Learn Australian English in this episode of The Goss where we talk about coronavirus, anti-vaxxers, GMO diary cows and white supremacists in Australia and more!
AE 658 - The Goss: Anti-Vaxxers, GMO Dairy Cows, & White Supremacists in Australia transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.
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G'day, you guys, welcome to this episode of The Goss. Today I sit down with my dad and we talk about the gossip, the news that is going on down under in Australia, but also worldwide. Obviously, we talk about the Coronavirus to try and give you an update on the situation there in Australia and talk about a few stories going on Down Under relating to the Corona virus.
There have been some definitely interesting stories about panic buying continuing and people bussing into rural towns in order to strip the shelves bare of their supermarkets. We also talk about a bunch of serious topics, including anti-vaxxers. So people who are against vaccines. We also talk about a white supremacist who was arrested in New South Wales after allegedly planning a terror attack.
Then we get onto the topic of paedophile priests in the Catholic Church and a man named Vincent Ryan, who has just been convicted of abusing two more children, making his number of victims something like 35. We talk about the SAS soldiers who have been accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan and, you know, if war crimes are an unavoidable part of going to war.
And then lastly, we talk about genetically modified cows. So these are dairy cows that have been genetically modified in Australia to not grow horns. And we talk about GMOs, genetically modified organisms more broadly as well. So there's lots in this episode, guys. Don't forget, if you want the full transcript, you want the full video, you want to be able to learn and consume all of this episode's material as well as all the other podcasts and Goss episodes, sign up for the premium podcast or sign up for the academy at AussieEnglish.com.au Without any further ado, guys, kick the kookaburra and let's get into it.
Dad, what's going on?
Hey, Pete. Hey, topic of the week: Coronavirus.
I know Jesus, but yeah, the Australian Football League starts tonight and it's been on again, off again for the last couple of weeks. But the AFL have decided that they're going to run round one, but with no spectators. So this is as close as I'm going to get to supporting my team this week. Watching it on television.
Do you think that's a good idea?
I'm going to get this crap off. It's way too hot.
Yeah, exactly. It's way too warm. It was a scarf for anyone who's not watching the video. So would you want to talk about that too quickly? Why does AFL and rugby in... I mean, I don't know what it's like elsewhere in the world, but in Australia we sell merchandise like scarves.
Why is why is a scarf a thing?
It's a winter sport.
But you don't do it for, you know, basketball.
No, but basketball's an indoor game.
Well, we now have indoor football. One of our stadium's got a roof on it, but... I think it just comes from that old tradition of going to the football decades ago when it's the middle of winter, it's pouring with rain. It's cold, it's windy. So you wore jackets and scarves and so clubs have just kept going.
Yeah, it's funny. So what's happening with the AFL?
Yeah, I sit round one starting this week. In fact starts tonight. Normally they'd have 70000 to 80000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. They'll have about 100. And none of those are spectators. They're just, you know, running the stadium. And of course, the two clubs will be there. But yeah, no spectators.
And what? Staying about a metre and half away from each other at all times?
That could be a challenge if they add an extra room to the football we're not allowed to tackle and you got to stay a metre and a half away from people. But I mean, that's a bit of a joke, but it's quite serious in the general sense. But a lot of sports have chosen not to play. I know that couple of sports in America have just cancelled. They're not playing at all, you know, whereas at least the AFL and the NRL, the National Rugby League, are playing but with no spectators until they decide otherwise.
What seems so funny, like I thought we could smash out all the Corona stuff and get into the other stories because people are probably a bit fatigued with hearing "Coronavirus coronavirus coronavirus."
But it is interesting seeing all the ramifications, right, because you don't expect, "Okay, well, there's an epidemic of a flu virus that goes around the world and therefore the football season is going to be heavily disrupted. People won't be able to see the football and there'll be fewer games as well."
Yeah, they've reduced the season from 22 games to 17 games, plus the finals still.
So that's... And they've done that not so much as a health risk thing, but given that they'll now give them five weeks up their sleeve in the season, and if they have to cancel, they won't have to cancel the whole season, they can just put it off for a few weeks to see what happens and still complete what they set up to do at the beginning.
And what else is going on? There's the Olympics, which is being thought of being cancelled. I'm not sure what the deal there. That's in July, right?
That's in July.
18 weeks out.
And I don't know, obviously, but I think the IOC will leave it as late as possible to call that. They're not going to cancel now and have sort of egg on their face when everything's okay in July. So I think they'll leave it until the last few weeks.
Japan's been doing really well, too, I heard. I was listening to...
...Some news. And they had... I think after they got to 100 cases within the next week, because they were doing a sort of comparison of all the different countries, Japan only had after seven days, 200 cases, whereas Australia I think had 500 in that same period. And, you know, it's gone crazy over in Italy and Spain. I think yesterday more than... Almost 500 people died in Italy overnight from the virus. So what other things... There's things like small businesses are getting really disrupted, right?
Yeah. So there's a lot of... There's obviously now restrictions on crowds. So you can't run an event that is going to have more than 500 people at it. And that's the regulation that the government have brought in. So you're actually breaking the law if you do it.
Well that's an outdoor event, right? 500 is outdoor. 100 is indoors.
And they're suggesting less than that would be the ideal, which is obviously why the AFL and NRL have gone down with saying, "We're just not going have spectators, but we'll still have the game on television." Restaurants, large restaurants are affected. Small cafes are probably still okay because they're unlikely to have 100 people in them, but many people are not going to them anyway so they're affected indirectly, in a sense. They're not being banned from trading, but nobody's going to them.
They're not being... They're not in trouble with numbers, but they have fewer people coming in to buy things and therefore the casual staff that they have don't get shifts, they can't pay their rent. So and the people who are renting their houses or their places where there are businesses aren't going to receive the money because of that.
So I heard this morning that Qantas have asked 35000 of their staff to take a month's leave without pay. They can take it as annual leave if they've got annual leave. But because they are just running far fewer services. Very few people are flying now, so they don't need people on the ground or on the phone or in administrative offices and so on. So that's I mean... Qantas is one of the biggest companies we have.
Do you think that's fair of them to do that with without payed leave?
Well, the choice they have is that they continue to keep people on doing nothing, because some of those people, you know, if you're an operational person at an airport, there's nothing for you to do. You're not multi-skilled to go on to take on another job in the meantime. And if they keep paying them, then in the end, it's going to cost them billions of dollars in the long term. And I think they've done it as a risk management tool to just say, "In the short term, let's try this and hope that we can get back to normal in a few weeks." But yeah, because the alternative is they end up going broke and have to sack everyone anyway. You want to take a small hit or the chance of a much bigger hit?
I think there was some politicians raging up about that because they were being forced to use their... What's it called? Like the long term leave that they save up?
Long service leave.
Long service leave for when they're potentially going to retire and get a payout for the long service leave.
Which is not what long service leave is intended to be done. Long service leave is intended as a... "You've worked for 10 years with just your normal leave and therefore you're entitled to a longer period of leave." It's intended to be taken every 10 years. It's not intended to be saved up for retirement. But the one that is probably the most annoying is that casinos seem to have an exemption from the crowd thing.
How does that work?
The cynic in me would suggest that governments love getting... They get a huge amount of tax revenue from casinos. But you know, you've got small businesses, restaurants right next door to Crown Casino in Melbourne who are having to close because they're... They can take more than 100 people and they can't sort of suddenly go, oh, we've got 99 reservations, we're not going to allow anybody else in the building, whereas the casino, which would have thousands of people in it at any one time, is allowed to operate and they're in the same building effectively. It's a bit bizarre.
I get some other updates are that, yeah, we've been put into war. We've been warned to brace for a six month lock-down, right, which we haven't seen since World War 2.
Which is what? Just going to be a lot of self-isolation?
Self-isolation. Only emergency travel.
Or to the shops.
