As with uranium, so with livestock

NOWHERE in my letter about animal cruelty (‘‘Don’t feed this cruel process’’ Letters 22/5) did I ever suggest that Australia should attempt to tell other countries what they can and can’t do.

But just as we refuse to sell uranium to countries that can’t guarantee it won’t be used for nuclear weapons, we also should refuse to sell live animals to countries that don’t have animal cruelty prevention laws.

I don’t care if the reasons for the cruelty are cultural, religious, or due to having no refrigeration facilities.

We have a duty of care to all sentient animals that are bred in Australia, and should never, ever send them to a cruel death overseas.

Peter Rowney,

Lemon Tree Passage

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Don’t feed this cruel process

IN the wake of disturbing reports of animal cruelty in Vietnam  involving Australian cattle being slaughtered with a sledgehammer, federal treasurer Joe Hockey has defended the live trade industry saying ‘‘you don’t close off the food supply to many countries where they have very low income or don’t have the supply of protein on the basis of a single report alone.’’

Yes Joe, that’s exactly what you do.

It is unconscionable that we even consider cramming live animals onto filthy overcrowded ships, to endure a terrifying ocean voyage, only to be cruelly slaughtered.

We have laws against inhumane Halal slaughter in this country, yet allow animals to be exported to countries that have no such laws.

We can supply as much ‘‘protein’’ as they need, but why does it have to be alive, just to pander to their religious sensibilities? We are simply turning a blind eye to what we know is an abhorrent practice and it’s time we stopped.

Peter Rowney, Lemon Tree Passage

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Termination is a woman’s choice

NSW balance-of-power MP Fred Nile plans to introduce legislation forcing women who are considering an abortion to have counselling and to view an ultrasound of the foetus.

This is nothing more than emotional blackmail used by the state against a vulnerable woman who is probably making the toughest decision of her life.

I am sure that no woman who has ever contemplated terminating a pregnancy has been unaware of the potential life inside her and the consequences of her actions.

It still is, and should always be, her decision.

The state has no business making religious and moral judgments by forcing women into humiliating and degrading situations, and technology designed to inform women should never be used as an ideological tool against them.

The most critical thing that empowers women today is their access to free contraception and birth control.

Women and children in those countries that prohibit such things cannot break out of the cycle of poverty and are tethered to a life of servitude and misery.

Peter Rowney,

Lemon Tree Passage

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LETTER: Logic as twisted as old spaghetti


I wasn’t aware that NSW government ministers had the necessary theological training to determine which religions were false and which ones were real. (‘Pastafarians’ living on a prayer – Herald 25/3)

Education minister Adrian Piccoli’s proclamation that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will never be allowed into public schools suggests that he has weighed the evidence and decided that stories of people rising from the dead and walking on water are ok to teach children, but that the idea of an all powerful spaghetti monster creating the universe is just plain silly.

As a recognised religion in Australia, the Church of Scientology believes that an alien warlord Xenu came to earth millions of years ago and seeded a volcano with thetans. Jews believe that they are the chosen people and that when a perfect heifer is born it will signal the coming of the Messiah. Mormons believe that a science fiction writer translated some gold tablets containing the real gospel. Muslims believe that Mohammed flew to heaven on a winged horse. Catholics believe that a wafer becomes flesh and that wine becomes blood. Evangelical fundamentalists believe the earth is only 6000 years old.

All these religions are permitted to teach their beliefs in NSW public schools.

But believing that a divine spaghetti monster created the universe? Get outta here!

Peter Rowney
Lemon Tree Passage

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Defend right to free speech

Elaine Richards suggests that we should be respectful of terrorist’s religious beliefs. (We must respect others’ religions – Letters 13/1)

Should we also then respect the belief of Hasidic Jewish men who insist they never be seated next to a woman (who might be menstruating)?

Do we respect the views of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been known to refuse life-saving blood transfusions for their children?

Do we respect the views of Scientologists who believe that all mental illness is caused by trauma in a past life, or some Catholics who believe it is caused by demonic possession?

Not one of these beliefs is worthy of respect.

Respect is something that must be earned, and most religions have failed miserably. It is also worth noting that none of us have the right to not be offended. This is the price we pay for free speech.

Saying that Charlie Hebdo must accept some of the blame for this massacre, is like saying that a woman who is provocatively dressed is partly responsible for her rape. There can be no excuse, ever.

In the words of a famous quote erroneously attributed to Voltaire; I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

Peter Rowney
Lemon Tree Passage

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Free speech gunned down

Free speech gunned down

THE archaic concept of blasphemy, the perceived affront to one’s deeply held religious beliefs, raises its ugly head yet again with the barbaric shootings in Paris.

Regardless of the actual content of the offending cartoons, and ignoring the obvious provocative nature of cartoons as a genre, what kind of insecurity drives such a violent response to satire and criticism?

The right to blaspheme, to criticise bad ideas, is a cornerstone of modern civilisation, and no idea, least of all religion, is above such criticism.

As 19th century American lawyer and political leader Robert Ingersoll said: “Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense.”

Are we going to be cowered into submission by these bullies, or are we going to defend free speech and our inalienable right to criticise any and all superstitious beliefs?

Peter Rowney
Lemon Tree Passage

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LETTER: Blind belief in media reports

I WRITE in response to Carrington Public School’s decision to commemorate Remembrance Day without religious hymns and prayers.

The Murdoch press  ignited the outrage with a shamefully provocative story, only to be further fuelled by a  TV morning show and  a few radio shock jocks to fan the flames.

By the time I read the story on Facebook, the comments were full of typical knee-jerk indignation, combined with threatening insults, made by people who had obviously not even read the relevant article nor considered the possibility that this was actually a sensible decision by the principal after consultation with parents and the community.

Reports of the school receiving threatening and abusive phone calls shows just how vitriolic some of those anonymous outraged people can be.

A gullible public devoid of critical thinking skills and even an ounce of scepticism are just as much to blame as the media who simply feed their suspicions.

I fear we are becoming a society unable to discern fact from fiction, truth from rumour, fantasy from reality.

Peter Rowney, Lemon Tree Passage

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