UNTYING THE KNOT THAT WAS HEARD AROUND THE WORLD

Yesterday I posted an article on the intolerance in Canberra (Australia’s National Capital) to the opponents of same sex marriage.

It was in response to the tirade of vile and vicious “comments” which flooded into the CITY NEWS which ran a story last week on a local Christian couple who had threatened to divorce if same sex marriage laws were passed in Australia.

Included in this Editor’s note, published in CITY NEWS today are more blatant examples of the hypocrisy surrounding this debate over “tolerance”

by

EDITOR’S NOTEOUR cover story last week captured the imagination of national and international media and was read by millions of people around the world.

Ian-Meikle

Nick and Sarah Jensen’s threat to divorce if the government were to amend the Marriage Act struck a raw nerve, especially with proponents of equal marriage, and the Christian couple’s protest became a viral sensation on social media.This paper has supported marriage equality for a long time. We have published, over recent years, many serious columns looking at the issue from political to social viewpoints by accomplished writers such as Michael Moore, Robert Macklin and, more recently, Marcus Paul.

But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t have regard for those who oppose it and, as a Christian lobbyist, Nick Jensen, in particular, has had an occasional column to take a contrary stand.

We don’t agree with him, but we always respect all sides of the argument. It’s called a fair go or freedom of speech.

But it is a lack of respect that has saddened me deeply this past week as I cast an eye down the verbal sewers of posts on Facebook and Twitter as the menacing, mindless trolls dish out personal abuse on the Jensens and their innocent two kids. It is a sickening glimpse of a humanity I don’t recognise.

“CityNews” was also taken to task for, well, essentially doing its job and reflecting our community and its differing views through this magazine and its news website.

There was some fair criticism from sensible people and I accept and respect it; we’re not perfect. But much of the predictable caterwauling came from keyboard warriors in other places and I chose to ignore that.

However, a couple of the damaging conspiracy theories do need a reply. One is that we are a mouthpiece of the Australian Christian Lobby, a laughable accusation that is totally rejected (the theorists clearly don’t know me); another is that we were paid to run the story on the cover is also totally false. A third is that I am a personal friend of Nick Jensen. I’m not, but so what? He’s pleasant company and I’ve shared a beer with him at our office Christmas party. And so it goes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a paper to put out.

Ian Meikle

Who is the true Christian?

THE photo of Dr Sarah Jensen and her husband Nick Jensen on your front cover in the last issue gives a false impression of a wholesome loving pair emanating goodwill to all, but reading Nick’s article quickly dispels that impression.

They are peddling a long since discredited version of Christianity, which equates intolerance of other people’s differences with piety.

I fully support the Jensen’s right to hold their views and have them published in “CityNews”, but the prominence you give to the photo (which is repeated on page 3) is out of proportion to the importance that should be attached to such superstition, which really belongs in a deep, dank hole.

Nick’s brother Soren wrote a very sensible, measured response to some of the nasty commentary which the original article inspired. I don’t believe that abuse is the best way to counter outmoded religious interference in people’s lives, but it is understandable that people who want nothing more than to be treated equally with others, would be frustrated at the prominence given to  the views of such fanatics.

It was interesting that in the same issue an article about former sex worker Fiona Patten, now a member of the Victorian Upper House as a representative of the Sex Party, portrayed a tolerant, far-sighted individual who promotes eminently sensible policies that if adopted, would benefit all of us. I wonder which of these three people is the true Christian?

John Franze, Gowrie

We just don’t care

I’VE seen your post on Facebook that a couple threatens divorce if same-sex marriage is legalised.

How do those of us in the rest of the world get the word to this couple that we just don’t care, and that they are totally Irrelevant?

Please suggest to them that if they feel so strongly about it that there is another group of religious nuts fighting to set up their own State in Iraq and Syria, and this couple would fit right in! If they move there quickly, they might even be able to participate in the pleasure of beheading same-sex couples!

Duane Grindstaff, Kent, Washington, US

We don’t want you

AS a married couple of 40 years, we’re glad that you intend to get divorced when marriage equality is introduced. We don’t want our marriage associated with you and your perverse religious views. May your god forgive you.

Bernard and Kathy Walsh, Dunlop

Destroying the sanctity of divorce

I AM offended that Nick and Sarah Jensen plan to destroy the sanctity of divorce with their pathetic protest against marriage equality (CN, June 11).

The Jensens say they intend to “…continue to live together, have more kids, and refer to each other as husband and wife.”

How then will they meet the legal requirement of being separated for a period of at least 12 months before being able to apply for divorce? Are they planning to lie on their application?

How about the Jensens just get on with their own life and leave the rest of us to do similarly?

Julia Rollings, via email

Get me to the church…

I READ your article about Nick Jensen and his wife saying they will divorce if gay marriage becomes legal.

I have never married and I am not gay, but if Nick Jensen and his wife divorce because of gay marriage I will get married in Canberra, at the very church that the Jensens attend. Then I will have my wedding photos outside his house and invite the media.

That way one straight couple divorces, and another straight one marries.

