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Thread: Gay Marriage

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Australia
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    Default Re: Gay Marriage

    Quote Originally Posted by 32Bravo View Post
    Of course what for some e.g. the Irish Gay community, is liberty via the action of democracy might be seen as 'the tyranny of the majority' for the opposition.
    Quite true.

    But in cases like gay marriage where nobody who disagrees with it is being forced to do anything they don't want to do, does it matter to anyone except those who want to force the rest of society to conform with their opinions?

    Contrast that with laws which require people to do things they may not want to do, such as conscription for military service. A 51% vote in favour of that would be an example of majority tyranny to those who don't want to be forced into military service.

    Then there is a range of difficult social, political and moral issues which can, but don't have to, straddle both those camps. An example down here is that doctors who don't want to assist a woman who wants an abortion must refer her to a doctor who will. I think it's morally tyrannical to force a doctor who doesn't want to aid an abortion to do more than refuse to do it, in the same way it would be morally tyrannical to require a doctor who objects to abortion to perform one, but some tyrannical feminist elements have prevailed over the freedom of all doctors to follow their personal ethical or religious views. The converse is that tyrannical and largely religious elements here have prevailed over the right of all of us to die at a time of our choosing when faced with a terminal illness. No doctor or anyone else should be forced to aid such a death, but neither should I be denied the services of a doctor or anyone else who will assist me when my time is just about up and I don't want to suffer any more. Similarly, I wouldn't allow a law requiring anyone to officiate at a gay marriage if it offended their religious or other opinions, but equally I wouldn't allow them to impose their opinions by denying the state ceremony of marriage to homosexuals who want it.

    Electoral tyranny has had a recent boost down here in the direction of tyranny of the minority.

    In Australia we have a preferential voting system which regularly sees the Labor Party get a greater proportion of primary votes than the Liberal Party, but between the distribution of preferences and the Liberal Party forming a coalition government with the minor National Party it is often the case that Labor doesn't gain government.

    In our last Senate (upper house - sort of equivalent to your House of Lords except ours is all elected) election several so called 'micro parties' got seats with as little as 0.5% of the primary vote, but after distribution of preferences (as a result of a cunning plan orchestrated to achieve exactly this result) they met the target for winning a seat. This is universally regarded by our two major parties (Labor and Liberal) and the lesser main party (National Party) as a grievous offence to their understanding of our system of democracy as they think that the last thing that should happen is that micro parties should be elected by utilising the same preferential system which helps the major parties gain government even if they didn't get a majority of the primary vote. So what we have here now is regarded by many as a tyranny of a very tiny minority, despite it being the necessary result of the application of exactly the same voting system which elects the major parties.

    One consequence is that we have a sufficient number of senators in micro parties to frustrate the legislative intention of the current government. The solution seen by the major parties is to alter the voting system so that only the major parties can be elected. This is laughable as each of the major parties generally spends its time in opposition by frustrating the legislative intention of the government of the time.

    What is ignored by most people is that, although the micro parties have thrown up some politically and intellectually unsophisticated senators who are a public embarrassment at times, they're not different to the dunderheads on the back benches, and some on the front benches, of the major parties. The real difference is that the major parties are largely composed of a bunch of professional university educated shiny arse politicians who progress from student politics / trade union / employer association/ backgrounds into state and federal politics. The micro parties have thrown up people who actually represent by their experience and express the views of a very large body of citizens. The last thing the major parties want is people with that sort of experience who will stand on principle rather than toe the party line, like this micro party senator, Ricky Muir, in his maiden speech to the Senate.

    By the time I was 15, nearing 16 years old, my focus on schooling was minimal at best and a struggle at worst. I knew what I wanted to do, and that was to get out and enter the workforce. I had spent my time as a child growing up below the poverty line, despite my parents’ best efforts, and wanted do my best in the workforce.

    I knew what I wanted to do; it was not to enter a long course of expensive education to become a lawyer, a doctor or a political apparatchik. I wanted to work in earth moving, or on a farm, or in manufacturing, a factory, or as a mechanic, with tools — to wear stubbies and hi-vis and have the constant pale shade of a singlet embedded on my otherwise tanned skin. I was not afraid of hard manual labour and had no interest in earning millions. I just wanted to be able to support myself and enjoy some of the things that I had previously missed out on.

