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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beggars, Street-Sellers and Fund-Raisers

If you take a walk at lunchtime in the city (Melbourne) you will likely be interrupted by somebody who wants money from you. Beggars will want a few dollars, ostensibly for a room or a bus.  Fund-raisers for the larger non-government organisations won't accept cash donations. They want your credit card details in order to make monthly donations. At least the street-sellers leave you with something other than just a good feeling. By the way, the good feeling from giving only comes if your do it out of love and not guilt.

I think people should be able to wear an “Opt-Out” badge that requires people to leave them alone when they are walking down a street or on public transport. Headphones are one of my favourite ways that somehow make people leave me alone. When I was living in the city I would wear headphones with the lead stuck in my pocket, and nobody would interrupt me. Without headphones, I was constantly stopped. Shaving my head completely bald and wearing a big moustache was also an effective technique for being left alone. That actually made some people cross the road.

The opt-out badge could list what one is prepared to be interrupted for. Then people on the street would not interrupt you for things that anger you or in which you are not interested.

A badge might look like this:

Interrupt me for:
Money, food, gym memberships
DO NOT interrupt me for:
Greenpeace, Red Cross, Christianity, anything else

Spock would think that this would be a logical and efficient social contract.
McCoy would rather people just left him alone when he walked down the street.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


In our society we live by such diverse social rules that even people living next door to us can be unwittingly offended by our own beliefs, behaviours and what we find acceptable.

If we were to actually meet aliens from another planet, they could behave in ways that made us think that they wanted to wage war against us; they may not be able to understand our culture enough in order to be polite. If they went around killing people, would we be expected to assume it was a social faux par and that it wasn’t a deliberate act of war or aggression? How many should we allow them to "accidentally" kill in the name of diplomacy?

This is an extreme example to illustrate some people's reactions to an idea which is alien to many of them: non-gender-specific marriage.

When two people think that they will be a good family they should be able to go to the government and say, "We are going to be a good and loving family. We may or may not raise children. We may or may not have children. If we do, though, we will love them dearly."

The government in response will then say, "Go for it! Become the fabric of our society. Strengthen our society by being a good family and by being people who love each other and who will love their children. It is not our right to know what is in your pants or dress. It is not the media's right to know and it is not your neighbour's right.

If you think that you will be a good family, then the government will stand by you and will give you every opportunity to make it work and to make it good."

A person's gender or what they do with it is not the government's business.

Gender should be removed from marriage applications, certificates and records.

Loving people make great families and great citizens, regardless of their private preferences.

Now it is time for the secular government of our society to acknowledge it.