Soapbox Speakers

What is Speakers’ Corner?

In Speakers and hecklers. on March 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” 
Gerry Spence.

Every Sunday, from 2pm until 5pm, people gather in Sydney’s beautiful Domain park to discuss matters. The ones standing on ladders are ‘the speakers’, and they believe it’s their job to educate  their ‘grasshoppers’ or ‘groundlings’.  The ones sitting in chairs believe it’s their job to point out why the speaker is wrong, and to heckle. Both parties are kept busy.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

Click here to see their 2015 highlights.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

Find past posts  on our Archives site.

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The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell, legend.

In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about religion, Australian history and politics. Click here for highlights. To see more videos of Steve, go to the archives site. From his book, ‘Soapbox Oratory‘ Steve writes: ‘In a modern city, there must be a place where strangers can meet and discuss the issues of the day without fear of persecution; where the right to retain one’s individuality is allowed.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut used to be a professional wrestler going by the name of Helmut Rommel. He took on the likes of Killer Karl Kox, Mario Milano and Spiros Orion. And, he once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest.
More importantly, Helmut knows a lot about metaphysics (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger and Killer Karl Kox combined), and he is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus.
His battles with hecklers are fun. He calls his listeners his ‘groundlings’. Here are some highlights.
For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, Is Science the New Religion?’.

Mirko Terzic, 21st Century inventor.

Mirko

Mirko has created a phonetic alphabet to be used world-wide, and it’s better than Esperento. He has solved the problem of perpetual motion and has diagrams explaining how to get free unlimited energy from hydropower. Mirko knows how to think outside the square. Here are a few highlights of Mirko. For more videos of Mirko go to the archives site.

Ray, Christian.

Ray is concerned about your soul.

 Ray is passionate about spreading the word of God. He takes the task seriously but isn’t confronting. He is a gentle man willing to answer your questions. Here are a few highlights. For more videos of Ray, go to the archives site.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Mr B 2

Mr Bashful, the epiphany specialist.

Epiphany specialist Mr Bashful tells us he is the spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama, though that’s yet to be verified. He calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’ and his foes ‘garden gnomes’. (He himself could be called ‘King of the Cheap Shots’.)
  Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. One thing he isn’t, is bashful.
To learn more about him and see videos of him in action, click here.
He now has a Facebook page.

John August (Occasional speaker)

John speaks earnestly on a wide range of subjects, and if you’re in Sydney you can listen to his radio program on Radio Skid Row, 88.9 FM every Tuesday, from noon until 2pm.
John is an active member of the Pirate Party, which is a serious political party devoted to making Australia more democratic. He and other pirates speak at the Domain on the third Sunday of every month, about their policies and other topical matters. (That’s ‘topical’, not ‘tropical’.)
To see videos of John performing at Speakers’ Corner go to his Youtube channel.
John also has a website in which he comments upon current affairs, both here and abroad.
He is a busy lad.

THE HECKLERS

Uncle Pete (heckler and occasional speaker)

Peter - best

During the week Uncle Pete teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for the Sunday passers-by, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Uncle Pete, go to the archives site.

Tony, atheist.

Tony
New-Zealand born Tony used to be a speaker and is a fervent atheist scathing of the Catholic Church. When he is not berating Christianity he is either sinking the boot into other religions, or supporting Palestine. In this video  Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.
Tony now heckles the other speakers.

Max (Quiet listener)
Max

Max is one of the gentler regular visitors. Says little, but when he does speak, it’s sensible. Click here to discover why he visits Speakers’ Corner.

Arthur (Heckler)
Arthur 1

Arthur is not what you call the shy type, and is generous with his opinion. I caught him searching for disciples.

Jack (Quiet observer)

Jack

“The old grey owl sat on an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?”

Click here to hear a few words from Jack.

Peter the Younger

Pete

The well-read Peter knows an awful lot about many subjects, and in particular: geo-politics and U.S. shenanigans.  Click here to hear why Pete comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Howard
howard

Howard is always polite and reasonable, yet despite that he fits in well at Speakers’ Corner. His contributions are appreciated by all. Click here to hear why he comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Mark the Grinner (occasional speaker)

mark-the-grinner

Mark regularly gets a hearty laugh from the crowd with his meticulously crafted questions. Plus, his serious comments are  insightful. His companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say. Click here to hear why Mark comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Ben the Whisperer

Although Ben is softly spoken, when he does speak, people listen. Click here to hear why he likes Speakers’ Corner.

