Lets get something straight up front – when it comes to accepting government contracts valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, there is no such thing as an acceptable “white” lie. At all. Ever. No amount of squealing, foot stomping tantrum throwing can change that.
As for black lies, they are well established. By now, everyone in the country is fully aware of Access’ po-faced, remorseless deception and disregard for binding contractual agreements committed knowingly and with premeditation to get a foothold in our education system and to fraudulently siphon funding from the public purse. Their actions were coldly calculated, and committed under the belief that their falsehood was divinely sanctioned, an evangelical interpretation of sanctified, christianised taqiyya. These are “black” lies, blacker than satan’s arsehole.
What has been largely overlooked thus far in the Access CRE and National School Chaplaincy Program train wreck are all the “grey” lies. It’s high time they got their deserved scrutiny.
“Grey” lies usually fall into the category of what is called propaganda – generally defined, in the modern sense, as the manipulation of public opinion with selective and subjective distortion of information to promote a desired outcome, but usually (though not always) without outright deception. Of course, old school propaganda was never so subtle or restrained and facts could be distorted outrageously purely because no one could check them. Modern propaganda unfortunately has to exercise restraint, and even the term itself has had to be repackaged into something more palatable and less threatening – it is now known as public relations.
Access propaganda efforts to massage public opinion and create a fabrication of public support and consent have quite some history. I have neither the time nor the inclination to cover it comprehensively, but there are sufficient available examples to see it is an ongoing project of very high priority, considerable expense and continues unabated in the face of them being unmasked as frauds.
One of these efforts to come to light in dredging the Access website, before they could purge all of the bits they don’t want the general public to see, was a study commissioned from a company called Social Compass –
The Value of Chaplains in Victorian Schools [hard copy scan .pdf, 1.4mb]
Social Compass in their own words –
Social Compass works with organisations across the business, government, university and community sectors to conduct social research and program evaluations that can deliver the type of solutions necessary for a socially inclusive future.
I need to point out before continuing, this should not in any way be construed as a slur against Social Compass. They are a business that provides customers a service. That service is delivered to the requirements of a detailed, pre-negotiated service agreement. They deliver no more and no less than what the customer requires. (Fulfilling service agreements honestly is something that Access should look into doing some time.)
I am very familiar with these types of organisations from past experience, and whilst Social Compass don’t immediately trigger any alarms as known loons, there are still two assumptions that can be safely made –
- Their services will cost an arm and a leg, and
- They are never going to tell you what you don’t want to hear (never bite the hand that feeds you)
In fact, this type of “research” is very practised at taking the most negative of findings and repackaging them in a palatable manner (“turning lemons into lemonade”), thus negating any value the research may have had by plastering over problems that may exist. But that is only an issue if the study was commissioned in order to get objective data and not to generate an official looking document that can then be used to propagandise the cause.
The latter is what Access probably commissioned (without explicitly saying so and leaving messy tracks). Access are not real fans of either openness or honesty, so the report that was delivered suits their ends perfectly. In fact, the entire document was probably reverse engineered – the findings were defined first, and then the study was steered with that goal in mind, probably using the same kind of leading question tricks so favoured by marketing and PR firms, that would lead to a selection of choice, cherry picked hook lines like the following (chosen and emphasised by Social Compass) –
- [I trust the chaplain] Because it’s just someone who’s not the teacher
- I trust them because if they were not trustable people they would not be chaplain
- The chaplain would focus on the child as a whole rather than a specific problem that a counsellor may have to deal with (parent)
The study document offers no real supporting data; no explanation of methodology; no detail of specific questions that were asked; large extrapolations drawn from small data sets (rarely over a 100 samples); no explanation as to how the samples were selected; and an extremely flimsy summary drawing universal conclusions from very, very little substance. Peppered throughout are unreferenced testimonials, such as the following which basically says everything about the substance of the study –
– which is that it is ultimately of the same value as the “customer feedback” in penis enlargement spam.
But I think we can assume its these info bites that Access were really after at the end of the day and what the study was really commissioned for – an archive of slogan size “testimonials from real students, parents, teachers and principals” obtained by “independent consultants”. The product for sale was “hearsay” enhanced with extended credibility beyond anything Access could generate themselves. This is typical argument from authority style manipulation, part of any serious propagandists toolbox. This is what Access wanted, payed for, and got. There’s enough fuel here for a 1000 press conferences and newspaper interviews, and when they run out, they can start again at the beginning. No one will ever notice. My gut estimate is they probably wouldn’t have gotten much change from $100k for this report out of
their our money. But I don’t think they worried about that – plenty more where that came from. Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett said so – $151,235,687.24 so far and counting. As far as Access are concerned, it was money well spent.
