Melanie Phillips: I blame the gays!


by Sunny Hundal    
3:56 pm - November 19th 2007

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So what else is new? In her latest Daily Mail diatribe, Mad Mel blames the death of the traditional family on Mus-… gays (via Dave Hill).

The issue became more toxic still with the arrival of a movement that demanded for gay people the same rights to family life as heterosexuals – cohabitation benefits, gay adoption, the promotion of gay sexuality in schools. Anyone who objected was crucified as homophobic, creating a climate of rampant intimidation and cultural bullying which has successfully stifled debate and dragooned politicians into line.

All the traditional right-wing hobby horses are here: first, the aversion to equality; then playing the victim card (how dare they call me homophobic/racist?), blaming political correctness and accusing others of stifling the debate (while writing it in a national newspaper)! Sound familiar? And don’t forget, this has little correlation with reality.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Well refute it then ! Demonstrate how “equality” for gays has had only positive impacts on family life. Put together an argument which contradicts a many times demonstrated fact of group dynamics, namely that it’s impossible to advance the interests of one group without disadvantaging the interests of another.

Matt, put forward your evidence that gay rights/equality has damaged family life?

“Put together an argument which contradicts a many times demonstrated fact of group dynamics, namely that it’s impossible to advance the interests of one group without disadvantaging the interests of another.”

So if women get the vote, men must/will be denied the vote?

By definition if you equalize the rights of all groups then no group has dominance, ergo the group that had dominance (in this example “traditional families”) have lost something and will perceive themselves disadvantaged. I can’t beleive that is news to anyone.
The voting example is ludicrously simplistic, obviously the more people that can vote, the less each vote is worth in terms of influence. MPs votes in the commons are more influential than mine at the ballot box because there are relatively few MPs, if the whole populance were allowed to vote in the commons, MPs influence would vanish, and we could all claim equality, but they would have lost something.
In a limited resource environment (e.g planet earth) if you allocate more resources to one group, another goes without, which is why there has been perpetual conflict between groups throughout history.

Demonstrate how “equality” for gays has had only positive impacts on family life.

This is a really silly position to take. You first make an assertion and then want evidence to show it isn’t the case?

Why don’t you tell us how the existence of the Conservative Party or Melanie Phillips itself hasn’t damaged Britain?

have lost something and will perceive themselves disadvantaged.

In other words, affording equal rights to homosexuals means straight men lose out?

Matt, ZinZin,

I would just point out that when women got the vote, it did reduce the total dominance of men in Westminster and in wider society. Unless you happen to be a raving misogynist, that is a good thing. The beginning of representative democracy greatly reduced the power and influence of unelected aristocrats, and the end of Aparthaid reduced the political power of the white minority.

It is actually OK to reduce the power of one group in favour of another, when the first group has got a disproportionate amount of power and influence. That seems to me to be a fairly basic means of correcting unequal power balance – and something that we should be able to accept, nay embrace. It is also crucial to democracy.

However, that is definitely not the case when it comes to making sure that it’s not only hetrosexual couples that can adopt children, etc. Because making sure that Jane and Chloe can marry, inherit, start a family in a non-toxic atmosophere (it would probably help if Phillips was far, far away at the time), has absolutely no impact on any straight couples seeking to do the same. Zero. Zilch. Except in good ways, like making people happy and reducing the inequality of the society they live in.

Phillips’ rant is so ridiculous that going through it point by point just gives it more credance than it really deserves.

Melanie Phillips, being a woman in a professional occupation, has benefited from exactly the same decline of the traditional family that she’s complaining about.

How many female journalists or commentators did the Daily Mail have 50 years ago?

Jess – Fair point, but is it democratic ? A group that is numerically dominant should also be politically domninant. Otherwise “reducing the power of one group in favour of another” cannot be acheived democratically.

Matt – that would be the case if a political system was already set up in a fully democratic fashion.

