ANZAC Day not for faggots and towelheads

At least, not according to the Australian Christian Lobby. Sure, their main man Jim Wallace used slightly more careful language, but that was the sentiment of what he said. “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!” was the thoughtful missive he left via Twitter on the 25th.

I generally couldn’t give two shits in a waffle cone what people have to say on Twitter, the place where relevance goes to pick out its funeral clothes in pale blue. But once in a while you get something juicy, someone reposts it, and suddenly giant kerfuffles are exploding over everyone. (They’re kind of like soufflés.)

Generally, also like soufflés, these are massive beat-ups: think Nir Rosen, Catherine Deveny, that poor bloody lady with the horse. But Wallace has more reason for contrition than most. Aside from the fact that most of the towelheads and faggots could demolish him in a grammar challenge, his opinions (which he may have extensively pondered) only reinforce the ill-thought-out prejudices of thousands of other people. At least, they do once they make it onto the evening news.

Wallace said he would stand by his comment “if people read it in the right context and realise I’m not slurring gays. I have a lot of friends and associates who are gays, in fact one even tweeted me last night…” That must’ve been an illicit thrill, Jim. So, not slurring gays, you just don’t think they should have the same rights as proper normal people. Ok, check.

He went on to explain that this revelation of his came about after sitting with his father, a veteran of Tobruk and Milne Bay, who said that he didn’t recognise this Australia as being the one he fought for. Thought Jim, it was a good time to make a statement about our Judeo-Christian heritage, despite the fact that most of Australia these days is about as Christian as a bag of wet socks.

The extra-bad taste in the mouth from all this, though, is his invocation of the ANZACs to back up his point. We shouldn’t have gay marriage because ‘the ANZACs’ didn’t fight for that. We should keep an eye on dodgy Muslims because ‘the ANZACs’ sure as hell didn’t fight for them either. It was in the same vein as a particularly lunk-headed individual named Mick (natch), commenting on my pokies article, that restrictions on people’s gambling meant “the anzacs would be turning in their graves.”

To quote another commenter’s rejoinder, “Everyone loves making the ANZACs say what they want them to. They’re kind of like Jesus like that.”

And spot on. As recent years have ticked by, I’ve increasingly come to loathe ANZAC Day. Not the soldiers it honours, but the modern way of supposedly honouring them. Before you get all down on me for my disrespect, check my credentials. Through high school, my uni major, and my honours year, I specialised in Australian First and Second World War history. I’ve read dozens of biographies and memoirs by servicemen, interviewed WWII vets, and spent countless hours in archives here, in Canberra, and in Singapore. I spent a year in Thailand and Borneo researching prisoner-of-war camps, walked across northern Borneo to retrace a forced march of Aussie soldiers, then drove back and forth several more times to follow up on leads. I wrote a book of poems based on the stories I found, and I’ve done readings from it in all kinds of places to try and make sure those stories are heard. My best mate since primary school is an infantry corporal. I probably have a more direct emotional connection to that history than just about anyone who now chooses to invoke its name when April rolls around.

The fact that I do care so much is why ANZAC Days have increasingly become a time to cringe. It’s the resurgent nationalism and mythologising championed by Keating and Howard. Sentimental crud like ‘the ANZAC spirit’, gets thrown around by every chump with a lectern. People get tagged with it for playing football. The modern understanding of the phrase makes it more and more synonymous with a kind of Aussie boganeering. Thousands of young Australians go to Gallipoli to pay their respects by getting shitfaced, watching rock concerts, unrolling their sleeping bags on the graves of the dead, and fucking off the next day leaving the place completely trashed for the Turks to clean up. Much like 1915, but with a bit more piss. It’s a short step from this ‘spirit’ to the Aussie pride that saw flags tied on as capes down at Cronulla a few years ago. It seems to appeal to the same demographic that have made “Fuck off, we’re full” such a big seller down at Bumper Sticker Bonanza.

The most recent dawn service I went to sounded more like a school assembly, with the officially-voted Most Boring Prick on Earth conducting the service, then the tokenism of some Year 12 from an all-girl private school reading us her revelations after a trip to Gallipoli. The same myth-heavy sacred-worship shite. The ANZACs were this, the ANZACs were that. No, Hannah Montana. The ANZACs were a bunch of different people. The ANZACs weren’t one thing. ‘They’ didn’t believe in this or that, ‘they’ didn’t have these characteristics. They were a group of individuals.

The sanctity shtick is also popular with politicians who want to push a particular view. But the use and misuse of that history is the topic of my next post, which is an actual essay (as opposed to rant) on that subject. Yes, an essay. The internet will fall over when someone posts more than 500 words in one hit. Mind you, the 5000-worder I wrote on Balibo is one of the most popular entries on this site, so, give this a shake. I promise it’s interesting.

All of which brings us, bereft of a segue, back to Mr Wallace. His Twitter post, he said, “was a comment on the nature of the Australia [his father] had fought for, and the need to honour that in the way we preserve it into the future.”

So let me just make sure I’ve got this, Jim. Because soldiers fought and died in 1943, we need to maintain the values they had in 1943. Or do we maintain the values of the ones who fought in 1945? But hang on, they fought and died in 1915 as well… and 1914. So do we wind our values back to then? Do we bring back the Australia Party and the Northern Territory Chief Protector of Aborigines?

Let’s settle on the 1940s in general – Milne Bay and all that. And look at the values of the 1940s. This was an era when it was ok to smack your wife around a bit if she gave you lip. If you went too hard on her too often, then people might tut disapprovingly, like they did with a bloke who kicked his dog. But the odd puffy cheek was nothing to be remarked upon.

This was an era when women were supposed to show respect to men as the heads of the households and their natural superiors.

This was an era when you could pretty casually rape a girl who ended up somewhere alone with you, because if she’d got herself into that situation she was probably asking for it. Girls who said no or changed their minds were just playing hard to get. You know women, right? So fickle, so flighty. It was an era when the Australian occupation troops sent to Japan post-war were involved in the consistent rapes of Japanese women. Not traumatised vengeful former combatants, mind you, but fresh recruits, straight out of training.

This was an era when capital punishment was legal, and conscription was encouraged. This was an era when dodgy foreigners were kept out of the country by being made to sit a test in a language of the examiner’s choosing. Oh, you don’t speak Aramaic? Sorry, you failed. This was an era when Aboriginals weren’t recognised as people. Despite having been here when everyone else rocked up, they weren’t even given citizenship till 1967. Twenty-two years after the war had ended.

Were these the values that our Aussie heroes fought and died for too? Or were these not-so-good values, ones that we can discard? Where’s the distinction, Jim? Where do your values end and your values begin?

Well, guess what. I don’t want to live in the 1940s. I don’t want to live in 1918. I don’t want to brush off Vietnam, Korea, Malaya, because they were morally ambiguous. I don’t want to be part of a culture that makes people saints. I want to respect them for being people. I don’t want to live in a society where people are encouraged to hate each other, either. That kind of hatred is one of the most corrosive things in existence.