Yeah, the closure of public services and buildings like museums, concerts, cultural events. Bunnings' sausage sizzles are closing down. Office staff are told to work from home. Families are urged to avoid visiting their elderly relatives. What do you think of that?
Well, I mean, the elderly are certainly the most vulnerable, not the only vulnerable people in the population, but they're the most vulnerable to this disease. And the downside of that, of course, is that if you're an elderly person in your home, a nursing home, then loneliness is a thing that... Yes, you might have other people around you, staff and other residents. But if you don't have family coming to visit you, and this could go on for weeks or months, then mental health issues for elderly is going to be a big problem, I think.
Yeah, it's crazy. And so Australia's had now six deaths. Five in New South Wales, one in W.A..
And that was the first one.
Yeah. And we've had almost 600 people infected. It's probably above 600 today. I'm not sure.
And I think we've hit every state now.
Yeah, that's... And territories.
And it looks like it's likely to cost the economy a trillion dollars worldwide, says the UN Trade and Development.
It'll be more than that I suspect. In reality we've already had a probably a half a trillion dollar hit to stock markets around the world. Now, that's not costing anything to the economy, but it's costing people's investments, so...
How do you feel about that? Because I know that you have a lot of investments.
Yeah, well, my superannuation is more than 50% tied up in shares. And so my superannuation now is probably worth 20% less than what it was two months ago. And you'd spent, what, 10 years recovering from the last recession.
In 2008. So what is that going to have in terms of roll on effects with people?
That just means that my... I'm going to have a smaller amount of money to live off or I'm going to have to go back and find part time work just to, you know, keep propping it up.
So any other points, I guess, to make on on coronavirus? There have been some vaccine trials on humans that have begun, I think, in the US. There have been 45 volunteers to get the vaccine from Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institution. They have to get two injections over 28 days. And I assume they're just going to say if these people then contract or don't contract the virus. I'm sure they're not going to infect them with it.
Well, I mean, you know, the typical trial would be that they would infect them. But for a deadly disease, you're not likely to do that. Yeah, either that or they're finding people in the lowest risk category. And yeah, I saw the headline for that story, but I haven't read any details of it of what the tests actually involved. But typically... Yeah, because at the moment, you know, let's look at Australia as an example, 25 million people and we've had about 500 cases. So we're dealing with a very, very small chance of getting the disease in the next few weeks just based on, you know, the likelihood of coming in contact with it.
So if I were to go off and get a vaccination trial and I wasn't exposed to the disease, it could be three months before I might get exposed to it, in which case, how they going to tell whether it's useful or not? So it's a challenging one. But look, you know, it's one of those risks that as a society we have to take if we're going to develop a vaccine. But yes, you do want to put people's lives in danger to be able to test for it.
Well I didn't realise, too, how much there is involved because vaccines can have side effects where they can trigger your immune system. I think there was something... I don't remember the specifics, but there was something where there was a vaccine released, I can't remember if it was for measles or something else, and when people received it, I think they were immune to measles. But then it did something to their immune system and made them more susceptible to something else later on. So that it is a very nuanced thing that takes time. You can't just rush it out worldwide.
Typically vaccines take a decade yet to come out, other than things like the flu vaccines, which we're so good at creating those on an annual basis now...
I'm sure we're just modifying them, though. You just tinker with them.
Exactly. It's not a brand new thing.
Yeah. I was watching a TV show called Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, which I'm sure not by chance was suggested to me on Netflix.
The thing in that that really surprised me, was that in Oregon, the state of the United States, America, they have a huge anti-vaxxer movement. I had no idea how big of a thing it was there and the ignorance in terms of what vaccines are, how they work, how they are created, blows my mind because you had these... Ironically, it seemed to always be mums. Didn't often seem to be men or dads saying, "Yeah. I'm an anti-vaxxer." But it would be these mums that were sort of new-age hippie kind of mums raising kids on, you know, large properties with lots of animals and veggies. And they would be like, "Well, I would prefer that my kids just play outside and develop their natural immunity."
Which is a good thing. But you do the vaccination in addition to that.
Do you want to talk about how that obviously doesn't work in terms of becoming immune to diseases like measles or even the coronavirus now?
Your immune system works on the basis that you have to be exposed to a disease or a pathogen which is causing the disease and then it develops an immunity to it, assuming that you survive. And things like measles and in the past, things like polio and smallpox and so on have a reasonably high death rate. And so, you know, I had measles as a child. I got very sick. But that was before measles vaccines were really available.
Wow you had measles? Never knew that..
Had measles when I was a child, six or seven years old.
Do you remember?
Yeah, I do.
What was it like?
I mean, what were your memories of..? Like, I remember getting chickenpox and going through that process. But I imagine that measles is chickenpox on steroids.
It is. And obviously you don't have the itchy sores on you, but you come out in this rash all over your body. You've got a high temperature. You feel... You feel like you've got a severe dose of the flu and you're really just knocked about. And I was probably knocked around for about two weeks. And you don't want that, obviously. So the whole idea of having natural immunity... Yes, you'll get natural immunity to normal pathogens that are available and around in your area. So you're not going to get, unless you get exposed to chicken pox or measles or any of those sort of things, you're not going to develop an immunity to it. Immunity is not a general thing. You become immune to every single pathogen by your immune system working against it.
Well you need to come in contact with it in order to actually develop the immunity.
...To develop the immunity, because your body develops antibodies specific to the pathogen. And that's why we have to keep taking... You'd think, you know, you've had a flu vaccine, the flu virus, as we've already spoken to her in round one of this series, is it evolves very quickly. It's a very simple virus. And it's so prevalent that it evolves very quickly, whereas things like measles doesn't.
It's effectively like that virus has two locks... Three locks on the outside of it and your immune system has three keys that can fit into those locks. And if you unlock it, you kill it. But the problem is that each year it can mutates and changes and you have to keep up by making new keys.
That's a good analogy.
Yeah. Well, what was it like, though, growing up with things like measles and polio being obviously something very... I think there's a guy who's still in an iron lung who had polio as a kid. And so I think, from my limited understanding, it affects your nervous system so that you can't walk properly and you may not be able to breathe.
And the iron lung is because you can't breathe.
Yes, the iron lung is effectively this big machine that I think changes the pressure inside of it to open your lungs up but your body has to be effectively kept inside up to your neck and you can't really get out for very long at all.
Or you can't get out at all.
So having that as a real threat, when you were growing up, was there an anti-vaxxer movement?
There really wasn't. It sort of... The anti-vaxxer thing has become a... It's sort of a new thing, really.
Was it religious initially, if there was any?
Well, there are some religions that are opposed to vaccinations, and mostly those religions are not opposed to vaccinations specifically. They're opposed to medical intervention.
It's like Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jehovah's Witnesses won't take, you know, blood transfusions. They...
They don't even want surgery, mostly. So the vaccination is just considered as another one of those, you know, medical interventions. I think the modern anti-vaxxer thing has come out of... Who knows where, but it's come out of this sort of post-modern thing of saying, "Well, you know, I just want to get back to nature and be natural." And then it seemed to have run a second course of that with a bunch of sort of B-grade celebrities deciding they're going to support people who are saying, you know, "Vaccines cause autism."
No, they don't. Look at the research.
And that doctor who published that research was later completely disgraced. And that research was shown to be deeply flawed.
He still keeps getting quoted by, you know, as I say, these, you know, B-grade celebrities. But, you know, who's going to believe B-grade celebrity on television over the World Health Organisation?
To pause you there, I would rather my kid had autism was alive than had measles and died.
So even if it was the case that there was a high proportion of children receiving autism, it's kind of like, well, okay, at least they're not getting measles or polio, small pox, whatever other diseases that would kill them. Which autism doesn't there even if it was the case...
I know. It is bizarre. And look, the other side of that, too, is that vaccination is not just a personal choice. Because we need herd-immunity for the people who for various... And there's a very small percentage of the population who simply cannot take some vaccines, they're allergic to the medium that it goes into or they have a really compromised immune system.
