Robert Manne wrote a volume of essays in 1996, including a review of the Demidenko literary situation and its aftermath, which led him to construct the invaluable phrase “moral grammar”.
I would like to use it to shed light on recent events, including last night’s ABC Q&A panel which allowed Fred Nile to repeat his oft repeated and poisonous commentary on gay relationships, gay love and marriage, and (to him) the horrendous prospect of two men raising a child. Any younger person, especially someone in the LGBTIQ community, listening to Nile’s bible-based comments, would be struck by the lack of intelligence they convey and the repetition, the grinding repetition of stupid comments. Dennis Altmann, another panelist, put it well when he said that Nile questioning gay relationships and another religious person, posing a question from the audience to the M-F trans-sexual person on the panel, both seemed to speak as if they had a direct and exclusive line to the authority upstairs. “Telephone to glory, oh what joy divine” was the relevant song from my youth.
Altmann also made a gracious statement as to why he was unwilling to judge the choices made by trans-sexuals; I would offer the volume Biological Exuberance by Michael Bagemihl, which contains many examples of functioning and accepted trans-sexuality in the wild. If animals can tolerate the behaviour, surely we should be able to do likewise.
But I want to go further: even the lesbian religious person on the panel, Julie McCrossin seemed to want constantly to place the act of sexual enjoyment within relationships as expressions of love, validated within religious systems. It has to be said that more people are atheistic these days; others practise religions which are more or less tolerant of different sexual practices and gender identity. These systems have been so long happy to overlook or even affirm my lesser status in this society; why should I now take their opinions seriously as to the expression of my instincts and feelings?
But going further: as a person raised in the catholic system, and coming to the attention of a pedophile priest, with all the duplicity and hypocrisy that entailed, I have had to struggle for years with, as Hollywood put it recently, “the whole good/bad thing”. Science has analysed a percentage of the male population as sociopathic and another percentage of women likewise; I don’t want to depress myself researching the proportion of the population that is actually psychopathic. I have no confidence in the christian tradition; however, going further back in time To the Greeks and Hindus and Chinese, these traditions had a moral reversibility, expressed as yin/yang by the Chinese, whereby each of us have an element of both, 90% good +10% bad for instance.
However, what I take from all of this, from Robert Manne’s phrase the “moral grammar” is that physical expression of sexuality, accompanied with goodwill, mutual consent and so forth are innately good; no system has the authority to pronounce judgement on such behaviour nor to attempt to restrict it within certain relationship parameters.