When I was in Year 9, I went to a boarding school for a year with this kid named Chris Millet. Word on the street was that he was gay. It was never clear why – I don’t think he even was. The story was along the lines of him being dared to touch another kid’s dick in the change room, and doing it to impress the tougher kids daring him. Presumably it was a set-up, and from that moment on he was branded “faggot”. I don’t mean that kids called him a faggot. I mean that they flat out swore that he was a faggot. And to 14-year-old boys there was nothing more terrifying in the world, nor so potentially destructive to one’s social standing. Millet was a fag, the lowest of the low, and in all my years I have yet to witness anyone treated in such a consistently awful fashion.

Chris Millet was bastardised and ostracised for that entire year. He was mocked, reviled, heckled, and spat at as a matter of course, the mere sight of him passing by enough to prompt a volley of abuse. Some of it was the comic genius of teenage boys (“Bums to the wall, Millet’s on the crawl!”), but usually it was just plain old invective. A big country kid, quiet and thoughtful, he just bowed his broad shoulders and kept on walking. We lived in small dorms of sixteen kids apiece; he was socially frozen out of his. His size meant not many would risk straight-out assaults, but he was routinely pushed and whacked and scuffled with; his belongings stolen, broken, or sabotaged; clothes and bed dirtied or thrown around the dorm; fair game for anyone, anytime. He ate alone, sat in class alone, walked the paths of the school alone. Even the nerdiest of the nerds only associated with him by default. He had no recourse, beyond reach and beyond help.

Even then, I was sickened by it. Even then, I could see that the fear was irrational, like being scared of catching AIDS from a handshake. Even then, I wanted to reject it. But I rarely had contact with Chris. He was in a different dorm, different activities, different classes. It was impossible not to know who he was, but our paths seldom crossed. Whenever they did, walking around school, I would smile and say hello. It was nothing, but more than he got from most people. It still felt so useless, though, that all I could offer was “Hey, Chris.” An actual smile and the sound of his real name. I don’t know if he ever noticed, but I did.

And while I wanted to do more, it was dangerous. I was a new kid that year, only just managing to fit in. Awkward, strange, providing the kind of comic relief that was mostly jester or dancing chimp. Even though I was sickened, I couldn’t seek him out to talk to, or it would have been obvious. There was the risk his personal opprobrium could have deflected onto me. I felt like a coward, but couldn’t see a way out. Even talking was dicey. One day I said hello to Chris while a kid from my dorm was walking with me. “What’s going on there?” said Will as we continued up the road. “Are you and Millet special friends?” And while he was mostly taking the piss there was still an edge to it; I could still sense that moment balancing, the risk that if he decided to push the topic with others around, it could easily tip the wrong way.

That school was tough. We spent three days a week hiking – proper stuff, 30-kilo packs, heavy old gear, 30-kilometre days through the Vic Alps. More than one stretch of mountains I crossed crying, or trying not to, or bent double, crawling up slopes with hands as well as feet. Other times I was painfully homesick, weeks spent with just the indifference of other kids and the professional distance of teachers. No phones, no internet, no way home. Physical exhaustion and isolation.

It was one of the hardest years of my life. The small group of friends I made were the one blessing that meant it could be borne. And that was exactly the thing that Chris Millet didn’t have. I cannot imagine how he made it through that year alone. Not just alone, but in the face of constant and targeted aggression. I would have buckled and gone home broken.

The last night of that year, there was a big get-together in the dining hall. When it was over I left the building looking for one person. I wandered around till I spotted him, that round-shouldered trudge, a fair way off up the hill towards his dorm. I don’t know if he was a great guy underneath it all. We never even had a proper conversation. He was just a big, quiet kid, brutalised into shyness. But I did know he didn’t deserve what he’d got. I ran up the hill after him and called out, and when he stopped, looking back a little hesitantly, I jogged up and shook his hand. “Congratulations on surviving the year,” I said. And I hope he understood how much I meant it.

That wasn’t the 1940s. That was the 1990s. And I don’t doubt you could find similar instances today. It’s attitudes like Jim Wallace’s that give legitimacy to the kind of reflex hatred that was thrown at that kid all those years ago. It’s attitudes like Wallace’s that legitimise dudes throwing molotovs at mosques in Sydney because something blew up in Bali.

And that shit doesn’t just go away. Dealing with homophobia isn’t a matter of surviving your awkward adolescence to find the inner-urban Greens-voting world has become yours to enjoy. Not every gay man gets to flower into Benjamin Law’s dashing-young-homosexual-about-town persona. Some are awkward and nervous and clumsy and just plain uncharismatic. And the kind of damage done by that early hatred will stay with them for good.

Memo: Jim Wallace. Relax. Gay marriage does not entitle hordes of faggots to come round to your house and fuck you in the mouth. At least, not without your express consent. I kinda wish they would, because at least that might shut you up, but it’s not going to happen. So what exactly is your problem? None of this legislation has any effect on your life whatsoever. Your only connection is that it makes you uncomfortable from a distance. And guess what, champ? That doesn’t give you the right to have a say. Take a pew, Jim.

As for citing ‘Anzac values’, or however you want to phrase it, it’s a rolled-gold furphy. There was no charter of mutual ideology at the recruitment office, in any of our wars. Reasons for joining up were as varied and individual as the men themselves. You have no right to start designating what those men believed.

But if you want to boil things down to the basic principle on which the war was fought – the national political principle – it was that smaller and weaker powers should not be dominated by larger ones. It was that men (and yes, it was men) should have the right to determine their own form of government, and reap the rewards of their own lands. It was (putting aside the attendant hypocrisy of the Allies’ colonial pasts) that Germany had no right to push around Poland or Czechoslovakia, and Japan no right to stand over China or Korea. It was that those people should live free, and free from fear.

Australians deserve to live free from fear too. There were nearly a million Aussie servicemen and women in WWII. Stands to reason more than a few of them were gay, even if they didn’t admit it. How could they have, when most of the population would have regarded them as either criminal, deviant, disgusting, or mentally ill? How about the 70s or 80s, when gays starting to live more openly were bashed and killed in parks and streets? Or the Sudanese kid bashed to death in Melbourne a couple of years ago? How do you feel being a Lakemba Muslim when racial tensions start heating up? Living your life in fear doesn’t only apply to warzones.

Australian soldiers fought and died in 1943. Australian soldiers fought and died in 2011, too. And in 2010, and in 2009. So what about protecting the values they represented? Like the freedom to be yourself and love you who want. The freedom to practice your religion in peace. Values like a tolerance of difference. What about protecting a society where warmth and kindness and generosity of spirit are promoted ahead of distrust, segregation and disapproval? I’d like to live in a society like that. I might even be prepared to fight for it.

Because guess what, Jim? Faggots and towelheads are people too. And in a society that still calls them faggots and towelheads, they’re some of the most vulnerable people we’ve got.

If you want to talk to me about values worth dying for, protecting the vulnerable would be a good place to start.



