Sunday, July 25, 2010

That’s Life - Shane Crocker on Hinch and Gay Marriage

above: Melbourne 3AW radio commentator, Derryn Hinch 

In this new article Shane Crocker commends Australian radio commentator, Derryn Hinch for his support of queer marriage.  Crocker also critiques the position of Bill Muehlenberg, who he identifies as a right-wing Christian opponent of Hinch.  The publisher of 'Left Focus' (Tristan Ewins) also explains at the end of this article that Muehlenberg does not speak for all Christians.

By Shane Crocker

Which TV/radio presenter has been married several times, has an opinion on absolutely everything, shoots from the lip before checking facts and has an ego the size of a planet?

O.K. Let’s narrow it down a bit.

Which TV/radio presenter has been married four times, has an opinion on absolutely everything, shoots from the lip before checking facts, has an ego the size of a planet, publicly admits when he’s been wrong and has played himself in a comedy movie sending up shock-jocks?

When Derryn Hinch started his in-your-face current affairs show, Hinch, back in the 1980’s I was not impressed. Here comes another self righteous, conservatively minded, loudmouthed bully, doing shock-jock on TV, was my first impression.

Hinch, like every other egomaniac TV presenter went too far too often.

Then Derryn Hinch started doing things that no other shock-jock/ current affairs personality ever did. He would apologise on TV when he got something wrong.

A shock-jock saying “sorry, folks, I got it wrong”. That certainly shocked me.

My opinion of Hinch went up even further when he sent himself up in the 1999 comedy movie The Wog Boy.

Hinch has been mellowing-out over the years. Maybe he’s been more reflective since being diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in 2007.

When Derryn Hinch was publicly abused by John Laws at a Sydney restaurant in December 2007 he went up yet another rung.

Today, I’ve moved Derryn Hinch to the top.

Last week he authored one of the most enlightened opinion pieces I have ever read. It was wrong of me to oppose gay marriage by Derryn Hinch was published in The Australian on July 16, 2010.

As I read the article last week, apart from being awestruck by his humanity, I was thinking “now let’s wait and see the backlash”

The backlash came today.

Bill Muehlenberg is an American born Evangelical Christian and right-wing conservative now living in Australia. He is the secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, an organisation which is active in misrepresenting gays and demonising Muslims, amongst other far-Right obsessions.

Muehlenberg’s website is a cornucopia of paranoia, xenophobia, bigotry and hatred of everything and everyone who does not conform to his own narrow version of conservative American Christianity.

An anti-Muehlenberg blog can be found here:

Today (July 21, 2010) The Australian published the response to Derryn Hinch’s article.

Heterosexual marriage is society's bedrock by Bill Muehlenberg

Here, Muehlenberg starts off with an attack on the position of Derryn Hinch, referring to an earlier work of Hinch’s in ‘The Australian’.

He then launches into a sermon on the absoluteness of human sexuality and marriage:

“It (heterosexual marriage) regulates human sexuality, and it procures the wellbeing of any offspring from the sexual union.”

Go to the nightclub strip of any city on a Saturday night. Heterosexuality is catered for almost exclusively, but you won’t find any “regulated” human sexuality there. There is also no guarantee of the “wellbeing for offspring” in heterosexual marriages.

Next he goes into full paranoia mode citing a conspiracy of the “homosexual lobby”.

Next stop, outright lying. “40 years of social science research” has proved children are damaged by growing up in households without both a mother and a father. He does not cite any source of this “scientific research”.
Last stop, full-blown hysteria:

“ every child should have the basic human right of being raised by his or her own mother and father…This of course is stolen from them in same-sex households”

I have to confess to being a little disappointed with The Australian newspaper.

It’s not that hysterical reactionary opinion pieces upset me. I’m used to seeing this sort of thing more and more often in the main-stream press.

It’s just that I thought that The Australian would make a bit better effort in finding a counter argument to gay marriage that rose to the high standard of Derryn Hinch’s article.

Isn’t there any reasonable argument against gay marriage based on enlightened, rationalist principles rather than fundamentalist religion?

Apparently not.

Note from the publisher ( Tristan Ewins ):

I’d like to qualify my publication of this article with a few points which are important to me.

Firstly, I am myself a Christian. That being the case, I wouldn’t accept a characterisation of Christianity which portrayed it as 'essentially' right-wing. For most of my life I have been a Christian, a liberal and a socialist.  Christianity, for me, is deeply concerned with human dignity, compassion and distributive justice.

For my own part, I believe queer unions can involve the same depth of commitment as heterosexual unions, and should involve the same legal status with regards treatment for tax, welfare and other areas. This should be legally recognised by the state. 

Personally I believe it is usually best for children to be raised by their natural parents: but this applies in the sense of being favourable to alternatives regardless of sexuality.  Sometimes, though, adoption is the best option, and parents in that context can be both loving and dedicated.

There is controversy amongst Christians about the will of God in these and other areas.

