Monthly Archives: August 2019

Are you ‘casually homophobic’?

Patrick Abboud reports.

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How many times have you heard someone say the words “faggot” or “that’s so gay” at school or at work? Maybe you’ve even dropped the F-bomb yourself in ‘friendly’ banter at the pub or online.

Welcome to the language of “casual homophobia” – otherwise known as slurs that aren’t always meant to be harmful, but are often used without thinking of the consequences.

A new website Nohomophobes.com shows the prevalence of “casual homophobia” on Twitter around the world in real-time using four key search terms – “faggot”, “no homo”, “so gay” and “dyke”. The site works via a sophisticated application programming interface (API) that tracks homophobic language on Twitter literally as it happens.

An interactive ticker allows you to view different timeframes and compare the four terms being tracked. If the frequency doesn’t shock you enough check out the flood of offensive terms via a continuous scrolling stream of tweets containing any of these terms. Here’s one I just pulled out randomly:

“If you wear a seat belt in the backseat, you’re a faggot”

Although the site went up in July in test mode as it was being built, its just officially launched around the globe. As you can see in the graphic above the word “faggot” has already been used more than 2.7 million times.

At the time of publishing this article today “faggot” is saturating the Twitter sphere appearing 25,890 times and counting…

“We know that homophobic language remains one of the few socially acceptable forms of discrimination in society. When that goes unchecked it often leads to the isolation, bullying, violence, beating and in many tragic cases suicide of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex (LGBTQI) youth,” says the sites creator, Dr Kris Wells Associate Director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta.

“Words like that’s so gay that are used a lot perhaps in schools and amongst younger people – they throw them thrown around without thinking they have any impact – where faggot is just used to mean something stupid or dumb and what we see is that people are becoming so desensitised and fail to recognise that much of this language has a great deal of painful and horrible history behind it,” he says.

Dr Wells has welcomed an overwhelming response to the site with universities, schools and community organisations from across the globe sending requests for permission to use it as an educational tool.

“I’ve been contacted by professors and faculty members from all over the world who are in awe of what this website is showing. We hope that parents will also use it to talk to their kids about the language they are using at school.”

The launch of this campaign could not be more timely says Mandy Hudson, Manager of Safe Schools Symposium for the Foundation for Young Australians.

“Websites like NoHomophobes.com could provide a useful tool to highlight the use of homophobic language in our society, but we also need to create strategies to continually respond to this,” she says.

The national Safe Schools Symposium brings together for the first time initiatives from organisations around the country tackling discrimination against young GLBTQI Australians.

“The inaugural national Safe Schools Symposium is a first step towards learning from one another and creating an integrated approach across Australia in schools to work on equipping schools, educators, students and governments to create schools that are free of homophobia and transphobia,” says Ms Hudson.

Recent research in Australia shows that young, same-sex attracted people are affected by homophobic language, even if it may not be intended that way.

“People often use the word gay, not even homophobic people. They don’t see it as an insult, they’re not trying to be insulting, but I’m insulted,” says one student who responded to a questionnaire as part of the Writing Themselves In 3 report by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University.

Dr Wells set up Nohomopobes.com in the hope that people will think twice before they tweet. “This kind of language is offensive, pervasive, it’s damaging. I remember seeing a tweet from a young person who saw the website and responded back saying…

“Now you know what my daily reality is like”.

The Safe Schools Symposium will take place in Melbourne on October 20th.

In the audio interview below Dr Wells explains how the site filters work to measure the frequency of the key terms in context to ensure accuracy.

Riot, arrests after Dutch Facebook party

After a night of violence when police officers were pelted with stones, bottles, tubs of flowers and even bicycles, local officials lined up to denounce those responsible and promise they would be brought to justice.

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The estimate of “at least” a million euros ($1.3 million) by the Dutch Association of Insurers (Verbond van Verzekeraars) was part of the fall-out from Friday night’s clashes in the northern town of Haren.

Insurers “would do everything” to ensure the guilty parties contributed to covering the cost of the wreckage, echoing earlier remarks by the justice minister, the association said, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Their association backed a statement released earlier by Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

“This cannot be tolerated,” said the minister.

“The authors of these acts will be judged, punished and should pay for the damage done,” he added, ANP reported.

