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.

Peter Hannam isn’t even trying now

Anyone who has worked in a job where the presentation of data is an important factor, such as manufacturing, finance, IT, HR, retail, government, education, etc., will know that there are several underhand tricks one can play to persuade the viewer of the opinion you’re trying to sell.

Canny observers are sensitive to these and quickly challenge the presenter or, in sales situations where they have an alternative, simply dismiss the sales pitch and move to a more truthful competitor.

Consider then, this latest chart crime from Peter “weather is climate” Hannam in the ever-declining organ, the Sydney Morning Herald.

If you’ve never seen a graph before, the fact that this one is showing the Indian Ocean Dipole ratio trending above 2.0 for the first time ever may send you off into a public mental decline á la Mx. Thunberg.

Everyone else with a brain looks at the X-axis and immediately asks themselves two questions;

  1. What happened in all the years before 2015? and,
  2. What is Peter Hannan’s agenda for not showing it to us?

Hannam can’t quite bring himself to completely lie by omission though, so leaves a clue in the article (highlighting mine):

Scientists caution that reliable observation data only goes back a couple of decades but it is clear this year’s positive-IOD is already one of the strongest of record. So-called “reanalysis” using a combination of observations and modelling suggests the event is also notable over the past 150 years.

After warming us up with that seemingly benign statement explaining that we’ve got about 20 years of observations and then just modelled the rest using a completely un-disprovable simulation, he then goes on to show us the “missing” part of the chart:

Tip for new chart readers; that small print below the graph, explaining the data collection method is where the real news lies (pun intended).

Then comes the obligatory explanations of the data by scientists paid to research the subject of which we are being persuaded is important:

While researchers are yet to settle on how much of a role climate change is already playing in big El Ninos or IODs, “we’re seeing extreme events become more common”, Abram says.

Go on then, define “extreme” and “more common”. We’ll wait….

England says that while IODs can act independently of the Pacific, the connections remain important. For instance, the so-called Indonesian Throughflow – where warm water from the Pacific funnels its way to the Indian Ocean – could change.

…and if my mother had wheels we could use her as wheelbarrow.

“The predictions are for that to weaken,” he says. “If it does, that would be a double whammy of more El Ninos plus more positive-IODs.”

The potentially huge consequences from such complex interactions are a reminder that researchers can’t rest.

Those poor researchers, unable to rest. Thank goodness there’s an infinite supply of tax-slaves to fund their unending Heraklean endeavours.

Bill’s Opinion

In all areas of life, beware of people brandishing suspicious charts. Question not only the data collection methodology but the start and end points of both the x and y axis and whether or not a logarithmic scale is more appropriate.

After all, I might have presented the x axis of this chart completing at Day 99 instead of 100:

Image result for happiness of a turkey chart

One of the scientists offered this word salad in the interview:

“We are perturbing the atmosphere in a profound way with greenhouse gases,” England says. “How this changes our modes of variability is uncertain.”

There’s a key point being made here; the driving forces resulting in the Indian Ocean Dipole ratio over the last 100 years and into the future are, wait for it, multi-variable, as in an almost infinite number of variables.

Anyone claims to be able to accurately predict, or even directionally-predict a multi-variable equation such as the ratio of sea temperatures between the western and eastern sides of an ocean is either a fool or a knave.

Peter Hannam has enough of a back catalogue of presenting this sort of mendacity as fact that we feel certain his motivation is to lie to us to push forward a personal agenda.

J’accuse, Peter Hannam. You are a liar.

On Extinction Rebellion and other doomsday cults

With the news this week of a family of cloggy Kaas Kops living in the basement of a farm for nine years waiting for the end of the world, perhaps we can poke some fun at the various Bedlamites living amongst us.

There’s plenty of examples to point at, they’ve been around for as long as humans have been around.

Millenarianism and apocalypticism are versions of this and students of history will pluck examples from thousands of years ago in all corners of the globe through to the present day.

Let’s start with the infamous Manson “family”.