That isn’t the case in the quite basic examples I was citing – such as the UK before the emancipation of women. Women could never be politically dominant – or politically equal – despite their numerical dominance (just about – there are slightly more women than men, I believe) until they were counted as full human beings by the political system. And they still are not politically equal, showing that there’s considerably more to equality and democracy than getting the vote :)

Matt,

I don’t think the ‘reduced voting strength’ anology holds up here (BTW I’m happy to have my voting strength reduced by half for the sake of female suffrage).

If – to use Jess’s example – Jane and Chloe have the right to marry each other, how have I thereby lost any rights? I still technically have the right to marry either of them, if they were willing, but if they prefer each other to me then I never had a chance anyway.

And if they do exercise their right to marry, how is my right to marry some other woman (assuming she’s interested) infringed?

I suppose I’d have lost the right to live in a country where gay couples can’t marry, but that doesn’t sound the most libertarian of sentiments…

Matt: but liberals support rights as well as democracy. Majoritarianism can be just as intolerant as totalitarianism and so we should oppose both, particularly when they are based on irrational prejudice.

“It is actually OK to reduce the power of one group in favour of another, when the first group has got a disproportionate amount of power and influence. That seems to me to be a fairly basic means of correcting unequal power balance – and something that we should be able to accept, nay embrace. It is also crucial to democracy.”

Absolutely.

And, Matt, of course it is democratic to allow EVERY group as much freedom as possible where they don’t harm others, and not persecute one group (homosexuals) at the whims of another (authoritarian arseholes).

* insert quotes from JS Mill about the Tyranny of the Majority here *

Time for Melanie Phillips to shut her trap, get back into the kitchen, and clean her husband’s boots.

In this particualr example the rights of gays to adopt being the same as the rights of straights to adopt doesn’t impair the rights of either, PROVIDED there is an inexhuastable supply of children for adoption AND provided it can be demonstrated that the children are not disadvantaged (or are at least equally disadvantaged) irrespcetive of that choice. From personal experience as a parent I would argue that the second condition is untrue.

For the first condition if there were not an inexhuastable supply, then some sort of allocation would have to take place, and that would inevitably result in someone from one group losing out to someone from another group (If I had a pound for every time I’ve had to explain this to a leftie………).

I think what this debate is really about is how you define “harm” to other peoples’ rights. At one extreme you could argue that the extension of any right harms it by diluting it, in the same way that if everyone has a degree, a degree is devalued. Or if the responsibilities that go with that right are not evenly distributed, for example cyclists having the “right” to use the roads but not the responsibility for their upkeep.

At the other extreme you could argue that the harm must be tangibe – for example my neighbours right to play music is harmfull to my right to quiet enjoyment of property only if it keeps me awake at night.

The liberal left approach seems to be “throw everyone together and give them all the same rights, eventually they’ll get along”. I’m not convinced.

And Conor Foley – Democracy without majoritarianism is called an Oligarchy………

Matt, I think it depends on what you see as the right to a degree, or to marry etc.

I have a degree and I’m on my way to my second and I don’t see it as my right to be more educated than others. If everyone has a degree because they studied the appropriate course and passed the appropriate exams then I agree it means my degree isn’t as ‘special’ in it has been diluted, but if everyone is capable of achieving that qualification then I don’t deserve any special status. I think that everyone should have the right to try and achieve a degree if they want to.

Similarly if i marry I don’t see it as a right to have a special status over those who aren’t married. Any Tom, Dick or Shirley can marry a member of the opposite sex and have the rights that other married couples have whether they love or are committed to their partner or not. A married person is only called to question over their marriage promises by their spouse (with I think the exception of bigamy). If there was an equal amount of men and women in this country and they all consented to marry each other then the whole country could be married and that right diluted under current law anyway.

As for adoption I don’t think we have the situation where there aren’t enough children to go around – although I’m not sure where to look for that information.

