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Mar 22 2012

Have you ever seen Brendan O’Neill and Bill O’Reilly in the same place?

Brendan O’Neill is tearing his hair out in frustration at the mystifying way gay marriage has suddenly puffed up huge and taken over all the things!!11 He just doesn’t understand. He’s baffled. He can’t figure it out. He’s amazed.

As I say, nothing in this debate makes sense. This is such a relatively overnight concern, and is so unrooted in political campaigning or historical substance, that it would make as much sense if, tomorrow, every politician and commentator in the land suddenly started talking about how important it is to give women the right to live in treehouses. After all, there are probably some women who want to live in treehouses, and the public might well support their right to do so while also arguing that making it happen should not be a parliamentary priority, so why don’t Cameron and the commentariat make a big deal of that?

Good point! Super super super good point! Or why don’t they make a big deal of giving dogs the right to wear orange Crocs? Because obviously the right to marry is every bit as wack and trivial and random as the right to live in treehouses or wear orange Crocs. So funny of Brendan O’Neill to spot that and say it.

Because it strikes me that what is happening here is that, under the cover of ‘expanding equality’, we are really witnessing the instinctive consolidation of a new class, of a new political set, which, lacking the familiar moral signposts of the past, has magicked up a non-issue through which it might define itself and its values.

The reason the gay-marriage issue can feel like it came from nowhere, and is now everywhere, is because it is an entirely top-down, elite-driven thing. The true driving force behind it is not any real or publicly manifested hunger amongst homosexual couples to get wed, far less a broader public appetite for the reform of the institution of marriage; rather it is the need of the political and media class for an issue through which to signify its values and advertise its superiority. Gay marriage is not a real issue – it is a cultural signifier.

Right! Because there totally are no homosexual couples who want to marry! Not one. All those ones you think you know, they are a hallucination. And Brendan O’Neill, who is a coal miner from the very rudest part of Glasgow, knows this because coal miners have a Deep Instinctual Knowledge of elite-formation and cultural signifiers, which they adeptly turn into think-pieces for scrofulous little outlets like Spiked.

But suddenly we leave the shit-stained cobblestones to veer into the laminated boardrooms of groups like Focus on the Family.

But even in its own terms, gay marriage is a bad idea, for many reasons. Primarily because, while it is presented to us as a wonderfully generous act of cultural elevation (of gay couples), it is more importantly a thoughtless act of cultural devaluation (of traditional marriage). An institution entered into by millions of people for quite specific reasons – often, though not always, for the purpose of procreation – is being casually demoted, with the Lib-Con government even proposing that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ no longer be used in official documents.

Godalmighty what an asshole. What’s he going to do next? Take over the running of Santorum’s campaign? Wot price Living Marxism, eh Bren?

 

 

35 comments

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  1. 1
    Jon H

    Women can’t live in tree houses?

    Silliness aside, if men were allowed to live in tree houses and women weren’t you can bet your ass I’d be campaigning for a change.

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    A minority wants the same rights as the majority and O’Neill is whining about it. I would think a man named O’something living in Glasgow would have a clue about prejudice and having to claw for his rights, but obviously I’m wrong.

  3. 3
    Josh Slocum

    He says it. Right out in public. What I’ve been screaming about (not that any of you would know that, of course) for years: the real fear is the diminished artificial prestige of het marriage that’s maintained by arbitrary exclusion. They don’t want their brand diluted. It’s a modern-day version of sumptuary laws.

    And how vile to state that allowing gays to marry devalues other peoples’ marriages. We’re so disgusting, so contemptible, that treating us equally under the law acts as a contaminant to their identity. I hate people so fucking much.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    He’s a horrible, horrible man, Josh. Your brand is INFINITELY better than his. He devalues the act of typing by being so SUCKY at it.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Oh I forgot to tag this with his horrible name.

  6. 6
    Josh Slocum

    Oh, and of course there are no comments on the article. Cuz it’s totes an article, ya know, not a mere blog post. So one is invited to write a “letter.”