Their beliefs were that Charles Manson was the reincarnation of Jesus and there was a forthcoming race war. The cult ended with the Waverley Drive murders, internecine murders and the trial and conviction of Manson.

Except it didn’t; murders were still committed by the “family” until the mid-70s. The cult members really had drunk deep from the well of Manson’s Kool-Aid.

Speaking of Kool-Aid, next we have the Reverend Jim Jones. For his first couple of decades of adult life, he led various churches which had increasingly cult-like qualities. The beliefs he promulgated were a mixture of socialism, nuclear apocalyptic prophesies and, eventually “transition” to another planet after suicide.

As investigations began to close in on his activities, he took nearly a thousand followers to “Jonestown” in Guyana and eventually persuaded many to commit suicide by ingesting cyanide mixed in the aforementioned Kool-Aid (where the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” originates) or murder each other, including the children. Jones shot himself.

Over in Japan, Aum Shinryko was established by Shoko Ashara. The YouTuber Count Dankula has an amusing video on this group here, which is well worth a viewing.

Their beliefs were a hotchpotch of Buddhism, Hinduism and Shintoism with a spicy nuclear apocalyptic theme.

After a long history of extortion, violence and murders, they released the nerve gas, sarin, on the Tokyo underground with devastating effects.

Shoko was eventually hanged in 2018.

An interesting fact about the death penalty in Japan is that, once convicted, you aren’t given a date of when the execution will occur. You go to bed every night unsure if this is your last. If you’re still in your cell about an hour after breakfast, chances are you’ve got another day on the planet.

I can’t work out whether I think that’s “cruel and unusual punishment” or fitting for the crime.

Our next cult is the comet-hopping Heaven’s Gate. According to Wikipedia, they were/are (there’s still a couple of them around, apparently) a “UFO religious, New religious movement”, which as classifications go, surely can’t be a particularly large club.

Their belief system was based on the premise that the planet would be wiped clean and they had to leave to avoid being caught up in this global spring clean.

Have a read of their Wiki page and chuckle at how the beliefs had to be modified based on the inconvenient evidence of one of their key members dying rather than hitching a ride on a spaceship.

This change of belief resulted in a mass suicide to coincide with the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet. The mass suicide was preceded by 8 of them voluntarily castrating themselves in 1997.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s probably fine if your religious belief involves an unprovable premise. After all, a synonym of that might be “hypothesis”.

However, if your religious belief requires you to murder others, mutilate the genitals of children or commit suicide, consider the possibility you’ve drunk the modern equivalent of Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid.

There seems to have been a bit of a theme running through all these cults where they are reacting to a catastrophic threat, be it religious, nuclear or alien, resulting in escalating extreme actions by the adherents.

So, all that said, what might history make of those crazy kids at Extinction Rebellion and the Swedish Cabbage Patch Doll, Greta Thunberg?

And whose fault do we think it might be that they have managed to wind themselves up into such a frenzy of fear?

History suggests one possible destination for some of the more gullible members.

This ends badly for everyone

A young person privately expresses views that are incompatible with those of their employer.

Someone notifies a national newspaper of these views.

The national newspaper publishes the correspondence.

The young person is fired and will likely struggle to find future employment in a similar field as a consequence.

A columnist writes a follow-up sarcastic opinion piece on the newly-unemployed person.

The public interest to justify publication; his brother cousin is famous.

No, seriously.

Let’s put it another way:

A private citizen had their private religious views made front page news and the newspaper contacted his employer for comment, presumably with the expectation the employer would act upon the information.

That’s the world in which we find ourselves in 2019. If you have impure thoughts you will be cancelled and, presumably pour encourager les autres, your family will be similarly targeted.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve previously stated, it is now clear that the Israel Folau case is the left’s chosen battleground for the culture war this year.

That his brother cousin, Josiah, has been targeted in this way further supports this hypothesis. It’s a tactic from the Soviets – not only do we want you to be punished publicly, but your family will be in our sights too.

That there seems to be little shock or surprise from the commentariat is also deeply worrying.

