Society

If Only We Were More Reasonable

With the best will in the world there are times when one wonders about the sanity of many people. This is one of them.

We have just handed over control of our country, in dangerous and uncharted times, to a fractious horde of mathematical illiterates with no idea how to run an economy, lockdown-loving fascists scheming to control our lives by any means possible and now with all the apparatus in place, mad Greens with apocalyptic visions of planetary doom, obscurantist “teachers” who have turned the wide horizons of education into a crucible of noxious mendacity and sexual fantasists wanting to manipulate the self-understanding of children, all lumped in with an assortment of monomaniacs squeaking out their solipsistic obsessions in, to borrow a phrase from Browning, fifty different sharps and flats.

Then there’s the avalanche of hysterical panic that followed the suggestion that abortion in America might – might – become more restricted. We’ll be hearing much more of it any day now, shriller and louder – inarticulate rage, pure and simple. Where’s the rationality, the reasoned arguments amid the churning torrent of abuse and invective?

In our politics and social interaction we have somehow lost what was once our precious capacity to reason. An instructive example of the confusion filling the vacuum came from the Guardian, a paper that can always be relied on for nastiness and sneering but which must have been really rattled because it dropped the rather patronising dignity it normally affects to warn its readers that the US Supreme Court decision on abortion is just the start of a sinister right-wing Christian plot to destroy all the “achievements” of the Left, from gay, les and trans “rights” to easy contraception. That makes sense, doesn’t it? (There is perverse pleasure in picturing those readers in their palatially renovated terraces or Murcuttian contemporary masterpieces, habituated to political complacency as our society drifts ever leftward, reaching in shock for their Valium jars and phoning their grief counsellors, unable to cope with the first big reverse for the Left since the election of Donald Trump.)

Reason was never the Left’s strong point. The leftists plunged into fury by the thought of not being able to carry on killing foetuses with unrestricted zeal are the same leftists who oppose killing in the form of capital punishment or the slaughter of whales but have no problem with destruction of their own unborn species. Never look for logical consistency on the Left; indeed, awareness of this deficiency among more reflective leftists is perhaps the reason they have disowned objective logic in favour of subjective “lived experience” and individual “narratives” as the sole reference points by which to judge an issue. 

Yet amid the tumult and the shouting there must be some of us who wonder why we are all such extremists about things now. What happened to moderation and good sense? Why is every debate black and white, right or wrong, your way or my way without compromise? And why can’t we listen to other people’s opinions? Why can’t we decide public controversies with dispassionate analysis like reasonable people?

Why, for example, in the case of abortion does it have to be all or nothing? Many conservatives insist that abortion amounts to murder, and leftists would seem tacitly to concede that point by avoiding that term when they can and calling it ‘reproductive health’ which sounds like something we should all be in favour of but of course is not, especially if you consider the ‘health’ of the unborn child. But why can’t we agree that, yes, abortion is the taking of a potential life, but that also it will sometimes for social or personal reasons be necessary, and when it is judged to be so by competent medical opinion it should be done safely and expeditiously. That would be using our reasoning capacity to cope with a moral dilemma. That would be what a sensible society would do, with quiet regret.

But it’s not what ours does because the issue of abortion is no longer one of dealing with an unfortunate practical situation but has been taken up by feminists as an emblem of women’s “freedom”. If she can’t have an abortion at will she’s not in charge of her own body. A woman must be free to have sex when she wants and, if it is fructive and she doesn’t want to be a mother, dispose of the result. It is part of feminism’s envious desire for women to have all the same ‘benefits’ as men, who can have the sex and not be burdened with the outcome.

If feminists would forgo this impossible aspiration to defy nature by trying to homogenise women and men we could start to approach abortion rationally. “Trans rights”, on the other hand, should be less contentious. Unlike abortion, there is only one life involved and these “rights” are of direct concern to only a tiny minority of the human race. Why can’t we admit that, yes, there are cases where people do or believe themselves to inhabit a body of the wrong sex, and that these cases are unfortunate or not depending on the attitude the “trans” individual takes to his or her personal circumstances. Why can’t we calmly recognise that if a man wants to be thought of as a woman, with or without surgical changes, it doesn’t hurt anyone to respect him in his choice and treat him like one, without doctrinaire denial of what is essentially a private matter?