In Australia, we live in a liberal and pluralist society. Religious bodies cannot impose their values upon broader society, and broader society recognises the liberal rights of civic organisations, including religious organisations.

For those organisations, though - including Jewish, Christian and Islamic – who hold as a matter of doctrine that they not facilitate same-sex unions, and not recognise them as holding the same status as heterosexual unions – it would not be right to attempt to force such a position upon them.

Many in faith-based communities are regularly faced with dilemmas: where the reason and secular conscience of their members is at odds with the laws and tenets of their religion. Some distort the tenets of these religions into a message of hate; but it is true also that fear and expectations of unconditional obedience – are at times intertwined. For the faithful and those of deep social conscience these are profound challenges.

The liberal, pluralist and secular political regime that defends the rights of religions also protects the rights of sexual and other minorities. Freedom of speech, assembly and association are generally assumed. At times when we make exceptions to this regime, we potentially weaken the consensus upon which liberal rights rest.

Religious bodies should be able to hold their own doctrines; but association with such bodies must be voluntary; and there must remain separation between church and state.

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  1. maintain_our_values of BrisbaneJuly 26, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Thanks for the heads up on Bill Muehlenberg.

    Does not look like a bad site (haven't yet found evidence of the alleged "paranoia, xenophobia, bigotry and hatred" so far.

    But I'll keep an eye out for it.

  2. At a casual glance there doesn't seem to be as much of a paranoia and hatred that the author claims at Muehlenberg's website proper...

    In the original version of Crocker's article there were hyperlinks to some of Muehlenberg's material...

    When I 'cut and pasted' the article, though, the hyperlinks weren't included for some reason - I'm not certain what happened. But going back over the origial submission, there were the following links:

    and to Muehlenberg's article in 'The Australian'.


    I believe the author - Shane Crocker - finds that kind of material offensive, and as the basis for his arguments.

    For my own part - being a liberal Christian I disagree with Muehlenberg along with Crocker - but I would have used different language in my criticism than:

    "paranoia, xenophobia, bigotry and hatred"

    The substance of my own position can be found in my Note at the bottom of the post.

  3. Sometimes, I am moved to think animals have a more better sense of understanding than gay and lesbians. I have never seen a male animal climbing a male animal. It ansolutely against common sense for a woman to marry a woman. Imagine if all our parents were Gay and lesibian, where would you and me be. You might not believe in God and the Bible the way i do, but something is totally wrong here. Albie

  4. "A right wing Christian".

    A lovely example of 'poisoning the well'.

  5. It would seem that bill appears to be a fascist.

  6. Fascism has a very specific meaning to do with extreme nationalism, militarism, authoritarianism and corporatism. From what I've seen I don't think it would be fair or accurate to describe Bill Muehlenberg as a fascist. And while I think Bill and I are far apart in political ideology - as I've made clear in this thread - I think we are both sincere in our Christianity. As a left liberal and as a Christian the least I can do is to try and be truthful in this regard.

  7. Regardless of what I've said earlier here, looking at Bill Muehlenberg's website recently he seems to have contempt for the anti-Wall St protesters. There seems to be a real tendency in the US to marry Christianty with neo-liberal economics that punish the poor and deny justice to workers. Bill seems to want to export that tendency to Australia too. And in doing so he provides a caricature of the Left, and refuses to engage honestly or openly with critics. (such as myself) If Bill is sincere about his Christianity I think he needs to think again about what Christ would really have him do.

  8. This is interesting:!/christiansmisrepresented

  9. Mr Crocker: I'm afraid that, devoid of Darren Hinch's actions, you yourself have written imprudently and fairly questionably. Firstly, you are foolish for idealising that Darren has a large ego: Indignant, perhaps - but ego is out of such a question. You'll notice that Mr. Hinch has received counselling in the past for many of his self-esteem issues, and it may well be a case of Hinch being "...more sinned against than sinned...". We may all recognise Mr. Hinch's outrage at matters ranging from the trivial to those of greater poignancy. But he himself has had a very arduous life (or so is told). I would but ask that you refrain from the hypocracy of these aforementioned words in your article in the future, and keep the 'argumentum ad vereciundam' to a minimal. Make no mistake: I am defending the man, not excusing his actions.


  10. Generally I abhor shock jocks & almost never listen to talk back radio, I am no great fan of Derryns shows as I rarely watch that type of commercial TV or listen to "that type" of commercial radio. Despite that I am a huge fan of Derryn Hinch, you can't avoid knowing what the man stands for or his ideals if you own a TV in Australia. I have met him briefly & he seems to be the man as portayed in public, a saint to all except a few judges & bureaucrats ( & of cause the scum he uncovers that would otherwise hide behind our privacy laws). & yes he has a big ego, he fits his ego, if he was a bit younger I'd say Derryn for PM, Australia needs a leader like Derryn. Oh & Gay marriage- just another thing he has got right.


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