Posts Tagged ‘Australian Christian Lobby’

burger urge ad

It’s silly. It’s not especially motivational – hardly what you would call appetite appeal – but offensive? Promoting bestiality? Really? Take a chill pill.

There is a growing trend amongst adherents of the largely right-wing evangelical forms of Christianty to leap all over any nonsense in the media to give a “Christian” perspective – by which they mean their own very literalistic, fundamentalist interpretation of what it means to “be a Christian”, and therefore by extrapolation, what our society should be like.

The Australian Christian lobby, long a friend to controversy – and most defnitely NOT speaking for all Christians in Australia despite their self-appropriated name – have now taken this trend to its logical conclusion. Which is: ridiculousness.

In all apparent seriousness, a Brisbane burger company’s advertising campaign has been accused of promoting bestiality.

The Burger Urge ad, which shows a woman licking a cow, was described in the complaint as loathsome, sick, wrong and perverted, according to News Limited and other outlets.

The Australian Christian Lobby group officially registered the complaint via company director Wendy Francis, who said people should be spared the image of “a woman making love to a cow”.

“It’s definitely a sexual sort of image. It says ‘get intimate’ so we’re not talking about a pet thing. The cow is dressed up as a man,” she said.

Burger Urge owner Sean Carthew says it is an over-reaction, and believes an overwhelming majority of people saw what Burger Urge was trying to do and did not have a problem with the campaign.

Ironically, Mr Carthew’s mum received an email from Ms Francis, attacking the advertisement.

“Mum’s quite religious and she doesn’t have any problem with the image of the cow and the girl,” he said.

“We do think quite carefully about our promotions. We don’t want to cause any damage or do any harm, we just want to have a bit of fun.”

Dumb and unnecessarily obnoxious, but that's the point, and the ACL complaintshave simply played into their hands.

Silly, (because it is simply designed to garner attention by being “shocking” whereas in fact it just appears infantile), but that’s the point, isn’t it? They are TRYING to shock, and the ACL complaints have simply played into their hands. I bet Burger Urge are delighted. Look, I’m talking about them, too.

Ms Francis, who also railed against Burger Urge’s condom mail promotion said it had the potential of catching out children who like to check the letterbox.

“I’m not asking for a nanny state. I’m just asking would somebody please make it so that our children are allowed to have their childhood,” she said.

However Mr Carthew said the arrival of a condom in the mail would have no impact on the future behaviour of children.

Bleeding hell. Let me make some things clear to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Burger Urge ran this campaign because they knew some wowsers would complain. It’s a tried and tested tactic, pioneered by other fast food outlets like Nandos, for example.

Now you have achieved giving them country-wide and international notoriety. Simply by complaining, and in such stupidly hyperbolic fashion, you have given this business the oxygen of publicity they so obviously desired. You will make them lots and lots of money, with which to run other ads, presumably.

As specifically stated below, they have obviously decided that they can afford to offend a few wowsers in order to appear “cool” and “alternative” to their core target market, which we can suppose is overwhelmingly teenagers and younger adults.

And this will be a shock to the ACL, but that target market doesn’t find condoms shocking.

Oh, and by the way? Condoms aren’t “dirty” or “wrong” either. They are a valuble tool in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases. They are legal. They are not controversial for the vast majority of Australians.

Should they be delivered door to door? Why not? If you’re worried about children opening the mail then (a) open your own mail, (b) use it as an opportunity to have a conversation with your kids about condoms, (c) tell them it’s a free gift from their local balloon shop. In short, grow up.

But what really annoys me about your very public chasing after your own oxygenated publicity, ACL, is that in doing so you tar every normal, moderate, adult, socialised, liberal, live-and-let-live Christian with your very particular brush.

No-one – NO-ONE – with half a brain would seriously think this company is promoting bestiality. Everyone – EVERYONE – with half a brain will understand immediately that it’s a poor and clumsy attempt to garner attention in a crowded market, and move on, instantly.

So stop painting the rest of us as being as ridiculous as you. It makes explaining why we are Christians to non-Christians much more difficult than it needs to be.

That’s it. Period.