Ken Thorpe, Mildura, Victoria

‘Ridiculous’ actions

I HAVE to write to say that the actions that Nick and Sarah Jensen are contemplating if there is a change in the marriage law is ridiculous. Marriage is not as Nick says “a sacred institution ordained by God”. In the early days the church was against marriage believing that it would create an emphasis on looking after family at the expense of concentration and loyalty to the church. This changed over time as it suited society.

If Nick and Sarah believe in “God” and believe he made people in his image, then he made those people that are same-sex attracted. They are equally as good in his eyes, contribute equally as well as heterosexuals, they are as loving and caring to a family, and have a right to be married if they wish.

What a strange message they are giving their children.

Patti Wilkins, Ainslie

Divorce is divorce, of course, of course

Re “Gay law may force us to divorce” (with apologies to Wilbur and Mr. Ed.)

Divorce is divorce, of course, of course

And no force could make us divorce of course

That is of course unless the force

Is Australian gay marriage

Go right to the source and say of course

If gays can be married then we’ll divorce

Don’t knock us off our steady course

Australian gay marriage

Louis Desjardins. via email

ZERO TOLERANCE

By Mike Welsh

JENSEns

I’m neither bent nor bigoted, but I am confused. Baffled would be a better word. Baffled by the appalling attitude and blatant hypocrisy displayed by people who demand a tolerant and inclusive society, but fail to apply it to people who don’t share their opinion.

For a good chunk of the past dozen years I gratefully accepted a meagre stipend for ranting and raving daily at Canberrans on talkback radio. I have an intimate understanding of the “average Canberran”. Though many would be offended at the very term “average”.

Last week the outstanding weekly glossy magazine Canberra CityNews ran a front page story about Nick and Sarah Jensen, a local Christian couple who have threatened to divorce each other if same sex marriage legislation gets up. Call it a stunt or a foolish protest if you will, but the massive backlash to the story is a sad indictment on the parts of society who not only prides themselves on being tolerant, they demand it.

Some Canberrans believe they are not only better educated and remunerated, but more cultivated and couth than the rest of the country. Fact is, they pride themselves as being sufficiently civilised to tolerate the diversity necessary for the “social utopia” that is Canberra, be they cyclists, prisoners, or the pornographers. All manner of groups in the community are tolerated and some are even celebrated, but there is a limit to which the tolerance of this smart and civil city can be stretched. Christians. Yes there are plenty of Christians in Canberra and I have been one of them.

CityNews Editor, Ian Meikle, a veteran newspaper man, was neither shocked nor offended by the avalanche of vile and vicious criticism of him and the hideous hate slogans levelled at the Jensens, which swamped the site after the article. The ugly onslaught did leave Ian utterly depressed. Depressed by the obvious and total inability of a powerful section of the community to discuss an important issue in a mature manner.

“Having a conversation” is the new phrase that has crept into the lexicon to replace “debate”. But when was the last time you had a conversation that begun with “Filthy bigoted pigs” and ended with “Hope you homophobic morons rot in hell”?

The hate that CityNews copped did not all come from Canberra, in fact, the filth flooded in from around the globe to the scores of publications that picked up the story. Still, plenty came from the locals when there should have been plenty of support for the magazine’s courage.

Ian could only read a dozen “comments” at a time without becoming morose. Many had to be moderated, such was the disturbing content. He is simply the editor of a magazine that chose to publish the other side of an emotionally charged and important issue. He is not the Christian couple pulling the controversial stunt. Seems few are sadly prepared to make that distinction.

In 2011, ACT Brumbies and Wallaby player David Pocock and his partner Emma, both committed Christians, declared they would NOT marry until same sex marriage was legal. The couple had a wedding ceremony in 2010 and describe themselves as married, but didn’t sign documents confirming their union. So the Pococks, like the Jensens, who will continue to live together after the “divorce”, are actually married. I can’t recall any public outcry over their stunt.

Dare to say you don’t agree with same sex marriage and the odds are you’ll be labelled homophobic and bigoted. Politically correct individuals and lately, corporates, cover their potential homophobic and bigoted butts with the worn-out phrase “Some of our friends are gay”. Which is to say they are magnanimous enough to squeeze some gay colleagues into their vast array of besties in order to tick a few inclusive boxes.

Most of my friends are gay, but then again I don’t have many friends.

I’m sure one lesbian friend doesn’t understand why I’m a Christian about as much as I don’t understand why she’s gay, but it doesn’t impact on our relationship. We respect that and don’t judge each other. There are many things we don’t understand in society, but to disparage and denigrate each other will not lead to a better understanding of anything.

Up on a hill in Canberra, our pugnacious PM and former Howard head-kicker is seemingly hemmed in by the pressing same sex issue – a lesbian sibling and a man who thinks he’s the PM, Shock jock Alan Jones are both rubbing his nose in the rainbow. Yet Tony Abbott hasn’t seen fit to resort to the gutter warfare waged by the keyboard warriors and trolls who relentlessly refuse to concede opinions opposing theirs may be valid. Sadly a policy of zero tolerance to tolerance is just intolerance.