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Why Do We Criminalise Love?

People are in a state of uproar over the notion of two human beings coming together in love, and yet when asked where they stand on Israel/Palestine, the destruction of the habitable biosphere, space travel, virtual reality, the wars in Syria, Yemen, the genocide in West Papua, their expressions and their opinions are suspiciously blank.

Do we only have enough love for one cause? What makes us think the suffering of one party is any different to the suffering of another?

I’m not singling out homosexual love here, I’m talking about all love, it just so happens that homosexuality is a topical battleground on which we’re deciding between whether we want to care genuinely about our fellow man or leave him to wither and die.

If we feel we have to pick and choose what people we extend compassion and care to, I feel we’ve missed the point entirely.

It’s almost like through some long process of dehumanisation, through a gradual shifting of values from human interaction, togetherness and mutual support towards individualism, materialism and greed, we’ve forgotten what’s normal and what’s harmful.

We’re so incredibly quick to shout down love, to marginalise it, to criminalise it.

On the same day we run into a department store and in a roundabout way fund child labour. No one raises an eyebrow. We hear of mass murder and rape, and yet by the evening we have forgotten, and are planning to attend a xenophobic rally against our fellow man, not because of his actions, but because of his race, his country, his religion.

These are the actions of broken people, living confused existences, chasing satisfaction, chasing a solution to the whole “problem” of living, without knowing what it is they genuinely want.

This is not the natural state of the human organism.

When you diminish a human being, when from birth you give them the impression through media, advertising and tacit cultural norms that all they are good for is performing some menial, perfunctory task for a moderate wage, and consuming whatever new flashy toy is made available to them, then one can only expect that person to feel small, powerless, replaceable, unimportant.

I suppose when people feel this way it’s probably deeply unsettling to approach the real issues of our time head on, and so for the sake of comfort and the illusion of security they start shooting at easy targets.

It’s so incredibly important that we awaken to the fact that we are not this deformed, isolated little thing, trapped in a bag of skin, fit for nothing but mindless buying and selling, that in fact written inside each of us is the entire story of mankind, the whole spectrum of emotion and feeling, the totality of what it means to be human.

“Bullshit! All humans are inherently corrupt! Barbarism is the natural state of mankind, only our institutions restrain our more primal urges!”, shout a certain section of the public when told this. They seem fervent and certain.

I can’t say I agree. If this proposition is true, we should see a positive correlation between the strength and scope of authoritarian forms of government and a decline in all of the barbaric, corrupt forms of behaviour.

Funnily enough, the inverse is true.

Can we say that this theory has relation to reality in the light of countless authoritarian and totalitarian regimes which have produced, out of the restraints of their institutions, the most barbarous and corrupt acts?

Also it’s worth asking how you trust yourself to be alone if you genuinely believe this. If your basic nature is aggression, barbarism and so on, then why aren’t you hiring security guards to watch you at home around the clock? I mean, if you really are this terrible thing, how can you be sure you won’t murder your wife or children on a whim? How do you possibly trust yourself to be left to your own devices?

One sees immediately that this way of thinking is unsustainable, and curiously self-defeating. Perhaps it exists as a justification for misanthropy, for a general distrust and fear of ones fellow man.

But again, you are not this fearful, anxious, distant little creature, and nor are the people playing at being it.

It’s all right there, right now, all you need to do is look, quietly, honestly, gently, at what’s happening in the centre of your chest.

Remember who you are. You are not the end product of capitalism, a rat desperately traversing a maze after a non-existent promised cheese. You are not your personality, your goals, your beliefs, your ego. You are not your political party, your dress style, your name, your age, your nationality, your ethnicity.

Go inside. Listen to the process of your own life unfolding.

Remember who you are.


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  1. Terry2

    I see from the weekend News Corp papers that they are applauding Abbott’s deft handling of the marriage equality issue, evidently, as they see it, calling Labor’s bluff : strange that this has been turned into a political gotcha moment when it was supposed to be all about amending the Marriage Act to eliminate discrimination.

