Archive for November, 2016


“I don’t hope to reform angry bigots. Like the world that produced it, bigotry is complex.” (Getty Images)
Have you found yourself facing a lot of Islamophobic sentiment online these days? So has Helen Razer

By Helen Razer

 

Apparently, the world is headed at high speed to hell in a handcart stuffed with cash, fossil fuel and bombs. I have no notion what to do about this complex mess. I believe that anyone who says that they do know what to do about this complex mess is fairly deluded. I don’t think the answer is prayer, compassion or reason. And I certainly don’t believe the answer is despising Islam.

Despising Islam is currently a fairly popular hobby. It’s a bit like Pokémon GO for people who haven’t got the hang of their smartphones yet. Or, it’s part of a long tradition of falsely finding a single cause for all the bad stuff in the world.

At various times in western history, we have blamed Jews, women, the devil, indigenous peoples and everyone not in the west for things, like poverty, that are our own stupid fault.  Choose your victim, history. Gotta Catch Em All.

I don’t hope to reform angry bigots. Like the world that produced it, bigotry is complex. But, like the angry bigots, I too have moments of totally stupid simplicity. Every so often, I find myself arguing with angry bigots. I don’t do this with any hope of fixing angry bigots. I do it because making them feel bad feels good to me.

I too have moments of totally stupid simplicity. Every so often, I find myself arguing with angry bigots.

Yes. I know. This is not very noble. But, short of acquiring a PhD in international relations and political economy, redistributing all the world’s resources and wealth and convincing the UN it is a bunch of arse, that’s all I’ve got. Making myself feel better.

In an effort to make you feel better, I offer you an abstract of recent Facebook arguments with anti-Islam bigots. I will offer you a common argument, and then my response.

Oh. I should say that these are not intended for use by persons of the Islamic faith, who have had a lot of practice defending themselves. I do not presume to speak for Muslims. I am speaking only for shitty middle-aged white atheist ladies who enjoy being mean to idiots.

Islam makes women dress differently from men! Stop Islam!

Almost without exception, every society and culture and religion has different wardrobe conventions for women and men. Have you recently visited Australia? Just as an Australian man who dresses in a way that is perceived as too “effeminate” faces censure, a woman who fails to look sufficiently “feminine” will cop it.

Also, I am blocking you.

Islam has Sharia Law! The Quran is full of punishment!

Religious law is not peculiar to Islam. Have you heard of the canon law of the Catholic Church? Did you know about Judaism’s Halakha? Even those “non-violent” Jains Sam Harris told you about have codes, one of them being what we in the west would call suicide.

Look, fella. I believe in the usefulness of religious decree about as much as I believe you could find my clitoris with a torch and Google Maps. But, the thing is, people of all religions sometimes ask their clerics for rulings. Yes, it’s odd. No, unless it results in measurable harm to a person, it doesn’t harm your society or you.

The matter of religious law affecting state governance is, of course, another problem and, again, hardly peculiar to Islamic nations. And, the matter of extreme interpretation or misuse of religious texts is hardly just a Muslim thing, is it? Mussolini was pretty cosy with Mother Church. Just a few years back, Serbian priests blessed the forces that massacred and raped, whoops, Muslims. Like all institutions, and all texts, religion can get screwed up, especially in times of conflict.

Also, have you ever spent any time at all with the Old Testament? Swearing at your parents is a crime that demands your death (Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9). So too, for men, not being circumcised (Genesis 17:14), having sex with a menstruating lady (Leviticus 20:18) or with another bloke (Leviticus 20:13).  Oddly, beating the life out of one of your slaves gets a free pass.

Also, I am blocking you.

Muslims Bomb People! Including Children!

The targeted death of all persons, especially children and civilians, is abhorrent. Again, this is not a Muslim specialty. We will never know the number of non-combatants killed by drone strike. We may never know the civilian toll of the Iraq war and the cruel sanctions that preceded it.

What we do know, especially following the Chilcot Report, is that the ongoing conflict between apparently Muslim forces and apparently democratic ones is often irrational, always horrific and very difficult to get one’s head around, as the best minds in foreign policy will tell you.

But, you know. You go Glen Coco. Blame The Muslims.

Also, I am blocking you.

Why Can’t Muslim Middle Eastern States Be More Reasonable, Like That Nice Place, Israel, Which Never Brings Religion Into Anything?

You mean, the same Israel that just appointed as the chief morale-booster to its defence forces a guy that says it’s technically okay to rape Arab women during combat? Or, do you mean another Israel?

