My partner Gregory and I decided to attend the second GAC, having enjoyed the first one so much. It was held last weekend, April 13-15 2012.
Again I took my camera, to help record the excitement of the weekend. Please enjoy my photos. I invite your comments.
Oh yeah, there was also that little kiss that changed the world for the better. Check it out here.
Lastly, take a few minutes to help remember the legend that was Christopher Hitchens and watch the tribute to him.
A group of radical, fanatical Jihadi Islamic protesters gathered at the Global Atheist Convention on Sunday April 15 2012. Seemingly they felt that atheism was a threat to humanity and their very existence.
Gregory and I had a smooch in front of these whack-jobs and they started howling that we would “burn in hell”.
Our friend Pete Darwin captured the moment with my trusty Nikon and the rest is history.
There’s been a bunch of coverage online:
- AronRa (YouTube) (USA/watch to 1:00)
- Alexander Ryking
- Amerika Bülteni (Turkish/USA)
- Ateist Canavar (Turkish)
- Atheist Republic (Facebook)
- Australian Skeptics Forum
- Butterflies and Wheels
- Dave The Happy Singer (Australian)
- David Icke’s Official Forums
- death + taxes mag
- Democratic Underground
- Dispatches from the Culture Wars
- DNA Magazine (PDF) (Australian/free registration required for online access)
- DV.is (Icelandic)
- European Freedom Initiative
- Friendly Atheist
- Furious Purpose
- Gay News Network (PDF) (Australian)
- Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear (Australian)
- Gregory Storer (Australian)
- In Vino Veritas (Australian)
- Joe. My. God. (USA)
- Libertarian Republican
- Newsvine (Grishman’s Column)
- Obama 2012 Election – Blog archive
- Occupy All Streets
- On The Record
- Pharyngula (USA)
- Photo submitted to reddit by Pete Darwin (comments)
- queer.de (German)
- Star Online (Australian)
- same same (Australian)
- The Caudal Lure (Australian)
- the burned over district
- The Raw Story (1)
- The Raw Story (2)
- Thoughts and Cute Things
- UAAR Ultimissime (Italian)
- Wolfies World
If you find any other places that have covered this story, please let me know.
Thanks to Katy Perry for inspiration.
I attended the inaugural Global Atheist Convention in 2010. It was an exhilarating weekend packed with some of the finest speakers from Australia and around the world. There were so many highlights for me, although perhaps the biggest highlight was getting to meet a long-standing idol Robyn Williams, and more recent source of inspiration, PZ Myers.
Stand tuned for the photographs from the second Global Atheist Convention, this coming weekend, April 13-15 2012.
Lastly, recapture some of the excitement from 2010 through the eyes of the Bruce Llama.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
11 April 2012
E-mail: mikeybear69 @ gmail.com
Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010
I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your submission to the above inquiry, and to advise that the committee has released it as a public document and numbered it as Submission No. a939. Any personal details, such as addresses and phone numbers, have been removed from your submission. Names have also been withheld where this has been requested. You are now free to circulate your submission to other parties should you wish to do so.
Documents provided to Senate committees become committee documents upon receipt, and it is the prerogative of the relevant committee to determine whether and how it will accept and publish such documents. In this inquiry, the committee will not be publishing on its website every submission received from individuals. That is because the committee is anticipating thousands of submissions and form/standard letters from individuals, and it is not physically possible for all of them to be published on the website due to staffing and resource limitations. As time and resources permit, the committee will publish a selection of individual submissions, representing a broad range of views that are indicative of the types of submissions that have been received by the committee. An equal number of individual submissions supporting and opposing the bill will be published.
All submissions received will be provided to members of the committee during the course of the inquiry for their consideration. At the conclusion of the committee’s inquiry, public submissions will be tabled in the Senate chamber as public documents.
Your submission is protected by parliamentary privilege. Parliamentary privilege refers to the special rights and immunities attached to the Parliament which are necessary for the discharge of parliamentary functions. This means that you cannot be prosecuted or disadvantaged because of anything you have provided in evidence, or because you gave such evidence.
