Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why Conservatives Shit Me (Well, One Reason)

Article worth reading in the Oz today about the conservative argument for same-sex couple law reform.

It's by Tim Wilson, whom some of you may remember me detailing back in January last year as a suitable object of lustful affection for all you Rockport boat shoe-wearing, hyphenated surnamed, trust-funded, Green Left exterminating, Demons fan fags in the audience. Unbeknownst to me until now, he's also apparently a research fellow at the rather scary "Institute of Public Affairs".

His argument is spot-on for about the first two-thirds:

Government institutions are perpetuating discrimination against same-sex couples in superannuation law, Medicare payments, migration law and taxation.

Liberal values and a belief in small government should promote downscaling these benefits, but if they are to be available, they should be provided without discrimination...

Same-sex couples have paid their taxes, taken responsibility for their lives and are active contributors to society. Unlike other debates in society, the lapse in mutual obligation in this debate is not on the individuals. The Government cannot say the same for itself.

All has a nice ring. Then he gets into blaming the Stanhope government for the Howard government overturning the ACT's Civil Unions Bill, and the Liberal luvvie in him comes out.

But it's this line that gets up my goat most:

Howard faces the challenge that many gay Australians vote Liberal because of their support for small government and fiscal conservatism. But their patience has been wearing thin.

Not because it's not true - it is (well, gay men vote for Howard. Still haven't yet met a lesbian who does), but more like he's implying that because it's finally the Liberal-voting fags whose patience is wearing thin, Howard should be obliged to act now.

How about all we non-Howard voting fags whose patience was 'running thin' by about 1998? By 2007, we're practically hairless and skin-free, pulling out and scratching respectively in frustration by the ridiculous delay waiting for what, as Wilson identifies, should have been done by even a conservative government nearly 10 years ago.

Which brings me to the subject of this post: Why conservatives shit me. This is yet another situation of a conservative arguing - as a novelty - a logical, humane and compassionate response to an emotive issue, but only because the said conservative has a vested interest in it. It's no coincidence that here, the IPA research fellow arguing in favour of same-sex couple law reform is himself a big 'mo - but why wasn't the IPA talking about this years ago? Since in many ways it's really just a front for the Liberal Party, why wasn't it bending Howard's ear about this when it had the chances(s)?

We shouldn't feel grateful that Howard is finally now making noises about deigning to actually rectify discriminatory Commonwealth legislation against same-sex couples - as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens it's our bloody right, not a privilege, as Howard and his mates often imply. Mutual obligation in a liberal society - one of Howard's strong personal ethics, Wilson argues.

Coincidentally, I was already thinking about conservative self-interest only last week, when Tell-Us-About-It Janet actually wrote a blog post in favour of euthanasia - or "mercy killing", as she described it in a surprisingly sensitive, personal piece. While I agreed with her sentiments - as did a lot of blog posters, who like me expressed their disbelief they were in agreement with her - it was the motivation behind Janet's uncharacteristic support for euthanasia that annoyed me.

Case in post:

Yet anyone who has watched someone they love die a painful death, has listened to them as they whispered their wish that their skerrick of life be extinguished, will understand the motives behind a mercy killing. I don't know how I would have responded if my father had asked me to help him die when he lay in excrutiating pain those last few interminable days. I do know that the last thing that would have mattered to me was the clumsy law.

So while not wanting to appear unsympathetic, it seems to me Janet only came to this position because of the great shock she obviously experienced watching her father's final, agonising moments. Would she otherwise subscribe to her usual Bible-bashing rhetoric on this and similar issues around life and death if she hadn't experienced this?

Would Nancy Reagan have pushed so strongly for stem cell research if she didn't know it could have led to a cure for Ronnie's Alzheimer's?

Would Dick Cheney be as much of a homophobe as he is a sexist, racist warmonger were his own daughter not such a big outspoken dyke?

The winner, though, has to be Laura Ingraham, another blonde US uber-right pundit in the Ann Coulter mould. Except when it comes to the gays:

According to liberal author David Brock (in his 2002 book Blinded by the Right), Ingraham, while writing for The Dartmouth Review in the mid-1980s, once attended meetings of a gay student organization for the purpose of publicly outing them in the newspaper. Ingraham secretly taped a meeting of the Gay Students Association, then published the transcript, identifying students by name and calling them "sodomites".

Jeffrey Hart, faculty advisor to the Dartmouth Review, later wrote in The Weekly Standard that Ingraham held "the most extreme anti-homosexual views imaginable" as an undergraduate, and that she avoided a local restaurant for fear that gay waiters might touch her silverware or spit on her food, exposing her to AIDS.

A decade later, on February 23, 1997, however, Ingraham wrote an essay in the Washington Post in which she announced significant changes in how she views gays and lesbians. This was motivated primarily by the experience of her own gay brother, Curtis, rumored to have been estranged from her for a time after the gay student group controversy, as he cared for his ailing partner:

"In the ten years since I learned my brother Curtis was gay, my views and rhetoric about homosexuals have been tempered... because I have seen him and his companion, Richard, lead their lives with dignity, fidelity and courage."

Funny how life experiences - in all their ugly, painful glory - can wake up shock-jocks and knee-jerkers to reality and tap into what scraps of humanity might be lying dormant somewhere. Does it always have to be this way, though? Will John Howard change his tune about the gays only when Tim or Richard come out?

I don't really want to have to wait that long.

7 Comments:

At 7/3/07 7:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Youre absolutely right Sam. As another example in "Stupid White Men" Michael Moore refers to the fact that Dick Cheney has quietly squashed a number of anti-gay initiatives within the Bush administration. One guess why? Certainly wouldnt have anything to do with his openly lesbian daughter now would it?

