A Brief (Personal) Memoir of HIV & AIDS

I discovered this older article recently while rummaging through my article archives. I present it here with some edits and newspaper inclusions. HIV & AIDS (note the separation of the two) has an intricate, but morbidly fascinating, national & international history. I watched “The Normal Heart” again only a couple of days ago, and the hospital scene where Felix is in the hospital ward with the meal sitting outside the door of his KS infecred friend, and being told not to go in without contagion gear raised a whole plethora of unpleasant memories with me. To understand where HIV is now, you need to understand where it was! 


I can’t believe it has been about thirty seven years since we first started hearing about HIV/AIDS. I find it even harder to believe that I have been infected for thirty five years. Over half my life has been lived with this virus! In personal retrospection, I could say that compared to the bad, bad old days of 1981, life is a bed of roses today. But then I am aware that quite a lot of people would still not share that sentiment, so out of respect to them, I will avoid such romanticism.


I was living in Melbourne at that time, and I believe that HIV/AIDS got its first mention in the gay press a little earlier than 1981, though I could be wrong. There were only snippets, overseas briefs if you like, of a strange STD that seemed to be selectively attacking the San Francisco gay community, or more specifically, those members of that community who frequented the baths and back rooms of the famous city. I know that no one here was particularly concerned. We thought it was just another of ‘those American things’, or just a mutated form of the clap. Nothing that a pill wouldn’t fix! By the time I returned to Sydney in 1982, we had started to think quite differently. Some of us were getting very scared!

The media began drowning us in information, mainly from the United States. There was the dramatic scenario of ‘Patient 0’, from whom it was assumed the whole epidemic had spread like an out of control monster. The USA and France argued over who had discovered the virus, and made the link between HIV infection and AIDS (watch “Dallas Buyers Club” for an inkling of what this was all about!). A debate raged as scientists tried to decide what to call it and which acronym to use. We had GRID (Gay Related Immune Disease) and HTLV 1 & 2 (Human Transmitted Lymphoma Virus – if memory serves me well). They eventually settled on HIV for initial viral infection, and AIDS for any subsequent illnesses that resulted from the breakdown of the immune system. The original Center for Disease Control (CDC) classification system for the various stages of HIV and AIDS progression was so complicated that you really needed a university degree to be able to decipher them. To make things more manageable they finally settled on four classifications. 

Then came ARCs (AIDS Related Conditions) but that was considered politically incorrect, so we settled on OIs (Opportunistic Infections).

The argument over names and classifications wasn’t half as frightening as the reality of the disease itself, which started to hit home in 1985. Official testing began in that year, and is still the earliest date that medicos will accept as a point of diagnosis with HIV. Any date earlier than that is declared to be a ‘self-report’. Like many others, I assumed I was HIV+ long before testing started. Virgin and chaste were not words to be found in my life resume. Sydney’s Albion Street Centre was the first here to begin testing, and it was done very discreetly and anonymously. We all used an assumed first name, and were issued with a number to identify who we were. (In 1996, when I needed to tap into my first HIV test results done at Albion Street, they were still there.) Counseling was atrocious. You were given your HIV+, or HIV- (if you were lucky) status very bluntly, then quickly shunted over to a counsellor before the shock had a chance to set in. You were also told, almost apologetically, that you probably had about two years to live. That was HIV diagnosis circa 1985. 

A number of our conservative politicians, and some of our outraged Christian clergy started to say that they wanted us placed in quarantine. It was very specifically a gay disease, according to them, and they truly believed that fencing off the gay areas of Sydney and leaving it to run its course could contain it. These people wondered why we got tested anonymously!

By 1985 people were starting to die. There were no dedicated HIV wards in any of our hospitals, and patients were shuttled between temporary beds in wards and the emergency department. Reports started to filter through of hospital staff wearing contagion suits around patients with HIV. Worse still, meals were being left outside the doors of rooms, and would often be cold by the time the patient managed to get them. Cleaners refused to clean the rooms. There were scares of infection by contact with everything from a toothbrush, to a glass, to cutlery, so patients were offered very disposable forms of hygiene. Even mosquito’s copped some of the blame. 

Then, of course, we had the living daylights frightened out of all of us with the “Grim Reaper”television ads. From 1985 to 1995, death lived with us on a daily basis. If you weren’t visiting sick friends, lovers, or partners in hospital, you were visiting them at home, or attending their funerals and wakes. Most of us lost the majority of our friends, and for most of us those friendships have never been replaced.

Around that time, the gay community took charge of what was quickly becoming an out-of-control situation. Tired of seeing friends dying in emergency wards, and getting only the minimum of care at home and in hospitals, we established our own care, support and advocacy groups. Out of the pub culture grew groups as diverse as BGF, CSN, ANKALI, ACON, and PLWHA. Maitraya, the first drop in centre for plwha was founded, and we raised the first quarter of a million dollars through an auction at “The Oxford” Hotel to start to improve ward conditions at St. Vincent’s Hospital. The gay community can forever take great pride in itself for bringing about great changes, not only in the care of plwha, but in the way the disease was handled, both politically and socially..

The Department of Social Security streamlined people with HIV/AIDS through the system and onto Disability Support Pensions, and the Department of Housing introduced a Special Rental Subsidy so that those on a Pension, and unable to wait interminable amounts of time for housing, were able to live in places of their own choice, at greatly subsidised rent. Home care became available through CSN, which, at that time, was not a part of ACON. By 1992, there was a perceived need for improved dental services for HIV patients, especially considering the high incidence of candida. The United Dental Hospital led the way with a HIV Periodontal Study, which at last provided reasonable dental care to plwha. 

The first vaccine, p24VLP, was trialled with absolute zero results. There were quite a number of scares with HIV contaminated blood, and screening of blood donors was tightened. Discrimination reared its ugly head in the Eve van Grafhorst case, which forced this poor little girl to not only leave her school because of the hysterical reaction to her HIV infection, but to flee the country with her family.

In 1987, the first therapy for AIDS – azidothymidine (AZT) – was released in the USA, and its use in patients with HIV/AIDS was fast-tracked through the approval process here. In France a huge trial called ‘The Concord Trial’ was conducted – unethically – and its findings were found to be inaccurate. The resulting announcement that AZT was ineffective in the control of HIV, and the drug nothing more than ‘human Rat Sak’, caused a universal outcry. The damage was done. Many had no faith in the new drug at all, and local activists and proponents of alternative therapies tried to encourage people not to use the drug. Many of us chose otherwise. True, the effects of AZT were short-term only – maybe six to twelve months – but many saw it as a way to keep the wolf from the door long enough for some other drugs to come along. And come along they did. AZT was quickly followed by what are referred to as the ‘D’ drugs – d4T, ddi, ddc, and the outsider 3TC. However, these were all drugs from one class called Nucleoside Analogues and all had short effectiveness. Some doctors tried giving them in double combinations, but the effectiveness wasn’t much better. Despite their short life span, these drugs were being prescribed in enormous doses, which resulted in problems such as haematological toxicity, anemia, and peripheral neuropathy. We needed a miracle! Add travel restrictions in many countries, blood transfusion infections, and some babies dying as a result of this and things weren’t looking good!