Philip Feinstein

Philip occasionally speaks and is the founder of Music For Refugees. He also runs the Smokenders program, to help people give up smoking.

Kieron

Click here to hear why Kieron likes Speakers’ Corner.

Jean

Jean 2

Jean tries so hard to be feisty, but she’s just a big softie. Click here to hear why she comes to Speakers’ Corner.
Her husband Albert is below. Both of them are excellent value at Speakers’ Corner.

Albert

Albert 3

Albert may be 92, but he is as alert as anyone, and fit. When he helps Mr B unload the chairs he carries six at a time.
Albert wrote an absorbing book titled, ‘Civilisation Hijacked’. It explains how good men are persuaded to do bad things.

Book
If  you would like to buy a copy ($20) email Albert:  al.morris@optusnet.com.au
Albert is the husband of Jean.

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News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 10th December.

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm

‘Who are you?’ I asked the watcher in my dreams.
‘Who wants to know?’ was the reply.
Paul Broks

1.  Even before the chairs were out, Donny Dodd was keen to get cracking. For many years, Donny was a fiery speaker at Speakers’ Corner, speaking about Aboriginal affairs. He was entertaining, informative, and hard to tie down. Today, under a Morton Bay Fig tree not much older than he, he resurrected the Donny of old and spoke abut Australia’s Constitution of 2003, and the 1986 Australian Act regarding borders. Welcome back, Donny!

Donny Dodd, indigenous speaker.

2. As usual, the tireless Ray was near the kiosk out to save souls. Few evangelists are as committed. Whether or not you like Ray’s evangelistic message, you have to acknowledge his resolve.

Steve Maxwell, on the other hand, spoke about more Earthly matters: Australian politics and China. Here he is taking an undeserved break.

Cool Daddy, AKA Steve Maxwell

3. Should a synagogue be required to hire out its premises to the Nazi party for its anti-semitism rally? Should an African-American T-shirt maker be required to print one with the words, “Join the KKK“?  Should a gay baker be required to bake a cake with the words, “Gays are X%#@*”?

“No”, rightly say some fundamentalist Christians, “and therefore, no church official should be required to marry homosexual people.”

The difference is: Jews, African-Americans and gays suffered persecution from their tormentors, whereas homosexual people have not historically or collectively persecuted Christians. Further, nowhere in the Christian Bible does it say that Christians are required to help God enforce His precepts. Indeed, it indicates the contrary: that we have free will. God will do the judging, and He doesn’t need fawning ‘policemen’ to assist Him.

This week the Australian parliament passed laws to give homosexual people the same right to marry as straight people. The ‘no’ voters are concerned about religious people having to act ‘against their good conscience’. Mr B explained why ‘acts of good conscience’ are not acts of good conscience at all, but acts of sycophancy and discrimination. His grasshoppers took the subject seriously and contributed significantly to the discussion.

4. A young man by the name of Tommy has become a regular, and today his mother accompanied him to see what the hell it was all about. Tommy takes insults well, is happy to interrupt, has a lot to say, and what he does say is tripe. He fits in perfectly. Today he asked about the subject of forgiveness, and of course Mr B had something to say about that. Then Tommy himself chose to get up and speak. He spoke well, and we hope he speaks again.

We don’t have a photograph of Tommy yet, so this will have to do until we do.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others. (From the Postsecret site.)

6. Good old Arthur is anti-fluoride. Fluoride is the substance put into our drinking water to help prevent tooth decay. Uncle Pete offered to explain how it protects our teeth, and the crowd almost threw him onto The Ladder of Knowledge. Pete explained in a clear manner the chemical processes involved, and then answered twenty questions. When he finished he received hearty applause for his effort. Thank you, Peter!

As it happens, we have a lookalike of Peter that someone sent in. The resemblance is eerie.

7. Grasshoppers, please note!  If a speaker is talking about a subject (eg. over population) and happens to use a metaphor, simile or analogy to make a point (eg. he might make a passing reference to caterpillars), the topic does not become ‘caterpillars’! We don’t need someone interrupting the discussion to add to our knowledge of caterpillars. For goodness sake.