They've got chemo at the moment from cancer.
Which, again, compromises your immune system so they can't get vaccinated. The only way they can survive is if very few people are around carrying the disease. And so there is a... It's almost a social responsibility side of vaccination that is as important and seems to be just forgotten about. People to wave their little anti-vaxxer flag as if this is my personal choice.
But I think that freaks me out more, though, is the lack of interest in science and evidence.
Now you're going to wind me up.
To develop it to develop your opinions about something like vaccines. And on the other side of that, the thing that frustrates me more is the amount of confidence these people have that they know more than, say, an educated doctor or know more than...
They know more than the World Health Organisation or the chief medical officers in the country they live in or even their general practitioner. You know, there's... It's a bizarre sense of self-confidence that is based on nothing but hearsay. And it is... It's about science education and understanding that we make decisions in our lives based on evidence. And what does evidence mean? And I'm sorry, but hearsay, an opinion, an anecdote is not evidence. Even if the anecdote is true, that's the one in a million, potentially. One in a billion. As opposed to the scientific research that's examining the other options.
That's the thing that gets me. In this doco, I saw a lot of people giving evidence when they were trying to pass the bill that would mandatorily cause people to have to get vaccines in Oregon. And there were a lot of just these, you know, "I had it and I got a severe rash in my arm. And so all vaccines shouldn't be forced on anyone." Like it seemed to be a lot of that anecdotal evidence, just like, you know, "I once knew someone whose child had this happen to them. So I don't want any other child to have to get it." It just blows my mind. But do you think that this epidemic, or pandemic now, that's spread everywhere, do you think that's going to change a lot of the anti-vaxxer's minds? Do you think we're going to have a movement?
Look, I don't want to use... Potentially the most dramatic thing that has happened in our lives to the world, from a health point of view, certainly since HIV, I don't want to use that as to be sort of flippant or cynical, but I would almost guarantee you that there'll be a whole bunch of anti-vaxxers queuing up for the vaccine for this virus when it gets created, because all of a sudden they've been exposed to the media constantly banging on, for weeks at the moment, it'll be months by the time the vaccine gets released, if not a year or more by the time the vaccine gets released.
They'll have had the media banging on about, "This is horrible, this is horrible, this is horrible. This is how to prevent getting it. This is how to prevent getting it." And all the sudden they're going to go, "Well, you know, I'm not going to get the measles vaccine, but I'll go and get this vaccine."
It just blows my mind. There was... On the note of famous people and jumping on the anti-vaxxer bandwagon or trying to get back to natural nature and everything like that. Miranda Kerr, did you see what she ended up doing?
So Miranda Kerr is a very famous Victoria Secret model from Australia, I guess. And she has an Instagram with something like 12.2 Million followers. And she's shared a guide on how to deal with the coronavirus from medical medium Anthony William. So it was all about effectively drinking more celery juice. Do you think celebrities like this should face repercussions for this sort of..?
What do you think should be done? Because yeah, you have a disproportionate amount of...
I just think Google should just cancel her account and... Because let's face it, she's got 12 point something million followers because she looks good, not because she's a spokesperson on health issues. And so when she comes out and starts making those statements, she has to be held accountable for it. And there's no legal way of dealing with that unless somebody can prove that following her advice and being unreasonably influenced by her has caused them to have some negative side effect. And let's face it, who's going to sue her? Because she's got far more money than the average person has so she'll last in court a lot longer. But they have to be held accountable to the point where if you're going to abuse social media, you shouldn't be allowed to use it. They're never going to do it because let's face it, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube are going to much rather have her with a 12 million followers than me with my 12,000 followers and a whole bunch combined. And so you've got to look at that and go, "Really?"
Well, there seems to be a lot of celebrities doing that at the moment...
Of course they are! Because they think they've got a voice, because all the sudden you've got this thing and it's different from the sort of more modern form of social media celebrity, the so-called 'social media influencers.' So she's not a social media influencer. She gets followed because she's good at, potentially, doing her job. People want to follow beautiful people. They want to follow celebrities and movie stars and all those sort of things. So they follow those people on social media. The difference between them and the so-called 'social media influencers' is those influencers have something to say about something that they may or may not be an expert in.
And so if you've got, you know, there's a whole bunch of attractive young women who have makeup sites, they'll do YouTube channels with, you know, "Here's how I did my makeup today!" And I think it's fatuous, but a lot of people will want to look at that and go, "Oh, that's a new way of doing makeup. I'll follow that." So they're providing some value to society, whether we want to look at it or not is our personal choice. But Miranda Kerr provides no value to society other than putting up pictures of herself with very few clothes on and... Or the latest high fashion and she's walking down the catwalk with a $100,000 dress on.
Her ability to influence people in things other than fashion should be negated. If she wants to go on and say, "Hey, this dress is really good because it fits and you don't have to be shaped like me," it's fine. When she comes and talks about medical things, really, piss off!
But it's one of those things too. Well, do you think the average person just needs to also stop holding up famous people, as, you know, gurus just because they're famous?
You know, the amount of knowledge that you have isn't tied to the amount of money in your bank account or the amount of fame that you've gotten.
And there are the... People who are constantly whining about, you know, movie stars, you know, displaying their political values. I don't have a problem with that. If they've got an audience... And because my political views are my views and I'm perfectly entitled to tell other people because all... I'm not saying that you're all wrong. All I'm saying is this is what I believe. And that's not going to adversely affect anybody else if they follow me or don't follow me. But I'm not going to get on there and start giving people medical advice or legal advice because I'm not a doctor or a lawyer. And so if you've got something to say, talk about the things that are either just general, you want to talk about your religion? Go right ahead. You want to talk about politics or social issues, fine. But don't start giving professional advice when you're not a professional.
We've probably smashed up enough coronavirus. I'm trying to think...
Let's have a plan, and something dramatic will happen, but let's have a plan to not talk about coronavirus next week.
Yeah, we should. We should.
Unless I've got it. Then I'll talk about it. From home.
The last thing with that was just the amount of panic buying that's still going on. There was one story about...
It's completely out of control.
... "City vultures," of these people travelling out to rural towns in buses and then going to the shops and stripping the shelves bare and then going back home and just leaving these small towns with nothing. It's just mind blowing. And the same with the...
Sorry for interrupting you, but that comes down to looting as far as I'm concerned, it's legal looting. And in the past, when there have been... Not in Australia, but in other countries, when there have been sort of, you know, major natural disasters and things that have caused people to just evacuate city areas and people have been found looting, they'd been shot.
The police don't go on arrest and they just shoot them. And this is just legal looting. This is really just going in and saying... This little community needs the resource in their supermarket or their pharmacy and those sort of things. And to go in and do it, it's just bizarre. Now, most supermarkets, certainly, and pharmacies now are restricting what you can what you can actually buy. And particularly amongst the things that people would typically need every day, you know, toilet paper and, you know, the standard sort of food things like rice and pasta and those, which are always the things just to disappear off the shelves very early.
They're now putting restrictions on saying, "You can only buy one packet of toilet paper, one packet of paper towling, one packet of tissues, one bag of rice, you know, one bag, a pastor or whatever." But what that does is it effectively turns the often young, inexperienced checkout people into social police. And, you know, if you've got a 40 year old man who's in the mentality of, "I'm going to go and take everything I want," and he's got a 15 year old girl standing behind the counter saying, "I'm sorry, sir, but you can't have that," that's putting her in a really difficult position.
"We could do this the easy way or the hard way!"
We were fortunate that... One of the only things I think I've ever agreed with Scomo is that this week he actually came out, made a public statement of saying, "Stop it. This is anti-social, it's anti-Australian. It's just plain wrong." So you don't need to and think of the effect that you're having down the track. And very quickly, down the track on people who are more needy than you are.
