Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius

2006/12/11

The Lovejoy Factor

In any debate, matters have come to a pretty pass when someone brings up the children a la Mrs Reverend Helen Lovejoy. As the harpy, gossiping, hypocritical wife of the nondenominational minister from The Simpsons, Helen Lovejoy intervenes in almost any debate by shrilly crying, "Will someone please think of the children?"

As a rhetorical trope, the children card is most often played near the end of a debate, to disguise and divert attention from serious issues raised by your opponent. Who can oppose the children, after all, without seeming monstrous? And so it went with the debate on the government's marriage resolution last week. Same sex marriage, we were told by parliamentarians who supported the traditional definition of marriage, wasn't a rights issue, wasn't about the government's shameful attempt to deprive an identifiable minority their Charter rights, wasn't about the freedom of churches, like the United Church or the Quakers (among others) to marry whom they please, against a monolithic version of Christianity championed by the religious right and the Roman Catholic hierarchy, wasn't about (least of all) homophobia, as exemplified by the vile and disgusting web traffic on the right side of bloggerdom. It was really about the children all along.
The Children's Advocate

A selection, by no means exhaustive, of parliamentary wisdom on children during the marriage debate:

Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC): The debate over traditional marriage should be a debate about rights, I agree. However, in the blind dash to put a patchwork of rights together, have we ignored the rights of children? Again, let me make a direct appeal to my fellow parliamentarians. For the sake of future generations, for the sake of our country, let us remember the children. . .

. . .

We need a debate to review the impact, not just on people who wish to marry but one that also reviews the impact of that decision on the most vulnerable among us, our children.

Again, my request is simple and clear. For the sake of democracy, for the sake of our children, for the sake of future generations and for the sake of the future of our country, let us have a full, open and honest debate.

Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): The second, and more troubling, consequence is that we will need to redefine parenthood and limit children's rights. We already see the same sex couples, who are inherently sterile, asking courts to declare that their child, conceived by whatever means, is in fact their child, regardless of the biological rights. As Margaret Somerville has said, “society to become complicit in intentionally depriving children of their rights with respect to their biological family”

Mr. Pierre Lemieux (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, CPC): I will now speak on the impact of marriage on the most valuable and yet the most vulnerable members of our society, our children. I believe children thrive in families and families are based on marriage. While the essence of this debate concerns adult relationships, we must recognize that the debate on marriage has a direct impact on the welfare of our children.

As it is the goal of the government to protect its citizens, particularly its most vulnerable citizens, it is, indeed, appalling that the previous government turned its back on the most important and fundamental component of our country, our children.

Mr. Rod Bruinooge (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):My elders have clearly told me that small, isolated aboriginal communities must continue to teach their children that marriage is between a man and a woman. One elder told me, “What message would we be giving our communities if we did not teach our children the importance of traditional marriage?"

Mr. Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC): This is a stern reminder that children have rights, rights that need to be taken into account. It is a reminder that our personal lifestyle preferences should never take precedence over those of our children.

Mr. Chris Warkentin (Peace River, CPC): In the same way that my heart is dedicated to ensuring that my child is protected, our collective heart should be set on ensuring that our nation's children are given a voice in this debate.

So what about the children? Do opponents of same sex marriage really have the rights of children at heart? You have to wonder. In almost an obscene irony, the day of the marriage vote an NDP member got up during Question Period and pointed out to the government that that 4,779 children were served in Toronto homeless shelters last year. Chris Warkentin, does that violation of rights --- the right to shelter and security --- trouble your conscience in the least? 1 in 6 children --- 1,196,000 of them --- live in poverty. Let us remember the children, indeed, Harold Albrecht. Any talk of children's rights from our esteemed parliamentarians is a parody, when 1 in 5 children in our country will go hungry today.

To be fair, the most vocal opponents of same sex marriage, the religious right, have not been silent in using children to tug at the heartstrings: I heard Charles McVety of Defend Marriage Canada at least twice speak out in the mainstream media about children's rights in the context of the marriage debate. Meanwhile, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the umbrella organization of conservative churches in this country, is "deeply concerned" about the rights of children but is doing . . . nothing, or almost, about the issues of child poverty, homelessness or hunger. No letter writing campaigns, no lobbying MPs, no pressure on the Conservative government they helped to elect.

