What did you do in the Macklemore War, Dad?
The Australian1:39PM September 29, 2017
JACK THE INSIDER
In years to come our children might ask, “What did you do in the Macklemore War, Dad?” My response will be, “Like a lot of people, I fought and died just a little bit inside.”
The noise around the same sex marriage voluntary postal survey has turned this country into a dismal, joyless place, where proponents and opponents quibble over meaningless symbolism like seagulls over a chip.
I confess I didn’t have the slightest idea who Macklemore was until earlier this week. I would be perfectly happy to bathe in that ignorance today. I might even have watched him perform in the NRL Grand Final pre-match, wondered out loud who he was before going to the fridge and grabbing another beer before the kick off.
By the time the match ended and the premiership trophy was held aloft by the victorious captain, Macklemore’s performance would have been a distant memory, rather like my knowledge of the 2004 coup d’etat in Equatorial Guinea in that it was a long time ago and didn’t really make a whole lof of difference to my life.
Not only now do I vaguely know he is — his real name is Benjamin Haggarty, he’s 34 and hails from Seattle — but now I have a working knowledge of his discography. I’ve watched him perform the song, Same Love and I’ve perused the lyrics. Now, it ain’t Byron or even Lennon and McCartney but it contains a fairly simple albeit garbled message of tolerance.
I’m getting to that age where processing new information like this tends to push other, more important things out of my brain. It won’t be long before I forget how to use a can opener.
Sport and politics don’t mix? Give me a break. Sport is politics. In fact the only time sport and politics are not deeply entwined is the brief period when the players kick a ball around the park but even then there are politicians in the crowd. Well, not in the crowd. In the good seats enjoying the corporate hospitality.
We should all understand that over the festival of the boot this weekend we poor, put upon taxpayers, reduced to watching the game on television are actually funding politicians to attend these events. Fly ‘em, fly ‘em out. A few cold ones over the gourmet party pies. Partners, children, hangers on, third cousins twice removed. The best seats in the house. All expenses paid. I’d put the bill somewhere around half a million in total possibly more.
Don’t tell me these clowns don’t use sport for their own political advantage. They literally do it all the time and especially at this time of year. On the eve of the finals, they’re out there with a media throng, fumbling footies and guffawing at their sporting ineptitude in a desperate and obvious attempt to prove themselves men and women of the people.
If these tepid appearance weren’t just ghastly political media stunts but offered something worth seeing, a club official would hand the visiting nuisance the footy and say, “OK, Prime Minister. You’ve got the ball and see that man there? That’s Jason Taumalolo and he’s going to try and stop you. Everyone ready with the cameras? All right, let’s go.”
Fetch me my cheque book. I’d pay good money to see that.
I am of a group that believes any grand final pre-match entertainment should begin and end with Barnesy on the back of a truck, belting out Khe-Sanh. Of course now we can’t have that without enduring the shrieks of protest from those who were all for the Vietnam War.
That we have seven more weeks of this fills me with despair. It is damaging this country every day. It tears at national unity, legitimises abuse and gives a voice to ugliness that had fallen silent in this country long ago.
My daughter has a friend who is 17 and gay. He hasn’t told his parents yet. But his mother and father informed him they were voting ‘no’ in the same sex marriage postal survey. It is too early to say what enduring harm this does to this young man’s development and his relationship with his parents but it is bound not to be good.
When the postal survey caravan moves on and one way or another it will move on later this year, this young man and many others like him will be left with a personal existential crisis that will last for years and perhaps never be resolved.
These young gay men and women will have seen for themselves that a large group of Australians would prefer they didn’t exist. This young man in particular knows that his parents, for whatever reason, do not believe the same legal rights should be extended to him as are extended to all other adults, purely on the basis of his sexuality.
I don’t blame the parents. I don’t blame Bob Katter. I don’t blame Lyle Shelton, Tony Abbott, John Howard or Cory Bernardi. They are entitled to their views and in the context of this rolling national vox pop, they are entitled to express them. I understand the more extreme elements of the pro-SSM moment have relentlessly pursued their objectives in ugly and sometimes violent ways but I don’t blame them either.
I blame Malcolm Turnbull.
We don’t have postal surveys on immigration levels. We don’t have postal surveys on the Budget, what taxes are in or out or what services should be funded or cut. We don’t have postal surveys on energy policy, on data retention or on foreign policy. In fact we haven’t had postal surveys at all and the only reason we are having one now is because the Prime Minister was unable to navigate his way through dissent within his own party.
When the Coalition’s plebiscite was rejected by the Senate twice, it would have meant the Coalition had no credible or workable policy on same sex marriage going into the next election without stirring up a party room revolt and the prospect of an enduring schism in creating one. That is the only reason we are having a voluntary postal survey.
This harmful, ugly exercise is only designed to keep the Coalition from tearing itself apart and bugger the consequences for anybody else.
Win, lose or draw, the postal survey has lifted the lid on prejudice in this country and torn away at social cohesion in ways that may never be repaired. It has and will continue to alienate people, especially young, vulnerable Australians.
That is all on you, Malcolm.