Thursday, 18 August 2011

Garbled garbage and false equivalence

Miranda Devine has a new article addressing the more hysterical of the responses she received to her aforementioned 'piece of illogical swill', in which she neglects to engage with any of the real problems in her argument, simply pointing to abusive tweets and other hyperbolic garblings of her original garbage. Obviously the majority of these comments were made flippantly, satirising the absurdity of her stance by talking about it just as absurdly, a point she fails to comprehend. Calm down, Miranda. Nobody (worth worrying about) actually thought you were saying 'People in London are rioting because Penny Wong is having a baby'; they were just saying that may as well've been your point because you argued it so hopelessly.

Unsurprisingly, in the face of this half-assed response, my point still stands.

But let's map this out and I can pass it off as practice for the first-year Philosophy subject I'm taking this semester, Practical Reasoning. This is Devine's position:
  • The London riots were undesirable
  • A major contributing factor to the London riots was the largescale fatherlessness of younger generations
  • Therefore, fatherlessness is undesirable
  • Lesbian child-rearing also necessarily involves fatherlessness
  • Therefore, lesbian child-rearing is undesirable
  • Therefore, we shouldn't be celebrating it
The problem here lies in the over-generalised term 'fatherlessness'. Devine's superficial contention is that fatherlessness is always a bad thing. She maintains that the kind of fatherlessness experienced by many of the London rioters is the same as the kind of fatherlessness experienced by the child of a lesbian couple. Fallacy of false equivalence, anyone? 

What happens when hardcore Catholicism/conservatism mixes with reason.
(Image amalgamated from,, and

If the parents of the London rioters had been married and the fathers present in the home, the riots wouldn't have happened, or at least not to the same extent, Devine implies again and again. As if it's the absence of fathers, not the absence of good fathers that makes the difference. As if it matters that it's a father that's missing, not a parent

She does surprise us though, in her rebuttal, providing some actual evidence! A+ for effort, Miranda. Keep up the good work! She cites someone else citing UK think tank Civitas's finding that: 'Fatherless children are “more likely to engage in behaviour associated with social exclusion, such as offending, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse or worklessness.”' 

Yes, they probably are. As I was saying in my previous post, that's because scumbag guys tend to have children with scumbag girls and then fuck off, leaving the child to be raised by the scumbag girl. Can't Devine see the world of difference between this situation and the situation of two lesbians going to extraordinary effort and expense to conceive a child? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

This hole in Devine's logic, although she doesn't realise it, is what forces her to admit 'that Wong and her partner will no doubt be “fine mothers” providing their baby with “a stable, loving upbringing, despite not having a father in the home. Individually, these things work themselves out. Allowances are made, extra effort applied. Love conquers all.”'

Which is funny. Evidently she is perfectly aware of the weakness of her own argument, but continues to make it anyway. She knows it is shallow to simply say 'Fatherlessness of any kind is bad', so she is careful to add that 'many ... [single mothers] ... do a heroic job', and the concession that Wong's baby will be fine quoted above. In realising that concessions such as these have to be made, she should have realised that the issue of 'fatherlessness' is not as black and white as presents it to be. I think it's just that she wants so badly for it to be a good argument. She's found herself pissed off at the fuss over Wong's impending baby, looked at the riots and gone, 'Yeah, see? None of those rioters have strong male role models to keep them in line. Neither will the baby of a lesbian pregnancy!' without examining the issue any further.

And I'm sure no one down at The Daily Telegraph would've prompted her to, either. What's their motto again? 'Superficial is good enough'?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Miranda devine serves the kind of baloney only judge judy can cut through

Tuesday 16 August 2011

 (Image from

‘How long has she been your wife?’ Judge Judy demands of a terrified young man in a family dispute.

‘Three years,’ he answers demurely.

‘Uhuh.’ She points to the man standing at the other table. ‘And how long has he been your father?’

‘Twenty-three years.’

‘Exactly. The divorce rate in this country is 52%. There is at least a 52% chance that the woman standing next to you won’t be there in twenty years.’

I had to transcribe this exchange here because of the coincidence of its being so salient and being on TV at the exact time I was writing this post.

Marriage, like religion, does not bestow automatic morality or piety. In both cases, the institution will be made the best of by good people, and the worst of by bad. I’m talking, of course, like every man and his blog, about Miranda Devine’s latest piece of illogical swill, and specifically her outrageous claim that ‘[y]ou only had to see the burning streets of London last week to see the manifestation of a fatherless society.’

The face of nonsense.
(Image from

The whole thing is cheap, bitter, tasteless and half-baked, but that one argument embodies the hair you just have to spit back out. The incoherent ramble starts with a whinge about all the fuss over Penny Wong’s lesbian pregnancy and moves through various other nonsensical topics such as a gay conspiracy to use political correctness to demonise and destroy the nuclear family. As much as I’d love to tip the entirety of this unholy conglomerate out on the table and systematically explain what’s wrong with every single component part of it, I simply don’t have the time and neither, probably, do you. Plus, there’s plenty of other commentators already on the job. Patrick Lenton and Tom Ballard have weighed in, and I’m sure Geoff Lemon is concocting something brilliant even as I type. So I’m just going to stick with the hair.

Essentially, Devine’s ‘argument’ is that the insolubly complex bundle of social, political and economic factors that led to the London riots can be explained by one answer: God. Oh no, sorry. That’s just everything else. I meant fathers. Or a lack thereof. Britain, she says, has the highest proportion of single mothers in Europe. Therefore, we shouldn’t allow gay marriage because children need fathers or they become scumbag rioters ... Except male gay marriage because, by that logic, kids with two fathers would be TWICE as civically responsible. So just no lesbian marriage, then.

I’m losing track of that hair already ...

What I really want to say is that marriage – the normal, heterosexual kind – does not have some inherent property that would stop kids becoming scumbags. Like I said at the beginning, the institution is irrelevant. It’s the quality of people in the institution that make the difference. So, yes, there might be statistics that show that kids with married parents are better off or whatever (not that Devine references any such statistics or gives any ... y’know ... evidence for anything she says, I suspect because that would invite people to bring up the favourable statistics about the children of same-sex partners), but the reason for those statistics is that good, normal, intelligent people are more likely to form stable relationships and get married, not  that when people get married they magically become responsible parents. Does Miranda think that if the putative scumbag (ex-)boyfriends of the supposed scumbag mothers of the scumbag London rioters had been drugged-up jobless alcoholics inside marriage and therefore present in the home, their children would’ve grown up well-adjusted? Probably, because she’s a stupid idiot. Pardon my language, but you see, my parents broke up when I was five, and they were never married.

And just for the record, the married couple on Judge Judy, who have one daughter (not exactly 2.5, but I'm sure they're working on it), had their claim dismissed. The husband's father refused to give them back a dog they'd previously maltreated, and Judy came down on the father's side. 'Last bastion of bourgeois morality', indeed.