Adam on Everything Madman's view on the world Sun, 13 Aug 2017 05:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Same-sex marriage a safety net for the health of the state Sun, 13 Aug 2017 04:57:37 +0000 [This is my response to Brendan O’Neill’s yarn “Same-sex marriage just another nanny state safety net” in the Weekend Australian.]

Brendan, you’ve got it all wrong: totally arse-about-face backwards.  I wonder if any analysis of Same Sex Marriage (SSM) could add less value to the debate.

Firstly, SSM is about equality. It’s about treating people the same with respect to the state-sanctioned institution of marriage and its follow-on state administration. SSM is about putting the fact and practise to non-discrimination, rather than the pretense or aspiration of non-discrimination.  It’s not asking for other people to lose their rights or asking for anything that isn’t already a right granted to other people.  

Secondly, it’s important to make sure we understand and focus on the real issue at hand. I’m pretty certain it’s not about “gay liberation” – I think we should rest our worries on that score.

Being happily heterosexual myself, I don’t have an authoritative view on the “gay liberation” conspiracy that you write about, but it does seem a bit far-fetched: this idea of a multi-generational proactive gay liberation elite campaigning to establish gay domination.  It doesn’t pass the ‘Pub Test’.  And in any cases such an objective is inimical to the many couples who I know and work with who just want to be treated like anyone else. 

So it’s not about “gay liberation”. What else isn’t it about. Oh: it’s not about the removing of criminalisation of non-heterosexual consensual sex.  Nor is it about the right for non-heterosexual couples to form an enduring bond.  These are old issues, settled long ago.  The argument for equality in principle for non-heterosexuals has come and gone. What we are left with in practice (at least with respect to enduring partnerships and broader family relationships such as children), is a mish-mash of “special-purpose” enablers, e.g. Civil Unions.

So if SSM is not about these things, then what is it about?

SSM is purely and simply about equality of access to the administration of marriage law, and all that comes from that equality.  Australian law (which is all that Federal Parliament can address) does not treat all couples equally.  Or does it? One of the strongest arguments against SSM (at least of those that aren’t childish, offensive or fattening) is that same-sex couples already have a form of permanent bond called “civil union”.

“So why do you need more than what you’ve already got?” is the question from many anti-SSM protagonists. It’s not a bad question, and there is a very simple answer: no-one is asking for more than anyone else has got; they are just asking for the same: equality before the law.

The reality is that the state (nanny or otherwise) has established myriad legal and administrative rules about the conduct of marriage, it’s cessation and everything in between. All those acts, regulations, and other political pronouncements anchor their application on the definition of “marriage” in the marriage act. This definition winds its tentacles through our whole legal existence. I wonder if there is any other definition (except perhaps “human being”) that is so pervasive.  Many rights and benefits are ascribed to those in an official marriage that are unavailable to those in a civil union.

We could, I suppose, embark upon the task of working through all these state legal instruments and painstakingly change them to include “civil union”. But what a stupid, pettifogging, and pointless idea.  Even if it were practical to do so, and there was not a huge opportunity cost to performing such a task, it would just create another set of problems down the track: specifically that we just introduced a million extra places where discrimination is codified into the practical toolset of government. We just made government bigger too.

Thirdly, let’s look at the argument for “religious protection” that is coming from certain quarters of the anti-SSM proponents, and supported it seems by certain sections of the government.

We have mandated religious freedom in this country; we have all the legal enablers that we need for religious freedom in this country.  We have a secular state where the separation of church and state is clearly established.  No-one is subject to restrictions on religious belief or practice of worship.  Unless of course, that those beliefs of practices puts you into conflict with some other principle of the law, and herein lies the problem for a section of the anti-SSM lobby.  They want to be protected from the reach of other legislation if and when they choose to take discriminatory actions based on their religious views of opposition to non-heterosexual couples, for instance, to be able to refuse a marriage related service (such as making a wedding cake) or to perform the marriage ceremony.  

This goes well beyond protection of religious freedom: this is state-sponsored religious defense.  They want the state to allow them to bring their religious beliefs into the administration of Australian law.  But how can we implement such defence without also opening the possibility of other forms of state-sponsored intervention.  The answer is we create more complex legal conditions that allow intervention in some areas, but prevent in others.  

Any decision to take up the cudgels of religious freedom into law will be increasing the Nanny-State response, which kind of undermines the premise for much of Brendan’s yarn.

Lastly, let’s look at all these “arguments” that you’ve raised as evidence that SSM proponents are all about the Nanny state.  To me these “arguments” are not put out to bolster the proposition for SSM; they are not the planks in the platform for SSM.  

These “arguments” aren’t just symptoms of the poor debate, they are at best responses by SSM proponents to are mounted in the face of the trenchant, emotional, and often fact-free opposition to this request (or now demand) for equality.  The SSM argument should just be about equality and nothing else, but how can comments such as the Australian Christian Lobby’s “stolen generation” (and worse) go free without a response.  These arguments are not the manifestation of a quest of equality, they are the by-products of a solid resolve to deny equality by fellow citizens.

