Monday, November 23, 2009

Michael Jeffery

This post might end up being horrible, because I feel like crap right now.

And yeah. This is where some of you think, Relax. ALL your posts are horrible. What will make this one any different?

Well, if I can get by without confusing Austria and Australia, I'll feel I did okay.

Michael Jeffery is a Governor-General. Well, he WAS Governor-General. He's not that anymore.

No, I didn't already know that. I had to go ask Lord Wiki.

I had excepted Michael Jeffery to be a sexy soap opera actor.

Jeffery was the Governor-General from 2003-2008.

You know what's scary and horribly disappointing? I can't remember who the current Governor-General is. I'm sure I knew this before. This virus (or whatever) is ruining my brain!

Okay, the current Governor-General is Quentin Bryce. I did remember it was a female. Did I write about her before? I don't think so. But what if I did, and then forgot?

All right. Let's just ignore my stupidity for the time being and move on. I'm getting a bit depressed here.

Baby Michael was born on 12 December 1937.

Wait. You know who I blame? Charles Firth. I watched all his stuff about ignorant Americans, and now I'm turning into one of them. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Back to business.....

Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australia. I'm looking at Google Maps. This town doesn't seem to be near anything I recognize. The closest thing familar to me would probably be Geraldton. Wiluna is ten hours east of that. I mean that's pretty far. It's actually closer to Kalgoorlie (which I've also heard of). It's about seven hours north of that.

I guess eventually the Jeffery family moved west. He went to a high school in Perth. Kent Street Senior High School.

When Jeffery was sixteen, he left Perth and went to a school in Canberra. This was at Royal Military College, Duntroon. If my memory is serving me right, a child of one of my friends had been thinking of going there.

I'm too sick and tired to read all about the school. I think basically it trains people for the military.

Jeffery graduated from the program in 1958. By 1962 he was sent off to Malaya. Lord Wiki says that's part of Malaysia. Yes, I had to look it up.

From 1966-1969, Jeffery was posted in Papa New Guinea. I didn't have to look that one up! Although I do alway have trouble spelling it.

Also during this time, Jeffery got married. He and his wife eventually ended up with three daughters, one son, and seven grandchildren.

Next on the Jeffery agenda: The Vietnam War. Jeffery supported the war, and it seems like he continued to do so in later years.

Around 1976, Jeffery became the first Director of the Army's Special Action Forces. That sounds exciting. Lord Wiki says he worked on anti-terrorist stuff. And he helped develop some surveillance thing in Northern Australia.

Through the next several years, he did more anti-terrorist stuff.

In 1993 he retired from the army. How old would he have been then?

About fifty-five probably.

Although he's retired, he still holds the title of honorary colonel. He participates in the ceremonies of inducting new soldiers into the regiment.

I'm still trying to find information about this surveillance thing. But each website I try to go to leaves me with a message of Problem Loading Page. Maybe I'm just not meant to know about this.

Okay. This government website works. Although I'm not sure it's referring to the same thing. From what I read (skimmed actually). I think it's basically looking out for bad stuff happening. One of the things they work against is illegal fishing. They say there's been a 90% reduction in sightings of motorized fishing vessels in the area. Is that because there are less boats, or did the boats become invisible?

In 1993, Jeffery became the Governor of Western Australia. Don't confuse this with the Premier of Western Australia....well, because I just did. But my excuse is I'm American, AND I'm sick. What would be your excuse? Well, those of you reading this probably didn't make the same mistake.

While Governor, Jeffery made sure people knew he had conservative views. The Labor Party gave him grief over this, not just because they disagreed. But also because I think the governor is supposed to keep quiet about his views. I remember learning that somewhere before.

It seems he doesn't like the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations in Sydney. He bitched about that. And he also bitched about single parenting.

I feel I should say something brilliantly sarcastic here, but I can't think of anything. So....just imagine that I did.

In 2003, John Howard helped Jeffery to become Governor-General. Lord Wiki says he was the first soldier to get that job. Interesting.....

Before he became Governor-General, Jeffery seemed to think he WOULD be able to speak out on his views. He said, I think I will be able to talk on issues and principles and values and standards quite comfortably as Governor-General.

But once he actually became Governor-General, he slipped away from the spotlight. Some folks believe Howard pressured him to do so. In an informal type study, only 14% of people interviewed recognized a photo of Jeffery.

Jeffery was not just Governor-General, but also Chief Scout. I'm thinking this like our Boy Scouts in America. Our Boy Scouts are known for being gay unfriendly. Is it the same with Scouts Australia?

Here's an ABC program about the issue from 2000.

Oh! It says Australia Scouts are affiliated with the American ones. But while the American one refuses to allow homosexual men to act as leaders, the Australian one isn't following in their footsteps. Good!

They interview the director of the Scouting Association in Victoria....Dion Ellis. I'm really liking this guy. He's asked about whether a gay leader could be open about it, or would he need to hide it. Ellis basically says it's fine for them to be open about who they are. But it wouldn't be fine for them to be advertise their sexuality in a way that's inappropriate around children. He said the same goes for heterosexuals.