    During this period I got to learn firsthand how hard it can be to find employment as a young school leaver and had to find ways to be able to better present myself to employers in an effort to at least land an interview.

    Contrary to this, as time progressed I also learnt the benefits of working hard and striving to achieve. Naturally, I am also aware of the benefits of budgeting hard and saving for a rainy day.

    I have a long history of living at the receiving end of legislative changes, of feeling the squeeze of new or higher taxes, feeling the pressure and even losing sleep when you realise that the general cost of living just went up a tiny $20. To everyone sitting in this chamber, if you think $20 a week is nothing, or just a pack of cigarettes or a few beers, you have never lived in the real world.

    I have worked in manufacturing, on farms both vegetable and dairy, in a bakery, in pine plantations, at a tannery processing automotive leather, gardening and lawn mowing, and most recently in the timber industry, both soft and hard woods.

    Like so many others, through the lessons learnt of doing it hard I was able to learn the benefits of trying hard to achieve, and the benefits of furthering my skills to give myself a competitive edge in the case of a downturn. But I also learnt and experienced how no work, knock-backs from job applications, and struggling to put food on the table and keep on top of the bills at the same time can bring a feeling of low self-esteem and depression.

    I have fulfilled roles such as a leading hand, a first aid officer, a health and safety representative, a supervisor, for a short time a manager, and even a shop steward for Minister Abetz’s favourite union, the CFMEU — in the forestry division, for the record.

    I have been the beneficiary of penalty rates. I worked shift work and weekends not for the love of the job but because there was financial incentive to do so. I did it not only keep my head above water but to actually have a few bob left over each pay to support my hobbies and interests. As we know, this is called disposable cash, and in my case this was spent on hobbies such as riding dirt bikes with my wife and children, buying camping supplies as it was an inexpensive way for us to go on holidays, maintaining my four-wheel drive and competing in affordable grassroots motorsports.

    That disposable cash ended up supporting Australian manufacturers in the aftermarket industry, local businesses, communities and retailers, helping create and maintain Australian jobs. Without the reward of penalty rates, this money would not have circulated through our economy, and I am one person; there are millions more who support different sectors in the economy just by being given that little extra for their efforts. This is something all levels of government need to consider when reaching into the purse of taxpaying Australians when they think they need to tighten their belt. Where you may gain somewhere, you may lose elsewhere, and at what cost?

    I can tell you, as somebody who was not born into wealth, who has had to work my way up with absolute honesty, that working-class Australia is absolutely sick to death of working our lives away just to pay the bills and having to struggle to spend the very money we work hard to earn on actually enjoying our existence rather than feeling like a slave to the dollar.
    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/he...veryone-2015-3
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 05-31-2015 at 10:25 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  2. #47
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Gay Marriage

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Quite true.

    But in cases like gay marriage where nobody who disagrees with it is being forced to do anything they don't want to do, does it matter to anyone except those who want to force the rest of society to conform with their opinions?
    The Irish Gay Marriage situation is probably an example of libertarianism at its best:

    “Secondly, the principle requires liberty of tastes and pursuits; of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow; without impediment from our fellow creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse or wrong.”

    Contrast that with laws which require people to do things they may not want to do, such as conscription for military service. A 51% vote in favour of that would be an example of majority tyranny to those who don't want to be forced into military service.
    This is a tricky one. Why should I obey the law or pay my taxes etc.? Locke would have argued that we have a duty to do so as we enjoy benefits of living in or even passing through a society/state/nation. A social contract, if you will. We could drink a lot of beer while discussing various scenarios for and against conscription.

