So: to get back up to date. David Cameron (i.e. someone in his government) is "planning" (i.e. discussing the possibility of) allowing clergymen who wish to conduct Civil Partnership Ceremonies in churches to conduct Civil Partnership Ceremonies in churches; and to allow people who want to sing hymns at Registry Office ceremonies to sing hymns at Registry Office ceremonies. In the Melverse, this translates to "A Tory Prime Minister is upholding the idea that traditional morality is bigotry."
Why is David Cameron upholding this idea -- or, come to that, permitting these proposals to be discussed?
Because he himself thing that it is a good idea?
Because he thinks that that is what the vast majority of ordinary people want, even though he himself has reservations?
Because that nice Sir Ian had a little chat with him, and won him over with his charm and the force of his arguments?
Oh no. David Cameron is upholding these ideas / agreeing to have the discussion because he has an a priori commitment to an ideologically driven political agenda.
"It is becoming all too plain that (Cameron) is signing up to the wilder extremes of political correctness."
New readers start here: Political Correctness is not "institutionalized politeness", the careful (and sometimes maybe over-careful) avoidance of non-inclusive language. Oh no. Political Correctness means Communism. Cameron's support of gay marriage means that he has actively signed up to, or has at any rate been "turned" by the Frankfurt School. When she says that David Cameron has "signed up" to Political Correctness, Mel means that he is a Cultural Marxist.
Well, no. Obviously she doesn't really think that. Only a complete lunatic would claim that the leader of the Conservative Party was a closet commie. You might as well describe the 2010 election (which the right wing Tories won) as some kind of socialist take over:
"Don't be fooled by the love-in between the Hugh Grant and Colin Firth of politics - this is a Left-wing coup...."[*](Melanie Philips, Daily Mail 17 May, 2010)
You might as well suggest that the right-wing Barack Obama was a revolutionary Marxist:
"This is to miss something of the greatest importance: that in the world of Barack Obama, community organisers are a key strategy in a different game altogether; and the name of that game is revolutionary Marxism." (Melanie Phillips, Spectator, 9 Sep 2008)
"(Obama is) a Marxisant radical who all his life has been mentored by, sat at the feet of, worshipped with, befriended, endorsed the philosophy of, funded and been in turn funded, politically promoted and supported by a nexus comprising black power anti-white racists, Jew-haters, revolutionary Marxists....." (Melanie Phillips, Spectator, 14 Oct 2008)
If you are going to get involved in that kind of fantasy, why not go the whole way and claim that Obama is a special sort of Communist who is also a Muslim?
"We are entitled to ask precisely when he stopped being a Muslim. Did Obama embrace Christianity as a tactical manoeuvre to get himself elected. Why indeed has he dissembled about his family background if not for that end?" Melanie Philips, Spectator, June 10th 2008. [**]
So no. Only a complete lunatic would think that Cameron was actively working for the downfall of Western Civilisation.
Some actions are sins, but not crimes: working on a Sunday for example, whether for the Mail On Sunday or some other paper. Some actions are sins because they are crimes: God doesn't have an opinion, particularly, on whether my income from freelance journalism is taxable, but he would, I imagine, take a serious view of my telling lies on my self-assessment form. Neither Church nor State has ever argued that all sins should be crimes; and the question "which sins should be against the law" is one which the government, not the church, has to answer. The Daily Mail, committed as it is to traditional moral values and opposed to all forms of pornography, presumably, regards masturbation as a grievous sin. Very possibly, if Melanie Phillips were Prime Minister, masturbation would become a crime: but I assume that she accepts that "We are going to stop putting wankers in the stocks" is the sort of decision which the government of the day is quite free to make. Clear-headed religious conservatives like Mr Lewis have always been very clear about this: fornication and adultery are certainly sins, but they are not the sort of sin which the state should be concerned with. This was the argument which the state made when it legalized homosexuality in 1967. We aren't saying that homosexuality is morally right, necessarily: any more than we are saying that prostitution is morally right. We are only saying that it shouldn't be against the law.
So far as I can tell, Mel had no particularly problem with the decriminalization of homosexuality, nor with the equalisation of the age of consent. (She says that she thinks it is wrong for homosexuals to be subjected to persecution and bigotry, and it is hard to think of a much more bigoted way of persecuting someone than locking them up because you don't like what they are doing with their willy.) Because the distinction between gays and straights was left intact --- one group could marry and the other group could not -- these reforms left the Core Bedrock Foundation of society intact.
But because society was built on Christianity and Christianity is reducible to homophobia, marriage is a special case: it is the one thing which the state is, by definition, not competent to interfere with. So Cameron, by threateing to create a legal category of gay marriage, is committing an act of hubris.
"It [the Government] endorses the idea that there is nothing wrong with overturning centuries of Biblical understanding of the sacrament of marriage as the union of a man and a woman."