Peter Fitzsimons, for example, clearly didn’t think for one moment of what the consequences of this approach might be for his children, Billi, Louis and Jake. With two famous parents, this new standard makes them fair targets for analysis and scrutiny for thought crimes.

We will not enjoy where the road takes us if our private thoughts at the age of 23 are now legitimate front page material to serve one side or the other in a culture war.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who pointed out my reading comprehension skills are dusty and that Josiah is, in fact, Israel’s cousin, not brother. Of course, that’s even worse, isn’t it? What next, targeting the religious beliefs of their neighbours?

Crikey! Where fallacies live

Australia has two “new media” organisations of note; Quillette and Crikey.

They could hardly be more different. The stated aim of Quillette is to publish “heterodox” ideas and be “where free speech lives“. A grand and quite brave claim for a website hosted in Australia, a country where the right to not be offended has been invented and given higher priority than the right to speak.

Crikey is a left of centre website with a focus on Australian politics.

Australian politics is not a hugely interesting subject, being mainly a real life case study of the Dunning-Kruger effect and venal opportunism in an extremely small fish pond. It’s like Lord of the Flies re-imagined with middle-aged characters and less violence.

Hence I tend to read more articles published by Quillette than Crikey.

This one by Guy Rundle has done nothing to change that.

He’s written about the Israel Folau saga….. because what the world really needs right now is yet more partisan speculation on that case, right?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his article is the style of rhetoric he employs for the argument he is trying to make.

Thinking about the subject matter, one could probably write in a choice of styles that might look something like the following list (or a combination of it):

  • Factual; straight reporting of who said what, known relevant legal precedent and process, likely next steps and timelines.
  • Reactions; reporting how a range of stakeholders claim to feel and have responded to the case.
  • Measured opinion; based on the case, here’s my personal view of the morality of each stakeholder and my prediction for the future.
  • Sketch; poking fun at those involved in a way designed to amuse the reader.

The first two are what we’d hope objective news media would produce, the latter two are classed as “OpEd” and are, by definition, subjective. Here’s the rub though, if you claim to be a serious professional, even a subjective opinion requires the underpinning discipline of accuracy.

I’ve read and re-read Rundle’s article several times. It takes a while to understand what’s being presented to the reader on the page. What follows is an attempt at deciphering The Rundle Code (tm) :

First paragraph;

How is the right’s push on religious freedom going? Terribly! It’s really great to watch — a bright spot in an otherwise bleak political landscape. There’s no way it can end well for them, and whatever happens will in someway benefit the left. As an added bonus, they are actively damaging previous successes they had in securing the autonomy of religious institutions in hiring practices. I’m loving every installment of this.

Ok. Ignore the two spelling mistakes… He’s correctly framing the case as a culture war battleground and he’s chosen his team.

Second paragraph;

Let’s do a quick recap. During the same-sex marriage plebiscite, one of the right’s more desperate tactics was to allege that a “yes” vote would be an assault on religious freedom in this country, for reasons they couldn’t explain. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality was already outlawed — same-sex marriage simply added one more area in which they couldn’t be discriminated against.

People did explain. You rejected their explanations. Here’s mine at the time, for example, and a subsequent follow up confirming my concerns were correct.

Third paragraph…. where Rundle claims to be able to read the minds of two other people;

The “religious freedom” scare came from a section of the conservative right identified with both elite Catholics like Paul Kelly — who see religion as a glue to bind society together whatever their real attachment to belief in God — and Protestant politico-cultural hysterics like Andrew Bolt, who believe the pagan endtimes are upon us. 

Quite what the definition of a politico-cultural hysteric is remains a mystery Rundle doesn’t help solve. I think it means he disagrees with something the person said.

 Fourth paragraph;

This gang has rode out before, in the great 18C debacle — remember 18C? — and had their arses handed to them by Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, petrified of the reaction from Big Multiculturalism. They lost on 18C, and they had a lot better material to work with. The best they could come up with on religious expression was Israel Folau.

Nice use of the vernacular there. What a Big Multiculturalism is goes unexplained.

