Now I’ve spent a number of years in schools and one of the things I most admire about the young mind is its capacity for heroically battling against all logic when trying to mount a case. Anyway who’s ever dealt with a teenager will know what I mean. “I should be allowed to leave class whenever I like because you let Basil go to the nurse last week!” Pointing out that Basil was bleeding profusely at the time won’t help. It’s unfair and a complete double standard. At least in that example, there’s a vague relationship between the two things. Perhaps a better example would be when Kevin argues that he should be allowed to play basketball because Peta was allowed to play on her computer when she’d finished her work. Pointing out to Kevin that he hasn’t finished his work won’t end the discussion. Neither will pointing out that Peta wasn’t disturbing anyone else, but that dribbling a basketball inside a classroom tends to create the sort of atmosphere which prevents others from concentrating. Kevin will continue to argue even if he has to change the subject and bring up something totally irrelevant like the fact that you marked him late when he was only five minutes late! And anyway, Mrs Baxter is a much better teacher because she let’s him play basketball in PE. The only way to end the discussion is to point out that you have confiscated the basketball and if he wants it back at lunchtime, he needs to sit and complete his work.
I can’t help but be reminded of the teenage mind whenever I hear the arguments for the “no” case in the upcoming
plebiscite opinion survey. Ok, the Liberal logic that they can’t simply have a Parliamentary vote because they promised to have a plebiscite before any vote, but now some of the issue is threatening the stability of Malcolm Turnbull they’ve decided that they can have one after a non-compulsory, non-binding survey costing $120 million – which is more than Tony Abbott’s travel claims – even though this would appear to also be a breaking of the their promise, is bad enough, but did you see the ad urging you to vote “no”?
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m sure that there are sane people out there with good sound, logical reasons for their decision to vote “no”. It’s just that I haven’t heard any of them speak yet. Probably too intimidated by the fact that it would just raise the whole tone of the debate. No, I’ve heard plenty of arguments along the “if this, then that” line, but I’m yet to hear a single rational argument against voting “Yes”. There was an article in the paper the other day from a woman whose main argument was that she was voting no and she didn’t have a strong, religious upbringing, but that was about the closest I’ve seen. Although the idea that “I’m doing this, you should too” is hardly something that regularly convinces me. (There was a bit of hatchet job done on the woman, where someone delved into her past and pointed out that, not only was her father a lay preacher, but that she herself had run church services to help out. Not that this disqualifies her from a point of view; it merely condemns her to Hell for lying about her upbringing!)
Anyway, to sum up briefly the arguments presented by the ad in question:
1. One woman is upset that her son was told “he could wear a dress next year if he felt like it”. So is this already happening and do we need an extra question about banning men wearing dresses. And where do kilts fit in? Will the Scots complain that they’re being oppressed? Aw, let’s add a question about banning the burqa too, while we’re at it. Might as well get value out of $120 million.
2. A second woman tells us: “When same-sex marriage passes as law overseas this type of program become widespread and compulsory”. Wearing dresses? Does that mean I’ll have to shave my legs? I’m outraged.
3. A caption tells us: “In countries with gay marriage, parents have lost their rights to choose”. It’s not clear to me exactly what they’ve lost their right to choose but maybe I was still too concerned about shaving my legs to pay attention at this point to pay complete attention.
4. A third woman expresses concern that “kids in Year 7 are being asked to role play being a same-sex relationship”. As with Argument 1, if this is already happening perhaps we need to add an extra question. Something along the lines of raising the age at which students can be asked to role play a same-sex relationship. Or possibly ensuring that students only role play heterosexual relationships in their classes. But then perhaps the person wasn’t concerned about the same-sex relationship part. Maybe they had some sort of moral objection to the whole notion of role play itself. Acting was banned as un-Christian during the Puritan era
Whatever, I think you’ll notice that not one of these arguments addresses the fundamental question of marriage equality itself. Most arguments I’ve heard are rather like arguing that the High Court must exclude Barn-boy Joyce from Parliament because if they don’t, then everybody who has a New Zealander as a parent will be Deputy PM.
I’ve heard a number of times that children need a mother and father, so gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Given that there’s no suggestion that at any point in the future, we’ll be passing laws that require gay people and single parents to relinquish children to heterosexual couples, I fail to see this as a strong case for voting no. To illustrate, instead of talking about the former and concentrating on the latter, imagine the absurdity of the following proposition: “Children have a right to a mother AND a father, so I’m proposing changing the marriage act to disqualify single parents from marrying.”
So I’ve decided that the “No” campaign needs some help. In the interest of a fair go, I’m offering my services. Here’s my suggestion for an ad:
“If you vote YES, in the coming postal vote, you will be telling Parliament that it’s all right for them to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. Then some gay people will get married. This will lead to them entering into legally binding relationships which protect them and give them the same sort of rights that other people have. Statistics show that children raised by people in a gay relationship are more likely to grow up tolerant of different lifestyles. Unless you have no problem with those different from you having the same rights, you must vote NO.”
Mm, yep. I can see their problem. It really is very hard to actually mount any sort of campaign by sticking to the actual subject.
Maybe it’d be easier to mount a campaign for the extension of the welfare card. I’d like to see the following question asked in Question Time:
“Minister, given the successful trial of the welfare card, can we have it extended to MPs who have a history of getting drunk and missing votes?”
Yeah, not going to happen. And speaking of things that I thought wouldn’t happen, Adani have announced that they’re starting the mine in October. Strange that we didn’t hear any announcement about them getting finance. Last I read, none of the banks would touch it because not only is the price of coal a concern, India have announced that they’re phasing out coal imports. Adani have disputed this and said that not only is the Indian government wrong about what it’s going to do, but that coal is the way of the future. Still you would have thought that something like Adani getting finance would have been worth a mention. Ah well, perhaps they’re just going to start digging and hope that someone comes along and says, “Here take this. It’s money. You look like you need it because you’re trying to start a coal mine with two shovels and a pick.”
I’d better stop. The absurdity of the teenage mind is looking more rational by the second! If I don’t stop trying to make sense of the world, I’ll be handing the ball back to Kevin and telling him that his argument is one of the best I’ve heard in quite a while.