The term sacrament isn't in the Bible, and everyone who has bothered to do even five minutes of research knows that the Church of England does not regard marriage as a sacrament. (Sorry.) In any case, Biblical understandings get over-turned all the time: the Old Testament doesn't see marriage as irreducibly the union of one man and one woman -- the Patriarchs and the Kings of Israel were polygamous. St Paul and Jesus agree with Dave Sim that marriage is, at the very best, a necessary evil, intended as a last resort for people who really can't manage celibacy. Either the Christian understanding of marriage is capable of development, or else everything was fixed the moment Saint Paul put down his quill and Melanie Phillips must be submissive and obedient to her husband, never speak in public or appear in church without a hat.
"But those who make this argument [that marriage is just a legal partnership] reveal that they have no idea of the significance of marriage. The truth..."
....when she was on Question Time, someone tweeted that every time Mel said "this is a fact" a caption should appear on the screen saying Not Actually A Fact.
"....The truth is that marriage is a unique institution because it involves the process by which humanity reproduces itself which is only through the union of male and female."
So: from "sacrament" (Holy-God-Magic) to "institution" (thing the state thought up for a useful purpose). The state wants to regulate straight sex because straight sex makes babies. It is uninterested in gay sex because gay sex, on the whole, doesn't. As I have said, I think this may be a valid argument. But then it goes, and in recent weeks I've given up watching my language in this forum so let's put it frankly, it goes totally batshit insane.
"The sole reason marriage has universal value is that it is vital for the healthy nurture of the next generation"
The sole reason. Marriage is about bringing up babies and nothing else. The Church of England, it will be remembered, says that Marriage has four purposes --
a: A metaphor for the relationship between God and the Church
c: A concession to man's sinful nature. We all want nookie. We ought to do without. But a few people won't be able to manage celibacy, so God invented marriage so they could get sex without frightening the horses.
d: For companionship. The reason that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, was that left to themselves, Adam and Steve would watch Star Wars videos every night, live on pizza and put their underpants in the fridge. (Eve was made, it will be remembered, not primarily satisfy Adam's sexual desires, but as a "help-meet".)
Either she doesn't know that the Church of England teaches this, or she knows but doesn't care. So much for upholding "normative" Christian values.
Marriage is only about babies, because marriage is vital -- essential -- for bringing them up. You can't raise children without it. It is quite true that although two men may love each other very much, no amount of hugging and drinking brightly coloured cocktails will ever produce a baby. It is equally true that if everyone decided to become gay, there would be no more people. If you are worried about the speed with which humans are burning up the world's resources, this might be quite a good idea. Probably the most sensible arrangement would be if nearly everyone was gay (or celibate, or just stayed in and look at very tasteful adult websites) and only a small number of highly motivated individuals embarked on the arduous task of parenthood.
But marriage is clearly not vital for baby production. A man and a woman are only too likely to produce a child, whether they are married or not. Even if they aren't in love. (Mel doesn't approve of abortion. The Daily Mail doesn't really think children should be taught the facts of life. It's quite doubtful about birth control, which it believes causes pregnancy, and very possibly, cancer.)
So why is marriage "vital"?
"This is because children need to be brought up by the two people who created them."
Quick straw poll.
Raise your hands anyone reading this who was adopted?
Raise your hands anyone whose parents split up, and who was raised by their Mum or their Dad's and their Mum or Dad's new partner?
Anyone raised in an institution or children's home?
Anyone whose Dad was away at sea, and who went to boarding school from a young age?
Anyone posh who was mostly brought up by a Nanny?
Anyone whose Dad died, and who was raised by just Mum?
Or whose Mum died, and was raised by just Dad?
Anyone sent to be Page and then a Squire in a great Lord's court? (Okay, that's a bit of a long-shot)
Do any of you people feel specially messed up? I mean, they fuck you up, you mum and dad, and all that, but do you necessarily think that you'd be less fucked up if the people passing on the misery had shared more of your D.N.A?
Probably, it is better for a child to be raised by a Mother and Father than by just a Mother, just a Father, two Mothers, two Fathers, a trained professional, an institution or a village. Maybe (I doubt this) it is necessarily better for a child to be raised by its biological parents than by some other committed and loving couple. But the inability to perceive shades of grey is quite breathtaking. Good, better, best. Bad, less bad, okay. It would have been better if Mummy and Daddy and not been eaten by the Grizzly Bear, but since what has happened has happened, being raised by Mummy's brother David (who I know and like) and his special friend Jonathan (who has always been very kind to me) may be better than living with Fred and Wilma (who are strangers, who I don't much like): but even living with Fred and Wilma may be better than living in an orphanage, although everyone in the orphanage will be very kind to me and I will probably turn out OK -- much better than if I'd been turned out onto the streets to steal handkerchiefs on behalf of nasty Jewish stereotypes.
