Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Old Hendo's book of suburban cats and conservative inanities ...

(Above: if that's the editor's pick, it reminds the pond one more time why Fairfax publications are not the pond's pick).

The pond could write a column by Gerard "prattling Polonius" Henderson in its sleep.

First the invitation to contemplate the suburbs and the regional centres - strange places far removed from where Hendo works - coupled with obligatory abuse of the ABC, ravaging of other journalists who dare to think differently to Hendo - waiter, blinkers please -  a covert reference to Catholic thought and deeds - quoi, moi a conservative Catholic? - a deliberate misrepresentation of history, a sneer or two, usually with a puckered lip, and an angry embittered-looking face, and then a chasing of a fear-mongering hare down a rabbit hole or three ...

It takes quite a bit of doing to maintain the fear-mongering about gay marriage, and dig over the old tired soil of hostility and phobias, without mentioning the recent New Zealand decision on the matter, but Hendo does it, because you see, if he mentioned New Zealand, how could he maintain the Chicken Little, "the sky is falling on the suburbs" routine ...

But let's see how he does it in See what public thinks on same-sex marriage, which much like Tony Windsor is a call for dissembling and obfuscation and delay, and a heartfelt belief in the ongoing capacity of Australians to indulge in poofter-bashing.

The media in Australia is obsessed with same-sex marriage. It is far from clear, however, that this is a priority for many Australians living in the suburbs and regional centres - far away from the inner city where journalists tend to be domiciled.

There you have it, right from the get go.

Now there's sweet bugger all in the way of evidence that the media in Australia is obsessed with same-sex marriage, unless you count in people like our very own prattling Polonius, who every so often take to the podium to denounce the very concept and cluck and tut and do little pirouettes of anxiety.

And yep, how many times can a man blather on about journalists tending to be domiciled in the inner city while running the Sydney Institute at 41 Phillip Street in the heart of the city?

Does Hendo have a special suit which shields him from the thought rays of all the inner city dwellers around him, and guides him to the true understanding of life in the suburbs and the regional centres? Oh he talks about them all the time, but they must text him messages, because there's nary a mention of what a splendid time he had in Tamworth the other week ...

Then you get this sort of nonsense, which when you think about it, absent an actual survey, is meaningless twaddle:

It is doubtful that many Channel Ten viewers would regard same-sex marriage as a priority issue.

This because Clive Palmer dodged a question on the subject on Meet the Press. He dodged the same question on RN, and he dodged the same question in other forums.

It would have been simpler to say It is doubtful that Channel Ten has many viewers ...

On goes our prattling Polonius, berating Amanda Vanstone as the ABC's token conservative - when a mention of token radio techniques would have been more to the point - and then this clever bon mot in relation to journalist Steve Dow:

It was one of the many debates on the ABC where everyone agrees with everyone else.

Which is vastly different to the many debates in Hendo's columns where everybody is expected to agree with Hendo, and if you don't, watch out ... the dragons in the suburbs and regional centres will get you.

And now let's get to the important distorting of history lesson, how to 101:

A decade ago, certain words had clear meanings. A marriage was a union between a man and a woman. A married man had a wife. And a married woman had a husband. Moreover, children had certain expectations, whether or not their parents were married. A child had a father who was male and a mother who was female. 

Actually a decade ago, and centuries ago, and in all kinds of cultures and civilisations, certain words didn't have clear meanings or clear practices. It was after all Claudius who married his niece Agrippina, and adopted her son Domitius, who changed his name to Nero, and with the help of a little poison, ascended the throne. Nero happened to be cheerfully bisexual and apart from sundry other marriages, he got hitched to both Pythagoras and Sporus. (If that Daily Terror of his day, Suetonius, mentions it, it must be true).

Now Nero might not be the best advertisement for gay marriage, or stability of government, but the point, an obvious one, is that marriage has always had a slippery set of definitions and practices, especially amongst nobility, the ruling classes, and assorted religions, and you might just as well have started off prattling Polonius's bit of prejudice like this:

Over a century ago, certain words and revelations had clear meanings, if you happened to be a follower of Jospeh Smith. A marriage was a union between a man and as many Lamanite and Nephite wives as could be sustained. A child might have had a father, but who knows how many within the clan who might have considered themselves his mother, as opposed to his birth mother(Origin of Latter Day Saint polygamy).

And what do you know, all's forgiven with the Mittster running for the big one, and a big musical on Broadway.

Now some people get nervous when polygamy is mentioned, because that's what gay marriage is supposed to lead to, and thereby ruin conventional marriage, unless of course it's the tendency of people to want to get married to their pet rabbit, and live in peace with their frisky carrot-eating spouse.

But the point, and it's a simple one, is that talk that a decade ago certain words had clear meanings is twaddle. Twaddle of the purest, silliest kind.

