SOME THOUGHTS ON CYBER-BULLYING

PSYCHOLOGISTS and educators need to go back to the drawing board on cyber-bullying and admit they have little idea what is driving the epidemic among students, a study suggests.
And, in a finding that has surprised the researchers, it found cyber-bullying does not appear to have the same roots as traditional bullying.

Now, I’m not a psychologist, nor have I engaged in the kind of research into youth that those referred to in the article have carried out. However, I have spent the majority of the last decade working with young people. More specifically, I’ve worked with young people who have increasingly spent more and more time staring into some form of screen. I’m also part of that first generation to rely on the internet as a form of instant communication, to take the internet and use it as a conduit to bare our soul, along with Radiohead lyrics. (there’re laptops for sale I recommend here.)

With that in mind, I’d like to posit two factors that I feel contribute to this explosion in the number of young people getting online and tearing strips off one another.

THE ‘DOCTORS FOR THE FAMILY’ SENATE SUBMISSION, TRANSLATED!

A group of 150 doctors and psychologists today published a copy of their submission to the Australian Senate’s inquiry into same sex marriage. Here, for your edification, I have attempted to parse their words and show you the full intent.

Doctors for the Family was established in November 2011 to highlight the health aspects of
marriage and family and ensure a healthy future for our children.

Doctors for the Family was established in November 2011 because banding together as a group lobbying for the interests of ‘the children’ is a handy cover for our homophobia. It also acts as a bulwark against any litigation.

We believe that marriage as reflected and proclaimed in the Marriage Act 2004 “…the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” to be the basis of healthy marriage and family.

Marriage is, for us, an institution rooted in eight years of tradition and handed down to us by the prophet-PM, John Howard. These ninety-six months have given us all we know of this most stable of all human relationships.

We believe that marriage as defined is the basis of a healthy society. We submit that the evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and father do better in all parameters than children without.

We’ve sat down and after hours of research, we’ve cherry-picked results from one study to support our position that gay and lesbian people are terrible people and have no idea how to rear a child.

Seriously, what more do you want from us?

We believe it is important for the future health of our nation to retain this definition and we oppose moves to alter this definition to include “same-sex marriage”.

We have so little faith in this wanton, craven, so-called ’21st century’ that we believe that if you let gay and lesbians enter into a loving, life-long covenant, society itself will fracture and devolve into a state of bloody mindless anarchy. We have no evidence for this. It just will be.

We also believe marriage as currently defined is more stable than so-called same-sex “marriage”.

Heterosexual marriage will be destroyed, obliterated by the legalization of ‘same-sex marriage’. For the first time, adultery, promiscuity, abuse and irresponsible behaviour will enter the institution of marriage and will eat it from the inside, like a worm devouring an apple.

We further submit that legalisation of same-sex marriage will have significant ramifications that have been confirmed by research and events here and elsewhere.

This afternoon we did a ring-around and came up with some more reasons why we believe that same-sex marriage will impinge and destroy our personal freedoms.

· the further “normalising” of homosexual behaviour through education with all the health
consequences of that behaviour for our children.

Children will be forced to learn that being gay is a perfectly acceptable and normal way of being and will miss out on the beatings that force it back into the dark smelly hole we believe it crawled from.

Also, kids that aren’t gay to begin with will start to think that being gay is some kind of adventurous act of rebellion and will engage in gay behaviour to fit in and be cool, like Justin Bieber.

· denial of parental option to withdraw their children from that education – a fundamental
rejection of the rights of the family/

Parents will not be able to prevent their children from hearing multiple points of view, a restriction of free speech and expressions of we Ignorant-Australians.

· charges of “hate-speech” and vilification, if we voice our belief that every child needs a
mother and a father, will gain further legitimacy.

People will be able to sue us and take us to court for being bigots. We’re not bigots, we’re just terrified of one segment of situation and want to restrict their freedoms in order to make ourselves feel better.

· likewise freedom of speech and belief regarding the position we believe marriage has in
society will be more limited.

If we allow gays and lesbians to get married, then people will start abusing us and that simply won’t do. We’re just trying to look out for the rest of you by restricting the rights and freedoms of others, don’t you understand?