8. This week, ex-journalist Ben McCormack was fined $1,000 and given a three-year good behaviour bond for the “crime” of telling another pederast online what he’d like to do with boys. Ben had not bought or sold child pornography and had none on his computer. He had not contacted children on his computer and there was no evidence to suggest he had tried to groom any child in any way, anywhere. The only “crime” he had committed was to express his inclinations to another person who wouldn’t judge him on his sexuality and call him a deviate or pervert. In other words, the poor man had to undergo extreme humiliation, lose his reputation, and lose a thousand dollars simply because he told someone what he would like to do.

Mr B was scathing of our society’s self-righteousness, lack of compassion and intolerance, and of the judicial system.

Mr B believes that any pederast or paedophile that goes through life not acting upon their inclinations doesn’t deserve condemnation and punishment; they deserve a medal. And they deserve our compassion and our thanks.

9. It is commonly claimed that each of us possesses a subconscious. Mr B proposed an alternative: that within each of us reside multiple selves. In this rare instance, this scribe will take it upon himself to explain Mr B’s extraordinary claim.

According to Mr B, we might have a dominant self that we identify as ‘me’, and possess less developed selves that stay ‘in the background’. “After all,” he explained, “if the brain can produce one self, why couldn’t it produce more than one? Of course, one of those selves would have to become dominant for the organism to function properly.”

His grasshoppers didn’t take well to that idea!

Mr B listed five ways we might become aware of those other selves. ‘Dreaming’ was one way. Here is an example of a dream from Mr B. See if you can see why this dream might indicate the presence of multiple selves:

Classroom:
Female teacher to schoolboy Mark: “Mark, what sound does a parrot make?”
Schoolboy Mark: “It squawks.”
Teacher: “No. Try again.”
Schoolboy Mark: “It imitates sounds?”
Teacher: “No. Forget it.”
Playground:
Schoolboy Mark to another schoolboy: “What was she on about?”
Other schoolboy: “She wanted you to make the sound of a parrot squawking.”

Notice how the teacher’s question could be answered in two ways: the way she intended and the way Mark understood it? In the dream, schoolboy Mark did not understand what the teacher wanted. But the teacher knew what she wanted, and so did the other boy. How can that be? Presumably, Mark (the man dreaming the dream) had written the script, so surely all the participants in it would know what the teacher required. But no, schoolboy Mark didn’t. So, how could the man dreaming the dream create that ambiguous question and fool himself?

Answer: he couldn’t. Another self within Mark’s skull wrote the script with the intention of fooling the dreamer!

Can it be that the Frederick Kekulé, the man who suddenly understood the benzene molecule after waking from a doze, was given the answer not by his subconscious, but by another self within him who saw the problem in a different way?

When some people suffer extreme stress and feel they are separating from their body, is their dominant self leaving ‘the cockpit’ while they’re still awake? (They’re still within the body of course. The ‘rising’ above the body is part of the disassociation.) Could it be that in that extreme situation, there are now two conscious selves: one experiencing the stress and the other observing them experience it? But only one memory is incorporated?

Ernest Hilgard asked hypnotized people to immerse their arms in iced water for long periods and feel no pain. The subjects did so, and displayed and reported no pain. However, when Hilgard asked them if ‘at some level’ they knew that they were experiencing pain, they responded affirmatively. Could it be that one of their selves felt no pain, while another did?

Does Mr B’s idea have merit? Or is he as mad as a hose let go?

Is Mr Bashful as mad as a hose let go?  (Photo courtesy of Ross Duncan. Thanks, Ross.)

10. How did you feel when a parent died? Grief? Relief? Nothing? Joy? Next week we will definitely explore that subject. Join us.

11. Mr B claims that
The Australian Cricket Board has, over the last few years, “suggested” to its test captains that they should never enforce the ‘follow-on’. Why? Because when the follow-on is not enforced the game is likely to go on for a longer period of time. That means more advertising dollars for the commercial television broadcasters.

Uncle Pete disagreed. He says attitudes have changed over time, and that no weak team wants to bat last on a dodgy wicket. Uncle Pete is a silly mid on.

12. Mr B examined the gender pay gap yet again, with a fresh eye. He presented a study that found that tall men are paid, on average, 9% to 15% more than men of average and below average height. It seems we respect tall men. The speaker then pointed out that men are, on average, taller than women. He concluded by saying that perhaps the pay gap between men and women has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with height!