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134 Responses to ANZAC Day not for faggots and towelheads

  1. Anth says:

    I know I rabbit on about this, but…

    My Great-Grandfather didn’t go to war in 1914, he went to prison, arrested at an anti-conscription protest standing by Mannix. You know more about the history of the time than I, but for me ANZAC day has become like the way no one used to say they had convict ancestors; tools of the Anglo elite to oppress the Catholic history of this country. They have been so successful that many people who say “haitch” see no irony in wearing a union jack as a batman cape whilst they beat up Muslims for being part of the wrong church.

  2. Suburban Horror says:

    Folk like Jim are scared of a world that largely left them behind years ago. So the only way to legitimise is to stir shit and find scapegoats.

    Let’s face it, they’ve misappropriated their own sacred tome for power and relevance for decades. I’m not sure Jesus would’ve had anything to say about the musims, considering the emergence of their significant prophet didn’t happen for another 600 odd years. I’d say he was more concerned with ensuring that barely literate desert folk didn’t skullfuck their neighbours goat for shits, giggles and/or harebrained agricultural tradition.

    Its really a case of grumpy old men, wishing to become like the popes of old (ie political powermongers) via the medium of hate inducing evangelical bullshit and conning the again barely literate out of their date rape money.

    Considering they apply selective memory to which biblical passages are still relevant, and which are the ramblings of the batshit insane, clearly they do not respect or understand the context of their own teachings, or simply do not care. Its little wonder they will happily shoehorn other myths to the same end.

  3. Alexander says:

    Great rant, takes Jim Wallace to task. I get especially annoyed at the people who go to Gallipoli and behave like, well, drunken tourists. It’s embarrassing and pathetic.

  4. Cameron says:

    great piece, geoff.

  5. ClusterFuck says:

    Amen brother! Nailed it. (Very Easter appropriate, that)

  6. Raili says:

    great article. At school I once threw a sandwich at a boy because he was gay. so easy to get socially immersed in a cruel mentality.

  7. Anthony says:

    If you’re a Christian, there’s a Christians against the ACL petition here:

  8. Peter says:

    This is just a belter of a piece. Magnificent. Bravo.

  9. Peter says:

    Great article, thankyou.

  10. CC says:

    Wow, very powerful article. Well written and to the point. What are we all so bloody scared of anyway….

  11. shaun says:

    Best read for a long time Geoff. Followed a link from the lovely Marieke Hardy. Thanks for speaking up

  12. Kallzor says:

    Great article! So, so true…the mythos of “The Anzacs” is utterly ridiculous…human stories are far more powerful. I have to say I also really liked your use of ‘faggots and towelheads’ instead of ‘gays and muslims’ – makes it so much more blindly obvious what he really means and how revolting it is.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Or if not what he really means, it’s at least the attitude that comments like Jim’s will help reinforce and legitimise. I think that’s more the concern, that there’s a nice, safe-looking, moderate-sounding mouthpiece for these kind of ideas getting airtime.

  13. Alan says:

    This is an amazing article. Thank you, and well done.

  14. roger says:

    That’s just killer perspective and insight. Thank you for saying it so well. It would do the average cultural i.q. of this country so much good for this writing to run on a full page of The Australian but I think we’re all likely to see Jim Wallace snowballing Tony Abbott before that happens.

    When that finally does happen, here’s hoping they both choke on it.

  15. Some Guy says:

    This is far more eloquent than the tweet I wrote calling Jim Wallace a cunt. I wish more people had the perspicacity, common sense and decency to think like this. Excellent post, Geoff.

    • gabrielle says:

      offensive that you call Jim Wallace a cunt, you are just as sexist as he is homophobic and racist!

      • J says:

        Calm down gabrielle, cunt is an apt description. Cock just doesn’t cut it…

      • geoff lemon says:

        Gabrielle, it’s a tricky one when basically all of the satisfying insults in our language relate to one set or other of the principal sexual organs (those that don’t relate to some kind of bodily excretion, that is). It seems you’ve always got to pick one side of the gender divide, each with its attendant implications.

        • moz says:

          Only if you completely lack imagination, you foul-smelling lickspittle, you little golden book in a field of encyclopedias, you mind-numbing fountain of derivitive gibberish, you spouter of outdated dogmas, you thoughtless perpetuator of ugly slurs. I reject your stupidity, I ignore your pontifications, I spit your invective back at you, I return your aspersions unused, I laugh at your claim to be able to apply peer pressure, if you were worth my opprobrium I would gift it to you. Instead I simply snigger at your inability to insult me without recourse to peurile invective.

  16. Susie says:

    Brilliant piece. Thanks.

  17. Sum says:

    Plenty of towelheads and asians (probably faggots too, but harder to spot, sneaky bastards) amongst the high school cadets at the Shrine. What would the ANZACs make of that, I wonder.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Yes. If only we could make them wear something stitched to their clothing so they’d be easily identifiable. Something pink, maybe?

      Wait a second…

  18. paul says:

    Shhhh, no one wants the legend spoiled by truth. The truth is, most people hate the truth, especially when it comes to believing you’re part of a super race or nationality with all of its remarkable qualities. I mean I give up trying to shine a light on the darkness cause you just end up being despised. Waaahhh! I like the article though. Nice writing too.

  19. Greybeard says:

    Very good indeed. Ironically I’ll give it a shout on Twitter . . .

  20. Amazing piece (far more informative than I was expecting – your studies shine through here) and a fine rebuttal to Wallace’s claptrap.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  21. mate says:

    funny, isn’t it. how the hate you spout is greater than the one you seek to douse. how lines such as ‘Your only connection is that it makes you uncomfortable from a distance. And guess what, champ? That doesn’t give you the right to have a say. Take a pew, Jim.’ are so couched in irony that it is laughable.. like actually. i guess the problem with the internet is it makes people who think that because they have a blog, and other people have blogs, they represent the majority, or the zeitgeist, or anything. whereas when confronted with those who are the polite opposition to their view, nothing but disapprobation through bile will do. if you are as well-versed as you claim to be, stop throwing babies out with multiple baths of water. at least then someone who doesn’t dribble with your opinion might be able to take you seriously?

    • Brendan says:

      Your comment is what’s laughable my friend. you think that because someone writes a blog post condeming the fear mongering comments of the Christian lobby that he thinks he represents the majority? I think that people write these so they can get to the majority! The majority being people who can think progressively and not live their lives in the past, be it in 1940, or 2000 years earlier!

      We need to move on and see people like Jim Wallace for who they are – closed minded bigots, with as much “christian values” as every extremist religious person, closed minded to the world around them because everything they need to know is in a book.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Yep, what Brendan said. The point of writing this post isn’t that I think I’m in the majority. The opposite, in fact. The anecdote about high school should have demonstrated that. The point is that I’m angered and deeply disturbed to keep realising that so many people still hold on to such outdated views.