· further pressure on adoption agencies to approve adoption to same-sex couples and closure of agencies that fail to do that

Gays will get the best babies! The best babies!

We trust that this Senate Inquiry will realise the significance of any distortion of what marriage really is, the continuing benefits of marriage to the Australian community, the place of marriage in history and our culture and we strongly recommend that there be no change to the definition of marriage as presently enshrined in law.

We’ve had months and months and months to prepare a compelling case as to why same-sex marriage should be legalized, but c’mon, we’re doctors and we’re doctors that go to church. We know best. We just do.

Don’t change marriage. Not only will we be terrified and scared, but we will have lost a substantial source of lobbying income.

Signed

The Process Of Belief

1.

Courier Mail article, 15th April, 2012, 12.00am. – ‘Teen God squad Culture Shifters’ miracle cure claims‘.
2.

I’m sitting at Fed Square’s ‘Time Out’ cafe, eating breakfast with my in-laws before my wife takes them to the NGV. It’s a brilliant day, the sky blue and clear. Melbourne’s making the most of the weather and the steps are crowded with families and young couples. I’m draining the last of my coffee when I notice the large clump of teenage girls forming at the top of the steps. Soon they’re singing and beginning a dance routine they’ve obviously spent hours perfecting in their bedrooms. It takes me a minute or so, but I realise the flashmob is for the benefit of ‘One Direction’, the boy band of the movement who are presumably ensconced in the Crown Towers that overlook the square from the distance.

Waving their hands in the air and singing, they let the lads know that they love them and implore them to come on down.

3.

I can hear the chanting well before I see the source. I’m at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, about to enter the Global Atheist Convention 2012 as part of the media contingent. At first I expect it’s the fundamentalist Christian group I heard about yesterday, but as I get closer, the shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’ become clearer. There are about 20 young men gathered outside the entrance to the conference, holding placards and waving flags with Arabic script. Most of the signs protest atheism generally, promising hellfire and eternal torment for those turning away from Allah. However, a few have a specific target – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somalian-born writer and Dutch politician who has attracted round-the-clock security for her commentary against certain aspects of Islam.

Security have the protesters well-cordoned off and people come and go freely. I scurry pass the scowling men and into the mammoth surrounds of the building.

 

4.

I’m in the main auditorium, currently seating about 4,000 people. PZ Myers has taken the stage and is working the crowd up. His words can be found here. He talks about ideas, quoting from ‘V for Vendetta’ and ruminating on the ways in which ideas are hardy, very difficult to kill. He talks about how entrenched religion has become as a set of ideas and how dangerous these ideas have become to our way of life. He cites the Pew statistic that 41% of surveyed Americans believe Jesus will return by 2050 and discusses the implications that this has for science policy – why care about the world when everyone’s gonna be save? He puts forward the reliance in scientific thought as the alternative, returning to it again and again as he summons the troops and puts forward a case for ‘sacking the city of God’.

He’s a bristly guy, he’s blunt and he can adopt much of the aspect of the Lutheran ministers he ran from. Damn it though, he’s convincing. Throughout the rest of the day, whenever I bring up his talk with other convention-goers I’m greeted with a chuckle and a shake of the head – this is a performance they’d seen and enjoyed before: Myers playing the hits to the fans. To someone who is ostensibly an outsider, it feels like having a bucket of cold water thrown over me.

It’s not that unpleasant.

5.

Tucked away around the back of the building, I’m waiting for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to talk to the press in a small, sparse room. While I wait for her and her entourage to arrive, I do a quick glance through Twitter to see what the consensus is on her amongst the Twitterati. Predictably, it’s fiercely, almost hilariously divided. She’s a ‘brave woman’. She’s a ‘house Muslim’. She’s ‘the most ridiculous woman to come into existence’. She’s ‘magnificent’. Her works are ‘powerfully important’.

You get the picture. This is somebody I want to hear speak.

She’s a slight woman and is dwarfed by the four security guards who flank her in and settle around the room. In the middle are seven or eight journalists, mostly local. There is a representative of the Dutch national broadcaster, a legacy of Ayaan’s time as a Dutch politician.

The press begin their questioning. While others will give a much better appraisal later on, I jot down some points.