Do we detect a hint of sarcasm in the line, “the best they could come up with”? What’s the inference? That Folau isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer? Ah, the bigotry of low expectations.

Are all Pacific Islanders stupid, Mr. Rundle, or just this one? To quote Ali G, “is it ‘cos he is black?

Fifth paragraph;

Personally I don’t think sports people should have to trade away their citizenship freedoms to do what they’re good at. But Folau appears to have flouted a contract he knowingly signed and it’s a far-from-ideal rallying point. Luckily for the right, the cultural left has come to their rescue, turning Folau’s childish just-so story pronouncements of “burning in hell” into potent political statements, by constructing them as potent hate speech.

Ignore the missing comma. Right then, which clause in Folau’s contract are you referring to? Oh, you haven’t seen the contract? Ah….

And we’ve decided stupid, brown Folau is childish now? Keep digging, son.

Paragraphs six, seven, eight and nine attempt to delve into the nature of rights. It’s safe to say these are not going to be challenging the USA Federalist Papers for intellectual robustness any time soon.

Rights that Rundle rejects are labelled content-based junk rights. It’s interesting that Rundle puts forward a strawman argument that there is a movement to legislate a right to Religious Freedom. I’m not aware of this, unless he’s referring to the removal of existing restrictions.

Paragraph ten, wherein Rundle goes full ad hominin on two people he doesn’t agree with;

In The Australian, Katrina Grace Kelly — her name at time of writing — noted that Folau’s claims were unlikely to succeed given the lean towards employers in such laws, but that if they did, they’d reset employment law entirely. The Institute of Public Affairs’ John Roskam is running a little dog ‘n’ pony show around the right (word is still out on whether Roskam is pony or dog), and Freedom Boy Tim Wilson made a cute little comment on the push by getting sworn in on a copy of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom

That first dig is a reference to the fact that Ms. Kelly recently changed her name from the one she was given when she was adopted. The inference Rundle is offering is this won’t be her final name change. I’m not sure how that is in any way relevant to the Folau case, so will have to conclude he’s just being mean because he’s a misogynist (see what I did there?).

As for the line about Roskam being a dog or a pony, that tells us more about Rundle’s character than Roskam’s.

The final two paragraphs go on to predict Folau will lose and the right will whine.

Bill’s Opinion

I spotted the following fallacies used by Rundle, see if you can find any more; ad hominin, strawman, slippery slope, tu quoque, cherry picking.

However, this article is extremely informative, actually because of its form not it’s argument. Rundle has acknowledged this is the battleground for the culture war and, through an astounding inability to argue his side’s case without reverting to use of fallacies, has demonstrated his concerns about the weakness of his team’s position.

Better still, professional journalist Guy Rundle had to revert to the bigotry of low expectations, racism and misogyny to make his arguments.

How fun!

Give me that old time religion

There’s a brutal civil war being waged within veganism, apparently.

Stop laughing at the back.

The battle is one between the highly-committed vegans and those who take a more casual attitude to it.

Of course, it’s all relative (as they say in East Anglia); to describe a lifestyle decision to cut meat and all animal products out of your life as “casual” is to minimise the contortions they must endure.

Nonetheless, the vegans are eating their own.

As an advert for the lifestyle, vegans are rarely attractive poster material, both visually but also psychologically. The “Vegan Comedy” Netflix category is not trending high in the charts for good reason.

Complete lack of humour aside, a simple skip through the article indicates underlying psychological issues with each of the adherents to this lifestyle;

Around his late 30s, however, Faulkner’s health began declining. He developed severe back pain and crippling haemorrhoids. He had so little energy that he was struggling to do his job as a primary school teacher. Worse still, he had erectile dysfunction, and was “even looking at using Viagra”. One day he was searching the internet for answers when he came across an Australian vegan YouTuber called Freelee The Banana Girl. Freelee, whose real name is Leanne Ratcliffe, is a former cocaine- and speed-using bulimic from Queensland who found fame in 2014 by spruiking a raw vegan diet that consisted of up to 51 bananas a day.