      The ‘hate I spout’ is a hatred of the damaging things people have done and said. Not a hatred of a group just for being who they are. I don’t hate Christians. I hate specific agendas that some Christian groups continue to push, personal bias disguised as religious faith.

  22. EmpressSee says:

    Thank u. A riveting piece. A little bit of a ramble but I read & love scifi for the purpose so who am I 2 critic yr writings.

  23. Daniel says:

    A brilliantly written and reasoned article Geoff. A great pity that narrow minds like Jim Wallace will never read or appreciate it.

  24. bingsy says:

    This post reminds me of the things I think but can’t write. You also made me cry. Bloody brilliant.

  25. Bessie says:

    Absolutely wonderful! Thank you.

  26. Hugh Cook says:

    Get you hand off it, its just one day of the year.

  27. James says:

    Great rant and all, but I’m afraid I can’t enjoy it completely until I know Jim or one of his ilk reads it. Unfortunately that may never happen 😦

  28. jenny says:

    I found that one of the most moving, honest & confronting stories I’ve ever read. I don’t know who you are Geoff, but I certainly hope you are putting your remarkable writing talent to more use than only this blog.

  29. Ian says:

    Thank you Geoff for a great article, were it up to me this would be required reading for Year 10 students.

  30. Ian says:

    This was incredibly well written, and I don’t often use superlative terms to describe things unless I mean it.

  31. Jo says:

    Saw this RT’d on Twitter by an Australian friend – very interesting piece.

    Did you ever find out what happened to Chris?

    • geoff lemon says:

      Not really, Jo, though his story has kept coming to mind, and finally found an outlet here. He didn’t stay on after that year, unsurprisingly. I never heard anything else of him after that. But I did a bit of net-searching before posting this, and it looks like he went back to his home town and started a business there. Good luck to him.

  32. Erin says:

    Fantastic piece, Geoff.

  33. Jimbo says:

    This article is well intentioned, but unfortunately it’s full of straw man arguments. While I disagree with what Jim Wallace tweets about, ultimately he has the right to an opinion. He doesn’t say that gays are faggots and Muslims are towelheads – this author does. The author provides a scintillating analysis about everything JW supposedly thinks and believes – unfortunately this is all extrapolated from a one-line tweet – hardly a manifesto of hate.

    I think the author could have found much better material when trying to analyse his subject – it’s not like this is the first time that something like this has come out of the more far-out members of the Christian leadership.

    • esther says:

      I agree. I understand that the comment from Wallace inspired this piece, but I don’t think he should be repeatedly used to represent the entire argument.

      Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Thanks.

    • Akira Doe says:

      “The author provides a scintillating analysis about everything JW supposedly thinks and believes – unfortunately this is all extrapolated from a one-line tweet – hardly a manifesto of hate.”

      Don’t be so quick to defend Mr. Wallace. You’re right that the tweet is hardly a manifesto of hate, but you don’t have to look far to find it. The ACL website or searching for newspaper articles written by or containing contributions/quotes from Jim or other members of the ACL, there’s your manifesto of hate. 3 such examples,

      He blames “gays” for child abuse in the Church (making the Church the victim which is an extra slap in the face for the real victims):

      He believes Church Schools should have the right to expel openly gay students:

      Wendy Francis’ (newly appointed QLD Director of the ACL) comments about comparing the allowing of gay marriage to “legalizing child abuse,”:

      The list keeps going on and on…

      If you take the time to read some of the ACL Media releases on their website or watch/listen to their Podcasts you’ll quickly discover that in reality they are nothing more than a hate group in disguise that don’t represent the Christian viewpoint what so ever (which is an impossibility anyway, similar to how you can’t group all ANZACs together as discussed in geoff’s post).

      Jim has a very bad habit of doing what ever it takes to protect his and the ACL’s “right” to preach outright hate speech without being held accountable.

      Take their opposition to a basic charter of human rights. He claims it would undo the freedom of religion and other freedoms Australians enjoy today. What he means is he and the ACL will no longer be allowed to preach their message of hate and discrimination because they targets will have the right to live their lives free from discrimination.

      He also has no credibility left what so ever, or is so incredibly delusional and out of touch with reality it’s not funny.

      He claims that Bob Brown is dangerous because he is,

      “… arrogantly dictating his extreme minority agendas on the majority”

      If I’m not mistaken this is exactly what Jim and the ACL do.

      Or what about his opposition to the censorship of online debate about gay marriage on the On Line Opinion site,

      “but the silencing of alternate views through On Line Opinion, and who knows what other social and conventional media, is beyond the pail in a democratic society.”

      “and especially when the public at large had no way of knowing that the debate was being censored and would not have expected it to be on a forum for debate of as high standing as On Line Opinion,”

      Try taking part in any discussion on the ACL website in their comments section if you are not 100% in agreement with their position. You can’t? That’s because they censor (do not approve for publication) comments they don’t agree with (aka, alternate views) on their website, disable comments on YouTube videos they post and increasingly only link to news articles on website that do not allow comments to be posted.

      He can’t honestly expect us to take him seriously in his pleas for uncensored debate when the apparent cornerstone of their publications is censoring alternate views?

      He also outright lied about only having a Twitter account for a week as if that’s any excuse for the comments he made anyway.

      Jim Wallace is either a deeply vile and manipulative human being or delusional on an entirely new level. The scary part, either way, is that he has the full support of the ACL which must condone his behaviour, views and remarks.

      It helps you appreciate why so many people are gobsmacked at the levels of access to politicians this hate group gets and the consistent voice they are given by the media.

      It’s time that Jim and the ACL were seen for what they are and stopped being looked to for the “Christian Viewpoint” which they either abandoned a long time ago or never represented from the beginning.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Jimbo, I think Akira has said most of what I could reply. All I’d add is that I didn’t extrapolate from Jim’s tweet, it was from that and the follow-up comments he made on Twitter and in media interviews defending the initial statement.

      In any case, the point of the article really is about supposedly reasonable, ‘just having an opinion’ comments like Jim’s then legitimising other much more virulent opinions held by other people. He expresses it carefully, but his essential message is ‘Gays are not like normal people. Muslims are dangerous.’

      Everyone is entitled to opinions, yes. We’re also entitled to call people out when we believe that their opinions are a steaming pile of dog-nuggets. No doubt if this post had been retweeted by Andrew Bolt, I’d be copping a message-board flogging from his retinue instead.

  34. Phineas Hartson says:

    Wonderful piece of writing. Thank you.

  35. Matthew says:

    Nice words, good man.

  36. Tim says:

    I just want to say: thank you for posting this, and for giving better voice to my feelings on this matter than I think I could. Bravo.

  37. Nerissa says:

    An entertaining and illuminating read. The idea that our past values were noble and pure is such a cliche, even the Romans lamented moral decline. Times change, values change. Jim needs to wake up to an increasingly secular society.

    I quibble with one small thing: the 1967 referendum did not give Aboriginal people citizenship rights. See aph’s explanation:

    • Mitchell says:

      Nice work on noticing the slight error on the 67 referendum. I was about to post a correction until I read your comment.

