Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Conscience vote'

To use what might be considered an unfortunate expression, I have no dog in this fight. I'm a straight woman in her late 50s with no interest in marriage. (Been there, done that, threw up on the t-shirt.)


I think the people who say the ALP's national conference is being hijacked by the 'unimportant' issue of gay marriage aren't thinking hard enough about what importance is, or indeed about what politics is. To my mind this goes to two absolutely fundamental issues in politics: the quality of ordinary people's daily lives, and the question of who has power over whom, and to what end.

So the idea that it has anything whatever to do with Person A's 'conscience' when Person B and Person C decide that they would like to formally and legally celebrate their commitment to each other in the manner in which such commitment is most usually celebrated in our society is really just a case of a power struggle being dressed up to look like something nicer.

For whatever sense does it make, really, that Person A should wrestle with his or her own better angels about something that Persons B and C might want to do? No sense, that's what. Person A, if she or he genuinely believes this to be a matter of his or her own conscience, needs a bit of a lesson in how to recognise his or her own beeswax. And everyone knows that the Prime Minister's taking of the 'conscience vote' road is a totally cynical move in any case. And I can't be alone in finding something particularly rank and icky about dressing up a bit of pragmatic and strategic political gamesmanship as an issue of individual conscience.


paul walter said...

Well, the thing got up at conference, which is right.
The fundy right of course is grizzling like it's the end of the world; "We'll all be rooned...".
But I agree with Kerryn's more "gospel", if you like, interpretation, rather than the authoritarian Old Testament response: the incident where a roaring lynch mob are pulled up with the invitation that, after inward reference involving their own hearts and consciences, any of those present could honestly say they'd able to do better in their own lives to, "cast the first stone.."
No takers, apparently.
We all know that greed, anger, malice, intolerance and self righteousness are as self indulgent as eating chocolate or embarking on a session of good sex, likely as distracting, heck everyone has at least one weakness, don't they?
Which is not to say all social conservatism is bad, the ideas usually were thrown up in a different historical era and often motivated by a sense of concern for women, kids, social survival etc, as well to fit the needs of people running things.
But there does come a time when a person has to make up their own mind as to how they behave in the privacy of their own home and for the supervising morals committees and inspectorates, no matter how reluctantly, to eventually retire from the sanctity of people's boudoirs.
It's good that the guard dogs have finally been pulled back on the issue of gay rights.

Anonymous said...

"I have no dog in this fight."

That's a rather narrow way of conceiving the question. Unless you mysteriously aren't a part of your society somehow, you do indeed have a dog in the fight: you are a free individual, and you have a say in shaping what sort of world you wish to live in, and pass on to your future fellow citizens. (And what sort of world will it turn out to be, d'ye reckon?)

I have no desire to argue the specific issue. Just wanted to give you a little civics booster shot, eh?

The Lovecraftian Outer God formerly known as j_p_z

wv: "countc"

Count Chocula! We meet again! Mano a mano, as it were.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Not in any need of one, thanks, JPZ. I meant it strictly literally, as I sort of thought I'd explained.

R.H. said...

Special Delivery!

To that Anais Nin of blogging: Miz Kerryn Goldsworthy.

You will have an opinion, everyone has an opinion. I'm against gay marriage. I wouldn't attend one, I might be expected to kiss the bride.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.

There's some good material here for an interesting stoush about politics and language (and not the one you'd expect, either!), but I'm not in a very contentious mood, and I suspect you aren't either.

So instead, it's off to the racetrack!

Only kidding, it's the dead of winter here. But maybe _you'll_ enjoy a fine day at the racetrack! How's that for a fortune cookie?


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I was once told by an astrologer that I had the best stars for gambling she'd ever seen. 'I have no interest in gambling,' I said. 'Well there you go then,' she replied.

Armagny said...

It makes no sense. I think this issue is such a litums test of bigotry, because, even compared to an issue such as asylum seekers - on which you know I have strong views - no argument ever mounted sounds even remotely rational. More importantly, none of those against ever seem to be able to show a real interest that is affected.

By that I mean- I might disagree factually with anti boat people claims about numbers and so on, but it has at least the makings of a semblence of a rational argument about something that affects those opposing. Being against gay marriage is purely about imposing a bigotry on others. So to the extent that it is symbolic, it's a pretty ripe symbol. A bit like accepting the earth is flat.

Armagny said...

Contrast a law forcing churches to hold gay marriages. I don't understand religion much any more, but I wouldn't go that far. I just think it's an issue where a bit of live and let live is called for...