There’s quite a lot to unpack there…

Firstly, if Faulkner didn’t have back pain, haemorrhoids, and erectile dysfunction for the first 40 years of his (carnivorous) life, it seems less than logical to seek banana remedies from bulimic ex-junkies on YouTube rather than, say, medical professionals.

There’s more;

Freelee’s then boyfriend, Durian Rider (real name: Harley Johnstone), is also an avid vegan whose “fruitarian” diet allowed him to become an endurance cyclist.

Perhaps the least controversial thing one can say about endurance athletes is that they are an “outlier”. It takes a certain kind of mind to be motivated to train for events that require hours (or even days) of constant intense exercise.

There then follows a description of Faulkner’s Damascene conversion and transformation into a vegan activist. Once you’ve accepted as true one or two assertions, the logic takes you to several subsequent actions;

Call yourself an animal lover? If you’re not a vegan, you can’t be an animal lover. Call yourself an environmentalist? Animal agriculture causes up to 18 per cent of global greenhouse emissions – so unless you’re a vegan, you can’t be an environmentalist.

Here’s an interesting revelation though;

After leaving teaching, Faulkner started a business holding discos for primary school kids, but has now reduced his school visits from four a week to one per week. “I don’t have any children, so it’s enough for me to survive on.”

Hmm. More on that later.

Once you’re in the activist trench, you’re in deep;

Right now, his preferred form of activism is the Cube of Truth.

Originally developed in Melbourne, a Cube of Truth involves activists standing in a square, facing outward, holding signs or, in tonight’s case, TV monitors. The monitors, which are powered by a portable generator, play a constant loop of what is possibly the most confronting footage I have ever seen, including piglets in holding pens drowning in their own excrement, cows having their necks sliced open, and live baby male chicks being fed into a macerator, where they are ground up into pet food. ”

Here’s Andy Faulkner on a Cube of Truth event;

Strictly speaking, it’s a square not a cube, unless people are standing on people’s shoulders.

Bill’s Opinion

Muslims who murder non-believers in order to enter paradise are acting in a manner that is entirely consistent with their religion. It’s all there in their sacred texts, there’s no point criticising them for misinterpreting “kill the infidels“.

An argument with a jihadi on the basis of interpretation is a strategy bound to fail. The problem is far earlier in the logical sequence; the basis of the revelation is not sound. Mohammed didn’t have a direct line to Allah and therefore anything he wrote is false.

You know where I’m going with this….

Jihadis, in the West especially, are almost exclusively socially-awkward males who have been unsuccessful in many areas of their lives, be it career, romance, social, etc. By accepting one false premise, they then trace a subsequently highly consistent path resulting in their tragic actions.

Let’s return to the radical vegan, Andy Faulkner. It would seem from the article, the pinnacle of his career was being a Primary School teacher, yet he has no children of his own (is he single? We aren’t told). He seeks health advice from ex-junkies with eating disorders and endurance athletes on YouTube. He requires the rest of society to make a radical change to his chosen lifestyle….so we can all be as happy and joyous as him.

I have a question for Andy Faulkner; how tidy is your room?

Kill it with fire

Sorry, but this saga isn’t going away and nobody is covering themselves with glory;

Christian charity to be investigated for helping Israel Folau.

Yes, Tom Decent was less interested in Australia’s progression to the cricket World Cup semi final after defeating England yesterday but continued his single issue activism journalism.

In a worrying omen for Folau, Gillian Triggs, the previous Australian Human Rights Commission president has offered words of support for his cause. Why is this worrying? Well, Triggs is one of those cultural bellwethers like Peter Fitzsimons; on any given issue, if they’ve made a public prediction about it, you’re usually safe to assume the opposite will occur.

Back to the inconvenient Israel Folau; he’s raised a further $1.2m in the previous 24 hours via a Christian charity donation website. Given that the previous money hasn’t been refunded yet, he’s probably well over the $2m level.

Understandably, this has really annoyed the people who are correct about these things. So, rather than bother letting due process play out, they’re trying to close him down again.