We use that a lot. "It's un-Australian. It's anti-Australian." Do other countries do that?
I've spent a lot of time in Canada. I've never heard "un-Canadian." It's sort of... It's a bizarre thing. "Un-American" and "un-Australian" you hear all the time.
Well, and you feel as an Australian, an instant ping of shame if it's aimed towards you.
And I think there's... Canadians are fairly patriotic and parochial as well.
But they tend to be good people too that don't seem to rock the boat.
And I love Canada. I got a sister who's a Canadian. I've spent more time in Canada than any other country in the world other than Australia. But Canadians are pathologically nice. And so... Even to themselves, I think they're probably... Nobody is going to come out and accuse somebody of being un-Canadian where in Australia...
It would literally be un-Canadian. They just call them foreigners.
Yeah, exactly. Whereas I think it's that... Australians are not particularly patriotic, but we're very parochial. Americans are both. And I think it is that saying, "This is not who we think we are." It's not the values we have as a society and as a country. And it's almost the worst insult you can call somebody; is to say, "You are not worthy of being called an American or an Australian." And I don't know...
Well you've been ostracised. You're outside the group now.
Get in the comments below if you come from another country and that sort of thing... I'd be really interested to hear. So, yeah...
I don't think I've ever really heard it for like, you know, "You're un-French. You're un-Brazilian. Un-English." I don't hear it. But in Australia, especially in the political realm, they'll say that all the time about other politicians or about the public or about the events that occur.
And it's a real insult. It's not a flippant one. It's almost it's almost a joke you pull out of the pack.
But it's instructing others to, I think, kind of condemn you at the same time, right. It's not just, "Ah. He's an idiot."
It's, "No, he's not one of us," effectively, right?
That's right. You're not on the team.
Yeah. It is interesting. What do you think it is, though, between Australia and America? Why is America so goddamn patriotic and Australia isn't when we have very similar births as nations?
We do, accept that America won a war to become a nation.
And I think that's the difference. I think if we... And we are still a... Effectively a British colony. I mean that we...
We never declared war on them.
We never declared war on them. We never kicked them out. We haven't declared ourselves a republic. Whereas the Americans won two wars, in fact, to get rid of Britain as their oppressor, as they thought at the time. and so I think there is that element of if you win a war, then you're going to be very proud. And the word patriot, it didn't get created at that time, but it became commonly used as a patriot was somebody who was opposed to Britain and was fighting against Britain during the war of independence.
And so it got that whole "patriotism,"" patriotic." The word "patriot" got built into our society, that NFL football team that I support, the New England Patriots. You know, it's just... And that whole association with New England as the source of The War of Independence is huge.
I guess it is really that they as a country went to war against other countries, and in particular the country that founded them and effectively controlled them.
Yes, and they wanted to kick them out of their country. This is not... Like, Australia has fought in plenty of wars.
Well that's what I was getting at. And with other people, too.
Yes. So we went to Vietnam, we went to Korea, we're in the Middle East. We were in the Second World War, the First World War, the Boer War. So we've been involved in those wars, but we were not literally defending Australia.
I think the only thing we've come close to doing that was against the Japanese with Kokoda, right. And them bombing Darwin. And that's about as close as we ever got.
But we were fighting in New Guinea.
We've never fought a war on our soil.
We've only had what? Maybe a Japanese submarine come into...
Japanese submarine came into Sydney Harbour and the Japanese bombed Darwin, which incidentally, there were there was more damage done in Darwin than there was in Pearl Harbour.
I know. Yeah, it's because more bombs dropped, right? I don't know if there was more deaths.
No but there were more ships.
What did we lose? 70 people?
Something like that. But it lost an enormous number of ships. Now, they weren't naval vessels, but they were commercial vessels.
Yeah. Far out. Well, I guess that sort of leads into the story on the S.A.S. Soldiers that I want to talk about. So there's a story that came out about our equivalence of, I guess the SEALs. I'm not sure what... What does S.A.S. stand for again?
Special armed services, I think.
Special armed services. So they're not SEALs but the Americans have their SEALs that are sort of famous from movies.
They are the specially trained military.
It's as best as we can do. The equivalent of our military, the highest trained guys that go in and get the job done. So there's sort of been a bunch of footage that's come out and there was a story on, I think it was Four Corners, about this culture in the S.A.S. where certain members were very bloodthirsty and were executing people, effectively, in Afghanistan, where they would just find an excuse to kill someone, do it, and then usually, posthumously, after the persons died, they would plant something on the body like a radio, a phone that would allow them to have killed the person or say, an AK 47. And one of the jokes, apparently, that the group had was that the same serial number on their AK 47 was showing up in many different photos.
It seemed frightening. And I mean, the good side of it was that one of the S.A.S. soldiers was the whistle-blower, himself, and came forward and he was the one telling the story and giving, I guess, evidence and saying this is what was happening. You know, I joined the S.A.S. and instantly one of the leaders came up and said, "You better be okay with me f-ing blowing someone's head off in front of you and you better know what to do when that happens." What do you think it is about, I guess, army culture that leads to men, usually, I imagine, maybe there are women that do this sort of stuff now, but leads to men behaving in that sort of way.
Because, I mean, although it has happened in this case with Australian troops, it's definitely not unique to Australia. This seems to happen all the time in any kind of wars where you have men in groups killing other people or fighting. They tend to commit war crimes. What do you think it is about that situation? Is it just the stakes are so high?
I think it is. I think it's... And you're right, aiming at men. There's testosterone involved. There's the situation that these people find themselves in. Anybody who serves in the military... I, you know, you have my undying thanks. But people who are serving in these jobs is not just your ordinary foot soldier, for want of a better term. Not there's anything ordinary about being a foot soldier. But these are the people who are literally risking their lives rather than the implied risk to their life, their day to day activity is going into places where they are going to die. And you mentality changes.
My father trained to be a fighter pilot in the Second World War and he was involved in a plane crash and didn't actually act as a fi... Or perform as a fighter pilot during that time, he went into another role in the Air Force. But he used to say that the average lifespan of a fighter pilot during the Second World War, a new fighter pilot, was nine minutes. Nine minutes. So if you lasted for the entire war, you know, obviously the more experienced you are, the better you got. So the longer you lasted, the longer you were going to last.
But that shows how many planes were shot down.
Enemy planes were shot down almost immediately. And it was obviously the newbies. Now, the S.A.S. are not in the same situation as fighter pilots during the Second World War. These are highly trained people who've been trained for decades in a range of military operational things so... But I think there is that mentality when you go into that situation of "It is kill or be killed." And then I... There is clearly some psychological things that are going on that turn you into a killer rather than a defender. Now, I'm not a psychologist. I'm not... I've never been involved in the military. And so I'm not trying to defend or to commit these people to something. But I'll use a what might be a sort of bizarre analogy, which has got nothing to do with fighting.
But if you look at the behaviour of most Olympic sprinters, men, Olympic sprinters, they are rude, they're brash, they're offensive, they're aggressive because they are pumped the entire time. When you got less than 10 seconds to perform and you have to be hyper stimulated and... Can you imagine this is a... That's a game. You're playing for money.
Well, it's the same in MMA, it's the same in jujitsu. Boxing and any of those things. That was the way I was going to step it up.
Yeah. You can die in MMA and boxing.
Other than falling over and hurting yourself in a 100 metre sprint, yeah, you're going to tear a hamstring, maybe. That's the worst thing that can happen to you. But... So it's not a life threatening thing, whereas then you step into physical contact sports like, you know, various forms of football and so on, then you can get physically hurt by someone. Then you go into a combat sport where you're not "could get hurt." You are going to get hurt, Just performing in there. And then you'd step that up to where you've got a gun. And so does the other guy.
And you can't necessarily see the other guy.
And then you step it into you're going have to go in and rescue somebody from a situation where... It's just way beyond all of those things.
