Bamboozled by “Bamboozled”

After learning of the Tropfest Sydney film-festival winner, a short film in which a man is ridiculed for sleeping with another man, I like many others find myself extremely disappointed in the filmmaker, and in the Tropfest judges. As an LGBT person who has worked with young LGBT people, I can’t see how this film can do anything but hurt their self-acceptance and self-esteem.

People fail to realise how prevalent depression is in the LGBT community, largely as a result of hurtful media such as this. The impact a discriminatory work can have on the mindset of a self-critical LGBT person is huge, contributing to addiction, self-harm and even suicide.

Further, some of those who see this pale ‘Black Mirror’ imitation will only view the ‘joke’ as validation of their own homophobic behaviour. You can even see it in the comments on social media. “Take a joke, wear it on the chin.” If the film was meant to satirise homophobia, it obviously didn’t work — but even that defence of its so-called merits, on its face, is quite questionable.

It’s far more likely the film was meant to be little more than the puerile, adolescent jibe it is, a push-back against advances in LGBT rights, such as the ongoing march towards same-sex marriage in Australia. This resistance is understandable — people don’t like change, and negative sentiment toward LGBT people is ingrained in the Australian culture.

But it’s still sad whenever such anti-LGBT propaganda is given such a wide audience, never mind accolades. All we can do is hope that this is an unfortunate aberration, a ‘last gasp’ of a dying paradigm, and that the deserved shame felt by all those involved keeps them from making such a repugnant ‘mistake’ again.

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Bamboozled by “Bamboozled”

#GovHack Melbourne: Not a Hackathon? #hackathon #melbourne

Hi David,

This is an open letter, posted to social media.

I’m a little concerned by your statement (in your e-mail dated 29 May 2013) that it “is the idea that matters more than the code.”

Does this mean it’s possible that teams that implement nothing (process no data nor write any code) over the weekend could receive the majority of — or all of — the recognition?

I believe that would seriously diverge from the overall ethos of GovHack, and of ‘hackathons’ in general, wouldn’t it? I realise that GovHack Melbourne is trying to be “different” with its “beautiful data” theme, but I really would like some assurances that ‘code’ (as you put it) is going to play a significant part in the decisions regarding the recognition of projects, and not be completely discounted in favour of wholly unimplemented proposals. Otherwise I would have serious reservations about attending the event, and I will strongly encourage software developers to ‘give it a miss’, and maybe attend RHoK instead.

Now, I do realise that there will likely be teams in attendance without developers, and that you want to cater to these. I suggest that those teams be encouraged to disband and find teams that do have developers — not that they be given the chance to take significant opportunity away from those developers that do attend! I would put to you that by doing so, you only serve to risk alienating developers further, and will simply end up with less of them attending next year.

Indeed, I’ve recently conducted surveys of users on developer-centric sites such as Slashdot that heavily indicated the majority of respondents would not attend / continue to attend ‘hackathon’ events that did not consider their work as relevant in the awarding of recognition. This is a fairly obvious conclusion — who wants to bust their arse writing code for the better part of two days only to have ‘projects’ that exhibit no technical prowess take all the glory? Further, by suggesting that implementation is of little consequence — an afterthought that can be ‘dealt with later’ — you belittle their talent. Who wants to hang around for that?

On behalf of all the developers that might attend GovHack Melbourne 2013, I would like a formal and public assurance that ‘code’ WILL ‘matter’ at least as much as the ‘idea’, that substance will be no less equal than form, that implementation will not be trumped by mere speculation.

Thank you,
Melody Ayres-Griffiths.

On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 5:59 AM, David F. Flanders <david.flanders@ands.org.au> wrote:
T-minus 2 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes until all the #GovHack prizes are announced this Friday night! <eek!>

If you have any last minute questions please twitter either myself, Flanders (@DFFlanders) or Fiona (@FCTweedie) [1].

We’ve already had a couple of questions which we’ve posted here:

http://www.govhack.org/locations/melbourne/

But, how do I win?

As with previous GovHack winners it is the idea that matters more than the code, that’s why we’ve made sure to invite more than just developers this year. Developers we love dearly[2]! – but we want developers to partner with designers, storytellers, researchers, cartographers, artists, journalists, videographers and anyone else who can help make data come alive. In short, we’d love to see simple data, beautifully expressed- if you’ve not seen this example you really must:

Or see this winning example from last years GovHack:

http://au.okfn.org/2013/05/08/beautiful-data-govhack/

The team you’ll need to win?