    I can’t decide if it’s good or bad. O’Neill should be ripped to filthy shreds by readers but the defenders and bigots who’d descend would ruin everything.

    And yeah, O, he’s a shit writer.

  7. 7
    GordonWillis

    He’s perfectly right, of course: women should absolutely not be allowed to live in treehouses. After all, it’s not as though women have been hurling themselves under king’s horses in their desperation to procure their right — so cruelly witheld by tyrannous governments — to do so, and it wasn’t so long ago that most women would have regarded the very idea of a two-up-two-down beech-tree with horror. So why should they be allowed to inhabit trees now? Besides, trees are a natural part of the world and have not evolved to provide houses for human beings. It’s an offense against their natural dignity that a mere female should exploit them for her personal domestic satisfaction. And it will devalue all our houses. The long-established tradition of estate-agents and surveyancing and gazumping will be made a mockery. No millionaire would rest easy in his wattle-and-daub, and ordinary red-brick mortgage-payers will be held up to ridicule and contempt. And I really admire that bit about people who bang on about things because talking pish and tosh gives them a feeling of importance. A moral for our times.

  8. 8
    Walton

    What a staggeringly stupid screed. I’ve agreed with O’Neill on some things in the past (particularly free speech issues), but this article has caused my regard for him to plummet. He’s just recycling the most ridiculous reactionary anti-gay tropes, while pretending to be saying something new and edgy. Between this and his climate change denialism, I doubt I’ll bother with Spiked in the future.

  9. 9
    musical beef

    If gay marriage is such a non-issue, why is there such fierce opposition to it? Proponents wouldn’t have to make so much noise if there was no opposition.

    In a certain sense, it is, in fact, comparable to treehouse dwelling, in that a person should be able to choose to do so. There’s nothing wrong with it. It becomes an issue because so many people want to legally prohibit others from living in treehouses.

  10. 10
    NathanDST

    If there is anything that devalues my marriage to a woman, as an institution, it is the claims that same-sex marriage is not marriage, and that it should not be legal. If anything devalues my marriage, it is this idea that two people who love each other can’t express that love through marriage, simply because they are the same fucking sex. That means that as an institution, marriage is not about love and commitment -the whole and entire reason that I got married- but rather that it’s about cliques, and haves vs have-nots, and control of people, and breeding people like horses and dogs.

    And those are not very fucking valuable at all.

  11. 11
    fmitchell

    Why do some privileged people think giving someone else a privilege suddenly makes their own privilege worthless? After Whitney Houston’s death, the local news featured a serviceman’s widow claiming the New Jersey governor’s desire to fly flags at half staff dishonored HER husband because flags flew at half staff for HIM too. She also alluded to “what kind of a person [Whitney Houston] was”, apparently because the tragedy of death depends on the moral character of the deceased. Whether it’s flying flags at half staff, marriage, a house into a middle class neighborhood, or food and shelter, the value of a privilege apparently depends on what out-group cannot have it.

    Or else a homophobe needs an argument to justify his position, and picked a worse-than-normal one.

  12. 12
    Forbidden Snowflake

    Musical beef:

    If gay marriage is such a non-issue, why is there such fierce opposition to it?

    He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. You see, objection to same sex marriage is super important, because same sex marriage would devalue ALL marriage due to look there! A bird!, but advocating for same sex marriage is just, like, a shallow trendy hipster group identity thing, because it’s not like the availability or unavailability of same sex marriage influences anyone’s life. Or at least, the life of anyone who counts.

    Fooken slimeball.

  13. 13
    Musical Atheist

    often, thought not always, for the purposes of procreation

    But if “not always” for procreation – if sometimes, maybe, for some other things, like “the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity” (Book of Common Prayer) – then isn’t it kind of obvious what gay and bisexual people want out of marriage?

    And, um, do most people really get married in order to have children? You might think marriage is a more stable environment in which to procreate, but – “for the purpose”? Even though the marriage will (hopefully) continue long after the children have all grown up and moved out?

