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All in the family

family valuesIt is often difficult to grasp why it is in the interest of the Australia taxpayer to be kept informed via the national broadcaster of Thai ladyboys’ travails, the latest trends in electronic noise, a fey young gentleman’s favoured lubricant or, should you switch to SBS, that other subsidised public broadcaster, the sub-titled soft-core shtupping that comes late of a Friday night. But every now and then, courtesy of the public purse, something genuinely illuminating and worthwhile slips onto the screen. Such was the case last night, when compere Jenny Brockie led an SBS discussion of cousins marrying cousins.

All very civilised and broad-minded and accepting, the programme featured among its guests a pair of doctors and their young son (above), the product of a consanguineous union. The couple hailed from the Middle East and might have been taken as shining examples of moderate Islam, the hubby even managing an endearing smile after a little misunderstanding about a question he construed as concerning the possibility that he might take an extra wife or three. There was much giggling and the advice that, while Islam gave him every right to do so, it was not an option he planned to exercise. Wife #1 seemed especially to enjoy that assurance.

Further clarification re-focused the question on the father’s ambitions for his lad, whom he proclaimed would be best wed to one of three first cousins, now living in Belgium. Of course, he added, were his boy to marry a genetic stranger, that would be OK, but on the whole he rather looked forward to his grandchildren being the product of a love that stays within the family, as it were.

In the same show, another Western Sydney doctor with a specific and professional interest in “kissing cousins”, to quote the show’s cute title, noted the various risks in drawing deeply on a narrow and shallow gene pool, adding that 20% of those he sees have uncles who do double duty as fathers-in-law. Twenty years ago, he continued, such patients generally came from overseas; today, the majority is Australian born.

All this — arranged marriages, genetic narrow-casting, the Prophet as ultimate authority on acceptable behaviour — passed without critical comment. As an audience member put it, coming to modern Australia has taught her that there is no right or wrong, that it is all about how one feels.

Ain’t our multiculturalism just grand!

The programme can be watched in full via the “continue reading” link below.