Friday night will not only be the announcement of all the prizes on offer, but will also be your opportunity to meet new people with the creative skills you’ll need on your team to win. So come ready, and come eager – and don’t be late! 6pm Friday night, see you there!

Kind Regards,

David & Fiona
(Event Coordinators)

[1]= email questions if you must 🙂 david.flanders@ands.org.au [2]= Developers: we complied a bunch of tools for you in this ‘developer pack’ please do have a look as you’ll be surprised by this great resource: http://www.govhack.org/howto/

#GovHack Melbourne: Not a Hackathon? #hackathon #melbourne

Aussie Marriage Equality Proponents Should Support A Nation-Wide Referendum #ausvotes #auspol

Marriage equality proponents should support the notion of a nation-wide referendum.

I believe their present fears to be misplaced. Firstly, by far the vast majority of Australians live in metropolitan areas. This is not to say that those who live in the country will automatically answer in the negative to any question regarding legalising same-sex marriage — but even if they did, mandatory voting means that they will likely be overwhelmed by the majority of those in metro areas who are in favour (or at least not willing to stand in the way) of marriage equality.

Secondly, once the populace is better educated that a change in legislation will not force any religion to marry a same-sex couple; that same-sex couples already raise, foster and adopt children, both their own and others; that marriage equality in Canada and elsewhere has thus-far not resulted in the Apocalypse visiting these countries; and that by-and-large same-sex marriage will result in no real change to their own lives; the influence of anti-equality lobby groups will be largely neutered — their only remaining argument being tradition.

Thirdly, tradition is an argument easily defeated once you suggest that should these religious lobbies have their way in this case, a woman’s right to vote, wife-initiated divorce, gender equality in the workplace, or any and all anti-discrimination legislation in general could be next — after all, none of these relatively modern advancements are ‘traditional’, and should be wound back, shouldn’t they?

If we take the behaviour of humanity as a whole over the last two-thousand years and agree to base the laws of today on what we did the majority of that time — our ‘traditions’ — slavery would still be legal, discrimination common and even encouraged, only husbands could divorce their wives, domestic abuse would not be illegal, marriages would often be pre-arranged, the working life would begin at age twelve — the list goes on and on.

Obviously, a scant few Australians would agree to return to such repugnant times.

Predecessors to those currently opposed to marriage equality have been present as each of those now-undesirable ‘traditions’ came to their ends, arguing quite vocally that there was plenty of justification for society not to change. I’m sure they trotted out, for example, God’s approval of slavery, implied that men were ‘bad Christians’ for embracing women’s rights (a woman is only a man’s rib, after all!), and congregated about polling booths wagging their fingers in shame at those voters who elected to do away with burning at the stake — but these past efforts happily failed.

These ‘warriors-of-God’ inevitably lost their crusades — upstanding members of the community such as slave-owners, capitalists who exploited child labour, men who loved to beat their wives — and those relics still opposed to marriage equality will similarly surrender to progress in short order once the law is changed, lest they find themselves decapitated by it.

So, taking these points all together makes marriage equality appear to be a remarkably easy concept to market to Australian voters. A convincing print advertisement, for example, need only be a faux-ballot with the following five questions:

“Question One: Should this country return to traditional White Australia policies?”

“Question Two: Should men regain the traditional right to own slaves?”

“Question Three: Should the right to vote be restricted only to men, as mandated by tradition?”

“Question Four: Should the age of consent to marriage and sexual relations be reduced to the traditional twelve years?”

“Question Five: Should the tradition of marriage remain strictly between a man and a woman?”

I suspect voters will answer similarly to all five of these queries. So be ye not afraid, marriage equality advocates — it will be a referendum hard fought, but handily won.

Melody Ayres-Griffiths was a strong advocate for marriage equality in Canada, and is happily married to her Australian wife in her birth-country — a marriage she would also like to be similarly recognised in her new home, Australia.

Aussie Marriage Equality Proponents Should Support A Nation-Wide Referendum #ausvotes #auspol

Turnbull’s NBN no #fail…

Everyone’s fuming over the ‘last mile’, but they shouldn’t — it’s kind of stupid.

Firstly, FTTN still eliminates the nightmare of pair gain — one of the loudest accomplishments of Labor’s NBN. Second, one of the greatest difficulties currently facing ADSL2+ is not the ‘last mile’ itself, but that in many cases that ‘last mile’ is actually several, making ADSL2+ difficult to implement. Since presumably the fibre nodes will be more widely distributed than the existing DSLAMs, many more people will have access to ADSL2+ speeds, a dramatic improvement to their existing internet connections.

