There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
This saying is commonly attributed to either Mark Twain, or Benjamin Disraeli. I was tempted, given the subject of this post, to look for some statistics on which is the more frequent attribution, but finally decided not to bother. I’ll be introducing one set of statistics shortly, and one is really enough. Judging by the length of this post, more than enough.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here. For the last few weeks that’s partly because I have been (and to a certain extend still am) tired as hell most of the time. I may blog more about that later, but right now I’m just pissed off about something and it’s burning through the feeling of exhaustion, to the point where I feel I need to rant about it.
I guess I should start this by pointing out that I follow a lot of British news and politics. One debate going on in Britain right now is about gay adoption. Specifically about Catholic adoption agencies who want to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws requiring them to place children with gay couples (if those couples fulfil all requirements for adoptive parents).
What pisses me off is not just that the Catholics would like an exemption, but the tactics they’re using. They’re threatening to close down their adoption agencies if they don’t get one. This is followed by some sort of “what’s best for the children” argumentation. That’s what truly pisses me off because apparently the best thing for the children is to be used as pawns in a game of emotional blackmail.
And worse than that, it seems to be influencing some people. Last night on Question Time, a political discussion program produced by the BBC, several people said there must be room for some sort of compromise. One panellist even pointed out that Catholic adoption agencies already refer gay couples to other adoption agencies.
But the point about equality is that by definition you can’t compromise on it. You can’t be “a little bit equal” any more than you can be “a little bit pregnant”. Just look at what would happen to some other “compromises” if anyone suggested them. If a racist restaurant owner were to suggest he would point any black people to another nearby restaurant, but wouldn’t allow them in his because his conscience wouldn’t allow it, no-one would see that as an acceptable “compromise”.
For that matter, staying with adoption, it’s unlikely that anyone would accept a conscientious objection from the Catholics to letting protestants, or Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus, or basically any non-Catholics adopt. Because that would quite simply throw equality out of the window. And that’s exactly the same when it’s about sexuality rather than race or religion.
We had elections today here in the Netherlands. There are some surprising results, not least that we look to have the closest thing we can get to a hung parliament. We have a proportional representation system with a tradition of coalitions, which means it’s practically impossible to get a hung parliament in the British sense of the words.
But this year, more than in previous years, we’ve had a clear definition of two major blocks. The current right of centre government versus the left of centre opposition parties. But enough votes have gone to small parties, that don’t really fit with either of the main potential coalitions, and often not with each other.
Even the two biggest parties, just left and right of centre, would need a third. It’s very rare indeed not to have at least one option for a government that only needs two parties for a majority. That may not always turn out the be the government we get, but usually there is at least a two party option to explore. Now it looks like it will have to be at least three.
Speculations are in full swing already, and we’ll have to see how things turn out. But it certainly does look like we’re in for an interesting time while the new government is formed. Let the spin-doctoring begin!