LETTERS

We can think for ourselves, thanks

We can think for ourselves, thanks

HAVING recently sat the VCE literature exam, according to Christopher Bantick ("Sex with a child is not the stuff of the school curriculum", Comment, 6/12) I have been so corrupted by dangerous texts such as Hamlet that I would believe murdering my uncle is fine. Actually, I take my moral cues from my parents, not my school books. Furthermore, Mr Bantick, despite having "no issue with the quality of Marquez's writing", you deride its literary merits as "doubtful". As a dimwitted year 12 student unable to think for myself, I found this contradiction quite confusing. I wonder how your students must feel if you think them to be so simple that they cannot distinguish between a novel, and what is morally acceptable in "real life". If you couldn't teach your students to see the book (written by a recipient of the Nobel prize for literature) as being more than "a bit of a perve", then why are you a literature teacher? I assure you that reading Love in the Time of Cholera will not lead me to "screwing" a septuagenarian any time soon, for as the Prince of Denmark himself would say, "do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?"

Elif Sekercioglu, South Yarra

Potential for harm

AS A former English teacher of 46 years, I commend Christopher Bantick for his condemnation of the inclusion of Love in the Time of Cholera in the VCE literature course. When schools include the antisocial behaviour of under-age sexual abuse and connect it with suicide, they are in effect providing a degree of legitimacy for these behaviours, both for teenagers and for some adults.

It is beyond belief that the "educationalists" who selected this text would consider the subject of child sexual abuse, while connecting it with suicide, as being suitable studies for the classroom. How would a sexually abused student respond to studying this novel? The selection panel have overlooked many excellent, modern works of literature that would be far more appropriate.

Laurie Miller, Yeppoon, Queensland

Just as offensive

HOW ironic that a literature teacher describes Love in a Time of Cholera as offensive and wants it kept from the eyes of his pupils.

There is a book that describes hundreds of instances much more offensive: the Bible. Abraham's willingness (just as an example) to cut the throat of his own son is not even condemned but applauded. Ever since I heard about that as a child, I was happy that my father was an atheist.

Rolf Heimann, Albert Park

Crime of dissent

WHAT "crime" has Father Greg Reynolds committed to warrant such a mean-spirited action by the Melbourne Archdiocese ("Church offers $5000 payout", The Age, 5/12)? The crime was his conscientious dissent from the Catholic Church's demand for silence from its priests on the question of the ordination of women. Fr Reynolds' "voluntary" resignation and subsequent withdrawal of his priestly faculties, are consequences of his stand on this issue. For continuing his ministry to Catholics marginalised by the church's teachings, his Archbishop has recommended to Rome that he be removed from the priesthood, using church law provisions normally reserved for defrocking serial sex abusers. Not satisfied with this punishment, church authorities have reluctantly offered Fr Reynolds $5000 as compensation for 32 years of faithful service. This is no ordinary labour relations dispute. How does the archdiocese's offer square with the remuneration benefits the church continues to pay convicted clerical abusers who have been removed from priestly ministry but still maintained by the church? What account was taken of Fr Reynolds' regular contributions over 32 years to the priest's retirement fund? This dispute cries out for a Christian leader with the courage and pastoral awareness to break this unseemly impasse and negotiate just terms of settlement. Archbishop Hart, are you such a leader?

Frank Burke, East Doncaster

A grand chapter

VALE, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch - a great lady and a great Australian. Dame Elisabeth was part of a magnificent generation of Australians who chose to live their lives to benefit others. Far from retreating after a relatively young widowhood, she threw herself into philanthropic endeavours that benefited society as a whole. Her extraordinary generosity sprang from a kind heart and a strong sense of social responsibility. A fine and dignified Australian, Dame Elisabeth's contribution will always be a major chapter in the Australian national story.

Peter Curtis, Werribee South

Driven broke

I AM 88 years of age. To renew my driving licence, besides the eye test and doctor's certificate for Vicroads (specialist fee incurred), I had to have an extra test. First the occupational therapist interviewed me and charged $115 for her visit. She then arranged for me to have a half-hour driving test a week later. I am charged $115 again, for the therapist to sit in the back, and $75 for the driving instructor, a total of $190. So the total for the two visits was $205, just to allow me to drive to the supermarket, doctor, newsagency and civic hall. Can any of our politicians or councillors with their huge salaries tell me why a pensioner on $260 a week should pay so much?

Con Sarandis, Rye

Still just hot air

THE Magpies' altitude training shows that some AFL clubs have more money than they know what do with ("Not hot air: Magpies prove the benefits of altitude training", Sport, 4/12). The essence of the research used to justify what is, in reality, an expensive team-bonding exercise has been known since the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

There is little doubt that there are short-term beneficial effects on endurance capacity resulting from high-altitude training. These benefits, however, quickly dissipate once at sea level. The proof of any long-lasting endurance advantage would be to compare the "control" group with the high-altitude group in six months when the team is in the middle of the AFL season. The exercise appears pointless unless the training is done in the two weeks before the finals series.

Clive Vogel, Albury, NSW

Foreign priorities

BOB Carr's decision to call in the Israeli ambassador over Israel's plan to approve settlements in the area E1 is an overreaction ("Jerusalem defiant on settlements", The Age, 5/12). E1 is an area that all realistic plans have envisaged Israel would keep in a two-state outcome. Carr's priorities appear troubling - Israel plans to build houses and it receives a lashing, yet 40,000 are dead in Syria. Meanwhile, I wonder when the Sudanese ambassador will be held to account for his government's campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Nuba people. Or is Carr too busy undermining the PM?

Mark Kessel, Caulfield North

Sickening result

IT WILL be interesting to see what is more important to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan - their budget surplus or the Commonwealth's planned reduction of $107 million in health funding, which will lead to the closure of 440 hospital beds in Victoria ("Hospitals plead with PM", The Age, 6/12). It is sad to see Australia regressing to the days of "your money or your life?"

Nola Martin, Preston

Back to the base

THE last federal election was the first time I voted for the Greens, not because of the inspirational leadership of Uncle Bob, but due to the power of the faceless men of the ALP. Julia Gillard just doesn't get it - her unpopularity is linked to the factions and powerbrokers that installed her, not policies. Young politically engaged Melburnians commend her for passing the carbon tax and tabling disability, education and dental health reform. Unless Gillard and the party adopt Faulkner's recommendations ("Rudd backs push for ALP reform", The Age, 6/12), the ALP will be forced to continually share power with the Greens, or watch Howard Mark II (Abbott) transport us back to the 1950s. Gillard, it is time to give the party we all want to vote for back to the base, or you will lose aspiring members.

David Browing, Yarraville

Think before tweet

THE Education Minister reassures a grade 5 student via Twitter that online NAPLAN tests will mean that he gets his "results back quicker" ("PM responds to schoolboy's critical tweet", The Age, 6/12). Perhaps in his next tweet, Mr Garrett could reassure parents that, in addition to getting the results back more quickly, students will be taught the difference between an adjective and an adverb.

David Olive, Kensington

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