Thank goodness for passion
An unexpectedly moving occasion at an initially tepid Joy AGM last night: amidst the usual grey pre-programmed for-God’s-sake-be-careful-and-stick-to-the-script speeches by officials and management, the vote-by-rote shows of hands, the uncontested elections (and what does that say about us, I wonder), relief came in the form of the inevitable witty, wise and erudite speech by Adddam Stobbbs (I’ve thrown in some extra consonants, to be on the safe side), a funny fake news broadcast by Tim Lennox, and some genuine passion.
Chris Furneax, who looks after membership, moved himself – and most of the rest of us – to tears with his speech, when he declared that now, at Joy, he’s found the best years of his life. And Paul Anthony, who only joined us a year ago, and at the other end of the age spectrum, also brought tears to all eyes as he struggled through his very emotional declaration that Joy had given him purpose, too. Thanks guys, that’s why we do it, too.
Jeff Hood, the new president, summed it all up well, when he said Joy was at the hub of the Melbourne gay community. He stepped out from the podium and asked us to look at him, hardly the stereotype of a gay man, a misfit and uncomfortable in what most people think of as the gay community – the pubs and clubs.
He reminded us, that’s only part of the gay community: it consists of the ‘scene’, sure, but also the people in community organizations, sports clubs, those who don’t belong to any organization . . . . . the list goes on. Joy is unique because it’s a radio station, and radio goes where nothing else can. It’s over the PA in stores, on the phone systems when you’re put on hold, in cars, in the most private of spaces: it sits at the hub of gay Melbourne. It’s the glue that connects it all together, the crossroads, nexus, hub, whatever you want to call it, where all the diverse parts of our world come together.
Joy’s ethos transcends that of the ‘community: it refuses to be PC or peddle the tired jargon of activism, while giving activism time and space; it does not require or impose the narrow superficial standards of the scene, but acknowledges the place of fun and celebration in our culture; it is the polar opposite of exclusive, a place where gay men and women of all types work together mostly in harmony; it acknowledges that if diversity is to mean anything, then everyone has a right to disagree and voice that disagreement, while respecting the right of everyone else to do likewise; and finally, because of all the foregoing, it is at one and the same time the most frustrating and the most fulfilling place to be.
Thunderbirds are go!
The danger lies in any one view predominating. At present the station is spendidly schizophrenic: during the day it’s a gay bar or club; at 6.30 (7.00 again come December), the dance floor flips over like a scene from Thunderbirds to reveal the diverse groups and agendas that drive the community.
A tenuous continuity is maintained by having, for example, specialist shows about particular types of music on the evenings, threading entertainment content into the more serious hours. And there are similar threads of ‘serious’ content woven through the daytimes, usually in the form of ‘bite size’ interviews on politics, health etc.. Until December my show, The Rainbow Report, operates as a sort of hinge between the two: it’s a major change in tone from Drive to RR!! At present it seems jarring, coming after three hours of light and fluffy music and entertainment programming with no news – it would be less of a shock if the hourly news bulletins etc. had remained in place.
I’m becoming a little concerned that the undoubted improvement in daytime programming is starting to destroy this important connecting ‘threading’ – there’s more and more music, and fewer and fewer chat breaks. It’s all getting ironed out and becoming rather bland. The trade-off is moving perilously close to an unfair deal.
And, news is now less frequent overall than it should be – if you’re going to cut news bulletins down to around 3 minutes, then you have to have more of them, at least every hour through the day, with longer bulletins during breakfast, lunch and tea. That way the threads are retained.
Ah well – if there were no battles, there’d be no movement, no life. We must all continually shove each other out of our respective comfort zones – as Adddddam said, that’s where the creativity comes from.
I'm worried that we might be spending so much time and attention decorating Jeff Tracey's lounge, but are we forgetting the rescue machinery that's the purpose of the organisation?
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Thank goodness for passion
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The state premiers all say that John Howard didn’t include a shoot to kill clause in his initial presentation of his anti-terror laws that they signed off on.
Well of course he didn’t - he neither wants nor needs it.
It’s a classic diversionary tactic.
The Prime Minister added that section after the initial presentation, knowing it would cause the premiers, press and public to blow up and say they couldn’t possibly support it.
That neatly takes all the attention off all the other much more dangerous, anti-democratic and illiberal parts of his proposed so-called anti-terror laws. You know, the preventative detention, the control orders and all the other building blocks of a police state. The stuff he REALLY wants.
In due course Mr Howard will graciously ‘bow to the will of the people’ and the premiers, and take out the shoot-to-kill stuff – which he never really wanted in the first place, and, as he admits, doesn’t need anyway.
This fake ‘concession’ will leave him with all the really scary, dangerous and unnecessary powers to cow dissent and stifle free speech, which were what he wanted in the first place, totally intact and in no way watered down.
If we, the people, the press and the premiers are dumb enough to fall for this one, we deserve everything we get. If you thought it was bad when innocent refugees driven from their homelands by the Bush/Blair/Howard wars got locked up in Pacific concentration camps, wait till they start shoving Australian citizens into our own Guantanamo Bays.
