Author: Tanveer Ahmed

The Sexual Politics of Vasectomies

The fate of male reproductive organs is not a traditional concern in debates about the environment. But this is the most significant change Australian surgeon Dr Nick Demediuk, aka “Dr Snip,” has seen in the past decade. “There is the rise of the hardline vegan brigade. They just get it done.” Dr Demediuk says he performs a greater proportion of vasectomies upon younger people in their 20s and 30s who are concerned about overpopulation. They have no desire to ever have children for ideological reasons. Research group Chef’s Pencil found Australia was the second most popular place in the world for vegans in 2020, beaten only by Britain. They also found skyrocketing interest over the last five years, accelerated even further since coronavirus. This trend is compounded by the fact that most forms of contraception such as condoms or hormonal altering pills either contain animal derived products or have been tested on animals. While condoms do exist in a natural latex form lacking the offending dairy derivative, available for delivery from Amazon, the vasectomy is …

Can Public Shaming be Useful?

The pouted lip narcissism of youth was on full display in the front page pictures of Diana Lasu and Olivia Muranga. They were identified in the Australian newspaper Courier Mail last month after deceitfully returning to Queensland from Victoria carrying coronavirus. The young women were of African heritage, leading to some accusations of racism. Editors were quick to retort that those who committed crimes were regularly named. Olivia Muranga was sick for days before she got tested for COVID-19. #9ACA https://t.co/NdLrHUjrrX — A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) August 2, 2020 The episode was a good example of shame’s comeback within the public health dominated morality we now share. Shame’s usefulness in codifying appropriate behaviour has become paramount. The “subjective self interest” embodied by the convicted women in Queensland, cited in a British psychological study as predictive of poor compliance with behavioural restrictions, may especially require regulation through shame. The term #Covidiot emerged online first as a hashtag. It has since been used thousands of times to criticise behaviour deemed errant, a marker of the rise of …

Taming the Lizard Brain

There is money to be made from stopping us from using our devices, but it might involve better regulation of our most primitive selves. Apple’s controls to help us limit our phone usage is the clearest evidence yet that self-regulation of technology companies must include not just data privacy, but protections of our humanity. Apple has included features on its new phones that turn off notifications overnight, during driving and expand parental protections. Google is implementing similar such controls. In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandals, the so-called tech-lash is the ultimate wake up call. It’s never been more essential that the industry considers implications beyond the user experience in the race to further monetise our attention. “If you don’t self-police, if you don’t preserve the trust of your user community, then you will get regulated. The downside with regulation is that government can’t keep up with the pace of technology,” says John Hennessy, the Chairman of Alphabet. That erosion of trust stems from growing mental health effects linked to technology …

What Makes a ‘Self-Hating’ Muslim?

I’ve recently returned from a study tour to Israel. As a Muslim visiting Israel I was put through considerable security, but was otherwise treated well. Since my return, I have been surprised by the level of negative reaction I received from other Muslims, including some close friends and relatives. It’s as if visiting Israel equates with ardent support for Zionism and the wholesale rejection of the Palestinian people, neither of which I adhere to. However, I have returned with a more complex understanding of the issues at stake. Wajahat Ali is an American attorney and writer, known for his contributions about the Muslim experience in The New York Times and The Atlantic. He writes eloquently about this strong faith. He also visited Israel recently. He interacted with Jewish settlers on the West Bank via a  program run by a group called the Shalom Hartman Institute and its Muslim Leadership Initiative. Based in Washington, the center has the laudable goal to help engage Muslim leaders and Jewish thinkers. Given Ali’s high profile, he made for an ideal …

Muslim Blackmail

I am not a practising Muslim, but care about the future of the faith. My ancestral roots are from Bangladesh, whose development is severely hamstrung by Islamist violence, including the summary executions of multiple secular bloggers in recent years. Like our Prime Minister, I believe Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world, driven by our migration policy of primarily skilled migrants and a smaller, but well funded refugee resettlement program. I have come to appreciate the extraordinary achievements of the West, from the sacred notion of the individual, the separation of church and State and the process of free and open debate without fear of violent reprisal. I do not believe this appreciation exists amongst most Muslims. While I grew up, I often heard from others that our failures in the Islamic world were due to Western colonization and exploitation. I believed it. As a young adult, I was warned about the licentiousness of mainstream society and how only piousness could protect me from collapsing morally. As I became more …