CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Making Nothing out of Something

Jun 29, 2006

It is a general rule of thumb that whenever we try to turn some thing into everything, then it becomes nothing. Let me explain. If I seek to argue that any and every sort of relationship is to be considered a family, I have effectively broadened the term so far that it no longer means anything.

Yet this is exactly what our social engineers try to do time and time again. On almost a daily basis we are assured that family is such a broad and ambiguous concept that any kind of relationship can be called family.

This was done most recently in the Australian by Elspeth Probyn, a professor of gender studies at the University of Sydney. In an article entitled “We are family, in all shapes and sizes” (June 28), she sought to argue that her lesbian relationship was every bit as much family – and perhaps even more so – than most traditional families.

Consider this statement: “The idea of the family as a contained unit with marriage at its heart is similarly out of date and out of touch with reality. While it is still hauled out by ideologues, the fact is that families are more likely to be blended and come in a variety of colours and shapes. Arguably, the extended family is a much healthier option than the atomistic and lonely image of the traditional family of mother, father and kids.”

There you go. The family is an out-dated concept, and only ideologues seem to think it is important. So much for the historical evidence. And who has ever said that it is either a case of nuclear family or extended family? It seems like a both/and situation to me, not an either/or. So just what is her point?

And consider this example of twisted logic:

“The thing that politicians forget when they rail against gay marriage is that gays have families. When they march up the aisle, it is not as lonely individuals but as family members: brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, mothers and fathers. The image of the sad, isolated gay has a long legacy in popular culture, but it gradually has been replaced by a more realistic one of gays as being integrated into various communities and families, some of their choosing as well as their kinship families.”

She is saying this in order to make her case that homosexual relationships are family too. But all she really does in this paragraph is tell us the obvious: homosexuals are all part of families. Yes we know that, thanks. In fact, in most instances – except for the new reproductive technologies – every homosexual on the planet came from a family: that is, a mother and a father. They certainly did not come from two homosexuals, or a committee, or a football team. It takes a family to produce children.

So here she has made no logical case at all. She simply tells us what we already know. No human lives in isolation. But homosexual relationships are by definition isolating relationships: they cannot produce children, and so are a sexual dead-end.

But wait, there’s more. Writing as a true believer of the radical Left, she makes the mandatory assault on John Howard, in this case for his position on same-sex marriage. She suggests in her article that John Howard is of course being intolerant, exclusive and unloving because he does not embrace her preferred lifestyle choice.

But these sorts of arguments are the stock standard response of the radical social engineers. They become so tedious after a while. The truth is, both the nuclear and extended family have a clear meaning. The family simply means mum, dad and the kids, as any dictionary will inform us. Or more precisely, it is any group of people related by blood, (heterosexual) marriage or adoption. And yes, the extended family is part of the nuclear family, and presupposes it. Such an understanding has been the stuff of nearly every culture throughout human history.

But by seeking to include all sorts of other relationships under the definition, we simply redefine the word out of existence. By saying family is anything that has loving, committed relationships, it becomes an empty phrase. A football team soon qualifies under such a vacuous definition. Or a bunch of stamp collectors. Or a group of terrorists.

But of course that is exactly what the social engineers want to do. They know full well that verbal engineering precedes social engineering. If we can control the language, we control the game. Let me illustrate.

Let’s suppose I declare that I must be allowed to play for the Essendon Bombers. I have rights, after all, and we must not be intolerant and discriminatory these days. Never mind the fact that I am old, overweight, and have never played the game before in my life. But I demand my right to be included on the team.

Not only that, but I will propose a few modest rule changes. For starters, I declare that every time I touch the ball, a 50 point score is registered to my team (and I get a $5,000 bonus for each touch).

If I so choose, there can be several balls on the ground at the same time. The goal posts are of course arbitrary, and anywhere I kick the ball scores will be awarded me. And the other team can only have 3 players on the field at any given time. Also, whenever I decide, the other side will automatically have 25 points deducted from their score.

And one final point. If a referee foolishly tries to tell me I have violated some regulation, I will have the authority to sack him on the spot, no questions asked.

Of course, I can call this new game whatever I want, but I no longer can call it Aussie Rules football. To simply make the rules up as you go along is tantamount to saying that there is no fixed meaning to anything. Chess is only fun to play because of the rules and boundaries of the game. The same with Aussie Rules. And the same with life. Words have meaning, and social institutions are not just social constructs.

The radicals want to change our understanding of marriage and family. And they do this by changing the rules, and changing the language. All of which reminds of this exchange in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland:

“Humpty Dumpty: When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.
Alice: The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.
Humpty Dumpty: The question is: which is to be master – that’s all.”

I for one will not allow the radicals to be the masters – not, at least, without a fight.

[1139 words]

8 Responses to Making Nothing out of Something

  • I couldn’t agree more with Bill’s assessment of this woman’s drivel. She uses commonly accepted terms in order to justify a change in the meaning of those same terms. If she wants to go to Canada [as she mentions in her article] I say let her go and hopefuly she’ll stay there.

