Helen Razer is a writer, a broadcaster and a gardener who doesn’t fuck around. Presenting alongside Mikey Robbins on breakfast and Judith Lucy on drive, she was a defining voice on triple j throughout the 1990s thanks to her wit, her vocabulary and her distaste for bullshit.
Since her time on the radio, Helen has forged a reputation as a ruthless and incisive opinion writer, appearing in The Big Issue, The Saturday Paper, Crikey, The Guardian and elsewhere. She very kindly had me over to her place for lunch and to talk about her latest book on the quality of public debate and the spectre of “Stupid”.
In this first part of our chat, we discuss comedy, the value and purpose of university learning, feminism, killing liberalism, capitalism, marriage equality and the “banality of good”.
Cause of the Week: The ABC’s Appeal for the Nepalese Earthquake (abc.net.au/appeals)
I was happier than a pig in shit to have a chat with comedian Robin Ince last week. I've been a fan of Robin's comedy ever since I saw him supporting Ricky Gervais on his tour DVDs years ago and his recent work has really excited me as an atheist and as a novice student of science.
Robin is in Australia touring his Happiness Through Science show in association with the Atheist Foundation of Australia, critiquing silly religious ideas and celebrating the natural world through jokes. We talked and laughed about Australia's religiosity, Robin's journey to and conception of atheism, the "great big tumour of existence", the danger of dogma, morality, Islam, the quantum qualities of plants, having children and whether or not he actually has sat on ham.
Cause of the Week: Water Aid (wateraid.org/au)
Freelance journalist Andrew McMillen writes about all sorts of fascinating stuff. While I was in Brisbane I sat down with him to briefly discuss dead bodies and Wikipedia, but we spent most of our time focussed on getting high.
Andrew's book Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs saw him interview big names in Australian music about their relationship with and opinions on illegal drug use. I asked him what he learnt from putting the book together and we talked about the history of drug criminalisation, the relationship between drugs and creativity, the problems with the public debate about the issue, why people take drugs, how to buy them and where he sees the conversation going next.
Cause of the Week: Headspace (headspace.org.au)
Clementine Ford is a self-described "feminist killjoy to the stars". As a Daily Life columnist, speaker and activist, Clem is a proudly outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and a staunch critic of rape culture and all that entails.
Our conversation covered the perceptions of and challenges faced by modern-day feminism, society's attitude towards the perpetrators and victims of rape and sexual assault, men's role in feminism, checking one’s privilege, "rape jokes" and more.
Please note this discussion comes with a strong trigger warning; details of sexual assaults and victim blaming are mentioned.
Clementine’s TED Talk: Your Vagina Is Not A Car
Opinion piece: It Was Easy For Bayley To Stalk, Rape And Murder
Opinion piece: There’s Nothing Funny About Misogyny
triple j’s Hack program: Are rape jokes ever OK?
Cause of the Week: Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (safesteps.org.au)