It never ceases to amaze me as to the level of craziness that some religions aspire to. On the Jewish festival of Passover it’s customary to abstain from food and drink products that are considered ‘chametz‘. Growing up, in the family house, I was made to observe this practice. It caused me great distress one year when as a little boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I went to a birthday party for a school friend, during Passover. The friend was not Jewish and Passover meant nothing to him or his family. And so the parents of the birthday boy took us all out to lunch at McDonalds, very generously no doubt.
Realising there was about to be a huge logistical issue for me, I worked up the courage to tell the parents I wasn’t allowed to eat bread, but I didn’t tell them this was because it was Passover. I didn’t know how to explain that to them. This caused a great deal of consternation for the parents and the restaurant, and humiliation for me, as I was not happy with the dilemma I had been placed in. Somehow the restaurant were able to concoct a “hamburger” without the buns for me. It was mostly meat and the salads, and probably had cheese in it as well.
The craziness of this was that my parents didn’t mind too much that the food I was eating at someone else’s party wasn’t kosher, yet they did mind that I ate bread during Passover. I’m glad my parents didn’t find out I was eating meat and cheese together. It would have been the end of the world. There is no logic to this at all. If keeping kosher matters, it should matter 100%, not partially. Not that keeping kosher is about logic either. It defies logic completely and epitomises irrationality.
Yesterday, some 35 years later, it came to my attention that the carbon dioxide gas used in making soft drinks needs to be approved by a kosher authority before it can be considered suitable for consumption during Passover. We’re talking about a substance that is a gas, that contains no solids or liquids. Yet apparently it’s possible that it can contain contaminants that are a by-product of its manufacture that would render it ‘chametz’. WTF.
No doubt many faithful will disagree but to me this is a scam of the highest degree, being perpetrated by a bunch of shonky con artists who are sucking money mercilessly out of people who could better spend it on more important things like health or education. My suggestion to those who are paying the exorbitant prices for kosher foods, especially at Passover, is to think about how gullible you are being and how you are being ripped off by the nonsense that keeping kosher is. Just go and buy an 88c bottle of soda water off the shelf at the regular supermarket and pretend it’s kosher. Your god won’t have the slightest clue. Trust me.
Kosher Australia Update
5 April 2012
We have just completed our investigation of the Schweppes unflavoured mineral water and soda water and found that they are chometz and kitniyos free and may be used on Pesach if purchased before Pesach (before 11am on 6/4/2012 if in Melbourne). Unfortunately the generic brands could not confirm that the carbonation sources were chometz and kitniyos free. (In fact they noted that starch based carbonation was used.)
We are still chasing down information regarding a number of medications and diet specific products and when & if information comes to hand, we will advise the community.
We remind all consumers who have yet to do so, to sell their chometz. Follow this link to download the Kosher Australia mechiras chometz form which must be completed and faxed/email back urgently.
Wishing you a Kosher & Joyous Pesach.
31/1/61 – 30/3/12
We believe that you are setting up a piggery and require the services of a person who firstly had a generous, good heart and secondly was an exceptionally abled piggery manager.
Bridget Dunn, Prima Donna of Girgarre Piggery, after battling an aggressive illness and despite giving it her best shot, is ready to commence her new role with you, effective immediately.
As Bridget’s referees we can advise you that you have selected the cream of the crop, the best. As a heads up please ensure that you have all your ducks lined up because Bridget takes no b.s. A massive void that can never be filled has been created. You are a lucky duck!
Regards from all that had the privilege of sharing Bridget’s life and loved Bridget for who she was. We will miss her dearly.
In what can only be described as a cliff-hanging turn of events, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, has come out and admitted in a submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into Marriage Equality that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of the Torah that has to this day posed as a religious barrier to gay marriage.
In the Senate submission Rabbi Gutnick stated that the traditional interpretation of the Torah has rendered sex between two men problematic, because the translation of the Torah into English was thought to be that a man should not sleep with another man as he would sleep with a woman, with the penalty for doing so that they both be stoned to death.