The first question comes from the Dutch journalist and relates to Ayaan’s efforts to have young Muslim women reach out to the Christian church in their quest to remove themselves from the restrictive elements of Islam, as expressed in her book ‘Nomad‘. Ayaan notes that the transition from involvement in a deeply religious community to atheism is a long and difficult process and ‘doesn’t expect it to happen just like that’. She notes that when she discussed the idea with Christopher Hitchens he called it a kind of ‘halfway house’, a metaphor she likes immensely.

The second question gets to much of the controversy surrounding Ayaan. She’s asked whether following 9/11, she feels that her work has contributed to the negative sentiments towards Islam by the West. Ayaan offers a firm no and blames the inability of those within the Muslim faith to question it in giving the impression of a closed-off, separate entity.

Another journalist puts forth that even those who consider themselves part of ‘moderate’ Islam can be ‘primed to become extremists’. They ask whether Ayaan feels that there’s a place for progressive Islam. Ayaan sees the potential for change and a slow move towards open questioning. She talks about many young Muslim women discussing their faith online under assumed identifies. She cites the 14 year old girl in Philadelphia who asked her to point out the verse in the Koran that allegedly permits beating of wives by husbands, promising to read it as soon as she got home.

Next question relates to Iran’s attempts to obtain the bomb, as opposed to Israel wishes. Ayaan believes that it is ‘the greater evil’ for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, discussing a kind of ‘domino effect’ of proliferation in the region. She ponders the ‘greater evil’ – that phrase again – of those ‘who believe in the afterlife’ having the bomb.

A journalist asks about her security arrangements. She can’t talk about them but she discusses the death threats that came in following her announcement that she considered herself a ‘secular Muslim’ and began her writings against the faith. She talks about how the Dutch state found her a bullet-proof apartment, then a bazooka-proof one. She was evicted from that apartment when her neighbours complained that their lives were placed in danger.

The next question relates to the West’s ‘Middle Class crippled by political correctness’.

Ayaan talks about how you can rebuke Christianity, get nothing, repudiate a conservative and receive a verbal rebuttal, attack Islam and receive death threats and violent rhetoric. She wonders why this is acceptable – ‘Why can’t I be held to the same moral standards as everyone else?’.

The Dutch journalist asks another question, this one about ‘Wanted Women‘ a book that juxtaposes her life with that of a neuroscientist who converted to Islam.

Ayaan is dismissive – in fact, she seems to know very little about the book. She thinks that a much more interesting topic would be the ‘thousands’ of women allegedly missing in countries like China and India.

The final question relates to overt signs of Islam – what she thinks of attempts to ban the burqa and such. While she thinks that these can be problematic – how do you discern who willingly wears head coverings and who is forced to – she thinks the greater issues are those such as genital mutilation and honour killings.

With that, the press conference is over and Ayaan is hustled away by the large men in suits. I mull her words as I walk back towards the main plenary room. She’s articulate, fiercely passionate and has a fine line in rhetoric. I consider the online criticism I read before with the work she has done for the American Enterprise Institute. How much of what she has to say ties in to the conservative thinktank’s agenda?

I start thinking deeply about the hijacking of faith by political ideologues. It won’t be last time today.

6.

 

7.

There’s a memorial for Christopher Hitchens in the main auditorium preceding the ‘Four Horsemen of the Anti-apocalypse’ panel.

Now, I’m an unabashed fan of Hitchens – there’s something about his bravado and his unflinching questioning that strikes deep within me. He’s a ratbag of the highest calibre, an iconoclast, a bit of a prick and I love him for it. Sure, I know I’m supposed to loathe him for banging the drum for war against Iraq, I know I’m supposed to think he’s another White Man With Privilege, stomping all over people’s rights.

WEDDING BELLS.

On Saturday afternoon, at Holy Cross Church, Kincumber, I will be lucky enough to get married to my best friend, Heather.

I met Heather by accident. Somehow, the OKCupid profile I set up (on the advice of the man who will stand next to me on Saturday) accidentally messaged Heather’s profile. She messaged me and we struck up a conversation.

Over the next few days we traded messages and spoke on Messenger and quickly realised we had something going on. As Heather lived in Sydney and I am a Melbournian through and through, we decided to give a long distance relationship a try.