Thirdly, I find it laughable how much stock media outlets such as Fairfax seem to have put in this idea that they were going to rush head-long into the IPTV game without facing any regulation, but my real third point is that IF IPTV IS VIABLE, COMPANIES SUCH AS FOXTEL WILL PAY TO CONNECT FIBRE TO CUSTOMERS HOMES. This is a simple market reality — if someone can make money off of FTTH, they need only stump up the $3-5K, and then recoup it through a subscription. Heck, I imagine there will be many ISP’s offering to connect you to FTTH on a 24-month contract. It won’t be that painful to get FTTH — it just won’t be ‘free’.

So, it’s this idea that the Coalition’s NBN is somehow ‘inferior’ for not arbitrarily connecting every doghouse, farmhouse and henhouse that’s the real #fail here. It’s simply unnecessary. Wherever FTTH is viable, the market will find a way to deliver it. In the meanwhile, many more people will get good solid ADSL2+ speeds of between 20 and 25 megabit for a much lower cost than they do now.

I personally want the really fast upstream fibre provides for commercial purposes, but when FTTN appears in my neighbourhood, I’ll pay for FTTH myself. There’s no reason for my neighbour to have to subsidise my business — which is what Labor’s NBN would have them do.

Turnbull’s NBN no #fail…

Next time, try “fuddle duddle”, Mister Rudd.

In February, 1971, then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau caused a minor ruckus when opposition MP’s accused him of having mouthed “fuck off” at them during sessions of the House of Commons. Trudeau categorically denied it, but when repeatedly pressed on the issue eventually asked — rhetorically — of a television reporter, “What is the nature of your thoughts, gentlemen, when you say ‘fuddle duddle’ or something like that?” And thus, it was given to popular Canadian perception that he did indeed mouth “fuck off” when it was alleged he had done so.

“Fuddle duddle” was born, and became all-the-rage amongst primary school students for a great many years to come.

Fast-forward to 2012, and former Australian Prime Minister-come-Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd doesn’t even bother mouthing his expletives, let alone pretend they’re something else. Indeed, as we saw in the now-infamous YouTube clip released over the weekend, he doesn’t seem to shy away from saying the word “fuck” whatsoever — repeatedly, gratuitously and with the slightest of provocations.

The question asked here is — as with the Canadian “fuddle duddle” affair — will this display of Mister Rudd’s coarser nature help or hurt him?

In the end, did the “fuddle duddle” controversy help Trudeau? Arguably, it did. Here was a man, seen by most western Canadians as being completely ‘out-of-touch’ with them, showing that he was indeed not above throwing a few epithets in the direction of his opponents now and then. This ‘demonstration of commonality’ raised his personal standing quite a bit amongst those Prairie residents who had previously felt alienated by the ‘army of suits’ dictating at them from Ottawa, and who would have loved to cuss in the faces of a few politicians themselves. However, it was a careful tightrope to walk. Trudeau could not be seen as defiling the sanctity of the House of Commons — silently held dear even by those out west — but neither could he be seen as a strict, uptight, faceless eastern dictator if he was to unite Canada under his legacy, as he eventually did with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

Thankfully, “fuddle duddle” was neither too little, nor too much, and it did not take long for the phrase to show itself to have been a good middle-ground, and a public-relations success.

Similarly, the ‘fuddy Ruddy’ YouTube clip may go some small way to endear Mister Rudd to the ‘common Australian’ who likes to swear a bit blue in the pub now and again — but his image as a man of class and substance is going to take a right-old beating in the car park out back for it. After all, this is the man who seemingly wanted oh-so-desperately to be the first permanent Australian delegate to the UN Security Council. Making rude comments about Chinese interpreters certainly isn’t going to help that ambition come to any sort of fruition, let alone his adequately demonstrated low-tolerance for any kind of frustration — of which there is sure to be endless quantities at the United Nations.

Who leaked the Kevin Rudd swear-fest is a mystery that clouds the ability to determine their motivation behind doing so. Was it someone in Prime Minister Gillard’s office, seeking to defame Rudd and embarrass him with those who might have supported him in a leadership contest? Was it someone in Rudd’s camp — or even Kevin Rudd himself — who leaked it in an attempt to paint him in an ‘everyday Mick’ light, and boost public support for a second Rudd Prime Ministership amongst the Australian electorate?

Both choices seem somewhat likely and highly unlikely at the same time. It’s hard to see how either is truly productive, nor what the net effect to Kevin Rudd’s career shall be, but it doesn’t appear to be overwhelmingly positive.

