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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A great story about fighting for Human Rights

Image above: A picture of Muriel in 1909

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Before the past few years very few people in Australia knew about Muriel Matters, a leading suffragette from the last century. This wrong is being righted recently, with books, films and even plays being made about this amazing South Australian's life (a person who was born only 2 kilometres from Thebarton Senior College).
Muriel Lilah Matters (12 November 1877 – 17 November 1969) was an Australian born suffragistlecturerjournalisteducatoractress and elocutionist.
Muriel Matters was born in the inner city suburb of Bowden in AdelaideSouth Australia.
Muriel Matters was a professional actress before coming to England. She became involved with the suffragette movement and earned her spurs by chaining herself to a grille in the Ladies Gallery of the House of Commons. She later studied under Maria Montessori, the radical Italian educationalist, and returned to work at Sylvia Pankhurst's school in Bow, East London.
The Grille Incident
On the night of 28 October 1908, the Women’s Freedom League (WFL) conducted a simultaneous protest at the British Houses of Parliament. It was to occur outside St. Stephen's Entrance, the Old Prison Yard and in the House of Commons. The purpose of the protest was to raise attention to the struggle of women and remove the ‘Grille’, a piece of ironwork placed in the Ladies’ Gallery that obscured their view of parliamentary proceedings. Matters was at the heart of the protest. She and an associate, Helen Fox, both chained themselves to the Grille of the Ladies’ Gallery and Matters began loudly proclaiming the benefits of enfranchisement directly to the elected MPs.
The Balloon Flight 

On 6 February 1909, King Edward officially opened Parliament for the coming year. As a part of the festivities there was a precession to the Houses of Parliament led by His Majesty. To gain attention to the suffrage cause, Matters’ decided to hire a dirigible air balloon (similar to a modern-day blimp in appearance) and intended to shower the King and the Houses of Parliament with WFL pamphlets.
Objection to the First World War
In June 1915, one year after the outbreak of World War I, Matters declared her opposition to the war in an address entitled ‘The False Mysticism of War’. In essence, she argued that war is not a successful problem solving mechanism and justifications for war are based on false pretences.
The vote for women in England
It was 1928, when a fifty-one year old Muriel Matters finally got what she and the countless other women of Great Britain were craving, suffrage on the same terms as it was granted to men (partial suffrage had been granted to women in 1918). In her later years, Matters often wrote Letters to the Editor, frequented the local library and was heavily involved in the community. Widowed in 1949, she died twenty years later on 17 November 1969 in St. Leonards on Sea nursing home aged ninety-two.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Speeches just don't happen!!

Image above: Obama, one of the best orators.   Some other popular speeches.

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The address for the Socialsense blog


Think, know, prepare, practice and present

When starting to work on your advocacy speech you must think:
In this assignment you need to:

·         choose an issue

·         think through how this is a human rights issue

·         determine what angle you will be advocating on the issue

·         identify who your audience is to be .