    I found this argument hard to get my head around but, here goes : the conservative right seem to be saying that the ALP having said that they will take marriage equality to the parliament for a free vote within 100 days of a Labor government being elected have now been gazumped by a shrewd Prime Minister – a man of the people no less – who has come out and said there will be no free vote in the LNP but better still he will take the decision away from politicians and the courts – we all hate politicians & lawyers don’t we – and give it to the people in a plebiscite at some future date yet to be determined by the PM.

    What an amazing juxtaposition no doubt dreamt up by the team of spinners that Peta employs , supposedly putting Abbott back in charge of this issue to have a plebiscite on his terms at a time that he determines and according to rules that he will decide on.

    Too clever by far !

  2. Harquebus

    1: Survive.
    2: Procreate.
    That’s it. Everything else is to advantage one’s self on those two and in that order.

  3. Rob Marsh

    So altruism doesn’t exist? If you believe that all we are is survival and procreation, you’re basically a tube with teeth on one end, devising devious schemes to enable you to funnel food into the tube. There’s no explanation here for love, for compassion, for art. No accounting for poetry, for joy, for awe, for humility.

    This is a curious put-down philosophy which just doesn’t stand up to any of our lived experiences, and I find the kind of people that become fervently attached to it are those that see reality and life as intrinsically hostile, frightening, painful, who say “face the facts”, and, “I’m a realist!”.

    These are synonyms for “I’m afraid.”

  4. Kaye Lee

    Greed accounts for much of what ails humanity. A fear of difference, a feeling of superiority, hierarchical social pecking order, fanatical belief – these all work to divide society so we dehumanise and vilify the ‘other’.

    Something that amazes me is that the government has to employ consultants to advise them what “community expectations” are. It seems we spend half our time making rules and the other half looking for ways to get around them. We all know what is ethical but that can be easily discarded for personal gain.

    But this is not all society. Many know the joy of helping others. Many get great satisfaction from helping others to overcome adversity, to achieve, to become productive members of their community. We are all part of an interconnected global community with a responsibility to help make the world a better place. No-one should have to live in fear.

  5. diannaart

    Anything can be ‘criminalised’ depending upon the agenda of the incriminater.

    For example at the Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne recently, both the racist and anti-racist groups were said to be “as bad as each other”

    I am trying work that claim out, did the claim simply mean there were violent agitators infiltrated into both groups who caused mayhem, which is quite likely? Or did one side have more reason to be violent than the other? Hmmmmm possible also.

    The message from the Victorian Chief of Police, Graham Ashton “…change in protest laws after anti-Islamic protesters clashed with anti-racism groups at the weekend, saying both sides were as bad as each other.”

    …and Victorian Liberal Politician for Kew, Tim Smith, repeated the Police Chief’s words on ABC 774 interview (tried to locate sound-bite, but have life to live).

    … I interpreted the message as both sides were, well ‘as bad as each other’, ‘to be ignored’, ‘nothing to see here’, ‘they’re all just nutters’, or words to that effect.

    Which leaves me with a conundrum of how can protesting racism and bigotry be as bad as supporting it? Maybe George Brandis can answer that question for me….

    I also gained the impression that certain members of the government were promoting tougher measures on protesters, irrespective of the message being proclaimed by any protester of love or hate.

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    SGS was criminalised. Men could and did go to jail. Women condemned for living with one outside marriage, labelled as living in sin. Bastard children hidden.

    From where I sit, marriage was never about love.

    it was about ownership for men. Mostly about right to have sex. Women with children only way to exist was within marriage. In fact women without children also was force to rely on man for their upkeep. Attempt by men to ensure any offspring was theirs. Attempt by royalty and the wealthy to protect their money and power.

    Love is a modern day concept of love. Women in this country have only had the means to live alone, support themselves, create wealth since the 1970’s.

  7. Harquebus

    Rob Marsh
    “which just doesn’t stand up to any of our lived experiences” yet although, it will soon.
    A very advanced tube with teeth. Yes.
    The selfish gene rules.

    Search criteria: selfish gene


  8. Annie B

    A truly excellent article Rob Marsh …. and thank you for it.