Ultimately, those who went after Trudeau were sorry they made such a show out of the Prime Minister’s filthy habit, having handed him a golden opportunity to not only score a few points with the ‘little guy’ but entrench himself permanently into the popular culture of the day. It can be argued that “fuddle duddle” raised Trudeau out of being a mere politician, and into the realm of Canadian infamy — but sadly, the likelihood of Kevin Rudd’s expletive-laden rants to have a similar effect in Australia, 2012, are remote.

Instead of a man of class demonstrating he isn’t above letting off a little steam now-and-again, Rudd’s rants come across as nothing more than the ravings of an impatient bully and boor — but these unfortunate traits were already widely known, and thus any advantage this unsurprising revelation would have given his opponents will be muted. That said, if the common perception becomes that the intent of the clip was to embarrass him, it might garner Rudd a slight bit of sympathy amongst those who vehemently detest Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership, and seek any reason to hate it even more — but probably not that much.

Otherwise, if the release of the clip was intended to make Kevin look like a ‘bloke you’d be happy to nip down to the pub and have a beer with’, it appears that exercise has failed miserably.

My advice? Next time, try “fuddle duddle”, Mister Rudd. Otherwise, you’re just another foul-mouthed guy dropping the f-bomb on YouTube.

Next time, try “fuddle duddle”, Mister Rudd.

Australian Poker Machines Controversy: Are We Missing The Point…?

G’day eh? As a Canadian residing in Australia I have the luxury of
being able to compare and contrast many things that are oh-so-similar
and yet often oh-so-different. Gambling, in particular using
mechanical devices such as slot or poker machines, is one of those
things, and given the current debate around how best to reduce problem
gambling, my thought has turned to how it’s done back on the other
side of the pond. So, here’s my two maple-leaf embossed pennies.

Over there, in the province of British Columbia, where I’m from, the
regulation of slot machines is substantially different than how it is
here in Oz. Firstly, alcohol cannot be served on the gaming floor —
it has to be in a completely separate venue, and you cannot exit from
the venue back to the gaming floor if you have ordered or consumed any
alcohol. No bars just ‘over there’, no ‘having a few’ and then
visiting an ATM before heading for the $10 slots. No gaming machines
in pubs, either.

Of course, all gaming venues would prefer their clientele inebriated.
This is why the pubs here almost universally have poker machines —
they have a built-in advantage. Drunk people gamble more. They gamble
more often, they spend more money. Banning visibly drunk people from
gambling (which, by definition, would include identifying and ejecting
those who make unusually flamboyant or risky bets) is a wonderful
Canadian policy Australia would do well to implement — although the
pubs and casinos certainly won’t like it. But a strong argument can be
made that someone who is drunk is incapable of making decisions in
their own best interests, and as such do not have the legal right to
divest themselves of their money in an rash fashion, and sooner or
later someone who loses big will take one of the big casinos to court
arguing that exact same defence. It is in the casinos best interests
to support legislation that will absolve themselves of any such
liability before that happens, even though the hoteliers won’t like it
— although it should be noted they’re not supposed to serve alcohol
to drunk people, either.

Secondly, individuals in British Columbia have the right to ban
themselves from gaming venues. This is an obvious no-brainer: if
someone feels they have a gambling problem, they can simply direct
their haunt of choice not to admit them at any point in the future.
This should be the right of anyone fighting any addiction — but it’s
far more effective for gamblers than for anyone else, since the venue
tends to be an important component of the addiction. The casinos will
like this policy even less than the no-alcohol one — because it’s
they who would be hurt most by this, and not the pubs, RSL’s and
clubs.

People who gamble recklessly tend to be attracted to the glitz, the
glamour and the feeling of being a ‘somebody’, and a smaller venue
just doesn’t provide that allure. Big casinos do. Big casinos also
offer anonymity if you get drunk, go broke and make a scene. Smaller
clubs don’t. Luckily for the big casinos, most have facial recognition
software in place already to detect cheaters and fraud-artists, and
could easily implement self-imposed bans, as well as impose arbitrary
bans on easily-identifiable problem gamblers, so there’s very little
argument they can provide not to that wouldn’t display a complete lack
of social responsibility. Perhaps this is something they can take on
themselves, without forced legislation — but maybe pigs will also fly
then, and Hell will open an ice-skating rink too.