Well do you think we're too quick to condemn people in this situation then, with the S.A.S., because we, as well as sort of these, you know, desk seat... What do you want to call them? Like jockeys, where we're sitting here watching...
Lounge jockeys or couch jockeys.
Passing judgement. But we've never been overseas. We've never been under that pressure.
We can't put ourselves emotionally or psychologically in their shoes. I'm not condoning that sort of behaviour, but I understand it. And I think, yeah, we want to get it out of that sort of psychology. But what does that do to the people that we are also expecting will put their lives on their line every day?
And that seem to be the weird situation where they were talking to some army psychologist veteran, and he was effectively like, "These people know the law. They know what they're doing. They're highly trained. There is absolutely no way that they misunderstand their instructions and whether or not they're allowed to kill people under what circumstances. They are highly trained." But it still happens. So it seems like it is one of those unavoidable things that you're never going to be able to completely wipe out war crimes or, you know, people going past the mark in these sorts of high stakes situations when it's human beings that are ultimately under, you know, doing that work and individually affected by the circumstances.
But do you think it's better that we have, you know, collateral damage like this than for, say, warfare to be 100% electronic, or at least on one side? Because then at least you've got human beings making decisions, when they can still make horrible decisions that aren't just, as opposed to, say, drones just dropping bombs and indiscriminately killing. Because that's one of the things, too. We don't get as disturbed by drones dropping bombs and killing innocent people. But if you show us a soldier who just decides, "You know what, I can tell this guy's a combatant.
He doesn't have a weapon. Fuck him and I'll just shoot him anyway." That is much more disgusting to the average person than someone sitting behind a computer, dropping a bomb and wiping out a family with small children.
Yeah. And look, you know, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the Second World War in Europe, Britain and Europe with just bombs being dropped, on both sides by both sides. And that was... The bombing was a combined thing about... It was terrorism effectively. It was saying, "What we are going to do is to make you feel so uncomfortable you'll stop fighting."
And then the second thing it was doing is it was just trying to break down infrastructure. But if you're going to bomb munitions factory, it's not just going to bomb the munitions factory. You're going to bomb everything around it as well and so on. So, yeah, war is just like that. And I think that's, you know, collateral damage is an unfortunately nice term for this sort of thing. But ultimately, it is. If we're going to send people off to war to risk their lives, it's almost unreasonable for us to determine how they are going to do that. And yet, if they're committing war crimes, they get tried and they get convicted or they get judged on that basis.
But as citizens of the country, we're sending people two thirds of your age off to fight and then telling them how to do it. You've got to trust in the military, I think, to be able to judge their own.
It's so difficult, too, because I imagine with something like... The Vietnamese War is the first war where you had huge amounts of journalists...
It was a television war, the first television war.
...Reporting back and you could get instant information from the war front to the population...
which is why I think there was such a huge opposition to it.
Do you think that's a big problem where... We have to decide how much do we want to know without undermining the support that we're giving to troops overseas, say, in Afghanistan. Because, yeah, if the majority of troops over there are doing the right thing but all you do is publicise when someone commits a war crime on, you know, an individual, which is obviously not the majority of people. Disproportionate amount of Australians may lose support for those soldiers. And it's almost like when you...
With the Sudanese problem in Melbourne, right. We had these gangs of Sudanese boys going around. And I don't know if it's still going on, but there were lots of stories in the news and it led to people condemning all Sudanese people.
Or all people with black skin. Regardless of where they came from? Yeah. But we had people, Indians, as example, who were being picked on because of the colour of their skin.
Yeah. And so do you think that's part of the problem, too? What sort of responsibility does the media have?
Oh, you're going to wind me up again. I think the other... The key issue with that one, too, is that there were... And according to all the crime statistics, there were more gangs of white, Asian, Middle Easterns in Melbourne, teenage and early 20 boys, committing the same sort of crimes, but they weren't as easily identifiable as coming from a particular group. And it was just an... It was a useful thing, politically, for a couple of people to go out and go, "Oh, look, there's all these African gangs, you know, committing crimes around the place." There's just as many non-African gangs doing it, but they've been doing it for 50 or 100 years.
Well then it's not a story that gets on the media, right.
Exactly. And that's my point is that is the story about the crime or is it the story about the type of people who are doing it? And if the stories about the type of people, then we have to also look at that and balance it and say, "Is this something we should be worried about?" We should be worried about the crime, not who's committing it is my point. And if the media are going to be holding people accountable, then they need to hold themselves accountable for giving a balanced view of it. And I think the same thing comes with the military. It's sensational, therefore, it's going to hit the news.
We have a whistle-blower. As soon as you say the word whistle-blower, the media, they light up. And so, you know, that then becomes a big issue. And I'm not saying that, you know, committing war crimes is not a big issue, but it's one of those things where if the military had dealt with this internally, the whistle-blower goes to the military. They... And whistle-blowers are very rarely going to report things up the hierarchy because they will assume, and probably rightly so, that that's going to either be covered up or...
Well, that happened on this story with the S.A.S. trooper. They said, "Why didn't you say anything at the time?" And he's like, "Mate..."
"They would've shot me."
They would have... Well, that potential thing, or there would be... "The guys at the top were putting it under the rug, sweeping away. So they weren't interested in what I had to say. It wouldn't have changed anything."
As we've said, I said earlier, I think it is... It's a mentality thing that you don't want to take the edge off because we also have stories of... In the British military, British as in Commonwealth, read some stories about people who've won Victoria Crosses. In the Americans, read people... About stories of people who've won Congressional Medals of Honour.
We've got one in our family, don't we? Was it the Victoria Cross or was it something else?
Two military crosses. Which is the next step down.
Almost there. Well he won two.
Well, why did he get them and who was he? Tell that story.
He was my grandfather; my father's father. I never met him. He died when I was 2 years old and he lived in England and I was in Australia. But yeah, he was a... He wasn't even a combatant. He was a minister. So padre in the army. And he won two military crosses for going out into the field of battle and helping the wounded in one case, and he got no collateral damage. He had... A bomb went off and he got shrapnel wounds.
He was in the First World War, right?
in the First World War.
And where was he serving?
In France. And then the second one was he was out A) helping, but B) actually putting white flags on injured people so that the medics... He was out ahead of the medics, putting white flags on people who had just been shot.
...And fallen to the ground. So how he manage to avoid being shot himself?
He was... He ended up spending months in hospital and rehabilitation to get over shrapnel wounds and then went back and he wasn't even a combatant. And that's the mentality that, yeah, that's the edge, that when... If we're going to send people to war, you want people to have that mentality of, "I will risk my life to save somebody else."
Do you think this ties in with toxic masculinity being a thing these days, where you see a lot of feminists and the media complaining about toxic masculinity, but it's just masculinity really. It's just the extreme level of masculinity that, instead of being used to save someone from a fire, is used to do something negative, like, you know, set your family on fire, where you use your strength to do the wrong thing. There's not really... You need... You can't just remove that layer of masculinity and society stays the same.
Because all of a sudden you get rid of all of the good things that were being done with that masculinity or motivation, right. And that's the most difficult aspect. Because the crazy soldiers who go to war and can manage, you know, shooting enemy combatants and being surrounded with atrocities, but then save lives, come back home as heroes, probably have in them the same as those psychopaths who end up, you know, bashing people and killing people. It's just that it's used in a positive way instead of a negative way, right. And you can't separate them.
White supremacy. There was a man charged allegedly planning a terror attack on the New South Wales South Coast, 21 years old at Sanctuary Point. And the police found that he had been committing a bunch of extreme right wing behaviour online or whatever. And they found that he was trying to source material to construct an IED and he had military equipment, firearms... Why is white supremacy coming back? Is it coming back? Are we just now talking about it in the media more? Because it seems like it's spoken about every week but I don't go outside and see many Nazis.
