Collective Shout – Astroturfing for the Christian Right

Secrecy lies

Collective Shout are a pro-censorship, anti-sex, christian lobby group in Australia. They’re run by a team of Christian women who claim to be a “grassroots” organisation. They appear on the surface to be kinda progressive feminists and that’s how they get support and media coverage for their campaigns. They are able to pass as secular feminists as long as they keep their focus narrowly on sexism in advertising and pop culture, but there is a strong wowser element they cannot completely conceal, and a christian moral panic common to their campaigns.

A little due diligence and scrutiny of publicly available records reveals them to be an astroturfing lobby group for the Christian Right, ideologically driven by religious conviction, lead by a known pro-lifer christian who was a long term conservative political staffer, and using public support and uncritical media coverage as a cloaking device.

Their founder and leader is Christian anti-abortion campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist who was ‘bioethics’ advisor to Right Wing Catholic Senator Brian Harradine for 12 years. Their language, ideology, campaigns and many links to the Christian Right all reflect Tankard Reist’s personal style and conservative politics. The first flag of their policy to conceal the religious nature of their campaigns is their complete silence about Tankard Reist’s long term employment with the Christian Right Senator – it isn’t mentioned on their web site, or on Tankard Reist’s current bio, despite being her longest term and highest profile gig.

CS have campaigned on advertising standards, what they call the sexualization of children, sexual content in popular culture, porn, misogynist lyrics and music videos, and against sex work and sex worker rights. Their stance is sex-negative and pro a strict, morality-driven censorship regime. They have made several submissions to government proposing widespread censorship of sexual and sexually violent content across all media, and mandatory filtering of the internet at an IP level. They have also made submissions in favour of criminalising sex work. Their submissions state they are in favour of a much stricter censorship regime, applied to all media on all devices. They have particuarly targeted music, especially in hip hop, rap and R&B. Because of this narrow focus they have been accused of racism, overwhelmingly targeting Black American art forms and artists. This article by Clem Bastow is worth a read –

http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/the-problem-with-the-ban-against-chris-brown-20150927-gjvswr.html

I view Collective Shout anti-music campaigns as part of a long history of Christian attempts to censor popular music over the centuries, particularly for it’s perceived sexual content and corrupting effects on young people. Collective Shout are no different to the good christian preachers and housewives of the 1950s who wanted to stop the kids getting turned on by Black Music, and the sexually charged performances of Elvis the Pelvis.

CS are unwilling to disclose their many close links to the Christian Right, and the religious ideology of their team members – but the info is freely available in public documents.

Collective Shout state that 1. they are not specifically a religious organisation, and 2. the religion of team members is not relevant to their campaigns. Technically they are right about the first point because they need non-religious supporters for numbers so they aim for broad support, you can make up your own mind about the second one.

On the following posts I’ll share information that has been publicly published about their team, their funding and backers, links to the Christian Right, their lobbying activity and the religious ideology fueling their campaigns….

Here’s their original logo, used until mid 2011. First I thought it was meant to be a halo, but now I’ve seen the anti-gay websites designed by the same Collective Shout founding member Cath Smibert, featuring wedding ring logos, I’m convinced it’s a wedding ring, symbolising the values of married, heterosexual, christian women. (scroll down to Virtual Shout on this page for more)

Back in 2011 the Collective Shout logo was a halo.

Back in 2011 the Collective Shout logo was a wedding ring.

DISCLAIMER

First up – I agree with some Collective Shout campaigns, particularly on sexist and exploitative advertising. I support their right to name & shame and protest sexist and objectifying advertising. Consumer boycott and protest can effect change and educate companies to be more progressive in their approach to gender equality, and I think that’s a good thing. What I don’t agree with is their campaigns for a much stricter and far reaching censorship regime in Australia affecting all art forms and media, and their campaigns against the rights of sex workers, for reasons explained in this blog. I also don’t agree with the concealment of religious and political affiliations of what operates as a political lobby group. I support their rights to whatever religious beliefs they choose, and to campaign from those values. I just think they should be up front about it like Australian Christian Lobby. We have enshrined separation of church and state in Australian law and I believe if you want to lobby government and influence legislation, as an organisation, you should disclose the religious ideology you campaign from. Transparency is a foundation of democracy.

My comments and opinions do not claim to represent any other person, group or organisation. I do not identify with any political party, ideology, group or religion. I’m open to other ideas and ways of looking at things. I may change my mind, and my posts. Feel free to comment. If I have made factual errors let me know and I’ll correct them. Because the web is full of dicks comments will be moderated. You don’t have to read any of this if you don’t want to. It’s your choice to take offense if you do, so be an adult and take responsibility for your own feelings.

All info used in this blog has been published openly on the net by the people involved, no private pages have been accessed, no accounts hacked, no passwords or security settings bypassed, only what was publicly available at the time of writing. It’s likely that some posts and pages will be deleted or hidden as often happens, but no private information was accessed in writing this blog. I’m not a hacker, I’m a guitar player.

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