Weekly Wrap 9

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets — and this week there’s been a lot of it!


  • Gay marriage an irrelevant sideshow, for ABC Unleashed. I reckon the way “the gay and lesbian community” abused Senator Penny Wong for simply re-stating Labor policy was disgusting. Did they really expect her to break ranks and criticise her party’s policy just because some random punter asked her a question on Q&A?
  • AFACT didn’t explain notices to iiNet for ZDNet.com.au. On Wednesday I covered day three of the Federal Court appeal by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft in their case against Australia’s third-largest ISP. This is straight reportage of the morning’s proceedings.
  • Will AFACT’s appeal solve anything? for ZDNet.com.au. On Thursday, I wrote this op-ed piece, picking up on one of the appeal judge’s comments about this appeal not necessarily solving anything long-term.


  • Patch Monday episode 51, “Data breaches: it’s criminals again” with guest Brad Arkin, who Mark Goudie, who heads up the forensics practice for Verizon Business Asia-Pacific in Melbourne. We discuss Verizon’s 2010 Data Breach Investigations Report [PDF].
  • A Series of Tubes episode 114. Host Richard Chirgwin talks with APNIC Chief Scientist Geoff Houston about the impending exhaustion of IPv4 internet addresses, and me about the AFACT v iiNet appeal, the demise of Google Wave, and a few political things.

Media Appearances

[Photo: The view from Courtroom 1, Federal Court of Australia, Sydney, photographed on 4 August 2010. The brown smudges are not on your screen: the windows need cleaning from the outside.]

3 Replies to “Weekly Wrap 9”

  1. No, not disgusting. Entirely reasonable. What, is she expected to only answer honestly when it’s Laurie Oakes asking the questions? The problem is that she put party loyalty ahead of justice, and demonstrated once again that the garretting (profound disappointment at wasted potential) that we felt over her utter failure to be a climate change minister extends into other aspects of her life too. There are enough party hacks, especially in the Labor Party; we don’t need one more.

  2. Agree with Eric. Are you saying that the scare-quote-gay-and-lesbian-community are insufficiently cynical to understand that of course she would put her party’s position ahead of her own, due to political realities? How do you know they don’t in fact understand this, but still demand better from our politicians because, well, that’s what we all should be doing to make an effective democracy?

    Are you taking the view that marriage isn’t that important to you, because of the history and because it’s basically just a word, and hence it shouldn’t be that important to anyone else? That’s kindof how I read your article, TBH.

    The history of the social institution that is marriage in our society, as detailed in uncontested accuracy in your article, is completely irrelevant to the issue here. Put more bluntly, the reason why marriage is important to people today simply doesn’t matter. The observable fact is that marriage — even if it’s just a word — is important to people. The outstanding issue is one of equality; why should straight people enjoy certain social norms and not others?

    Incidentally, I have a theory that the issue of gay marriage in the US is more economically-driven than it is here. It is certainly the case that the US tax laws are more heavily skewed towards the institution of marriage, and I’m sure this raises the stakes. However it’s also a highly valued social institution, and hence the same debates are had on the other side of the Pacific as here.

  3. For another rebuttal of my ABC piece see Jason Langenauer’s The ass-backwards arguments against gay marriage and, I daresay, some of the later comments at the ABC — none of which I’ve had time to go through properly.

    I really do want to respond in detail. And I really do want to read Judge Walker’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional which is mirrored elsewhere [PDF]. Annoyingly, though, my next few days are packed solid with on-deadline work, even the weekend.

    But a couple of quick responses for now…

    @Eric TF Bat: I saw this unfold not by watching Q&A, which I can’t stand, but by seeing the surge of abusive tweets calling Senator Wong all sorts of names — some of them straight-up racist abuse. Then I saw people linking to angry blog posts and so on.

    So I went back and read the transcript and found that most of the headlines were wrong. Wong had not said she was “against gay marriage” but that she was a team player when it came to being a cabinet minister.

    I wonder whether she would have gotten around to giving her personal opinion if moderator Tony Jones hadn’t moved on to the next topic.

    You mention the word “loyalty”. We are all members of many tribes. In Wong’s case two of those tribes are the ALP and “the gay and lesbian community” — quiet, Alastair, I’ll come to the scare-quotes in a moment.

    On Q&A Wong was asked a question which, in essence, asked her to chose one tribe over the other. A tribe which thought she should have chosen them first, or at least chosen to state her views on tribalism in the one specific way they wanted to hear, turned on her with verbal pitchforks. That’s what I found disgusting.

    Whether Wong is an effective minister in her actual portfolio is a whole ‘nuther question…

    @Alastair: I put the scare-quotes around “gay and lesbian community” because I was, at least in my ABC article, quoting The Australian. That’s who they said had responded to Wong.

    But I kept them there because I question whether lumping every non-heterosexual together as one supposedly-heterogeneous “community” is all that helpful — particularly given the term has been extended to “the LGBTI community”.

    Langenauer refers to what he calls “gay exceptionalism”, the idea that gays and lesbians form a separate cultural group with a distinct identity based around sexual orientation. Both he and I reject that idea. I can’t speak for him, but for my part of the many tribes of which I might consider myself a member the LGBTI community is certainly not the highest on the list. Community spokespeople say things which make me cringe. I do not want these people speaking for me!

    You ask, “Are you taking the view that marriage isn’t that important to you, because of the history and because it’s basically just a word, and hence it shouldn’t be that important to anyone else?” No, I am not. If I’d had more time for the article, this is one aspect I’d have improved.

    What I’m saying is that of the many issues the LGBTI community could champion right now, this is not the most important. Not in Australia, and certainly not globally. That there is no equality here is wrong, I agree, but I don’t think this issue is the touchstone for human rights.

    Senator Wong is part of a government that just passed the most sweeping legal forms in support of this community. I daresay she was an important part of that. But on this one day she didn’t address one issue in the specific way that the mob demanded, and they turned. And they talk about loyalty…

    All of that went on for a lot longer than I expected, and I’m nowhere near finished. But work calls. I shall return.

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