Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

24 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Keith Windschuttle??? Surely this is taking the culture wars too far. What on earth does he know about broadcasting? And why do we need three hard-core culture warriors on the ABC board?

    Howard stoops to a new low.

  2. Want an entertaining take on Peak Oil?

    I thoroughly recommend “Robert Newman’s History Of Oil”, an online video of a one man show. Find it through google video. Very very funny. Tony Blair as Joseph Goebbels is worth it alone!

  3. In The Australian of the 14th of June, Janet Albrechtsen summarised the arguments common among those opposing same sex marriage. As usual, these arguments are a mix of ideology and outright contempt.
    Albrechtsen wrote:

    Marriage is a social compact between a mother, a father, children and the state.

    The necessary and sufficient elements of a marriage are two parties. Since children may or may not be conceived or even envisaged at the time of the pact, the two parties cannot be qualified as father and mother. In addition, children never express the will to join the pact, so they are not founding elements of the pact. Third, the state is clearly redundant. We can substitute it with a list of social institutions: clan, tribe, family, friends, community, or simply leave it out, without any serious consequences for the validity of the pact. Hence we are left with the two parties as sources of the agreement that creates a marriage.
    She also wrote:

    Marriage is the best way to rear the next generation.

    Rearing children is and has never being an exclusive task of the biological parents. Even today’s society has child care centres, schools, social sports, grandmothers and grandfathers, television etc. Arguably, the role of biological parents is actually dwindling.
    Albrechtsen also states:

    The state defends marriage because it guarantees society’s future.

    Defending marriage has never had any consequences on the number of persons that enter or would like to in same-sex relationships. It has never changed a gay into a straight, so it has never eradicated the threat to society’s future. Either the state is totally ineffective in this respect, or simply there has never been a threat to society’s future from same-sex relationships.
    Hardly anybody will disagree with Albrechtsen when she stresses that it is important to consider the welfare of children. Children’s welfare depends on, among other things, on having a father and a mother. But she’s plain wrong when she claims that

    (…) disregard(ing) the role of father and mother clashes with biology and human nature.

    She mixes the biological and social roles of parenthood. Clearly, if gays try to procreate, that’s against biological laws and indeed it will never work. But that doesn’t mean they have no change at being good parents. There is not biological law involved in this.

  4. wilful – apparently he has some experience relating to journalism, which the ABC claim is something they are also involved with.

    Face it, mate, your losing – have a look at the scoreboard.

  5. AFAIK, Windschuttle’s experience is as a Marxist media critic. As he’s never recanted the views he stated then, it will be interesting to see whether he puts them into practice now.

  6. Nanni Concu, as far as I can see, the people who were complaining loudest a couple of years ago about “nobody wanting to get married”, are, now that there is a group who WANTS to get married, strenously objecting….

  7. Married people have no better chance of raising children well than anyone else. There was a good line from a movie (I think it was Parenthood), uttered by Keanu Reeves of all people, that you need a licence to drive a car, you need a licence to own a dog, but any bu**wipe can have a child.

    And it’s true, It’s only after you have the child, if you bad enough at raising it, that the state intervenes.

  8. Keith Windshuttle’s appointment to the ABC Board,is interesting proof of the extent to which Howard is willing to wage the “culture wars”.
    Can you imagine Malcolm Fraser ,John Hewson,of any other recent Liberal leaders doing that,given that Windshuttle is the David Irving of Revisionists historians in Australia. Cleary he must be a big favourite with John and Janet.
    Howard seems quite like his USA buddy ,Bush,who recently appointed a 24 years old republican aide,to NASA ,because its’ Weather bureau has been commenting on Global Warming ,which also with the Big Bang Theory is a White House No-No!

    ,So young Mt Deutsch told his NASA colleagues,that they must stear clear of such comments as they clash with the religious principles of some Americans.
    What next…no comment on the Solar System.
    All well documented in a book called”The Republicans War on Science:….anti-evolution,no stem cell research,etc.etc…a sort of White House version of the Mad Hatters tea Party.

  9. I always thought that Conservatives resisted the notion of intrusive governments, yet they seem to be the ones defending this government’s actions in relation to same sex unions.

    Plus Razor said –

    Face it, mate, your losing – have a look at the scoreboard.

    It’s you’re, mate – have a look at a dictionary.

  10. In The Australian of the 14th of June, Janet Albrechtsen summarised the arguments common among those opposing same sex marriage.

    I read that article and tried really hard to work out where she was coming from. I don’t think the state belongs anywhere near the institution of marriage. The state should neither ban nor promote marriage but rather it should bless marriage with benign neglect.

  11. Is McCain really a Republican? This doesn’t sound anything like Bush or Cheney…

    JOHN McCain is worried about the Great Barrier Reef. In his office in the US Senate, the Republican Party’s best chance of holding on to the presidency in 2008 says one of the great wonders of the world is under threat.

    “I’m concerned that people aren’t concerned enough about its future,” he says. “If people could just see it and experience its wonders, they would be deeply troubled, just as I am. Pollution and other environmental degradation, and of course global warming, are such threats to the whole planet. We have to act now.”

    Given the Bush Administration not only refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol but continues to question whether global warming exists and is not just a theory cooked up by radical environmentalists to wreck the US economy, McCain’s position on the issue has not endeared him to many Republicans.

