More reasons to outlaw conversion therapy…

January 5, 2013 2 comments

The Real Risks Involved With Gay Conversion Therapy For Teens | Neon Tommy.

1:12 military has clogged arteries

January 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Veterans and Military Health Update.

Categories: Sickness

Poor white male trash seldom hang out on campus

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Poor Students Struggle as Class Plays a Greater Role in Success –

Over the past four decades in Australia, equity in higher education has gone disturbingly backwards, with our elitist yet predominantly publicly funded sandstone institutions remaining tightly closed to most students from the less well-heeled parts of town. The formidable barriers to participation have had a marked effect on people one might impolitely call ‘poor white male trash’. That is, boys from low-SES backgrounds, who are cultured by their parents, teachers and others to contain themselves within appallingly limited aspirations. When some dare to swim against the current and land a place at University, they are then confronted by the cruel trick of a class system that makes every day a challenge: from not being accepted by their snobby lecturers and peers to trying to find affordable accommodation close to campus…


That’s so gay

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

“That’s so Gay”.

Words like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ and ‘pewf’ can and have been rightly been appropriated by us, to proudly assert not only who we are but also, what we are and how we choose to live our lives. However, when straight people try to deride us, even in seemingly light-hearted ways, we should take offence. Being gay means many things but certainly rarely  a powder puff skip through any field of daisies…


Categories: Violence Tags: , ,

Don’t call me fag

October 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I love the word ‘fag’…

It epitomises who I am, my freedom and my pride…

Read the post, below, and you will see that it took me years to be settled with my sexuality. That is one of the reasons why I am so vehemently opposed to that army of fuckwits who strive to construct us LGBTI types as being perpetually frail, vulnerable and in need of others’ protection. The best response to stigma, after all, is defiance. This new website, (a joke, surely?) that counts the frequency that gorgeous words like ‘faggot’ and ‘dyke’ are used online and refers to each incidence as indicating ‘casual homophobia‘ (whatever the fuck that is!) serves no educative purpose, other than to remind us of the dangers of victimology.

Can words cause harm? Absolutely! In context, any string of any particular words can cause immense harm. However, to seek to outlaw words and terms that of themselves can only ever denote freedom, and pride, will result in more LGBTI people anticipating and experiencing unnecessary fear and hurt. It will also make more actual homophobes, tooled up and ready to attack with nothing more than a few letters. The discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation that unfortunately still characterise the daily lives of many LGBTI people will not be lessened by the campaign…


Tough men take abuse

October 5, 2012 5 comments

News that the first priest charged in Australia for failing to report the sex crimes of another priest, has died while awaiting trial, was of much interest to me. Fr. Tom Brennan was the Principal at St Pius X College in Adamstown, NSW, when I was a student there in the mid to late 1970s. He was wholly aware that the now convicted paedophile, Fr. John Denham, was sexually abusing or otherwise tormenting boys at that school. Instead of upholding his legal and moral responsibilities, Brennan strictly enforced silence by punishing any boy who spoke out in complaint. After Denham had failed so miserably, despite his intensive grooming efforts over the longer term, to get me to suck his cock, he at first flew into a violent rage but then, sadistic fucker that he was, effectively outed me to my peers as the repressed little fag that I then was. In that all-boys’ school, in what was an extraordinarily homophobic environment, that was akin to tying a hunk of meat around my neck and throwing me to the wolves.

I think I have recounted elsewhere on this blog what that violence entailed and how it impacted on me at the time, and subsequently. Brennan’s death brings back those painful memories of how I was forced to hide from the world to escape that seemingly never-ending brutality. Many a school day I spent in the peaceful solitude of the Wattagan State Forest, where nobody could hurt me or cause me any harm. And just like that, I can hear Brennan describing me as ‘weak minded’ because I could not toughen up and take the abuse or better still, fight back. I can see him sitting on the edge of my bed with this pained look on his face, wondering, ‘what the fuck is wrong with you, boy?’ The same man who played an enabling role in the sexual abuse of dozens of boys under his care was convinced that I could and should have the homosexuality beaten out of me. If only I could excel at Maths, not English. If only I could play rugby and cricket. This was Brennan’s perverse mindset and is so, so typical of priests of his era. 