It’s also very instructive to listen to the owner of this business on the controversy created:

Sean Carthew of Burger Urge with the promotional condoms. He checked with his Mum and Dad - isn't that enough? Picture: Ric Frearson Source: Quest Newspapers

Sean Carthew of Burger Urge with the promotional condoms. He checked with his Mum and Dad – isn’t that enough? Picture: Ric Frearson Source: Quest Newspapers

Mr Carthew said his business couldn’t afford multi-million dollar fit outs or big promotions.

”To be honest, it’s hard enough the retail market the way it is at the moment just staying in business. We’ve got 70 employees who pay their rent and rely on us to be solvent,” he said.

”I feel like us staying in business is our primary objective and if that means that one or two percent of the population might be offended and might boycott our store well then I can still sleep at night.”

The business has also done ”wobble board” promotions targetting Lance Armstrong and Alan Jones, but Mr Carthew said he never wanted his promotions to be grotesque.

”I showed my mum and dad before we put them out and mum went `oh Sean, you can’t do that’ and dad laughed. They both concluded it was a bit cheeky but not anything that was going to change the world. If anything it’s promoting a good cause which is safe sex,” he said.

”People jump up and down like it’s an outrage but there are wars going on.”

And that’s the other point, isn’t it, ACL? If you spent half the energy you expend on social/cultural nonsense like this campaigning against the obscenity of war, then we might have more respect for you. And people might have more respect for Christians, generally.

But pacificism? Peace on earth? Love thy neighbour? Turn the other cheek?

Well, that’s just not quite as easy to grab a headline on, now is it?

BREAKING NEWS

THE advertising watchdog has thrown out a complaint against a Brisbane burger joint after they used an image of a woman licking a cow’s face to promote their premium beef.

The Advertising Standards Board dismissed the complaint which described the Burger Urge image as loathsome, sick, wrong and perverted.

But the Board ruled most people would realise the image had been photoshopped, and while it would be considered distasteful by most people, it was not overly sexualised or provocative.

The Board also found that while the slogan is open to many interpretations, the most likely is suggestive of eating a burger made from premium beef.

Advertising Standards also received a complaint about media reports that Burger Urge delivered condoms to letterboxes across Brisbane, but that did not constitute a formal complaint.

”They hadn’t actually received the advertising material themselves so we confine our cases to things that people have actually received or seen,” Advertising Standards chief Fiona Jolly said.

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Jim Wallace ACL

Look closely, children. Can you say B-I-G-O-T?
— noun
a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp on religion, politics, or race
[16th century, from Old French: name applied contemptuously to the Normans by the French, of obscure origin]


As a Christian, I am embarrassed by the likes of Jim Wallace.

As a Christian, I think he’s going to hell for the crap he says and for the damage he does Christianity with his intemperate nonsense. Yesterday, debating Greens leader Christine Milne, he again quoted out of date statistics to defend his bizarre views.

The excellent website Crikey.com has systematically demolished his views. I repeat their story here because I cannot do as good a job as they have, and I probably cannot control myself from the defamatory things I want to say about Jim Wallace. I will say this: in my opinion, the biggest problems gays face – and the largest cause of depression and suicide in their community – is the evil mouthed nonsense spewed against gay people by straight people.

Before his views take root in the Christian community, read this:

Get Fact: do gays have more health problems than smokers?

by Andrew Crook


Yesterday, Australian Christian Lobby boss Jim Wallace told an audience debating gay marriage at the University of Tasmania that taking up smoking was a comparatively better lifestyle choice than engaging in the salacious activity associated with same-sex marriage.

“I think we’re going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community’s own statistics for its health — which it presents when it wants more money for health — are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years,” he said. Smoking, by contrast, led to a reduced life expectancy of between seven and 10 years.

This morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard pulled out of next month’s ACL conference in Canberra, condemning Wallace’s comments as “heartless and wrong”. How wrong? In another instalment of Crikey’s Get Fact series, we put Wallace’s claims to the truth test.

There are a mountain of studies reporting poorer health outcomes among the gay community — gays are more likely to be smokers, to use and abuse drugs and to attempt suicide. In a follow-up ACL press release this morning, Wallace pointed to Canadian data sent to that country’s human rights commission showing troubling rates of alcohol use, depression, a lack of access to care, higher cancer risk and violence.

But what about life expectancy? Smokers may go to the grave a decade earlier but is a same-sex attracted person really likely to have their lives cut short simply because of their sexual preference?

