I have another opinion piece in the Dom Post today, ‘though this time, it’s not on-line. I’ve scanned a copy: click on the thumbnail to see a largish and legible-ish version of it, and then click again to increase the size so that you can read it.
The argument is quite straightforward: in order to accommodate the increasing diversity in our society, instead of having public holidays on Christian festivals, but not on other faiths’ holy days, we should change the law to allow each person to choose two ‘public’ holidays for her or himself. This would enable Christians to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, and Hindus to celebrate Diwali, and so on.
And there’s a fairly standard argument raised in response by those who would like everything to just stay the same and suit them so that they don’t have to make any changes whatsoever: all those people from other ethnicities who came here knew what the rules were before they arrived, so they can just lump it.
In the column, I point out that these days, many people of other faith traditions, meaning non-Christian traditions, were born here, and in any case, many have become citizens, so they are entitled to the same rights as other citizens.
But evidently that argument was too subtle for one of my in-laws, who quizzed me tonight about the column, and raised the standard argument, even though I had addressed it already. I quietly seethed, but simply argued the point back, and suggested that given that we live in a diverse society, and that diversity is increasing, then as a matter of practical living, we simply must find ways of rubbing along together. She desisted, thank goodness.
Because otherwise, I would have had to point out that if immigrants were to simply take on board the rules that were in existence when they arrived, then we would all be celebrating Matariki. And I don’t imagine that she would have liked that at all.
I came across one interesting snippet when I was writing the column. Our Holidays Act says that the purpose of the Act is:
to promote balance between work and other aspects of employees’ lives and, to that end, to provide employees with minimum entitlements to—
(a) annual holidays to provide the opportunity for rest and recreation:
(b) public holidays for the observance of days of national, religious, or cultural significance:
(c) sick leave to assist employees who are unable to attend work because they are sick or injured, or because someone who depends on the employee for care is sick or injured:
(d) bereavement leave to assist employees who are unable to attend work because they have suffered a bereavement.
The emphasis is mine.
I don’t think the Act is fulfilling its purpose. It gives employees entitlements to holidays for Christian religious purposes, but no holidays are allowed for any other faith’s religious purposes. Either the Act needs to be changed, or some consideration needs to be given to marking religious festivals in faiths other than the Christian faith.
As usual, I ended the column with a slightly quirky descriptive line about myself.
Deborah … would like to take a day’s leave each year to celebrate Darwin’s birthday.
The Australian fancies itself as a serious newspaper, full of weighty opinion and analysis, as befits an organ that aspires to be the paper of record. But clearly they’re rethinking that policy, because they’ve allowed the usually sententious and portentous Christopher Pearson write a parody piece in lieu of his normal column. At least, I think it must be parody, because I can not see how anyone would ever offer this as a serious argument against gay marriage.
Among the reasons the Greens are so keen on same-sex marriage is that they want to reduce the population and drive down national fertility. Their refusal to discriminate positively in favour of heterosexuality and uphold the distinctive value of normal marriage shows their political project yet again for what it is: a dead end.
That faint rumbling and rattling you can hear is the entire nation rolling around on the floor and laughing. At Pearson, not with him.
Umm…. how about the idea that the Greens might support gay marriage as a matter of justice, and a commitment to equality for all citizens.
It’s not the only bizarre argument Pearson comes up with. He’s got a little bit of dubious evolutionary sociology, in the tired old story about monogamy being something women want but not men, so men need to be forced into it.
Men and women tend to have different needs and priorities when they enter a mature sexual relationship.
Most men are not naturally disposed to be monogamous, for example. One of the purposes of marriage is to bind them to their spouses and children for the long haul and to give the state’s approval to those who enter such a contract and abide by its terms.
Clearly, all those gay men who aren’t allowed to get married will race out and form heterosexual unions instead.
There’s this little beauty.
Another of the purposes of marriage is to affirm that parenthood is a big, and in most cases the primary, contribution a couple can make, both to their own fulfilment and the public good.
It’s your duty to get married, for the public good, you understand. Pearson doesn’t say why it’s okay to require this duty on the one hand, but prevent some people from fulfilling it on the other. For the life of me, I can’t reconcile the two imperatives.
And he’s got some complete non sequiturs.
They are often unapologetically tribal in outlook and their best hopes are often invested in their children.
Most parents on low wages routinely make sacrifices on their kids’ behalf in ways middle-class couples seldom do these days. There is also still something self-sacrificial among many of them on marriage: the notion that it’s hard work much of the time but worth the effort.
That’s right. All you middle class parents are just faffing your way through marriage and parenting, and you have no idea, NO IDEA, I tell you, of the proper way to parent, because if only you did, then you too would oppose gay marriage.
Along the way he gets in some digs about contraception and abortion, and quotes American bishops (presumably Catholic) as an authority. Frankly, I don’t see how American bishops can be an authority about anything whatsoever to do with sexual morality, and relationships, until they stop protecting the pedophiles in their midst, and the fact that Pearson cites them shows only the bankruptcy of his thinking.
About the only solid point that Pearson makes is that many traditional voters in Labor-held marginal seats don’t like gay marriage, and he applauds Julia Gillard for recognising this. What he has missed however is something reported in his own newspaper. Even though more traditional and working class voters might not support gay marriage, it’s not a vote changer. But that was reported yesterday… perhaps Pearson simply couldn’t keep the thought in his head for long enough.
Click through to read the entire piece, which is amusingly titled: gay marriage demands should be left on shelf