Another relentless piece of propaganda being thrown around at every opportunity, and which isn’t quite an outright black lie only by the merest technicality1, is the following piece of pernicious nonsense in various permutations –
98% of principals surveyed who currently have a Chaplain want government funding for School Chaplaincy to continue [link]
98% of principals support chaplains in schools [link]
– with the one constant always being the magical 98%. The references for this “fact”, if there are references at all, inevitably point to other sites that are part of the Access CRE apologist network and, if you doggedly follow the link chains, they always end up at the following document found at that pillar of impartiality, Scripture Union Queensland –
This is another of the propagandists common ruses, one particularly favoured by conspiracy theorists of all flavours – circular referencing, eg. author A cites author B who cites author C who in turn cites author A. This is ideal to instill a sense of bogus authority where none actually exists, particularly effective for audiences with bags of ball bearings for brains.
Perhaps the only accurate statement in the whole thing is “at a glance”. Crammed full of bite sized, evidence free, factoid snippets and testimonials and little else. If you really look hard for fine print, you will find a URL for the original Edith Cowan University study –
– a far more substantive, and elightening, document. Even it’s full title hints at the duplicity of the 98% mantra being repeated country wide, at every opportunity, by the chaplaincy apologist propaganda machine. This is not a document evaluating chaplaincy against anything else at all – so even the use of the term “effectiveness” is misleading. Effectiveness of A can only be observed if at the very least there is a B to compare it to. A more honest title for the study would be Is Chaplaincy Better Than Nothing At All – and because most of the schools are starved of support services in general, or have none at all, then the likelihood of receiving a positive response about chaplaincy is pretty good. “Well yeah, OK, I guess it’s better than nothing but…”, except for the fact that “but…” never gets asked. This is simply a vague report card – not a comparative evaluation or assessment by any stretch of the imagination. It’s truthiness, as Colbert would put it.
But the deception doesn’t stop there. If you actually sift the report, there is no mention anywhere of “98% of principals” supporting anything. The only way possible to arrive at the magic 98% can be found on page 24 of the report where it states –
(2.5%) indicated that the chaplain was not doing a good job in the pastoral care of students
– which means 97.5% don’t deserved to get fired. Rounded up gives 98%. Nowhere does the word “support” even get mentioned when crunching these numbers. Nor does “approve”.
The irony of this report, if you overlook the flawed premise which inevitably biases all results towards positive outcomes, is if that it is looked at at face value, over 80% of respondents were positive about the effect of chaplaincy on their schools anyway. So there isn’t any need to be deceptive at all. But, out of sheer inertia of habit, the chaplaincy apologists just have deceive. It appears they really can’t help. Yes – our kids can really look up to these folks.
Finally, leaving the best ’til last, as telling as the information the apologists choose to distort is the information they don’t really want anyone to see. Some time around the beginning of May, Access Ministries shutdown its main Facebook page and migrated across to a new Facebook Causes page, Support Faith in Schools –
This is the same page that is linked from the Main Access Ministries website –
Given the media storm that has erupted over the last week, you would think this call to arms would have had impact on this apparent enormous majority of ordinary parents to support the chaplaincy program in general, and Access Ministries in particular. After all, this is all such a beat up, it’s entirely unfair, and of course, the work of the nebulous secularist conspiracy out to destroy christianity itself. If that won’t motivate the true believers, I don’t know what will…
This is a graph of people that have signed up to the causes page over the last week or so –
May 13 is the day that Jewel Topsfield broke the first story on Access Ministries’ agenda of turning your children into little jesus Taliban, and the day Access started issuing pleas for support. The large blob at the bottom of the graph preceded the call to arms and was largely the existing Facebook user base migrating across. A grand total of 94 people have signed up since the story broke. The majority of those, if you peruse the comments, have joined not to support but to demand a “please explain” statement from Access.
This then, perhaps, is the grandest deception of them all. The dirty secret no one should ever know about. The massive up-swell of support, as shouted about in blogs, forums and citizen journalist portals country wide – is really no support at all. That this is what can only be called the frill-necked lizard routine – bluster, bravado and bullshit, and as much noise as humanly possible, just a cheap illusion of size and scale that simply isn’t there. All of the support for Access and chaplaincy is from a tiny minority of maniacs, incoherent and intellectually crippled degenerates like Nicholas Tuohy and Peter Curtis – a small batallion bashing pots together in the public square pleading for you to believe them.
So, Access, SUQLD, ACL and all of your parasite hangers on, this is where we stand. The citizens of this country have graciously invited you into their home. And you proceed to piss all over everything. Black lies, Münchausen stories and fraud. So, you’re no longer welcome. On your bikes and leave our children alone. You’ve well and truly overstayed your welcome.
1 – and they cry about how these wicked fundamentalist secularists never cut them any slack.