    There seems to be TMI out there today – waaay Too Much Information. .. It clouds our judgement of ‘things’ that should matter, and those that should not. .. take just an example of two newspapers ( not that I read the damned papery things – but I do on-line ) … and, depending on the viewpoint of the reporter ( as opposed to true journalist – there ain’t too many of those left ) … the information becomes skewed, is opposite in many instances, and relates not just two but several aspects of stories that in fact are basic, should be factual and not coloured by ‘wot the editor wants’ or how ‘clever the reporter is in word usage’ ?? …

    There is so much cynicism in the world today, and I personally think that partly explains the ” yet by evening we have forgotten” statement in your article. .. So much happens between morning and evening these days, every day, and we are under some kind of siege of external problems. We have love to give, but trying to spread it so incredibly thinly, is asking for it to disappear altogether. .. Like thin ice, it does not hold up.

    An old saying springs to mind ! .. ” Charity begins at home” and frankly it should. The family unit is the first and foremost place that love should reign, be nurtured, given, taught and encouraged. … These are building blocks, and as the ‘building’ becomes stronger and higher, then love can be, and is hopefully, given elsewhere.

    In these times, we are asked 100++ times a day, via so many means, to give all of our love and attention to everything. .. We are but human, not the Higher Power ( whatever anyone sees him/her to be ) … and are limited in what we can do and show. So we cover our perceived inadequacies with a show of cynicism, ‘who cares’ attitudes, and deliberately turning away from problems that beset humanity – only to come out every now and again, and take up a cause – ( often short lived ). .. I have heard the words actually uttered, and have been tempted to myself – ” I can’t stand seeing this shit any longer ” … to do with murder, mayhem, war, gross indecencies, political ( read childish ) factions taunting and retorting, fear mongering. … It is the stuff nightmares are made of – and we live it every day.

    Which is where survival comes in. That is the one thing I can agree with Harquebus on ( but not on the procreate comment and further ). … the strongest instinct is for survival – and when we feel pushed down, subjugated, horrified, tired of threat, and worried – is when that survival instinct kicks in. It has to – for us all to survive and move on – to better things, and to hopefully show our love for those less fortunate.

    It is a hard task – especially these days, with so many worthy causes begging for attention – not to mention the woes cast upon us by our current government.

    But they will get their just desserts – in the long run. Do NOT fear.

  9. Annie B

    @ Florence …

    I hear you. …

    Frankly, I think the word ‘marriage’ should be wiped from the books. … It was, over centuries past, a matter of convenience, or of suitability ( arranged between families of certain calibre and breeding ) … and that happened, across the board – not only in Middle Eastern / sub-continent countries which DO still arrange marriages – but in the very ‘proper’ English speaking countries as well. … and it was male dominated – to a large degree – then. … Choosing the ‘ proper ‘ bride !!

    I am old enough to remember, that to have sex, one HAD to be married ( any other thought was horrific, although that ‘thought’ happened many times anyway, human nature / needs had its’ way !!) . … Am also old enough to remember being told ( particularly by an ancient Aunt of mine ) never to associate with ‘bastards’ … they were deemed the dirtiest of dirt of the earth. ( didn’t seem to matter whether they were actually illegitimate – or not !! – =only if the rumours and persuasions were there ).

    It was ‘women’ who got themselves into trouble – the men responsible for doing the deed, were simply not held accountable, and walked away ( many did ) … while it was left to the woman to bear the child, bear the burden, and bear the discrimination thereafter – or bear the pain of doing away with, or giving away – the resulting baby.

    ( bear with me please ) …

    I do think most of that type of intolerance and bigotry has been done away with, now. And woe betide any man or woman who casts aspersions at a woman who chooses to have a child – sans husband. ! … at worst she gets a huffy sniff and shrug from ancient Aunties. !!! 😉 …. and most don’t go beating up on ancient Aunties, because they happen to live in the past – or for any other reason !!

    But – I also believe there IS – or can be, a very real all encompassing love between people both heterosexual and homosexual. … and that it sometimes, even often, ends up as a public commitment, in front of friends and family – in a church or in a garden – and by a signed ( government requirement ) form, called a Marriage Certificate. … To some that Certificate is important – to others not so much.

    Have also been fortunate to see many men, over the years, who physically, emotionally, mentally and financially support their wives and family to the very best of their abilities. …. all good wishes to those men.
    And that is a joy to witness.

