So-called “fact checkers” are growing like Topsy. Mostly they are self-appointed like the Washington Post, the BBC and our ABC. The Conversation, that government-supported site for Australian left-wing academics to vent, is in on the act. Thus, a friend passed on a recent piece supposedly fact checking whether the Safe Schools program contains highly explicit material, as claimed by Steve Dickson (of One Nation in Queensland).
Call me a conservative sceptic if you like, but I don’t trust lefties to fact check anything. Tendentiousness defines their modus operandi. I’ll concede the possibility of the ABC or The Conversation having reputable credentials in the area of fact-checking when they check and expose the myth off the stolen generations. Hardly likely.
Unsurprisingly, the author of the fact-checking article, Bill Louden, Emeritus Professor of Education at UWA, found that Dickson was “incorrect.” Louden is the same chap who reviewed Safe Schools in early 2016 for the federal minister of education Simon Birmingham.
Now, to be clear, I haven’t the inclination to peruse most of the Safe Schools program material and the supplementary material to which it refers teachers and students. But I don’t have to do that to smell a rat.
In noting his verdict, Louden says this: “There is no discussion of the details of specific sex acts, sex aids or sexual health in the Safe Schools resources.” Presumably this statement is true. But, to me, it appears to be just a bit too carefully crafted.
Recall Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” That was carefully crafted. By not having sexual relations, he evidently meant that he did not have “penis-in-vagina sex” with Ms Lewinsky. Telling a truth — his truth — hid the whole truth.
Is this language a bit too explicit for QOL? Well it shouldn’t be because it’s apparently part of the Safe Schools material available to students in Victoria and in South Australia.
The N0 to SSM campaign wanted to run an ad on TV which contained two statements extracted from Safe Schools material. The statements where considered to be too explicit to run before 8.30pm. They were as follows:
- “Penis-in-vagina sex is not the only sex and certainly not the ultimate sex.”
- “It’s a total lie that all guys have dicks and that all girls have vaginas.”
Notice two things about these statements. First, so far as I know, no-one has claimed that they are made up. Second, you can argue that they do not confound the criteria for “highly explicit” material which Louden mentioned. In particular, there are no “details of specific sex acts.” [my emphasis]
Louden notes that the words “highly explicit” will mean different things to different people. That’s certainly true. So, let me say, as a person, that I find the two extracted statements listed above to be highly explicit and, I add, highly inappropriate. What are normal healthy youngsters to make of a statement which tells them that sexual intercourse between a man and woman is not the ultimate sex?
The mind boggles at what is being implied. At this point, if people of common sense can’t agree that this is inappropriate material for schools, I simply give up. There is no longer any commonality in sense.
I will leave you to cogitate on guys without dicks and girls without vaginas. I assume some kind of medical intervention is possible. In all seriousness, what are students to make of it all. We all know that teachers vary in their skills in teaching common or garden subjects. Imagine them being set free on students armed with this kind of stuff.
In my view what Louden leaves out of his fact checking is instructive. He notes, following his review, that the federal government introduced a series of changes. Some “resources” were amended or removed; some were restricted. Tellingly he does not give any information on these changes. Sure, they are available but he doesn’t bring any of them directly to light in his article.
He goes on to say that “not all states and territories implemented all of the changes [and that] federal government funding of the program has ceased.” So, what are the changes which have not been implemented? Could they be concerning material which might be construed by some as being highly explicit? It seems to me if you are in the business of fact checking this is an important point to cover off.
After all, the federal government has ceased funding the program. Some recommended changes have not been made. Dickson says the program contains highly explicit material. And Louden leaves us with a big fat blank as to what remains undone which should have been done.
Maybe we should get caught up with the word “highly”. Superlatives are generally overdone. Explicit material, which is what Dickson was referring to, has no place being taught in schools unless it falls naturally out of literature or history. Dickson should stick to his guns. He definitely hasn’t been found out by this example of inadequate fact checking.
Anti-bullying programs might be worthwhile, I don’t know. They ought to be trialled before being implemented to ensure they do more good than harm. If you are a fat kid in a line of classmates perhaps you don’t want your teacher drawing attention to you by instructing kids not to pick on fat kids.
But why pick on LGBT kids. Incorporate this into a wider program to curb bullying. Provided, as I say, that you have good reason through trials to know that it will work. However, my impression of the Safe Schools program is that it is less about bullying than it is about promoting alternative sexual lifestyles. This isn’t healthy for our society. The traditional family is our mainstay.
Leave aside specific extracts from Safe Schools material that some people might consider explicit or even highly explicit, the concept of the Safe Schools program is wrong in its entirety. It is unsafe, from start to finish, in suggesting that all relationships and forms of sexual expression have equal standing. They don’t. A marriage between a man and a woman from which children come is peerless. Everything else is second-best at best.