Those of us who had managed to survive to 1996 were starting to give up hope. Most of us were on a pension, had cashed in and spent our superannuation and disability insurance, had a declining health status, and didn’t hold out much hope for a longer survival time. Prophylaxis for illnesses such as PCP, CMV, MAC and candida had helped improve most people’s lives, but they didn’t halt the progress of the virus. The first of the Protease Inhibitors, Saquinavir, was introduced that year, and evidence started to emerge of the effectiveness of combining the two classes of drugs into what came to be known initially as ‘combination therapy’ and later as HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy). The results were astounding; those close to dying suddenly found their CD4 counts rising, accompanied by a return to reasonable health. Viral Load testing was introduced and people were finding not just a raising of their CD4 counts, but a drastic lowering of their viral load, often to the point of its being undetectable. This became known amongst doctors as ‘the gold standard’. Ganciclovir Implants to assist with the control of CMV retinitis were trialled the same year, and Albion Street Clinic started a trial using decadurabolane, a steroid, to assist in controlling Wasting Syndrome. The new drug combinations (NNRTI’s – Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptease Inhibitors – a third class of drugs, were introduced shortly after) were not without their complications and problems. Most combinations still required huge quantities of pills to be taken daily, not just of the HAART drugs, but also prophylaxis and drugs to help control side effects such as nausea and diarrhoea. Their use required time and dietary compliance. Other problems such as lipodystrophy, lipoatrophy, and renal problems appeared, but we were, despite any drawbacks, a lot better off than we had been ten years, hell even two years earlier. 

People’s health changed drastically, and suddenly new services started to take prominence. Some people required lots of counselling to help them reconnect with the life they thought had been taken from them. Others went to peer support groups or turned to treatment management groups, and some to the larger range of support services being provided by The Luncheon Club, The Positive Living Centre, NorthAIDS and other similar groups. There was recognition that there was a need for services to assist people with an improved health status, as some of them were contemplating returning to work. Despair had, to a large extent, been replaced by hope. Organisations concerned with people’s changing needs reassessed and changed their services to meet the demand. Those that changed have survived, and are still prominent in our community.

The war is far from over. New generations require new strategies, and while everyone seems happy that infection rates for HIV have remained steady in Australia (despite rampaging out of control in Third World countries), many feel it is still not good enough that, at this stage of 37+ years into HIV/AIDS, countries like Australia with high levels of education and accessibility to media and information should be seeing a decline in infections. Remembering my own youth I find it difficult to comment on the attitudes of young people. I grew up through the very worst that HIV/AIDS had to throw at us, and the lessons it taught are not easy to forget. I have to ask myself had I not had that experience, how would I be viewing it? It is no longer just the responsibility of the gay community to guard against new infections. Responsibility also rests with the straight community, and the IDU community, as infection rates remain at their current level. Some scaremongers have ventured forth theories of a ‘third wave’ of infection, but I trust we are too wise, and too educated to allow that sort of irresponsibility to happen.
Many of us (certainly not all) are going on to lead relatively normal lives. Many have returned to work either as volunteers, or in casual, part-time or full-time employment. Many like myself have returned to tertiary education, determined not to leave this world without at least fulfilling some gnawing ambition. However, we are not living in a ‘post-AIDS’ world, and to think so would be foolish. Even if the battles have been won at home, they still need to be fought elsewhere. We still need new drugs, and we still need people to trial both the emerging antiviral and opportunistic infection drugs and the immune-based therapies. We now have a fourth class of drugs in the form of Nucleotide Analogues. Many medical practices have adopted a holistic approach to medicine, and this can be judged to be a direct spin-off from the HIV/AIDS wars. Hopefully, soon please, a new vaccine will appear.

I really don’t know how much longer I will live now. Certainly with the standard of health care I get, and the close monitoring, I may live out whatever my allotted time was to be. Time will be a better judge of that than I will. For me, HIV/AIDS has been a two-edged sword. It has taken good health from me, I have permanent disabilities from AIDS, and I have seen far too many friends, lovers and partners die from this hideous disease. At the same time, it has presented me with opportunities I would never have grasped if it had not come along. I am re-educating myself, taking myself off along strange paths. It has given me a whole new understanding not just of HIV, but of disabilities in general, and a great respect for those who overcome difficulties and recreate their lives.

At a university tutorial last semester, a young woman asked me if I thought every day about having HIV. I don’t! It may have taken thirty five years, but it is now so integrated into my life, that I have trouble remembering the time when I didn’t have it. The pills are just pills now (and thankfully a lot less of them than even 4 years ago), and most of my current medical problems have more to do with ageing than with HIV. 

I can tell you, that really gives me something to think about!

Tim Alderman (C © Revised 2017)

How To Pick Up At The Gym

This article was written by Alex Simpson and published on Emen8 on July 16, 2017 (see Reference for link). 

Multitasking is a valuable life skill and where better to hone your prowess in this craft than at your local gym. Whether you live a time-poor life or have simply always fantasised, as many of us have, about having sex with that hot weightlifter on the gym floor, the gym is the perfect place to combine the endorphin rush of exercise with that of picking up a hottie.

The art of cruising at the gym is one best practiced with a healthy equilibrium between enthusiasm and restraint. Subtle to those not interested, but salient to those who are also on the hunt for some pumped up d, here are 10 ways, from arrival to departure, to signal at the gym that you’re thirsty for a meet.
1. Arrive prepared
Even if you go to the gym first thing in the morning, be sure to run a comb through your hair, brush your teeth and spray on some deo. This will indicate far better that you want to be noticed than looking and smelling like you’ve just rolled out of bed. If you do think in all likelihood you will pick a guy up and head back to his place, have your essentials covered, whether that be having condoms, lube, or having taken your PrEP or HIV meds that day.
2. Get naked as many times as possible
The longer you spend butt naked in the change room and the showers, the greater the chance of a potential suitor being able to check you out stripped bare. Which in turn, acts like the physical manifestation of sending cock and ass pics on Grindr – many want to see the goods before they buy.
And here’s how to maximise your time au naturel without looking like an unsolicited creep: always wear regular clothes to the gym, even if coming directly from home, that way you can strip and put on your gym gear at a leisurely pace; once finished your workout, strip out of your gym gear and head to the showers or steam room with your towel around your neck; and once finished, return to the change room still slightly damp so that you can rigorously dry yourself in full view, with particular attention being placed on drying your cock and ass. In all, three significant moments in your pre and post workout routine to put your junk and rump on full display.

3. Dress the part

If you’re keen for some extra-curricular activity after the gym, you’re more likely to get some if you’re dressed to impress. Active wear and gym gear is often some of the most fetishist clothing on the market, so discard your old crew-necks and baggy shorts, and opt for tight and revealing skins and mesh tank tops. Or, if you’re wearing a pair of hot basketball shorts or some form fitting AFL shorts, consider going commando and allow your member to bulge at its best.


4. Wear a jockstrap

While the mighty jockstrap’s initial purpose, when invented in 1874, was to provide athletic support to bicycle riders and other sportsmen, over the decades, this primary use has declined and today, jockstraps are more commonly synonymous with gay fetish. Opt for a form-fitting design which frames your bulge and assets well, and enjoy the looks you get as it peeks out from the top of your shorts as you squat, or when the butt straps are bared in a leg press.
5. Advertise
Wearing a suggestive t-shirt or tank top will clearly indicate your sexual preference and will be a great conversation starter for any fellow gym attendee who wants to hit on you. “I’d bottom you so hard” and the like will do the trick.
6. Headphones out
It stands to reason that if someone finds you hot and wants to come onto you, this interaction is going to be significantly less likely if you have headphones in your ears and seemingly don’t want to be disturbed. Keep digital distractions to a minimum; headphones are a definite no-no.
7. Do exercises that mimic your sexual positions
What better way to demonstrate what your body’s range of motion is capable of than performing exercises that mimic what you want to do, and can do, in the boudoir. If you’re a bendy power bottom, barbell squats will illustrate your energised bounce technique to a tee. Or if you’re more of a jackhammer top, bodyweight push ups will entice a potential hook up and show your rigorous thrusting ability. Be sure to also focus on exercises that show off and improve your finest assets. So if you’re more the passive type, find out how to become a better power bottom at the gym .


