Features Australia

Zhe who must be obeyed

28 April 2018

9:00 AM

28 April 2018

9:00 AM

In the memorable words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (no, students, you’ll have to Google him, old white guy with a straggly beard who won’t be on your reading lists at school or university), ‘So all day long the noise of battle roll’d’ – and then the gay marriage vote was won. Actually the battle roll’d, tediously, for much more than a day, but that’s not the point, which is: has anyone noticed the eerie silence since the Yes victory last November? After all the tumult and the shouting (Kipling, look him up too, a racist and imperialist you’ll be told), not much seems to be happening in the world of same-sex nuptials. A few gleeful lesbians were on the news in the days after the vote pledging to love each other forever (we’ll see) and from time to time you hear in your circle of acquaintances of someone who knows someone who’s been invited to a gay couple’s Big Day, but that’s about it – no hordes of queergender ‘brides’ and ‘grooms’ lining up, no ceremonies en masse of the sort Japanese tourists go in for.

The silence is sinister, like the calm before the cyclone. It means all the energy that went into subverting the marriage law must be looking round for a new outlet. Where will it next assault our traditional understanding of civilisation? So far polygamy or ‘polyamory’, as predicted by the slippery slope school of argument, seem not to be on the agenda, nor is walking down the aisle with your cat an immediate prospect, though Professor Singer might think it a nice idea.

My prediction is that the next big battle to be fought by the LGBTIQXYZ forces will be over pronouns – not proper English pronouns but all those silly zhirs and zhes invented by gender tinkerers across the Pacific to spare ‘trans’ folk the horror of being called he or she (when as everyone knows but few dare say they are all either one or the other, even if they choose to ‘identify’ as the one they are not). ‘Gender-neutral’ pronouns have hardly caught on here, perhaps because they’re too bizarre for the cognitive-retention capacity of the average gay-rights demonstrator who ‘thinks’ in slogans, and perhaps because there are too many competing ones for human rights commissions, media stylebooks and speech-commissars in universities and the public service to select which should be given an official imprimatur. There are dozens of them, the two above plus hir, thon, pey, hu and so on, take your pick. If you want to stand out from the crowd you could make up your own, like having a personalised number plate.

But in one form or another they’ll be here and a crusade to enforce them on the rest of us will be just the thing to re-absorb the totalitarian energies of the Left. All the ‘personalities’ who made such a song and dance about ‘marriage equality’ will be back where they like to be – in the spotlight. Qantas (what’s the Q stand for nowadays?) is already on the case, with Mr Joyce instructing his staff that, faith an’ all, we’ll not be having any of that jander-specific talk on this oirline. Big Magda’s career will blossom anew as she ‘transitions’ from her role as the Boadicea of gay marriage to Princess Pronoun. Happily, too, word wars are a topic that the notable absentee from the Yes campaign, little Waleed, can chatter about on television without the inconvenient ‘misgivings’ he had about same-sex marriage (and for which he received the unique privilege of immunity from hysterical abuse, unlike Christians who were as opposed to the change as he was).

The pronoun wars will probably finish in another victory for the Left in its quest to control thought by controlling speech. The official adoption of ‘gender-neutral’ pronouns will mean that the myth that one’s ‘gender’, i.e. whatever sex or combination of sexes one imagines or wishes oneself to be, is something objectively separate from the sex of one’s birth will be enshrined in language and thus in the popular consciousness. They’ll never be one and the same again, which of course is what leftist social engineers intend.

Disputes about language come and go, but it took the contemporary Left to exploit them for its Orwellian ambition to make dissenting views inexpressible. Semantic disagreements used to be not so much political as about perceptions of taste and propriety – ‘toilet’ versus ‘lavatory’ (and now ‘bathroom’) and that sort of thing, or what kind of ‘bad’ language is acceptable in public.

In the 1960s My Fair Lady audiences were titillatedly shocked to hear ‘bloody’ on screen. What would they make of just about any film script now?

Or of ‘our’ very own ABC? For right on cue, an instance of this latter kind of linguistic battle has broken out over Tonightly with Tom Ballard, the latest attempt by the infantile soy-sippers who make ‘comedy’ for the ABC to see how far they can defy convention. Tom would once have been the chubby kid at school always making smart-alec remarks; now grown to man’s estate, he makes rude ones courtesy of the taxpayer. Tom is a very modern comedian, (a) because he is not funny and (b) because as a self-described ‘homosexual atheist’ he sneers at Christianity. He finds it difficult to get through a sentence without saying ‘f—k’ or one of its inflexions and recently allowed another ‘comedian’ on his show to describe a (conservative, what else?) political candidate as a ‘c—t’, a term that for some unfathomable reason neither ‘edgy’ comics nor feminists find ‘demeaning’ to women. The ABC had to apologise for that, but has since reacted to complaints about Tom’s proclivity for expletives in its usual contemptuous manner by renewing his contract.

So let’s congratulate Tom on that, but while we’re at it let’s set him a challenge to prove that he deserves his reputation as a courageous sneerer at convention and mocker of reactionary religious opinions. Let’s see you be really daring, Tom, and couple the ‘f-word’ in its adjectivised present participle form not with Christians but with the name of the Holy Prophet himself; you might even call him, as you certainly would an erring Catholic priest, a ‘paedo’ for latching on to a pre-pubescent bride. Go on, show us how brave you are. There aren’t any tall buildings to throw you off in Ultimo Studio 1.

But my, how many dark-bearded fans in keffiyehs you might find waiting outside.

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