Here’s a link. Here’s another one. They are from Israeli press. You will find that many Israeli and Jewish people are just as disgusted with the appointments of persons like Rabbi Eyal Karim as Muslim people are with the self-appointment of douche-lords from Islamic State.

Which brings us to your next question, before I start blocking you,

Why Don’t Muslim People Ever Condemned the Actions of Others?

They do. All the time. Including the Australian Grand Mufti who said, after the Paris attacks last year, “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims … at this time of unspeakable horror”.

A Muslim could tattoo France’s tricoleur one on cheek, “sorry” on the other and all the Quranic passages that counteract all the other Quranic passages which recommend battle. You’d not see it. Just like I’m no longer seeing you because YOU ARE BLOCKED.

Right. I figure these may save you some time. If you think any of the arguments are useful, don’t feel bad about cutting-and-pasting them from Helen. You will find that the bigots just cut-and-paste from the One Nation website—or, if they are a bit posh, the worst writing of Christopher Hitchens.

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League of the South president says Trump’s presidency will bring ‘no mercy to Jews and minorities’


Donald Trump has named his campaign manager Steve Bannon who has it has been stated in court does not like Jews as his senior White House adviser.

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Donald Trump has named his campaign manager Steve Bannon who has it has been stated in court does not like Jews as his senior White House adviser.

In a press release, the presidential transition team announced that Trump had named Reince Priebus his chief of staff, and Steve Bannon his senior advisor:

President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that Trump for President CEO Stephen K. Bannon will serve as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House Chief of Staff.

Bannon and Priebus will continue the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign, working as equal partners to transform the federal government, making it much more efficient, effective and productive. Bannon and Priebus will also work together with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to help lead the transition process in the run-up to Inauguration Day.

As CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out on Twitter, court documents suggest that Trump’s new White House senior adviser doesn’t like Jewish people:

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So it begins. Anyone who thought that Trump would moderate or not bring the ugly beliefs of those who are the backbone of his support to the White House have now gotten a massive wake-up call. In 2017, an anti-Semite is going have the ear of the President Of The United States, and occupy an office that is steps away from the Oval Office.

This should be the biggest story in the country right now, but instead, it will be treated by many with a collective shrug as Trump has marked a significant milestone in rolling back the social and culture progress of the last eighty years.

Trump isn’t planning on making America great. One look at who he is hiring for key positions suggests that he wants to send the US back to the Stone Age.

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priest-pedo-e2e88bee7395dd1752bfb6220238dbde

Priest Peter Searson in a school staff photograph

CREDIT: via Candace Sutton from news.com.au

HE WAS a paedophile, a psychopath and a thief who despised women, had a fetish for children and a sneering hatred for the locals of the tiny community.

The creepy Father Peter Searson, who wore his yellow fingernails long and manicured, liked dressing up in an army uniform and carried a pistol he sometimes pointed at parishioners.

He stole $40,000 from the parish finances, killed or tortured animals in front of children and showed them a dead body in a coffin.

He got children to touch his penis, made them kneel between his legs, loitered around the children’s toilets and audio-taped primary schoolers in the confessional box when their admissions became “hot”.

Searson was the fifth child-molesting priest sent by the Catholic Church to the working class community of Doveton, 31km southeast of Melbourne.

With his four predecessors — Father Thomas O’Keeffe, Father Wilfred Baker, Father Victor Rubeo and another priest — Searson gave Doveton’s Catholic Holy Family congregation a 35 year period of sexual abuse.

But as letters from desperate locals show, it was Searson that tore Doveton apart.

Within just two years of his appoinment as parish priest, Doveton’s parishioners and parents were so desperate to rid their community of Searson’s vile presence, they mounted a petition to remove him.

Father Peter Searson (above) who wore his yellow fingernails long and manicured, carried a pistol and left a trail of broken lives in his wake.

Father Peter Searson (above) who wore his yellow fingernails long and manicured, carried a pistol and left a trail of broken lives in his wake.Source:Supplied

The Holy Family Church at Doveton where Searson abused children and tore the community apart with his divisive nature. Picture: Google

The Holy Family Church at Doveton where Searson abused children and tore the community apart with his divisive nature. Picture: GoogleSource:Supplied

This parent said she had taught her daughter to treat Father Searson as “Danger stranger” and asked what priest made children kneel between his legs and ask them about undressing. Picture: Royal Commission.

This parent said she had taught her daughter to treat Father Searson as “Danger stranger” and asked what priest made children kneel between his legs and ask them about undressing. Picture: Royal Commission.Source:Supplied

One parent wrote to the church complaining that Searson had criticised mothers who worked and demoralised anyone who did not put $5 or $10 in the church plate weekly. Picture: Royal Commission.