These “arguments” are also often statements of fact

SSM is about letting Australians get on with their lives, on an equal footing with the law, to do that whichever they see fit to do, guided by the law or (even better) by the better angels of their natures.   Last time I looked that is what small-government liberalism (for which I think Brendan trying to argue in favour) is on about: fewer reasons to treat any one person (or a couple) differently to anyone else.

So Brendan, I don’t think you are on the right track.  You’ve got it all wrong.  SSM will reduce the nanny state, unless the “religious protection” protagonists get a bumch of exceptions written into the legislation.  The state doesn’t get worse with SSM, it gets better.

Bring on the vote, and vote Yes.

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This is not your typical “Happy Mother’s Day” card! Sat, 13 May 2017 23:31:54 +0000 Greetings, felicitations, good wishes, and (if I must) Happy Mother’s Day, to all the mums in my life, past and present.

I wish all of you the best of days on this commercially motivated, highly publicised, and mostly pointless event.

Pointless not because there is no need for richer and more heartfelt celebration of ‘mumsiness’ , but because the implication is that we can satisfy all our obligations to female parents on only one day of the year. I used to say that I didn’t believe in Mother’s day, and that I celebrated my mum every day of the year. But whilst that rolled off the tongue easily, it wasn’t really true. I love my mum but I have been focused on my own day-to-day life and family much more than focused on my mum. I guess many sons suffer from this fault. But as I get older (as does she) I feel the need to think about her more and be part of her life more.

So, first and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day Vonnie Russell, my peerless and awe-inspiring biological and “official” mum. Your constancy has been endless; your generosity and love have been boundless; you have taught me and taught me and taught me lessons that have lasted decades and that I use pretty much every day. I see your hands and heart and head in almost everything good that I do, and I’m thrilled that I can now recognise this influence: it wasn’t always as clear to me as it is now.

You’ve been so strong for us: you’ve supported us while Dad studied, and often played both parental roles. I’ve worked a couple of jobs that I didn’t really like, but nothing like the shit jobs that you did over the years to keep the roof and pantry intact. And you did it with style and panache and art: how piggish and childish was I to wish that you would make the ordinary meals that “other kids had”, instead of the wonderful meals that you put on our tables and in our lunchboxes. Why shouldn’t a school-boy take a sandwich to school with cream cheese, raisins, celery and cashew nuts in it? Why should I wish to have crumbed cutlets and boiled peas “like everyone else” instead of the more exotic meals that you cooked. You gave me my “papagallo” sense of colour that is recognised constantly, and internationally (as we were told one night in that bistro in Paris when I was wearing one of your hand-made shirts).

Secondly, bug hugs and good wishes to my so-called “monsters-in-law”, of which I’ve had two now, and that may be enough for one life. The colloquial and rude term is pervasive in Western society, and has parallels in Asia. It’s rare that there is much harmony between the groom and the mother of the bride because we exist in a paradox that is centred round your daughter. You and I had completely aligned goals, but starkly different methods for achieving those goals. This produced a dissonance that is difficult to overcome, especially because our objectives are so well-intentioned. The very lack of objectivity with which you dealt with me was only the flip-side of the total lack of objectivity that you brought to the daughters in whom I had placed my heart and filthy desire. You were only looking out for your daughter’s happiness and fulfilment, but how normal and human of you to see it through your own eyes instead of hers. Perhaps your view was truer and more insightful than theirs in the end. But for all that, you were pretty good sports, and I did have many happy times in your embrace.  

And to my ex-darling-missus’, only one of whom is ever likely to read, let alone understand, this yarn: if you are reading this, despite any events or distance or time I have nothing but a warm gooey fondness for you, my first love. You’ve become a mum and I have no doubt you are equally as wonderful as a mum as you were as a partner.  We were just babies when we met and when we married: everyone said it was the wrong thing to do.  As events have turned out perhaps they were right, but only at a practical level.  At the heart of the matter we were right and nothing will ever change that.  I’ll never forget “Shine on you, Crazy Diamond” the song that changed everything.  I send you much love.

While we’re on the subject of matrimony, I also give an extra big hug to the mother-in-law that I probably should have had, but never did. I enjoyed your company but our relationship never got to that level of formality, seeing as how your daughter fired me before that could ever get on the radar, although I felt that it was a possibility. I was fired for just cause I hasten to add: I had it coming but couldn’t see it. That single act says much about your daughter’s strength and intellect and looking back I can’t find it in me to contest the termination (although it knocked me for a six at the time). I have few real regrets in my life (I have come to accept that I have reaped as I have sown), but one of them is that you never became my “monster-in-law”; I wish it had turned out otherwise. She herself has long been a mum, and so I doubly hug you both for the joy you brought me whilst we were in each other’s lives. I may have learned some lessons that took decades to bloom, but I was better for it.