A number of complainants, however, have confirmed to the Herald that they have raised their concerns with the charities commission over the fundraising role played by the ACL.

In a statement, the commission said it “expected all registered charities to meet their obligations under the ACNC Act and the Governance Standards”.

“The ACNC can investigate concerns that a charity has breached the ACNC Act or the Governance Standards,” the statement said. “This may include not pursuing its charitable purpose, not operating in a not-for-profit manner, or providing private benefits to members.”

Presumably these complainants are hoping to help Folau raise a further $3m next week by going out of their way to annoy everyone who ever let a religious thought enter their head into donating in a act of defiance at being told what to think?

At least the Christians have realised the media aren’t their friends;

ACL’s managing director Martyn Iles was contacted for comment.

Quite right. Declining calls from Tom Decent is the smart thing to do at this stage; he stopped trying to pretend he was “Independent. Always” some time ago.

Bills Opinion

It’s not beyond the realms of belief that the Charities Commission will shut this latest fundraiser down. I don’t have any insight into the organisation but there’s a good chance it’s a captured institution given that it’s (a) public sector, and (b) not a meritocracy (but I repeat myself).

If they do, which direction does this saga tack next? People are increasingly wanting to offer Folau support and have shown they will find a way of doing so.

The only logical course to prevent these despicable people from supporting bigotry is to prevent Folau from enjoying the privileges of owning a bank account and accessing the internet and telephone networks.

Anything is reasonable in response to discovering Emanuel Goldstein in our midst, after all.

Australian hypocrisy’s name is Lisa Wilkinson

Christ, can we please all just shut up about Israel bloody Folau?

No? Ok then, here’s our 3rd sodding blog post in a week about the ridiculous saga…..

For those who care enough to continue reading this blog and this specific post but aren’t bothered enough to keep up with the news, which I suppose is probably the square root of bugger all people, the latest update is as follows;

Go Fund Me have taken down his donation page because it breaches their terms of service.

The money will be refunded to the donors.

The Sunday Project (“prow-ject” in the vernacular) host, Lisa Wilkinson, berated a God botherer in a hard-hitting interview last night because he was of the wrong opinion.

Firstly, the Go Fund Me terms and conditions are linked on our previous offering on this subject if you’re curious. They really don’t explicitly exclude Israel’s campaign, but have a big clause about the website’s discretionary powers which would allow them to shut him or anyone else down at a whim. The reporting of this that tries to claim a breach of terms is either wrong or duplicitous. At this stage of the culture war, it’s probably going to save you time if you just assume the latter.

In summary, they are a private website and the contract you sign when you use it allows them to do whatever the hell they want. That isn’t the same as pre-emptively banning on principle Israel Folau’s campaign or similar campaigns.

Refunding the money will be interesting, however. As commenter, Sgt 73rd Regt mentions on our previous post, the inference is that the money goes straight to a trust bank account and doesn’t sit on the Go Fund Me account earning interest for them. I will be able to confirm what really happens shortly as I, ahem, may have considered it worth an amusing tenner to donate under Lisa Wilkinson’s beta male husband’s name….

Which brings us on to the increasingly haggard, post-menopausal La Wilkinson….

Last night on a TV show nobody was watching, she gave a 30 year old God botherer a proper lesson in investigative journalism. Nah, not really; she just did the easiest thing in the world and ran logic rings around someone with faith. If this is important work, there’s a billion people in India who believe God looks like a blue elephant whom she could doorstep with a willing camera crew.

Picking on God botherers is fine, if that’s how you want to make your money but we would like to point out two reasons why La Wilkinson is being incredibly hypocritical;

  1. Her co-host on The Prow-ject is an outspoken muslim  who has struggled in the past, on camera, to explain his faith’s doctrinal view of homosexuals. Presumably, her hard-hitting interview with Waleed will air later this week?
  2. A very lucrative part of Lisa’s annual salary is earned from hosting “Carols in the Domain” each Christmas. One assumes she’s spotted the underlying religious element of that TV program?