He felt that this attitude to homosexuality was deeply troubling and discriminatory and so sought advice from a pool of sage rabbis from around the world. These rabbis looked at the original wording in the Torah and felt that maybe there had been a misunderstanding of God’s word and that there was room for a better interpretation, one that offered a more acceptable outcome.
After weeks of collaboration, these rabbis unanimously agreed to reinterpret the Torah and provided an English translation that now states that a man should not sleep with a man as he would with a woman, but rather he should sleep with a man differently to how he would sleep with a woman. However should he be found to be sleeping with a man as he would with a woman, they should both become stoned to a state of holy happiness, except if there’s a dearth of marijuana.
And this is where Rabbi Gutnick has called upon the government to decriminalise the use of marijuana, for strictly religious purposes, to ensure that two men found having the wrong type of sex with each other are dealt with in a more humane and appropriate fashion. The pool of rabbis agreed that each man should be given a bong and a quantity of marijuana and be instructed to smoke the other man’s pipe until each had reached a state of spiritual redemption.
Rabbi Gutnick clearly expressed in the Senate submission that this relaxation of the use of marijuana would only be required for Jewish men and not for gentiles, as gentiles are spiritually unclean, due to not having had a religious circumcision ceremony.
Most unexpectedly, Rabbi Gutnick apologised to the gay community for his earlier claim that he would be opposing gay marriage and noted that since this religious loophole had been found to the previously problematic issue of homosexuality, he now had no issue with gay marriage, and in fact fully endorsed it, claiming that gay men are now encouraged to “shtoop like rabbits, especially on Shabbat”.
The explanation given in the Senate submission was that he realised that if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia, he wanted the Jewish community to have unfettered access to the estimated $161 million dollars of wedding spend likely to be outlaid on same-sex marriages.
He said that it would revitalise the kosher catering and hospitality industry, that kosher food suppliers would feel the surge of business and that all manner of Jewish shops and enterprises would thrive from the rush of gay weddings, especially the Jewish diamond and ring merchants. Rabbi Gutnick went on to say that the kosher butchers would do particularly well because he knew how much gay men liked their meat, and added that the kosher fish-mongers would do particularly well from lesbian weddings. Rabbi Gutnick went to great pains to explain in the Senate submission that his connection to Kosher Australia should not be perceived as a conflict of interest.
Rabbi Gutnick’s new enthusiasm for gay marriage was evidenced by his statement that Orthodox Judaism was particularly sensitive to the needs of single-sex celebrations, because in traditional heterosexual weddings the men and the women were required to be separated by a mechitzah, and so there was an existing culture of men celebrating with men and women celebrating with women. He added that it’s actually a principle feature of the religion that men must spent considerable amounts of time with other men, in close confines, in the absence of women. He said he felt that it was very homoerotic at times, and the headiness of the masculinity in the crowded prayer and study sessions was particularly appealing, especially on those hot days, when the men were dripping with a particularly musky sweat, and were just a little frustrated. He noted that this frustration was most evident when the men were denied sexual gratification with their wives during their periods of uncleanliness, and further exacerbated by the total religious prohibition on masturbatory relief.
In the summary of the submission, Rabbi Gutnick repeated his apology for the long overdue admission that to deny gay men and women the right to equality was in fact an oppresive and persecutory behaviour and that he had looked back at the history of the Jewish people and felt that he was in no place to call for the superiority of heterosexual Australians over homosexual Australians.
An addendum to the submission included a suggestion that Rabbi Gutnick officiate at the first mass Jewish gay and lesbian wedding in Australia, co-hosted by Adam Hills of the In Gordon St Tonight fame, because he said the ABC studios in Elsternwick were at the centre of the ultra-religious quarter of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and that he was particularly proud of the ground-breaking work that Adam Hills had done to break down barriers in the community around gay marriage.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Rabbi Moshe Gutnick (firstname.lastname@example.org)