As long, that is, as it remains private. In exchange, why cannot “trans” people, or those who speak for them, admit that there is no objective change from male to female, that the body of the “woman” or “man” retains all the genetic properties of the sex it was born and that there therefore needs to be some degree of sensible regulation of what the “trans” person can do communally as a member of the sex identified with, notably with regard to sport and public facilities. In other words, concede the “trans” individual his or her right to be treated as who he or she wishes, but concede the rest of the population the right to live their lives as they wish. What’s so hard about that?

Or take climate change. Can we not establish the fact of this and agree what to do about it rationally? Is the climate warming or not? – it shouldn’t be a labour of Hercules to have a definite answer to that. Facts should not be a matter of opinion or prejudice. If the planet is dangerously warming, then can we not agree that various measures which to “climate sceptics” now seem excessive and unnecessary ought logically to be taken? If it is not, why can’t we apply all that worry to something that is objectively important, such as how to prevent the kind of aggression now laying waste to the Ukraine, and that everyone seems to have forgotten about, or relieve the invisible poverty that lurks behind many a front door in our outwardly prosperous society?

Or the unbridgeable divide over COVID and mandatory vaccination. Can we not agree that people who have moral scruples about the use of foetal cells in the manufacture of vaccines, or objections to being compulsorily vaccinated, should not be treated as pariahs but in return, to avoid real or imagined risk of contagion – to avoid exacerbating other people’s fears – should tactfully stay out of the way of their fellow citizens as much as they can? Isn’t that commonsense?

Calm, cool reason could save us oceans of anguish, rancour, nervous collapse, broken friendships. We should try it more often. Or am I being naïve, like Pollyanna? Is it that, in our imperfect humanity, perpetual outrage, the adrenalin rush of being always in a state about something, has become necessary to many people as a diversion from the contented boredom of life in a too comfortable, too privileged society? 

 

 

25 comments
  • Ceres

    Article started off well enough about the Left and their usual lack of reason and facts. Then – the covid jab.
    “to avoid real or imagined risk of contagion – to avoid exacerbating other people’s fears – should tactfully stay out of the way of their fellow citizens as much as they can? Isn’t that commonsense?”
    No. It is widely agreed from the likes of CDC, WHO and Fauci that the vaccine does NOT prevent transmission or catching the virus. Suggesting that unvaccinated pander/kowtow to those ignorant of these facts but who have imaginary fears of the unjabbed is ludicrous. They have a problem that rests with them. Let them hide under their doona not the other way round.

  • ianl

    Far too late … as Jennifer Marohasy comments: “It’s all flipped now, with no way back”. I agree with her.

    We had a quite deep, longish drought, followed by severe bushfires feeding off the bush tindered by the drought, followed by severe flooding along the east of Australia.

    Since none of this has happened before, we *must* appease Gaia with sacrifice. Preferably sacrifice of the deplorables in the outer suburbs and regions.

    This cannot be pagan-type superstition, as we have THE CONSENSUAL SCIENCE to show us the truth and the way.

    That ENSO has occurred intermittently for at least 11,000 years (as evidenced by ocean bed drill cores from both sides of the Pacific) is simply a fact that is just disinformation.

  • Alistair

    ianl,
    “None of this has happened before” This is a really sinister statement that is widely promoted by all the computer illiterate people who do not know how to “google”. In fact google “Australia bushfires” and you will find that Australia has a bushfire as big or bigger than the 2019 fires every decade or so going all the way back to 1851 (Victoria). The most recent hardly a decade ago …
    (2008–2009 and Black Saturday
    Extreme bushfire conditions—Melbourne’s maximum temperature was above 43 °C for three consecutive days for the first time since records had been kept, accompanied by strong winds on 7 February 2009, later to be known as ‘Black Saturday’—precipitated major bushfires throughout Victoria, involving several large fire complexes, which continued to burn across the state for around one month. 173 people lost their lives in these fires and 414 were injured. 3,500+ buildings were destroyed, including 2,029 houses, and 7,562 people displaced. In terms of loss of life and property damage, the Black Saturday fires rank as the most devastating in Australian history. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission was called to investigate the Victorian government’s strategy regarding bushfires”

    Count the number of Royal Commissions and Select Committee reports since then.
    The same can be said for Floods and even pandemics – there is a major one of those every 20 to 30 years going back to Spanish flu TB and small pox.
    The statement “none of this has happened before” represents a Step Change in the deliberate forgetting of history that marks the end of the Enlightenment.