The following is a useful planning guide for your speech

Tips for your Human Rights speech worth considering

  • Once you are called upon to make your speech, pause for a couple of moments before actually starting your delivery. If you've had to walk up to a platform or over to a rostrum, this gives you time to steady your breath. If you are nervous as a speaker, it gives you time to take a few shallow breaths and calm those nerves. In any event, it gives the audience an opportunity to settle down and focus on you and your message. But the pause should be a few seconds only.
  • You should convey a sense of enthusiasm for the subject. This will effect your delivery and how your speech is received.
  • Occasionally alter the speed, volume and tone of your delivery. Speaking slower or faster and quieter or louder and being more cheerful or more serious all adds dramatic effect and keeps the attention of your audience.
  • Regularly sweep your eyes left-centre-right and back and front-middle-rear and back, so that you engage all members of your audience.
  • It is good to use your hands expressively - but do not wave your arms around which will make you look manic.
  • Make a dramatic opening which seizes the attention with the very first words. This might be a stirring statement: "This year we are going to make a fundamental transformation of our whole organisation". It might be a challenging question: "How can we turn ourselves into an even more successful society?" Whatever you do, don't ask a question that invites a cynical answer from your audience: "Are we the best country?"
  • Have a very clear structure. A good technique is to tell your audience what you are going to say, tell them, and then tell them what you have said. A good structure is for the core message to be three linked points which can be sub-divided as necessary.
  • Another possible structure which can work well, if it is appropriate is, to use a narrative or a story. Stories or case studies really engage listeners and give a speech direction and flow.
  • Use striking adjectives and adverbs - emotionalising. Not simply: "We face many challenges" but "We face many exciting challenges". Not simply: "We will work on this human rights issue" but "We      need to work energetically on this issues".
  • Make moderate use of alliteration in phrases or sentences. For example, some phrases: "broadband Britain""the digital divide""silver surfers". For example, some sentences: "The ballot is stronger than the bullet" (Abraham Lincoln, 1856) or "Now let us fulfil our mandate and our mission" (Gordon Brown, Labour Party Conference 2002) or "At our best when at our boldest" (Tony Blair, Labour Party Conference 2002).
  • Repetition can be very effective. Martin Luther King was the absolute master of judicious repetition. For example: in his Washington speech of 28 August 1963, he used the phrases "I have a dream .." and "Let freedom ring ..." again and again (seven times and eight times respectively). The same technique was used by Barack Obama in his speech following the 2008 New Hampshire primary when he repeatedly used the phrase "Yes we can".
  • One way of commanding attention is to use attention-seeking, short sentences. Tony Blair is very fond of "I say this to you" or "Let me be clear".
  • KISS (Keep it simple, stupid). Don't try to impress with over-complicated terminology or words.
  • If  you are intending to use statistics - and some well-chosen figures can add credibility and authority to your arguments - be sure that you understand them, that they are meaningful, and that they are both reliable and up-to-date. Be ready in the question and answer session, or if approached later, to be able to source your statistics and supply the full context. You should mention the source of your stats/information in your speech.
  • Make clever use of the pause. If you expect laughter or applause or you would like to create a sense of drama, pause for a couple of seconds, before continuing your speech.
  • Finish with a strong, affirmative statement, possibly referring back to the opening sentence or question (note how many film scripts end with a variation of a line from the beginning of the movie).

Further links to look at:

Overcoming speech making nerves

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Where did this all come from?

Image above: Facebook traffic in the world.  A drive for Human Rights?

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Documents which have formed the basis of our present day concept of Human Rights in the West.

The demand for Human Rights has not come from nowhere! Since a period of history called the Enlightenment (18th Century), individuals and countries in Western Nations and after 1948, the United Nations have been working at writing down in formal documents (and hopefully binding - but not always) what the rights of Humans are. That is not to say that other societies through history have not had a go at discussing and documenting the rights of their people but generally the three documents below are fundamental to the development of what we call Human Rights in 2012 around the world. This also does not mean all nations must or do follow these documents. As we all know many countries ignore the sentiments and expectations for Human Rights outlined in the documents. Only last week Australia's foreign Minister, Bob Carr met with the Indonesian Prime Minister to talk about the perceived abuse of Human Rights in Indonesia.

1. The Greeks
In the 5th Century BCE, Greek philosophers of the Sophist School argued that all human
beings are equal by nature. Laws and institutions that failed to respect this basic equality, 
e.g. slavery, were thus branded as being contrary to nature. Both Plato and his disciple
Aristotle, each in his own way, argued for a common nature of being human.

 2. American Declaration of Independence (July 4th 1776)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be based only on public utility.”

“The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.”

4. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris).

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world …”

A Thinkpiece for class
A related issue to this posting is that Australia does not have any type of Declaration of Human Rights as part of the Australian Constitution.  Some people say that we should write such a document and make it law. 
  • Why and would they say this?
  • What would it include?
  • Why would anyone object to such a document?

Resources on Human Rights

Contact Malcolm at a

The address for the Socialsense blog

YouTube’s on Human Rights

Human Rights video

Amnesty International
Stories of trafficking

Human rights in China

Human Rights and the environment

Useful websites
Australian Human Rights Commission

United Nations Human Rights

Amnesty International

Case studies and sample speeches

Case studies of Human Rights issues

Human rights stories

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Deconstructing Human Rights

Image above: The United Nations Human Rights Declaration

The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle


Human rights are commonly understood as "inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being."

Next week we are going to have a lesson discussing Human Rights.  To do this we are going to try to respond to the posed questions below. Try to think about the questions before the lesson so that you can contribute to the discussion.

Posing questions to discuss

Q1: What is a right?

Q2: What rights do we have in Australia?

Q3: Are there any rights we take for granted in Australia that many other countries do not have?