Bill’s Opinion

I promise this is the last missive on this subject until something halfway interesting occurs (and that doesn’t include faux legal advice in the comments from a failed civil engineer).

It’s probably worth clarifying my personal faith regarding this issue first; I’m an atheist who enjoys the benefits of where the Judeo-Christian tradition arrived in 2019. Perhaps a “cultural Christian”, if you will. I have no animus whatsoever toward homosexuals, to use the cliché, some of my best friends, etc.

If I could be so inclined, I could seek out discussions with people of faith and run logic rings around them just for fun. In fact, when I was younger, more foolish and cruel, I often did, asking my Christian relatives what they thought about those awkward fossils in the Natural History Museum and what the implications were for their reading of the Old Testament, for example.

What seems odd to me is that Lisa is applauded for poking fun at someone of a particular faith, especially as she’s very fucking happy to take their coin every Christmas. We can play the whataboutery game here too; why doesn’t she ask the question of other religions, for example the bloke she sits next to several evenings a week?

If you don’t believe in the tenets of Christian faith, why would you care about whether it teaches some people will go to a place you don’t believe exists?

Those who suggest this is no longer just about a kick and clap football player and his employer are correct. This is a cultural war being played in AND BY the media. Go Fund Me were bullied into closing down the campaign after a concerted effort by the a small subset of the media. It will be interesting to see where the battle is fought next.

Next week on the Sunday Prow-ject, Lisa Wilkinson angrily confronts Harry Potter fans who claim she can’t travel to Hogwarts.

Take it away, Waleed;

Doing the Decent thing

Tom Decent seems to have decided to not selectively edit today;

GoFundMe’s fine print says the crowdfunding site cannot be used for “campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or sex.”

Here’s my take on his previous attempt to steer the narrative.

Bill’s Opinion

There was a time when journalists used to at least attempt to offer their work as being without bias. I recall a time when they would be referred to as “reporters”. That noun seems to be out of favour now.

It’s absolutely fine to be an “activist”, we all have causes we support, but it’s highly disingenuous to pretend to be a “journalist” at the same time.

Obsessive reporting

The Sydney Morning Herald isn’t coping well with the thought that Israel Folau might have even the slightest chance of winning his legal action against The Australian Rugby Union Rugby Australia.

Reporter Tom Decent and his editors are particularly piqued that quite a few people are putting their money behind Folau in a Go Fund Me campaign:

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to controversial rugby union player Israel Folau will end up in the pockets of Rugby Australia if he loses a protracted legal battle against them.

Well, yes, that’s how legal cost allocation tends to work once cases have been decided.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told Nine News last night she was surprised Folau, one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport, would ask the general public for financial support.

Where “surprised” is a synonym for “shitting herself“.

“From our perspective [GoFundMe] is a place where sick children get support, so certainly it is not a strategy we thought was appropriate,” Ms Castle said. “They [donors] have seen what the money is going to be used for and they have to make their own decision.”

No, I’m pretty sure it isn’t just for sending bald kids to Orlando, with a huge range of causes from the deadly serious to the frivolous on there.

There’s top level categories for people asking for donations for their weddings and holidays and jokers asking for beer money. For example, I’ve recently been following the progress of a couple who are having a fabulous time circumnavigating in a small yacht who are being funded by donations on the page.

Once Folau’s GoFundMe page was activated just before midnight on Thursday, the money starting rolling in for the exiled Wallabies fullback who pleaded in a viral video for financial support to help stand up for religious freedom.

By 8pm yesterday, more than $410,000 had been sent his way as donors from all over the globe showed their support for an athlete prepared for the “fight of my life”.

That’s quite impressive, but don’t expect any back slapping from the media as it doesn’t fit their narrative. In fact….

However, questions have been raised about the wording of a disclaimer at the bottom of the fundraising page. It read: “In making this contribution I acknowledge that my contributions are made freely as a gift on the basis previously affirmed and that there will be no obligations on Israel Folau to do anything for me in recognition of the gift or to apply the funds in any particular way with respect to his legal action, and that I hold no expectation to receive anything in return for my contribution.”

