June 2nd 2001

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Articles from this issue:

Indonesia's next President?

Editorial - Reality TV or Feral TV?

Budget sets stage for election campaign

HIH collapse: another case of socialising the losses?

AFFA stalls on NZ apples issue

Straws in the wind

The Media


Greater role for Navy in the Pacific inevitable

Learn from history on drug abuse

Is the political system for sale?

Revised Victorian Tolerance Bill no better

AFA statement on the Budget

Vale, Tom Luscombe

Books promotion page

Straws in the wind

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, June 2, 2001
A Channel Nine Mother's Day message ... from the wackers

Mother's Day is one of those special days, which, like the Dickensian Christmas, crept up on us, and gradually gained wide acceptance and approval through most of our society.

Initially owing a lot to commercial promotion and exploitation, Mother's Day has nevertheless established itself as a Good Idea, a chance to draw on and show affection, and gratitude to the woman who bore us, help bring us up as best she could. Making, as we belatedly realised, many personal sacrifices, many voluntary renunciations, of her time, her privacy, her personal aspirations - money, careers and social life, etc., so that we might grow, and ideally, be happy. And not feel lonely or rejected. As far as she is concerned, on Mother's Day it is the thought we bring, not the gift - and our presence.

For that day at least, our relationship is more than the card, the note, the phone call when we remember, or are not too busy.

Every Mother's Day, the media pull out all stops, and fill the morning at least, with panegyrics to Mum and motherhood and, though nowadays more sotto voce, the family. You might say it was the least they could do, seeing that in the days leading up to the Day they make money hand-over-fist urging us to spend up on Mum for Mother's Day. And as of custom, the Salvation Army's Red Shield campaign, the centrepiece of their yearly fund raising, has been given a preliminary run.

Channel Nine broke with all this, this year. The main theme of the Jim Waley program was a carefully crafted hit-job on Archbishop George Pell - the pretext being his installation as Archbishop of Sydney. Why choose Mother's Day? Because we don't have a homosexuals' day, or a same-sex marriage day - though doubtless people are working on it. Last Sunday on Channel Nine mothers and families had to get the hell out of it.

I say this in cold blood - for I counted 33 references to gays in John Lyons' longish program, including paedophilia, sexual feelings between priests, rainbow sashes - and imputed an "homosexual-like" atmosphere among younger clerics surrounding the Archbishop. The Spice Girls - some envious anonymous sleaze called them. The program returned to the subject, again and again; they couldn't leave it alone. Their idŽe fixe.

An outsider might believe that that is what Catholicism is about. Not about, to be a believer or a non-believer - a Jansenist, a Manichean, a Modernist? No - whether to be an approver or non-approver of sodomy, etc.

Not a trace of the thoughts and doubts and wrestling of spirit which have led people to form religions, create churches, and reason as to how these should relate to the rest of society. Or the terrible flaws in our natures; greed, cruelty, envy, covetousness, pride, callous indifference - and what could be done. The Problem of Evil. The existence or otherwise of God - infinity, eternity, whether there is an afterlife - free will or determinism ...

I could go on, but there is not a trace of this here. Like all neurotics, these electronic attention-getters want everyone to stop talking or thinking and listen to them, and be drafted to watch their self-sustained spin-doctor melodramas. Fat chance.

And, in this Mother's Day program, when it wasn't homosexuality, the topic was drug houses and how to shoot yourself up. Plus, of course, having your voice heard, and the right to crash church services where presumably you intend to disrupt the congregation. The tactics of people who can't get their own audience. A more tawdry, spiteful and parochial media fabrication would be difficult to find.

The opposition to Pell was mainly expressed by Channel Nine via its rent-a-crowd of gay demonstrators. Some of those who regularly bellowed and shrieked outside the Cathedral railings in Melbourne, were there for the Sydney installation. Some I've spotted in demos like S11 and M1, International Socialists (great Christian believers they). Others were noticed performing their choreography outside Melbourne's Maribynong Detention Centre. I wondered how many were even Catholics; Christians, or gays. We only have the Channel Nine crowd controller's word for any of this.

