Let’s fact check Cory Bernardi’s claim of vindication for his 2012 prediction that, “redefining marriage has seen a push for further redefinitions including lowering the age at which people can marry, multiple-partner marriages and even advocacy for the legalisation of bestiality.”
It’s that unpredictable summer storm time of year. No sooner has a Katter blown itself out than there’s a Palmer on the horizon, a Bernardi brewing and a threatened Hanson in the gulf, plus the distinct possibility of a Shelton in 2019.
With all that and election season upon us, expect to hear lots of thunder.
The smaller personality-driven political parties gain far more traction with spectacular lightning shows than any amount of money will purchase. But with so many in the field, it requires progressively more extreme statements to generate the requisite outrage.
Look forward to the RuPauling of Australian politics. One drag queen performs a death drop, dramatically falling backward to the stage with a leg folded under their body so the next queen must increase the degree of difficulty to stand out.
That queen performs a triple pirouette then cartwheels into the death drop while quoting scripture. Sorry — strike the “quoting scripture” bit. I’m confusing one mob of drama queens with the other.
Anyway, onto Bernardi’s statement, which he repeated earlier this month. If you will forgive me the use of obscure technical fact check jargon — it’s a load of old cobblers.
Lowering the age at which people can marry: Zero, zip, zilch, nada. No evidence, though there has been a move to lower the voting age. Perhaps the Senator got confused.
Multi-partner marriages: There are people who believe fervently in polygamy, polyandry and polyamory, but they appear to have mounted no demonstrations, undertaken no publicity campaigns and proposed no legislation, not so much as an online petition.
When nearly 70,000 people sign a petition on Change.org to rename our currency the Dollarydoo yet not one can get up a petition for multi-partner marriage, I think that says something.
As for advocacy for the legalisation of bestiality? Not a purr, bark or moo of this in Australia. No country has legalised bestiality since 1971 though many have criminalised the activity in recent years.
Senator Bernardi is utilising the time-worn tactic of the “slippery slope” or “thin edge of the wedge.”
Having given up arguing facts because of popular support for reform, proponents turn to claiming that while the reform itself might be acceptable, it will lead to unforeseen circumstances. It can be expressed as an equation. 1 + 1 = The sky is falling in!
You would think the slippery slope argument would have been retired after the Vietnam War saw 521 Australians killed stopping the communist takeover of South Vietnam because world domination would follow.
Well, we lost the war, South Vietnam became communist, but world domination never followed. Indeed, only a handful of communist dictatorships remain in the world today, while there appears to be a Trump on every rocky outcrop.
But the use of the strategy predates even last century. In 1896, the South Australian Register in Bernardi’s home state, applied the slippery slope argument against legislation to ban opium, stating that after opium, “all that will be remain to be done will be… to expel drink and tobacco as well.”
Well, they still drink in South Australia and they still smoke cigarettes.
I’ll be bernardied if I’m going to spend my day listing the thousands of BS slippery slope arguments propounded over the years by politicians without a fact to bless themselves with.
Nevertheless, in fairness to Bernardi, I will finish with the one example in Australian history when a predicted slippery slope was proven accurate.
The Gippsland Times reported in 1899 that the Legislative Council of Victoria opposed giving women the vote in the first federal election because that would trigger a slippery slope to the fairer sex demanding direct representation and even Ministerial office.
Heavens to Betsy, they were right.
Women got the vote and now, a scant 120 years after the prediction, 18 of the 84 elected members of the federal government of which Bernardi was once a part, are women.
Even more remarkable, several ministers are also of the female persuasion. Bloody hell. If it keeps going at this rate, they’ll be asking for parity.