8. Use your apps

If you’re not sure if the hottie in your BodyPump class is looking to get his body pumped, log onto your trusted gay networking apps to see if he’s online.
9. Spot a hottie or ask if you can work in with him
A great way to gauge whether someone you like is interested is to ask them to spot you. If they’re willing to take some time out of their work out to assist you in this way, then maybe they’ll also be willing to take some time out of their day to assist you in another way . And now that the ice is broken, starting up a conversation will be an easy feat. Or, if it’s peak hour at the gym and the guy you’ve got your eye on is resting between sets, asking to take turns on the apparatus in question is also common practice and a sure fire way to casually spark a conversation.
10. Cruise and shower
Once your workout is complete, it’s time to get busy in the gym’s aquatic facilities. If your gym has a non-shared stream room facility, this is a notoriously popular place frequented by men on the hunt for some d. Remove your towel, spread your legs and relax and see if anyone’s admiring your goods with appreciation. The showers are also a great place to cruise and be cruised. Always be sure to leave your cubicle doors open and by no means should you ever be averse to dropping the soap.


Reference
https://emen8.com.au/health/fitness_and_body/how-to-pick-up-at-the-gym/

1950s Closeted Gay Couple Share An Illegal Kiss In The Safety Of A Photo Booth


For many young LGBT people, it’s hard to imagine what life would have been like for a young gay couple growing up in 1950s America.
At the time, many states had statutes on moral, lewd , or disorderly conduct, that allowed police to target and arrest gay and lesbian “deviants.”
“Such transgressions as wearing items of clothing of the opposite sex, propositioning someone of the same sex, or even holding hands with a member of the same sex” could land you in jail, as TIME points out.
A photo booth picture, taken by a young daring gay couple in 1953, captured a beautiful moment of affection between the two love birds that could have also resulted in their arrests.


According to TIME:

The image is part of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries – the largest repository of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer materials in the world. The picture was once owned by the young man on the right-hand side of the image above, Joseph John Bertrund Belanger. Belanger, for most of his life, was a devoted collector of LGBT history. Born in Edmonton, Canada, in 1925, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was a member of the Mattachine Society – an early instance of what today would be called an LGBT organization — in the early 1950s. It is thanks to his passion and foresight that the image survives today.


Here, in the midst of the 2014 pride season, what remains so remarkable and moving about this particular image is how quietly radical it feels all these years later. Belanger and another man have found a private safe-space in the unlikeliest of places — an ordinary photo booth – where they felt so at ease, and so themselves, they could kiss each other far from the prying eyes of a disapproving public.

Reference

https://www.thegailygrind.com/2014/06/25/1950s-closeted-gay-couple-share-illegal-kiss-safety-photo-booth-photo/
Tim Alderman (2017)

‘Sleep well my love’: A Beautiful Tragic Gay Love Letter From WWII!

Hans-Joachim Marseille and his fellow soldier
This amazing letter Brian Keith wrote to another soldier named Dave one year after falling in love with him overseas in 1943. Keith recalls the time the two shared while stationed together in North Africa. He writes about their chance encounter during World War II, waking up in his arms and the tears that flowed when they separated, and expresses regret that Dave never made it home after the war. The letter was reprinted in September of 1961 by ONE Magazine and the original is supposedly preserved in the Library of Congress.


Transcript of the letter above:

Dear Dave,

This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.
The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.
We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.
Goodnight, sleep well my love.
Brian Keith
Reference:

By Brian Keith. Found on HyperVocal. Image courtesy of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries. ]

Article curtesy of https://www.thegailygrind.com/2013/09/13/read-beautifully-tragic-gay-wwii-soldiers-love-letter-wwii-sleep-well-love/

Tim Alderman (2017)

WWII Gunner: A Provocative Photo Taken During Action at Rabaul.

In the heat of battle, photographer Horace Bristol captured one of the most unique and erotic photos of WWII.

In the heat of battle, photographer Horace Bristol captured one of the most unique and erotic photos of WWII.
Bristol photographed a young crewman, who was a part of the US Navy “Dumbo” PBY rescue mission, manning his gun after having stripped naked and jumped into the water of Rabaul Harbor to rescue a badly burned Marine pilot. The Marine was shot down while bombing the Japanese-held fortress of Rabaul.
Rare Historical Photos writes: 

Since Japanese coastal defense guns were firing at the plane while it was in the water during take-off, this brave young man, after rescuing the pilot, manned his position as machine gunner without taking time to put on his clothes. A hero photographed right after he’d completed his heroic act. Naked.
Photo taken by Horace Bristol (1908-1997). In 1941, Bristol was recruited to the U.S. Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, as one of six photographers under the command of Captain Edward J. Steichen, documenting World War II in places such as South Africa, and Japan. He ended up being on the plane the gunner was serving on, which was used to rescue people from Rabaul Bay (New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea), when this occurred. In an article from a December 2002 issue of B&W magazine he remembers:
“…we got a call to pick up an airman who was down in the Bay. The Japanese were shooting at him from the island, and when they saw us they started shooting at us. The man who was shot down was temporarily blinded, so one of our crew stripped off his clothes and jumped in to bring him aboard. He couldn’t have swum very well wearing his boots and clothes. As soon as we could, we took off. We weren’t waiting around for anybody to put on formal clothes. We were being shot at and wanted to get the hell out of there. The naked man got back into his position at his gun in the blister of the plane.”
Photo curtesy of https://www.thegailygrind.com/2014/06/01/photographer-captures-nude-navy-wwii-hero-gun-battle-nsfw/

Tim Alderman (2017)

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A Photo Essay of Male-To-Male Affection: 1800s-Mid 1900s.

These beautiful photos of men showing affection to other men do not necessarily denote their sexual orientation. Because of the photographs age, and the lack of information about these unknown people, we do not actually know if they are gay, friends, brothers or relatives. But the lack of knowledge about each photograph does not detract from what are quite obvious, intimate relationships, and a daring – for the period – lack of restraint.

Where possible, references & attributations have been given.

Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
Curtesy Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys
 

Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
Curtesy of Homohistory.com
England 1875: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
New York 1900: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Europe 1906: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
New York 1907; Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
WW 1: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
1912: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
1914: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
California 1923: Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
1925; Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia gailygrind.com

Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
Curtesy Adrian Garcia: gailygrind.com
 

Tim Aldernan (2017)

Gay History: The Hon. Percy Jocelyn (1764-1843); Bishop of Ferns, Ireland.


The Right Rev. and Hon. Percy Jocelyn was Bishop of the Diocese of Ferns from 1809-1820. Percy’s mother, Lady Anne Hamilton, was a member of the Clanbrassil Hamiltons, on whose land the Battle of Ballinahinch was fought in 1798, and her distant kin included the United Irish leader, Archibald Hamilton Rowan. In 1752, Lady Anne Hamilton married Robert Jocelyn, son of the Lord High Chancellor of Ireland. Through his father’s political success and his wife’s aristocratic connections, Robert Jocelyn attained high honours and became Earl of Roden. A year before the Rising, in 1797, Lord Roden’s eldest son, Robert Jocelyn (1756-1820), succeeded as the second Earl of Roden. The second son, George Jocelyn (1764-1798), was the father-in-law of both Walter Hore and James Boyd. But it was the third and youngest son, Percy Jocelyn (1764-1843), who proved to be the most interesting character in that generation of the family.