Mindy said...

I'm just waiting for the inevitable "gay divorce" statistics and claims that the sanctity of marriage is being damaged by people getting married and divorced easily. They seem to miss the point that it is the choice and protections afforded to married couples that should be open to everyone whether they choose to use them or not. If gay couples don't flock to the altar or divorce much the same as het couples it doesn't matter, what matters is that they get the choice to do so if they want to.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Unfortunately logical argument has very little to do with all of this. A good psychoanalyst could explain it in terms of how much most people have personally invested in the traditional idea of an ideal marriage. The threat they're worried about is not to anything real, but to something in which they nonetheless have a massive investment in terms of their own identity. As a (publicly) single woman I find this a lot with couples. A single woman makes a certain sort of het couple uneasy; we're a threat. Not always a direct sexual threat, especially after 45 or so, but our very existence proves that the world is not exclusively arranged like a Parisian haute bourgeoisie dinner party circa 1961. I imagine the existence of gay couples (or, worse, gay independents) makes a certain kind of het couple existentially uneasy for the same sort of reason.

Anonymous said...

"the best stars for gambling"

Hmm, are you saying that... "the stars were right" for you?


Maybe you're an Outer God, too.

Have you checked for any stray tentacles lately? Do you sometimes become invisible at the most inoppportune moments? Own any real estate in the Dead City of R'lyeh? Do you drop stuff on the floor and leave it there and mutter, "eh, so what, the shoggoths will pick it up"?

If so, we may have some GREAT opportunities for you to rid the earth's surface of tiresome human vermin!

Call 1-800-NYARLATHOTEP. Call today!

The Crawling Chaos

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

The mind, it boggles.

Anonymous said...

"The mind, it boggles."

Which raises sort of an interesting question: is it more fun in life to boggle easily, or with difficulty?

wv: "apyralit"
is that some sort of sub-category of the Brahmins?

paul walter said...

Kerryn's response to Armagny's points re belief is at the bottom of it all.
Armagny comes up with an interesting contrast with asylum seekers, understands one better than the other but the clincher in response is the point about belief and what that is.
Abortion is murder to some and salvation for others, how can both be right, for example?
"Others", be they gay, ethnic, ideological, whatever, are not humble, grateful, trustworthy people like "us", but self indulgent ingrates.
They challenge nationalism, marital and cultural norms, decency, common sense itself- don't tell me the world is round, I walked up to the chip shop this arvo and all was flat, as usual!
If my beliefs are established, then I act- if you are a reffo, or gay, or even a bit tricky looking I already know you are evil, like a cockroach. For me and my nearest and dearest's salvation and self respect I iron you out; I'll shoot first and ask questions later.
How will you, reader, deal with my irrationality, when my irrationality is perfectly reasonable to me, as yours is to you?
Herodotus, where are you?

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

It was actually mainly a response to Mindy, but having re-read the comments I can see that it applies to both.

paul walter said...

Mindy notes a historical trait now very ancient, as to suppression of gays and other allegedly "different" people being transhistoric.
If you can't entirely subscribe to the culture-only explanations of the formation and realisation of a person's psyche or "make up" from childhood onwards;
if "gayness" is genetic rather than cultural; that is with every generation for a hundred thousand years give or take, a fixed spill of genes favouring a percent of a community being actively or latently gay has occurred, you'd have to say that further attacks on gays are even more pointless now than before.

Emily said...

It seems a lot of fuss over nothing really. Marriage is an invented ceremony (not something in place from the beginnings of humanity as one opponent stated at the ALP Conference). If my friends would like to go through such a public ceremony, then so be it.
In my view religion, and its innumerable ceremonies, was invented by churches as a weapon of power over the masses.
I've now been married for 55 years and even though we are good companions, if I'd realised back then how ridiculous it is to be formally "married" and receive a piece of paper I wouldn't have bothered. We would still be very comfortable after all those years because it is not a piece of paper that has held us together.

paul walter said...

Any way, isn't the concept of any "conscience" vote involving politicians purely oxymoronic?
Surely if some thing is deemed a "conscience" vote, politicians are likely disbarred, since a vote on the basis of conscience implies the necessity and presence of one as preconditional for that specific event?

And what's a conscience, anyway?
Some thing that tells me I'm right when I'm miserable and suffering and wrong when I'm having fun???

persiflage said...

Michael Sexton's article on the laws relating to marriage and the civil unions throws a large dash of common sense on this issue.