  14. 14
    Dave

    For the zillionth time, folks, B’ON is a hack. He’s paid to write things that are pointlessly contrarian. If he decided tomorrow there was a good gig in defending gay marriage, he’d write that; and he’d change his mind again the next day.

    I know it’s the internet and all, but sometimes you really do find someone who’s just not worth noticing.

  15. 15
    GordonWillis

    Why do some privileged people think giving someone else a privilege suddenly makes their own privilege worthless?

    Because, if everyone had a privilege, no one would be privileged? Interesting angle, that, fmmitchell! Thanks.

  16. 16
    revjimbob

    Could certainly do without the snobbish disdain for working-class people from Glasgow – “shit-stained cobblestones” indeed.

  17. 17
    GordonWillis

    Are you saying, Dave, that B’ON will actually say anything if anyone at all pays him? Are you really saying that he’s so thick-skinned, so uncaring of the consequences to others of his mercenary cynicism, that he will lie and pervert and corrupt other people’s points-of-view, and humiliate their hopes of happiness, with no reflection, no remorse, no trace of penitence? That no justly outraged response could ever shame him into reconsidering his opportunistic public misrepresentations? And all the time he will be pretending to safeguard the traditions and privileges and time-honoured sacrosanctity of the everyday unquestioned assumption? Well I never did! D’you reckon the VoC has been passing him a few lire?

  18. 18
    Torquil Macneil

    Well I don’t think women should be allowed to live in tree houses. Haven’t they got perfectly nice places to live in already? After all, there is no rich historical tradition of tree-dwelling for women and so it is hard to see what they would get out of it. It’s not like they are forbidden from living in shrubs, which is nearly the same thing. And if women demand this spurious ‘right’, it will devalue tree houses for the rest of us, demote them you might say. Not because we don’t like women, but because we choose to live among the branches for quite specific but completely ineffable reasons that often, but not always, have something to do with trees.

  19. 19
    Hein

    The reason the gay-marriage issue can feel like it came from nowhere, and is now everywhere, is because it is an entirely top-down, elite-driven thing. The true driving force behind it is not any real or publicly manifested hunger amongst homosexual couples to get wed, far less a broader public appetite for the reform of the institution of marriage

    Oh wow! Thanks for informing me of this Mr. O’Neill. I’ll make an appointment with a psychiatrist immediately. I seem to be suffering from vivid hallucinations of knowing gay couples who want to get married!

    But even in its own terms, gay marriage is a bad idea, for many reasons. Primarily because, while it is presented to us as a wonderfully generous act of cultural elevation (of gay couples), it is more importantly a thoughtless act of cultural devaluation (of traditional marriage).

    Oh yes, because here in The Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been legal for 11 years (since April 2001), marriage has been completely devalued. In fact, it’s lead to a complete collapse of civilised society. I hear that no one in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden even bothers to get married any more because the institution has been so completely devalued.

  20. 20
    Hein

    Oh, I might add that in South Africa the legalisation of same-sex marriage was anything but a “top-down, elite-driven thing.” It was the result of gay couples taking the government to court to force them to recognise same-sex marriage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Home_Affairs_v_Fourie

  21. 21
    sailor1031

    BO’N does seem to have gone further into the dark recently; or maybe he’s just following the example of Andrew Brown who “only does it to annoy because he knows it teases”.

    “Could certainly do without the snobbish disdain for working-class people from Glasgow – “shit-stained cobblestones” indeed.”

    Bit of a stretch there isn’t it Rev? to get “snobbish disdain for working class people” out of “shit-stained cobblestones”. It might be mere disdain for shit-stained cobblestones – kind of like my disdain for urine-impregnated walls and sidewalks.

  22. 22
    Ophelia Benson

    revjimbob – oh come on – really? You think I meant that literally?

  23. 23
    mr_subjunctive

    The reason the gay-marriage issue can feel like it came from nowhere, and is now everywhere, is because it is an entirely top-down, elite-driven thing.

