September 9th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Our unsafe schools are putting students at risk

EDITORIAL Turnbull needs a circuit breaker or he's a goner

CANBERRA OBSERVED 'What's the question?' is the crucial question

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing applauds jailing of Hong Kong activists

NATIONAL AFFAIRS The economic agenda Australia needs won't come from Mal or Bill

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY Child-support payments and parental alienation

MARRIAGE AND LAW NSW Law Society spruiks for same-sex marriage

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Germany's energy plan: a disaster in the making

MUSIC Monetising the muse: 'Frugal comfort' would be welcome

CINEMA Logan Lucky: Southern fried robbery

BOOK REVIEW Serious Bioethics salted with humour




CANBERRA OBSERVED Love may be love, but certainly consequences are consequences

Books promotion page


News Weekly, September 9, 2017


86 genders too many to get into one’s head

Peter Westmore’s article, “The issue, Bill, is transgender marriage” (News Weekly, August 26, 2017) left me, a woman of reasonable intelligence, confused. It also reminded me of a leaflet I read recently which spoke of 86 different genders and still more to come.

While I was confused, the article also left me bemused, and this feeling I encountered several days later over coffee with friends.

When I spoke about the leaflet which I had read with the 86 “genders”, I encountered first silence, then discussion about the cake we were eating, then discussion about the weather, followed by discussion about one’s own children and family.

Trying to bring the subject back to “genders” I encountered resistance. It seemed that no one wanted to talk about “something ridiculous”, as one friend ventured to say.

“Anne,” she told me, “humanity is designed male and female. Two different genders and they fit one another. Yes, there are psychological or even medical, or even nurture reasons why someone may be confused about their gender, but at birth they are either male or female. This rubbish has gone on too far.”

And of course with this I left the topic of “gender” alone and talked about my new boots. It seemed safer and the lowering of tension was noticeable.

However, after separating from the friends, I kept thinking about this “86 genders” and wondered if possibly those of us who are in this work of “life” have been so caught up with publicising the horror of what we know that we have forgotten that the average parent will be confused with this kind of information and will shut down when this conversation is raised.

I also thought about what Helen (my friend) had said: “There are only two genders male and female.” And I wondered if we were giving oxygen to those who would wish to make gender “fluid”.

I wondered if “86 genders” confused rather than helped the normal household with parents and children. I wondered if our language, when we write, was not heard because of the “ridiculousness of the topic” and that by writing on the topic we also inadvertently strengthened the ideas of these “fluid gender theorists”.

I wondered if we were pandering to these theorists, rather than helping average, normal parents to safeguard their children and to keep a lookout for any changes in their child’s language and deal with that rather than enumerating and highlighting the gender melange.

Anne Lastman,
Vermont South, Vic.


At 12 months out, it is anybody’s guess

The Victorian Government plans to legalise intentional killing or assisted suicide of people with intolerable symptoms expected to die within 12 months. The 12-month life-expectancy criterion will mean a premature death based on somebody’s guesstimate.

A similar law in the U.S. state of Oregon – described by the government as an example of safeguards working – is not working very well. For example, Oregon victims often do not, in practice, have intolerable pain.

In 2016, nearly half (48 per cent) of those whose death resulted from taking prescribed lethal medication gave “being a burden” on family and carers as a motive for requesting death.

We don’t really want that happening here. At least we shouldn’t want it.

Arnold Jago,
Nichols Point, Vic.


Endemic tunelessness

I experienced the same feeling of satisfaction on reading David James’s piece, “What’s in a Tune?”, as he describes feeling in response to Professor Poterack, as regards the absence of melody from today’s pop music (News Weekly, July 29, 2017).

My first alert to it was the tuneless drone my teenage son emitted when singing along to his earphones in the car. At first I wasn’t sure if it was just him, or the music. That was in the 1980s.

My young granddaughter today sings songs that consist of only three or four notes in the same sequence endlessly repeated, with no definable beginning or end. There is none of the melodic pattern of opening and resolution of the true tune, that requires holding of a lengthy sequence of notes in the mind for its satisfying effect.

Many years ago I read an opinion, probably of a musicologist, that when people say they don’t know much about music but they like a good tune, they should not feel apologetic about it, for they are in fact appreciating one of the most sophisticated developments in the history of music.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the music of poetry – rhyme and meter – was abandoned in the 20th century, and what we have now is a species of prose pensée.

Lucy Sullivan,
Celbridge, Ireland


Dunkirk film more like a documentary

I enjoyed your cinema review of Dunkirk, though I thought the movie was more like a documentary. There was not enough emotion for me.

I want my grandchildren to look at this movie and be amazed and moved by what these English people did to rescue the soldiers. This was one of the most amazing events you could ever imagine.

However, they did not really show enough of how these people with tiny boats put themselves in danger to do this courageous thing. They seemed to show that they commandeered the boats. However, mostly they were just ordinary men and women who volunteered to do this.

I think the filmmakers missed out on getting more of a connection with their audience.

Marilyn Laurence,
Frenchs Forest, NSW

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