20 Jun 2013

Don't Underestimate Cory Bernardi

By Ben Pobjie

Laughing at Cory Bernardi is as easy as teasing a porcelain clown. But what if he's right about double-tuxedoed weddings? Don't rush to judgement, says Ben Pobjie

It’s very easy to make fun of Cory Bernardi. In fact, that’s the first thing you notice when you start doing it: how easy it is. It’s also fun, a lot of fun. It’s one of the most enjoyable things you can do. And satisfying? Oh my goodness. For those of you unable to find sexual partners, I recommend a good vigorous Bernardi-mockery once a day. You’ll be going through the post-coital cigarettes like nobody’s business.

But sometimes, no matter how easy and fun and satisfying and awesome and morally correct it is to subject a public figure to ridicule and opprobrium, we should take pause. We need to reign in our hilarious horses, stay the advance of our battalions of snark, and think things through a bit.

Now, many of you may know Cory Bernardi as the man who currently holds the Guinness World Record for Most Enormous Terrifying Face On A Public Official. He also dabbles in politics from time to time, mainly concerning himself with public policy areas such as hating Islam, hating homosexuality and hating science. In these he is motivated by his devout Christian views and creeping feeling that someone is constantly watching him.

What has been arousing controversy and enormous gusts of wheezing laughter lately has been Bernardi’s firm and unshakeable belief that if people are permitted to legally marry other people of the same sex, it will lead inexorably to a tsunami of applications by wild-eyed perverts demanding the right to marry an entire basketball squad, and eventually, to be allowed to share the joy of physical love with their pets and/or livestock.

And now, of course, you see what I meant earlier when referring to how easy it is to make fun. The obvious reaction, when faced with an actual adult human being claiming that same-sex marriage is the first step on the bestiality staircase, is to first say, “what?”, and then investigate how much lead was in the drinking water in his childhood home. We then inevitably move on to pointing and laughing and shrieking, “You colossal creepy flour-brained maniac, go have a lie down and don’t come back to the Senate until a doctor certifies you’re mentally fit to operate a pair of shoelaces without undue risk to the general public”.

What else can one do, right? It’s either make fun of people who warn against an eruption of Labrador-love bursting out of a volcano of double-tuxedoed weddings, or punch them very hard in the stomach; and you can’t punch a Senator in the stomach unless a two-thirds majority supports a suspension of standing orders.

And so we all have a jolly good laugh at Cory’s expense, and nobody is really hurt by it, because he doesn’t really know he’s being made fun of: it’s like teasing a porcelain clown.

But here’s what we never consider:

What if he’s right?

Yes yes, I know what you’re saying, “Well, if he’s right, I’ll just kill myself.” But it’s not always that easy. Sometimes you fully intend to kill yourself, and then you can’t go through with it. We can’t just rely on suicide to extricate us from the mess we’ll find ourselves in if Cory Bernardi turns out to be onto something.

Bernardi has already made the point that, given the fact that the Polyamory Action Lobby has petitioned the House of Representatives for full recognition of polyamorous families, we are already on the verge of legalising polygamy, or if things really get out of hand, of having any idea what the Polyamory Action Lobby is.

So with irrefutable evidence before us that, if we don’t legalise same-sex marriage, some polyamorous people will sign a petition, it may well be that the logical conclusion is that if we do legalise same-sex marriage, some polyamorous people will do something else. Hold a benefit concert or something, maybe.

And now we start to get uncomfortable, don’t we? All those times we called Cory Bernardi a perverted idiot give us a nasty prickling feeling at the back of the neck, because if there’s one thing that’s worse than a perverted idiot, it’s a perverted idiot who’s actually right about something. And if there’s anything worse than that, it’s a man carrying a pot-bellied pig over the threshold of a bridal suite, and that’s what we’ve got in store if Bernardi is, against all expectations and laws of physics, correct.

It will be a bleak social landscape indeed that we will confront if Cory’s Cassandra-esque pronouncements are fulfilled. Just imagine: champagne corks will barely have finished popping at same-sex marriage HQ, when suddenly, giggling with glee, Christine Milne will pounce, introducing a bill to allow any individual to marry any number of people they like. And how will the major parties be able to vote it down? They’ll already have allowed ladies to marry other ladies: disallowing this bill will look like hypocrisy. And so people will be allowed to marry groups, and men will build up harems, and women will also build up harems, and people will make terrible jokes like, “More like HISems, am I right?” and eventually some sex-crazed billionaire will marry an entire European nation, and we’ll be powerless to stop him.

And then it’ll go further: within weeks citizens will have cottoned on to the obvious fact that if we can marry squadrons, why shouldn’t we enjoy full penetrative sex with camels? And try as we might, we will be unable to come up with a reason to deny this right. And if we can have sex with animals, obviously we’ll want to marry them, and why not, right? When you open the door for a gay person, you can hardly slam it in a badger’s face. Eventually men will be marrying otters, and women will be marrying musk oxen, and Welsh men’s choirs will be marrying beehives, and society as we know it will start to break down under the twin strains of constant weddings and lizard divorces. Not to mention the social faux pas of accidentally killing and eating your friend’s spouse, which is bound to come up from time to time.