Q4: What can restrict our rights?

Q5: What things have we no right to do?

Q6: Do some people have more rights than others?

Q7: What happens if someone abuses a right?

Q8: What is the most precious right a Human has in your opinion?

Q9: Are we “drip-fed” rights in our life?

Q10: Do/can we have rights taken away from us?

Q11: Every right comes with a responsibility?  Do you agree?

Q12: People have the right to practice their culture in their country (in most cases but not always) Is this a true statement?

Q13: When people of a different culture come to another country, do they and should they lose the right to practice their culture (all of their culture) as they did in their home country?

Q14: If you had to make up a list of the 10 most important “die in the trench” rights for you, what would they be?  These are rights that you would be prepared to fight for.

Q15: Do you think people in Australia have more or less rights today than they did 100 years ago?

Q16: Does modern communication help or hinder Human Rights?

Q17: Have you got a question about Human Rights to pose to the class?
 Philosophical Thinkpieces from Voltaire and Rousseau
What the ..?
" ... I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."
"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. "
“All men have equal rights to liberty, to their property, and to the protection of the laws”

“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.” 

"The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.”
VoltaireEssay on Tolerance
French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist (1694 - 1778)
"... liberty is at the root of being human".
“To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties”

"Because all human beings are free and equal by reason of their nature, they should remain free and equal in the state."
"To become really free, he must decide, as a moral being, to bind himself to the laws and norms, which he himself gives to himself. Thus he deliberately renounces the freedom of the natural state for the sake of the civil and moral order organized in the state and submits himself to the laws and norms, which he gives to himself."
"Each individual possesses the right to political participation on an equal footing with all other citizens."

“Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect”

“Liberty is obedience to the law which one has laid down for oneself.”

“You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: French philosopher and writer whose novels inspired the leaders of the French Revolution, 1712-1778

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Speeches: we can learn from the masters

Image above: "I Have A Dream" Speech: Dr. King, addressing the crowd at the March on Washington, delivers his famous I Have a Dream speech. (Photo Credit: Corbis)

Contact Malcolm at and Emma at

The address for the Socialsense blog

Famous speeches

Here is an amazing selection of famous and not so famous speeches.  You will notice that there is a formulae for great speeches but that formulae has been broken regularly broken by the masters of speech making over time.

* Famous American speeches (some audio)

* Famous short speeches

In preparation for your speech tomorrow you may like to see how you will be assessed and a PowerPoint presentation on oral presentations. Both are on the TSC Moodle under the Social Ethics Forum section.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Social ethics forum

Image above: Map of Same-sex laws in the US.

The address for the Socialsense blog
The Thebarton Senior College Moodle

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Social ethics topic chosen

The class has decided that the social ethics topic is to be same-sex marriage. You may have heard the news that the same-sex marriage Bill is going to parliament today and will be debated over coming months. Now that we have decided on this topic for our Forum I suggest that you should be reading everything you can find on the topic. Maybe tomorrow, considering we do not have class you can research the topic so that you come to class next Monday with a bit of an idea as I get you to meet for the first time in your political groups.

The groups are:
Radicals (Rad-i-cool))
Sam, Dion, Kira, Brooklyn, Matt, Tayla, Nikol and Hass (8)
Moderates (name please)
George, Amina, Sandra, Krystal, Josh (5)
Conservatives ( )
Abdul, Jacky, Lauriane, Maria, Sang, Narad and Osman (7)

You will notice we have a 'hung parliament'. The Moderates need to discuss which side they will support ...or splinter as a group!

Attached is the assignment sheet for the Ethics Forum on Same-sex marriage

Firtly let us clarify:

 What is marriage?
Marriage is a unique legal status conferred by and recognized by governments the world over. It brings with it a host of reciprocal obligations, rights, and protections. Yet it is more than the sum of its legal parts. It is also a cultural institution. The word itself is a fundamental protection, conveying clearly that you and your life partner love each other, are united and belong by each other’s side. It represents the ultimate expression of love and commitment between two people and everyone understands that. No other word has that power, and no other word can provide that protection.

What is a civil union?
A civil union is a legal status created by the state of Vermont in 2000 and subsequently by the states of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Illinois, Delaware and Hawaii. It provides legal protection to couples at the state law level, but omits federal protections as well as the dignity, clarity, security and power of the word “marriage.”

Here is some more listening and reading for you to start looking at the issue: