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Men's rights activists need to take a chill pill

26 October 2016 | Neve Mahoney

The Red Pill movie posterThe 'men's rights' documentary The Red Pill has been pulled from Melbourne's Palace Kino cinema, sparking debate over censorship and what constitutes partisan reporting. The men's rights movement holds that 'feminism has gone too far', to the point that men are discriminated against. Since the internet and the third wave of feminism, the majority of MRA groups seem to be little more than a veil for misogynists to legitimise their sexism. It's a shame, because there are some MRA groups who raise real issues.

In praise of local councils

26 October 2016 | Fatima Measham

Craigieburn LibraryUnless you have lived elsewhere, where taxes and rates rarely manifest as a tangible and permanent benefit, it is easy to take councils for granted. I grew up in a town where potholes are forever, healthcare is ad hoc and libraries are private. The things that I see my local council do as a matter of routine are wild luxuries in other places around the world. Such competencies arguably measure the health of a democracy - it means that most of the money has not been lost to corruption and fraud.

Stand with heroic Gillian Triggs

24 October 2016 | Moira Rayner

Gillian TriggsThis damnable pursuit of Gillian Triggs must stop at once. Triggs is an outstanding independent statutory office holder, one of the many appointed by governments over decades to remind them of Australia's international human rights obligations and to oversee the functions of laws to mitigate social wrongs such as age, race, disability and sex discrimination in public arenas. But no government likes watchdogs on the moral and legal limits on its power.

Middle class privilege is more than material

23 October 2016 | Sonia Nair

Child gets a leg-up from 'cultural capital' as they try to climb a wall. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonSocial theorist Pierre Bourdieu posited the disturbing finding that academic underperformance in lower-class students could be traced back to their lack of cultural capital, defined as 'familiarity with the dominant culture in a society, and especially the ability to understand and use 'educated' language''. According to Bourdieu, the mainstream education system assumes a certain level of cultural capital and as a result, educators speak in a manner that is only understood by a privileged few.

Balance and boundaries in 21st century work

19 October 2016 | Megan Graham

Laptop at a cafeWhile once it was honourable to put your work first, it's now seen as a fool's errand. Not to say staff should discount their employer's interests, but put them in their proper place - important, yes, but not more important than health, for example, or family. Unions have built memberships on these kinds of ideas for decades. But the current movement is not so much about grouping together as it is about individuating: 'My particular needs are important, too.'

Tapping the wells of compassion that exist in the nation

18 October 2016 | Samuel Dariol

Contrasts a free child playing on the beach with a detained child sitting forlornly behind a fence. Cartoon by Fiona KatauskasA policy that deliberately inflicts harm on one group of people to deter others from coming to Australia is ethically obnoxious. It is now time to bring the people detained offshore to Australia. The Australian Catholic bishops have promised the resources of Catholic organisations to help educate the children, care for the health and meet other needs of the people who are detained. When a significant sector of the community is ready to help care for vulnerable people, it is proper to allow them to do so.

Respect and relationships in forming identity

18 October 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Colourful thumbprintPromos suggest you can choose your identity. Join a tour to Kurdistan and you can become an adventurer. Buy an Aussie flag, sing loudly about boundless plains, and you can become a dinky di Aussie. Identity, however, is more subtle. It is formed by relationships, to the human race, to body, to place of birth, to language, to the significant adults of childhood, to possessions, to education and work, to hobbies, religions and political parties and to all the people met through these relationships.

The man who sank the myth of controlled nuclear warfare

17 October 2016 | Binoy Kampmark

Des BallThe late Professor Desmond Ball of the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre came as close as any on being a public intellectual on nuclear strategy. While some of his counterparts in the US felt that using nuclear weapons was feasible and sound, Ball issued his pieces with mighty caveats. 'Controlling escalation', Ball ventured, 'requires both adversaries to exercise restraint, and current US policy is to offer a ... mixture of self-interest and coercion.'

Asylum seeker's long wait for judgement day

17 October 2016 | Shira Sebban

Hands in handcuffsFinally he is having his day in court. After 13 months languishing in limbo in immigration detention, he has been given the opportunity to be heard. Hopefully, it won't be long now before his case is determined and his torment resolved. Or so I thought. But in today's Australia, asylum seekers are not treated the same way as you or me. I meet him not as originally planned in the courtroom itself, but in the bowels of the building where he has been confined for the second day in a row to a tiny cell.

There's room at the table for the poor if we make it

16 October 2016 | Julie Edwards

Cartoon by Chris JohnstonOne of the most misused passages of Christian scripture tells us we shall always have the poor with us. It is often repeated by those who are not poor in order to dismiss any project that involves public expenditure or private generosity to people who are poor. When we do not focus on the good or bad conscience of the observer but on the lives of the people who are poor, we can see that the statement is not a justification for a modern society that allows people to live in poverty. It is an indictment.

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