Mr Moore suggests that we pray for every conservative politician to have a gay child, a disabled child etc because it seems to be the only way they will change their narrow view of the world!

To my mind it just proves that a lot of conservative attitudes are based in ignorance. These poeple rain fire and brimstone down on something from afar but as soon as they see it up close and personal they realise they were wrong and change their tune. I think it also shows them up for being selfish because most of them seem to only rail against the things that dont infringe upon them personally. Then again I suppose selfishness is the name of the game as a conservative!

To be honest Howard is such a political animal I dont think it would matter if all of his kids were big shrikeing mos. He would still only act on gay rights if he thought there were votes in it!
Chris

 
At 7/3/07 9:47 pm, Blogger Andrew said...

Salient post. I know a tory voting dyke, but then she is from Tasmania. Predominantely gay men vote Labor or Green. I would guess around 75%. Oddly I have a close friend with strong Liberal Party ties. We don't discuss politics. If we did, we could not be friends. Clem Newton-Brown (e?) standing in the Victorian state seat of the very gay electorate of Prahran was an intersting contest. He tried very hard for the 'pink' vote but lost to the more experienced and smooth Labor candidate, Tony Lupton.

I wrote a post recently on euthanasia. It is a hard one, especially as so many people, government departments and private companies can have a vested interest in a premature death.

 
At 8/3/07 2:57 pm, Anonymous Tim Wilson said...

I disagree. The IPA, like all think tanks, is a manifestation of the policy interests of its researchers.

All things come at the expense of another and the IPA cannot focus on all issues all the time without losing its focus at its core policy base, or by covering 'everything' superficially.

The IPA is not scary, it is a very welcoming organisation.

I think comments that conservatives are narrow minded is very entertaining, considering how narrow minded it is to think all conservatives are the same.

Regardless, your comment that the IPA has only just started focusing on this is incorrect. The IPA first published an article from Rodney Croome in the December 2006 edition of the IPA Review. The article had nothing to do with me at any stage, beyond reading it in the final edition. Straight conservative people decided to use it and print it.

I don't know how gay people vote, but I do remember reading an exit poll once that said 45% if gay men voted for George W Bush in the 2004 Presidential election - the same election he proposed amending the Constitution. I know lesbians that vote Liberal. I think the 75% is over inflated. The real point is no one really knows and coming up with an ambit figure like 75% seems unjustifiable.

Sad that people who say we should respect a diverse society (which ever perspective) do not think that they can be with friends because they have different points of view.

I personally question how 'gay' the electorate of Prahran really is. It has its pockets. As an electoate it has bigger differences to other electorates than its constituent's sexualities, ie high population movements, demographics extremes and population density issues.

 
At 8/3/07 3:13 pm, Blogger Sam said...

"considering how narrow minded it is to think all conservatives are the same."

Tim: The point of my article was in fact that all conservative don't think the same - but questioning the motivation behind why on occasions some think beyond the square.

I'm also aware of Rodney's presentation last year at IPA and take your point - still, as I said, 2006 is fairly late in piece when you consider the Howard government has been in position since 1996.

I'd say overall gay people vote in diverse ways, which would explain why there are Labor, Liberal and Independent members for seats with a high percentage of GLBTI voters. Although, if you look on the AEC website at specific polling places with high concentration of queer residents - e.g. Darlo, Potts Point, East Sydney etc - the pattern is usually Green 1 with Labor preferences.

"Sad that people who say we should respect a diverse society (which ever perspective) do not think that they can be with friends because they have different points of view."

I'm not sure if that's directed specifically at me but it's not true. I have Liberal-voting and conservative friends alike. I usually respect people more according to how effectively they argue their positions than the actual positions they may hold.

 
At 8/3/07 7:30 pm, Blogger nash said...

You're really on a roll Sam - great post here and a great article in SX today too

btw, all the Liberal voters I know (queer & straight) are now ex-Liberal voters

 
At 8/3/07 7:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason why queer people vote conservative is becaue they deep down a) still ahve a lot of inetrnalised homophobia / fear of themselves b) not really intetested in the wider society but rather their own gain.

There is this perception that the liberal party looks after the upper middle class, and many queer people aspire to be in this group. It's the same reason why peolpe bu BMWs they aspire to be upper middle class...

After all ask BMW where they sell the most cars and they iwll tell you in the lower band of the middle class.

My partner and i were better off to the tune of at least 50K a year with the last tax cuts, but we owuld much have preferred this money be spent on education, health and otehr socially responsible things.

Oh well at least Howard's legacy is going to be overshadowed by the lies of the Iraq war.

 
At 8/3/07 8:13 pm, Anonymous Tim Wilson said...

Sam, some of the comments were directed at you, some were directed at the other 2 people who had posted.

Re gay Liberals being selfish. I certainly know some people who are like that, but I also know a whole lot who are not. Equally I know about the same balance on the other side of politics.

What I can say for myself is that I have no internalised homophobia. Is there is no way to test this, but I know a left wing friend who said to me he thought I was the person he knew who was most comfortable with being gay. I actually generally agree. On material wealth vs society. I just think that is superficial thinking. The resason people get involved in politics from all sides is because they want to make a contribution to improving society. Included in that for some is their own ambition, but they also driven by their goals for improving society as well.

When it comes down to it I just don't agree that gay people who are 'conservative' (and I should note I do not consider myself conservative) are as selfish and have as much internalised homophobia as everyone else in politics. I accept some people do not share this view. Then again, I never want to live in a world where everyone thinks the same way anyway.

 

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