    The reason the gay-marriage issue came from nowhere and is now everywhere is because the christianist right-wing collectively flipped their shit in 1996 over Hawaii, and cynical Republican operatives thought gay marriage (and gay civil rights in general) sounded like a good wedge issue with which to peel off some independent voters, so they turned it into one of the main planks of their party platform. Gay and lesbian couples were certainly getting married before 1996; it just wasn’t being legally recognized.

  24. 24
    Ophelia Benson

    Dave’s point – yes but – the thing about Our Bren is that he’s part of that crowd, and that crowd does get around, you know, what with Claire Fox being on the Moral Maze and all. The Institute of Ideas, spiked, Bren in the Times – they get ink. Plus there’s their ludicrous and sometimes vicious history. Sorry but I think it’s well worth pointing out what a shit O’Neill is.

  25. 25
    Svlad Cjelli

    I’m pretty sure women can already live in treehouses.

  26. 26
    Hein

    Svlad Cjelli says:

    I’m pretty sure women can already live in treehouses.

    In a few countries, yes. In other countries it is allowed but they can’t call them “tree houses” they have to be referred to as “arboreal dwellings.” In most of the world however, it is forbidden and in some countries women can even be executed for just climbing trees.

  27. 27
    Torquil Macneil

    Not all of ‘that crowd’ are objectionable though. Kenan Malik is always good and mostly right and I have run across quite a few lesser known cadre who have been good ‘uns. I know they are a bit fatuous and silly (pretending not to know each other in public, using noms de guerre and all that, but they do often make fun and enlivening contributions to debates and I don’t think they are vicious exactly (interested to hear if they have been though). I think Brendan O’Neill is just over-extended, having to find something to epate the bien pensants with every single week doesn’t leave you with too many options.

  28. 28
    Ophelia Benson

    Kenan isn’t really part of that crowd now is he? He certainly doesn’t seem to have much in common with O’Neill.

  29. 29
    Torquil Macneil

    Yes, he is a RCP-er. His sceptical attitude towards multiculturalism is pretty much the RCP line. But he does seem to be miles away from the O’Neil/Fox wing and I expect he does very little these days except for the odd Institute of Ideas gig. He doesn’t have to shout or stand on his head to get attention.

  30. 30
    Torquil Macneil

    Oh I missed the ‘now’. I don’t know if he considers himself RCP now, but someone I know who who does calls him ‘one of our lot’. Mind you, it is such a nebulous sort of thing that it is quite hard to say anything definite about it at all.

  31. 31
    Tom Morris

    I hate to sound like a broken record: the point of equal rights is to have it even if you don’t use it.

    The vast majority of people don’t exercise their free speech in any particularly controversial way: they don’t write to their MP or write to newspapers or go to protests or shout at Speaker’s Corner or maintain a blog or anything like that. They still need to have freedom of speech even if they plan to never use it.

    And so it is with LGBT people and marriage. Equal rights aren’t just a trendy liberal construct, they are the basis for a liberal society. I may never get married, but I bloody well shouldn’t be prevented from doing so.

  32. 32
    bspiken

    @ Svlad Cjelli

    “I’m pretty sure women can already live in treehouses.”

    Yes but can they inherit a treehouse?

  33. 33
    David

    All tree houses need full planning permission

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5749382/All-tree-houses-need-full-planning-permission-new-rules-say.html

    I’m pretty sure they wouldnt allow a woman to live in one. Its an outrage! Probably because it would de-value the institute of royal holidays.

  34. 34
    revjimbob

    @sailor1031 and ophelia
    “Brendan O’Neill, who is a coal miner from the very rudest part of Glasgow, knows this because coal miners have a Deep Instinctual Knowledge of elite-formation and cultural signifiers”
    Bit of a stretch? Sorry, but that reeks of snobbery.

  35. 35
    Demonax

    Reverend O’Neill needs readers for his comic and his sense of piety is offended.
    That’s all folks.

  1. 36
    fitness health expert

    fitness health expert…

    [...]Have you ever seen Brendan O’Neill and Bill O’Reilly in the same place? | Butterflies and Wheels[...]…

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