    No matter, he says. People are coming around, even in the Administration. The momentum for change is building, with leading conservative evangelicals starting to say that God expects human beings to look after the world he created.

    McCain’s concern for the Barrier Reef is not just theoretical. He has visited Australia half a dozen times, the last in January when he spent a week in Cairns and on the reef before heading to Sydney for a meeting with the Prime Minister, John Howard.

    “It was good of him to break into his vacation to see me,” he says. “We talked about many things, including global warming and the threats to the Barrier Reef. He knows I do not support the US or the Australian position on global warming.”

    Link: Flight of the green hawk
    Regardless of who wins, it seems like the dark days will end in 2008.

  12. Further to what Steve at the Pub said about marriage being little more than making a private committment public, there’s the obvious ethical problem that if you need to say something in public to make what you say in private “more meaningful”, then that devalues what you say in private to the point where the consequences aren’t too pleasant. Public marriage vows are all about establishing lines of hereditary wealth succession in such a way that everyone in the village knows who’s supposed to the be parents of who, from an age when the two people getting married hardly knew each other (so private vows were meaningless).

    Albrechson, of course, is completely off her rocker. Looking after and loving children has shit all to do with what reproductive organs you were born with. The psychology of being anti gay people is a vast field, but, well, pretty depressing.


  13. Andrew Bolt comes at this from a different angle in the Sunday Sun today, not claiming that same sex couples could not raise children as well as others but claiming that male / male relationships are inherently more prone to promiscuity and therefore weaken the overall concept of marriage, further emperiling children generally. He then says opening the door to same sex marriage will lead to polygamy and worse on the basis of equal rights. Oh dear!

  14. Chris, a most interesting statistic will be what will be the “participation rate” in same-sex marriage, and even more so, the percentage which end in divorce and the average lifespan of failed same-sex marriage.

  15. “a most interesting statistic will be what will be the “participation rateâ€? in same-sex marriage, and even more so, the percentage which end in divorce and the average lifespan of failed same-sex marriage”.

    Participation rate would be interesting. Comparison of ‘success rates’ or duration to male/female could be misleading since there would be unique societal pressure brought to bear on same sex relationships (homophobia, closer public scrutiny). I guess all these statistics would change over time.

  16. Further to what Steve at the Pub said about marriage being little more than making a private committment public, there’s the obvious ethical problem that if you need to say something in public to make what you say in private “more meaningful�, then that devalues what you say in private to the point where the consequences aren’t too pleasant.


    If I understand your position correctly then I must say that I don’t agree. A public confirmation of a private undertaking gives a person enormous leverage against the distractions and temptations that life invariably offers up. Vows and oaths are not just ornamental. They are a big part of how a person chisels out an inner identity for themselves.

    Your statement is like saying that it would make no difference to how sport is approached by athletes if we had no public celebration of victory. Public wedding vows are not merely a reflection of personal meaning. They are part of the process through which such meaning is created and sustained.


  17. Marriage is more than a social contract. It is fundamentally an economic contract where assets are merged to strengthen a particular clan. While there may be those who believe in a romantic notion of marriage, this is a recent phenomenon of the 20th century and one that is a preferenced in the ‘developed’ world.
    Its not really about love. It’s about having the same legal rights in areas such as taxation and superannuation. –
    The state is all very happy to take the taxes and creativity of gays and lesbians, but refuses to give anything back.
    The conservatives shroud basic cultural notions in value judgements and define concepts such as family and australian identity accordingly. Its a spin and the sooner we stop asking permission and simply demand our rights, the sooner we achieve a just society that we can all participate in

  18. Cam,

    An alternate approach (and a harder but ultimately better one in my view) is to argue that hetrosexuals who marry should lose some of the special privaledges currently confered by the state. If people actually want an economic contract then they should make one explicitly (in addition to any romantic celebration).

    The problem with “positive rights” is that they create a precident for even more “positive rights” until eventually everybody is entitled and nobody is responsible.


  19. The problem with “positive rights� is that they create a precedent for even more “positive rights� until eventually everybody is entitled and nobody is responsible.

    Not quite sure what you mean by “positive rights”, but most people understand that rights of any sort are not open ended and without conditions. Rights (and freedoms and choices) come with commensurate limits and responsibilities. For example, gaining a drivers licence, or becoming a qualified professional, or having a child, etc. Fail to fulfill your responsibilities properly in your driving, work, or child rearing, and you can forfeit those rights, in part or whole, for some time at least.

    I do agree that the concept of rights does become legalistic and abused at times, but that is no argument against them, just a cautionary note about granting and applying them.

  20. Negative rights are those that require others to act passively. So your right to free speech merely others to not take action that would silence you. Free speech is a negative right. Any right that expects people to desist from intervention is generally a negative right.

    Positive rights are those that reqire others to actively do something. So your right to a free university education requires somebody else to work hard to pay for it. Or else it requires educators to work for nothing. Any rights that demand a contribution from others are generally a positive right.

    Positive rights generally require that governments coerce a given action by some citizens for the benefit of some other citizens, whilst negative rights are usually proclaimed to restrict governments from coercing people.

    Sorry that my answer is more than a year late.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s