Double standards | 20.5.13
Should a civil registrar be allowed to opt out of marrying an interracial couple on grounds of conscience? Should a civil registrar be allowed to opt out of marrying a same-sex couple on grounds of conscience? Explain to me how the principle differs. We are all subject to the law. If such registrars can't, in good conscience, fulfil the duties which they are employed to fulfil, then they need to find a new job.
Keith takes a holiday | 19.5.13
Remarking on the Catholic church's handling of hypocrite Keith O'Brien, who has recently gone away on penance (holiday), one of the complainants against him remarks: "I will give forgiveness if asked, as long as the damage has been recognised. At times, we don't do ourselves a lot of good by throwing pardon around like confetti without a change of heart. I am angry at the system that licked his boots and allowed him to get on with it." Quite so.
Brendan O'No | 17.5.13
The other day, Brendan O'Neill gave a speech in which he wanted to argue that gay marriage represents a "war on difference". He attempted to support this by the analogy of a music college (i.e. marriage) being forced to admit people who are no good at music (i.e. teh gays). Now, Mr O'No tends to position himself so far beyond the realm of reasonable thought that there's little point in engaging with him. On this occasion, though, his wrongheadedness is, I fear, fairly widely shared.
Let's debunk this spurious analogy, which can be achieved with a little historical awareness. After all, there was a time when marriage was used to wage a "war on difference". Gay people were expected either to marry someone of the opposite sex, often producing misery and sexual frustration for all concerned, or to be single and lonely out of misplaced respect for the sensitivities of a prejudiced majority. It is not too hard to see that what is happening now -- the opening of the institution of marriage to "different" relationships -- is an affirmation of difference par excellence, and not a diminution of it. (Particularly if we consider that nobody has to get married if they don't want to.) As for the music college analogy, let's just note that Mr O'No seems to think that the real reason teh gays shouldn't be allowed in is because he thinks they're no good at marriage and don't deserve a place in it. After all, there's only so much marriage to go round! Right?
Arguments often fall flat on their face. Luckily for Mr O'No, his never got off the ground to start with.
Earth to George | 13.5.13
Renowned* Former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has repeatedly lamented the persecution of Christians in Britain. Well, old darlinck, a quick FYI. This is what real (rather than imagined) religious persecution looks like:
For more than four months my mother was held in solitary confinement. In 2010, after 2½ years of detention, during which the seven were physically mistreated, they were charged with baseless accusations of espionage, insulting Islamic sanctities, crimes against national security, and ''spreading corruption on earth''. Any one of these charges can result in the death sentence in Iran.
Not quite the same as being obliged to treat citizens fairly in public office, wouldn't you say? (The scandal of it!)
More Moore | 11.5.13
Charles Moore, a Conservative who insists that so much talk about gay marriage is damaging the Conservatives, has chosen to pen another column on the topic. Fine by me; from these quarters you'll hear no objection to damaging the Conservatives! However, in his characteristically self-satisfied tenor, Moore writes as though no answers have actually been given to the points he makes. His contention today is that the Marriage Bill will change the "nature" of marriage. For a start, marriage has no "nature"; it is a social and legal institution which has been modified throughout history. But what he is getting at is that marriages between men and women will somehow be changed by the fact that same-sex couples will soon also be able to enter into legal marriages.
Since rational argument is not Charlie's cup of tea, shall we just have a little wager? The morning after the Marriage Bill is passed, if all married heterosexual couples suddenly wake up to find their marriages changed -- presumably by husbands being possessed of an irrepressible urge to plump cushions, and wives spontaneously becoming Grand Theft Auto addicts, or perhaps by husbands and wives the land over discovering their genitals to have been mysteriously modified by an Act of Parliament (for such is the silliness of this trajectory of thought) -- I will take it all back. Alas, when these absurd outcomes fail to materialise, I won't expect similar concessions from the other side. Such is the "nature" of brainless conservatism.