Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gerard Henderson, Malcolm Turnbull, Abstinence, Abstention, and politics as a kind of kinky sex

(Above: Bill Henson photograph. See more at roslyn oxley9 gallery).

One of the more bizarre sights in America at the moment is sweet Bristol Palin stumping around the media preaching the virtues of sexual abstinence.

This presumably works on the basis that reformed alcoholics are the best placed to deliver to incipient lushes a message about avoiding the demon drink. Funny, but I took the same message as NY Times writer Gail Collins from the Palin family saga:

What worse message could you send to teenage girls than the one they delivered at the Republican convention: If your handsome but somewhat thuglike boyfriend gets you with child, he will clean up nicely, propose marriage, and show up at an important family event wearing a suit and holding your hand. At which point you will get a standing ovation.

Of course in olden days, when the commentariat was much vexed by the question of single mothers and how they managed to get themselves with child, there was a great to do about welfare encouraging their sluttish ways. These days, it seems best to have a little sex, get yourself knocked up, and then go out into the world to explain that's not how you should do it. Well it gets you off welfare and out of Wasila.

Now you might take a fact based case to chortle at the Palin philosophy, as Collins does:

Because Bristol's own philosophy seems, at minimum, tentative, it's hard to tell whether she believes that cheerleading for abstinence should be coupled with education about birth control methods. She and Levi used condoms, except when they didn't.

Her mom has said in the past that she opposes "explicit" sex education, which kind of sounds like ... sex education. And while encouraging kids to wait is obviously fine, the evidence is pretty clear that abstinence education is worse than useless. Texas, where virtually all the schools teach abstinence and abstinence alone, is a teen pregnancy disaster zone. "It's had one of the highest rates for as long as I can remember," said David Wiley, a professor of health education at Texas State University.

Why that NY Times liberal, she sounds just like that white trash ex-Bristol boyfriend Levi Johnston talking about the benefits of sex education.

My own approach is a little  more basic. Thinking you can stop humans from the god-given (so they say) pleasures of  fucking is a bit like King Canute trying to hold back the tide. While  it might come as a surprise to a few priests in frocks, sex is a pleasurable activity, and its perversion and frustration produces the kind of elaborate sex industry and pornography which a schizophrenic America exports in a tsunami of filth around the world. 

Even more surprising to some, women can actually enjoy sex, and somehow - if sensible precautions based on sound advice aren't taken - can find themselves pregnant. And without the benefits of a governor's mansion close at hand! Just a wayward man, and lordy lordy, we know what that means.

But why this talk about sex? Well  it just so happens that our dullest member of the commentariat - the worthy Gerard Henderson - has put out a column entitled Abstinence makes voters fonder.

Judging from that header, Henderson seems to subscribe to the Victorian notion that the way to wed a man is not to bed him, but to keep him at arm's length salivating at the packaged goods just out of reach. How quaint, even if he prefers the word abstention.

In the current cut and thrust of politics there is much to be said for abstention. The political debate in Western societies often results in a "for" or "against" mantra on many issues. In parliamentary votes, this tends to manifest itself in the "ayes" going to one side of the chamber and the "nays" to the other.

Yet there is a lot in favour of oppositions, including the Liberal and National Party Coalition in Canberra, abstaining on legislation it disagrees with rather than voting against it. Voting against legislation makes the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, look negative. It also brings the Greens and the independent senators into the mainstream of the political debate since any or all of them only have a balance-of-power position if the Coalition opposes Labor's legislation. Giving additional prominence to the Greens and independents is not in the long-term interests of the Coalition or Labor.

To show that they disagree with Labor, all Turnbull and his colleagues have to do is to abstain. This serves as a reminder to electors that they voted for the likes of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard to govern the nation. There is no obvious reason why an opposition should attempt to protect voters from the consequences of their electoral decision.

How truly ruly bizarre. Get elected to argue, debate and vote, and then don't vote.

In the old days in the school playground, this was also known as bunging on a massive sulk. Oh look, we lost, and you made these mamby pamby sissies the winners, so we're going to take our bat and ball home, and sucks boo to you, that'll learn you all, and then when you've come to your senses, we might play with you again. Or we might not.

Hey ho, nonny nonny, let's just throw away the conventional notions of the worthiness of parliamentary debate, and voting and all that clap trap, and sit on the cross benches in a gigantic, massive, whopper, upsize me sulk.

Fine preaching Gerard, and about as much sense as Bristol Palin on sexual abstinence. 

But oh how tough it is to be a political conservative. John Howard only had a decade in rule, and even then it was tough, and now they're in opposition it's even tougher. And why? Because the press gallery is full of lefties. Yep, it's more of the same from Henderson, and not much better, except for a duller wording presumably designed to sound sophisticated, than Piers Akerman's regular discovery of the red menace and reds under the beds:

In Australia and some other democracies, the plight of political conservatives is more difficult than that of social democrats, because journalists tend to support left-of-centre parties - in Australia, Labor or the Greens. It is difficult to think of more than a handful of members of the parliamentary press gallery who would have agreed with the previous Coalition government on such issues as Iraq, national security, industrial relations and climate change.

Fuck me dead (well at least into a pleasurable state of sexual ecstasy), how on earth did John Howard manage to win four elections on the trot with the fiendish Trots of the press gallery lined up against him?

Henderson trots out a couple of ABC interviews to prove his point, when you could just as easily trot out a couple of ABC interviews with dumb Labor bunnies to prove exactly the opposite. But Henderson is in doom and gloom mode, with everything rooned.

