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The Forum > Article Comments > Why I am not a conservative > Comments

Why I am not a conservative : Comments

By Jim Belshaw, published 15/1/2008

Old fashioned does not necessarily mean conservative: here's why ...

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A lucid and reasoned account of a political position. Not once were the terms political 'left' and 'right' used (although gay rights cropped up).

You see, it is possible to discuss politics in Australia without cliches and yet be nuanced in declaring a position.
Posted by FrankGol, Tuesday, 15 January 2008 11:12:55 AM
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Thank you, Frank. I do use the words "left" and "right" when the context demands it. I chose gay marriage as an example because this post was part of a continuing dialogue with Neil Whitfield - http://ninglundecember.wordpress.com/.

Like you, I suspect, I get very frustrated when views are forced into boxes that do not quite fit.
Posted by Jim Belshaw, Tuesday, 15 January 2008 12:42:01 PM
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Jim,

Nice to see the great and good Mick Bruxner mentioned. I had not seen your blog, but will look into it. Like you, I dislike boxes and stereotypes. I prefer continua to dichotomies, or, if that's too academic, almost infinite variation to boxes.
Posted by Don Aitkin, Tuesday, 15 January 2008 8:13:25 PM
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Thanks, Don. Great to hear from you via the comment. The specific reference to Mick Bruxner is in fact drawn from the Colonel, the book you wrote all those years ago. Continua are much better, more representative, although dichotomies can sometimes be useful in drawing out distinctions.

I really enjoyed What was it all for?, by the way, and have drawn from it a number of times.
Posted by Jim Belshaw, Wednesday, 16 January 2008 4:57:32 AM
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ďmy view is that we need to find a solution that gives gays the legal and indeed symbolic things that they need, while recognising the views of the larger group.Ē

There is just one legal and symbolic need for same-sex attracted people Ė equality. This means the right to choose the same relationship forms as every other citizen of this country.

Last year a Galaxy poll found that 57% of Australians support same-sex marriage http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21942737-5007133,00.html so the claim that yours is the majority view is quite suspect.

Still, even if the majority were against equal rights for gays and lesbians, the fact is that living in a democracy doesnít entitle majorities to trample on the rights of minorities. Neither does having a christian heritage.

Iím not an expert on what is or isnít a conservative, though I suspect that Neil might have nailed it. Personally, I find it remarkable that you can call him an old friend while supporting a situation in which he is treated as a citizen second class. However thatís your business, and his.
Posted by jpw2040, Wednesday, 16 January 2008 8:47:09 PM
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One problem, jpw2040, is that democracy nearly always involves oppression of minorities.

Just to make my own position very clear, I chose my words very carefully, as Marcellous pinged me on in a discussion a little later on the same topic. I do not support gay marriage, but I am not opposed to it. Futher, since I support legal rights for gay couples, it is pretty obvious that my problem lies with the use of the word "marriage".

It may be that, as you note, a majority of the Australian population is now in favour of gay marriage. However,we still have a practical problem.

My impression is that a significant proportion of the Australian population has quite strong views on the issue. If their concerns were to be really energised, then even gay civil rights might be at risk.

In summary, two quite separate issues underlay my comment. One was the nature of trade-offs in a democratic society when values conflict. Here I try to apply something of a golden rule based around costs and gains on both sides. So if we can get recognition of gay civil unions now, then we have a clear gain with limited loss.Further things will follow with time.

The second was the risk that I alluded to that if you push too hard then you may lose everything.

I accept that this is somewhat wishy washy. I accept, too, that sometimes (often) change will only occur through passionate action by minorities, just as I accept the right of individuals to have and support their own values.

One of the reasons that Neil and I get lies in our willingness to debate issues, gaining from our different perspectives. I value this greatly.
Posted by Jim Belshaw, Thursday, 17 January 2008 1:15:38 PM
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