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Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007, 05:38 pm
Politics, rodents and Second Life: a dangerous mix?

I know I get "punished" in the ratings when I spout off on politics, but this election your roving rat reporter just can't help himself. As The Australian belatedly admits, the balance of power in the Senate is on a knife-edge between Family First and The Greens. Regardless of which major party wins in the House of Representatives (in spite of the opinion polls, I still read it as "too close to call"), neither will have a majority in the Senate and will therefore be reliant on the minor parties. The Democrats have been a bad joke (this from a former member) for some years now and it is universally agreed that the last vestiges will be wiped away at this election. The only other option for a badly needed progressive voice in the Senate is the Greens. Some people may be fearful of a Green Senate (and I admit the Democrats did a good job before they went off the rails), but all this comes from media hysteria (more on that below) whipped up by short-sighted business interests and narrow-minded religious zealots. If people took the time to dispassionately read their policies, they would see there is not much to be concerned about and quite frankly it doesn't matter anyway. They are never going to be in a position to implement their policies; the most they can do is influence government policy for the better.

Contrast with Family First, who would influence government policy for the worse. FF is an abuse of religion and the political process. They are a front for extremist churches in South Australia. It is not just homosexuals who have cause to be concerned at the rise of this party; anyone who isn't "normal" (which would be just about everyone reading this) should be worried about how they could skew politics in this country.

Both Labor and the Liberals did preference deals with Family First at the last election, which led to them winning a seat in Victoria on 2% of the primary vote (contrast with the Greens, who missed out even though they had 8%) and almost picking up a seat in Tasmania. I very much hope the ALP won't repeat the same mistake this time. They should realise that FF is a serious political force and Family First will not work constructively with them in the Senate. Some grass-roots workers have (quite rightly) threatened to revolt if the Labor power-brokers do something so destructive again.

Please be aware of where your preferences are going to in the Senate and think about your vote accordingly.

Queensland is one of the states where a Senate seat could fall to either the Greens or Family First, and this is why I will be out there on polling day putting myself at personal risk (at the last federal election, there were instances of violence by FF workers against Greens workers) for something I believe in.

Just to lighten the mood a little bit, please enjoy this rat-themed political cartoon harking back to the famous alleged quote of a Queensland Liberal Party senator that John Howard is a lying rodent. You can see he's been rubbing off on his ministerial colleagues. ^_^

And as a last parting shot, what a shame The Australian, our leading national newspaper, is no better placed than Fox News at resisting the urge to sow fear of the internet in the hearts of its trusting readers/viweers for the sake of ratings. Our favourite newspaper (and to be fair, it is the one I read most weekdays for its world coverage) is reporting on Second Life being a new training ground for terrorists. Now, I can't comment on whether this is true or not, though it does does sound far-fetched to me, but I can't leave unchallenged this egregious error in the report. In the first paragraph they tell us the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) sim was cyber-bombed, apparently by terrorists. About three quarters down, they admit the "bomb" was later found to be a server error. One thing they did get right is the ABC's reliance on their community to help police their sim. Wolfie, a very old and dear friend, has the power to delete inappropriate items in the sandbox and even eject and ban people and he takes his responsibility very seriously. He was one of the first people on the scene when the server error occurred and is responsible for the image that appeared in the print-version of The Australian at the time, which reported, without later retraction as far as I could see, that the ABC was the victim of a cyber-terrorist attack. The reports of commercial billboards being put up on the cratered site was pure media invention.
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Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 09:33 am (UTC)

It's not really the Australian public that need to learn from their mistakes, love. 2% isn't exactly a groundswell of public support. While that's more than they deserve, there are a certain numbers of religious nutters out there and, more numerous, unthinking Australians who see the name on the ballot paper and think to themselves, "Yes, I want the government to put my family first." (I think that's where a lot of the names of parties in the Senate ballot paper come from.) It's parties who assign preferences unethically who need to learn. As the Nuclear Disarmament Party proved in 1987, it's possible to score a Senate seat with 1.5% of the vote if the preferences go your way. Do I believe in the proportional preferential system we use in the Senate? Vehemently! But I also believe it could do with some reforming so voters could more easily assign their preferences the way they want them to go. (Did all Australian Democrat voters mean to give their preferences to Family First? I don't think so!)
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Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 10:18 am (UTC)

trouble with family first is it puts the rest of us second
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Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)

Yes, but at least it makes for some cute comics. (That's from the last election.)

Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)

That Family First group sounds like trouble because as they gain more seats they increase their deadliness as religion is backed by a near endless supply of cash it always seems.

Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC)

Yes, they do seem to have an obscene amount of money to throw around. (You should have seen their television advertising at the last election, which was all focussed on pouring invective on the Greens.) Also, through the churches, they have a network of willing volunteers.
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Tue, Jul. 31st, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC)

I find it hard to imagine why I'd visit the Jesuits at all. But if I did, I'd be defiantly furry but I'd have the good manners to hide my pink bits in a pair of jeans. I've taken to wearing jeans on SL except when I specifically want to go in the fur. It just seems politer.