‘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?’
‘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 http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au)
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.