Church Vs. State; But Not How You Expect.

I read an interesting article this past weekend in QWeekend; an intriguing magazine by The Courier Mail. The article was titled “unholy war” and was written by Frances Whiting. The article baffles on for a considerable amount of paragraphs how the victim in the story (Wayne Warren Ruks), despite being heavily involved in drugs and alcohol, was beginning to forge an optimistic, fair and promising lifestyle for himself and those around him. “He spoke about how he was ready to stop the drinking, how he hoped to get married and raise a family of his own one day. Both of us were really looking forward to me visiting his land in the following week or so to see what he’d done with it.” said his mother Kujala. I didn’t know Wayne personally, but it never ceases to amaze me that only good, innocent people ever pass away! That’s probably the reason we have an ever increasing crime rate; the bad people just don’t die! Well, according to eulogies and family members anyway.

Back to the story. This is the most gruesome, yet surprisingly not the most morally disgusting part of the story. Ruk was murdered. He was beaten to death by two men named Jason Andrew Pearce (then aged 36) and Richard John Meerdink (then aged 39). They left him to die beside a timber-and-wrought-iron seat in Fr Paul Kelly‘s Maryborough churchyard. People walked past and ignored his body, and to add to the disbelief of the situation, the entire event was captured on the church’s security cameras. Solid evidence right? Wrong. Here’s the confounding conclusion; the two were let off with manslaughter as they pleaded not guilty to murder, and justified it as Ruks had provoked the murder because he made a “homosexual advance” towards one of them. And keep in mind for the next paragraph the security cameras revealed that the killers appeared to jump out at Ruk, after hiding in bushes waiting for him, after he had left the group.

Subsection (1) of Section 304 of the Queensland Criminal Code, Killing on Provocation states: When a person who unlawfully kills another under circumstances which, but for the provisions of this section, would constitute murder, does the act which causes death in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation, and before there is time for the person’s passion to cool, the person is guilty of manslaughter only. The provocation in this defence has become known as “gay panic”.

Now I, as a critical thinker, currently being educated at a respected university, am encouraged to think logically about this situation. I can make multiple conclusions from this situation.

  1. Murder is not murder, as long as you were in the “heat of passion”, whatever that means, and although you may have time for your “passion to cool”, if you have time to hide, and wait to attack the person, it can’t be argued that you had time to think about what you were doing.
  2. Discrimination laws are useless. Who ever heard of a woman getting beaten to death because a gay man was in the “heat of passion” because she cracked onto him.
  3. If I can lie that they tried to crack on to me, I can kill them for being gay because I was just so passionate.
  4. If I am a bystander and not filled with the “heat of passion” like my friend is (because someone gay is cracking on to them), I can still assist with the murder, and disposal of the body, and I will be given a lesser punishment.
  5. If I go to court for the murder, I can be confident that prejudice against the homosexual victim will be present. Everyone involved in the court proceeding will be informed that homosexual advancements were made, even though this may cause people to make their decisions before hearing any of the details. Even if those advancements are proven false.

We are at an epochal moment; enough is enough. To what level of irony do we need to reach, before we say “Hang on! Why is a Catholic Priest leading this fight? Maybe for once, we should listen”. Fr Kelly has a dual degree in Economics and Law, and has taken his campaign to the state Attorney-General, both current and previous, the priest has written several letters to local newspapers, then-premier Anna Bligh and then-AG Paul Lucas. He also wrote to Jarrod Bleijie, then-shadow, now current AG. He said he was initially met with a “barrage of silence” from all sides. He was invited to a meeting with Bleijie, however he says he left with a feeling it was more an exercise in fobbing him off than considering real change.

All this has left me wondering what Ruk’s mother must be thinking and dealing with. She’s had to defend her son’s sexuality due to claims from drunken (accused) murderers, she’s lost her son, she’s been told that not only did people walk by and do nothing, but the entire attack was caught on camera and for some ridiculous reason although it reveals ambush and extended time not “heat of passion”, it is still not enough for disgusting people like Jason Andrew Pearce and Richard John Meerdink, to be sentenced as murderers. In my personal opinion, if they can argue on a “gay panic” defence, they can plead guilty to voilent discrimination against a person’s sexuality.

I was taught that the law is not designed to be fair. But, it IS designed to bring forth justice. It seems that in this situation, the law is neither of the two. The next time you pull out your phone in case a shady figure attacks you; don’t, run. Because when you’re dead, the attacker might justify to the jury that you tried to crack on to them. And the jury will believe it.

