Don't Underestimate Cory Bernardi


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.

New Matilda

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.