That rushing sound you hear is the sense of proportionality going out the window. Balanced against the putative and wholly speculative rights of the children of gay and lesbian families, we have actual children, in their hundreds of thousands, who are living lives of dire misery with proven consequences for the well-being of our country. If we are going to speak about the rights of children, let us --- and our political and religious leaders --- get our priorities straight.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not everyone finds carricature to be an infallible guide to logic. Many, like you, find carricature to be an infallible guide to political correctness; that is, if you like to keep that particular kind of wool tightly drawn over your eyes.

Many people are so fearful of losing their peers' approval that they wouldn't want to be caught dead without it.

Are you saying that enough homosexual Canadians have applied for adoption to 'take up the slack', and their previous inability to inherit each others' property was the only thing gating the proper care of one in five starving Canadian children? Sure seems like it.

Are you saying "The Civil Marriage Act" will bring about permanent adoption for one in five Canadian children into a stable home environment provided by Canadians who struggle daily with the issues surrounding sexual attraction to one's own gender?

Or are you saying that because 20% of Canadian children suffer neglect to the point of hunger and worse, that no child should ever be guaranteed a mother and a father, that this denial to randomly selected kids needs to be assured in perpetuity by legislation?

What makes it better to have a homosexual mom and dad than to have no mom and dad at all?

Or, are you just saying to all Canadians who inform their consciences through realism (your hatred is showing), rather than its logical opposite, subjectivism: "I can't hear you.. la-la-la-la-la-la-la... The existence of carricature infallibly proves that you are stupid. La-la-la-la."

?

Before you answer, and even if you don't, do yourself a favor and consider this:

Realism claims right and wrong are absolutes and opposed; Subjectivism says that only it--itself--is absolute truth.

Subjectivism can't even define itself without telling a lie about its very nature. Do you grasp that?

If so, how can you trust subjectivism or its more-oafish cousin, relativism, to guide your thinking on anything at all?

Monday, 11 December, 2006  
Anonymous Niles said...

I listened to the 'debate' on CPAC. What struck me was

1/ the argument that marriage is only for production of children and anyone marrying for love of partner isn't marrying for the right reason, which makes them oogie, because they're all about "the pleasure".

2/ the talking point of "children's rights" seemed to extend only to referencing the UN declarations of Rights of the Child and then only to the one point that a child should not be deprived of its birth parents. This seemed egregiously taken out of context to the original intent of the UN.

The "think of the children" sorts conflated, in what seemed a repetitive, coached manner, this right with the subjective (Margaret Sommerville (sp?)) concept a child needed a genetic mother and a father in its life to develop in a stable environment. An "inherently sterile" couple acting as role models and guardians are the doom of future generations. Unless they're an opposite gender couple, in which case, it's ok, because they give the "illusion" of normativity. (I goggled at that one). Without directly saying so, these "children's rights" advocates slimed adoption by same gender couples in any manner, barely skinning past homosexuality equated pedophilic child abuse.

Most of these arguments, when not depending on holy scripture and bishops as sources, seemed to depend on discredited 'studies' from sources such as NARTH and Ms Margaret. Their proponents steadfastly refused to acknowledge the rebuttals stating just such.

Hedy Fry, someone I haven't spent a lot of time admiring, was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. She talked at warp 5, never uhmed, never repeated herself and was articulately furious as an MP and physician. Her contention was that children are being born to same gender couples as they always have been, they're in stable environments and if the dissenters *really* cared about children, they'd see such kids have the *same* rights as other children to the legal protections and dignity of their loving parents being married.

The rebuttal was essentially that gay couples should think of such risks before producing kids and not bring children into such an unstable relationship. They should think of the children instead of their own selfish pleasures.

It's like listening to men argue their superiority by saying they can pee standing up, until women demonstrate they can as well. I wonder what the next sputtering proof of exclusivity will be?

Monday, 11 December, 2006  

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