Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Anne Else: When Is A T-Shirt Not Just A T-Shirt?

Letter from Elsewhere with Anne Else

When Is A T-Shirt Not Just A T-Shirt?

I wonder what Sarah Freeman would have thought of the Destiny Church ''Enough is Enough'' campaign. Back in April her Melbourne employer, a jeans shop, made everyone working there wear a tight low-cut T-shirt with ''STOP PRETENDING YOU DON’T WANT ME'' printed across the chest. Sarah knew when enough was enough – she was sent home for refusing to wear it after a male customer ''made lewd comments and stared at her breasts''.*

The company backed down and withdrew the T-shirt uniform after a public outcry. Australia’s national sex discrimination commissioner summed up the situation superbly: “If you put slogans like that on a T-shirt, you can’t expect your staff not to be harassed.”

Destiny is right into T-shirts too. I don’t know who paid for the black ones with red and white slogans worn by its members when they marched to Parliament in August. I can only assume that no one in charge had a long enough memory to question whether parading ranks of black-clad, fist-waving, slogan-roaring men was really such a great idea.

In public, Destiny’s leaders claim that they don’t hate or want to hurt anyone, they just want to protect family values. But if you put slogans like “Enough is Enough” on a T-shirt, and repeatedly insist that same-sex relationships are an anti-God, anti-family perversion, you can’t expect the people in those relationships not to get harassed.

There have been some extraordinarily confused comments in the media about the Destiny march and the opposition to it. I object very strongly to claims that “liberals” who criticise Destiny’s campaign are “the real fascists”.

I’ve just been reading about fascism from an odd angle: its irresistible appeal to various members of the impeccably upper-crust Mitford family. When Diana Mitford fell for the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, he was working on his book The Greater Britain.

Mosley never mentioned Jews then. The real enemy, he said, was “decadence”. He had a vision of every citizen “working wholeheartedly towards the common goal of a nation made great again, shrinking from no effort and no sacrifice to secure that mighty end”.#

The sacrifices they would have to make included democracy, because Britain, like Germany, needed a strong leader who knew what was best for it. The mass campaigns and the uniforms came first. The verbal attacks on Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, socialists and the disabled came later. By then it was already far too late.

Our laws defend both freedom of speech and freedom of religion and belief. But Section 61 of the Human Rights Act prohibits expression that is threatening, abusive, or insulting, and considered likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt a person or group of persons on the ground of their colour, race or ethnic or national origins.

Currently, there are no equivalent provisions applying to grounds of discrimination that are not race-related. This doesn’t seem fair to me. I can see nothing fascist about current discussions on the possibility of extending this carefully limited prohibition to include gender and sexuality.

And there is certainly nothing fascist about promoting and defending the right of all citizens to equality before the law – which is what the Civil Unions Bill is about.

* Sydney Morning Herald, reported in The Dominion Post, April 5 2004.
# Mary S. Lovell, The Mitford Girls, Abacus, 2002, p.138.

- Anne Else is a Wellington writer and social commentator. Her occasional column will typically appear on a Monday. You can subscribe to receive Letter From Elsewhere by email when it appears via the Free My Scoop News-By-Email Service

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news