Wallace’s claim about mortality  — which he previously trotted out in The Australian last year — is repeatedly used by American anti-gay groups to ratchet up political support for the sanctity of marriage. But the foundation for the statement is dubious and contested.

Much of the “data” supporting that claim relates to gay men in an urban HIV subset (as opposed to say, lesbians in a civil union), and is at least 20 years old.

Wallace’s life expectancy claims could stem from a 1997 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology which concluded that “in a major Canadian centre (Vancouver), life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is eight to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday.

“Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871,” the study said.

But the data in that study was collected between 1987 and 1992, well before advanced treatments for HIV were developed. In 2001, its authors published a follow-up study blasting “select groups in US and Finland” for exploiting the research to “suggest that gay and bisexual men live an unhealthy lifestyle that is destructive to themselves and to others”. They wrote:

“If we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996 …

“It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive measure. Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces every day. It cannot be attributed solely to their s-xual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor.”

A 2009 Danish study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that while death rates among same-sex married couples was a third higher than the general population from 1989 to 2004, after 1996 the mortality rate among gay men in same-sex marriages was similar to heterosexuals.

Another source favoured by gay marriage opponents is Cameron, Playfair and Wellum’s widely debunkedgay obituary” study published in 1994 in the Omega Journal of Death and Dying. It concluded gay men have an average lifespan of 43 years. The study involved researchers consulting the death notices — mostly AIDS-related — in the urban gay community press.

The problem was the study suffered from what statisticians call a “non response bias” — that is, the sample was corrupted by the non-inclusion of gay men who were still alive. According to statisticians from Columbia University, the average age of AIDS victims is about 40. But even before new treatments became widely available, only about 20% of gay men were likely to die of AIDS.

Cameron, the founder of recognised hate group Family Research Institute, followed that up with this pseudo 1998 study, “Does Homosexual Activity Shorten Life”. That was again based on dubious surveys of gay obituaries and other “random surveys” and found the “medium age of death” for homosexuals was less than 50 years. The evidence was “consistent with previous findings suggesting that homosexual activity may be associated with a lifespan shortened by 20 to 30 years”.

Even excusing its dodgy methodology, treatment advances have rendered the conclusions defunct. As Andrew Carr, director of the HIV, immunology and infectious diseases unit at St Vincent’s Hospital, told The Sydney Morning Herald in July: ”Once upon a time the average person who got HIV had a life expectancy of about 10 years. Now, if you get HIV and go on treatment your life is still probably shorter than if you had never had the virus, but maybe only five to 10 years less.”

Carr said that when groups prone to HIV are stripped out, notably injecting drug users, then the difference becomes even smaller. And in the US, the death rate from HIV was nine times higher in 1990 than two years ago.

One of the other studies cited by Wallace in the past — a 2003 Dutch study  — found on average gay relationships only last 18 months. Those findings, published in the journal AIDS, were based on a cohort of young Dutch gays aged 18-21 residing in the middle of Amsterdam.

In fact, other research, including a study in the US state of Vermont  — the first state to legalise same-sex civil unions — showed civil union households seemed to mirror that of the general population. Crucially, the data did not require “participants” or volunteers that skewed the result — it was a simple reading of the information collected by state bureaucrats.

In fact, it is likely that dubious media interventions like Wallace’s may in fact perpetuate many of the health problems he is himself referring to. A recent study from the University of Queensland, The Psychology of Same-Sex Marriage Opposition, showed that individuals exposed to media articles bagging same-sex marriage were more likely to report feeling negative and depressed and more likely to feel distressed, upset, guilty, scared, afraid, ashamed and nervous. They wer more likely to report loneliness, more likely to report they felt weak and powerless — and less likely to report feeling happy or positive.

A recent Psychologists for Marriage Equality submission to the Senate inquiry into the gay marriage bill cited a 2007 study showing the phenomenon of “minority stress” means “social prejudice, discrimination, and violence against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals play a significant role in the mental health outcomes” of these groups.

So, while the gay population does appear to experience a disproportionate prevalence of negative health effects brought on by others, the evidence that gays die earlier than straights is dubious at best. Accordingly, we rate Wallace’s claims as mostly rubbish.