A Canberra couple have vowed to get a divorce, ending their “sacred” 10-year union, if Australia allows same-sex couples to legally marry. Nick Jensen and his wife Sarah believe widening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples threatens the sacred nature of the union and leaves the door open to polygamy. The Christian couple have been happily married for over a decade, have no intention of separating and hope to have more children. For all intents and purposes they have a healthy marriage.
The Australian definition of marriage is for Parliament to decide and a referendum is not required. The current thinking is that same-sex marriage is close to passing and becoming law if it were to be brought before Parliament.
However, the Australian press cannot seem to accept that the majority of Irish people who chose to record their opinion on same-sex marriage voted ‘Yes’. The latest argument is that because 40% of the population chose to not vote then claims of a resounding ‘Yes’ vote are invalid. Rather, 72% of the population did not vote ‘Yes’.
In keeping with this thinking, the inference is that same-sex marriage should be decided by a referendum in Australia because voting is mandatory and therefore a ‘Yes’ vote from a vocal minority would carry less weight. The risk of same-sex marriage resulting from politicians ´bending knee’ to a populist and vocal minority would be neutered.
Two problems with this thinking that I think remain unanswered:
1. This Utilitarian model is, as expected, flawed; because a portion of society will remain very unhappy if same-sex marriage does not pass. It clearly breaches 3 of the 4 the bioethical principles being justice, beneficence and non-maleficence. It also impinges on the 4th, autonomy.
2. The fact that voting is mandatory in Australia. In a true democracy members can choose to participate, or not participate. Forcing persons with no real opinion to make a choice by its very nature is undemocratic. Again a breach of autonomy.
David Carr (left) at the Spiel event in Dublin during last year’s web summit with tech entrepreneur Shane Snow
I am sorry to have to tell you that our wonderful, esteemed colleague David Carr died suddenly tonight after collapsing in the newsroom. A group of us were with his wife, Jill, and one of his daughters, at the hospital. His daughter Erin said he was special, and that he was.
He was the finest media reporter of his generation, a remarkable and funny man who was one of the leaders of our newsroom. He was our biggest champion, and his unending passion for journalism and for truth will be missed by his family at The Times, by his readers around the world, and by people who love journalism.
An email sent by Dean Baquet, editor at the New York Times, informing staff of the death of David Carr.
Word of the day: kleptocracy (from the Greek κλέπτης – kleptēs, “thief” and κράτος – kratos, “power, rule).
He acknowledges that the Greek economy is still inefficient, inadequately competitive, hobbled by corruption. But he believes that only a brand new party like Syriza, even one on the left as it is, can be trusted to break up oligopolies and introduce more competition into product and labour markets. How so? Well it is because he and his Syriza colleagues are outsiders, untainted by connections to the wealthy tax-avoiding elite, lacking in connections to corporate vested interests. If Syriza is in power for a year, it too will become captured by the kleptocracy, he fears, so he wants his government to reform swiftly. His message therefore to Mrs Merkel is that he and she have more in common than she may recognise.
François Hollande at the funeral of officers killed in last week’s Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris
Irish expat David Burns writes:
[Police officer who tried to apprehend terrorists on Boulevard Richard le Noir was buried today — received Légion d’Honneur. Wrote the attached because I cycle past where he died every day now…]
When can you justify killing another human being? When it’s in self defence? Whenit’s to protect the lives of others? To defend a cause? Last Wednesday, three men burst into the Paris-based office of a small French weekly called Charlie Hebdo and started shooting at unarmed cartoonists. 17 people are now dead because gun-wielding extremists believed it right to kill people for an ideology. If you live here, your relation to violence has been completely changed by that— changed utterly.
A significant amount of people started defending last week’s bloodshed before those murdered could even be given a funeral. The apologists ranged from the pseudo-intellectual type to the brutally ignorant. All remained unconvincing. What excuse can there be for violence against the non-violent? For shooting cartoonists? You could understand a debate on the merits of Charlie Hebdo as a satirical publication.
Last Friday, the French press reported with outrage the refusal of certain schoolkids to rally behind the slogan for national unity: “Je suis Charlie”. At the same time though, you could understand it. Muslims unwilling to rally to the name of a magazine that had long ridiculed Muhammad; students questioning authority; young people from disadvantaged areas rejecting long overdue invitations to play a part in French society — all of that constitutes an understandable reaction to current events. But posting messages which condone or call for violence against unbelievers? Celebrating the “heroism” of radical men prepared to kill for their religion or their cause? That is beyond the bounds of reasonable or understanding. I cannot agree to it. Or anything like it.
In Ireland, we are about to celebrate 1916. If you’d been here the last few days, you wouldn’t see anything to celebrate about it. There is nothing inspiring about armed radicals with bullets. Not even when they’re proclaiming a republic. Former Taoiseach John Bruton came under fire last year for saying that peaceful, political reform was the nobler route to Irish independence. Now, much more so than before, I can see he was right.
It is doesn’t seem imaginable at the moment to celebrate a rising that held Dublin city to hostage. It is no longer a historic event anymore. It is not just a book explaining why it needed to happen or why the rebels felt they had no choice or even how it was justifiable in the end. It doesn’t matter if you’re born into a system which acts to oppress you and the people you identify with, you don’t have an excuse to grab a gun and go out to shoot people. Not even if you’re hoping to awake the nation.
I’ve followed a lot of the back and forth about the kind of form 2016 should take and how we should frame it. However, it’s the arguments currently going on here in France about the legacy of the past, about post-colonialism, structural discrimination, cultural warfare and all the reasons that don’t justify killing people for a cause that have made up my mind about where I stand at home.
Violence should always be the last resort. Sometimes, it is the only option. The French police last Friday had to use deadly force to save innocent lives. The only justification for killing another human being is those extreme, no-alternative circumstances. Killing people for a political ideology or a religious ideology is not something that can be justified precisely because there is always an alternative. There is always another and better way. History might obscure and shroud that fact with the passing of time but at the moment, it’s bright in my mind. I hope for the sake of society that it outshines whatever people might say to cover it — here and at home.