    Lyle Hutchinson

  • I think it is unfortunate that prople like Elspeth Probyn are given a voice in the media and prominant positions in our educational institutions when their opinions about lifestyle choices of a subculture representing no more than 2% of Australians try to challenge the definition of family. Children are best served in a family with one mother and one father in a marriage relationship. To argue otherwise is to ignore vast amounts of evidence that support this. Interestingly enough it is people employed in our universities that are capable of doing so.

    Jim Spencer

  • If indeed she does go to Canada, maybe she’d prefer to live in Ontario – an area of which now has Sharia law. Perhaps she’d be happier under that sort of government.

    James Forsyth, China

  • Well said Bill Muehlenberg- and Thank You Elspeth Probyn! Through distorted logic and absurd reasoning Probyn has confirmed what we have been saying for far too long. The Family unit is a vital part of our society as should remain so.

    Let us consider for a moment some of the arguments that Probyn puts across in her article.

    Distorted argument No 1: (I quote) “The thing that politicians forget when they rail against gay marriage is that gays have families. When they march up the aisle, it is not as lonely individuals but as family members: brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, mothers and fathers….” Yes Probyn, they have ALL come from families – as a result of heterosexual union. But just where are they going? The end result of a same sex marriage is certainly not going to be children is it! So, despite your protestations that they are “not lonely individuals” they certainly will become so in a very short period of time. Just one generation would be enough – if we were to all follow the example being espoused by Probyn.

    Distorted Argument No 2: (I quote) “the extended family is a much healthier option than the atomistic and lonely image of the traditional family of mother, father and kids.” Lonely? Atomistic? In who’s mind? Certinal none of the people I know! To describe the traditional family as Atomistic is absolute nonsense – a clever use of words to distort the reality. Atomistic means “Divided into separate and often disparate elements” however the traditional family unit that we support is quite the opposite. It is the building block of society – just as the atom is the building block of our universe. Certainly, some families move geographically apart, however Probyn has demonstrated very effectively the strong life-long tie of blood relations as she, her brothers and her sisters travel across the globe to the support of an ill brother in Canada! Family in it’s finest sense!

    What she doesn’t understand is that atoms are finely balanced. Perfectly organised with a strong attraction and bonding through Protons Neutrons and Electrons. – Like Mother, Father and Kids! When we split the atom we get nuclear explosions… Consider Probyns ‘atomistic’ family in those terms!

    Which leads me to…

    Distorted Argument No 3: (I quote) “Colleen Hayward, an Aboriginal scholar at the Kulunga Research Network and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, spoke powerfully about her family of nine……” Probyn goes on to say how this FAMILY of nine took in other children in need… (“her family would take in other children when the going got tough”) Interesting isn’t it? Where did the officials look for support for those children in need of support and stability? They looked to a stable well established family of nine! Certainly not separate or disparate! They didn’t look for 2 gay partners to help resolve the problem! It is more likely that these children were coming FROM just such a situation! Research shows clearly how unstable same sex marriages are!

    Finally, Probyn refers to John Howards “Luck” in defeating the same sex marriage bill. I have news for her. John Howard is the chosen representative of the people and is is representing their views. Lucky? No. Moral and stable – absolutely. He has my vote.

    Perhaps Probyn should remain in Canada to pursue her selfish and non-productive lifestyle there.

    Peter Howard, Sydney

  • Thank you Bill, Jim, James and Peter for putting it so well.

    Dawn McGregor, Sunshine Coast Qld

  • I’ve been in gender study and women studies classes at universities, before I saw the the light and the error of my ways! It does not surprise me that there is another ludicrous article that has come out with the same shallow arguments and biases that will entice other “radicals” to talk the same talk as Elspeth Probyn, and walk the same walk!
    Promoting nothing out of something as you put it Bill is walking around our university campuses and schools dictating curriculums and arguments in the lecture halls, even writing in our newspapers and getting favour for their “inclusive” views…scary huh?
    I agree with you Peter, John Howard has got it right. Toying with the idea of homosexual marriages in this nation could have devastating effects on our children and the very foundations of our family structures in this nation.

    Jessica Magno

  • Thank you Bill for your article.

    I had a chuckle about your analogy with the football team, so obvious and yet so true!

    Thank you Peter Howard (30.06.06) for clarifying the distorted arguments in professor Elspeth Probyn’s article.

    It is a sad situation that learned people can be so misguided on the important issue of what it is that holds our society together, ie. marriage and family.

    If it is accepted in nuclear physics that, as Peter Howard reminds us, “the atom is the building block of the universe”, and the same design principle of ‘opposites’ applies in marriage and the reproduction of the human species, can we therefore not accept that the (heterosexual) family is the building block of our society?

    Does anyone detect a designer behind this at all?

    History tells us that marriage and the (heterosexual) family have been around for quite some time.

    There is an old Australian saying:

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

    Erik Werps, Melbourne

  • Ms Probyn’s logic should then extend to other relationships shouldn’t it? Adults who prefer ‘mutually satisfying’ relationships with consenting children who have been perhaps groomed for their preference? Where will the line finally be drawn? We will regret tampering with God’s definition of marriage. For an intellectual, Ms Probyn’s views seem very short sighted.

    Ineke Laning

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