Young Ben Conroy is still only an intern in the vast underground complex of Iona Central, even if his mother wears the robes of a patron, but mother and son share the same gifts: a complete lack of writing talent, an inability to construct a rational argument and an unerring instinct for creating a public-relations disaster. It’s true that Ben isn’t yet a minion or a henchman. He isn’t even an adept yet, but he has the sneer of contempt for our intelligence and that’s all it takes to be a member of the ludicrous Iona Institute.
Be strong, young Ben, says Breda the Patron. Feel the contempt. Use the contempt wisely, for soon you will have your hands on the levers of power. And tuck in your shirt. Did you eat your dinner?
The Ionanists made a disastrous attempt at giving the young their head today when they posted an article by the Ionasprog, Son of Breda, in which he tried to use the examples of axe-murder and crack cocaine against same-sex marriage.
Clearly, young Ben has inherited his mother’s gift for bad writing and woolly logic, as he demonstrated in this astonishingly inept post on the Ionanists’ blog.
I’ll reproduce it here in full, and of course, if they ask me to take it down, I’ll be happy to do so in the interest of respecting their copyright. However, since it bears their imprimatur, it would be hard to know why they wouldn’t want their wisdom spread as widely as possible. For once, ironically, I am their agent.
What I find touching about this article is Ben’s acknowledgement at the very end that he is in fact talking utter nonsense.
To quote: This post is likely to run afoul of the Problem With Misinterpreting Analogies. So no, I am in no way, shape, or form comparing axe-murder with a child being denied a mother or father. I am using a deliberately silly and over-the-top example to illustrate a principle about guaranteeable rights.
In other words, Ben realises full well that he’s writing bollocks and he seeks to pre-empt criticism in advance.
In some ways, I have to admire him, since he’s the first Ionanist to concede that their technique is to employ deliberately silly and over-the-top examples, but maybe that’s what got him into trouble. Obviously, David Quinn got home after a hard day licking the toes of statues and was appalled to see that the Ionanists had posted a link to this article on their Facebook page.
Down it came. It’s gone.
While young Ben was speculating on the notion of Vincent Browne and his panel being hacked to death by an axe-murderer, and attempting to tie that in to same-sex marriage, did anyone remember that only a year ago, an Iona researcher, Tom O’Gorman, was murdered in horrible violent circumstances by a religious maniac?
Isn’t the Ionasprog’s article a perfect example of the disgusting lack of concern for others that is at the heart of this ridiculous self-styled institute?
It’s hardly a surprise that the ludicrous Iona Institute pulled their Facebook posting of the Ionasprog’s silly article. How long before they quietly drop it from their website?
They can’t have it every way. If Breda sends this boy-child out to lecture grown adults on the public airwaves, she can hardly complain if he comes home with a spanking.
Remember, every child has the right to a mother and father who aren’t members of the Iona Institute. It’s in the Constitution, right?
Ben Conroy’s article.
There’s a persistent idea on the Yes side that notions that the idea of a child having a “right to a mother and father” or “a right to a relationship with their genetic parents” is a nonsense argument because – or so the reasoning goes – the state can’t guarantee it. Their mother might tragically die, their father might walk out, and there’s not much anyone can do about it.
But what would happen if we applied this logic to a few other rights? How about the most basic one – the right to life?
I’m not talking about abortion here, I’m talking about the subset of people who everyone agrees has a right to life – those walking around. The right to life is the single most fundamental human right there is: without it all other rights are meaningless.
But can the state really guarantee this right? Let’s look at a couple of examples.
One of the people who’s pretty convinced that the right to a mother and father means nothing is journalist Vincent Browne. But imagine if a mad axe-man were to sneak into the TV3 studios of an evening and kill Vincent and his unfortunate panel stone dead. The state could certainly prosecute the man after the fact: but that would be no good to Vincent. His right to life would stand thoroughly un-vindicated.
The example need not be so drastic: people have accidents, get ill, grow old. In the end, the right to life is completely unguaranteeable.
What’s that you say? The state can’t absolutely guarantee any right, but it can do whatever is reasonably possible to ensure rights are vindicated?
How can the state preserve Vincent Browne’s right to life in the mad axe-man scenario? It can employ police officers to keep an eye out for masked men with large blades; it can pass laws making it illegal for people to carry axes on the street; it can disincentivise the axe-man from going on a murder spree using the threat of prison.
It can also take more indirect measures: trying to ensure that as many children as possible grow up in circumstances that minimise their chances of becoming axe-wielding maniacs; using the law as an educator to help create an anti-axe-murder culture. In fact, the state does all of these things! So it makes perfect sense to talk about vindicating rights even when that can’t be done with certainty. In fact, if you can think of any right that can be guaranteed with 100% of the time, I’d love to hear from you, because I can’t.
So Vincent’s argument, and that of many who support a Yes vote, would make the right to a mother and father meaningless, but only by making literally every other right meaningless too.
* * *
Another point that’s often raised is that even if the state could guarantee a child’s right to a mother and father, doing so would be absurd, as it would mean the State taking draconian actions like forcing widowed mothers to remarry.
But note: the State is not even doing everything it could possibly to protect Vincent Browne’s life from axe-men. It’s not mandating that he wear body armour, or providing him with security guards at all times. It’s doing everything reasonably possible, given the relatively low prevalence of rogue executioners and disillusioned lumberjacks in Irish society.
It’s the same in other areas, like health. Compromises are made, and realistic lines are drawn. We’re not legally prohibited from eating chips and sausages all day because that would be an unacceptable violation of our freedom: but we’re happy to ban crack cocaine.
So the suggestion that guaranteeing a child’s right to a mother and father requires extreme measures is just wrong. The state can do what it does in other areas and take reasonable action. It can support and incentivise marriage, which encourages mothers and fathers to commit to each other and to their families; it can remove marriage penalties from the social welfare code; it can express a preference for mothers and fathers in adoption law; it can forbid the use of reproductive technologies that deliberately separate a child from one or both of their biological parents; and it can maintain a definition of marriage that keeps a child’s right to a mother and father at its heart.
NB This post is likely to run afoul of the Problem With Misinterpreting Analogies. So no, I am in no way, shape, or form comparing axe-murder with a child being denied a mother or father. I am using a deliberately silly and over-the-top example to illustrate a principle about guaranteeable rights.