He graduated with a BA from Trinity College Dublin. At Trinity, he was regarded as something of a bookworm, spending much of his time in his rooms on Library Square. He was later described as “a tall thin young man with a pale, meagre and melancholy countenance, and so reserved in his manners and recluse in his habits that he was considered by every body to be both proud and unsociable”. Percy Jocelyn was born on 29 November 1764. Immediately after graduating, he was ordained deacon at the age of 23 and then priest. He quickly acquired a number of ecclesiastical positions, not because he was able and capable, but due to the cunning ambition that had made him a corrupt pluralist who amassed many posts, enriching himself with the income from accumulated tithes and endowments.
For all the offices he held from a young age, Jocelyn gave very little back in return to the parishes that sustained his lifestyle. He failed constantly to provide for the pastoral care of his parishioners or to take services in the churches and cathedrals to which he had been appointed. Between 1787 and 1809, he was Treasurer of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork (1787-1795); Rector of Creggan, near Dundalk, Co Louth, and Rector of Tamlaght, Co Derry, two parishes at opposite ends of the Diocese of Armagh (1788-1790); Archdeacon of Ross, Co Cork (1788-1790); Treasurer of Armagh Cathedral (1790-1809); and Rector of Disert, Co Waterford, in the Diocese of Lismore (1796-1809). Not even the holiest and most energetic of men could give due attention to these posts in four dioceses spread across five counties and three provinces while maintaining a city residence in Dublin at the same time.
Jocelyn’s contemporaries realised that he was incapable of giving due attention to his pastoral responsibilities and that he was idle to the point of negligence, seldom taking services and never preaching. Rev Thomas Hore said Jocelyn that he was the “most idle of all reverend idlers” and asked him rhetorically: “Do you ever write a sermon? Most worthy Rector of Creggan – not you.”

As a consequence of the events in 1798, Percy Jocelyn was elevated to the bench of bishops in the Church of Ireland. During the Rising, the Bishop of Killala, Joseph Stock, had suffered bitterly at the hands of the rebels, the French invading force, and the British authorities in Co Mayo. Once the Rising was over, Stock was naturally disillusioned with his see and was soon pursuing every vacant episcopal appointment. However, Stock was disappointed as he was passed over for preferment when the mad Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, Euseby Cleaver, became Archbishop of Dublin in 1808. Stock had hoped to become Archbishop of Dublin, but now resigned himself to moving to Co Wexford, writing to his son: “If I cannot be Dublin, I shall be content with Ferns.” He must have been convinced of his chances of moving to Co Wexford, for four days later he wrote in similar terms: “I think I must have a chance of Ferns.” Despite his expectations, all Stock received was a polite note from the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Richmond. Instead, he was transferred to the Waterford and Lismore, and eventually, in 1809, the See of Ferns, vacated by Cleaver, passed to Percy Jocelyn. When he became Bishop of Ferns, Percy Jocelyn found himself in good company alongside the scandalous Chancellor of Ferns, Sir Henry Bate Dudley. But Jocelyn, for his part, spent very little time in his dioceses, seldom visiting those parishes in counties Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow that formed his diocese.

In 1811, Jocelyn’s brother John’s coachman, James Byrne, accused him of “taking indecent familiarities” (possibly buggery) and of “using indecent or obscene conversations with him”. Byrne was sued for criminal libel by Jocelyn and on conviction was sentenced to two years in jail and also to public flogging. In court, the bishop’s counsel was Charles Kendal Bushe (1767-1843), Solicitor General of Ireland and later Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, who was a clergyman’s son. Bushe confounded Byrne’s allegations by claiming the sexual practice the Bishop of Ferns was alleged to have indulged in was a “contagion” that had never reached Ireland. “There is no instance of its existence in the memory of any professional man,” Bushe told the court. Therefore, by deduction, the bishop must be innocent. At the trial, Byrne hardly bothered to defend himself for making what the judge called “so wicked a calumny that no idea is too horrible to be informed of you.” Jocelyn was described as “an exalted and venerable character, who, though raised to one of the highest dignities of the Church, is still less exalted by his rank than he is by the uniform piety of his life.” The bishop was virtuous, pious and devout, Mr Justice Fox agreed. Regretting that he could not pass harsher sentence, he jailed Byrne for two years and ordered that he should be whipped three times through the streets of Dublin. Byrne was whipped to within an inch of his life, and also spent the full two years and an extra 85 days in jail Recanting his allegations at the prompting of the bishop’s agent, the floggings were stopped. A public subscription was raised in 1822 to raise money for Byrne to try to make up for this miscarriage of justice.

Soon poor Percy put all these sordid events and Byrne’s allegations behind him. Others appeared to have had short memories too, including family members, and when the bishop’s nephew, also Robert Jocelyn, succeeded as third Earl of Roden in 1820, he actively sought the promotion of Percy from the Diocese of Ferns to the See of Clogher. Despite the image that had been bolstered by his family and in court, by the time Jocelyn moved from Ferns to Clogher there were rumours that the bishop was mentally imbalanced. Within weeks there were reports that he was selling off the furnishings of his new palace, a four-storey Classical mansion built only a year earlier by his predecessor, Lord John George Beresford. Worse was to come.

On 19 July 1822, at the age of 58, Percy Jocelyn was caught in a compromising position with a Grenadier Guardsman, John Moverley, in the back room of The White Lion public house, St Albans Place, off The Haymarket, Westminster. Jocelyn tried to escape, but his trousers were still down around his ankles, and he was arrested. Although dressed as a clergyman, he refused to reveal his identity. However, once in custody his name was soon discovered and the news of his arrest caused an immediate sensation in London’s clubs and coffee houses. He and Moverley were released on bail, provided by the Earl of Roden and others. The 22-year-old John Moverley was eventually committed to jail. The sordid details surrounding Jocelyn’s arrest were conveyed to the newly-appointed Archbishop of Armagh, Lord John George Beresford, by George Dawson, private secretary to the Home Secretary, Robert Peel. Only after lively correspondence involving the viceroy, the prime minister, the chief secretary, and Archbishop Beresford, was an ecclesiastical court summoned. The court, consisting of four bishops, George Beresford of Kilmore, William Knox of Derry, James Saurin of Dromore and William Bissett of Raphoe, met in Armagh in October 1822. Citations demanding Jocelyn’s appearance were posted on the doors of Clogher Palace and Cathedral, and on the doors of his townhouse in Dublin, but when he failed to appear in court, the process was begun to deprive the bishop of his ecclesiastical office.

But, even while the trial was proceeding, Jocelyn’s capacity for corruption remained unbounded. When he should have been appearing before the four bishops in Armagh, he was auctioning off the last remaining contents of his palace, so that the court ruefully recorded: “That splendid appendage of his dignity has been left as naked as a ruin.” Jocelyn was declared deposed by the Metropolitan Court of Armagh in October 1822. He was deprived of his bishopric, his holy orders and his authority “on account of divers crimes and excesses and more especially for the crimes of immorality, incontinence, sodomitical practices, habits, and propensities, and neglect of his spiritual, judicial, and ministerial duties.” It is, perhaps, the only example ever of a bishop in the Church of Ireland being reduced to the lay state. James Byrne, once flogged and jailed for his allegations against the bishop, now felt vindicated. The Times of London demanded he should receive public indemnity, a great dinner was organised in his honour in London, and a public subscription raised £300 for him.

Moverely had disappeared by now, and there were rumours that Jocelyn’s nephew had him bought off or even had him murdered; other reports said he had been executed. However, the records show that Moverly deserted on 7 August 1822. There is reason to believe that the government, rather than to have a bishop found guilty of the crime of sodomy, was willing to let him escape. There appear to be no documents in the regimental archive relating to a courts martial so possibly he was never caught. Meanwhile, Jocelyn had broken bail. The fugitive bishop first fled to Scotland and from there to Paris with the money he had extracted from his Episcopal Palace, and perhaps with the help of his nephew, Lord Roden. Two years later, in December 1824, the disgraced bishop was formally declared an outlaw. 