We met, physically, for the first time in March, 2010. I took Heather on a date to Canberra, of all places to view the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition. It was in bed, around 6am, that I asked her to marry me.

Actually, it went something a little like this.

‘Jeeze, if I had a ring, I’d ask you to marry me.’

‘Well, do you really need a ring?’

‘I… I guess not. Will you marry me?’

‘YES!’

So that was that! The majority of the next day, before I had to drop Heather off at the bus station, was spent trawling the jewellery stores of the city’s malls looking for a ring. We found a little ruby number that suited our needs.

I remember putting Heather on the bus, with tears in my eyes. She tells me she was bawling too. We were both sure we’d met the person we were going to spend the rest of our lives with.

Heather came down to Melbourne the next weekend and somehow managed to get herself invited to my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. It was a pretty heavy introduction to the family and the fact that Heather is a very vibrant, vivacious sort led to some interesting situations when lumped in with a bunch of pragmatic, rather serious Stuchberys. She’s loud and flamboyant, they’re reserved and quiet. She dresses in eye-scorching combinations of colour, they wear grey and black knits. She’s a dirty Irish Catholic, we’re god-fearing Anglicans. Eventually her charm offensive won them over, however. Now she’s a very integral part of our family. She’s loved to pieces.

Heather was meant to stay for the wedding anniversary, my birthday and then fly back to Sydney.

Somehow, she’s never quite got round to leaving.

In the last two years, she’s had to put up with a lot. She’s battled illness (including a rather spectacular case of Whooping Cough), dodgy employers, depression, anxiety, her future husband’s depression and anxiety, her future husband antagonizing large, powerful organizations, her future husband getting punched by various sides of the law. her future husband leaving the house an absolute pigsty and her future husband’s awesomely terrible eructations.

She’s a saint. A princess. A fairy queen. A beautiful, kind, intelligent. imaginative, brave young woman with a wicked sense of humour and a shipload of empathy.

That’s why I’m near jumping out of my skin with excitement. I can’t wait to get up in front of my family and friends and promise to treat her right for the rest of our days.

I love you, Heather.

IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! NO, IT’S STOP AVN!

I have a confession to make.

I adore the supernatural. I just love conspiracy theories.

Give me a book of eerie tales of haunting and I’ll be as happy as a pig in the proverbial. I’ve googled Project MKULTRA so many times there’s probably a file on me somewhere at Langley. I luxuriate in tales of the weird and nefarious, I roll around in them, I rub JFK assassination theories deep into my scalp.

It’s my thing. It’s my secret indulgence.

However, there comes a time, where, as a grown man, I’m able to put these ghosts and ghouls and magic bullets aside.

I’m thankful that I have the critical faculties to do that. I’m glad that I can unpack these stories and weigh them against what I know to be empirically proven true beyond doubt.

Unfortunately, there are many who aren’t able to do this, for a wide variety of reasons that would take a weighty tome to dissect.

Now, most of the time I have a live and let live attitude towards folks, no matter how outlandish or irrational their beliefs may be. Chakras? Awesome. Greys abducting folks? If that helps you get through the day, go ahead.

Hell, I was born and raised Anglican, and went to church most days working in Lutheran and Catholic schools. I know there are many who would chuckle at the virgin birth zombie messiah tales I grew up with. I wrestle with notions of faith and spirituality constantly.

However, there are times when I see the irrational, the tinfoil-wearers intrude into the public sphere. Sure, everyone has the right to a say in public debate.

It’s when those irrational beliefs and the people who peddle them start to have a tangible deleterious effect on people that my live-and-let live nature disappears and I become angry.

None make me more angry than Meryl Dorey and her Australian Vaccination Network.

We’ve talked about these loons before – an activist group that encourages parents not to vaccinate their children, citing spurious links to autism and other conditions. They have a great influence in Northern NSW and Queensland, where – surprise, surprise – there have been outbreaks of Whooping Cough erupting periodically over the last decade as a result of AVN campaigns.

Babies have died as a result of the nonsense peddled by AVN.

Recently, Dorey was booked to speak at the Woodford Folk Festival. I’ve written about this previously. understandably, a huge fuss was raised by many, very passionate people and her solo speech has been changed into a forum, alongside an immunologist.

Thanks to their good work, Dorey will be called on her bullshit.