Initially, his tongue seemed to be in his cheek, but a few perceptive comments from his grasshoppers added an extra dimension to the argument.

13. The speaker explained how he tricked himself into completing an almost interminable poll for the Roy Morgan company. One of the poll’s questions asked, “Of the thirty government policies below, which three matter to you most?” The speaker was dismayed to find that none of the following were options:
– ‘the pollution of our air, fresh water and sea’
– ‘land degradation’,
– ‘habitat loss’,
– ‘over population’ and
– ‘the environment and its ecology’.

14. Our Facebook page is an enigma, though our Archives site is as important as the world’s biggest seed bank in Norway, and equally relevant to our day-to-day life.

 

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday, 3rd December

In News for Speakers' Corner on December 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

“Don’t argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with their experience.”
Anon.

1. We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Last week, Mr B warned his regulars that this week he would be talking about one subject only, for as long as it took. And true to his word, he did.

The subject was, “Is the human species inherently good or inherently bad?” From the outset he admitted that nothing can be inherently good or bad. Something is what it is. If we determine something is good or bad we are using value judgments, and they are arbitrary and changeable. They’re make-believe. “And yet,” he promised, “I aim to find out anyway. I need to know. Join me if you will.”

Three hours later . . . !

It was 5.20pm when he kindly woke his grasshoppers to let them know Helmut was about to speak.

2. Mr B said his talk should only have taken half an hour, but with all the interruptions . . .

He said he expected that.

However, Mr B’s mentors (Rolf Harris and Don Bourke) would have been displeased with him for becoming so grumpy. He was at his grumpiest today.

He said he expected that too.

Although it was a fraught day, it would have been even more fraught for this scribe had I not nodded off early in the peace. That was a blessing for me, I learned later. However, before I had the good fortune to nod off, I witnessed a grasshopper offer Mr B $50 to change the subject. Yes, it was a genuine offer, and Mr B took it.

Unfortunately, Mr B broke his promise by refusing to change the subject anyway. It was pointed out that Mr B’s non-compliance with the deal provided a timely example of how one human being can act badly. Which in turn proved humanity was inherently bad.

As if willing to prove the opposite, grasshopper Laurence took objection to Mr B’s dishonesty, and stood by the Ladder of Knowledge for the next twenty minutes talking over him. He would not desist, he explained, until Mr B handed back the ill-gotten moola. Mr B continued to refuse, point blank.

It was riveting viewing, folks.

Finally, order was restored. Mr B still had the $50 note and continued to speak about the same topic. That was when I nodded off. I can’t report anything more.

3. Last week, someone said Englishman Karl Pilkington looked a lot like Mr B, and someone else compared Steve Maxwell with Keanu Reeves. That prompted someone called Tony to send in another lookalike.

4. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

5. If you check your calender you’ll find that it will soon be the holiday season. Try this friendly tip.

6. This scribe has no idea what Ray, Mirko, Helmut or Steve Maxwell spoke about. That is Mr Soporofic’s . . . Mr Bashful’s fault for sending me to sleep. However, three subjects were discussed briefly at the beginning of the meeting:
– If a man treats his wife badly at a function, should we say something?  (Opinions were divided on whether something should be said, and to whom.)

– With regards to last week’s Push-me-Pull-You dog story and the photographic evidence provided, Mr B stood high on the Ladder of Knowledge and asked for an apology from those who had insisted one of the dogs was male.
He did not receive the apology, but he did receive more abuse.

– The speaker asked: “Who recorded Sam Dastyari telling a Chinese firm that Labor believed Australia shouldn’t interfere in the South China Sea? Peter the Younger answered ‘ASIO’ and it seemed to be the right answer.

ASIO operative

7. How did you feel when a parent died? Grief? Relief? Nothing? Joy? Next week or the week after, at least two people will be standing on the Ladder of Knowledge to answer that question. If you’re there, you will be invited to do so too.

8. The grasshopper did eventually get his $50 back. Everyone was pleased about that except Mr B.

Speaking of money, we are on Facebook but haven’t yet figured out how to make money from it.

The Archives site is not yet a moneyspinner either.

 

 

 

 

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