The last days of Percy Jocelyn were spent as a character who, by some standards, might be more pitied than despised. It is generally accepted that he ended his days in Scotland, working as a butler under the assumed name of Thomas Wilson. He died in Edinburgh in December 1843, and was buried there in the New Cemetery, with only five mourners present. The Latin inscription on his coffin is very telling: “Here lie the remains of a great sinner, saved by grace, whose hopes rest in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

However, a contrary end is provided by the English writer, Rictor Norton. After he writing a short sketch of the bishop, Norton was contacted by the Hon James Jocelyn, a brother of the current Lord Roden, who claimed that Percy Jocelyn did not die in Scotland as a disguised butler, but returned to his family in Co Down to live a quiet life. The bishop left most of his fairly large estate to his sisters, but his will also contained a dozen bequests to named individuals ranging from £100 pounds to £2,200, including £300 “to my good friend and relation The Reverend James Hill Poe of Nenagh … as token of Remembrance for all the Kindness and attention which my beloved sisters and myself have uniformly experienced from him for many years past during a period of extreme calamity and misfortune.” The will includes the following clause: “I desire and request that my remains may be committed to the Grave in the most private manner at a very early hour in the morning and that no Publicity whatsoever may attend my funeral, also that no name be inscribed on my Coffin and my age. And I desire no publication of my death to be inserted in any public paper.” Some years ago, the Jocelyn family vault at Kilcoo Parish Church in Bryansford, Co Down, was opened for structural repairs to the church, and when James Jocelyn went inside he found one more coffin than the number of grave markers indicated. This extra coffin was unmarked, and he argued that this belonged to the former Bishop of Ferns.

It is not surprising that Bishop Jocelyn never married. His closest family relations were the daughters of his nearest brother, George Jocelyn, and two of them married into prominent Co. Wexford families during Percy’s eleven-year tenure as Bishop of Ferns. In 1812, Harriet Jocelyn married the Rev Walter Hore, Rector of Ferns. Walter Hore, who was the son of Walter Hore of Seafield and grandson of Walter Hore of Harperstown, died on 28 September 1843. In December 1813, Georgiana Jocelyn married Major James Boyd of Rosslare, Co. Wexford. She died in July 1819, and Boyd died forty years later in 1859.

Jocelyn’s arrest sent ripples through both state and church. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who was both the Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons at the time, had an audience with King George IV on 9 August 1822 to reveal the fact that he was being blackmailed, and confessed: “I am accused of the same crime as the Bishop of Clogher.” The King is said to have advised Castereagh to “consult a physician.” Instead, he went to his English country seat in Kent, and three days later he slit his throat with a pen-knife. The reputation of the Irish clergy suffered as a result of the case, and Peel wondered whether it was advisable to appoint any of the Irish clergy to a vacant bishopric in the future. Shortly after Jocelyn’s arrest, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners Sutton, claimed “it was not safe for a bishop to shew himself in the streets of London.” The former Bishop of Ferns was the most senior churchman in either Ireland or Britain to be involved in a public homosexual scandal in the 19th century. Initially, there was reluctance to discuss the case in the media, and a writer for The Times of London noted that “[m]ingled feelings of sorrow, humiliation, and disgust” had almost prevented him from writing at all. But Jocelyn was soon being ridiculed as the “Bishop of Sodom” and he became a subject of crude satire and popular ribaldry, resulting in more than a dozen illustrated satirical cartoons and numerous pamphlets and limericks. However, it is agreed generally that the case had many positive consequences, for it strengthened Archbishop Beresford’s hand in enforcing higher standards and instituting reforms of abuses brought about by lax and worldly clerics in the Church of Ireland. Nevertheless, the indiscretions of this former Bishop of Ferns have remained an embarrassment for generations. Percy Jocelyn rates a short and dismissive three-line entry in Leslie’s list of the Bishops of Ferns. Leslie’s separate eleven-line entries for him in the Armagh and Clogher lists of clergy and parishes merely state that he was deprived for by a court without hinting at the nature of his offence. There is no separate entry for him in the Dictionary of National Biography, and he is seldom referred to in the Roden pedigrees in Burke’s and other peerages. 

The Jocelyn case was a sensation at the time, as it would be even now, and researchers might expect to find details of the scandal in church archives. However, the Clogher Diocesan archives in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast, are essentially a record of the day-to-day running of the diocese and are silent about the deposition of Percy Jocelyn. For almost two centuries, the relevant papers in the Armagh Diocesan Registry Archive remained under an interdict imposed in 1822 by Primate Beresford. In the 1920s, Archbishop Charles Frederick D’Arcy, a former Bishop of Clogher, asked for the papers to be burned, although his instructions were never carried out, and the papers were released from closure only recently. An ecumenical but oft-forgotten twist to the tale is that Clogher Palace, which was quickly pillaged by Jocelyn after this move from Ferns in 1820, served as a convent for the Sisters of Saint Louis for most of the 20th century.

Tim Alderman (2017)

References

Flat Earth Politics!

This article has been in the “thought” phase for quite some time now. I originally intended it to be an indictment of the Trump Presidency – and for the insularists who think American politics only affect America, and have nothing to do with us…do some reading, study some history and grow up – but in the face of the current political climate globally, its scope expanded so much that I was  losing track of its reach! On reviewing the current thinking vomited out by so called right-wing conservative extremists, the first thing that flashed through my mind when wanting to write about them was that they had a Flat Earth Mentality…a narrow, self-serving view of the world; a blinkered view in which the wants and needs of those who, thinking they were initiating change, put them in control. I had naively thought the stupidity I was witnessing would diverge into common sense – but that hasn’t been the case! It has only been since the recent French elections, and the rejection of the right wing extremism there that I am starting to hope that change is starting to happen as people begin to realise the dangers inherent in current conservative politics. This article is not about a solution, nor is it a definitive  observation of all that is concerning at this time – one would need a novel to cover that! It is purely a personal observation of the dangers of Flat Earth thinking!

Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the “conspiracy” that the Earth is round.
“People are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers,” says John Davis, a flat earth theorist based in Tennessee, reacting to the new Microsoft commercial.

“Many use the term ‘flat-earther’ as a term of abuse, and with connotations that imply blind faith, ignorance or even anti-intellectualism.”

Mr Davis, a 25-year-old computer scientist originally from Canada, first became interested in flat earth theory after “coming across some literature from the Flat Earth Society a few years ago”.

“I came to realise how much we take at face value,” he says. “We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses.”

Flat Earth Societies go back to the Victorian era, and though basically of Christian origin, the fact that there is a recent (tongue-in-cheek?) resurgence amongst those of an Atheist inclination   shows that narrow-minded and non-investigative thinking survives the passage of time.

We have known for centuries that the earth is not flat, that by sailing in a straight line the horizon will never disappear, so you won’t suddenly sail over the edge into oblivion! But the really fascinating aspect of Flat Earth Societies isn’t  that they exist, but that they can – against all reasoned thinking and knowledge – convince others that the earth is flat, and can even produce writings, drawings and arguments to back the theory up! In other words, they can prevail against common sense and observation, and make people believe that lies and deceit are real. However, the ignorant thinking that created the Flat Earth Societies in the first place is now a sad reality in our political lives. The notion of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has morphed into government “of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy” is our new reality!