Thirdly, if you’re on NewStart or other unemployment benefits you
shouldn’t be able to use your dole money for gambling. People who are
already financially vulnerable and subject to depression shouldn’t be
in a position to make both situations worse. Yes, this is the stuff of
a nanny-state, but it’s also the realm of basic social responsibility,
like not letting someone freeze to death in the street. I’m not
suggesting Grannie can’t spend her pension at the pokies — that’s
Grannie’s business — but Grannie’s not likely supporting small
children and/or at risk of not getting another cheque because they
were unable to look for work because they had no bus fare. If the
government gives you money out of the social safety-net, it should
have the right to dictate how you can and cannot spend it, if by
spending it a certain way you place yourself at risk.

In British Columbia, gaming venues are only required to take your ID
and report you to the government if you win over $1000, and so people
who spend their dole money aren’t caught out very often. However, that
system could easily be adapted here to apply to all payments of
perhaps over $100. In the last few years, BC casinos have transitioned
to a paper-ticket system for credits and payouts, making an
individuals wagers and winnings easier to track — another way to
monitor for problem gamblers — and I strongly suspect they’ll be
matching the pictures they take at the cash counters with betting data
soon if they aren’t doing it already. After all, facial recognition is
Vegas’s best friend for a reason.

(It also appears that moving to a paper-ticket system did not send the
gaming venues broke, either — but when a machine takes in over a
thousand dollars a day, that thousand dollar cost to refit it is a
very, very small price indeed.)

Fourth, in British Columbia the machines are apparently required to
display just how much money has been poured into them since they last
paid out, and just how much that last payment was. These tend to be
quite sobering figures, but it should be made quite clear that they do
not discourage the casual gambler who can afford to take the risk in
hopes of hitting a jackpot, in fact quite the opposite, it encourages
them, because they have no expectation of winning. This is the
supposed target audience for this kind of ‘entertainment’, not those
who see the numbers and realise they might inadvertently spend their
rent money before they get any real payout — at least in theory. But
once again, casinos are not in the business of being concerned with
the ability of their patrons to make smart choices.

But, I hear you cry, the poor little clubs and RSL’s won’t survive
with these sorts of rules!

That’s not true at all. Gaming venues in British Columbia still make a
great deal of money even though alcohol is tightly regulated, people
can self-ban themselves from venues, people risk trouble if they
gamble while on the dole, and the machines show how unlikely you are
to keep eating if you spend your grocery money. These are all much
more valuable tools in the fight against problem gambling than
mandatory pre-commitment, a per-bet limit (although the most popular
and likely profitable slot machines in British Columbia tend to have 5
to 25 cent individual bets, not $5) or the elimination of random
jackpots (or ‘features’).

Further, the patronage of clubs and RSL’s tends to be that of the
members of these organisations themselves. Even hotels tend to have a
common, regular clientele they can choose to self-regulate should
someone obviously be in trouble. But to the casinos, people are just
sources of revenue, and there’s no close-knit community (in the case
of the clubs), or unspoken obligation to their suburb (in the case of
hotels), and measures such as these are required to force these larger
organisations to mind their responsibility to the broader community.
It’s reasonable to argue that casinos breed far more problem gamblers,
but that it is the responsibility of the gaming community as a whole
to ensure that the damage caused by addiction is minimised, even if
that means a bit of pain for everyone involved.

To conclude, I strongly suggest that people take a good look at these
strategies and see how they might work to the benefit of the social
fabric in Australia. Sometimes there’s just simply no need to
re-invent the wheel, you just need to glance over your neighbour’s
back fence.

Australian Poker Machines Controversy: Are We Missing The Point…?

For Queen or Country? The Monarchy and the Military

In this debate of monarchy versus republic, we will hear from all those who travel the many walks of life in Australian society, but at its end, are the thoughts of those who lay down their lives in service of their country the only opinions that will truly matter?

Do we need the monarchy? Sparked by the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, this debate has been recently renewed, and is once again a topic of public conversation. Do we, the general ‘peacetime’ public (there are not bombs raining down upon our heads, after all), really need the monarchy? On the face of it, perhaps not. But, I think that this question doesn’t necessarily concern those of us not in uniform. In fact, I don’t believe it concerns we civilians at all. Let me explain.

Where the issue of monarchy or republic really comes into play, and almost perhaps explicitly so, really is in the theatres of war. When the question of precisely why one is entertaining charging that machine-gun nest comes up, or exactly why one is blinded and deaf in a trench, praying to whatever God you believe in while mortars rain down around you (“there are no atheists in a foxhole”), it’s important to consider just why one is not just enduring, but actively engaging in such an horrific experience.

