'Favourite raced to death', so a tabloid headline stated last week. Another Melbourne Cup over! Aye, the whole nation once stopped for 'the Cup'.
Nothing really new in that headline. The death was unexpected, a prominent racing industry spokesperson proclaimed, as it had been, one could add, with those unlucky ones after every Cup - broken legs, broken frames, broken hearts. It is normal to put down these unintended victims. After all we shot some 700 of our gallant horses who survived their allotted duties in the Great War, as I recall. It was too expensive to ship them back home from the Middle East, and we didn’t trust the Arabs to look after our horses after we had left for home. The light horseman who recorded that aural history for the ABC did not say whether those horses were of Arabian descent.
Recently the Victorian police put down a few horses considered past their crowd management prime, despite prior offers from horse lovers to look after these horses in their tranquil pastures. After much whistle blowing in the media the police have promised to do better in future.
Ah, horses, God’s gift for man’s convenience – in labour, in war and in revelry.
At a recent Branch meeting, a long list of members spoke candidly and passionately about the findings from the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women survey.
Two speakers affected me greatly. One alluded to possible affliction of a “virus” amongst some young men that caused them to treat women in a violent way. The other speaker, a mature woman, related her concerns that this “virus” is not on the checklist for candidate selection.
There is not a lot new here either. The military has continually paraded examples of how men expect their fellow female colleagues to resignedly accept the sexual service their male colleagues hoisted upon them, and hound those violated who dared to blow the whistle; and how the officers up the hierarchy do their best to keep the lid on such moral lapses, for the good of the fighting men’s reputation and the nation’s honour. The churches, in the 'interest' of all our souls, have done much the same – their bishops and elders have taken up the role of chief whistle mufflers.
More women in Australia have died in male dominated domestic violence in one season or two than all those who died at the hands of terrorists since Federation. Yet we have spent so much parliamentary time to craft laws to curb terrorism, whilst trading in our freedom of speech by muffling whistle blowers who might talk about things 'out of school'. Thank God 'Albo' has spoken out on this.
A woman dead every week in our land, courtesy of our unreconstructed cultural legacy. Unfortunately this is not news. Domestic violence has become “normalised”, disappeared from our consciousness.
Yet we can take a practical step, a significant step, to excise this (pre-cancer) polyp in our guts. Make violence against women a mortal sin for our society, for candidate selection, and for our sitting MPs.
Easier said than done?
Honour the spirit of Gough, remind ourselves of his 'up-turning of the money changers’ tables in the temple', and we will get there.