Muddying the Water over “gay marriage” – the false dichotomy

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The ongoing “gay marriage” debate is interesting not only in it’s own right but also (I wonder if more importantly) because (as I’ve pointed out before) it serves as a profoundly accurate barometer for how our society conducts debate on big issues.

A good example of this dynamic is an article in this weekend’s smh, “Parents without Prejudice

GEOFF THOMAS still feels ashamed. Of using the word ”poofter”, of inheriting the homophobic views of his father without questioning them, and of the way this affected his own gay son.

That was several years ago.

With the zeal of a reformed smoker, Mr Thomas has embraced the realisation that gay men and lesbian women are not ”grubs and paedophiles” and has become a tireless campaigner for equal marriage rights.

It’s interesting that the smh should run this story now. After all, the story of Geoff and Nathan Thomas isn’t a new one, although you wouldn’t know that to read the article…

Like many children, Mr Thomas’s son, Nathan, was not entirely comfortable with his father’s decision to take on such a public role. He was ”nervous”, he chuckles, when he learned his father was going to ask the Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, about gay marriage on the ABC television program Q&A.

What we’re not told, however, is that this appearance on Q&A was two years ago!

So why resurrect this now? Well because at some point in the next few months we’ll have a vote on this topic in Federal Parliament and there is every indication that it will be lost by the pro-“gay marriage” side since the opposition are not allowing a conscience vote and there’s enough on the government benches who also oppose the motion for it to fail.

So between now and then those lobbying for the change, not least the smh, have to pull every trick out of the hat that they have. And that involves some deliberate straw-manning.

Now, before you read on you should know that I’ve met Nathan Thomas, Geoff Thomas’s son. We exchanged letters in the local paper on this topic and I then invited him round for a drink. We had a good time (I thought) chatting through the issues and explaining to each other what the issues were that were at stake for us. I think it’s fair to say that I put forward a number of arguments to Nathan that he had not heard before that made him pause to think, arguments that we’ve rehearsed on this site. So Nathan, at least, is in no doubts that opposition to “gay marriage” is not simply bred out of evil prejudice.

Shame no-one told the smh,

The Vietnam veteran, who set up a successful plumbing business when he returned and dabbles in wildlife photography, admits he came to his views the hard way.

”I still feel really, really bad about it,” he says. ”I was very, very homophobic. I joined the military at 15 and went to a military school, a trade school. My father was a truck driver. The whole social thing among men at the time was poofters – I hate the word now – were evil people and I believed it. I always thought they were grubs and paedophiles and children should be protected from them.

”My son grew up listening to me say [to my workers] – it was a throwaway line – ‘Plumbers aren’t wimps or poofters, just get on with it.’ ”

Mr Thomas wonders how his son, now in his 30s, ever had the courage to come out to him.

Well, indeed – one wonders. I’ve heard Nathan’s story first-hand and it’s one (not least) of immense courage, fortitude and integrity. I don’t know if I, in the same situation, would have had that courage.

And also, what a wonderful response from his father when Nathan finally “came out” to him,

”I could hear my wife saying ‘Don’t be bloody stupid, Nathan, you don’t know how he’s going to react,’ ” he recalls. ”She handed me the phone and said, ‘Nathan has something to tell you.’ At the time I just said, ‘You’re my son and I love you and that’s it.’ I said, ‘I will have to look at my attitudes and I promise I will sort this out.’

All to be commended. But then this,

I had to sit down and think, ‘Why don’t you like gays?’ When it comes down to it, it’s fear and prejudice and ignorance.”

The problem with this statement, true as it is, is the way that it’s presented. As you read through the article you realise that we are being presented with Geoff Thomas’s own shift in understanding as the defining paradigm for the whole debate. In this world there are only 2 polar extremes; irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals as opposed to enlightened acceptance of “gay marriage”. There is no room for anything else.

It’s a false dichotomy. But if we do not call it for what it is then we will find that this narrative is the one that will be accepted and imbibed by those around us. It is already being forcibly asserted all over the place in the public sphere. Anyone speaking in support of the conservative view of marriage must be a homophobic bigot – what other explanation could there be? Thus the categories are rewritten.

And of course the irony, for this is prejudice – prejudging an issue without taking the time to properly understand and represent others.

I’m personally disappointed with this. Nathan has sat down with those who disagree with him and while I’m sure that some have displayed a vile irrational response to him there have been others, this reader first and foremost, who have treated him with dignity and respect, but you wouldn’t know it to read this article. I suspect that the blame lies with its author Stephanie Peatling who appears to be mounting a little campaign of her own on this subject. And we all thought the media was there to promote proper understanding of the world. I wonder why campaigners for “gay marriage” allow themselves to be used in this way.


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  1. Kristy Freney

    This isn’t the first time this story has been published. I remember reading it a few months (or even more) ago.

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