Local police chief Oscar Drots, speaking at a news conference aired on public television, said all 34 people arrested would be charged with public disturbance.

Officers had also taken photos of the clashes, he added, which left open the possibility of further arrests.

“An innocent call on Facebook to party led to riots, destruction, looting, fires and injuries in the centre of the town,” Haren mayor Rob Bats said at the same press conference.

The unrest had meant that 500 police officers had to be called to the scene, he added.

Twenty-nine people, including three officers, were injured during the clashes, but no one was seriously hurt, according to Dutch news reports.

Police had been on high alert after the birthday girl posted a message inviting friends to her 16th birthday party on Friday — but forgot to mark it as a private event. That prompted more than 20,000 replies.

Several websites quickly sprang up dedicated to the party, with one publishing the girl’s address and adding, “By all means bring some friends!”

Local officials said between 3,000 and 5,000 people had turned up in the small town, which is home to only 18,000 residents.

Officials had prepared for trouble by blocking access to the girl’s street, banning alcohol consumption near her home and having the teeenager herself quit the premises.

But riot police had to intervene when a couple of hundred drunken youths tried to get into the street.

After pelting the police with missiles as they tried to force their way into the street, groups of rioters moved on to the centre of the town where they wrecked cars, fencing, street lamps and signs.

Some of the party-goers wore T-shirts bearing the words “Project X Haren,” an allusion to the 2012 US teen film “Project X” — about a suburban birthday party that gets out of control after an invitation goes viral.

Previous “Project X” parties have run riot in different parts of the world including Germany, Australia and especially the United States, where teens wrecked an unoccupied Texas home, causing damage of up to $100,000.

Olympian Scott Miller gets bail

Olympic swimmer Scott Miller has been granted bail over his third round of drugs charges with his lawyer arguing he is unlikely to reoffend because of his notoriety.

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Miller appeared in Sydney’s Central Local Court on Tuesday via video link from Silverwater jail where he has spent the last 10 days in custody.

Police allegedly discovered 7.75 grams of the prohibited drug ice when they searched him at Potts Point on July 20.

He was charged with supplying an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug.

In court the prosecution said Miller had a clear drug problem and was likely to reoffend if granted bail or until he received treatment.

Miller’s lawyer Gregory Goold said his client would plead guilty to the lesser offence of drug possession if testing confirmed the substance to be prohibited.

He also said the substance was initially weighed with its packaging and when weighed alone may fall below the maximum personal use amount of 5g.

“He sees the gravity of his problem,” Mr Goold said.

“He wants to get help.”

Mr Goold also said Miller was unlikely to possess illegal drugs due to his status in the community.

“The prospect of him reoffending are dimmed by that notoriety,” he said.

Magistrate Les Mabbutt considered both arguments, noting Miller’s reputation as an Olympian, and granted him strict conditional bail.

He is not allowed to enter the Kings Cross area, which is adjacent to Potts Point, he must report daily to police and he must not leave his nearby Edgecliff unit between 8pm and 7am.

Other conditions include an acceptable person providing $5000 in surety to be forfeited if he breaches his bail.

His matter will come before Downing Centre Local Court on September 17.

Outside court, Mr Goold said Miller needed rehabilitation.

“He’s pleased and he’s confident that he’ll turn his life around,” he said.

“He certainly denies that he’s a drug dealer.”

His arrest came 10 days after he appeared in Waverley Local Court and pleaded not guilty to drugs charges and possessing more than $16,000 in cash.

He was on bail for those offences at the time of his most recent arrest.

Miller will appear at Downing Centre in August on those charges.

The court also heard of his 2009 conviction of two counts of drug supply and one count of receiving stolen property.

Pat Richards eyes Challenge Cup glory

Pat Richards stands on the verge of a final Wembley appearance, but the Wigan Warriors star has no intention of underestimating London Broncos in this weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-finals.

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For Richards, who will return to the NRL with West Tigers next season after eight years with Wigan, this is his last chance to repeat the club’s Challenge Cup triumph back in 2011.

The gap between the Broncos and the Warriors could hardly be bigger in Super League, with the London side rooted to the bottom while Richards and company were only removed from top spot on Monday after defeat against St Helens.

But Richards knows the knockout nature of the Challenge Cup means form goes out the window for Saturday’s clash in Leigh.