One parent wrote to the church complaining that Searson had criticised mothers who worked and demoralised anyone who did not put $5 or $10 in the church plate weekly. Picture: Royal Commission.Source:Supplied

Dozens of handwritten notes and letters of complaint written to church authorities reveal shocking details of his abuse and Doveton locals’ anguish at his continuing presence.

The letters, tendered in evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse, lay bare a harrowing period in Doveton’s history.

But the letters and the petition were all in vain. Searson remained at Holy Family for 13 years until he was finally ousted for assaulting two boys.

By then, Searson’s sexual abuse and divisive nature had left a trail of broken lives.

Doveton was little more than two decades old when Searson arrived to lead the Holy Family church as its parish priest.

Established in the 1950s, the post World War II suburb was a disadvantaged, low socio-economic public housing estate settled by migrants.

It was on January 21, 1984, that Searson turned up at the church next door to Doveton’s Holy Family Primary School.

He already had a disgraceful record with children and a reputation for hating women.

Complaints about the then 61-year-old stretched back to when he had worked at the St Paul’s School for the Blind at Kew in Melbourne a decade before.

Peter Searson was the fifth paedophile sent to Doveton, following on from Victor Rubeo (right) pictured with one of his victims, Paul Hersbach.

Peter Searson was the fifth paedophile sent to Doveton, following on from Victor Rubeo (right) pictured with one of his victims, Paul Hersbach.Source:Supplied

Paul Hersbach (above) in 2014 after giving evidence at the Royal Commission about how Father Rubeo molested both himself and his father. Picture: Alex Coppel.

Paul Hersbach (above) in 2014 after giving evidence at the Royal Commission about how Father Rubeo molested both himself and his father. Picture: Alex Coppel.Source:News Corp Australia

Originally from Adelaide, and a latecomer to the priesthood, Searson received his first formal complaint of sexual abuse in 1974, 12 years after his ordination in Rome.

By 1978, he had been moved to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the northwestern Melbourne suburb of Sunbury.

Apart from claims of sexual abuse, Searson caused “deep and bitter resentment … and hurt” among parishioners, according to a letter tendered at the royal commission.

Written by his assistant priest at Sunbury, Phil O’Donnell, to the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne in 1982, it describes how Searson’s “utter humiliation of women has to be seen to be believed. He revels in reducing people to tears”.

Father O’Donnell said Searson had driven parishioners away with his open nastiness, had savaged normally “tough” parish nuns, making them cry, and launched bitter recriminations at members of the congregation he did not feel had put enough in the church plate.

A 1983 letter from the principal of St Anne’s Catholic School in Sunbury to the local bishop highlights a shortfall in a church loan.

Letter from parishioners to the Archbishop complaining that Searson had delivered a sermon on pornography

Letter from parishioners to the Archbishop complaining that Searson had delivered a sermon on pornographySource:Supplied

“Made from the school’s Provident Fund in 1978 for a library and resources area, the loan was for $90,000 and the cost shown is only $57,927. I wonder what the balance was used for,” the principal wrote.

The headmaster at the next school Searson was to be transferred to, Graeme Sleeman, would later tell the church hierarchy he had proof that Searson had stolen $40,000 from school funds.

But Mr Sleeman’s pleas fell on deaf ears in the church hierarchy.

Searson’s transfer from Sunbury to Doveton set off a flurry of complaints.

One handwritten letter, from a group of parishioners, expressed their “disgust at the way” Searson had conducted a Mass for children taking their first communion. with a sermon “based on pornography/censorship”.

The litany of grievances about Searson include his abuse of the school’s tuckshop ladies, padlocking the school gates to keep children out, and punishing children if their parents lodged complaints.

Searson allowed his dog, Rex, described by one assistant priest as Searson’s “only friend”, to urinate and defecate around the tuckshop,

Searson had also “pointed a handgun at a couple” of parishioners and was “turning people, especially teenagers and children … away from the church”.

Two years after his arrival in Doveton, parishioners and parents petitioned for his removal, but they were to suffer his abuse for 11 more years. Picture: RC.

Two years after his arrival in Doveton, parishioners and parents petitioned for his removal, but they were to suffer his abuse for 11 more years. Picture: RC.Source:Supplied

Searson had also berated parishioners for not leaving at least $5 to $10 in the church plate because they were “not below the poverty line”.

And “people employed at the school have been threatened by Father with their jobs if they disagree with him”.

Letters between church and school officials note that when Searson was asked about complaints he demanded to know the names of the parents who had reported on him.