      • geoff lemon says:

        Happy to tip my hat to that – post-war isn’t so much my area, and this post was all off the top of my head. Thanks for the pick-up.

  38. Gee says:

    What??? Gay marriage does not entitle hordes of faggots to come round to your house and fuck you in the mouth??? I thought this was in the proposed legislation – we’ve been misled!

    Great article.

  39. EN says:

    i’ll send this to my mum, who opposes gay marriage 😦

  40. Frankie says:

    Blah, Blah, Blah… At the end end of the day the only thing that matters is the right to say what you want, whenever you want and how you want. Wouldn’t that be one of the grand notions people supposedly fight wars for?

    • geoff lemon says:

      Yes, but there are also laws against, for instance, inciting hatred and violence against particular targets. The free speech right has never been completely open-ended, and the debate on it constantly shifts depending on time and locale.

    • Anth says:

      This is Australia, we have no protected right to free speech. We have an implied right to free political expression, but any point of view that is deemed to be urging disaffection against the government is sedition, which has a 7 year prison sentence.

      This is what happened in Australia in the last decade whilst people like you were getting scared of boat people. Thanks for that.

  41. peter reynolds says:

    Amusingly written and I like that it debunks the anti-social sentiments of your target while pointing out alternative values that are more inclusive/loving. Your vivid description of ostracism at school is insightful and provokes sympathy for that country boy and our society that could be so hurting. But I still have a nagging feeling that your piece lacks forgiveness, compassion. (e.g “fuck you in the mouth. At least, not without your express consent. I rather wish they would”). My hope is that the whole world is seeking a happier, more inclusive way of living and that involves feeling safe enough about oneself to be not threatened by old, fear-driven attitudes from others. We can voice a more embracing view without belittling?

    • abbigail says:

      my thoughts exactly. because clearly people learn by osmosis; show them love.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Possibly, Peter – if I were writing this for a major newspaper, I would obviously approach it in a less spittle-flecked fashion. Instead I wrote this for my blog, and I wrote it while I was furious. Also this is principally a comedic blog, where I sometimes discuss bigger issues, but generally holding to a comic line. The line you quote is my version of a flippant foray into innuendo. My sense of humour is often too brusque and too dark for some readers, and I guess that’s just a personal choice they have to make. I certainly wouldn’t expect everyone to come back.

      And if it is lacking in forgiveness, it’s because I wasn’t feeling too forgiving at the time. It’s the anger of that moment crystallised into this piece. I do my best to blog honestly, for better or for worse, and I feel like I should display the reaction of that moment faithfully. I think the following day’s essay shows I’m also capable of more measured responses.

  42. Ruth says:

    This is absolutely amazing. I am going to use it in class. Thank you.

  43. Erin says:

    Lovely stuff, Herr Lemon. Have you read ‘What’s Wrong With ANZAC: The Militarisation of Australian History’? I found that to be a good read on this subject. ‘The History Wars’ was also a fascinating (if infuriating) examination of the Howard-era culture wars, which is a critical component in all this too. Your point about what is selectively remembered, and what is forgotten, was spot on. Dissenting voices that point out that Australian military adventures have not been all mateship and larrikinism (feminists etc.) are inevitably silenced as traitors and haters: there is clearly no room within such a fragile mythology for critical voices.

  44. Susan says:

    Thank you – my grandfather fought in WW1 and he fought for the downtrodden, the prisoners of war and the children of all faiths. One world, different faiths but with one voice – we should all care and speak up against bigotry and racial hatred. Thank you for giving them a voice.

  45. Andrea says:

    Wow, thank you so much Geoff! Just when I think the world is spiraling into decay like a thoroughly Jim Beam pickled 19 year old boy whose biggest achievement is ‘rooting chicks’ and doing 140km in the 60km zone, you go ahead and write this poignant and elegant piece of prose that thrills me no end! Thank you again!

  46. James says:

    Absolutely astounding. Thank you so much, you dear, dear man. I am telling everyone I make eye contact with to read this.

  47. Emma says:

    Love it, love it, love it.

  48. Tim says:

    An excellent article – well done!

  49. Ed says:

    for a few seconds while reading this, the feeling that the idiots are winning was temporarily alleviated. thanks man

  50. I feel very much the way as you Geoff. I will comment more on your excellent and have posted it on my blog and also make a link to mine.


  51. I feel very much the same way as you do Geoff. I will comment more on your excellent piece and have posted it on my blog and also make a link to website from mine.


  52. Becca says:

    You’re amazing.

  53. number86 says:

    Where do you suppose people get the idea that everyone is entitled to voice their opinion? Clearly, if your opinion encourages hatred, which Jim’s arguably does, then you are not entitled to it.

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  55. Lola says:

    A friend just directed me to this article. Thank you for so eloquently speaking the thoughts that usually have me tagged as ‘Un-Australian’ etc etc.’ I am appalled the way things have turned in the last ten years; everything has been mass packed for quick consumption and seeing young people with southern cross tattoos and Australian flags for capes at music festivals et al, fills me with horror. The white Australian policy has been resurrected to make sure we treat people -especially ‘fags and towelheads’ with condemnation instead of compassion.

    The person who commented that Jim was only stating an opinion- yes, Jim has a democratic right to express this opinion- this is true. Geoff has used his research and knowledge to poke rather sizeable holes in his opinion which I’m sure he knew would get him much attention. A bit like ‘big fat tax’ and ‘stop the boats’.. again, bite sized statements for easy consumption.

  56. Beau says:

    Brilliant. Thanks for publishing this. Well said.

  57. Sam Keast says:

    What a cracking rant! Thanks for the humorous and insightful viewpoint. It is always interesting to see how quickly bigots want duck behind the shroud of, “just expressing an opinion”. I wish they’d at least have the balls to hold up their banner of intolerance and exclaim, “I’m just expressing my prejudice”. Intolerance isn’t some kind of innocent bystander in the world of opinions, it has a very firm and definite intention. An intention that people like Mr Wallace fail to grasp.

  58. geoff says:

    Well. Hi people. Seems I’m a bit late to my own party here. I didn’t know my article was flying all over the internet until late last night, so I this is the first chance I’ve had to actually get on the comment board.

    But, it’s lovely to see all these people and comments here. I’ll do my best to answer some of the points raised above, in between work. Bear with me. For the large number of people leaving positive comments and reactions, thank-you, it’s pretty amazing to get such a strong response. It’s hard to know while you’re writing which stories will most strike a chord, but this one clearly has.

    I brought forward the post date of the follow-up essay I mentioned, which is now live on site here.

    I’ll aim to post something tomorrow to give an idea of what the hell this site is all about. In the meantime, feel free to poke around.

    Best wishes to all.