Flat Earth map drawn by Orlando Ferguson in 1893. The map contains several references to biblical passages as well as various jabs at the

In supposed enlightened countries such as Australia, America & the United Kingdom, the swing towards conservative, riggt-wing (rxtremist) politics, and the dross that this leaning brings with it is particularly concerning, and the foolhardiness of allowing this thinking to permeate our political systems is rapidly showing a divisive and reckless disregard for social fairness, truth, justice and common sense. The propagators of this system of thinking are rapidly back-peddling us towards oblivion with their flat earth mentality!

In Australia, we are all yoo familiar with Flat Earth politics -we have now had decades of it, and it’s wearing us out! From the Howard years, with its total disregard for the dignity and worthiness of our immigrant populations – including so-named “boat people”; it’s total ignoring of the needs of elderly & disabled populations (I clearly remember budget after budget with not even a mention of pension increases, despite the cost of living rises leaving us far behind); the usual right wing panderings to the wealthy – both individual & corporate; and their eventual demise thanks to flogging their dead horse…WorkChoices, which in reality gave no worker a choice at all – to the disillusionment of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years! 

Instead of giving the hard-pressed, ignored people of this country a hoped for government that would be fair and equitable, we ended up with a rabble! Despite great promise in some areas – such as a huge (badly needed) pension rise, and steering us strongly through the Global Financial Crisis by encouraging spending, and putting money into public works to keep employment rates high and money circulating – they soon decended into a politicking, rudderless (no pun intended!) mess, with a PM who was bever home to do his job, who micro-managed his cabinet, over-loaded himself with portfolios, and was too busy trying to be popularist to get things right! With the country being governed by the deputy PM, and with some good policies that were (unfortunately) badly thought out, and rushed – it was inevitable that in-fighting would rock the boat. But even with Julia Gillard – who was never given a fair-go – at the helm, what should have been easy legislation to enact – marriage equality for LGBTQ people…ESPECIALLY in a Labor government…became their Flat Earth stumbling block! Our first ever female PM; not married to her partner; an Atheist; a disappointment! Follow this with a second travesty of a spill, returning a now ineffective Rudd to power – no wonder the ultra conservative LNP was returned to power…despite having an inept clown – Tony Abbott – as its leader!

Abbott was the ultimate Flat Earther! Disbanding revenue-raising taxes legislated by Labor; a climate change denier; a misogynist; a practising Catholic who dragged religious ideology into his political life, thus his decision making processes; a nentality that belonged in the 50s – his resurrection of the antiquated  British peerage system was a low point of a patheticly short stint as PM; again, the inability…on supposed moral grounds…of marriage equality legislation though he tried to set in motion a plebiscite on the issue; disgusing treatment of immagrints fleeing wars & persecution, and setting ip what were basically inhumane detention centres to hold them; allowing the corrupt, immoral rantings of the Murdoch press to comment on his every word; his inability to accept blame for a rapidly rising deficit, producing one of the worst – and most controversial – budgets in Australia’s history…while all the time blaming Labor for their inability to rein it in; and finally bowing out as the worst polling PM in our history, leading the worst polling government in our history! Enter Malcolm Turnbull! Despite a reputation for being a left-leaning Liberal, he was – and is – a bitter disappointment to both sides of parliament! Having already ruined the National Broadvand Network…a technology that would have made us world leaders in this area…he then proceeded to disallusion  everyone by towing the party line on issues such as immigration; the handling of detention centres; same-sex marriage; privatisation; total neglect and disregard for those on welfare – including unemployment; the attempted dismantling of section 18C of the anti-discrimination act…which they still fail to see the immorality in, despite the attempt failing; continued pandering to wealthy & elitist individuals and companies…not ONCE has any of the LNP even suggested clawing back taxation not paid by many of the same businesses and corporations that the government loves to protect!! At the last election, they were returned by one seat – ONE! Next election, they’ll be out!

Unfortunately for our poor, battered (politically) country, our Flat Earthers are not limited to Howard, Abbott & Turnbull – we seem to be inundated with them at this point in time; Pauline Hanson, Bob Katter, Barnaby Joyce, George Brandis, Christopher Pyne, Nick Xenophon, George Chritiansen, Ian McFarlane, Warren Truss – to name a few – really point to a very low point in the Australian political landscape. These bastions of non-ethical, immoral, injust & prejudiced bias to a set of values entrenched in a distant past can now pride themselves of making us one of the few first world countriens to NOT have marriage equality! Good on you, guys!

Note that I am not even wasting breath on our latest promoter of “Christian” values, and biblical  ethics – Margaret Court! She could form a Flat Earth Society all on her own! From record holding national tennis icon to moronic foot-in-mouther…in one single step! If nothing else, she has proved the Flat Earthedness of religion at it’s most backward and inane.

This, in turn, leads to America! If Abbott was our ultimate Flat Earther…Trump is theirs! America, by their own admission, has had some dud Presidents – Nixon & the Bush’s for starters! But this is the first time they have had one who is truly dangerous! An Oligarch, an elitist, a brutish, rascist, misogynistic, self-serving businessman! And unfortunately for America, it’s outdated, and downright idiotic voting system is the only reason he is there! American (and indeed nany Australians) think that putting Trump into power really has no affect on us over here! Wrong! We are tied to America through treaties,  military involvement, and trade to a greater degree! 

I have never seen a President parodied, and memed as much as Trump! To the point of embarrassment, as he does little to help the possible softening of social media blows!One is just staggered at the stupidity of an electoral system that can place a corrupt, mentally ill, uneducated, egotistical man in as POTUS! He has the attention span of a gnat, no plan for anything he’s doing, abusing his executive powers, evidently removing financial regulations (wonder who could profit from that!), has put his family into his administration (nepotism!), has put people in to head things like the EPO who are only in favour of making money and don’t give a fuck about the environment; has refused to separate his business dealings from his Presidency (causing conflict of interest); has…to date…refused to disclose his taxation records; creates policy on the run – then when the courts say it’s not legal…throws a tanty because he didn’t get his way…and the CIA are refusing to implement the policy as well; has made an enemy of the media – a big mistake, as nothing he does will go unreported; thinks a country can be run like a business! It can’t! Very few – if any – of his electoral promises will be fulfilled, including Making America Great Again! The only people benefiting from the Donald J Trump Presidency…are the Trumps!  His isolationist approach will, if it continues, see America cut off from most of the world powers! That will not stregthen America…only weaken it! He is already denounced by most of the European powers, his recent visit there nothing but a total fiasco for America, as he tried to bully and threaten his way through meetings and conferences! The only thing he managed was the alienation of world leaders of countries such as Germany & France! On the world stage, he is a total failure! His ignorance of the workings of international politics; his inability to be a public speaker; his constant obsession for inane tweets on Twitter; his inability to check himself; using the treasury like his own bank account…who pays for all those golfing weekends to Florida, and all the security surrounding Trump Tower vecause his family don’t want to reside in the White House; his firing of staff because they don’t fall into line with his demands…the list goes on…and on…and on…make him a true Flat Earther! The back-slapping that went on with the ultra right wing consrrvative British PM – Theresa May – was vomitous! Another Flat Earth politician, whose reign may be about to come to an end! The resurgence of white supremacist groups, the trend towards irrational thinking, the clutching to empty promises, and the belief in resurrecting what can’t be resurrected in America is worrying – particularly for the welfare of America.  

Theresa May, like Malcolm Turnbull, is a victim of thinking that the public – in general – are also Flat Earth thinkers! Very wrong! Like Turnbull, she assumed that by calling an early election, the ounlic would hand her a mandate to govern – at will – on a silver platter! Well, as here, that didn’t go as planned, did it! The voters, finally fed up with empty promises, warped thinking, and over-inflated ego’s almost lost her everything…as also happened here! A hung parliament is just one small step away from a total drubbing at the next election! And typical of the desperation to cling to power at any cost…she now tries to do deals with the devil! To attempt a coalition government with the DUP (created by the Rev Ian Paisley…the Flat Earthers Flat Earther) will pretty well spell the demise of the Tories, as a party to be even considered serious government. What a disterous mess for Britain! Welcome to the world of Clayton’s government! The government you have, when you don’t have a government!

