Deveny Watercooler: Do you wear your religion, or lack of, on your sleeve?

.

What do you assume people are: atheist or religious?

Catherine Deveny tweeted earlier today: “When you meet people do you assume they’re atheist until they say otherwise or do you assume everyone is religious?” She’d been reading an article on Slate which asked why atheists in the United States were still forced into hiding. “America is the well-known exception to the rule that the wealthier and better-educated a country is, the less religious its population. As a Pew Research Center report put it, when it comes to religiosity, “the US is closer to considerably less developed nations, such as India, Brazil and Lebanon than to other western nations.” But what is less discussed is what this means for the minority who are not just apathetic about their faith, but have actively rejected it … As leading American public atheist Sam Harris sums it up, being a member of the godless club is “basically the worst thing you can be in terms of having a political life, incurring the judgment of strangers”. A Gallup poll last year showed that, while 9 per cent of Americans would not vote for a Jewish presidential candidate, 22 per cent wouldn’t support a Mormon and 32 per cent would not vote for a gay or lesbian candidate, 49 per cent would refuse to back an atheist for president.” Food for thought. What do you think?

National Broadband Network announces $620m satellite deal

Two satellites will launch in 2015 and become the space relay base, so residents in Australia’s remote regions will have access to broadband speed Internet. The deal was inked with Space Systems – Loral. The Australian reported: The joint-venture would also supply associated telemetry, tracking and command systems for NBN Co’s Long Term Satellite Service. In total the NBN Co said its long term satellite investment would reach $2 billion. The satellites will give NBN Co the capability to offer wholesale broadband download speeds of up to 12Mbps and up link speeds of 1 Mbps in outback and remote areas.

In a statement released today, NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley said: “It will be possible for retail service providers to offer services to homes and businesses in the satellite footprint that are as good or better than the services many city people currently experience.”

California court says gay marriage ban ‘unconstitutional’

California’s 9th circuit court has overturned a ban on same sex marriages which was introduced in 2008 under a ‘Proposition 8′ referendum. 52 per cent voted to amend the law to make marriage legal only between a man and a woman. The three Ninth Circuit judges unanimously affirmed Walker’s ruling overnight. “Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted. Proposition 8 serves no other purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite couples.” Ouch. That’s good news for same-sex advocates but the US Supreme Court can still appeal and the Ninth Circuit has a history of being one of the most over-turned courts in the country. It was ruled the ban violated the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which provides for equal protection and procedural fairness to all. Couples have rushed to be married before any appeals can be started.

Would you go see ‘the Rape Play’?

Promoters of a new play which opens in Sydney tonight say it is art, even if it’s a little shocking. The Rape Play is the first production from the Workhorse Company and includes jelly wrestling by scantily clad actresses, bondage, rape and killing scenes and an extreme sexual assault featuring the use of a grenade. Co-founder and performer Troy Harrison said the show was chosen deliberately. “Yes, we were looking at another play but we wanted to start with much more of a bang, this being our first production, so we did choose this play because it is very confronting,” he said. The story follows a pair of ex-stripper sisters who go on a killing spree across America, taking pro-life activists as their victims. It is said to be inspired by the manner in which, in an online world, increasingly extreme images are used for entertainment value. So, what say you? Art or a bit on distasteful side?

Channel 9 axes Excess Baggage

Cue jokes about weight loss. After just two weeks on air and as much time spent speculating about its future, Channel Nine last night announced it was ‘moving’ the weight loss show to it’s digital channel Go! The show had gone head-to-head with that other weight loss show, Biggest Loser but had consistently lost the ratings battle. The show debuted at 880,000 viewers but never reached that peak again, slipping to 550,000 before rallying a little to 610,000 this week. The show featured well known contestants like Britney Spears’ ex Kevin Federline who partnered with everyday Aussies to lose weight, but took a slightly different approach to its rival measuring other health indicators apart from weight on its own.

Screen shot 2012 02 08 at 6.22.33 AM 380x356 Watercooler: Do you wear your religion, or lack of, on your sleeve?

Laura Connors

Teenager wins damages for sexual harassment

Laura Connors was just 15 when the harassment started in a small work kitchen in Tasmania. Her boss, David Richardson, was found by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in the same state to have sexually harassed the teenager while brushing past her, pinching her on the bottom. She alleged he also asked her to take her top off and would undo her apron strings. Now 19, Laura said it took a while to speak up because she didn’t know that she could. “I knew as soon as he came up to me that time and said: ‘Don’t tell anyone what I’ve done’,” she said. “I thought that was strange. But he was my boss, I thought I had to respect him and I couldn’t say: ‘Hey, you can’t touch me’. I thought I couldn’t say anything.” Ms Connors resigned after months of the behaviour and attending counselling for diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. She was awarded $12,000. “It was just seeing that the people in the court understood my pain and they believed me, it was so amazing they believed me,” she said. It’s not the money, not winning, it was that they knew he was wrong.”

Tony Abbott warns his MPs against ‘ill-discipline’

The leader of the Opposition says the only thing that can save Julia Gillard’s Government is an own-goal from the Coalition ranks. He warned them to stop squabbling internally – like they have done over the Coalition’s Murray-Darling policy – because they ‘can’t fix those things in Opposition so shouldn’t worry about them’. But that hasn’t stopped a few bumps along the way. As Parliament resumed yesterday, shadow immigration spokesman Scott Morrison was forced to defend the use of an international catering and logistics company – Eurest Support Services (ESS) – which had been barred from UN contracts for accepting bribery. It’s figure of $95 million to get the asylum detention centre on Nauru up and running again was a third the cost of the Government’s, but its parent company Compass Group said that only covered the cost of accommodation.



Comment Guidelines: Imagine you’re at a dinner party. Different opinions are welcome but keep it respectful or the host will show you the door. We have zero tolerance for any abuse of our writers, our editorial team or other commenters. You can read a more detailed outline of our commenting guidelines HERE.

And if you’re offensive, you’ll be blacklisted and all your comments will go directly to spam. Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re going to be – cool. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation.

Important note for those wishing to comment anonymously: If you wish to remain anonymous, please simply use 'Anonymous' or 'Guest' as your user name and type in guest@mamamia.com.au as the email.