A basic search of the other requests for donations would show that’s just standard for every request. In fact, every Go Fund Me campaign has the following default disclaimer as part of the platform’s terms and conditions:

All Donations are at your own risk. When you make a Donation through the Services, it is your responsibility to understand how your money will be used. GoFundMe is not responsible for any offers, promises, rewards or promotions made or offered by Charities, Campaigns or Campaign Organisers. We do not and cannot verify the information that Campaign Organisers supply, nor do we represent or guarantee that the Donations will be used in accordance with any fundraising purpose prescribed by a Campaign Organiser or Charity or in accordance with applicable laws.

It might be argued that, by putting the disclaimer on his page, Folau is being more open and honest than everyone else who prefers to let it languish behind a hyperlink.

Still, it’s nice of Tom Decent to draw everyone’s attention to this. Great public service there, Tom; Woodward and Bernstein will be proud of you.

When contacted by the Herald, a spokesperson for Folau declined to comment on the wording of the disclaimer or what the 30-year-old’s plans were if the money raised was surplus to his legal fees.

Frankly, if I were advising the Folau team, I’d suggest they treat any contact from the Sydney Morning Herald as one made in bad faith, based on all the bias they’ve already demonstrated.

Tom is lucky they still answer his calls to even say, “no comment” or something a little more robustly Anglo Saxon.

While it is expected Folau will use the cash for his upcoming challenge, the $3 million goal he set far exceeds the usual expectations for such a legal bill. One barrister labelled the price tag “outrageous”.

A barrister so brave that they didn’t want to be named? Surely there’s an opportunity for the shy and anonymous lawyer to get his/her/zher name out there to offer to under-bid the incumbent legal team?

RA chief executive Raelene Castle (right) said she was surprised one of the highest paid athletes in Australian sport would ask the public for financial support.

Well, if he’s being overpaid by so much, who’s fault is that Raelene?

Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses warned that the thousands of individuals who donated anywhere from $5 to as much as $10,000 yesterday might not realise exactly where their money is going.

Again, it’s great that the public are being made aware of the Ts&Cs of the Go Fund Me website all of a sudden. Interesting that Moses wasn’t leading his people across the sea to safety for all other campaigns.

“The issue of crowdfunding and its application to litigation opens up a veritable can of worms for the legal profession and the courts,” Mr Moses said. “This an issue which the legal profession and the courts must grapple with if this practice continues to increase.

Hold the front page; “lawyer finds a problem to be solved by lawyers“.

“A security for costs order is an order that requires a litigant to deposit money into a secured account. This means that if the case is dismissed or the litigation fails, this money would be used to pay legal expenses of the opposing side.

“There are also questions around what occurs with remaining funds if the money is not used in its totality. Is it returned to those who donated or to the person who collected the funds?”

Yes, we’ve covered that already. Read the terms and conditions, Moses.

It’s a donation with no guarantee.

Yet knowing this, people have still freely donated half a million dollars already? That’s got to hurt.

There were also suggestions Folau’s GoFundMe advertisement breached the site’s rules, which states that users may not attempt to raise money for, “for the legal defence of … intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases”.

Suggestions from whom? The Sydney Morning Herald sportsdesk or someone more qualified in analysing the terms of service for a website?

Actually, this is a brilliant example of fake news. The clause partially quoted above is part of a list of inappropriate causes. Have a look at what Tom deliberately cut out and replaced with some dots:

8. campaigns we deem, at our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases;

In other words it’s entirely at the website’s discretion and they are concerned with not getting involved in criminal cases, which this isn’t.

Selective editing, Tom? For shame, Tom Decent, for shame.

Bill’s Opinion

It doesn’t matter which side of the debate you support, there’s no excuse for deliberate selective editing to fraudulently bolster your side.

Also, whipping up a non-story about terms and conditions applicable to every campaign for donations as if they were unique to Folau is a clear form of journalistic fraud.

It must be quite a life burden to have a surname such as “Decent” to live up to.