  59. Jared says:

    I’m really turned off by ANZAC day too; primarily by Australia’s ever-bullshitting media that has been on a high since the QLD floods and the smorgasbord Mother Nature’s cooked up just for them. Hell, I could trip over a crack in the sidewalk and they could have every banal ‘Aussie’ sending me flowers and keeping me in their thoughts while they intravenously plug into David Koch’s 24/7 feed. I can’t help but play Vicarious by Tool more and more these days.

    So can we throw “the ANZAC Spirit” into 2011’s most cringe-worthy terms alongside ‘inundated’, ‘inland tsunami’, and ‘nuclear disaster’ to name a few?

    As for Jim, he should understand that the ANZACs have never fought for us. In the first war we sent them to the other side of Earth to provide Britain some relief from the Ottoman Empire. In WWII we were helping the Dutch and British occupancy in Asia and the Pacific. When Darwin got bombed, Japan wasn’t ‘knocking on Australia’s door’, it was just trying to bar it up knowing full well the U.S. cavalry was about to start whaling on their thinly stretched Pacific war machine.

    In Korea we were helping the UN stamp in democracy. In Vietnam we were helping stamp out communism in that part of Asia. The Gulf War we basically sat on boats and patted America’s back. In Afghanistan we’re helping the locals while assisting the U.S. and Britain enforce their idea of government. In East Timor we were helping reduce the violence and civilian death toll of military coups. And in Iraq we’re doing… something—I’m sure it’s good though.

    So we’ve never actually ‘fought for Australia’ let alone its 1940’s discourses. We fought for others over the past 100 years no matter where in the world our help was needed. At no point did a man in our colours kill another man with different colours so that some twat named Jim Wallace can use the soldier’s name to glorify his ideals. While our being a libertarian-type force is probably arguable, our intentions have certainly always been that of one; remove oppression, maintain human rights, ensure peace, and fly back home empty-handed. But we specifically focus on maintaining human rights and they include “The right to express his or her sexual orientation.” and “To believe and practise the religion a person wants.”

    The Australian military’s history isn’t a soap box people get to stand on once a year for the sake of third-degree opinions. Even a doped out, war-hating hippie would see such an action as “pretty uncool, man”.

  60. Trevor K says:

    Thanks for the often insightful and enormously readable (and persuasive) rant. I only hope to be even partly as articulate in trying to explain my response.

    I particularly appreciated the clear way you challenged the constant generalisations about the ANZAC spirit, or what the ANZACs fought for. While it seems respectful, in venerating what actually never existed (an utterly homogenous (ultimately faceless) group in terms of ideology, motivation, personality, character), the messy, disparate, complex, individuals who, as you said, joined up for a whole range of reasons, are in reality dismissed, forgotten.

    I think this blindness comes from the attraction of generalising – perhaps nowhere more absurd than in nationalism. To say, for example, that someone is ‘Australian’ means something, but, just as with the ANZACs, implies a homogeneity of attributes, beliefs, characteristics, that simply doesn’t exist.

    In some ways there is growing awareness of this: after travelling to Indonesia and getting just a taste of the diversity I kicked myself for how much I thought I’d pinned down about someone if I knew they were ‘Muslim.’ In the country town I grew up in the single token Asian in our school – and everyone around him – knew that was his essential, defining feature; in the Sydney suburb I lived in for many years later I realised to me this had become a small, incidental attribute, something I wouldn’t notice any more than I might notice that someone was tall or wearing a jumper (unfortunately what woke me up to this was when some friends and I were visiting a swimming hole in the Blue Mountains, and just a couple of us were singled out to be spat at. It actually took us a few seconds to even realise why they were the focus of the abuse).

    But I feel like the generalisations have shifted rather than disappeared, whether to vilify or idealise. Today we continue to want to define people by some single characteristic as if that’s who they are – to, among other things, avoid engaging with nuanced individuals who simply refuse to fit into neat categories. One such sacred cow is Aboriginality: to suggest that defines as much for this disparate group as ‘Australian’ does is unlikely to wash in a context like this website. Moreover, I totally get that you wouldn’t want to live with some of the values of Australia in the 1940s, but that’s a soft target: would you be able to say the same for some of the values of Australia in the 1740s? Like it or not, you are still part of a culture, and not the Christian right, that ‘makes saints’. For myself, I dream of a time that we can reclaim the revolutionary notion that we are not essentially defined by birth, by who our great-grandparents were (and weren’t). That we celebrate the fact that we’re all mongrels.

    Where I suspect I differ from you is where I go with this – it’s about this issue of identity: what essentially defines someone. I see a double standard here. Much as you don’t want to live in the 40s, I don’t particularly want to be defined by my sexual orientation. As with the ANZACs, Muslims, Australians, Asians, and People-of-Aboriginal-or-Torres-Straight-Islander-Descent, I think the term Gay is granted far too much defining power.

    It’s odd to me that mainstream Christians are able to advocate their belief that people should be either celibate, or in lifelong monogamy (traditional marriage), without attracting a scintilla of the opprobrium poured on them if they venture near the topic of homosexuality. Sure many disagree with monogamy/celibacy emphatically, in word and practise, but they do merely disagree, and allow Christians to state their reasons for their own belief. If a spouse is attracted to someone they’re not married to, but choose not to pursue that attraction, there are no calls for them to ‘come-out’ and realise their true identity: ‘Acknowledge your true self – you are an adulterer. It’s who you are.’ Should they have a scarlet letter ‘A’ sewn to their clothes? Yet same sex attraction is treated entirely differently – because same sex attraction *is* seen as the essential, defining characteristic of an individual.

    Christians, and many others, advocate sexual self-control in many contexts (nobody is telling people attracted to children that they need to ‘come out’). And even if you disagree with them, their alternate sexual values are not seen as an attack on anyone’s identity. Rather it’s viewed as one attitude towards appropriate behaviour. It’s seen as challenging what people might choose to do, rather than who they are.

    Thus if Jim Wallace says, “You shouldn’t sleep together unless you’re married,” he’s entitled to his quaint opinion. But if he says, “You shouldn’t sleep together if you’re same-sex” (so clearly he’s going to oppose gay marriage), he’s saying gay people should not ‘have the same rights as proper normal people’. I think you miss the point here. He thinks ‘proper normal people’ should keep their pants on a hell of a lot more than they do and show a darn sight more fidelity. He’s not singling out ‘the gays’, but by only recognising one aspect of his view on sex, you are.

    You’re totally on the money with his misappropriation of the ANZAC mythos, and this spiel is such a refreshingly intelligent change from the generally mindless cant of the media. And great that you didn’t shy away from the fact that probably most of the guys landing on Gallipoli, as much a product of their time as we are of ours, wouldn’t have supported gay marriage. But it’s only valid to view Jim as a bigot because he opposes it too if you want to buy into this game of defining people by a single attribute – gay, Australian, ANZAC – or even Christian.

    Christianity advocates encouraging all sorts of desires at the cost of others. Some line up with contemporary culture (anti-slavery, pro-welfare) and others don’t (pro-monogamy, anti-greed), but I don’t buy into the idea – which I think you have – that this philosophy is challenging identity.

