‘Tis the season…
I just got into a huge fight with, like, half my office. It all started when a co-worker mentioned that she’d heard something on the radio this morning about Lucy Turnbull, the mayor of Sydney, outlawing Christian Christmas carols in the city. There was a predictably huffy response from a couple other people, saying that it was censorship and that “If non-Christian people don’t want to be offended, maybe they should just stay home.” I tried to inject some sanity. First, I can’t believe that she got the story right. I can’t verify because it hasn’t been posted on any of the news sites (which gives weight to my theory that it’s not a real issue and merely some wanker talk-back radio host mishearing a quote or something), but there’s no way I’d be, like, arrested for walking down Martin Place and singing “Silent Night.” I mean, duh. She insisted that she’d heard the story accurately. So I theorized that maybe Turnbull was just saying that the city wouldn’t fund any carolers to sing exclusively Christian carols, and that I thought that was a fine idea. Mistake. Immediately I had about fifteen pissed off people telling me that this country was “founded on Christianity” and “ordered around the Christian calendar” and that if people who migrated in got offended by hearing about it then they could bloody well leave. I kept trying to explain that it’s not about being offended, it’s about f***king separation of church and state, and that regardless of whether the majority of the population is Christian, an elected official shouldn’t be seen to favor that religion over all others. Things just got worse. The normally friendly guy across from me started ranting about “guys in turbans at the pub when I’m not allowed to wear a hat”! The girl behind me – who’s an immigrant herself, I might add – actually argued that Australian society was intrinsically Christian and if people didn’t like it, “they shouldn’t come.” I finally gave up. It’s insane. I’d never realized before how xenophobic and anti-PC some of these people are. Nobody’s saying that you can’t sing Christian (or Buddhist or Jewish or whatever) songs all you want. All I’m saying is that it should be an individual activity, not a state-sponsored one. Is that too difficult to understand?

And now I look like the office Communist or something, simply for trying to be rational. Sheesh.

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  1. i totally agree with you, kris, and do thing it was probably some dickhead talkbacker and now half a nation has taken this idea and run with it.
    a government should not sponsor a religious festival – it can be seen as discriminatory, or at the very least it should be a multicultural ceremony – after all we are a multicultural nation.
    i got into the same kind of trouble at work during the tampa “crisis”. i too looked like the office bolshevik when i tried to explain none of us were original inhabitants of this country, and we had it pretty damn lucky here and how most people in this country have NO idea of how it is to live in countries ravaged by war. it just seems that once we’re here we all very easily fall into the “i’m okay, screw you, jack” mentality.

  2. i’m sorry that you got ganged-up on, kris. know that this here Xian (not to be confused with Xina) has your back. 🙂

  3. The problem is that Australia DOES NOT have a separation of church and State like the US (they open Parliamentary proceedings with prayer)
    Plus they DO NOT have freedom of speech or the press. Things get censored all the time here. Remember the row over Ken Park last year? So if they are screaming censorship they need to get in line and get a bill or rights drafted!
    I’m not saying it is right or wrong, I’m just saying that the rules are very different here. Personally I think Mayor Turnbull is just trying to save face after the whole Sydney Peace Prize thing.
    People have a right to celebrate what they want when they want without having other faiths shoved in their faces. And if that makes me a commie pinko, then get me my party card!!!

    The guy who made the turban remark was just being uneducated. I’m sorry, but most Seiks (aka turban-wearers) that I know DON’T DRINK so I don’t know what pub he is going to.

    /rant

  4. I think Seiks are allowed to drink? Though not sure that sure.

    Yeah. Church and State are inextricably linked in the UK too. I.e. via the Queen … ah, so the same as Australia as they have our monarch. Though no one really pays the church much heed, unlike the US where its enshrined in the constitution that church and state are seperated.

    Interestingly all that rejection of Darwinism business that that got blamed on the US was actually started off in Oz.

    Also did you know, in India they apparrently have as national holidays the main days from about 4 religions. Cool or what?

    Anycase isn’t xmas all about worshipping the great mammon anyway these days? And all religish persuasions can get into that. Or am I just cynical? Of note is the fact that it started off as a pagan festival anyway and was hi-jacked by the christians to gain interest.

    I may have wibbled a bit here….

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