Or do we think it’s just coincidence that all those so-called ‘detention centres’ have been emptied and mothballed, rather than demolished?
Friday, October 21, 2005
Edited transcript of part of my Rainbow Report broadcast Friday 21 Oct 2005
I want to say something about hate speech, vilification and other assorted curbs on free speech.
I’m beginning to think they do more harm than good.
If you stop people from saying what they think in public, will it stop them saying, or thinking it? No – they will just go on saying, and thinking, and spreading those thoughts privately, out of sight.
And things that are underground have a habit of getting worse.
For example, before we had the so-called war on drugs, there were relatively few heroin addicts, and once they were registered with their local doctors, they were guaranteed a regular pure supply at a reasonable cost.
They had no reason to commit crimes to get enough money to feed their habit. They had no reason to sell heroin to others to feed their habit – though a few undoubtedly did, it was relatively easy to track and control, because almost all addicts were registered. Rogue doctors and users could be brought under control relatively quickly and easily.
Likewise there was little incentive for crooks to get involved in the trade, when their sources of supply were of lower quality and higher price. As a result, there wasn’t much of a heroin problem.
Then along comes the war on drugs, addicts can only get heroin substitutes from doctors, creating an instant market for the real thing, which crooks were happy to supply. And they didn’t need to worry too much about quality control.
Now the equation is reversed: addicts have every reason to steal, to become dealers themselves, anything to maintain their supply. In short, the cure is worse than the disease.
I suspect hate speech and vilification laws are the same.
Let the arguments of the bigots and hatemongers be heard, and countered, in public. Otherwise they will only be propagated in private spaces out of the public eye, in places where no counter-argument can be made. Susceptible people will hear only one side of the argument, not both.
Besides which, hate speech and vilification laws mean these people can complain they’re being victimised – and you know what – they’re right. They are being punished simply for speaking their minds. They may be deluded minds, but that’s no reason to silence them.
If a precedent is created that says certain thoughts are not permitted, certain things cannot be said, there is nothing to stop the same principle being applied when the political wind shifts to another quarter.
Hate speech and vilification laws have softened up the public to the point where they seem prepared to accept what was previously unnacceptable, for example, the current so-called anti-terror laws, without much of a murmur.
These laws will punish people for saying things that could be construed as encouraging or supporting terrorists. I say we should let people say those things if they want to – then we will know who they are. If they are forbidden from saying them, then they will be driven underground, where they will flourish out of sight.
After all, there have always been terrorists, just as there have always been junkies, and we’ve lived with that and coped with that for hundreds of years.
I think we have more to fear from the people who are pretending to safeguard us than we have from any so-called terrorist.
The Romans used to have a saying: who will guard the guardians? Meaning, if you give great power to a group of people, trusting them not to use it against you, how will you make sure they don’t?
It’s doubly troubling when the government department that is charged with, in effect, deciding what we can and can’t say and think, will be run by the man who built and ran what was effectively a network of offshore concentration camps for refugees whose face, according to the government, didn’t fit. The vast majority of whom, I may remind you, have since been found to be genuine refugees by any normal standard. Now the same man will be in charge of building and running what will effectively be an onshore police state.
Anti-hate speech laws are what started us down this slippery slope.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I may have a little time to post the occasional story here over the summer months: Joy 94.9FM has informed me they want to ‘rest’ the Rainbow Report over the summer season, which means the last show will be on November 25.
The decision is mainly driven by the lack of a sponsor: Denholm Alcock have been terrific, supporting the show for six months, but they have decided to focus their efforts elsewhere, and no other sponsor has come forward.
(Removed at the request of Joy management)
Personally speaking, I’ll be glad of a break, and in fact was planning to take about a month out over Christmas and New Year. But three months is over-generous.
(Removed at the request of Joy management)
I believe it’s a critical error to take the show off-air for a whole three months at such an early stage in it’s life. The RR was initially a shock to many who tuned in expecting more of the bubbly and upbeat music show that Damian provides, but it has built and continues to build a loyal following. And not a few people to whom I’ve spoken are angry the show will be pulled just after the most successful membership drive ever, which netted more than 1300 new members, many of them pleased that Joy, via the RR, was finally delivering the sort of wide-ranging global community news and current affairs content that had been missing from the station.
So: if you know of a generous sponsor, if you'd like to volunteer to work on the program, if you'd like to express your thoughts on taking a break for thee months, email firstname.lastname@example.org . I'll pass everything on to the appropriate person at Joy
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Sunday, October 02, 2005
It's that time of year again: Spring comes around and
I'm particularly keen to sign you up as a member because I present my daily current affairs show,
We're a community radio station, which means most everyone who works there is a volunteer. We do have a certain amount of commercial sponsorship, but we're limited as to how much we can earn through that (by law), so we rely mostly on listeners becoming members.
Most community radio stations sell subscriptions, but we sell memberships.
The difference is that members get to vote for the committee of management, and to volunteer to work at the station. Joy belongs to it's listeners.
You don't have to live in Melbourne to listen or be a member: we're streaming live on the web.
It costs A$40 a year for full membership, A$25 if you're eligible for a concession, A$20 if you're under 18.