    Still have to say however, – perhaps the institution of marriage per se, what it means, why it is, and whether it should continue as such, should be revisited. … Who would do that ? The people ? the churches ? the governments ? … Who ?

    Not easy to answer.

  10. Matters Not

    Re Rob Marsh:

    So altruism doesn’t exist?

    ‘Altruism’ is a ‘concept’, a ‘mental construct’ if you like. It doesn’t ‘exist’ like physical objects do in the form of trees, water or air (examples only). It only exists in the ‘mind’ of individuals located in particular sociocultural contexts. And even then it’s anything but a shared value or even a ‘common sense’.

    Ayn Rand, for example, argued that:

    the ultimate moral value, for each human individual, is his or her own well-being …


    For Rand and her followers (read IPA adherents in the current context), it’s all about being ‘selfish’ and therefore ‘altruism’ is just a nonsense.

    Since selfishness (as she understands it) is serious, rational, principled concern with one’s own well-being, it turns out to be a prerequisite for the attainment of the ultimate moral value. For this reason, Rand believes that selfishness is a virtue

    I have argued constantly that Abbott et. al. under the guidance of the IPA are promoting a new ‘common sense’. Initially, they overreached with their first Budget and tried to (temporarily) correct their mistake with a (supposed) election winning budget, second time around. But make no mistake, their intention to reconstruct ‘common sense’ and the nonsense of ‘altruism’ (as they see it) is firmly on the agenda. In fact it’s what they are ‘all about;.

  11. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Diannart: I suspect the police were not referring to the message but to the behaviour of the individuals on either side.
    As regards SSM, I wish our politicians showed more understanding of the Constitution.

    51 Legislative powers of the Parliament [see Notes 10 and 11]

    The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
    (xxi) marriage;

    and the Marriage Act 1961 Section 5 gives the definition:
    “marriage” means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

    In 1984 the amended act included:
    Schedule 1—Amendment of the Marriage Act 1961

    1 Subsection 5(1)


    marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

    2 At the end of section 88B


    (4) To avoid doubt, in this Part (including section 88E) marriage has the meaning given by subsection 5(1).

    3 After section 88E


    88EA Certain unions are not marriages

    A union solemnised in a foreign country between:

    (a) a man and another man; or

    (b) a woman and another woman;

    must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

    So an amendment to alter the definition and remove the restrictions in the Schedule are all that is required to allow same sex marriage.

    It does not need a plebiscite as it allows but does not require, so no one is forced to marry an opposite sex partner and there is no imposition on clergy opposed to SSM to agree to conduct a service.

  12. Annie B

    Rosemary ….

    The sections / amendments confused me somewhat, but one thing jumped out … sad as it is to say :

    “marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

    To the exclusion of all others ? ( so often does not happen )

    Entered into for life ? .. a little less than half the marriages conducted whichever way they are conducted, these days end in divorce.

    Sad to say.

  13. diannaart


    Diannart: I suspect the police were not referring to the message but to the behaviour of the individuals on either side.

    I thought I had made myself clear that the police were indeed referring to behaviour of both sides – which begs the question; were there infiltrators (in both sides) to deliberately stir up violence or were both sides inherently violent?

    My humble opinion is that people who spread division/ostracism/apartheid and so on, by their beliefs, are more likely to become incensed to the point of violence (now I do understand this is a generalisation).

    …and people arguing for inclusion and acceptance of others no matter their race, colour or creed, be less likely to erupt in violence?

    I don’t know if I am making myself clear but will stagger on.

    Are all protesters, irrespective of political stripe, inherently violent?

    Which would imply that those arguing for peace and harmony are just as hypercritical as those who protest from fear and hate.

    Was a case being made by some police and some politicians and some media to paint the peace&love crowd as just as ‘evil’ as those not so into loving their neighbours?

    The above mentioned (some police and some politicians and some media) do have form in disparaging people of difference, for example, the nonsense claimed about the LGBTI among us, such as they are unnatural, not entitled to marry because they don’t procreate, or are a danger to children… the list of disparagements exceeds my patience to list all of them – and I’d still be short of an insult or two.

    If you require further explanation/clarification, please let me know.

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