And now for that sneer:

Not any more. On RN Breakfast earlier this month, former US Democratic Party politician Barney Frank told Fran Kelly about the views of his "husband". Then there is the matter of children.

No, let's not go to the matter of children just yet. Let's contemplate that sneer, that verbal snigger first, that a man dare talk of his husband. It's in the same school, but not in the same league as the immortal Samuel Johnson, courtesy of Boswell:

Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

These days Johnson would be viewed as a hopelessly old-fashioned fuddy duddy of the standard sexist sort - well in most places, though perhaps not amongst Sydney Anglicans and at the Sydney Institute.

But you see what Henderson reveals with his snidery is that change is indeed upon us, and in that most Christian and conservative world, the United States.

Which is why earlier in his piece, our prattling Polonius tried on this piece of drollery and wit:

At the ABC, presenters and reporters tend to embrace same-sex marriage with much the same conviction as Southern Baptists in the United States believe in the Second Coming. It's a matter of faith.

Which is how you embark on a reductionist argument. It's not a matter of rights, or of equality, or giving a minority the very conservative capacity to enter into a stable relationship involving property, and pre-nups and divorce and the whole damn crazy thing, it's a matter of faith. And so a religious stance is invoked by a religious man anxious to troll about faith while making his usual cuckoo noises that are faith-based ...

Commentator Greg O'Mahoney said on Sky News recently that there was no "coherent convincing counterargument" to same-sex marriage. Those who hold a different view are incoherent, apparently.

Perhaps not all of them, but incoherence is your middle name these days Hendo, especially when it comes to matters of faith. And now for that promised bit of fear mongering:

According to reports, Elton John's partner, David Furnish, is cited as the mother on the birth certificate of their second child. This is a frequent demand by sections of the gay community. If it prevails, it is likely that in a decade or more the same problem will arise, as with adopted children in the past. 

What, you mean in the way they've been fucked over by Christian churches?

Namely, there will be a yearning by teenagers and adults alike to know who both their biological parents are. 

Actually it's not a big deal if handled in an adult way. The pond's married friend fathered a child reared by a couple of women. The child knows both biological parents. Move on, nothing to see here, and certainly not the coherent convincing counterargument you might use to rebut commentator Greg O'Mahony. Just pathetic fear-mongering and screeches about how the sky might fall down ...

So here we come to the crunch:

Same-sex marriage advocates see themselves railing against the old-fashioned views of some Christians, including many Catholics. 

Yes indeed, the very same cabal that spent centuries fighting equal rights for women. So how can we rustle up support for these reactionary ratbags and their Pellist and Jensenist oppressive ways?

This overlooks the fact that there is considerable opposition to same-sex marriage in the Muslim and Hindu communities as well as among socially conservative non-believers.

Uh huh. Suddenly we're all Muslim and Hindu at heart?

Is there the same considerable support in Hendo's heart for women - sisters - being separated out and sent to the back of the room? Is Hendo all in favour of the hijab? Does belonging to one reactionary tribe mean you're tremendously cheered when you find other reactionary tribes who agree with you? The enemy of women's rights is the enemy of gay rights is my reactionary friend ...

Could we write a line saying that as well as considerable opposition to same-sex marriage in the Muslim community there is considerable support for terrorism in fundamentalist Muslim communities?

Does that make it better? Muslims and Hendo together in jihad?

When the Marriage Amendment Bill was debated in the House of Representatives last year, it was opposed by three prominent Labor MPs from Western Sydney - Chris Bowen (an atheist), Tony Burke (a Catholic) and Ed Husic (a Muslim). 

Indeed. So let's see how these prominent Labor MPs go when they appeal to their base for their support come the next election. Let's hope their cultivation of the conservative Islamic and Xian vote stands them in good stead because they'll be getting sfa support from the pond ...

But it hardly seems enough does it, a unified band of righteous Muslims, Catholics and atheists standing against the gay hordes, so let's try a little more lime-laden mortar crammed amongst the bricks:

In the current issue of The Spectator, John Laughland documents the growing opposition to same-sex marriage in France, particularly in provincial areas. 

It's Canute and the waves all over again, but you see France has already had its first gay marriage fair in Paris, here. Oh yes, there's a downside, the pond takes a butch attitude to all this flim-flam, but forget it Hendo, Frenchtown is a lost cause ... and Britain will inevitably follow down the same path.

And so to the Tony Windsor solution, no doubt inspired on Windsor's behalf by a sense of guilt at his last vote - and the knowledge that New Zealand hasn't in fact fallen off a moral cliff, or even, last we checked had much feather-ruffling because pollies did what pollies should do, and vote to maintain equal rights for all ...

If significant social change is to be imposed on Australians at relatively short notice, it would make sense to test community attitudes. After all, in 1977 a plebiscite was conducted on what should be Australia's national song. Many Australians regard the concept of traditional marriage as important as the words of the national anthem. 