It took me a decade or more to overcome the fear instilled in me at St. Pius X College and another decade before I could finally be settled that yes, I was indeed gay and yes, that was perfectly fine. The irony, I guess, was that I was far tougher than Brennan could ever have imagined and of course, I was far tougher than Brennan himself…

Mobbing, or what chooks do at work…

July 15, 2012 3 comments

Workplace mobbing is nonsexual harassment of a coworker by a group of members of an organization for the purpose of removing the targeted individual(s) from the organization or at least a particular unit of the organization. Mobbing involves individual, group, and organizational dynamics. It predictably results in the humiliation, devaluation, discrediting, and degradation; loss of professional reputation; and, often, removal of the victim from the organization through termination, extended medical leave, or quitting. The results of this typically protracted traumatizing experience are significant financial, career, health, and psychosocial losses or other negative consequences. Mobbing has different levels of severity (Duffy & Sperry 2012, p.52)’

Having this past week attended a public hearing in Sydney for the Australian Federal Government’s inquiry into workplace bullying and subsequently, training at work in which the focus was on how can we help the actual or prospective bully to be less fragile, less vulnerable, and to become resilient and take responsibility, I was reminded of the excellent text, Mobbing, by Duffy and Sperry (2012). Certainly, the strongest theme to emerge from the public hearing was that whosoever should be subject to bullying in the workplace is pretty much up shite creek without a paddle and in all circumstances, is best advised to skedaddle. At both events, I was stunned by the gross ignorance, even among people who should know better, of the causes and effects of psychological injury that typically stem from workplace bullying, noting with dread how in the training session such trauma was trivialised as mere ‘occupational stress’.

When I was a teenager, a friend’s family ran a chook (chicken) farm, where the poor dumb beasts were raised from chicks to KFC serving size, before being unceremoniously despatched to the slaughter house in the dark of night. Among the many strange habits of the chicken, I observed when helping out on that farm, was how when if one should become injured, others would quickly swarm upon it and peck it to death. The empathy and given kindly, other orientation that we expect of the human kind was absent. Like any humanist, over the years I developed and sustained a strong belief that essentially, we are contrary to the chook. We do not kick someone when they are down, let alone peck them to death. Only in recent years, and more especially, across the time since October 2010 when I have in my own workplace, been subject to unrelenting bullying, did I start to question my own belief system.

I now take the more pragmatic view that each of us holds the capacity for much good, as well as for much evil…

The best aspects of Mobbing (2012), in my view, are that it lays out the complexity of bullying and challenges much of the mythology that surrounds this entrenched form of violence. Gone is the standard perpetrator versus victim profiles and how tinkering with each or mediating between both will magically lead to problem resolution. Duffy and Sperry (2012) are stark in their descriptions of what is really happening in our workplaces, schools and communities. For instance, by drawing on the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, they note how in the absence of necessary critical self-reflection, the line between good and evil can be so readily breached…

Those who mob others always do so with insufficient information about the victim – about the victim’s point of view, intentions, and hopes and dreams. By casting the victim as ‘other,’ those who mob do not have to engage in the messy business of trying to understand another’s position or motivation. They have rendered judgment in advance, and that judgment is revealed in actions in which they have moved to strip a victim of status and influence or to eliminate the victim from the organization or community. Such is the absence of reflection and compassionate engagement. Such is the banality of evil‘ (2012, p.45)

Tragically, as I heard from those who gave impact statements at the aforementioned public hearing earlier in the week, the consequences of workplace bullying are often devastating. Telling such people that all they ever had to do was become more mindful or toughen up is akin to telling any other victim of violence to look into their own hearts for what they did ‘wrong’ and how they can better defend themselves, next time. This nasty victim blaming deflects attention from those behaviours and attitudes that create workplace bullying and which make remedying it such an overwhelmingly difficult task…

Davenport, Schwartz, and Elliot (1999), the authors of the first book about mobbing in the United States, maintain that psychological problems suffered as an outcome of having been mobbed at work constitute workplace injuries and not illnesses. The distinction is a critical one, especially since so many of the negative health outcomes associated with mobbing are psychological in nature, It’s much easier to ignore, minimize, or blame the victim for a work-related negative psychological health outcome than it is to do the same for a work-related physical injury (Duffy & Sperry 2012, p.142)’