15. Susan Francis

I’m pretty sure the only children there are not “enough” of “to go around” are healthy able-bodied white babies.
Matt Munro, children are not a resource of which there is a finite “supply”. They’re people, not a product; every one is different. Since you speak “as a parent” you obviously know that, so why do you write as if people get to the front of a queue and collect the next one off the production line? By the time anyone is being seriously considered as an adopter, they should be looking at (being interviewed on behalf of) a specific child, with specific needs which are not covered by your criterion of Are these people straight enough?
Also, it might be a gay kid. People are thrown out of care at what, 18? and are presumably eligible for adoption any time before that. That’s plenty old enough to know, and to be being picked on in school and need backup from adults who know about this stuff.
Melanie P apparently thinks people adopt children as a lifestyle accessory, but you should know better.

Susan – the one thing that is apparent to any parent is that kids want to fit in. They want the same trainers, to support the same football team, live in the same type of house as everyone else. Even if you have no issues with gay adoption, then I think making a child the only one in the class with 2 dads/mums is cruel. What concerns me about this entire debate is that it’s always couched in adult terms, and revolves around conceptions of rights, no one seems to consider the long term psychological effect on children. And yes it might be a gay kid, but the odds are it isn’t.

Matt: Until that attitude of “kids won’t fit in” with gay parents is challenged by a change in society of course they never will “fit in”. the change in the law to make it pretty clear that gay adoption is perfectly acceptable (and I’m still to see any argument as to why it isn’t other than “think about how the children *may* be victimised”) can only go to changing this belief as it becomes more common place. Meanwhile it is not our responsibility to therefore neglect the wishes of gay couples, but to improve our communication in schools as to the diversity of family units and how there is nothing wrong for a kid to have two dads or two mums.

I mean, we don’t have a debate about whether single mothers and fathers can keep their children do we, and surely their offspring is just as likely to come under scrutiny for “not having a mum/dad”, how do you deal with that issue of difference in their peer group Matt?

As for the rather ridiculous suggestion that heterosexual rights are infringed by allowing gays to adopt as there is not an “inexhaustible supply” of children, the only rights that should matter in this case are of the children.

I’m certainly not for adoption agencies saying “We haven’t met our quota of giving children to gay couples”, but if there is (hypothetically) only one child left to adopt, and the choice is between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple then the couple that should win that adoption should be the *best parents* as far as the adoption agency can tell. If a heterosexual couple is deemed to be not as suitable for parenting a child than a gay couple then there are no more rights infringed than if they were not as suitable for parenting that child than another heterosexual couple.

I blame the blame culture.

The way I see the problem is that the playing of the blame game automatically opposes the principles of pluralism by selecting evidence in order to divide society into groups and segments so that one part or another can be prosecuted or persecuted. The creation of a culture of identification with sexual practise/behaviour/thought and the development of groups to defend and promote the associated identity of those individuals runs simultaneously and in parallel with the growing acknowledgement and acceptance of it.

I just don’t understand the hang-ups and confusion.

If there ever was a ‘traditional’ family unit, then, according to Melanie Phillips and her ilk, it existed at that point in history when homosexual activity was non-existent.

And if someone doesn’t (consciously or sub-consciously) choose to be gay, but is instead born gay, then why aren’t same-sex toddlers at it in the sand pit?

The way I see it the whole subject is being subjected to the pressures of anti-liberal argument in what it means to have freedom of choice, in the interests of control and subjected to the overarching authority of society. So all sides turn to the tactic of playing the victim in order to win the sympathy of the majority as a substitute for the more real personal affirmation that comes with love.

How desperate! How destructive!

Lee #17

“I mean, we don’t have a debate about whether single mothers and fathers can keep their children do we, and surely their offspring is just as likely to come under scrutiny for “not having a mum/dad”, how do you deal with that issue of difference in their peer group Matt?”