    There’s also a bit of a catch 22 in your conclusion praising:

    “The freedom to practice your religion in peace. Values like a tolerance of difference.”

    In saying Jim should be more tolerant of Islam, you’re suggesting he should be more open to a religion that in practise today is far more brutal towards homosexuals than his own. In saying he should pull his head in, tolerating people who are pro gay-marriage, you should also see that you had no toleration at all for him opposing gay-marriage. If part of practicing his religion is preaching alternate sexual values … well, he really shouldn’t be practising his religion. The vituperative tone of your article suggests instead he’d better shut the hell up or face some serious rage.

    If he doesn’t he’ll face at least the same level of verbal abuse from people like yourself that your friend Chris Millet faced from his peers. For all his wooly-headed nonsense about the ANZACs, essentially all Jim revealed was that he opposed gay-marriage and didn’t view Mohammad as the prophet of God (What? A Christian saying this? Golly! Who knew etc). Take a look again at the tone here – it’s not like you’re saying, “I think this guy is wrong,” but more like, “I hold this guy in utter contempt”. I know your, ‘I rather wish they would,’ line was hyperbole/black humour – but how many of the guys from your school would even today excuse their own words as being ‘just a joke’. I love the intelligence and depth of your response, but am staggered at the hatred.

  61. Matty Hayes says:

    Great article except for one paragraph… you trying to say that by studying war, and talking to veterans or wandering around the jungle makes you understand ANZAC Day… Bullshit. I am a returned serviceman and until you have been in a war zone, don’t try and compare. Standing in my garage doesn’t make me a car and you reading a book about war does not make you a veteran. Other than that, loved it!

    • geoff lemon says:

      Cheers Matty. I think you’re misreading that one point though – I never said I know what it’s like to serve in wartime. I was saying that my criticism of ANZAC Day doesn’t come from some pig-ignorant leftie going “Yeah, war sucks, man.” I’m pointing out that a lot of the people who talk about ANZACs don’t actually know that much about the subject, they just bring it up once a year. I studied the subject for years and it had a strong emotional effect on me. Point being: I have utmost respect for veterans, and criticising the way we now celebrate ANZAC Day is not inconsistent with that.

      • Matty Hayes says:

        Fair enough Geoff, I may have misread it and I do agree with your comments about the once a year types. Mostly those who object to war, but not to a day off in remembrance of it (though in saying that, most of the frigging tree hugging lefties have probably never worked a day in their lives) but hey! They have the freedom to do that!

  62. Chris from Perth says:

    Bravo, well written and spot on. As a “paper Australian” I too share the sentiment that the great thing about Australia is that we are not like America or other capitalist countries, we look after the weak and defenseless.

  63. Soleil says:

    “I don’t want to live in a society where people are encouraged to hate each other, either. That kind of hatred is one of the most corrosive things in existence.”

    Why then did you create a website called “Reasons You Will Hate Me” that encouraged some of the most hateful, disrespectful, untruthful and hurtful anonymous blogging ever to be read.

    I think you’ve already done your fair share of spitting out hate into the world already.

  64. Sam says:

    Epic, thank-you!

  65. Duncan McLeod says:

    Great article!

  66. Peter Lloyd says:

    “I have a lot of friends and associates who are gays, in fact one even tweeted me last night…”

    It is nice that Wallace got a message from Chris Pyne the other night. Assuming that’s what being ‘tweeted’ by Chris Pyne actually involves.

    • Ed Butler says:

      Now hang on, Peter. You can’t have a dig at Wallace for gay bashing by snidely implying that he’s getting a message from Christopher Pyne (who you’re clearly suggesting is gay). And in making that suggestion, you’re quite clearly also suggesting that Pyne’s homosexuality is something to be mocked. Feel free to get stuck into Wallace – although I think Geoff’s done that admirably already – but the minute you start snickering at Pyne for possibly being gay, you immediately slot yourself in the same nook as Wallace himself, no?

  67. Crazy Elf says:

    I’m pretty sure that a bag of wet socks is very Christian. You should have said, “About as Christian as people that preach prosperity gospel.”

  68. Fantastic article Geoff.

    Just brilliant. Love it.

    One of my most hated sights of a daily lunchbreak working in the Syd CBD was the big old war memorial, with all of those artificial solemn faces looking down, reminding us of miserable and pointless death every time we want to eat a sandwich on the grass. What about love memorials? I want to see a statue commemorating some little kid’s first ever ice cream. It tasted so good. Or a statue commemmorating the best cup of tea you have ever had. Or to be fair on the gloomy side of things- a memorial for every woman who’se ever died in childbirth at least- or they aren’t worth remembering i suppose. Who’s going to build a nation over them?

    • jabba says:

      Christ on a bike – I’m sorry if the enjoyment of your daily sandwich was impinged slightly by the manifestation of a nation’s horror and sorrow. The reason we have such mausoleum-like structures to remember our war dead can be found simply in the three words common on all – “Lest We Forget”. (more about this later…) Their very purpose is to remind those who would find war’s folly too readily that there is a terrible, terrible price to pay for foolhardy adventure.
      They are not there to commemorate or mourn personal tragedy. They remind us that Clausewitz’s assertion that “War is but diplomacy pursed by other means” is as foolish and outdated as powdered wigs.
      Which brings me to the main point I’ve been trying to enunciate over the last month: I too hate – and I mean Hate – the “boganisation” of ANZAC day. The theme that people are hitting on here; that horrid politicisation of “The ANZACs” and their “Spirit” to justify whatever bullshit you want to shovel down the vapid masses throats, the jingoistic murmuring of ‘lestweforget’ at the end of the Ode as though it’s an ocker version of ‘Amen’, it grinds my gears no end. I really wish sometimes – that all these pollies, all the marketing execs, all the angry, bigoted old women who sit on the train abusing homeless beggars, then nod with a sickening satisfaction at your medals, expecting your approval – would all just f#@* right off, and let us enjoy our day. Then as they hurry through Hyde Park, or along St Kilda Rd, enjoying their best cup of tea, or their lunchtime sandwich and sunshine, hope that those solemn shrines, with their simple message, stay the hands and the pens of those who would again damn a generation of its poets, its artists, its builders and fathers its brothers and increasingly, sisters.

      • jabba says:

        PS: Sorry about the start of the rant. I’m sure we’d probably get along famously in person. It’s just that the interweb makes it so easy to be an arsehole to words. Nothing against you, personally. I just needed a catalyst for that rant.

        …and yes, of course I’m drunk.

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  71. John says:

    One minor issue: The 1967 Referendum had nothing to do with citizenship for Aboriginal people. It was solely concerned with them being counted in the census and, most importantly, the transfer of government responsibility for them from the states to the Commonwealth. Citizenship became available under the 1948 Nationality and Citizenship Act, although various states still maintained legislation that prevented them voting in state elections.