In these cases a monarchy becomes a living symbol, like a flame or a torch, that one is defending, out of a sense of loyalty or honour, or out of a feeling of indentured servitude, if one has been drafted into the situation unwillingly. A country, or republic, on the other hand is a bit more of a nebulous entity, especially when the country to whom the soldier belongs is not itself directly under threat — but even when it is. I would argue that historically, armies seem to fight more fiercely, and defend more vigorously,  when led by a leader ‘by divine right’ rather than one appointed or elected by the population at large.

Witness World War II, and in particular the axis countries of Germany and Japan. Hitler was indeed a dictator, but the Germans themselves placed him in that position — he had no birthright to rule. Conversely, Japan was governed by an emperor who had an accepted divine right, by the Japanese, to do so. From historical evidence, the Japanese appear to have been far more eager to throw themselves at the enemy in defence of their Emperor than the Germans were in defence of Hitler. Eventually, the Germans fell over from both battle fatigue and in-rank infighting — a collapse from within — while the Japanese suffered less from such frailties, and complete victory required the deployment of a couple of atomic bombs — destruction from without. This crucial difference in stature translated into subsequent post-war proceedings against the leadership of those vanquished — while the German hierarchy was vigorously prosecuted for war crimes — and. had Hitler lived, presumably he would have been taken to task doubly so — Emperor Hirohito not only avoided prosecution, but continued, at least ceremonially, in his role as Japan’s head of state until his death in 1989.

Had they laid their hands on him, Hitler would have given absolutely no quarter by the Allied forces fighting in Europe, but yet Hirohito escaped his atrocities untouched. This is a curiosity of history that leads us to another question quite relevant the debate at hand: are a people stronger in wartime led by an elected official, or by a head of state elevated by divine right, or right of succession? The bombing of Britain during WWII was a terrible event, but the recollections of Britons who survived it tend to touch on the strength given to them by then-Princess Elizabeth’s radio broadcasts, or her ceremonial service in the military. The American soldiers were arguably driven far more by their generals than their commander-in-chief, elevating those such as MacArthur to almost legendary status — but, it would be difficult I think to say that the Americans fought out of a fondness for these military icons, and perhaps more out of fear of them. To the American people, WWII was about preventing the spread of the evils of Nazi Germany, and obtaining satisfaction against the Japanese for the attack on Pearl Harbour — more about fighting against something rather than fighting for something. I think this is a distinction that requires a great deal more exploration and thought.

In peacetime it is easy to dismiss these arguments as silly and sentimental. It would appear to the average member of the Australian public that one ought to feel more motivated to defend the ‘land of gold and green’ rather than some monarch of another country who resides thousands and thousands of kilometres away. But, I would myself hesitate to jump too quickly to the conclusion that we do not need them at all, and they should be done away with without a second thought. In times of war — especially war at home — a populace needs absolutes, and the monarchy provides that, at least in the matter of ‘supreme leadership’. There is no ambiguity; if the existing occupant of the throne is killed, we know who is next in line, and next after that. There are no worries of elections, of disputes of who will be in charge — we know that already, and so there is no need to trouble oneself with such details in a time of extreme strife.

When it comes to who and what you’re fighting for, you simply need to pull a coin out of your pocket, and flip it over a few times. You’ll find a symbol of your home, and a symbol of the one who personifies God’s dominion over it, whichever God that might be, if any at all (you might still have reverence for a Queen or King regardless.)  Can you do that with an American coin? Symbols of an overwhelming bureaucratic establishment united by one of the world’s bloodiest wars combined with a strikingly impersonal, bold-serif “In God We Trust”? Personally, I don’t think they’re the same thing at all. (In fact, I’ve always found the American penny to be quite the scary thing. But that’s an entirely different discussion.)

It’s fair to say the cultural identities of the former British Royal Dominions, and the personal identities of their subjects, have been forever shaped by these differences in iconography. Could Australia become a republic? Perhaps. Could Canada? Perhaps, but very, very unlikely. The Queen is like Hockey in Canada; they’re both spelt with an honorary initial capital letter out of a fondness held by the Canadian spirit. Admittedly, I don’t see that royal reverence quite as much in Australian civilians — but as to the question of who leads either country, I think that matter ought best be left to those who are willing to fight and die for us, rather than those who will ultimately be defended by their blood.

To those Australians in uniform — when you’re turning over that coin in a filthy trench somewhere, waiting for your chance to die in defence of your nation, who, or what on its faces would give you the most comfort, the most strength?

For Queen or Country? The Monarchy and the Military