27 July 2011

The Case of the Disappearing Complaints

In the last week, Minister Garret, has had two reports drop on his desk.
The First Report

 The Ombudsman's reports into the National Chaplaincy  says that some Chaplains believe that school children with bad behaviour are possessed by demons.
It also highlights a lack of oversight, and a totally inadequate complaints procedure. 
 From the Report:-
3.6 - The investigation also found that current complaint handling procedures do not appear to adequately serve parents and students and should be improved, as it was not apparent that the Department has an adequate process for capturing complaints regarding chaplains and the program. In particular, the Ombudsman is concerned about the absence of any formal protocols between State and Territory education authorities and the Department regarding the day to day administration of the Chaplaincy Program.

This is not surprising as while the Federal Government provide the money, the Chaplain providers hire the staff, and the the Schools house the Chaplains, it seems the perfect setup for everyone to avoid any responsibility. Initially DEEWR said it only received formal 35 complaints:- 

While it had initially told the Ombudsman that only 35 formal complaints had been received about the chaplaincy program over four years, the department later advised it had received 277 complaints and was still checking its database for more.
Mr Asher was unable to identify any guidelines provided to schools by the department on complaints procedures and suggested many complaints had fallen through the cracks - failing to adequately protect the rights of parents and children.

The word "formal" is also significant, how is that defined? Do you have to follow a set procedure, is there a form? Does it have to go to a particular person or department? Does anyone actually know about it? Probably not.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said yesterday that the chaplaincy program was "very popular among school communities".
As many have said, The State School system has been run down for years, in favour of the religious based private schooling. This is quite comprehensive covered by Jane Caro and Chris Bonner AM in their book The Stupid Country.

So having anyone/someone who is an extra pair of eyes in the school ground would be useful. But then again the Minister could just be playing word games again, with the term "School Communities". I also suspect more word games with "Only 17 complaints about proselytising", nothing about evangelising, oh, but are these just "formal" complaints?

Australia's history with mixing Children with religion is not a happy one. In the past children where placed in Religious institutions such as orphanages, the 8000 British Child Migrants to Australia suffered terrible abuse, and of course the world wide child rape in the Catholic Church, and in each case we look back and say what a terrible tragedy, and it should never have happened in the first place, and we will learn lessons.

I suppose the lessons that have been learned are that you don't put children into evangelical religious institutions (as eventually they will get caught, but typically not punished), but put the evangelicals into childrens institutions eg schools.

The Second Report:-

About ACCESS ministries and their Evangelising. Minister Garret has given them the all clear. Well it seems there were actually no complaints, but then I suspect we come across the word "Formal" again. As usual FIRIS say it best.

So again we see a total whitewash of the Christian influence is schools and Government.
Now is the time to make proper Formal complaints and also time to give some money to the High Court Challenge

Further Reading:-

How the Chaplaincy Program continues due to dodgy statistics

The Bible is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel. - Thomas Paine

22 July 2011

Pulp Science Fiction Fun

         I have always enjoyed Science Fiction, I remember waiting for Star Trek on Sunday afternoons and wondering when life will be like that.
Just recently I realized how much of my own moral values have been influenced by the show, and I would have to now classify Gene Roddenberry as a hands-on Humanist philosopher.

I was mostly inspired by the brilliant artist  Aly Fell , some of his Pulp Covers are here

I was advised the first edition was a bit dark, so I have brightened it up a bit and changed the colours on some text.

“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” – Isaac Asimov

19 July 2011

Moral high ground...really?

One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others. - Moliere

17 July 2011

What reason for Censorship, Sex, Violence, and Robots

Censorship is an odd thing, usually it's "Think about the Children". In the past it was usually books on religion and Atheism that would be banned, now it's Harry Potter, and books that portray single mothers in a positive light.

In the lists above I added a few I made up, but believe it or not "Harm to Plantlife", and having an A cup breast size have been used in the past. Actually if a woman in a movie sex scene has an A cup breast size, the film will be banned in Australia.

I'm slightly annoyed that Blogger doesn't show these images better. Hopefully Flickr might due better.

"Obviously, the danger is not in the actual act of reading itself, but rather, the possibility that the texts children read will incite questions, introduce novel ideas, and provoke critical inquiry." -Persis M. Karim

14 July 2011

Even more reports on Catholic Child abuse in Ireland

Wednesday 13th of July, The long-awaited Cloyne Report has been published, detailing how the Catholic Church and the state authorities dealt will allegations of abuse in the County Cork diocese between the years 1996  to early 2000.

