Saturday, July 19, 2008
World Youth Thingy
Right this minute, Sydney, Australia's biggest city, is awash in Roman Catholics. There's some World Youth Thingy on featuring the Pope. Happily I'm a thousand kilometres away. Me, I already know precisely what everyone is in for, having been through this when I lived in Italy. Back then they had the Jubileo, whatever that was. There I was wandering around Padova (a really marvellous town with some spectacular Giotto frescoes) and you couldn't turn a corner without being surrounded by idiot young people singing and clapping. Between them and football hooligans, I'll take the hooligans. At least the hooligans don't stray far from places selling beer.
Anyway... a funny thing happened on the way to Australia's World Youth Thingy. A really tiny crowd of demonstrators seemed to hog all the air time. These being the curiously titled NoToPope Coalition. They were cross that the Pope won't support condoms. So cross, that they've made a sharp professional website, printed sharp professional t-shirts and stocked up on tons of branded (but hopefully not sharp) condoms. All washed down with a really cracking media campaign. These people are waaaay better funded, better organised and far more visible than Sydney's anti-war coalition ever was. All this for an event that lasts a week! Absurdly enough, these dozen or so people somehow seemed to get the same amount of screen time as the hundreds of thousands who marched against the Iraq war. What a whacky world.
I don't want to talk about the Pope and the church here. The Jewish media already heaps more than enough shit on the Catholic church. If you don't care for that thought, ask yourself what kind of coverage, or lack of it, would have been given to a NoToRabbis Coalition objecting to the Jewish Church's support for Palestinian ethnic cleansing. Exactly. In the media, screaming blue murder about the Catholic church is precisely as permissible as doing the same about the Jewish faith isn't, if you can dig it. But never mind that, what I'm interested in is the kerfuffle involving this little come-from-nowhere group who managed to hog all the limelight. And... the weird shit that followed.
Absurdly this tiny group was such a threat to social order that the police were astoundingly given the ability to arrest anyone who might behave in an 'annoying' fashion. I am not making this up. The people of New South Wales woke up that morning to learn that they suddenly had 'anti-annoyance' legislation.
Sure enough, the media went nuts with NoToPope starring as freedom-fighting, underdog heroes. Everyone else ducked for cover. It seemed that no one had asked for this legislation, no one wanted it, no one made it happen. The Youth Thingy people said it wasn't them. Nor was it the police. Nor even the government! Um, okay, that's weird. Perhaps this law wrote itself.
Next thing we know, the NoToPope Coaltion is in the Federal Court fighting for their right to hand condoms to people who don't want them. Did I miss something here? Has the legal system suddenly changed overnight and become cheap to participate in? Or does the No To Pope Coalition have scads of money? Really? From where? If all sorts of legal people donated their time for free, why did they do that?
Miraculously common sense ruled the day. Happily the legislation we didn't need for a public threat that didn't exist from an 'advocacy' group that seems to have no public support was defeated. Three cheers for whatever that was all about! Camera crews awaited the thronging mass of five or so celebrating NoToPopers. All five of them were rapt! They promptly starting walking up to random Catholics and giving them condoms.
Unsurprisingly these random individual Catholics who'd had nothing to do with any of it, behaved ungraciously. Not only did they not care for the NoToPoper's clever double-entendre t-shirts, they also didn't appreciate being given things to put on men's penises. What's wrong with these stupid Catholics? Who on earth would object to people asserting that they have sex with strangers and need something for their penises? The NoToPopers were merely helpfully assisting those too embarrassed to walk into an anonymous chemists by handing them condoms in public in front of all their friends and relatives. Why would anyone object to that?
Archness aside, what was this all about? I mean really? Dissuading Catholics from being Catholics? Seriously? Funnily enough, I have actually done this but I suspect I wouldn't have been so successful had I chosen to get in people's faces and make suggestions as to what they should do with their penises.
Perhaps it was to broadly promote condom use? But broadly is the wrong word. The only people the NoToPopers will appeal to are inner-city groovers who already use them. And teenagers. Teenagers have been perfectly trained by the TV to know that any kind of rebellion against squares is good.
Groovers and Teenagers aside, I'm prepared to declare, with perfect certainty, that the broad majority of Australian punters, Catholic or no, would view the NoToPopers as ratbags, dickheads and bullshit artists. God knows how many people wondered if anti-annoyance laws weren't a good thing. If it spares us these fuckwits maybe there's something to be said for it?
Otherwise, I broadly suspect that all of this was nothing more than yet another campaign against the Catholic church. The church is right up there with Muslims, the Russians, the Chinese, and Robert Mugabe as those we must hate. Forget what any given campaign is about exactly. There's no point trying to make sense of 'what' it's all for. The 'what' of any particular campaign is irrelevant. It's merely a cover for the campaign itself. The 'what' is an impossible riddle that will make less sense the more you look into it. All you need to do is ask who am I meant to hate here?
Frankly the bloc media could save us all a lot of time if they merely had a nightly hate list following the weather report. Talking head - 'And now we go to Murray with tonight's Jewish media's hate list. Murray?' Switch to camera 2. 'Thanks Tina, not much change from last night. With no attacks scheduled in the Middle East this week, Muslims have slid down to third place. But with the Catholics looking to hitch a free ride in the Jewish media with their World Youth Thingy, we've decided to take them down a notch by putting them in as tonight's Number One target of ridicule! So! All you impressionable people out there, teenagers, and kids - the Jewish media has spoken. Behave predictably! Good night, and back to you Tina.' Switch to camera 1. 'Thanks Murray, and following tonights news, on A Current Affair we'll have a grab bag of great anti-Catholic one-liners you can all repeat at school and make yourselves look clever. Good night!'