Remember how Liberals always bash labor for having a background in student politics and back room unionism? Well  it seems instead of making them unfit for government, this dog eat dog world trains them to be uber, super human politicians:

Per capita, Labor has better political performers than the Coalition. This reflects the fact that most Labor MPs are politically experienced before they enter parliamentary politics - with backgrounds in student politics, unions, ALP factions and local government.

Oh no, what to do? Well it seems that the Libs and Nationals have a few decent performers capable of running lines and scoring points, like Peter Costello - "when he is available".

Dearie me. Newsflash Gerard. Costello's been over the media like a rash over a virgin who didn't use a condom, with his will he, won't he routines, like a coy virgin seeking to bed Tom Cruise with  mind games.

But enough of all that. Henderson has some sage advice to the coalition, if they ever decide to end the massive sulk he suggests as an initial strategy.

First up, don't be outflanked by Rudd on social and security issues. Like you know when PM Rudd quickly condemned Bill Henson's photographs of naked pre-pubescent children as revolting, it was Malcolm Turnbull who ran a libertarian line (why he even owned a few Hensons). Shame, Malcolm, shame. Learn to lie and cheat and dissemble in true Henderson style, and never consider an issue on its merits, its substance, or the truth  of the matter:

No doubt the Opposition Leader, who is the MP for Wentworth in Sydney's eastern suburbs, meant what he said. But this message would have scant support in the outer suburbs and regional areas where most of the marginal seats are located.

Ah yes, what would a squillionaire from the eastern suburbs know about marginal electorates. No let's just ring the bells on alarmist moral panics and vile pornographers, and use scare tactics to rustle up seats in marginal electorates. That's right Malcolm, act like Christian Rudd, and think like Bristol Palin.

Henderson has equally sage advice on the need to be supportive of the defence forces, the need for support of small business and to endlessly bang on about unfair dismissal provisions as he does, even if it was Howard's industrial policy that tipped the Libs over the edge, and last but not least, depict pride in the Howard/Costello legacy. 

Sob, how can we ever walk through the valleys of the shadows and reach the righteous side now that John Howard has left us. Oh you vile voters  of Australia, curse you all, to be so cruel or at least careless. Why did you forsake us?

So let's get back to middle class values:

Australia is a middle-class society. Consequently, attacks on the middle class are attacks on most Australians. The wealthiest can enjoy the benefits of the public education and health systems without being accused of benefiting from other people's money. The term "middle-class welfare" is a term of abuse directed at middle-income individuals who prefer the private to the public. The Coalition should not desert them.

Huh? Let me think that through. The wealthiest can enjoy public education and health systems, but the middle class is full of people who prefer the private to the public. So let's attack the wealthy and praise the middle class? Or is that let's prefer the private to the public? But hang on, the wealthy prefer the public, like Ascham school. Wait a minute, you tell me fees there can cost up to $18.5k a year, and all you get is cyber bullying? Sorry, time out, head hurts.

Got it! Damn you all, you freeloading eastern suburbs squillionaires. The Liberal party's not for you.

Oh and give political abstinence a chance. It worked so well for Bristol Palin.

Somehow I think that other prattling Polonius said it better when he told Ophelia to lay off with the Hamlet already, and that worked a treat didn't it, not talking and sulking, what with her ending up drowned and all. My advice to Malcolm Turnbull? Beware members of the commentariat who prattle on about abstinence, but if asked to abstain from writing columns, would wither on the vine. Politics, like scribbling, and voting, and fucking, is so hard to give up.

Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,
Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. From this time
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him, that he is young
And with a larger tether may he walk
Than may be given you: in few, Ophelia,
Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
Not of that dye which their investments show,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
The better to beguile.

(Below: tired of fucking? Why not try a little hunting. Bristol Palin's ex, Levi Johnston and sister Mercedes, locked and loaded and ready to let off a few shots. Abstaining from sex doesn't mean you can't let off a load or three).


Adam said...

Very funny, Dorothy. I haven't heard anyone say "fuck me dead" for about 10 years - I'll take that as a clue to your age, even though it doesn't really suggest anything other than you were alive 10 years ago. Mid thirties?

I actually saw Gerry on tv for the first time recently and he was as boring and pompous as he is in his scribblings. I assume you've seen the First Dog cartoon of him berating his wife about his boiled egg?

Thanks for your daily musings. With millions of articles to read on the internet, it's surprisingly hard to find something worth reading.

dorothy parker said...

Um, young Adam, age? Let's just say old enough to know better, which is to say old, but hopefully still young enough not to learn from my mistakes. I'd like to keep on fucking it up for a little while yet.

As for FMD, I come from the country where hits and memories stop somewhere around 1979, and you can still hear phrases like shove a woolly mammoth up your bum. Just love Bazza Mckenzie speak.

Thank the lord you enjoyed reading about Gerard Henderson. He acts like a dose of constipation (or is that costiveness?) on the hits counter. And no sadly I missed First Dog showing him berating his wife about boiled eggs. Do you have a link? Big fan of First Dog. A recent favorite: http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/04/06/why-did-the-chicken-cross-the-road/

Adam said...

Here's the link - http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/01/13/first-dog-on-the-moon/

Plus another one I laugh at no matter how many times I see it - http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/01/23/first-dog-on-the-moon/

dorothy parker said...

thanks, great stuff.