Bear in mind, I’m not saying this will happen. It’s entirely possible that Cory Bernardi is as wrong as he is unnerving. Just as in the realm of criminology, the most likely suspect is usually the correct one, it frequently happens that the person who seems more insane than anyone else actually is.

All I’m saying is, have a care. Don’t rush to judgment. Before you scoff and laugh off the possibility of the multiple-lobster-wives dystopia being warned of, take a long hard look into Cory’s big starey eyes, and as you drink in that pamphlet-friendly smile that is causing your skin to attempt an escape from your body, just think for one minute: what if he’s right?

And may God have mercy on us all.

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Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 13:34

Cows can say "moo" but not "I do".

Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 14:17


Dr Dog
Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 15:19

Much better than that posh looking, sense spouting Ben Pojie from The Guardian!

I'm not sure Bernardi cares about marriage as such, but if we ever were allowed to marry livestock he must know it is pretty likely that many of us would become vegetarians. I think Bernardo probably hates vegetarians worse than cancer.

Let's face it, we rarely eat our spouses, especially after the first few years.

Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 16:46

Cory Bernardi is an irrational fire stoker who doesn't think. 


As regards polyamorous or polygamous relationships, the bronze age patriarchs and peoples of the Semitic religion he so fervently follows, who advocated such things as putting homosexuals to death, also openly and happily practised polygamy. It was mainly the pagan, heathen ancient Romans, frowning on such ways, who put an end to polygamy in Judaism and Christianity. 


If Cory is honestly true to his precious Bible, he should have no trouble with polygamy. He's not thought things through.


Of course, modern Australia understands the difference between quality (eg arbitrary notions of gender ultimately derived from the grammar of the language, not nature) and quantity (number: a basic, natural phenomenon).


There's a fundamental, categorical difference between recognising same-sex marriage (overcoming arbitrary grammatical notions of gender and imaginary notions of what is "natural") and recognising polyamorous relationships in marriage (which would much more fundamentally and dramatically redefine marriage as being a relationship between the very real notion of "couple" to "many").


(You could go  very deeply into this - eg why is it, from a psychological/anthropological perspective, that historically, the same cultures that codify polygamy in the law also come down so hard on same-sex love? Is it because unconsciously these cultures realize that erasing an imaginary concept (gender) will also undermine the very power structures that allow them to treat women as currency? The mind wonders...)


The truth is there's no need to recognise polyamorous relationships - they can incorporate their love-in and register as an association. Nothing is stopping them.  Freedom of association in groups is already protected by the law.


Slippery slope indeed. Bernardi should take some time out from his Bible and catch up with Immanuel Kant.


As for people marrying animals - there Cory starts to just sound hysterical. Until the day a non-human species evolves to a level of self-consciousness where it understands and can give informed consent to the concept marriage, the whole notion is just plain bloody stupid. That's not slippery slope, that's throwing yourself into the abyss.


Oh well, democracy must be tolerant I guess. Interesting times ahead.

Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 17:31

It should be noted also that there's still a very real need for gay marriage to be recognised. It's not just symbolic equality.The argument has been put in the past that there's no discrimination against gay people these days, all the relevant laws have been updated to eliminate discrimination but this isn't true.

The government is not omniscient. There's just no legal equivalent to a Certificate of Marriage.

Take for example the case of an Australian citizen forming a partnership with a temporary resident of the same sex. Immigration law recognizes partnerships of such ilk and provides ways of granting the temporary resident partner permanent residency on the basis of the relationship.

If you're a straight couple, you get married, provide a copy of the certificate to Immigration and your partner will be granted a bridging visa. However, if you're gay, you cannot marry. You can still sponsor your foreign partner but now the onus is on you two to provide alternative means of proof to Immigration that the relationship exists and has existed.

You have to prove, by means other than a Certificate of Marriage, that your relationship has existed at least one year prior to applying for a visa. Coming up with such proof is much more onerous than submitting a marriage certificate. This is an example of discrimination - it's one set of rules for married heterosexual couples and another set for homosexual couples who cannot legally marry.



Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 17:48

It says youre a satirist but you seem serious in this article...

Well, if you are serious I must ask: have you heard of the concept of 'consent' before?

Animals can't grant consent, because they cant talk.

Adults in polyamorous relationships CAN consent because they are....adults. And have the uniquely human capability of 'consent'.

It seems youre a victim of the slippery slope fallacy my friend.

Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 14:31

"...Cory’s Cassandra-esque pronouncements..."

Careful, Ben. Cassandra had the gift of (correct) prophecy but the curse to be always disbelieved.