However, it is not all doom & gloom! Emmanuel Macron winning the recent French election against the ultra conservative right brightened up an otherwise overcast international…and local…political climate! Other rays of hope and enlightenment – come from Justin Trudeau in Canada, and the potential new world leader – whose strength and forthrightness is to be  commended –  Angela Merkel in Germany. None of these world leaders suffer idiots well. Meanwhile, here in Australia, we continue to suck arse to Trump…all the while looking more and more foolish!

I do predict an end to extremist ultra conservative right wing politics! World wide, those suppressed and disadvantaged…the disenfranchised…are fighting back via the ballot box! Weary of supporting those who take advantage of us; weary of money dictating policy; weary of watching the “haves” get away with it yet again, and feeding none of their ill-gained wealth back into society; weary of shouldering the whole tax burden, while watching welfare stripped away, health care & education underfunded or disbanded; weary of religion creating factions, terrorism, social inequality, and dividing peoples & nations; weary of the environment being raped, ecosystems destroyed, whole species decimated or extinct; weary of no one caring about what is now very obvious climate change; weary of media who no longer see the validity of honest, open, accurate reportage from journalists that care about their job to report things as-is, but belittle it with trivia disguised as news (see Pipoa Middletons wedding, or Scharpelle Corby’s return to Australia); weary of media saturation of terrorist activities, and natural disasters, so desensitising us that we no longer care…do, in fact, change channels; and weary of social media stripping us of our individuality…making us double check ourselves everytime we post, repost, or comment! 

We can only spend so much time and energy being weary! It is only a matter of time before the scales tilt the other way…to us wanting to be awake, aware and happy again!

That day is coming! The reign of the Flat Earthers is coming to an end!

Tim Alderman (C 2017)

References:

(N)One Nation: The Politics of Stupid!


After its troucing in the WA election – where the projected 13% of the vote in pre-election polling dropped to 4.7% on the actual day – One Nation is once AGAIN in damage control! Despite this being a constant with them, one has to wonder just how one-eyed the people who vote for them really are! Of course, the question is – did Pauline’s rather startling preference deal with the Libs; her thoughtless comments on vaccination programs; Sandy Baraiolo being disendorsed for refusing to hand over access to her Facebook account after criticism of One Nation’s preference deal with the Liberals; Margaret Dodd quitting on the eve of the election, labelling the party a dictatorship; Dane Sorensen being dumped as another critic of the preference deal;  Stephen Piper being disendorsed over a disciplinary issue; or Ray Gould quitting,  complaining the party had been dishonest about its intention to do a deal with the Liberals – have anything to do with the slaughter…or are the voters starting to realise that far right conservatism is just that, and considering the current blatherings forthcoming from Canberra, they are never going to be given a fair deal unless they are wealthy, a big business or a corporation. I digress!

Considering the current state of gut-reaction politics that seems to be overtaking the world – Trump in The USA (a disaster of unparalleled proportions), and the Trumpesque Theresa May in Britain – one has to scratch ones head as to why One Nation are seen as a legitimate alternative in Australia! Their extensive litany of disasters, foot-in-mouth comments, corruption, and loose canon candidates shows a party in constant disarray, with no strong leadership, no clear policies, conflicting directions, and ongoing sell-outs by supporting the LNP on matters that one would have thought were contrary to their mission! 

Listing “the stupid” of this party shows a staggering array of disasters that, in any other reality than that which we are currently faced with, would see them not just disendorsed…but so on the nose that not even the most unread voter would support them! But like the proverbial Lazarus, they keep rising from the dead! 