No, we don’t have a debate, because it’s been silenced in the pursuit of a political agenda which positively incentivizes single parenthood. We don’t have the debate which is why the blizzard of statistics going back to the 1950s showing that the offspring of single parents are disadvantaged in every measurable way is effectively buried. We don’t have the debate because they are concentrated in the lowest socio-economic groups, the same sink estates, the same failing schools. This left wing myth that all schools are diverse is complete fiction. The “diversity” is clustered, socially and physically. In some schools single parenthood is the norm, in most it is not, the two are not evenly distributed through the school system, as they are not evenly distributed through society.
For what it’s worth the children of single parents exhibit many of the same emotional and behavioural problems as children who have been in care. All of the evidence strongly points to children born outside the traditional family (and it does exist, it’s 2 parents, opposite sex, hetero, first marriage, kids born without artificial assistance and in wedlock) being disadvantaged. Your answer seems to be “the social norm is wrong, change it”, despite the fact that by any measure the norm works for most people ?

“Meanwhile it is not our responsibility to therefore neglect the wishes of gay couples, but to improve our communication in schools as to the diversity of family units and how there is nothing wrong for a kid to have two dads or two mums.”

But it is our responsibility to subvert childerns futures to that wish ? Get real. Kids don’t care what the difference is, they just don’t want to be different. Do you honestly think that you can somehow teach kids that something they hardly ever see is the same as something that is part of their everyday existence ? I honestly think you either don’t realise the implications of what you are saying, or you have an almost laughably naive view of child psychology.

So now your problem with gay parenthood is about kids getting picked on in the play ground?

Well kids who have disabilities, and coloured skin are different, kids with goofy teeth and big ears and noses suffer standing out from the crowd but nobody suggests that we surgically ‘perfect’ them so that kids have a bully free childhood.

Seriously, we educate our children about the difference in race and religion of other children so why not parents sexuality? I believe that if children can understand that other kids go to church or wear religious symbols that are unfamiliar to their own then they can understand that another child has two dads.

I love the way that people trivialise the life long psychological damage caused by bullying, as though it’s somehow a noble sacrifice in the cause of minority rights.
Even if it is desirable to put scarce educational resource into social engineering (and in my view it isn’t) where’s the proof that it works ? Despite (or more likely because of) decades of left wing conditioning bullying is still a problem in many schools, racial prejudice and disability prejudice haven’t gone away just because people have been “educated” and I diasgree that children “understand” difference any more than they “understand” religion – they are just brainwashed to repeat adult prejudices.

Why do you think I’m trivialising the effects of bullying?

I was bullied constantly through both primary and secondary school (even strangled), I know full well what the effects of bullying are but I don’t in any way feel scarred by that experience.

If you want to stop bullying then target the bullying. Preventing gay parenthood isn’t the answer to that.

My point was that there is a long irrational list of things kids get targeted for, a kid with gay parents need just get in line behind the fat kid and the goofy one.

19. “Kids don’t care what the difference is, they just don’t want to be different.”

And unfortunately for them that can never be true. Someone will always be more fat, someone will always have geekier glasses, or worse teeth, or hair that stands out more, or a physical disability. These things all exist and more, and without some kind of grand diabolical scheme to homogenise our offspring kids always WILL be different. Ultimately you and me (and everyone) knows that bullying is never going to stop without serious authoritarian intervention and my view is that it isn’t going to be healthy for the kids to go to that extreme any more than the situation currently with bullying.

As for the other subject of your post, the “traditional family”, I would love to see your comparative figures involving a large enough sample of families with same gender parents. I am quite happy to be proved wrong on this if they exist, but something tells me that the practice of homosexual couples adopting children or having children by some other method hasn’t been established or around for long enough to form any reasonable evidence that they do a worse job than “traditional” families.


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  1. Adrian Houghton

    #bbcqt Melanie Phillips: homophobic nasty piece of work.
    http://tinyurl.com/2wfodec
    http://tinyurl.com/37e26qm





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