When a forklift truck drops its palate on a worker stacking shelves and the worker breaks his leg, there is no dispute that the worker has sustained a workplace injury. When a worker’s personal and professional reputation is systematically assaulted by coworkers and managers, and the worker suffers major depression and becomes suicidal, it is not nearly as clear that the worker has sustained a workplace injury according to our current understandings. Where psychological and psychosocial disorders are concerned, organizations and other workplaces have been less ready to see these injuries as related to workplace conditions. Instead, they have reverted to traditional cultural understandings of mental and psychosocial disorders as arising from within the individual and as unrelated to events or social conditions in the workplace. The difference between a psychological injury sustained in the workplace and a psychological disorder attributed to individual pathology functioning is an essential one for understanding the effects of mobbing (Duffy & Sperry 2012, p.143)’

The consequences for those mobbed or otherwise bullied at work are manifest, as Duffy and Sperry (2012) lay out in shocking detail…

In cases of mobbing, threats to one’s physical integrity are less frequently present, but are noted nonetheless in the literature. Many victims of mobbing meet the criteria of PTSD if we take the position that assaults to one’s personal and professional identity and emotional and psychological stability do in fact threaten one’s physical integrity and represent serious threats to the self. Character assassination, belittling, attempts to turn others against the mobbing victim, attacks on one’s professional identity and competence, and many other negative acts associated with mobbing strike at the very heart of a person’s sense of self-identity and wholeness. Mobbing victims often describe feeling invisible or like a nonperson. They have been ostracized and segregated from the work community and accompanying web of social relationships. They are no longer whole and have become ‘other’’ (p.149)

Such threats to one’s sense of personal integrity and reputation during workplace mobbing do result in threats to one’s physical integrity. One only needs to review the negative health outcomes…that cite coronary heart disease, suicide and sudden death as possible negative health consequences. The recent work of Pompili, Lester, Innamorati, De Pisa, Puccinno, Nastro, Tatarelli, and Giradi (2008) demonstrates the results of their efforts to assess the suicide risk of mobbing victims. In their study, 52% of those exposed to mobbing were assessed as posing some suicide risk, and over 20% were assessed as posing a medium to high suicide risk. Leymann (1987), as part of his pioneering research, found that about 15% of suicides in Sweden could be attributed to having experienced workplace mobbing. Death is, of course, the ultimate threat to one’s physical integrity but the potential severity of the psychological and emotional symptoms suffered by mobbing victims also threaten personal integrity’ (p.149)

Another way of looking at trauma as a threat to one’s physical integrity, even if the trauma is primarily psychological, is through the emerging field of traumatology. Robert Scaer (2005), a neurologist and leader in the traumatology field, argues persuasively that trauma has a cumulative effect and alters the brain and body. He states clearly that ‘in the brain of the trauma victim, the synapses, neurons, and neurochemicals have been substantially and indefinitely altered by the effects of unique life experience’ (p.58). He adds that ‘almost any social setting where control is lost and relative helplessness is part of the environment can easily progress to a traumatic experience. Perhaps the most obvious and pervasive source of this insidious societal trauma is in the workplace’ (p.132). Scaer’s meaning is clear. Trauma cannot easily be separated out between physical and psychological effects because all trauma affects both the brain and the body. The effects of trauma accumulate over time, and this may provide a conceptual framework for understanding why some mobbing victims suffer more severely than others. Those who have had fewer life traumas have had less negative brain alteration over time and may be able to bounce back more easily than others whose life trajectory has (p.150) included multiple traumas. No one escapes trauma in life, be it the accumulation of the smaller traumas of everyday life, or the larger traumas that inscribe themselves in the brains of victims and fundamentally alter the way the brain functions’ (pp.149-150)

As workplace bullying is finally dragged, resistant and defiant, into the public domain, I hope that ever more people will begin to critically reflect on their acts and omissions at work, at school and in the community. What I am still struggling with, from my own experience, is how could intelligent, educated human beings, whose job it is to dutifully serve others, quite happily bully me to death? What would motivate anyone to behave in such an abominable fashion? While I concede that the answers to these and other related questions are complicated, I suggest that we start by contemplating what the chooks do, at work…

Duffy and Sperry’s text, Mobbing (2012) is highly recommended reading…


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