Tagged with speech

Our journey is not complete

President Obama’s second inaugural speech was, unsurprisingly, lofty and brilliant. A gloriously anaphoric section towards the end of the speech has been much shared on Facebook today:

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

Anaphora is one of the most effective rhetorical devices used in speech making. It was popular with Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., among many other great speakers. Shakespeare was fond of it, too (“This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars…”). I’ve even been known to use it myself (take a look at the third paragraph of this World AIDS Day speech).

Anaphora gives the language a poetic flavour, and deftly delivered (Obama’s great strength) it enables the speaker to modulate the energy of the speech, building to a crescendo and falling back to a gentler tone, as you can hear in the short clip above. It’s a technique some of our Australian politicians (and their speechwriters) could benefit from learning.

A great speaker and a competent president. Perhaps, four years from now, a great president. I hope so.

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World AIDS Day launch

These are my remarks for the launch of World AIDS Day 2009 this morning at Parliament House in Melbourne.

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Since its inception in 1988, World AIDS Day has provided a moment for all of us to reflect on the impact HIV has had in our lives and communities, to recommit ourselves to ending the HIV epidemic, and to remind the broader community that, while HIV may have almost disappeared from the headlines, it is still with us.

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AGM speech

Below is the text of my President’s address to the Annual General Meeting of People Living With HIV/AIDS Victoria, on 18 October 2009.

The last year has been a busy one for PLWHA Victoria, and there is much we can be proud of. Our organisation is strong, highly professional and our dedicated staff and volunteers deliver work of high quality that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

But I don’t want to use these few minutes listing our achievements: our Executive Officer, Sonny Williams, will cover the year’s activities in greater detail. You can also read about them in the Annual Report, which will be available at the end of this meeting.

Instead, I want to ask a question: why are we here?

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If It Bleeds It Leads

Yesterday I spoke at an ARCSHS forum on HIV and the media – Reckless Transmissions: Engaging with the news media around sexual health – along with Michael Hurley, Daniel Reeders and Abi Groves.

An interesting discussion looking at the way the media reports on HIV, especially the way gay men are presented as ‘complacent’ (Reeders) or, when they come before the law, as members of a ‘seedy underbelly’ or ‘sinister subculture’ (Hurley). My presentation focused on the ways that community organisations can try to have positive stories about people with HIV reported in the media, as a counter to all the ‘bad’ news. Abi Groves introduced the AFAO media guide, Reporting HIV in Australia: Information for Journalists 2009.

There will (probably) be a podcast of the event at some point in the future. In the meantime a copy of my slides is below in PDF form.

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