Yeah. It's fine to say to a bunch of kids, I love my wife. It's not okay to describe your favorite sexual positions.

I love what Ellis says here when asked how he feels about the American position on the issue. Well we have been puzzled. I have to say I think we've been puzzled that in a country as committed to human and individual rights as they are, we've been really puzzled at how the American Association has been able to maintain this policy for so long.

I really don't think America is that committed to human and individual rights. I think it's committed to the rights of certain types of people.

I wonder what Jeffery would say about what Ellis said. I have a feeling he'd prefer the American stance on the homosexual leaders issue.

I'm kind of lost regarding where to go next. I'll probably quit soon because I'm sick. Am I whining too much....or as you Australians say....whinging?

I'm not quitting yet. I'm looking and looking....coming up either empty or confused.

Okay. Here's an interview of Jeffery on the National Museum of Australia's website. He's being interviewed by students.

One students says that Jeffery had said that AIDS was one of the major issues he wanted to tackle. She reminds him he had said one of the answers to the problem was appropriate sex education. She asks if the use of condoms would be included in this.

He doesn't quite least not right away. And the website doesn't provide the rest of of the conversation. He does say something about it being a matter of education and values.

Oh, I wish I could hear the rest of this.

But I will go off on a limb here and make assumptions. I'm betting that for Jeffery, appropriate sex education would be more about promoting Christian values, and less about promoting condoms.

Here's an ABC interview with Jeffery. It was done in 2008, when his term was about to go bye bye. I'm going to read this, and then quit.

At one point, Jeffery says if we have a strong family structure in our society then we have a strong society.

I think he's right in some ways. Family is important. It's a great foundation. I just think we need to expand our definition of family. It doesn't have to be a man and woman with their biological offspring. It can be a single mother, a single father, a gay/straight couple with their adopted child, a bunch of friends living together, etc.

The person doing the interviewing doesn't avoid the issue. She directly says, Do you recognise the notion of what family is changing and changing quite dramatically? We now how have families where there are two mums or two dads, are they as valid?

Jeffery responds: Well I've always been pretty careful I think to say that, but if you get back to the real core of your society, I think the best chance for most kids, not all kids but most kids, and the desire of most kids is to have mum and dad. That's where they're most comfortable. Now that doesn't happen for many reasons all I'm saying is if you could reduce these situations with maybe relationship preparation of young boys; how to treat their sisters, how to treat their girlfriends, how to treat their wives how to treat their partners and vice versa. I don't think that's a bad thing.

Well, they're most comfortable because that's what's most socially acceptable. If there weren't stigmas and acts of discrimination associated with homosexual families, I bet children would be perfectly happy having a mother and a mother.

It kind of reminds me of homeschooling. Like private schooling and government schooling, there are challenges involved. But for me personally (and probably many other homeschooling families feel the same) the most difficult and annoying challenge is dealing with the criticism.

It's really hard to teach your child that it's cool and okay to homeschool; then hear your sister yell out to your homeschooled son and schooled nieces If you love school, raise your hand! Why did she do this? I don't know. Did she simply forget Jack was homeschooled, and that might not be an inclusive loving thing to say around him. Maybe. If I was nice, I'd give her the benefit of the doubt.....

Anyway. It's hard to be gay because we MAKE it hard to be gay. It's simple as that. Fortunately, it IS becoming more and more acceptable. Hopefully, we'll continue up that path.

I really don't understand what Jeffery says later in that statement about treating your sisters okay. What does that have to do with the question? Is he just avoiding it, or is he saying there will be less kids with two mothers if we're nicer to our sisters? Am I reading too much into this? I probably am. But it KIND OF sounds like he's saying there would be less lesbians if men treated woman better.

Let me just go on the record here. There have been times in my life where I've felt pretty unloving towards male humans. There have been weeks and months where the only male I have not secretly been disgusted with is my son. I have at times WANTED to be a lesbian. I have WISHED to be a lesbian. I look at lesbian couples and I envy them in many ways (minus the discrimination shit they have to face).

But despite all this, I never became a lesbian. I have no sexual desires toward women. So having problematic issues with members of the opposite sex does not make one homosexual. Well, I can't speak for everyone. I'm only one person. Maybe some people do turn gay. But I would guess maybe they were bisexual or already homosexual. Then the anger pushed them out of the closet.

I guess though if gay people can force themselves into heterosexual situations, straight people can push themselves into gay ones.

But even if this is true in some cases, I don't think being brothers being nicer to their sisters would significantly reduce the amount of lesbians in the world.

Who knows. Maybe that's not even what Jeffery was talking about. Maybe he meant something else altogether.

I do like what he says about education and Indigenous Australians. But I think if we can perhaps look at the way we teach Australian History if we can teach it perhaps starting from 60 millennia back and go right through the indigenous cycle and then Portuguese, Dutch, British immigration and teach it in an honest way.

I'm all for that.