Some don’t think that’s enough, however, and have decided to look to the heavens for inspiration.

At 1.45pm today, a plane began to circle above the festival, trailing a banner that reads ‘VACCINATION SAVES LIVES’. It will do so for two hours, right through Meryl Dorey’s misinformation and lies.

This is the first shot in the next phase of a big scrap to stop irrationality and clouded minds killing kids. We need all the hands, fans & minds we can get.

Interested? Click the banner below.

Vaccination Saves Lives: Stop The Australian Vaccination Network
EDIT: Here’s why you have to get involved. The following claims were repeated by Dorey during her presentation:

There is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Debunked.
Vaccines will give you allergies and a raft of other nasty conditions. Debunked.
Vaccination against smallpox killed more than it saved. Wha? Someone want to field this one?
Diseases mutate, rendering vaccines useless. Um, Meryl, did you fail Year 11 Biology?
She received a standing ovation.

JUST A THOUGHT.

As you’re all excruciatingly aware, I’ve been following the local Occupy movement and tracking their ups and downs. I’ve been for ‘em, and I’ve been agin’ ‘em, both in the same week. It’s a strange, paradoxical kind of attraction, admiring the intent while having strong reservations regarding the mechanisms at play.

I still haven’t quite worked out where I am with them, though very much grateful for their existence.

This morning, Tad Tietze wrote in the Drum about the Occupy movement and why their lack of demands is central to their existence. Essentially, the argument boils down to the fact that ‘we can’t trust the 1% to be nicer to us if we simply ask‘ and that ‘the 99% must take matters into their own hands‘.

Right, well, he has a point. There’s an awful lot of people paying quite a lot of people to make sure that their authority and their privilege is maintained. All the pleading and scrabbling for concessions is barely going to make a scratch in, let alone smash, a hideously rigged system.

‘‘Taking matters into their own hands’? Easy now. Let’s not burning out cars to block the main street just yet. Some connotations there I’m not too comfortable with.

Anyway, I digress.

Elsewhere in the pieces, Tietze raises a piece I was asked to write for Overland, in which I advocated that the movement should turn its considerable strength to acts of altruism as a means of building community support.

(Incidentally, I’ve never been flamed so much in my life. I was taken out the back and piledriven by a particular humourless bunch of students, Marxists and Cultural Studies tutors. I’m still picking critical examinations and deconstructions of the capitalist , patriarchal hegemony out of my face.)

In the piece, Tietze describes my contribution to the debate as attempting to ‘reduce…(Occupy) to an NGO-like pressure group‘.

That’s a description I can’t really argue with – he’s completely correct in his assertion.

However, it did get me thinking.

How cool would a highly mobile, decentralized, ‘pirate’ NGO be?

This is just a thought experiment, but it’s one that I’d love your input on.

Imagine a group that would meet regularly to decide where in their city or local community some good work, some acts of altruism could be perpetrated. Each week, the groups, either en masse, or as a series of semi-autonomous ‘cells’ would go out and complete a ‘guerilla’ action – it could be making sure some people sleeping rough have warm sleeping bags, or setting up a temporary soup kitchen. It could be mending a broken fence, or raising funds for a local family in trouble. Anything achievable within the space of a few hours.

Operations, in addition to the regular meetings, could be directed via a collaborative CMS, like a Wiki or other discussion forum. People could share ideas for actions, they could be voted on and preparations made. Twitter and Facebook could be co-opted as both recruitment tool and broadcast system.

Would it be ‘cutting the lunch’ of other groups? Perhaps. Would it annoy local law enforcement? Very probably. Look at how hard Victoria Police have come down on people simply assembling in the one place!

Such a group has the potential to highlight the inequalities in our society, to bind the community together and really demonstrate how our structures of authority hold us apart, rather than bring us together.

If the police come down, they’re shutting down a group helping the community. To take advantage of that fact, to thumb noses at authority whilst providing a concrete benefit to the community seems to me to be one of the most subversive acts of all.

People can occupy and sleep in public places to make their point. The larger organizations like Socialist Alliance and Alternative can march, sell their magazines and walk around toting the red flags. There’s nothing to suggest that multiple, disparate arms can’t go making the same point – that society is a little bit broken, that we need to make it a little more humane.