So what's behind this call? Well a plebiscite is just a giant opinion poll, and you could find out the current state of play by conducting a much less expensive opinion poll, and you'd get the answer that a majority of Australians favour gay marriage - as shown by many recent opinion polls.

Not out of some obsessive interest in the subject or a heated desire to get married in a gay way, but in the manner of it seems fair enough, and gays are people too and where's the harm and why all the conservative fuss and should gays be shoved back into the closet ...

All the usual fair go stuff, as opposed to reactionary tosh seeking to maintain the rage and the fear and loathing and deliver a curled lip sneer at Barney Frank ...
Of course getting a result with a referendum would be even trickier because the history is always, except on a few significant occasions, a no vote, complicated by the need for a majority of states as well as a majority vote (you can always rely on Queensland and WA to wreck the joint).

Which is what all this natter about plebiscites and referendums comes down to. Delay, delay, delay, obfuscate, filibuster ... drone on in the Hendo style until people collapse from boredom and the tedium of the argument.

You see, above all, what's lacking here, as you'd expect in a prattling Polonius piece, is a sense of humour, the kind of humour on display in Maurice Williamson's speech, which went viral (YouTube link and story at the NZ Herald here):

I have had a Reverend in my local electorate call and say that the gay onslaught will start the day after this bill is passed. We are really struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like. 

We do not know whether it will come down the Pakuranga Highway as a series of troops, or whether it will be a gas that flows in over the electorate and blocks us all in. 
I also had a Catholic priest tell me that I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life. 
Hon Amy Adams: “Cell-i-bacy”. 
Hon Maurice Williamson: “Cell-i-bacy”. OK, we will go with “Cell-i-bacy”. OK. I have not done it, so I do not know what it is about. I also had a letter telling me that I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity. 
That was a bad mistake, because I have got a degree in physics. I used the thermodynamic laws of physics. I put in my body weight and my humidity and so on. I assumed the furnace to be at 5,000 degrees. I will last for just on 2.1 seconds. It is hardly eternity. What do you think? 
I also heard some more disgusting claims about adoption. Well, I have got three fantastic adopted kids. I know how good adoption is, and I have found some of the claims just disgraceful. I found some of the bullying tactics really evil. I gave up being scared of bullies when I was at primary school... 
...Can I finish—for all those who are concerned about this—with a quote from the Bible. It is Deuteronomy. I thought Deuteronomy was a cat out of the musical Cats, but never mind. The quote is Deuteronomy 1:29: “Be ye not afraid.” ... (and so on, rest of transcript here)

Yep, Hendo might keep on with his verbal bullying, but it's laughter that undoes him, that and his memory which saw him call Simon Breheny Stephen ... Mark Latham's relentless tracking of his many errors must be getting to him ...

The Rum Tum Tugger Hendo is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He's always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he's at home, then he'd like to get about.
He likes to lie in the Sydney Institute bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can't get out to the suburbs
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger Hendo
is a Curious Cat
And there isn't any use for you to doubt it:
For he will do
As he do do
And as fundie Islamic and Hindu do do
And there's no doing anything about it! (the rest here, apologies to T. S. Eliot)

(Below: what a pity T. S. Eliot never got around to an Old Hendo's Book of Suburban Tosser Cats).


  1. Dorothy...didn't Hendo have kittens over this? If you keep scrolling down there is a joke Hendo might enjoy!

  2. Thanks Anon, yes it's a great joke, a tremendous wheeze and a jolly jape for Cat-holics everywhere but we were startled to hear that you could imagine Hendo enjoying a joke. Is a thin-lipped sneer of disdain a sure sign of a belly laugh in progress?

  3. Dot, I'm guessing I'm not the first to say this - your writing skills and your mind are first rate. Surely all this time you spend reading idiot's ramblings is time that could be spent, I dunno, reading something that isn't going to give you an ulcer. If you require an exorcism, to rid you of this sickness, I'm pretty sure a visit to rural Qld would provide what you need. All the best.

  4. So, what happens to Hendo if gay marriage gets passed by a referendum?

  5. Thank you kindly Adam, but here no ulcer, no ulcer here. It is purely a form of therapy, and the therapist has advised that I should be cured sometime within the next hundred years. As for rural Queensland, sadly the pond's heart remains loyal to the centre of the known universe, and country music, Tamworth, Goonoo Goonoo, Kootingal, Dungowan, Nundle, and points thereabouts ... (yes, there's a pronunciation test before you're allowed into Valhalla)

  6. You forgot the special sneer he reserves for lefties speaking from the sinecure of secure (particularly public service) jobs and superannuation. Gets him quite in the lather, superannuation, when it's attached to anything except a $8 an hour casual job cleaning the Institute urinals.


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