On Mel's view, it is necessary and vital for me to live with the people who "created" me, even if Mummy brings home a different drug-addicted "friend" every night and Daddy gets drunk and hits me. (Well, she's probably OK with the hitting part, though not the drunk part.) This is necessarily better than being taken away and raised by two kind people who did not "create me." This was not the prevailing view after the grotesque case of "Baby P", who was neglected and killed by at least one of the people who had created him. "Why did the social workers leave this child with his parents?", was the battle cry, "Why aren't we much more willing to take kids into state care?"
And then it goes deranged. Actually unhinged. Impossible to parse into actually plain English.
"If the status of marriage is extended to other relationships ...the institution will be undermined. If still in doubt, try this thought experiment. Imagine the Government was planning to recognise polygamy and polyandry (marriage with more than one woman or man), or marriage between 'zoophiles' (people who have 'loving and committed relationships with mammals', or bestiality to you and me) and their, er, partners. If you think this is merely grotesque satire, you would be sadly out of date. There are now campaigns in North America to recognise the 'equal rights' of such people and end 'discrimination' against them."
There may very well be such campaigns in North America. (I really like the "North" part. I think she's probably still sore about the War of Independence.) There are also people carrying placards saying God Hates Fags at military funerals, people who think that aliens have stuck sharp object up their bottoms and a whole lot of people who think that the world is precisely 6015 years old. There are more people in America than in England, so naturally, there are more silly people.
From the state's point of view, it would be logically impossible for a man to marry a cow because marriage is about property and pensions and tax and a cow can't own things.
From the church's point of view, it would be wrong for a man to marry a cow -- either because it is forbidden in Leviticus 18.23 or because, while harmless in itself, it doesn't symbolize the relationship of Jesus to the Church.
From the social point of view....
Actually, I'm far from sure that marrying a pet dog is that much more grotesque than burying a pet dog in a cemetery with a marble headstone, or operating under the delusion that your pet cat prefers Marks and Spencer's organic prawns. It's a fine thing for a human to have an animal companion, but much pet-owning is an expensive anthropomorphic game that the hamster or the guinea pig or the stick insect can't possibly understand. Some people do love their pets very much. It doesn't surprise me that some people do want a public ceremony in which they can affirm that their dog is the most important thing in the life. Maybe they think that such a ceremony will make it easier for their friends to accept it when they bring their dog to parties, and not ask questions about what may or may not happen in the kennel after dark. Whether their friends would accept that, I can't say. I'm not sure that it would be a terribly big deal if they did.
"(And no, before the hate mail starts, I’m not suggesting gays are on a moral par with zoophiles.)"
I find it hard to understand why masturbating with a kitten is necessarily more immoral than than masturbating with a doll, or a melon, or certain very tasteful adult websites, granted that you aren't hurting the kitten. Weird, yes. Inadvisable, very probably. Unsanitary. Silly. "Sad". But "immoral"?
This parenthesis tells us a good deal about the logic behind the Daily Mel's homophobia, actually. Bestiality is more "immoral" than homosexuality: homosexuality is less immoral than bestiality. But marriage between people of the same gender or different species would be equally destructive to civilisation. "Morality" isn't the main thing she's interested in.
I can see why someone might think that the question "Can a man marry his hamster?" is logically meaningless, like "Can a beetroot serve in the military" or "Do I need a TV licence for my cheesecake?" And I think I can see why someone might think that the question "Can a woman marry another woman?" is on the same level. But Mel puts a nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty, evil, nasty spin on it. The problem with a marriage between two men, or two women, or a man and a cat, or a man and a beetroot is not that it's immoral. It's not even that it's illogical. It's that it will make straight marriages look silly:
"If 'marriage' were extended to such groups [relationships between human and animals] people would rightly conclude that the institution was being turned into a meaningless joke."
If a man could marry his cow (a fairly remote contingency) you would feel that the party you held to affirm your love for your wife in front of your friends (or your God, if you are that way inclined) would lose its significance. And this would be a bad thing, because... Why, exactly? Because you would no longer be faithful to your husband or wife (because of the man and the cow)? Because you would no longer want to raise your children properly (because of the man and the cow)? Or would you say "If a man can affirm his love for his cow, there is no point in me affirming my love for my boyfriend or girlfriend"? So you wouldn't get married at all. And this would be a bad thing, because it's "vital" for children to be raised by their genetic parents. And if you haven't got a legally binding piece of paper, it will be impossible for you to raise your genetic children. And no-one will want that piece of paper if they hear that similar pieces of paper have been issued to Farmer Giles and Ermentrude. And since that is what would happen if we permitted human/cow marriages, the same thing will happen is we allow people to sing hymns at civil partnerships.
I am straight. You are gay. I am better than you. I have more expensive buttons and I eat more expensive pizza. If anyone says I am not better than you, civilisation will collapse.
Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who I am?
[*] The idea that we might discuss a different system for counting up the votes at elections, or change the rules about when elections are called, is "nothing less than a coup against parliamentary democracy."
[**] He is also, incidentally, a special kind of Communist Muslim who is also a Nazi -- or is, at any rate, plotting a "final solution" against the state of Israel.