Like I said, just a thought experiment. I’m not seeking to go establishing a do-gooder Project Mayhem out of thin air. It’s more a long term discussion I’d like to have. What are the benefits of such an approach? What are the drawbacks? What makes it a terrible idea?

To what extent can you offer a critique of the system, whilst simultaneously providing food, shelter, comfort, hope to your brothers and sisters?

You’re all fantastic at commenting on my blog. I really want to hear what you folks who courageously plow through my blogs think of this idea.

PULL THE PLUG ON KYLE.

These days, posting a blog lashing out at radio shockjock Kyle Sandilands is like releasing a sloth on a soccer field and going after it with a jeep and a high-powered crossbow.

It is a waste of time, effort and resources.

Some might say that it’s not even that much fun, as the response to one of his off-colour pronouncements has become rote – we all lash out on Twitter, a few journos bash out an Op Ed condemning him and he hides for a few days before returning smarmier than ever.

Sandiland’s latest outburst, however, demands more than just the customary couple of hours of scorn and bile. It’s a crass tirade and exactly the sort of stupidly aggressive, reactionary garbage that makes for a dumb, angry public conversation. However, it’s more than that. It’s an outright hateful, misogynistic threat.

It’s time to ensure that Kyle Sandilands is stripped of his megaphone. It’s time to tear up the Get Out Of Jail card. It’s time, once and for all, for the community to show Sandilands that his brand of ugly hate – and it is hate – isn’t acceptable, that there are consequences for consistent, appalling behaviour.

Look at the transcript of yesterday’s outburst. In response to a News article by Alison Stephenson, he calls her a ‘fat slag’, a ‘fat bitter thing’ and a ‘piece of shit’ on a show with hundreds of thousands of listeners.

Seconds later he calls her a ‘bullshit artist’ and a ‘troll’, before naming her and calling for her sacking. He then makes comments about her body before telling ‘Watch your mouth girl, or I will hunt you down‘.

That’s a direct threat and one that would quite rightly intimidate and frighten Stephenson. I think she’d be well within her rights to report it to the police. The man clearly has impaired judgement.

It’s a tired old drum that I beat, but if we’re supposed to be raising a generation of young people who are decent, respectful and able to continue building a functional, healthy society, we’ve got to show them that threatening women and calling them foul names is something that we don’t accept, especially from a position of power during a nationally-syndicated radio program.

Many will stand to defend Sandilands, mostly under Voltaire’s tattered old banner – you know, the one about disagreeing with what someone has to say, but defending to the death their right to say it. I’d never call for him to be silenced, or prevented from speaking. He can call people ‘fat slags’ all he wants. He can threaten people to his heart’s content.

Austereo just need to realize that it’s an appalling use of airtime, that they’re continuing to defend the actions of a misogynist and that the right course of action here would be to sack him.

He can call people ‘fat slags’ and threaten them on his own coin.

Sacking Sandilands would send the kind of message that White Ribbon and other groups bust their guts to get out there: All violence is wrong, but violence against women is utterly despicable, and when you promote it in any way, shape or form, there will be consequences.

Them’s just the rules.

Austereo are very likely not to sack or dock pay from Sandilands over his outburst if the scorn is restricted to Twitter and Facebook. That just inflames his notoriety: you’re buying into the myth with every snarky tweet. If you’re serious about sending a message to both Sandilands and the station that threats and hate won’t fly on our radios, you need to make a complaint to ACMA, stating your concerns.

You can do that here.

Oh, and Kyle, if you’re reading? Come at me bro! I’d love to see you try it on an 140kg former gridiron player!

BULLSH*T.

As I write this, the remaining participants in Occupy Melbourne are involved in a dispute with police over their signs and belongings. They’ve been told they can stay, but that everything needs to go – signs, belongings, anything that could feasibly sustain or indicate a protest action.

Apparently the signs around the encampment – all uniformly anti-corporate – are considered a kind of advertising, and therefore ‘illegal’.

How laughable.

This latest development comes after a violent eviction from City Square, a huge police presence moving them on from Bowen Street at RMIT and another eviction from the State Library of Victoria.

It is obvious that the City of Melbourne, presided over by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, has declared war on Occupy Melbourne and is using every bylaw, every relevant piece of legislation to whittle away at the group until exhaustion, intimidation and hopelessness crumble the group.

