The balance has not been restored

Here is a letter I have written to the ABC regarding the supposed ‘satire’ Restoring the Balance, broadcast on triple j on Sunday nights.

I would like to lodge a complaint to express my disgust at the Restoring the Balance show on triple j. To take a legitimate criticism of the ABC, and triple j in particular, that there is an element of systemic left wing bias and then turn in it into a ‘satire’ of conservatives is insulting to me as a young conservative.

I can put up with the favouritism that the Left gets on triple j, and the tokenistic approach to airing conservative views, but to have a show that lampoons that feeling amongst conservatives is like rubbing salt in the wound. It shows the contempt that triple j management has for conservatives.

If triple j were serious about restoring the balance of commentary on their station, they would either a) have a show where serious and reasonable discussion of issues are had from a conservative point of view; b) change the tone of the show to criticise the substance of conservative views rather than denigrate a stereotype for the benefit of their sniggering buddies; or c) pull the show from the air as it serves no purpose but to insult half the voting population with demeaning, lame jokes.

Restoring the Balance as it stands is a disgrace to the public broadcaster, as no other religious or political group would ever be subject to such treatment (in fact, if a commercial station do such a thing, triple j would be first to condemn them in outrage). It is not ok to think that WASP conservatives are fair game while shielding others from the same sort of vilification.


ABC now thinks you don’t need a job

The media today was awash with post-Budget analysis, not the least the ABC. I turned into The World Today, ABC Radio’s midday current affairs show, to hear their economic editor, Stephen Long, drop a real clanger.

Eleanor Hall, the host of The World Today, asked him about whether Labor’s moves to get those on parenting payments and disability support pensions will work. Stephen started off making a good point, that long term unemployed people need help to get back into work as they can be unready.

But then he said something that I think reveals a real ideological bias, one that even Labor has nothing to do with any more. Let’s turn to the transcript:

But the other side is there is an assumption in all the discussion around this from the Government and just about everybody that somehow this is a universally good thing, that any job is better than no job and we will be giving these people the dignity of work, the dignity of labour.

Now there is a whole body of medical research and other research that actually says that pushing people into low wage, insecure jobs that can often be quite oppressive and give people little control can actually undermine their health and well being.

So in other words, if your crappy job (of which I hold two of at the moment) is getting you down, quit because Centrelink has got your back. Stephen Long thinks that the dignity of unemployment and being on the dole is greater than the dignity of putting in a hard day’s labour, even if is a real s**t kicking job.

I’m sure this logic is exactly why isolated Indigenous communities, where intergenerational welfare dependency is entrenched and prospects of finding a job are very low, are happy, fun places filled with rainbows and sunshine and smiling children. Just ask Noel Pearson.

So to all you dole bludgers, don’t stress. The ABC says you guys are all fine. And if someone should know what it’s like to sponge off the taxpayer, it would be the ABC.

A measured response to Christian responses

Something quite prevalent in our media landscape and within the church is the ‘Christian Response’. As issues crop up, the media and the church will go looking for a ‘Christian Response’ on that issue.


But how reliable is a ‘Christian response’ to an issue? How much will that response represent the views of Christians everywhere?


The first thing we need to look at is the diversity of the Christian community and the role of ideology. The Christian church, God’s universal people, are not some monolithic group of clones, each parroting each other perfectly. There are some core issues that are cut and dried for most of the Church. For example, the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity was a hotly contested issue from the 2nd to the 8th century but in genuine Christian circles (i.e. not Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons or liberals), it is relatively uncontroversial and the historic formulations are widely accepted. Some times orthodox positions of theology can creep back into the contested field and unfortunately be denied by leaders in the Church(Rob Bell, I’m looking at you!). However, by and large, there are a core of issues where the theology is settled.

Outside of that small handful of issues, there aren’t many issues that a wide variety of opinions can be sourced from Christians. There can be wide diversity within a single Christian church, let alone across the umpteen billions of Christians in the world, and so a singular position on political issues in particular is unlikely.

Some times there is consensus on an idea but not on its application, especially on issues where the Bible has much more to say. Divorce is something the Bible strongly condemns as contrary to God’s design for marriage. However, as Jesus points out, there is a provision for divorce in the Law of Moses because of those with hard hearts. There is quite a specific framework for understanding marriage and divorce in the Bible. Consequently, divorce is seen as a bad thing almost universally by Christians but the appropriate policy approach to divorce wouldn’t be as guaranteed.

Should we ban divorce because it is counter to God’s view on marriage? Should we go back to a policy of ‘at fault’ divorce, where parties must establish there is someone in particular that has caused the divorce, in the hope it discourages divorce? Should we retain the ‘no fault’ divorce policy because of a recognition that in a fallen world divorce will happen and drawing it out serves no one’s interest? Getting all Christians to agree on one position would be folly.

Still further from that is where there is only a general Biblical framework to go by. For example, a tax on carbon dioxide isn’t mentioned or eluded to in the Bible and although there is a concept of stewardship of creation that can be drawn from Genesis 1&2, it isn’t elaborated to much in the rest of the Bible. Is there a Christian response to it?

Well yes and no. It is here where ideology comes into the picture in a big way. No person is without ideology for as soon as one idea is connected to another, you have an ideology and humans constantly draw from a deep well of ideas and concepts. For Christians, a position on something like a taxes on greenhouse gases is going to be a mix of secular ideology and theology, with your ideology impacting your understanding of the Bible and vice versa.

If your view of the environment is that nature is to be preserved, even at the expense of economic growth, and that humans have already started to exceed the sustainable use of natural resources available to us, then you’re going to be very sympathetic to the message of many scientists that humans are fuelling dangerous climate change through carbon dioxide emissions and therefore on government action by taxing CO2. When it comes to your thinking on the Bible, you’ll emphasise that we have a responsibility to look after what God has put us over the rule.

If you’re more of a small government, pro-free market type (like myself) and therefore resist any government’s attempt to expand its reach and to raid your pay packet, a carbox tax is going to be thoroughly unappealing. You’ll be more inclined to see economic development and prosperity in the Third World and the sort of natural adaptation that humans regularly engage in as the solution to any potential climate change. When you look at the Bible, the pervasive nature of human sin and selfishness will stand tall when thinking of new bureaucracies and the expanded taxation powers of government.

So no, there is no universal Christian response to anything but at the same time, we are blessed to have a plurality of views which Christians can in good faith debate and discuss and disagree on. The kind of unity that forces everyone to hold the same view on everything is a false unity, not even backed by the New Testament. Christians, with a conscious understanding of their own biases and ideology, should be keenly involved in the debates that surround the policies of government, with no forced compulsion to hold the ‘company line’.