The gay marriage debate rumbles and grumbles on, and while I’m not on the side of those who want to continue to use the state’s monopoly on force to maintain their preferred definition in law I have just as big a problem as those who don’t want this ended so much as to be given their turn at the controls. And what really gets my goat about this is their apparent enthusiasm for the kind of tactics they’d deplore, and rightly so, if used against the gay community.
As James mentioned the other day, Archbishop Cranmer has been taken to task by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for including on his blog an ad in favour of the current definition. It was, natch, ‘offensive’ and ‘homophobic’, though whether this is the ad or the act of carrying it isn’t all that clear, and the ASA have told him that they’re investigating and given him a time limit for response. I’d say this is pretty chickenshit of them because, as His Grace points out in his reply to the ASA, Guido and Conservative Home are apparently not being investigated despite carrying the offending ad as well. Helloooo, equality before the law? Where are you? Perhaps it’s worth approaching Muslim bloggers to see if they’d like to carry the ad as well, because I rate the chances of the ASA growing the balls needed to lean on the Muslims to embrace gay marriage as being so close to zero as makes no difference. Or maybe not since some of them would want the definition expanded in the other direction to mean man and ≤ 4 wives. and the ASA might just be capable of the kind of doublethink needed to deal with that. In any case His Grace has penned an excellent reply to the ASA and still has the ad up on his blog, and while I don’t agree with him long may it stay there. I don’t want his definition of marriage to have the force of law behind it but if his freedom to say what he thinks can be limited then anyone else in Britain can be similarly silenced, and that includes, if they’d only stop to think about it for a minute, the gay equality lobby.
And then we come to something else James mentioned, and actually what’s prompted this post. Here in Oz the Deputy Chief Trick Cyclist of Victoria (and I have to admit I had no idea we even had a Chief one – something else taxpayers are being squeezed for despite the state having some money troubles) and one time Christian missionary , Professor Kuruvilla George, co-signed a letter to a Senate inquiry into marriage equality.
Twenty-two Victorian GPs, anaesthetists, obstetricians, palliative care specialists and psychiatrists, including Prof Kuravilla George, have joined 150 colleagues interstate to argue gay marriage poses a health risk to society.
In a letter to the Senate’s inquiry into marriage equality, the group wrote that it was “important for the future health of our nation” to retain the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman.
“We submit the evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and father do better in all parameters than children without,” they wrote.
Leaving aside whether there’s merits in the argument it should be noted that Prof George signed that letter as a private citizen, not in his capacity as the No. 2 Official Brain Drainer of the state of Victoria or as a member of the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission. So why this?
… former national AMA president and gay rights activist Kerryn Phelps said the doctors should “hang their heads in shame” and that Prof George’s position on the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission should be reviewed.
Or this (from a letter to The Age)?
… Professor George is no ordinary citizen. He has used his standing as a medical practitioner to support claims that are not only scientifically false but seriously undermine any objective assessment of equality or support for good mental health.
Attorney-General Robert Clark cannot pick and choose which laws he wishes upheld or not [referring here to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights – AE]. Professor George’s private views have demonstrated his unsuitability for both offices he holds. His positions are now untenable, and he should be immediately stood down.
That same freedom of expression that means someone can write to the papers and say that someone’s publicly expressed opinions should get him the sack also means that those opinions can be expressed publicly in the first place, and if lost it applies to potentially everyone. Sadly for free speech, though I imagine happily for Melbourne’s population of trendy Fitzroy lefties who I expect were all fashionably outraged by his views, Prof George has today resigned from the Equal Opportunities Commission.
I might agree with the Fitzroy lefties that Prof George’s argument is bollocks but it worries me deeply that someone can be successfully driven from a job merely for saying something others, whether representing a majority or just a powerfully vocal minority (which here can mean Christians as often as it means the gay rights mob), dislike or disagree with. As I said earlier, if this can be done to one person it can be done to anyone at all once political fashions change and a once accepted opinion becomes the Thought That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
Today it’s homophobic (whether actually homophobic or merely allegedly homophobic) views being frowned on and those who voice them being hounded, but what’s stopping a future in which it’s the other way round or an equally right-on contemporary view being declared unacceptable and attracting punishment? If freedom to criticise the goose is good for the gander then it’s just as important for the goose to be able to say something worth criticising. Without that they’re both mute. And cooked.