Thirdly, to all the honorary mums I’ve had over the years, who’ve given me all kinds of love in all the kinds of situations a life brings. My paternal grandmother Hilda (and it is her birthday today also) cared for me always, but I spent a couple of long periods living with her and Gramps, as well as many short-stays at summer. Hilda was strong in the old Irish Catholic country girl strong: but she used that strength mainly to sublimate herself in the support of her menfolk, myself included. The rest she used to cope with a plague of arthritis that wracked her body daily. I never knew my maternal grandma Trixie, but based on my aforementioned Mum, and the gentle but devastatingly handsome man who was her father, I’m pretty sure that she was a star too.

There have been so many family friends who’ve provided bursts of maternal care and love over the years. I don’t remember you ever treating me as a child, and that you gave it to me straight. You fed me dinners and asked me to baby-sit your kids and gave me advice on just about everything, whether they wanted it or not. At the time, as a child and young adult, it was your menfolk that I idolised, not you I’m afraid. But over time I realised that although they were flamboyant and intellectually scary, underneath they were just men, and they could be just as selfish and temperamental and sometimes crazy as any other man (including me). I think you may have been the real reasons that they were able to be someone that I could idolise, but I just didn’t realise it at the time. I’d much rather have your questions and counsel on my life than to have a bloke drunkenly trying to teach me to fight (seriously) in the hallway before they went home from my parent’s house parties. And some of you gave much-needed “tough love” better than the men: there’s not much that will bring your pulse and adrenaline to life as a 13-year-old than being castigated for your (previously unknown) innate male chauvinist attitudes by a severe intellectual feminist!

Before I finish I also should mention the more casually known mums of my parents circles and later my own, who I flirted with or lusted after or to whom I made advances : I’m sorry if I caused any embarrassment but I’m going to make it worse by offering hugs and kisses (again). I never had a “Graduate” experience, but there was that one moment…..

And lastly to the many mums of all ages with whom I interact in my various peer groups, both work and social, and who bring their maternal strengths to the tasks we share. Honestly, although I love to see your offspring’s stories and photos of everything from pre-natal to the grandchild, and the endless canine, feline and reptile proxies, I much prefer the real and present you, hearing about your take on things, and watching you navigate through the endless male short-sightedness and prejudice and just plain penis-driven stupidity. I don’t know how you do it. If you were running things, our lives might be much simpler but richer and more productive. There are many good reasons that Muhammed Younis makes his micro-loans to women 97% of the time: mums are women and women are for the future; women are sustainability itself; women make the difference.

And so, to all the mums in my life of all shapes, sizes, relationships and ages: I wish you all the very, very best of life on every day of every year. But, like so many of my gender, I am making this special effort on this commercialised and obligatory day: I am sending you big hugs and much love and all I ask is that you stay both ‘mumsy’ and in my life.

If you guys in Canberra could just go ahead and pass a SSM Bill Sat, 22 Apr 2017 08:12:52 +0000 If you guys in Canberra could just go ahead and pass a SSM Bill, that would be great

You only have this mandate to seek another mandate? Sat, 22 Apr 2017 08:10:03 +0000 Let me make sure I understand what you are saying Mr. Turnbull, because its doing my head in.

You won the last election by one seat & 50.36% of the two party-preferred vote, right?

But with this tiny majority, you say that you have a mandate for 100% of your policies?   Because you “won” the election and formed the government.

So, just say I agree (which I don’t) but just so I can work this out, say I agree.  You have this mandate for all your policies because you won the election.

All your policies except one, namely Same Sex Marriage. On this one policy alone, you say that you don’t have a mandate to pass a bill, because all you went to the election with was the promise of a Plebiscite.

So on Same Sex Marriage., you only have this mandate to seek another mandate, via a $200m Plebiscite.  No matter that we’ve only ever had three (3) before, and not one of the previous Plebiscites since Federation in Australia has ever effected any outcome.  

And then (it gets better) after this Plebiscite, even if you get a mandate for Same Sex Marriage, it doesn’t bind you to pass a Bill on Same Sex Marriage.

You can ignore it!

Your party can vote its conscience and vote down a Same Sex Marriage bill?  

True? Have I got that right?  Are you insane?

A Pure Democracy Sat, 22 Apr 2017 07:46:33 +0000 “a pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens who assemble and administer the government in person” — James Madison

Surely the parliament can pass one Same Sex Marriage Bill? Sat, 22 Apr 2017 07:42:51 +0000 Parliament has managed to pass nearly 13,000 bills since Federation with only 3 Plebiscites… None of which had any effect! Surely the parliament can pass 1 Same Sex Marriage Bill without any help?

The world goes into a tailspin Sat, 22 Apr 2017 06:23:55 +0000 “When you are persecuting minorities and .. making them the Other, you are destroying something in yourself, and the world goes into a tailspin” — Barack Obama

Democracy means Government by Discussion Sat, 22 Apr 2017 06:20:50 +0000 “Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking” — Clement Attlee

Large Format Photos – Multiple and Long Exposures Fri, 17 Feb 2017 04:25:51 +0000 Italy 1987

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Italy 1987

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Italy (Siena) 1987


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What’s the Difference between Obama and TheDonald? Wed, 18 Jan 2017 23:35:31 +0000 the real difference between Obama and TheDonald. You saw it here first….


Difference between Obama and TheDonald

Difference between Obama and TheDonald