An optimist sees the glass as half-full; A pessimist sees the glass as half-empty. Personally, I’m more concerned about whether there’s anything left in the bottle.
Every now and then, someone will talk about mankind’s current predicament and how we’re all going to hell and there’s no hope. Others will argue that we all need to band together and save the planet. Of course, there’s no need to save the planet. The planet’s just fine and it will be even better once humankind has eradicated itself and only the cockroaches and a few other species survive. (I’m making a rhetorical point so please don’t start a long complicated discussion about the role of biodiversity!)
While I agree that we need to start thinking about the long term future and not simply say, “She’ll be right”, I’m also aware that people have been predicting the destruction of the world since the first prophet said, “Can you pay me now, because settling next week won’t be possible unless there’s an afterlife?”
As we all digest the result of the marriage non-compulsory, non-binding survey, most people are speculating on the immediate future. I can’t help but think about the past and how the Right have been on the losing side of just about every progressive movement since the emperor was told the slaves are revolting… (Ok, ok, you can all do the punch line for yourselves!) I started to think back on some of the things that have happened in my lifetime. If you’re a certain age, I’m sure that you can make a pretty good list from civil rights legislation to the abolition of apartheid to the fact that Carlton haven’t won an AFL premiership this century. Long term, the Right seems on the losing side.
And while this isn’t the same sort of human rights issue, the Liberals’ position on “Red China” illustrates my point nicely. Way back in 1972, Gough Whiltam became the first Western leader to visit China. Labor’s policy was that “Red China” should be recognised and given a seat at the United Nations. That’s right. China’s seat was held by Formosa because it – not Communist China – was the “legitimate” government. The Liberals attacked Whitlam and stuck to their policy of non-recognition even after Nixon followed Whitlam’s lead by going to China. After losing in 1972, the Liberals quietly changed their policy and I don’t remember hearing anyone argue for its return. No, their opposition was quietly dropped and we all were just supposed to forget it about in much the same way we don’t bring up Uncle Eddie’s drunken dancing at his daughter’s wedding.
So it’s unfortunate that after the vote/survey that some people are attempting to argue that it’s “just a flesh wound”. Ok, I’ve read enough literature about the ways in which our brains work – or fail to work, in the case of many of our current government – not to expect that people with strong convictions won’t attempt to rationalise what happened. Lyle Shelton, for example, congratulated the “Yes” vote on their campaign, before pointing out that they’d been running it for many years, while the “No” campaign only started three months ago, so they had a lot of catching up to do. REALLY? I mean, what’s the man been doing for the past two years since this was first suggested?
Lyle went on to tell us that he’d continue the fight and that he hoped that one day people would see sense and reverse this decision. Does this mean that all the same sex marriages would be annulled? In the meantime, he hoped that this had alerted us to what was going on in schools and that we’d use it as opportunity to stop the radical LGBTI agenda being taught in schools. Now given that we were told that this wasn’t just a vote on marriage equality, it was also a vote on what our children were being asked to do in schools, surely the “Yes” vote is the green light for Safe Schools being made compulsory. Wasn’t that what they were telling us? Personally, I’m not sure. And if ask my year sevens to abandon their work on Ancient China because they’re going to be marked on their gender fluidity instead, I’m sure that they won’t be too impressed. However, it does seem disingenuous to tell us that we were voting about a program in schools, only to turn around and argue that the vote should have no effect when it comes to education.
Of course, the whole human rights thing is something that’s confused the Right for generations. From early times, they’ve thought that anyone who tried to stop them owning slaves was interfering with their basic property rights. And so it is with this latest affront to their right to decide who marries in this country and the circumstances under which they marry. While I can see that churches should have the right to decide that only people who follow their religion should be allowed to marry in their church; to me that’s much the same as saying you can’t enter my house unless you take off your shoes. They may be your shoes, but it’s my floor. However, there’s a major difference between that and the arguments about bakers and florists…
To try to take the emotion out of it – which is probably nearly impossible – but the whole absurdity about trying to legislate for imaginary bakers and florists is one of the most ludicrous situations I can remember. Let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves, “Have we heard from any bakers or florists arguing for their religious freedoms to be protected?” And if any of you are suggesting that they’re too afraid to argue this for fear of a backlash and a boycott, what would enshrining it in legislation do? If Steve and Barry are refused service at Bigot Bakeries and they post this on Facebook, leading to an enormous loss of business, will the government legislate to make using Bigot Bakeries compulsory for everyone? Except the people they wish to exclude. How else will they protect their business from the fact that only a handful of people wish to go their and be questioned about whether the Georgie on the wedding cake is male or female?
Anyway, while Cory Bernardi attempts to show exactly how silly a human can be with his motions about such things as croissants in the Senate (I’m not kidding),and while a handful of Liberals try to prove that they too have limited brainpower by voting with him, the fact remains that the “Yes” vote won. And it even inspired Malcolm to try and sound all leader-like and tell us that it’d be legislated before Christmas. Whether that happens or not, the vote itself must be a great relief to those who are directly affected by it, even if there are those who manage to blather on about the rights of those who voted no. Strangely, the people saying this didn’t remind us that over half the population voted against them at the 2016 poll so maybe we better consider their rights. But hey, that’s politics isn’t it?