TAPING CONFESSIONS

In November 1985, Catholic nun Sister Joan Powell wrote to a church superior to complain that Father Searson was audio taping children’s confessions.

She wrote that Searson had told the Grade Five teacher that, referring to the children’s confessions “when it starts to hot up I’ll start the tape”.

Concerns were raised about Father Searson’s behaviour. Picture: Royal Commission.

Concerns were raised about Father Searson’s behaviour. Picture: Royal Commission.Source:Supplied

In the letter to Father Doyle, Sister Powell wrote: “There is one girl in the Grade 5 class whose parents have already asked that their daughter not go to Fr. Season for confession because she was so upset after Father made her kneel between his knees.

“Two other girls in the class do everything possible to avoid F. Searson as he always cuddles them.”

The letters regarding Searson show the distress parents felt at his insulting snobbery — like the family he told them their house “wasn’t good enough” for a home mass because it didn’t have carpet — to their despair when the church did nothing about his sexual abuse.

Parent’s letter to the Vicar General of the Catholic Church complaining about Searson’s sexual abuse of young girls during reconciliation.

Parent’s letter to the Vicar General of the Catholic Church complaining about Searson’s sexual abuse of young girls during reconciliation.Source:Supplied

Written to the Archbishop, bishops, the Vicar General of the Church, they complain about Searson holding hands with children during confession, and asking young girls is “they looked at themselves when undressing”.

Many letters declare that both teachers and parents had advised children not to go alone to Father Searson’s office.

In July, 1987, schoolteacher Faye Chandley wrote a file note about a pupil who had “asked to leave classroom and speak with me” and had “sat in chair shaking and crying too ashamed to tell about what had happened to her”.

The girl, named Julie Stewart would later give evidence to the Royal Commission about what Searson had done to her as third-grader.

In Faye Chandley’s note, Julie tells her about Searson coercing her with dolls and wanting to “put his penis at the top of her thighs … talked of ejaculation — white stuff came out — wanted her to hold his penis”.

The abuse “went on for a couple of years” and caused problems for Julie at home.

Ms Stewart told the Royal Commission that Searson would force her to sit on his lap during confession and indecently assault her.

“He would say to me: ‘Do you love father?’ And I said ‘yes’. He would ask me to kiss him on the lips. I did,” she told the inquiry.

During her last confession she said Searson lifted her onto his lap and pushed her against his erect penis.

Note by teacher Faye Chandley about Julie Stewart confessing that Searson had sexually molested her during confession.

Note by teacher Faye Chandley about Julie Stewart confessing that Searson had sexually molested her during confession.Source:Supplied

Julie Stewart was molested as a nine-year-old by Father Searson told her ‘the Lord forgives you’. Picture: ABC TV.

Julie Stewart was molested as a nine-year-old by Father Searson told her ‘the Lord forgives you’. Picture: ABC TV.Source:ABC

List of grievances by teachers and parents against Father Peter Searson when he worked at Holy Family Catholic Church in Doveton. Picture: Royal Commission.

List of grievances by teachers and parents against Father Peter Searson when he worked at Holy Family Catholic Church in Doveton. Picture: Royal Commission.Source:Supplied

“He whispered in my ear: ‘You are a good girl. The Lord forgives you’.”

The nine-year-old snapped and ran screaming out of the confessional and was taken to the principal, Graeme Sleeman’s office.

Mr Sleeman, who also gave evidence at the inquiry, told how he resigned his post in 1986 at the school because of the abuse.

Parents launched a petition to get him back and to try and oust Searson, but nothing happened.

Searson would also belittle parents born abroad whose English was not up to his standard.

He also regularly made statements in his homilies saying that children whose mothers didn’t work should feel loved, while those who had working mothers must “feel unwanted”.

Despite the torrent of letters to Catholic leaders in Victoria, Searson endured at Doveton until March 14, 1997.

He was removed for an accusation of physical rather than sexual assault against boys.

Ms Stewart attempted suicide as a teenager, and received a $25,000 payment from the church which she said just “retraumatised” her.

The church paid a total of $291,000 to three of Searson’s victims via the Melbourne Response program.

Peter Searson died in 2009 before facing any child sex charges. One bishop and 15 priests paid their respects at his funeral in Melbourne.

The letters from parents and teachers about Searson are available on the Royal Commission’s web page.

If you or anyone you know need any help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

A parent’s letter complaining about Searson pointing his pistol at young boys in the church. Picture: RC.

A parent’s letter complaining about Searson pointing his pistol at young boys in the church. Picture: RC.Source:Supplied

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