By Matthew Compton

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The Value of Music Education Disappearing from Society- What it Really Means…

Richard Gill, highly respected and celebrated conductor, musical trainer and educator attended the TEDxSydney event in 2011 as a speaker, lead the audience through some illustrations of the relationship between music and our imagination, and argued the importance of musical education for all children, indeed as a fundamental right.

Gill’s emphasis on the value of musical education stems from his extensive experience of teaching music to children, and he explains that this is their first aural experience (listening and repeating) as children being taught music begin with imitation. If you study education systems around the world, depending on the level, they are primarily based upon students absorbing information, then being competent enough to repeat or utilise that information in multiple scenarios. As Gill demonstrates in the video, children are first exposed to this vital ability through music education.

In music education, children are not only taught to imitate, but taught to become original contributors. Creativity and becoming constructive with actions is encouraged when children are taught how to write their own works. We are all familiar with the phrase “There is nothing new under the sun.” and to many extents, this is true; but children don’t know this! Children aren’t concerned with copyright laws and patents for their ideas, because it is not their intention to turn their idea into a monetary reward, like ourselves. It is always Jonny’s intention to be interesting and craft something he can be told is wonderful by his peers, teachers and parents; it is the creative process. And we as adults grosly underestimate it’s importance, probably because we are educated out of it.

When was the last time you were asked to go home from work or university, and come back with the best television ad you can come up with for business or university? When were you asked to draw the most interesting building design for the extension being built by your boss? We are not included in these activities or decisions not because we are incompetent in imagination, merely “unqualified” in our superiors mind’s. But how many of you were told as children “Don’t do music, you won’t get a job being a musician.”, “Don’t do art, you’re not going to get a job being an artist.” and so on. Adults were educated out of their creative capacity and Richard Gill stressed music is worth teaching for it’s own sake; “it empowers children spectacularly”. And empowering children means we are empowering the leaders of our future. We all want to live in a beautiful world when we retire, but how can we if we keep telling our children, to stop doing whatever makes them happy? Fun should not be limited to our spare time, and success should not be defined by our work achievements. I know it’s a radical and dangerous view, but what if our success was defined by the amount of fun we had doing our work? Perhaps then we’d all be a more happier bunch of people!

By Matthew Compton

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Hong Kong and China: A City Apart

The Economist has published an article which exposes to the Western world the idea that Hong Kong could be the key to unlocking strength for a more powerful democratic populous within mainland China. Hong Kong has long been an influential business, political and entertainment hub for the Western world and the red administrative takeover of the city from Beijing creates a sense of risk and a threat to many foreign parties. With a population of seven million, Hong Kong seems to be a David against Goliath story, when compared with China’s one point three billion. However, against seemingly overwhelming odds, Hong Kong has shocked the world with this year’s demonstration, as the article talks about, drawing a crowd of up to to 400,000 demonstrators as President Hu Jintao visited the city to swear in Hong Kong’s new chief executive.

From accounts of citizens being detained after asking questions, to mainland Chinese media blocking out the entire protest, the situation seems to be a political and societal mess with nobody winning. The question democracies around the world must now ask is if China decides to escalate their control and censorship of Hong Kong, is it the responsibility of democratic nations to interfere where a nation which has been democratic for generations and is considered half Western, is being threatened? What role should foreign political systems play and is it their place to interfere? Or should it be looked at as a responsibility of democracy, to support other democracies, as it was during both world wars?

This idea of freedom we claim to enjoy; is it that far off the level of freedom people in China suffer? Is the freedom we have today, the same as what freedom meant to people when the ideas of democracy, freedom of speech and political expression were brought into ruling entities? People more than ever nowadays complain that government interference in daily issues and parts of life is something they wish to end, but don’t we have a government which opposes interference? Isn’t that a “red”, “communist or socialist” act? “Of course we are a democracy” many citizens of Western countries will tell you. But their views on their governments point to quite contrasting conclusions compared with that response.

Whatever freedom does mean to people, and whether that is the same freedom that democratic freedom fighters generations ago fought for, I have a strong feeling we should be focussing on our own “freedom” and how much of it we really have before we begin to educate a nation who unified itself in 221 BC. Practice and preach have had incongruent relations for far too long in our society, and should be realigned before we preach to others, what they should be practicing.

By Matthew Compton

 

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Need Leadership Advice or Inspiration? Look Right Here!

A leader needs the guts to stand alone, and look ridiculous.

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What We Think, We Become.

Often in life we leave much to be desired when putting emphasis on what and how things go on in our heads. We easily forget the universal saying which many great leaders have spoken about and quoted when trying to reach people;

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

 

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