  72. Married to Christ says:

    Hope I’m not too late to comment.
    ANZAC day, every nation needs a genesis myth, from Rome to Australia, and every society needs a mythical enemy like Rome had Hannibal of Carthage (other societies have/had rag head muslims, fagots, Jews, witches, ungodly teenagers etc).
    Nothing wrong with a myth it’s just what kind of myth we want to shape and who will we allow to shape it? We’ve allowed people like the Honorable John Howard and Jim Wallace have had a go at shaping the ANCAC myth but I don’t think most Australians are going to swallow it like they may have 50 years ago.
    As for respecting the fallen ANZACs, I find the ANZAC memorials truly fascinating. The myth is that ANZACs are heroes that have fallen for some altruistic idea. However in truth they are just human sacrifices (who were lied to and conned to get them to enlist) offered up to our god the King. Our war memorials even say as much quite explicitly. Ultimate/Supreme sacrifice is just a euphemism for human sacrifice and King/Queen is of course just god on earth with the sun being god in heaven. The symbolism of war memorials almost always seem to be an alter to a sun god. Even the symbol of the Australian army is the rising sun. So much for the ANZAC myth, make of it whatever you will. Your myth is as good as anybody else’s.
    As for ANZACs having Xian values, that was at least to some extent only because it was forced on them through the King’s Regs which stipulate that all soldiers MUST attend church service every week. Catholics to the Catholic church and others to the Church of England. Atheism was not allowed. My great uncle, who was an atheist, tried to get out of it on a technicality. He was charged for not attending church service and in his defence he said that he changed his faith every week. You see, Catholics had their church service on Saturdays and CoE on Sundays (or was it the other way around?). So by changing his religion once a week he was able to avoid going to church. However this wasn’t tolerated and he was charged and made an example of. So much for virtuous, harmonious and homogeneous ANZAC values.

  73. Tex says:

    How we would feel about flag-waving Japanese backpackers descending annually on Darwin to celebrate their 1942 invasion. Can you imagine a football match between Munich and Berlin, celebrating their invasion of Poland and with a special award going to the player who “best embodies the spirit” of the Blitzkrieg?

    Well written Geoff.

  74. Sam says:

    Bravisimo, brilliantly put. I celebrate ANZAC day by thinking of my grandad and whispering a thankyou for standing up to tyranny.
    Even he hated what it was becoming before he passed.

  75. R says:

    I was that gay kid during the 90s as well. The school, city and state may have been different, but you so eloquently put what I went through. I know what it is to be bullied into loneliness, isolation and shyness.

    My catholic high school was hell because of what the other kids did to me. I cried many rivers at night or in any space I could be alone. I know this kid you speak of would have done exactly the same thing.

    Being that kid, I know one thing: all we ever wanted was to be given the same as everyone else. No more, no less. We didn’t want to take over the world, your lives, or stop you having as many women and children as you wanted.

    If I were able to go back to the 90s and speak to the kid you wrote about here, I would tell him that it does get better, that your life does get more enriched, and that the majority of people want the same equality for you as they have.

  76. Jackson says:

    I recently discovered your blog via the much re-posted carbon taxin’ rant (which was awesome ps) and have been thoroughly enjoying trawling through older posts. So great to read the raves of someone dealing with and articulating the subtleties, complexities and realities ignored in so many of the discussions surrounding a number of our National Debates and Grand Narratives- both current and historical (and with a little humour toboot 🙂 ).

    These two Anzac posts particularly piqued my interest.
    My Grandfather was one of the Rats of Tobruk. In the 21 years I new him he never spoke of the war. I can only imagine the horrors he must have experienced that would lead him to write his life story and entirely omit this rather significant chapter. He was a kind and honourable man, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t feel like a hero.
    Last year I attended my first Dawn Service- in Mt Macedon, Victoria. I went there to document the event for a photojournalism assignment for Uni. Though I was looking forward to it (particularly the post service beer and chat with the Old Fellas at the RSL), I had quite prepared myself for long speeches about the honour and glory of war, the amorphous but much touted ‘Anzac Spirit’ and the generalised heroism of soldiers heading off to ‘defend our way of life’.
    I was utterly surprised, humbled and moved by the service led by Vietnam Vet Frank Donovan.

    So, I just wanted to share this extract from the service as an example of what I believe is a very real, honest and highly valuable Anzac Day message:

    “We’ll honour with floral, sung and silent tributes those whose lives were lost in the service of our country. We’ll salute the service of those who returned- the wounded and the well; and those scarred internally for life, though outwardly unscathed…
    We’ll reflect on the realities and costs of war, for those who served and those around them- parents, partners, children, relatives and friends. And we’ll try to learn something useful from the price they all paid….
    This dawn then, as we lay floral tributes to our war dead, what better tribute than to challenge ourselves, our national and inter-national leaders to find the courage and commitment- the amazing grace- to explore new, non-violent ways of resolving conflict? For war is decided by so few, while its costs were born by so many.”

  77. Azu says:

    Wow. I am absolutely amazed at the quality of your articles. Each one of them that I have read seems to reflect my own views and embody my frustrations perfectly. It is so refreshing to see someone pointing out what, to me, seems pretty obvious (whether it be on the topic of the carbon tax, the pokies, or gay marriage). I’m so glad I stumbled upon your work. As an immigrant, I applaud you for speaking up against prejudice, hatred, and close-minded stupidity.

  78. clementine says:

    “This was an era when you could pretty casually rape a girl who ended up somewhere alone with you, because if she’d got herself into that situation she was probably asking for it. Girls who said no or changed their minds were just playing hard to get. You know women, right?”

    All this has happened before and all this will happen again.

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  80. amymacmahon says:

    Thank you.

  81. frankis says:

    Well said. Well written!

  82. Lisa says:

    I’m glad you reminded everyone that the values of our past weren’t necessarily perfect. I’m sick of those “in my day…” emails that try to make out we currently live in a morally bankrupt society and that pine for the good ol days! I certainly am glad to live in a time where women, indigenous people etc etc have comparatively more rights, knowledge & access to information than in the past

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  84. Twet says:

    You’re completely self indulgent and a waste of space
    “reflect” on that

  85. Usman says:

    you have spoken facts and truth – not sure how many in our society today dare to do that!

  86. James' Stuff says:

    Thanks. Great article. My bro and I attended the dawn service at the SoR. In Melb. It reminded me of being at church, and nothing irks me more than old dogmatic men telling me what is grand, and worshipful, and magnificent. I also bore easily, and nothing bores me more than golden school girls reading aloud mawkish poems about flanders fields or finding the Anzac Spirit on a foreign field in a foreign on an air-conditioned bus…

  87. Julien says:

    Thanks Geoff
    Needs to be said
    Over and over and over unfortunately

  88. thechangeishappening says:


  89. BB says:

    Great article Geoff, always enjoy reading your work.

    One thing I did want to quickly point out though: I think it is more accurate to say that Bob Hawke and John Howard perpetuated the modern ANZAC myth. Paul Keating (recently at least) has been quite vocally opposed to the ANZAC myth (for example, see:

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