The chronicle: March 11 1995 – Fish and chip shop owner Pauline Hanson begins her political career as an independent Ipswich City Councillor. She decided to run when Labor mayor David Underwood was thrown out of office by Labor councillors, with Ms Hanson saying: “How can a handful of people throw out a man elected by the people?” She was voted out the following year and subsequently joined the Liberal Party. January 6 1996 – Ms Hanson writes the following letter, published in the Queensland Times, about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: “How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.”How can we expect this race to help themselves when governments shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the Indigenous [sic] blood is that flows through their veins and that is what is causing racism.” January 27, 1996 –  Then prime minister Paul Keating calls the election and Ms Hanson starts campaigning to become the Liberal MP for Oxley. She has a tough margin to overcome — the sitting Labor member Les Scott was sitting on a margin of 12.58 per cent after his third term in the Lower House.   – February 14 1996 –  Just over two weeks from election, Ms Hanson’s letter leads to her disendorsement by the Liberal Party, led by soon-to-be prime minister John Howard. The Queensland branch president tells her she could keep her election posters if references to the party were covered up. She leaves the meeting in tears. Ballot papers had already been printed and voters would see her listed as the Liberal candidate when they went to the polls. March 2, 1996 –  Ms Hanson is elected to Federal Parliament and John Howard leads the Coalition to victory. September 6 1996 – Ms Hanson makes her maiden speech in parliament and famously says, “I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians”. October 13, 1996 –  60 Minutes journalist Tracey Curro asks Ms Hanson if she is xenophobic, she famously responds “please explain”.  – February 23 1997 –  Almost one year into her term, Ms Hanson forms the One Nation party with the help of co-founders David Oldfield and David Ettridge. Mr Oldfield was still working as a political advisor for backbench MP Tony Abbott when he started helping Ms Hanson in 1996. He left the Liberal Party in 1997 to become Ms Hanson’s senior political advisor before the party officially launched on April 11. June 13 1998 – One Nation wins 22.68 per cent of the primary vote at the Queensland state election — more than the Liberal Party — to pick up 11 seats at the election. It was the biggest win One Nation had in its entire history. July 2, 1998 –  Mr Abbott declares he will fight to have One Nation deregistered as a political party. He argues it is not a political party but a business. One Nation’s opponents argue it did not have the 500 members needed to claim party status and therefore has to pay back $500,000 to the electoral commission. October 3, 1998 –  Ms Hanson runs in the Queensland seat of Blair, instead of Oxley, but loses. She manages to pick up the largest swag of primary votes (35.97 per cent) but loses through preferences to her Liberal opponent. The Labor, Liberal and National parties preference each other ahead of One Nation. Her party only picks up one seat, with Len Harris being elected to the Senate. February 4 1999 – Fractures at the state level see three of the 11 Queensland MPs elected 8 months earlier quit the party. They think party administration has too much control. Three more would quit later in the year and form the City Country Alliance. One Nation loses its party status at the state level and the Queensland Electoral Commission chased them for the $500,000 given after the 1998 election. 27 March, 1999 –  Mr Abbott’s former adviser and One Nation co-founder Mr Oldfield is elected in the NSW Upper House. Ms Hanson expels him from the party one-and-a-half years later after a disagreement. He publicly accuses Ms Hanson of being irrational. “Bear in mind that since, you know, Pauline said a few things in Ipswich in the middle of 1996, everything including her maiden speech and every word of any consequence that she’s said since, has actually been written for her,” he said. He split the NSW branch from the rest of One Nation. 17 February, 2001 –  A week after picking up three seats in the West Australian state election, One Nation is reduced to three seats in the Queensland state election. 31 July 2001 – Ms Hanson appears before the Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with electoral fraud.  She pleads not guilty, saying: “I do believe that this is a political witch-hunt.” Mr Abbott takes the opportunity to knock back any suggestion of a preference deal with One Nation, saying: “My view is that we shouldn’t play footsies with One Nation.” March 22, 2003 –  Ms Hanson tries to gain a seat in the NSW Upper House as an independent. She fails, getting 1.9 per cent of the votes. July 15 2003 – Ms Hanson stands trial for electoral fraud in Brisbane with One Nation co-founder Mr Ettridge.She pleads not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation and obtaining more than $500,000 from the AEC. There were 30 witnesses over 23 days, the jury takes a day to find them both guilty. Crown lawyers accuse them of falsely claiming more than 500 people were party members, when they were just supporters of Ms Hanson. They argue members have to have voting rights and that $5 is too little for membership fees. Ms Hanson is sentenced to three years’ jail and yells: “Rubbish, I’m not guilty… it’s a joke.” August 20 2003 – Ms Hanson cries as she hugs her co-accused and two sons. Three days later, federal Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop says the case is something you would expect to see under Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe regime. “It’s gone beyond just political argy-bargy of political opponents … I’ve been very critical of her and her party, but this is something that is above and beyond that political argument — this is someone who has been sent to jail because she spoke her views and that is not acceptable in this country,” she said. “Very simply, for the first time in Australia, we now have a political prisoner and I find that totally unacceptable … in a country where freedom of speech and freedom to act as a political individual is sacrosanct.” 26 August 2003 – Mr Abbott admits to setting up a $100,000 fund to help build a case against Ms Hanson. The Australians for Honest Politics fund was set up in 1998 and its purpose was to help fund civil cases against One Nation. Mr Abbott met with multiple One Nation dissidents when it was set up to try to bring down the anti-immigration party. One of the cases was from Terry Sharples — he fought to have the party deregistered through a civil case and it made him bankrupt. Mr Abbott says he acted alone and offered Mr Sharples $10,000. The former One Nation member has a different story: he says the then prime minister John Howard knew of the fund and that he was offered around $20,000. November 6 2003 – Ms Hanson successfully appeals the conviction and she is released from prison. A week-and-a-half later, she threatens to run against Mr Abbott in his Sydney electorate. “I hope Tony Abbott never becomes prime minister. I detest the man,” she said. May 24 2007 – Ms Hanson launches Pauline’s United Australia Party and fails in her run for the Senate in the 2007 federal election. 7 March, 2013 –  Ms Hanson announces she will run for a Senate seat for NSW at the upcoming federal election. She rejoins the One Nation party after flagging interest in rejoining the Liberal Party. She fails in her bid, getting 1.14 per cent of primary votes. August 8 2013 – One Nation candidate for the Brisbane seat of Rankin has a disastrous interview on Channel 7. Stephanie Banister mistakenly calls the Koran “Haram” and confuses the three Abrehemic religions saying, “Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ”. July 2 2016 – After another failed bid to gain a seat in the Queensland Parliament during the 2015 election, One Nation runs 27 candidates in the 2016 federal election. During the campaign, she calls for a ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, a royal commission into Islam and a ban on new mosques. While votes are sill being counted, Ms Hanson looks assured to win a spot in the Senate after securing more than 9 per cent of the vote in Queensland. 18 December 2016 –  Rod Culleton (WA) left the party after months of legal troubles and party infighting to sit as an independent bringing the number of party senators to 3. Party leader Pauline Hanson responded that Culleton was a “pain in the backside” and that she was “glad to see the back of him” 3 February 2017 – The High Court of Australia ruled that Culleton’s election was invalid due to a conviction for which he was subject to being sentenced at the time of the election, notwithstanding that the conviction was subsequently annulled. The resulting vacancy was filled by a recount of the votes at the election, which resulted in Peter Georgiou taking the seat and returning the One Nation representation in the Senate to four. 13 February 2017 – Several WA One Nation candidates say they will refuse to preference the Liberal Party, contrary to a statewide deal announced on the weekend. The WA Liberals will preference One Nation above the Nationals in the Upper House in regional areas, with One Nation preferencing the Liberals in all Lower House seats in return. High-profile One Nation candidate Margaret Dodd, who is contesting the Liberal-held seat of Scarborough for One Nation and is the mother of murdered teenager Hayley Dodd, today condemned the decision and accused the party of bullying its candidates.Speaking outside a Perth court where her daughter’s alleged murderer, Francis Wark, appeared today, Ms Dodd said she had “not been informed of any [preference] deal whatsoever, and I’m sure all the candidates haven’t”. “I will make my own choices on who I will give my preferences to, and it certainly will not be the Liberal party,” she said. 26 February 2017 – One Nation has removed two of its West Australian election candidates just weeks out from state polling day. Pauline Hanson’s party scrapped North West Central candidate Dane Sorensen and Thornlie candidate Sandy Baraiolo for critiquing the party’s preference swap deal with the Liberal Party, AAP reports. One Nation’s WA leader Colin Tincknell said the pair had not met party standards. March 8 2017 – Ms Hanson makes crazy comments about childhood vaccination “Parents are saying vaccinations have an effect on some children. Go and have your tests first. You can have a test on your child first,” Senator Hanson told Insiders. The comments were condemned by the medical community and Senator Hanson today conceded she was “wrong” about a test for vaccinations. She was forced to apologise for the comments. March 13 2017 – Despite not getting anywhere near the 13% of the votes predicted for ON in the WA election, Pauline Hanson defended One Nation’s performance this morning, saying the party had a “fantastic” result despite winning less seats than foreca Senator Hanson blamed a Labor “scare campaign” over the One Nation preference deal with the WA Liberals for the party not claiming more votes. The One Nation leader also rejected suggestions Malcolm Turnbull had nothing to do with the Liberal’s landslide election loss in WA in an interview with Channel Seven’s Sunrise program this morning. She placed the blame squarely on Premier Colin Barnett. 

And so on…and so on. Add to this a string of racist remarks from candidates, and Pauline’s constant denials that she is a racist – despite actually being one! There is no denying that she appeals to the right-wing conservatives in the community, along with those who think racism, prejudice & discrimination are “okay”, those who listen to her rhetoric, and think we are being “swamped” by Asians and people from Muslim backgrounds, and those who think immigration should be severely cut back, or curtailed altogether.  It is perhaps unfortunate that these same people also think that all blunders and bad overall performance is nothing to worry about, that the party will eventually prevail and the country will end up hunky-dory! Most worrying about this attitude is the absence of research, intelligent discussion and downright common sense!

Nobody is happy at the moment. Right-wing conservative politics are proving to be a dismal failure! As always, this path leads to policies aimed squarely at both well-to-do individuals, and corporations. Every time the question is asked by government “where is the money going to come from to pay our deficit?” The answer is never to tax the wealthy, or to chase up businesses and corporations who shirk paying a fair share of taxation – if any at all! In an increasingly secular society, taxing churches and religious organisations is still ignored. However, money is constantly geing pulled from health, education, family benefits and services, and the needy on welfare. 

In a time past, we could rely on the Labor party to support and devote policies to these very areas that the LNP robs to pay for their extravagances! But Labor is letting its supporters down by bad preference deals, disunity, the stink of corruption – especially in the Union sector – and a general lack of strength and leadership. With these scenario’s constantly being thrown at us by the media, is it any wonder people are looking for alternatives!

However, the answer doesn’t lie in the other extreme. One Nation, at its very heart, IS extreme right-wing conservative politics! Given its history of voting with the LNP on conservative agendas, one would think that would be a call to its supporters to rethink just where their vote is going! It is not the wealthy, nor big business, nor corporations that are voting for them…it’s the lower class workers, the battlers, the disenfranchised who are voting for One Nation – and they are – just as in Trump’s America – the ones who will get nothing! 

The politics of stupid lives on! 

Tim Alderman (2017)
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But I’m not racist!