“I’ve been at Wigan eight years and I’ve only been to Wembley once so they don’t come around too often and you have to enjoy them,” Richards said.

“It’s my last chance to play at Wembley and in any year, you don’t know what’s going to happen

“We’re only 80 minutes away but we can’t be thinking about Wembley yet as we need to beat London.

“Every year – it doesn’t matter if I’m going home this year or not – it’s about winning and we’re in a good position to do that.

“Over the years, it’s always been a David v Goliath sort of thing and that’s what excites you about the Challenge Cup. Like the FA Cup and football, it throws up some great occasions.”

If the Broncos are to score a major upset this weekend then a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of former St George Illawarra five-eighth Jamie Soward.

The 28-year-old was drafted in only last month with the Challenge Cup run almost exclusively in mind and the short-term signing is relishing the chance to sample the cup atmosphere as an underdog.

“This was the main reason for me coming to London this season on a short-term deal,” he said.

“I know the responsibility on my shoulders but I have to focus on my own job and see how we go from there.”

In Sunday’s second semi-final, holders Warrington Wolves face Hull FC at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield.

And Wolves skipper Brett Hodgson, who spent two seasons with the Giants in Super League, cannot wait to return to his former home.

“It’s a huge game for both clubs and we’ll be treating it like a final,” he said.

“It’s also a bit like a home game for me because I still live over that way and I have some great memories from playing in Huddersfield.

“Hopefully I’ll add another one this weekend.”

There is one re-arranged game scheduled this weekend in Super League as well with reigning Grand Final winners Leeds travelling to Wakefield hoping to beat their Yorkshire rivals for the second time in a week.

SBW hit not a shoulder charge: Robinson

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson is confident Sonny Bill Williams will be cleared by the NRL match review committee on Monday following his shoulder charge to the head of Newcastle’s Willie Mason.

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Williams was put on report after flooring Mason midway through the opening period of the Roosters’ 28-12 win over the Knights at Hunter Stadium and looks certain to be sanctioned.

Robinson felt otherwise.

“That arm is sort of separated from the side so it’s not a shoulder charge,” Robinson said.

“Obviously he hit him high so that is probably the worry. The arm has to be tucked into the side and there’s a separation between the arm and the body. That’s not a shoulder charge.”

Williams has already been charged with a grade one careless high tackle on Parramatta’s Matt Ryan in round 13 this season and had 56 carryover points from that offence.

If he’s hit with a similar grading he’ll spend some time on the sidelines unless he opts to fight the charge in front of the NRL judiciary on Wednesday.

Mason admits he was rattled by the shot before being forced off with a suspected torn calf muscle before halftime.

“I am not the sort of bloke, in my whole career of 13 or 14 years to stay down,” said Mason, who felt he’d been targeted by his former team.

“He hit me with a shoulder to the head if you look through my whole career it’s a pretty hard head to knock out.

“But we’ll see what happens. The judiciary can take care of that.

“His tackling technique in the mid 2000s that would be legal. But now it’s illegal and now it’s up to the judiciary.”

The victory consolidated the Roosters’ spot behind leaders South Sydney but Robinson said his side needed to massively improve their discipline after being slugged 14-9 in the penalty count.

However, he was delighted with how his side held on in the second half when the Knights were on top but failed to score a try before opting to kick a penalty in front of the posts.

“We were pretty happy, the boys were pretty excited about that,” he said.

“We knew they couldn’t break our defence so they opted for the two points. That was pretty good on our behalf.”

Tries from Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Michael Jennings, Sam Moa and Williams sealed the two points with Darius Boyd and James McManus crossing for the hosts.

Knights coach Wayne Bennett wasn’t too despondent by his side’s performance and said he saw enough to leave him confident of making the finals.

The veteran coach also defended his decision to take the two points midway through the second half when a try looked certain to come soon.

“I thought we were losing our way. I just thought someone should have went to the sin-bin, first and foremost, for repeated infringements,” he said.

“It was obviously deliberate and we looked like we were getting pretty frustrated.

“I thought the next thing we’ll do is lose a ball and give a penalty away, so let’s take the two and settle ourselves down.

“We then came back with some really good shape but we threw a forward pass when we looked like we were going to do something.”

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