Mark Dapin is another of those columnists whose work I am exposed to through the caprices of the weekend newspaper lift out. Like that previous columnist I spotlighted, Dapin fills his spot with tales of his mum coming over from England and falling on her bum, of beer with an amusing name. He doesn't go to the lengths that a Ron Saw would*, of naming his wife and children with cute code names and writing about them incessantly. Or am I thinking of Ross Campbell?
*a habit that's been taken up by many an Australian columnist
Well, a letter writer yearned publicly for Dapin to return to more political commentary and the message was received yielding this one true return to form:
I came back from holiday to find a postcard from my federal MP, asking whether I thought gays should be allowed to marry. I was a bit surprised, since she has never canvassed my opinion on any other issue: whether, for example, midgets should join the library service.
I'd have thought everyone should have the same civil rights, regardless of their biology or beliefs*. So,yes, gays should get married, if they want. Your sexual orientation doesn't matter. As soon as you get married, you stop having sex anyway.
According to my MP's postcard, "Recently the government asked Members of Parliament to gauge local community attitudes to same-sex marriages." But in the Netherlands,which has about three-quarters of the population of Australia,only 1100 gay couples married in 2005. Do we really need to find out what everyone in the country thinks about this? I only ask, because I don't remember the government consulting me over whether we should invade Iraq. And when I demonstrated against the idea, it ignored me. Perhaps I should've sent the postcard.
I wonder if my (comparatively left-wing) MP is looking for my backing in the chamber because the people who object most strongly to gay marriage are religious - and everyone knows it's cruel to upset religious people, and if atheists stand up to them, we will burn in hell. I've never quite understood why it is so important to respect religious - as opposed to political - convictions, but I guess religious people vote in Australia and dead Iraqis don't vote anywhere.
Last year, religious people helped the Victorian government decide not to allow classes in humanism in Victorian schools. But that colourful assembly of property developers' proxies, the NSW State Parliament, has long agonised over whether NSW schoolchildren should be allowed to take ethics classes instead of religious education. Ethics, like PE, would be taught by volunteers. Am I the only person who thinks that their children should be taught by teachers?
I have a stake in this, since in England where I grew up, religious education was compulsory and I was excluded from it. "Noddy" Reese refused to teach me after I wrote swear words on the exam paper. I did this because I didn't like the subject, and there didn't seem to be any way og getting better at it. Religious education classes weren't real lessons, and I had more spiritually uplifting things to do, such as smoke cigarettes behind the bike sheds. Ethics periods won't be proper classes either, and kids in state schools will use them to persecute the volunteer tutors and stab each other in the arm with their (immoral) compasses.
At school, I hope my children will learn words and numbers, countries and kings, and the fact that osmosis is the attraction of a dilute solution to a concentrated solution through a semi-permeable membrane. I don't want them being told that Jesus was the son of God. Yes, I it's important to be familiar with the Judeo-Christian tradition, so you can understand great works of devotional art, and ideas that have changed the world, but this should be taught as history, like the rise of Islam and the spread of Buddhism.
A reader has complained I don't write about politics any more. There are two reasons for this: (1)Alexander Downer is no longer the member for Mayo. My work is done; (2)I don't get it. Labor politicians used to be mild right-wingers pretending to be left-wing so they'd get elected. Now they're mild left-wingers pretending to be right-wing once they're in Parliament. Does anybody seriously believe Julia Gillard is personally against amending the Marriage Act? Or, for that matter, that Tony Abbott really thinks climate change is a scam? Why should I tell politicians what I believe when they won't tell me what they believe?
Answers on a postcard, please.
*Except for estate agents, who are just a bunch of crooks.
[Good Weekend, February 26,2011]