No, no. But we live in a fairly isolated, not isolated geographically, but isolated socially, community. There would be... I don't think there'd be much grounds for a white supremacist in Ocean Grove to go and do something.
You'd be confused. You'd be like, "I don't understand what you're... Who are you worried about?"
"Every person here is white. What are you complaining about?"
I think the... I don't know that they are more prevalent. Certainly in the 1960s there was... There were movements, not called white supremacists at the time, but there were movements of...
The Nazi movements. I saw some footage of actual Nazis in Australia.
There were skinheads in the 1960s and 70s and a lot of that... And they were called skinheads because they shave their heads and lots of them... Pete.
I'm losing my hair!
And lots of them tattooed swastikas to their skulls and those sort of thing. So... And they were around in the 1960s and 70s. And so it's... And they were living in a time with living memory of the Second World War, not those people themselves, but their parents lived through it. And so, you know, that you can sort of look at and go, well, it's not excusable, but it's understandable that people are going to try and continue a political tradition that has been beaten down. A generation and more, later, these people... Whackjobs... There will always be people who are xenophobic, and xenophobia then leads to racism, and that then leads to extreme things.
Not that racism isn't extreme, but having the belief is one thing, but then acting on it is something else and then going to terrorism as the next thing down. These people are mentally ill and so we should be treating them like that. They're not... Yeah, it's like that old argument where people complain about, you know, television and so on, or the media saying, look, you know, why don't they have a balanced view about this? You know, you don't have a balanced view about anti-vaxxers. You don't have a balanced view about racism. You don't have a balanced view about terrorism.
Teach the controversy!
Yeah, we need the controversy!
Two different sides so therefore...
Evolution versus creation. I'm sorry. Two different words doesn't mean two different sets of evidence that we can look at.
That deserve 50% of the airtime each.
So I think they're around. And again, it's a very small minority of people. In this case, an individual is clearly planning to do something horrible.
Why do you think they tend to be so young, too? Because you don't hear of many white supremacists having come out at 80 years old, trying to commit a terrorist attack.
Whether they're physically capable is a different story.
But is it just they're motivated? It's like in their early 20s is when you get your political motivations.
And you've got testosterone and no experience. It's a really bad combination, and they're always men. How many women do you see out there with shaved heads and swastikas tattooed to themselves? And so I think it is that it's the young man syndrome. And, you know, you were a young man once. I was a young man once. Fortunately, we didn't do anything too radical.
But it is funny, though, because I realise towards my late 20s and early 30s now, it's just like... I have not necessarily extreme views on things, but I definitely have my sort of solidified positions on things. But I'm not that interested in bullying others or forcing others to agree with me. And I'd much prefer to talk about things, but also I just kind of don't care enough. And I don't know if that's just an age thing where you get to that point, you get over the hill and you're just, "Whatever."
I think there is an element of... And look, it's not just young men. Young women are as susceptible to being manipulated as young men are, maybe even more so, but they are not usually psychologically likely to go down those sort of paths. And... But teenagers are trying to work at their place in the world, and therefore, they are very easily seduced into particular story-lines. And if we, as a society, continue to... And I'm not saying we don't condemn these people, but why is that news? There's only one reason that that is on the news: Because it's sensational.
And people freak out. They want to know more about it because, "Oh, my God, there's white supremacists in Australia!"
What value to the population does it provide by telling this story? What value does it provide to our society by saying that somebody got murdered in the city of Melbourne yesterday? None.
Why do you think they do it? They're just getting attention.
It's sensational. It's getting clicks. It's getting advertising time. It's all of those things. Bad news sells. Good news feels good, but no one is going to turn on tomorrow to watch more good news.
The last taste in your mouth at the end of the show, you know, murder, murder, murder. Check out this cat video!
Kittens and puppies.
Yeah, the last one... Actually, I've got quite a few.
A few last ones. This is the last last last one.
Did you see the revelation story on former Catholic priest Vincent Ryan that came out? Did you watch that?
No, I watched a little bit, but I haven't watched the whole thing.
So he's 81 years old and has just been sent back to jail for three years and three months for two more sexual offences against boys aged 10 and 12 during the 1970s, 1990s. Now, he already served 14 years in jail for abusing 34 boys between the years of 73 and 91. And he was released in 2010. So he was released because he was said to have been rehabilitated. And it was just... It was really interesting watching this doco because, again, paedophiles, your instant reaction is just disgust. But he's the first priest, and probably first ever paedophile, serial paedophile, to come out on the news and give such a candid kind of response, or like he he literally just opens up and just tells everything.
What does he care? He's a Catholic. And, you know, I'm not deliberately running down Catholics here. He's a Catholic. So he can just, you know, confess his sins in his deathbed and he'll go to heaven. And that's what he believes. That's his profession, whether he actually believes it or whether he has been saying that for 60 years is a different story, because I don't believe you can have Christian beliefs and behave like that with young children.
So that's what I wanted to ask. Why is set the sexual abuse of young children, particularly boys, so rampant in Catholicism? I think we have, in Australia alone, over a thousand priests and brothers since the 1950s who have been charged or convicted of paedophilia. And it has included the cardinal, George Pell, who is the highest ranking person to have ever been...
Second or third highest Catholic ranking in the world.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Why is this so rampant in Catholicism? And do you want to talk about it's history in Australia?
One word: Celibacy.
And I don't know that any sexual psychologist would deny that if you were going to ask people to be celibate for their entire lives, their entire adult lives, that that is not going to warp their brain.
Yeah, well, that's the problem right? They're meant to be celibates. They're meant to not have sex. They're not meant to be married or have relationships. But they're also not even meant to think about having sex or sexual thoughts. And if they do, that's a sin for which they have to then be absolved by going to confession or whatever.
But how did that how do we end up with so many people abusing small children? Because why don't we end up with a shitload of priests who have affairs with women?
Because women would then be committing the same sin. An adult has a choice. An adult can say no. "Go away," or "Yep, bring it on." But if it's consensual, nobody's going to complain. And I think that's the difference, is that the chance of a priest finding a sexual relationship with an adult is much less assuming that most of the people they're dealing with are of the same faith who are then going to say, "I'm going to have sex with a priest. You know, they're not supposed to have sex. I'm not going to have sex outside marriage. You know, or I'm not going to have sex outside my own marriage."
And so, you know, that's an adult choice, whereas children are simply innocent victims of this because they don't have the same ability to make those choices. And a lot of these children were teenagers. But at the same time, these are people who have potentially the highest authority in their life outside their parents who they are looking to for guidance, who are grooming them for... This is not... These are often not one off sexual assaults.
Well, he was saying this. He was saying he would use... he used to play roughly with the boys and would accidentally touch them in certain places on the bottom or in front of them and just wait to see how they reacted.
And then take it further if they didn't react. And how many young boys are going to react when a priest does that? You know, it's they're... "Oh. This is a bit weird, but I can't say anything."
"I can't say anything at the time, you know, because of the power relationship." And then that power relationship is then implied afterwards. They're not going to run home and tell their parents, or go ring the police or something because they're going to be ashamed of it.
This guy was saying, you know, "Don't tell anyone. They won't believe you."
Of course. It's just grooming.
Yeah, it seems crazy, but it is such a shame that it's been so rampant in Australia.
Well it's not just Australia.
Well, yeah, but I mean, you know, obviously locally for us. Why was it so big during the 70s, to... Well, 50s to 90s. And has it slowed down recently?
You've got to think it slowed down recently because, you know, I now... Given the amount of publicity of... For people who are being held accountable now, decades later, anybody, any priest who commits that sort of crime now, I think the victims are much more likely to speak out. And so I think it is going to be significantly reduced. I certainly hope it is significantly reduced. And... But I can't explain why. I suspect it was happening in the 20s and the 30s. But those people are all dead now. And so we're not going to hear about them.