    Then there is a range of difficult social, political and moral issues which can, but don't have to, straddle both those camps. An example down here is that doctors who don't want to assist a woman who wants an abortion must refer her to a doctor who will. I think it's morally tyrannical to force a doctor who doesn't want to aid an abortion to do more than refuse to do it, in the same way it would be morally tyrannical to require a doctor who objects to abortion to perform one, but some tyrannical feminist elements have prevailed over the freedom of all doctors to follow their personal ethical or religious views. The converse is that tyrannical and largely religious elements here have prevailed over the right of all of us to die at a time of our choosing when faced with a terminal illness. No doctor or anyone else should be forced to aid such a death, but neither should I be denied the services of a doctor or anyone else who will assist me when my time is just about up and I don't want to suffer any more. Similarly, I wouldn't allow a law requiring anyone to officiate at a gay marriage if it offended their religious or other opinions, but equally I wouldn't allow them to impose their opinions by denying the state ceremony of marriage to homosexuals who want it.
    I would argue that these are matters of 'in principle', i.e. that the law allows these functions to be performed (obviously conforming to guidelines), but that they are matters of conscience for those who would perform them.

    Electoral tyranny has had a recent boost down here in the direction of tyranny of the minority.

    In Australia we have a preferential voting system which regularly sees the Labor Party get a greater proportion of primary votes than the Liberal Party, but between the distribution of preferences and the Liberal Party forming a coalition government with the minor National Party it is often the case that Labor doesn't gain government.

    In our last Senate (upper house - sort of equivalent to your House of Lords except ours is all elected) election several so called 'micro parties' got seats with as little as 0.5% of the primary vote, but after distribution of preferences (as a result of a cunning plan orchestrated to achieve exactly this result) they met the target for winning a seat. This is universally regarded by our two major parties (Labor and Liberal) and the lesser main party (National Party) as a grievous offence to their understanding of our system of democracy as they think that the last thing that should happen is that micro parties should be elected by utilising the same preferential system which helps the major parties gain government even if they didn't get a majority of the primary vote. So what we have here now is regarded by many as a tyranny of a very tiny minority, despite it being the necessary result of the application of exactly the same voting system which elects the major parties.

    One consequence is that we have a sufficient number of senators in micro parties to frustrate the legislative intention of the current government. The solution seen by the major parties is to alter the voting system so that only the major parties can be elected. This is laughable as each of the major parties generally spends its time in opposition by frustrating the legislative intention of the government of the time.

    What is ignored by most people is that, although the micro parties have thrown up some politically and intellectually unsophisticated senators who are a public embarrassment at times, they're not different to the dunderheads on the back benches, and some on the front benches, of the major parties. The real difference is that the major parties are largely composed of a bunch of professional university educated shiny arse politicians who progress from student politics / trade union / employer association/ backgrounds into state and federal politics. The micro parties have thrown up people who actually represent by their experience and express the views of a very large body of citizens. The last thing the major parties want is people with that sort of experience who will stand on principle rather than toe the party line, like this micro party senator, Ricky Muir, in his maiden speech to the Senate.
    Which brings me back to my argument for a better educated electorate. The lack of socio/economic and political nouse, affiliated party tribalism and a biased media all contribute to the election of those that would become the tyrants of our political age.

    Arguably, the steadying influence against tyranny of the majority and a two party state has to be the introduction of proportional representation (with an unrestricted pluralism). Many would disagree, and P.R. does come along with its own problems of implementation, but these can quite probably almost certainly be an acceptable consequence of a fairer electoral system.
    Last edited by 32Bravo; 05-31-2015 at 12:41 PM.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


  3. #48
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
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    773

    Default Re: Gay Marriage

    The distinction between "democracy" and "a majority dominating a minority" is quite well known here in the Emerald Isle. It was long used to describe the situation in Northern Ireland where, for much of its history, the Unionist/Protestant majority ruled over the Nationalist/Roman Catholic minority with little regard for their interests. This situation was reinforced by an archaic voting system which Great Britain (to its shame) permitted continued existence in that part of the United Kingdom. This voting system - unbelievably, as late as the 1970s - afforded voting weight to property (effectively negating the principle of one person, one vote applying on the "Mainland", and was further reinforced by policies of ghettoization of, in particular, the working classes of both communities and constituency boundary manipulation designed to secure a permanent Unionist majority in the devolved Stormont parliament. Northern Ireland is still living with the consequences of this, in particular, as regards inter-community relations in Belfast; (London)Derry had the same problem for a long time, but appears to have gone a long way towards solving it and achieving relatively harmonious Unionist/Nationalist relations in the city.