  • rosross

    I am not sure hysterical hyperbole is of any use to anyone. The reality is we are fortunate in Australia because neither of the major parties has ever been a disaster, despite the mythology, they are equals in terms of economic competence, and sadly, both have been hijacked by Woke agendas.

    The Liberals sold out their heartland and have paid the price for it. Labor has done the same thing but fewer people hate Labor than hate the Coalition which has been in Government for a very long time.

    We need policies not agendas and we need to end the Covid madness and its medical fascism.

  • rosross

    @ianl,

    Anyone who talks about consensual science has no understanding of science. Real science, good science, is not consensual. It is about questions and dissent, constantly.

    What many mean by ‘scientific agreement’ is sourced not in any agreement by scientists on climate change, but on the percentage of papers published which support climate change fearmongering. Select certain science and it looks like consensus but is not. It is just propaganda.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    An interesting range of topics Christopher. In turn:
    The Supreme Court decision merely means there is no automatic right to abortion in the US Constitution. Individual states are free to legalise abortion or not, as they choose. Many companies in states likely to restrict abortion are already offering to cover free transport for employees to states where abortions are legal. It is ironic that the group which currently has the highest rate of abortions per head of population are Black Americans. Restricting abortion may well mean more Black Americans, so it could be argued that those opposing the Supreme Court decision are racist.
    Trans rights are simple. Anyone can dress up as they like but can’t force others to accept that they are what they are not. Pretend all you like, but biology is not a “vibe”.
    Climate is changing. It always has and always will. Twelve thousand years ago glaciation; since then varying degrees of interglacial. The ability of humanity to control climate is marginal at best, non-existent at worst. The effects of climate change and its impact on humanity have been exaggerated beyond any reality. Take the example of sea level rise. Historic air photos clearly show no impact on the size of allegedly vulnerable islands. Those seeking “compensation” are rent-seekers and frauds. In any case the Dutch recovered large areas of land from the sea by the simple expedient of building dykes and using windmills to pump out the water. The early parts of this process were accomplished with pre-Industrial Revolution equipment. Imagine what they could have done with earth moving equipment and diesel pumps. Climate is not static and never will be. Adaption is the obvious solution.
    Covid inoculation science indicates amelioration of symptoms if caught, but no impact on transmissibility. In other words it benefits the inocculee and may reduce the burden on medical facilities and staff, but doesn’t benefit others.
    Finally, yes Christopher, you are like Pollyanna. People live and make decisions through their emotions. This is clear to anyone taking an interest in politics, and is after all the entire basis of the very successful advertising industry. Given the amount of unnecessary junk cluttering up my house, I feel I have all the anecdotal evidence I need.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Ros, I think somebody has hacked your account. Two consecutive messages and I agree with every word.

  • Tony Tea

    “But why can’t we agree that, yes, abortion is the taking of a potential life, but that also it will sometimes for social or personal reasons be necessary, and when it is judged to be so by competent medical opinion it should be done safely and expeditiously.”

    Captures my position perfectly. As does the article more generally. I wander through my days wondering how come we all got so one-sided.

  • RB

    @Tony Tea.
    We allowed it to happen 1 mm at a time.