The thing that just blows my mind is just how self... You know, I don't even know how to explain it. But like, for instance, he's still a priest. He can't give mass in public, but he can do it personally. And when he was asked why he shouldn't remain one, like should he still remain one, he says, "It's my duty. I've committed myself." And, you know, he confessed to another priest that he'd been doing this. And that priest said, "You've got to stop this or you'll go to jail." And he ended up getting moved around to different parishes and putting it to other people. And you're kind of like, "Why do they put confession above the well-being of children as well as the law?"
In fact, it is... Look, I'm not a Catholic and I don't profess to understand, you know, the details of the Catholic religion. But just from a purely psychological point of view, if... And nor am I religious. But if somebody is religious enough to believe in the word of God as the sole truth and that God is the only person who can ultimately judge them, and if they genuinely believe that, then that is higher than the law.
And it's almost permission to do anything, right.
It's permission to do anything, effectively, providing that you think that it's okay because God hasn't told you not to or... And that's partly flippant, but I think if you have that mentality, and whether it's Catholicism or any other form of religion, or some delusion that says, "This is okay." You know, people commit murders, you know, not for religious reasons, but people commit murders. No person who has ever committed a murder believes that murder isn't against the law. And yet, they'll still do it. And because they have other motivations.
A lot of these priests were saying that they believe the children had been sent by the devil to tempt them.
And again, that's the warped thing in religion, is that you can explain anything. You can explain any good behaviour, any bad behaviour by just saying, "God works in mysterious ways and the devil's tempting me, and therefore it is how I react to that I will be judged by God." And, you know, that to me is just a bizarre circumlocution of logic.
Well you imagine what it would be like being a priest who believes these things, ends up feeling these temptations, giving into them...
As every other human being does.
But then giving into them with children, and having to live with that, like without trying to sort of give them too much sympathy, imagine for them trying to resolve that in their mind. "Why do I feel this way? Why am I doing this? Why are you allowing me to do this? I've done it." And then imagine if they lost their religion. You would imagine that they would just commit suicide, right. Because he was saying even now, he admitted that it was like obliterating someone's life, because it's so much worse than killing someone because from such a developmental young age, you've just screwed them emotionally, physiologically, sexually. Everything is just out the window, even just from one encounter.
It's one of those sort of bizarre anomalies in our society that we have religious organisations who will continue to claim that they are there for the good of humanity. And yet the organisation, in this case the Catholic Church, has been covering up this for decades and not just covering it u, but... Not necessarily promoting it, but by avoiding the punishment for it, by just moving people on. "Oh, you're committing this in this parish? We'll move you to another parish." What, you think they're not going to do it again? But that's a whole bunch of new victims.
And yet that's allowed. And the psychology of that, that comes around to, which is your original question, comes round to the sanctity of the confessional is... I don't know that it has ever happened. I'm sure it has. But I don't know that's ever happened. And I'm disgusted for the fact that it hasn't happened, that a judge in a court has not held a Catholic priest to 'in contempt of court' by default, by refusing to answer a question in court and claiming that it was told in the confessional, because there is no law that says, "Religion counts first and the law counts second."
That person should be held in contempt of court. You can never force anybody to say something, but you can make it illegal for them not to answer a question.
And so if they are going to lie...
So if they're going to lie, they go to jail and they go to jail for... Contempt of court is a difficult one, because contempt of court is trying to change somebody's mind. They're not being punished for an assumed crime. But people should be held in contempt of court if they are declining to answer a question and claiming the confessional. The only legal case where that can be true is for a lawyer-client relationship, because there's a conflict of interest if a lawyer is asked to state what a client said to them and they're trying to still defend their client. And that's clearly a conflict of interest. That's very different from somebody who is potentially being accused of something like hiding another priest or somebody else committing a crime.
Well it's interesting When a psychologist has to immediately go to the police.
A psychologist, a teacher, a social worker. You know, I was a high school teacher. As a high school teacher, if I even suspected that there was something illegal happening to a child, whether they're being bullied, sexually abused or whatever. I was required to report that to the school and the police. And yet a priest is not. And that's just bizarre. And it's one of those anomalies in our society where we grant religion a higher status than every other organisation within our society.
Well, and at the costs of dozens of people from places like Ballarat and Bendigo, where they have there have been tens of suicides in recent years from all these people who were molested. Anyway, moving on. I guess I've got another one here.
We've got a kitten or puppies one?
Well, this one's an interesting one. I wanted to get your two cents on GM cows. So genetically modified cows. Apparently, this story is that we have milk cows in Australia, but a big problem with them is that we have to de-horn them. So when they're young, they have these things called horn buds, which are... I guess the very buds of a horn that haven't yet fused to the skull and started growing. And they have to use this... Effectively it looks like a toilet paper roll that's long, that heats up and they shove that in through the skin to remove the horn. The farmers hate doing it, but they have to do it in order to protect the other cows from being injured by these horns later on. And so they tried cross-breeding them with, I think, Angus beef cow.
Which are a polled.
Hornless. Yeah. And but the problem is you have a massive reduction in the production of milk.
And so what happened was... The story was that they were trying to genetically modify, get rid of this... The horn bud in these dairy cows and they managed to do it. But I think what happened is that they accidentally put in an extra part of bacteria's DNA into the cow and it made them resistant to antibiotics. And so what's happened now is Australia ended up with the cows and we're now breeding from them. And have, you know, these hornless cows. But I was going to say to you, what do you what do you think of the agricultural implications of things like genetically modified organisms? First, why are they going to be so important? But also, why are people scared of them?
Well, there are obviously two sides of the discussion. They're important because we have... Agriculturally, we as human beings, we have 10,000 years of agriculture. Effectively controlling, manipulating and artificially breeding plants and animals to suit our needs.
To stop you there. Yeah. If we go back 14, 15 thousand years, there's no domestic cat, there's no domestic dog, there's no sheep, there's no bulls, there's no grass or grass, there's no grains, there's no corn. There's... I mean there... There's not even any corn. There's no potatoes. We were just literally hunter-gatherers back, then taking what we could and we hadn't actually modified indirectly, through artificial selection, any of the crops. And that's why we have things like broccoli, cauliflower...
which are the same plant species.
All the same species, but look completely different. But yeah, sorry, keep going.
So we've spent, you know, 10,000 years, you know, artificially modifying these things. And what we've ended up doing is creating such specialised organisms that they are no longer resistant to disease. There's no variation in them. So if suddenly a new disease pops up, they all get wiped out. The potato blight in the 19th century in Scotland, and particularly in Ireland...
Which was a huge famine, lots of people dies, right.
Was just a fungal disease that potatoes got for about 10 years. And potatoes were the stock food for particularly the Irish and in some parts of Scotland as well. And when your average peasant... Potatoes with the stock food because... Well, for two reasons. One, because they're easy to grow in that climate and two, because you can do lots of stuff with them, which just meant that they kept growing them and they relied on them entirely as a food source. Because you grow your own. This isn't... Being in the 1840s, you couldn't just wandered out of the supermarket and buy rice in Ireland.
And so you were growing your own food and all of a sudden this fungal disease came up and potatoes were not resistant to it. And the potato... 95% to 99% in some areas of potato crops failed over a period of two or three years. And people were starving to death.
And this is, interestingly, a reason that a lot of Irish and Scottish migrated to Australia, right.
And migrated everywhere else. Yeah, you can... It doesn't matter where you go in the world, you'll find Irish and Scottish people. And it's not that they've come in the last 10 years. They've been there for 150 years.
It's usually that period in the 1800s, right.
And so that is a good reason why we need to have other ways of modifying those foods to actually put back resistance to things. But we've also... In addition to that modification, and it is genetic modification, artificial selection is genetic modification. We're just not planting DNA into things. We're changing the DNA by artificially, selecting during breeding. But the other thing that we've done is that we've created plants and agricultural and commercial practices that will allow us to have what are seasonal foods all year round.
Firstly, by trans-mutation.
This is why you can get avocados and bananas.
