homophobia and the other line measures the size of the problem they are campaigning to solve, which directions would each line be traveling?

That is, do you think homophobia is getting better or worse and do you think, say, Stonewall, has become larger or smaller (not to particularly pick on Stonewall)?

Bill’s Opinion

There comes a moment in every war where the combatants must decide whether the fight has been won or lost and what their plans will be as a consequence.

In the example of a “real” war, one fought with bullets and bombs, once it has been won the armies generally begin the process of de-mobilisation, go home to their loved ones and continue with their lives, “turning swords into ploughshares”, as the phrase has it.

It doesn’t seem obvious that anything similar is likely to happen with culture wars such as the ones described above as, obviously, the organisations have been created and are not motivated to dismantle themselves under a banner saying “Mission Accomplished”. 

The alternative is what we see today; scope creep. People who make their salaries from finding a problem and solving a problem will continue to find problems, regardless of whether those problems are material or even real.