Jeffery talks about his Christianity in the interview. He said spirituality became more important to him during The Vietnam war. He says seeing people die made him think more about the hereafter.

That makes sense to me. He gives the whole atheists in a foxhole. I wonder if that's true. When faced with death, are people more likely to become believers? Or is that just a myth? I wonder about that especially in terms of families of terminally ill children. It seems to me that often these families lean on their religious faith to get through it all. Would atheists have an even harder time? Or in the end, would it not matter? Does faith help give us strength in morbid situations?

Also I've heard of people LOSING faith in times of war and death.

Well, I'm betting it's different for everyone. With some people, the death of a loved one might turn them into a believer. For other people, it might have the opposite effect.

Jeffery is asked about chaplains in public/government school. Not surprisingly, he supports the idea. He recognizes that not all Australians are Christian. But he reminds us that most of them are. He says, When you go to Malaysia you don't expect Malaysia to give up its Muslim teachings just because it's got 10 % Christians or what have you. It's a matter of accepting all the religious faiths.

I think that's a good point, but people without religious faith need to be accepted as well. I think there's a way to provide for the religious folks without alienated those who are not religious. But it's probably a bit tricky and complicated. Oh who am I fooling? It's probably impossible. I was just trying to be optimistic for a change.

There's more exciting stuff in the interview, but I'm too tired to write about it. I'm going to quit and wallow in my self-pity.


  1. What an insightful blog!
    I hope you're feeling better soon!!

  2. I'm sorry to hear you're not well. I hope you get well soon. In the meantime, you are being as entertaining and educational as ever.

  3. Mr. Spooky: Thank you....feeling much better.

    Martin: I wrote that post last week, so fortunately by now I'm not sick anymore. I still have a fairly awful cough. But I'm no longer miserable.

    Thanks for the compliment. I wonder if I had been fishing for them. Well, probably. What can I say? I was not in a good state of mind that day.

  4. it's fine to fish for compliments if you're honest about it. ;)

    This looks like an interesting post. I'll have to come back and read it "in toto" (is that a phrase? I probably spelled it wrong) - anyway.. I'll have to come read this later.
    It looks like we disagree (of course). But how boring would it be if it weren't the case?

    that said - I only wanted to say (re: "This is where some of you think...") your READERS probably don't think that! else they wouldn't be readers.. see?
    and you knew that.


  5. HappyOrganist,

    Yeah, we'll probably disagree on a lot of things ; )

    As for the readers, when my self-esteem is low (and I think it was when I wrote that post) I get this idea that people come here just to see how ridiculous and awful I am.

  6. dang you write a lot! I only read HALF of this post and it STILL took me a long time. (well I'm not the fastest..)

    I'm gonna not comment on structure of the family or the gay/lesbian stuff. It was very interesting, though.

    I do want to re: this:
    "He said spirituality became more important to him during The Vietnam war. He says seeing people die made him think more about the hereafter.

    That makes sense to me. He gives the whole atheists in a foxhole. I wonder if that's true. When faced with death, are people more likely to become believers"

    I think (heh) if we DID all come from somewhere (well that probably is true, isn't it - worded that way). Anyway - if we did know a God before we came here and part of our being still knows Him - wouldn't it be an automatic thing to turn that direction when push really came to shove? Automatic, instinctual.
    makes sense to me.

    and if it didn't, I wouldn't believe it.



  7. HappyOrganist,

    I think there could be multiple explanations. And first I'd ask if there really are no atheists in foxholes. I wonder if anyone has done a study of people in deadly/dangerous situations. Does Atheism really decrease? They could send scientists out into the battlefield. "Hello, excuse me. Can we ask you a few questions....Do you believe in a God or higher power?"

    Anyway, I like your explanation. It makes sense, and there's something comforting about it.

    Another explanation (maybe less comforting) is that when people are close to death, they become suddenly terrified of no longer existing. So they then choose to believe.

    I'm pretty paranoid and anxious when not believing in an afterlife...well, even more so than usual ; ) I've never been one to ignore death. It's always there...staring me in the face. Taunting me. Scaring me. I like to think that there is no end...that we go on and on and on and on.

    Other people are in denial. They don't think about it. They don't worry about it. When these people realize they're going to die someday, they might suddenly embrace religion.

    Then I think there are other people who are not in denial about death. They face it. They know it's going to happen. But I guess they're okay with the idea of no afterlife. I don't know HOW they manage that. But I guess they do.

    Now I really hope there IS an afterlife, and we can happily say "I told you so!" to all the nonbelievers.

    But if there's not....well, I won't really notice.

  8. Possibly Australia's best Governor General, at least of the modern era.

    When I started work at Kalgoorlie he came to the city for an Australia Day function. I couldn't believe he was born at Wiluna.

    There has probably been hardly a single white person born at Wiluna for 30 years. It's very remote.

    He remembered his home town though and shamed the WA Government into shifting the local school away from the sewerage ponds at a cost of about $2 million.

  9. Michael,

    It's great that he did that for the schools!