That's why you get tomatoes and avocados. Well, bananas are probably going to grow most of the around because they're tropical, and you can get... Banana trees will keep growing bananas, but you've got to transport them, you know. Historically, you couldn't do that. You can get avocados now because we've bred avocados that will grow in a variety of different places.
Ironically, avocados were apparently... Had a massive seed and the flesh within them was about a millimetre around the outside of it. And they were eaten by elephants or large mammals that were just, you know, suck them up and poop the seed into some fertiliser and the plant would grow. But through artificial selection, we've just made that layer....
The fleshy bit bigger and bigger and bigger.
...As big as possible and the seed as small as possible.
Yeah. So the other thing we've done, though, in addition to transportation is that we've held things in cold storage. So a lot of fruit, in particular, is picked before it's ripe and then we hold them in cold storage and we artificially ripen them. And so food just doesn't taste the same. So a lot of genetic modification now is to put the taste back into the food that we have removed because we want... We grow tomatoes now that will sit in cold storage for weeks.
And have no taste.
And have no taste. Even when we ripen them, they've got no taste. And so we're now getting people who are genetically modifying tomatoes to get the taste back again.
Or ironically, going back to the heirloom tomatoes to use the ones that are less selected for.
We used to... My grandfather, who lived with us when we were kids, he grew tomatoes out in our backyard and the variety of tomatoes that he grew, you simply can't buy now. You could probably go back and find old stock. I'm sure there are some. Yeah, organic farmers who are growing these tomatoes. But, you know, in the supermarkets, they're gone.
Well, that's one of the crazy things when you go to South America, to places like Chile and I think... Is it Chile that has all the potatoes?
Yeah. So you go there and you just see hundreds of varieties, whereas here you'll see two or three. But why are people afraid of GMOs? What do you think the fear stems from, apart from the unknown?
There's the unknown. And I think there is also the sort of equivalent of the anti-vaxxer thing of, "If it's unknown, I don't trust it." And therefore you have a whole bunch of people out there going, "We're all going to die because we get pig genes in tomatoes." But I think there is also that element of occasionally mistakes are made. And it's the same as, you know, we're talking the other day. Last time, I think, or the time before, about cane toads. You know, that sort of biological control. There's plenty of biological control things that have worked, but there are the occasional disasters. And so people will look at it and go, "Is it worth the risk?" Because the disasters are real, unlike vaccinations, the disasters are real with some GMO things.
Is it worth the risk that we allow this to happen? Can we just live without it? And I don't think the argument is that it is worth the risk because we're going to, within the next two generations of human beings, we're going to get to the point where many of the foods that we are currently eating have been so modified by artificial selection that they will simply die out. They won't be resistant to things. All that has to happen is that they get a slight mutation and they're gone.
Well, we're going to probably have to adapt to that and try and get diversity back into it, where you don't have... You get the gene pool to be much larger, to have a lot of diversity in there so that it can have its own sort of natural selection taking place., but at the same time, we'll probably have to monitor it with genetically modified organisms as one of our sort of tricks.
Just to get the diversity back, apart from anything else.
But also, we need things to become much more efficient, much more resistant, because we're going to have so many more people on the planet that we can't just afford to have a very low yielding wheat taking up a large space of farmland where if we can genetically modified it, could produce 10 times the amount of food, right. That I think is going to be unavoidable economically, that the benefits are going to be that you'll have things like, you know, the tomatoes growing in arid regions or crops that are resistant to drought and all of these things that are going to allow people in... Particularly in impoverished areas, in places like Africa or even outback Australia, suddenly have access to foods or things they wouldn't have otherwise exact access to.
And that that seems like much more of a positive than, "I'm against eating tomatoes that have pig genes in them because it scares me." You know, it's kind of like ultimately it's just genetic code. It's just, you know, ATGC that's being inserted in there. It's not that the tomatoes are going to grow pig limbs.
So it is one of those things that I hope people get more educated about GMOs and I hope we do the right thing. You know, there is obviously the chance that it could be misused or just done irresponsibly. But you hope that it's going to be an important tool for improving the quality of life and reducing suffering.
And the example you used about dairy cattle, that one to me is that that's a good idea gone bad because of lack of testing.
Yeah. Somebody, and it's probably not one person, but somebody or some group of people decided they wanted to push this into production faster than they should have. And it was the same thing with, you know, biological control of cane toads. One idiot decided they were going to do it. This wasn't the CSIRO or the government saying, "We've tested this for a decade and we know that this is safe." This is one person going, "This is a good idea."
All right. The very last story I had here was Butthole Sunning Fan Metaphysical Meagan Has a Message for the Doubters. And this one comes from PerthNow.com.au, and I'll read you some of the lines. Metaphysical Meagan, the wellness blogger who brought butthole-sunning to the world, says people who don't understand the practice are limiting themselves to their current level of consciousness.
Correct. And my current level of consciousness is quite fine, thank you.
The Californian woman received plenty of traction online when pictures of her undertaking the wellness technique went viral. At the time, she said, laying on her back with her legs akimbo, so her legs wide, and lifting her behind towards the sun delivers surges of energy almost immediately. She said 5 minutes a day has seen her sleep better and helped her connect with her sexual energy in a balanced way, Dad.
Where's the controlled experiment? Because if you believe this, the placebo effect is huge. It doesn't matter what you do. If you honestly believe it's having an effect, it will have an effect, particularly when you're looking at two things that are purely psychological. Yes, there are physiological components to them, but basically your sleep patterns and your sexual behaviour, that's 99% in your head. And if you believe that the things you are doing are going to give you a better sleep and better sex, guess what? If you believe are going to have better sex, guess what? You're going to have better sex because you try harder. It's got nothing to do with aiming your butt at the sun.
Well and the same with sleeping well, you're probably not going to stay up late at night freaking out, thinking you can have horrible sleep.
If you're having better sex, you're probably going to have better sleep.
But are you going to take your consciousness up a notch, Dad?
No, I'll stick to caffeine and not an enema.
I know. Yeah, exactly. Who was that? Was that Gwyneth Paltrow?
I think so.
So why do people eat this stuff up?
Because it's weird!
How do they get into it in the first place? And why do other people follow them?
I know why she's got into it.
I will almost guarantee you, because I can provide no guarantee of anything, I will almost guarantee you that this is complete and utter bullshit. And the photographs of her doing it were done once and how many followers does she have on Twitter? How many followers does she have on her YouTube channel? Maybe they'd take YouTube channel down if she had her butt facing the sun. She's making money out of it. She's making money out of it, even if she's not making money out of it directly, there'll be a book that comes out next month. There'll be a television doco or there'll be... She'll get getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to go on to some whackjob's television show to tell this story.
It's not her. That's the problem. It's the fact that people go, "Oh, that must be true!"
Well I opened the article and read it and thought it was hilarious, and I wanted to share it.
Hilarious is one thing. If you're going to use it as, "What's this clown up to?"
It's entertainment. And that's fine if she's doing it purely for entertainment, because if you read things like The Onion, as an example, which is a...
The Shovel. The Australian Shovel.
...Which are satirical news services that look and read like they are authentic, but they're just taking the piss.
Or the mickey.
Yeah. Or the Mickey. And she is clearly doing the same thing.
You would hope.
Well but even if she doesn't believe it, it's having the same effect.
Because 99.99% of people are reading this going, "What the? This must be... This is ridiculous. I'm going to check this out."
I know. I guess that's probably...
How many hits do you get on Twitter?
Not many. I need to start showing my butthole to the Sun and getting Kel to take some photos.
You do. Well, that one's been done. You're going to have to come up with something else. Caffeine enemas have been done. Butthole sunning has been done. Doesn't leave much, does it?
Anyway, dad, thanks so much for coming on.
No worries, see you next week. We'll try and do coronavirus-free next week. But who knows?
With or without football.
Anyway, see you.
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