New market

There was a time when free-spending youth were the darlings of the advertisers, so were flattered and massaged by the ever vulgar media barons and told not to take any notice of the boring repressive parents, who advised saving.

Now economic rationalism has trashed the economic futures and spending power of most of the young, attention has switched. They are still the most lucrative market for drugs but these can't be advertised (or taxed) ... yet. But the gay market and single, free-spending women (many of whom admit that they don't want to marry, and don't like children - surprise, surprise!) are the new cornucopias for advertisers. So the media messages and legitimising flattery are for gays, feminists and career women.

Many of these new spenders, lacking any substantive moral or religious bases to their lives, have latched onto concern for the environment, and oppressed races and species - which costs them nothing and allows all the personal selfishness, conspicuous consumption and display, and abnegation of all emotional bonding with the people around them, their society or its future generation, while retaining a good conscience. These new cool attitudes and moral nihilisms are anathema to Catholic doctrine and to a body like the Salvation Army.

I don't mention the other Christian denominations, for most are doing what John Lyons is urging the Catholic Church to do, viz., "adapt to modern society". And disintegrating as they do.

Modern world

What is this modern society of which he speaks? The same-sex marriage, the shooting-up rooms, the gambling, drinking, doping, TV-watching, mobile phone addicted, advertisement-swallowing, permanent street politics, child disliking, credit-card world? This is modern society - or a sizeable part thereof.

So George Pell should be adapting to this? Or opposing it?

Who said, apart from Murdoch and the Packers and their innumerable lackeys? And as to the hard-core world of Sodom and Gomorrah - Pell or any other spiritual leader would betray his flock, were he to legitimise these misguided creatures. Some are doing just that.

If this article is jumping around, so was the Lyons' Channel Nine program.

A large noise was made about the great influence Bob Santamaria had on Pell. The number of times Pell rang, visited him, etc.

I'll just say that a continuous stream of well wishers - mainly from the Left - rang or visited Bob, with pleasure. Hayden, Fraser, my old CPA friend Bernie Taft, Clyde Cameron, Phil Adams, Jim Cairns, Diamond Jim - I could go on. Partly on the strength of reading his column in The Australian, as they came to realise that this bogyman was saying many of the things they'd been thinking.

Bob's column was the only reason I took the Weekend Australian. Santamaria made a most important contribution to Australian political/religious thought, which is why the stream of books by disgruntled Catholics, seeking to decry him, fall stone-dead from the presses.

Of course Pell was right to be influenced, and impressed by Santa. And whom should he have been following? Val Noone? Max Charlesworth? Rainbow Sash Kelly? Jim Griffin? Get real!

There was a great deal more of this puerile semi-McCarthyite rubbish in the Channel Nine program, e.g., the Pope's enforcer in Australia and Pell's Spice Girls. But time has a stop, and I've run out of Mortein.

But one more thing.

The State has neither the inclination nor the right to interfere in the way churches run their own affairs, or order their beliefs - so how can a television network, devoted, day-in-and-day-out, to crass and destructive greed and materialism; vending sex (portrayed as smut or as a commodity) and violence in many forms; utterly commercialised "sport", and news programs little more than wish lists for sponsors and captive politicians - presume to tell a church how to run itself, or what to believe? Could megalomania go any farther?

And a television "poll" at the end of the program asking "Do you agree with George Pell's views of homosexuality?" Who were the "you?" It is not George Pell's view anyway - it is Church doctrine. What a gross invasion of religious autonomy.

Little wonder that Channel Seven is starting to eat up Channel Nine's ratings. Maybe this is why Channel Nine identifies with the increasingly undignified losers in the religious debate.

Like Muriel Porter, who got a very good run in this appalling program, I'm not a Catholic. I am C of E - she is Anglican. The difference between Old Labor and New Labor. Shalom.

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