    Whether the same idea can be applied to the pro/anti gay marriage situation following our recent referendum on the subject is more doubtful. Mind you, it has been raised. "No" campaigners have been suggesting that, since all registered political parties in the State, and most public representatives who expressed a public opinion on the subject, supported the gay marriage proposal, the substantial minority that voted against it are now "unrepresented" in the national parliament. Apart from anything else, this is distinctly rich, coming from a faction that ruthlessly exploited its majority to dump on minority (liberal) opinion while that situation obtained. This is one of the reason why our abortion laws are in such an intractable mess. But that aside - the "majority over minority" argument seems a lot less compelling when it is applied to a single issue. The "minority" on this issue is not (at least any more) cohesive as a faction on any other issue, and its "members" have the freedom to vote for whatever candidate they want in local and general elections, having regard to any number of issues - and let the outcome be what it will. This is quite a different situation from that of the former Northern Ireland regime, where the whole system was "gerrymandered" effectively to exclude the influence of one cohesive minority community, with distinct headline values, from any power or real influence, permanently.

    Representative democracy is always subject to criticisms that it is not directly responsive to everybody's sensitivities on every issue. It cannot be. Parliamentary representatives have a responsibility to legislate in their best assessment of the common good. They should also be expected to provide leadership - not the all-too-common Jim Hacker version, "I am their leader, I must follow them". The alternative would appear to be a form of direct democracy requiring a plebiscite or referendum on every major issue; not even Switzerland goes that far, and it is hard to see how a modern democracy could be run on such a basis. Um ... dictatorship, anybody ... ?

    On one detailed point - the "No" campaign (or at least the Roman Catholic Church element) argued that, given the change in the "nature of marriage" effected by the referendum result, they might have difficulty in continuing to register civil marriage in conjunction with the Church ceremony ("signing the book" it is called here). This is nonsense. No referendum can alter the nature of sacramental marriage. The elements of Church marriage are totally unaffected by the referendum result. No Catholic priest will be expected to officiate at a gay marriage; these will be executed by civil Registrars, or other authorized faith-based persons authorized to conduct such ceremonies (while "faith-based" may seem odd in the circumstances, the Humanist movement here has already indicated that their officiators would be quite happy to officiate over gay marriages, including the civil element). As I think I said elsewhere in this thread, the Catholic Church can no longer spout nonsense from the pulpit and expect to be obeyed. One would hope that, when the bishops come to deliberate on whether they can continue to execute the civil element attached to their Church marriage ceremonies, they see sense and continue to do so. One interview with a relatively "moderate" bishop in the last few days suggests that they will kick this can so far down the road that people will just forget about it. That might be sensible ... Best regards, JR.

  4. #49
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    Surrey
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    Default Re: Gay Marriage

    I'd say my earlier comments relating the Gay Marriage referendum to the tyranny of the majority was a silly analogy.

    A more realistic comparison/example might be the British involvement in the Iraq War in 2003. Tony Blair's government had a huge parliamentary majority and this was used to justify British commitment to the war on what we now know to be dubious credibility. Many were against it, including members of Blair's own cabinet, and some of those resigned. Typically, representative governments, once in power, do their own thing.

    I would agree with JR's assessment of the Ulster situation. I would also include the condition of the African-Americans of the segregated states of the U.S. on pretty similar lines.

    Of course with the British experience, the Franchise was only extended to all with the Representation of the People Act (Equal Franchise) 1928.

    Even in the first 'direct democracy' people, such as Plato and Xenophon, objected to democracy, particularly as it was the reinstated democracy which had condemned Socrates to death, who was friend/mentor to both.

    A point I find interesting about the Athenians in the 4th century, was that they used about 400 hundred Scythian Archers, armed with whips containing red dye, to round up the citizens to attend the assembly (Ekklesia). Those citizens who were later found to have red dye on their clothing were fined for apathy. I'm wondering if that is why British political parties have their party whips?


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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