The report’s main points:

    The “greatest failure” of the diocese was the failure to report cases of abuse to the civil authorities: the diocese failed to alert the GardaĆ­ about nine out of 15 cases that “very clearly” should have been reported. 

    The Vatican was “entirely unhelpful” in assisting clerics wishing to implement procedures – describing the guidelines as “a study document”.

 The response of the Diocese of Cloyne was “inadequate and inappropriate".
  Primary responsibility for the failure to implement agreed child sexual abuse procedures lies with then-bishop of Cloyne John Magee.  Bishop Magee "took little or no active interest" in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document on child sexual abuse was agreed by the Irish Bishops' Conference.

An American watchdog group BishopAccountability.org said the handling of clerical abuse cases in Cloyne is “eerily similar” to a US grand jury report released earlier this year, which found church leaders showed a “brazen disregard” for both civil law and the church’s own internal policies.

“The Cloyne report is disheartening confirmation that even today, despite the church's knowledge of the profound anguish of thousands of victims, its reform policies are public relations ploys, not true child protection programs,” the group said.

The Boston-based organisation asked: "how many second chances will Irish church officials get before they are criminally charged for enabling the molestation of children?"

This is the fourth report into Child abuse committed by the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The main focus of the report Bishop Magee who resigned in March 2009  to spend the rest of his life in some comfortable house paid for by the donations of the shorn flock.

Each report shows that the Catholic Church was only really interested in keeping it's power, and was totally arrogant in the way it dealt with the abuse being inflicted by it's priests.

So then again showing the Vatican is only a power structure, lacking in any form of any moral courage or authority.
It also shows another failure of the Irish Government to do what is best for it's citizens, and shows why letting the Catholic Church to be the defacto 2nd Governent in the Irish Republic is such a very very bad idea.

It’s an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don’t try to make it posthumous. — Gloria Steinem

11 July 2011

Book Review - Stephen Law and his Believing Bullshit

     When you say "philosopher" most people imagine old men with great white beards, possibly this was true in old Greece, but we have have moved on a bit since then. I have been reading a book from Stephen Law called  Believing Bullshit.

I have only started reading philosophy recently, and came across Stephen Law when I bought his earlier book The War for Childrens Minds, as I had hoped it would have been useful in our current battle in Australia with the Chaplains, and Religious Indoctrination classes in schools. Maybe he can add a chapter for the next edition on Australia.

 I have to admit I'm not sure who Believing Bullshit aimed at, I would be encouraging younger people to read it, as it covers a good range of logical fallacies, some basic philosophical questions, and it's not a book that is hard going. I'm sure it would have been helpful to me when I was younger. If you have spent some time in the atheist movement, or reading atheist blogs, and watching the debates with religious and theological people you will probably have seen most of the areas covered in the book. It's not particularly aimed solely towards religion, but also alternative medicine and much of the New Age style of thinking. 

The Book has eight chapters

1. Playing the Mystery Card
2. But it Fits and the Blunderbuss
3. Going Nuclear
4. Moving the Semantic Goalposts
5. I Just Know!
6. Pseudoprofunity
7. Piling up the Anecdotes
8. Pressing your buttons

These are some of the methods and verbal strategies used by those who seek to defend their positions when put under rational scrutiny.

I have to admit its the only book I have read with two appendixes to the Introduction, but the contents are entertaining,and provide good examples of woolly thinking, one such being a theological reason for earthquakes.

Each Chapter explains how the method is used and applied, the author also explains what is wrong with it.   

It does seem to have rather more italics in the text than I am used to.

I have made a few of my own examples, and found another a few days ago. I think the chapters they relate to are quite obvious.

And from the web a few days ago

I wasn't so keen on the Screwtape letters at the end of the book, but then I didn't read the original by C S Lewis, as I usually steer clear of Christian hypocrites.

I really do sympathise that Stephen must have to read an awful lot of this rubbish, in order to refute it.
If you can read an interview with Stephen Law at New Scientist and you can hear him talk at the Poddelusion podcast from the BHA Convention in June.

Stephen Law is lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, The University of London. He is also editor of THINK, a journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy aimed at the general public.

How many Bishops does it take to change a light bulb? They don't want the lightbulb to be changed as they prefer everyone be kept in the dark. -Anon  

03 July 2011

My last pretty portrait for a while.

This was done by the very talented http://kinkei.deviantart.com/ and after a week has had over 10,000 views!

If the style is familiar to you, then you have probably seen Tim Mitchins Storm. Look for the fairey :-)

Well, I might get one or two more done...

Some people want to make the world a better place. I just wanna make the world a better-looking place. If you don't like it, you can paint over it!- Banksy