Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Abbott the hysterical historian

There’s no doubt about Tony Abbott – he’s the gift that keeps on giving

Matt Golding cartoon.
This is Tones the historian giving a definition of marriage though the ages.

Forget cultures which practice polyandry or polygamy. Ignore “walking marriage”, “fixed term marriage”, “ghost marriage”, “marriage to a deity”, “woman-woman marriage” and marriage involving a “two spirit” person.

No, it has definitely been lifetime monogamous marriage between one man and one woman since time immemorial, according to the MP for Warringah.

*Sound of  thousands of anthropologists laughing out loud*

Excerpt from Tony Abbott’s speech to an assembly of right-wing extremists at an Alliance Defending Freedom dinner on 28 January 2016:

Marriage, actually, was never just about two people who love each other. Siblings love each other. Parents love their children and vice versa. Friends can love each other. You don’t need to be married to love someone.

It’s only in recent times, that marriage has been about romantic love. Marriage arose as a way of dealing with human imperfection. It was to keep men more committed and less likely to abandon their wives and children – and I doubt that we have become so flawless that this no longer matters.

In Australia, just a decade ago, almost unanimously, the parliament affirmed that marriage was between a man and a woman…..

Indeed, around the world, some 17 countries now provide for same sex marriage. But 176 don’t – and few of them are likely to change any time soon.

Now, I know that numbers aren’t the only test – but it’s hardly self-evident that the 17 that have changed are right and that all the others are wrong.

Not long ago most gay activists rejected marriage as an oppressive institution.

Now they demand as their right what they recently scorned; they demand what was unimaginable in all previous times and still is in most places. They are seeking what has never been and expecting others to surrender what always has. It’s a massive ask — for me, an ask too far.

I support people’s right to make a case for the things they ­believe, and want them cour­teously heard, but policymakers should strive to hold the common ground.

In today’s world, we need less ideology and more common sense; we need less impatience and more respect; we need less shouting at people and more ­engagement with them.

We shouldn’t try to change something without understanding it, without grasping why it is that one man and one woman open to children until just a very few years ago has always and everywhere been considered the essence of marriage and the heart of family.

Of course, we can’t shirk our responsibilities to the future, but let’s also respect and appreciate values and institutions that have stood the test of time and pass them on, undamaged, when that’s best.

Some readers might also question Abbott's notion that in the West traditional marriage evolved as a way to protect women and children. Rather than as a way for men to protect their own political, property and inheritance rights.

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