  • Doubting Thomas

    The problem is the seemingly universal tendency for people, when given an inch, to try to take a mile. So we have so-called ethicists like Peter Singer who argue for parents’ “rights” to “abort” an unwanted child even after birth.
    There are endless examples of “slippery slope” destruction of moral standards once a line has been crossed.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    RB,
    “We allowed it to happen 1 mm at a time”.
    My following comments are observations and deductions hopefully devoid of moral judgements.
    Monkeypox is currently being spread sexually within the male homosexual community (and other ways).
    If contagious monkeypox kills or injures people, should homosexual acts be discouraged? Is there not a greater good, that if people do not perform these voluntary sexual acts, fewer people will die? Geoff S

  • rosross

    @Doubting Thomas,

    you did make me laugh. I have found, over time, that while people may hold very different opinions on some counts, that, generally, there will be agreement on others. Not that it matters. Agreement is not required.

    I would simply say, any views I hold will be sourced in the application of principles and that remains a constant.

  • rosross

    @Doubting Thomas,

    And many of those who hold fanatical beliefs, which is the case with a lot of materialists, have no concept of less is more. Give them an inch and they want it all. Indeed.

    Any reading of history makes it clear abortion should be legal. However, any common sense and ethics applied should also make it clear that it should not be easy, not seen as a quick fix, and should be avoided wherever possible with the woman involved having the final say in terms of the decision.

    Logic and ethics also degree there must be a time-frame in which such a surgical sacrifice is allowed and 20 weeks is already much too late.

  • lbloveday

    I’m dubbed a “climate change skeptic”. Who wouldn’t be, having been an avid reader 50 years ago of such claims by reputable sources of “the science” as:

    In 1978, The New York Times quoted an “international team of specialists” claiming the world would experience a never-ending “cooling trend in the Northern Hemisphere.”

    In 1974, Time magazine warned that “another ice age” was imminent.

    In 1974, The Guardian warned “Space satellites show new Ice Age coming fast.”

    In 1971, The Washington Post published a Columbia University scientist’s claim that the world could be “as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age.”

  • STD

    lbloveday, so by any measure, left wing Journo’s and consensus – they should be regarded as false prophets at best and intellectual pygmies from the outset. – they are incapable of recognising or the telling of truth.
    The very fact this stuff ends up in the printed media, tells me that it is propaganda being delivered by the propaganda arm of government and the managerial elites.
    I’m sure I am in error ,however the utopia on offer seems to be one of doom and gloom.
    Here is Carl Sagan testifying before a congressional committee on climate change in 1985 , pay particular attention to everyone involved , in particular the body languages and sales spiel – in attendance is the future author of An inconvenient (false) truth.
    Carl does cough a few times during when proceeding- when I was at school ,a coughing fit was a mask for a well known word in a bullock paddock.
    youtube.com/watch?v=Wp-WiNXH6hi

  • Doubting Thomas

    Ros, two more messages that I agree with. We’re on a roll. 🙂

  • lbloveday

    STD – I get “This video isn’t available anymore”

  • RB

    Geoff Sherrington.
    The base principle should be the guiding one, that is, I have no business telling you how to live and visa versa. My right to punch stops at the tip of your nose. If someone chooses to use their bodies in the “less than traditional manner” and there is no non-consensual harm, that is their lookout. It is in my view similar to me not caring a jot which elusive sky daddy anyone prays to until you insist I should skip my steak on Friday. I don’t know I believe in a greater good, that’s the same coin used by greenies and other disreputable types to push their agenda, a slippery slope of perspectives at best.
    When I say we allowed the current state of affairs 1 mm at a time, I speak to the indoctrination of our children who have now grown up to the point where they are entitled to vote, leaving us with the mess we get to endure for what remains of my time on this earth.
    Then it will be their challenge to deal with, I wish them luck, but expect they will get exactly what they voted for.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    RB,
    One purpose of the covid lockdowns was to reduce the frequency of contact of people who could be contagious. Does your argument apply there as well? Geoff S

  • RB

    Geoff Sherrington
    One would have to accept that wearing masks is preventing me from breaking your bones or picking your pockets to quote some yank whose name escapes me.
    I came to the view after reading articles here and watching Prof. Campbell on youtube to name two sources that this is not the case, so the answer is yes it does although the fact that mask-wearing prevents nothing makes the question moot.