I’ve been all over the shop in terms of my attitude towards Occupy Melbourne. This latest development shouldn’t provoke the amount of bile rising in me, but it does.

You may not agree with the focus of the protesters. You may argue that they lack focus altogether. You might have a hundred different prejudices colouring your perception of who these people are and why they’re sitting in a park.

Everybody, however, should be worried about the way local government and the media has prosecuted their fight against the occupiers.

Let me be clear: the occupiers are non-violent. They have not been disruptive apart from the odd march through the city. During those marches, they have followed all police direction and have had an amiable relationship with police, despite the events of the initial eviction. They have not vandalized any property of the City of Melbourne, aside from some chalk on the pavement. The City Square, allegedly dealt $15,000 worth of damage in the wake of the occupation was looking pristine and used by a police expo within three days of the occupation.

I have marched with and visited the occupiers at least eight times since it began. I have attended all bar one march. At all times I’ve carried a camera and have documented what I’ve seen of the protest. I have also, at all times, attempted to maintain a objective view of what I’ve witnessed.

I stand by my statements.

These are simply peaceful young people who have a different set of hopes for the future.

Despite this fact the police, and the City of Melbourne have exercised the kind of zero tolerance, draconian response due a bunch of extremists on the brink of violent unrest.

The reaction of Doyle and the council send a clear message regarding the exercising of free speech as it relates to political expression in this city. When the response to Occupy Melbourne is considered against the abortion protesters who have maintained a constant presence in East Melbourne for years, it is clear that some speech is freer than others on Doyle’s turf.

We have a word in this country for this sort of thing. It’s a word that has a proud and venerable tradition. it’s a trusty old cutlass of an exclamation, used to slice through deceit, chicanery and obfuscation.

SINGLE IN YOUR LATE TWENTIES: THE BASIC SURVIVAL GUIDE

Being single in your late twenties can be hard. The kind of hard that keeps you awake at night, staring at the ceiling, unable to get comfortable. The kind of hard that has you sitting at your desk, afraid to move, lest you start leaking out of your eyes. Radiohead hard.
I had a taste of it following the break up of my last relationship. We’d been together for seven years, and it fundamentally altered the way I saw the world. It was a big deal. I’m not alone in this experience – I’d have at least five to ten friends who have had their long-term relationships implode in that weird way they have of doing as they approached the age of thirty.

Goodness, I know of still more folks who’ve never managed a long-term relationship – and not all of them have an alarming physical or personality defects.

What I’ve assembled here is all I know about navigating the world of late twenties dating. It’s probably mostly crap, potentially horribly offensive to one or more groups and should be followed under no circumstances, but I’m gonna throw it out there for your edification at any rate. Just don’t sue me, okay?

 

You’re okay. Hell, you’re probably more than okay. You’re probably a great person. At any rate, this is The Golden Rule, the mantra, the profound koan, the supreme commandment. One of the biggest roadblock I’ve found with friends wading back into the inflatable kiddie pool that is dating, is that they’re convinced that they are a horrible person – that they were the sole cause of their last breakup and will be so again. Bollocks.

No, don’t try to chip in; this is utter tosh. If you were most recently in a relationship, unless you slept with his/her sister/brother as their parent lay dying of a terminal illness, you can’t be that bad. You gotta forgive yourself and establish a new baseline – it is imperative. As countless folks have said, across a variety of media, you can’t love someone until you love yourself.

And you want to love again. Oh yes, you do.

 

Flounce. Especially if you’re a bloke. No, wait, this is compulsory if you’re male. You need to get in touch with your emotions and let them out in a sensible, healthy way.

No, polishing off half a bottle of Jameson’s is not a sensible, healthy way of dealing with your feelings.

I prefer to get in touch with my feelings (and when I was single, have a bit of a sook) through blasting some music and having a bit of a flail around the room. I’ve used a lot of artists to accomplish this – Radiohead, the Stones, Iron & Wine, R.E.M. – but chief amongst them is Stephen Patrick Morrissey. His music is custom-designed, handcrafted, designed to near-military spec in order to open up the floodgates and get you expressing some emotion. Here’s two great examples.