Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


An Open Letter To Rex Ahdar by Lynne Jamneck

An Open Letter To Rex Ahdar


By Lynne Jamneck

Mr Ahdar,

It is with some disappointment and no small amount of disturbance that I recently read your opinion piece on Stuff (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/8521106/Finding-true-essence-of-marriage) titled "Finding the true essence of marriage" (8 April, 2013).

Yes, I am gay. I also have an academic degree (MA in English Literature and a major in Religious Studies); in this particular case, my academic background and experience was the main influence for me writing this letter.

Notwithstanding the fact that you categorise the LGBT community as individuals who lack the ability to be "real" parents, my problem with your "argument" stems not from essentially being labelled aberrant. Rather, it is the fact that your supposed "argument concerning the law" masquerades as thinly veiled religious rhetoric.

Indeed, you do not address any religious aspects overtly. Yet the language you use clearly indicates that what you have written is personal opinion, and religiously inclined. Your frequent use of the word "we" is rather defensive, and makes sure to place you within the majority of society, situating a divide between yourselves and those "others" you view as somehow being of a lesser nature.

Furthermore, the final few sentences of your argument additionally highlight the personal opinions behind what you wrote:

"In the end sit still, close your eyes and quietly ask yourself: can a man marry another man and a woman wed another woman?
What on earth have we come to?"

The imagery evoked here is, to anyone with knowledge of religion, psychology, and language, clearly of a religious nature. To be still with one's eyes closed invokes prayer, and "asking one's self" is, conceptually, "talking to god" or a higher divinity within a religious context. Finally, "What on earth have we come to?" is obviously a statement meant to inspire indignation, a trait often associated with the majority whenever their delicate sensibilities have been offended.

Additionally, there are also a number of inconsistencies in your argument. For example:

"And lacking reproductive capability they cannot be biological parents."

In vitro fertilisation has been common practise for a number of years now. This clearly enables both homosexual men and women to be biological parents.

"To redefine marriage is to abolish it."

Incorrect. To 'redefine' anything does not 'abolish' it. Redefinition implies the reconstitution of boundaries previously set out. It does not annihilate the object in question (also, I like how we get the word 'Constitution' from 'reconstitution; I think New Zealand needs one of those).

"Lacking sexual complementarity, gay couples cannot achieve complete sexual bodily union."

I'm not entirely sure how this statement fits into an argument about the law and gay marriage. Nonetheless, simply taking into account sexual and gender theory/research, it is entirely incorrect, and I have to say, poorly researched.
When referring to how the concept of marriage has been established, you claim a gross inconsistency regarding the concept of marriage:

When I say "we", I mean every culture, tribe and race since antiquity has recognised these as essential elements of this thing called marriage and accorded such unions special status.

Not so. Indigenous American and African cultures are only some examples of cultural societies that are polyamorous.

I should also point out that your argument is based on a majority perspective, which, in this particular context undermines the entirety of what you are arguing for.

"Who says these attributes - sexual complementarity, reproductive capacity - are "essential"?
Who says this is the standard?
We did. We decided that marriage involves the comprehensive sexual union of a man and a woman. "

Your "we" here, of course, refers to the Western majority. A first year philosophy student will be happy to argue the point that "we" is not representative of humanity as a whole. It is simply the majority, expounding the mores and values of an in-group at any given time. Furthermore, the above statement contradicts a previous statement in your argument, i.e.,

"Marriage has a true essence, a fundamental core; it is a real phenomenon, not just a human invention or convention."

Wait, didn't "we" decide what marriage is? I must also again, as a student of language, point out your revealing word choices: "essence", "fundamental" and "phenomenon", all of which have religious overtones.

As an academic, it concerns me deeply that what you propose to be an argument surrounding the factual basis of the law as it relates to gay marriage is in fact nothing more than disguised rhetoric. Everybody is allowed to have their own personal views and opinions. However, as a Professor at a New Zealand University, I am concerned that your views blatantly contravene the notion of tertiary institutions being environments of acceptance and liberal thinking, two elements that are vital to the type of education students should have access to.

*************


©Lynne Jamneck
Lynne Jamneck is a South African who lives in New Zealand. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Auckland, and has been short listed for the Sir Julius Vogel and Lambda Awards.

http://lynnejamneckdiaries.blogspot.co.nz/

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Teina Pora Wins Appeal: Gordon Campbell On The Privy Council Decision

The quashing of the convictions of Teina Pora for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett in 1992 has shone a spotlight once again on a major gap in the New Zealand justice system.

To all intents and purposes, access by New Zealanders to the Privy Council has now been closed. Yet the number of times in recent years when the Privy Council has quashed the findings of New Zealand courts has demonstrated that we are regularly
(a) jailing the wrong person or
(b) arriving at guilty verdicts on grounds sufficiently flawed as to raise serious doubts that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Urgent Bill Planned: MP Pay Rises To Match Public Service

Prime Minister John Key today announced an overhaul of the Remuneration Authority Act, tying MP salaries to those of the wider public sector, which will be passed under urgency. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Press Conference: MP Pay Rises, Solid Energy, Iraq

Prime Minister John Key answered questions in his Post-Cabinet press conference about the Iraq deployment, Solid Energy and National’s decision to overhaul the Remuneration Authority Act. More>>

ALSO:

Worksafe: MSD Charged Over Work And Income Ashburton Shooting

WorkSafe NZ has laid one charge against the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in relation to the shooting at the MSD Ashburton office on 1 September 2014 in which two Work and Income staff were killed and another was injured. More>>

ALSO:

Iraq: Ex-Hostage Says Government Not Putting NZers, Iraqis First

Harmeet Singh Sooden is travelling to Iraq in the coming weeks to work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on a short-term assignment. More>>

ALSO:

Joint Statement: Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting

Prime Minister Key warmly welcomed Prime Minister Abbott and Mrs Abbott to New Zealand. The visit has enabled wide-ranging and substantive discussion that has underlined the strength, value, diversity and warmth of our trans-Tasman relationship. More>>

ALSO:

Press Conference: Peters To Stand In Northland By-Election

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters has announced his intention to stand in the Northland by-election, citing his own links to the electorate and ongoing neglect of the region by central government. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Wage Hike For MPs (and Paul Robeson)

Hard to tell what is more infuriating. Is it the 5.3% increase on the already bloated salaries of MPs, or their pantomime of outrage at being gifted with such a wonderful back-dated bonanza? More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news