  • RB

    Geoff Sherrington.
    Apologies, I read what wasn’t there.
    Lockdowns were a fundamental break in the social contract. They should never have been implemented in my view. Rather than panicking the populous, an honest exposition of the situation allowing for people to make their own choice would have been my preferred response.
    It might have stopped pepper-spraying old ladies, shooting people and arresting pregnant women in front of their children.
    If someone dies because of their decision to party then we are back to first principles.

  • abrogard

    It never again rises to these dizzy heights. So I have to keep coming back and re-savouring it:

    We have just handed over control of our country, in dangerous and uncharted times, to a fractious horde of mathematical illiterates with no idea how to run an economy, lockdown-loving fascists scheming to control our lives by any means possible and now with all the apparatus in place, mad Greens with apocalyptic visions of planetary doom, obscurantist “teachers” who have turned the wide horizons of education into a crucible of noxious mendacity and sexual fantasists wanting to manipulate the self-understanding of children, all lumped in with an assortment of monomaniacs squeaking out their solipsistic obsessions in, to borrow a phrase from Browning, fifty different sharps and flats.

  • Michael Waugh

    Of course both “left” and “right” should listen to the other, but, frankly, they are more accurately named “unreasonable” and “reasonable” it seems to me.
    Take climate change. Sceptics are worried the miracle of long life and comfortable living standards resulting from cheap reliable power should not be jettisoned lightly and, indeed, ought be extended to the greater number of the poor of the world. They also fear transferring the democratic west’s economic strength to tyrants. They suggest a compromise : nuclear power. The “left”/unreasonable scoff.
    Take abortion. Most on the right accept the right to abortion arising from rape (including statutory rape and incest) and to protect the mother’s life, but recognise the tension between the rights and comforts of the mother and the rights of the unborn, especially the viable unborn. Conservatives also acknowledge the reality of the slippery slope : why not permit, say, infanticide up to ,say, 1 hour, 2 hours…..12 months. (The argument will be: why should a woman (or man) be lumbered with the mental and physical burdens of parenthood for 18 years and probably longer. The Governor of an American State has already postulated the possible need to kill the born infant immediately after birth.)When precisely does life become precious ? The “left”/unreasonable block their ears to these concerns.
    The so-called left is distinguished by its unreasonableness, its stridency, its lack of balance. It is its natural devolution : Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, Chavez, Putin, Xi Jinping, numerous eastern European, Asian, middle-eastern and African communist dictators. Those people and institutions on the “left” in Australia also tend to the authoritarian , being holier-than-thou, and obviously unfair to their opponents, for example, Andrews and the ABC.
    It’s all very well to exhort us all to listen to opposing voices, but it takes two to tango.

  • whitelaughter

    replying to Geoff Sherrington’s comment – it amazes me that the gay set have not realised what they’ve unleashed by accepting the covid lockdowns.
    If we can be prevented from being within 1.5 metres of others to prevent Covid, then there is no logical reason to prevent them from being within 1.5 metres of each other to prevent the vast slew of STDs they suffer.
    But then, the feminists are only waking up to how they’ve scuppered ‘my body my choice’ by not fighting vaccine mandates.

  • Mali Taus

    @Christopher, I fully endorse the need to be reasonable, to accept that others may have a very different and equally strong position on contentions issues such as abortion and climate change. When I try to share alternate views with millennials or “the woke” they immediately say “you are / the author is a sceptic / denier” and so automatically relegated to the waste basket. Open and inclusive debate is healthy and democratic and contributes to progress whereas myopic positions end in totalitarianism and oppression.

    PS, it appears to me that we CANNOT establish the facts on climate change as both “sides” seem to have convincing arguments (see, I am being reasonable). What we can agree are things like reducing plastic and energy consumption. (More difficult are ending wars and, apparently, protecting EVERYONE’S right to free speech [less hate speech]). As I have lived and worked for 17 years in countries that are many times worse than Australia, I can tell you there is a lot of “low hanging fruit” out there that is good for everyone, not just the dooms day advocates or researchers on the gravy train of the latest prophesy.

    PPS, the use of words that are not part of the common lexicon (e.g. “mendacity”, “monomaniacs”) can exclude some people from the argument and thus is a form of the very thing you are rallying against – open debate.

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