Respect for the enemy

I was watching Q&A the other night. It’s a show I watch rarely, but enjoy when I do. On the panel on this particular occasion were, along with others, Catherine Deveny and Archbishop Peter Jensen.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I agree with most of Catherine Deveny’s views on most social matters. She is in favour of gay marriage, she’s all for equal rights, feminism, and so on. And, of course, I disagree with virtually everything the Archbishop believes. God, the Bible, and all that goes with it.

So I was rather surprised to find myself respecting Jensen while getting very frustrated at Catherine while watching them ‘debate’ on Q&A. Jensen puts his views forward in an eloquent and dispassionate way, he says that he seeks out intelligent and unemotional discussion, he claims to want to know more facts about a great many contentious issues. He was also courteous towards the other panel members.

Catherine, on the other hand, laid on the sarcasm like it was going out of style, and employed rhetoric to a similar degree. She did not show herself willing to articulate her arguments, relying instead on mocking the points of others. She interrupted other speakers to push her agenda, and failed to keep her answers relevant to the questions. Despite holding very valid views, she utterly failed to articulate why she held them, or why anybody else should agree with her, which seems to me the entire point of a debate.

So, contrary as it might sound, I now have a great deal more respect for a prominent member of ‘the enemy’ than I do for a prominent person from ‘my side’. Fortunately I can see the difference between respect and like, so I don’t have a problem with this, but from comments I’ve read about the Q&A show and about these speakers specifically, other people see my stance as a sort of betrayal; it seems the public will not permit me to hold a positive view of one aspect of a person while maintaining a negative view of another aspect. Too bad, I say, that is how I feel!

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My morning so far

I’m going to start at midnight. It is, technically, the start of the morning, and it is when Aidan and I went to bed after watching the last of Dexter season 5.

Sleep came slowly, and was interrupted at about 1.30am when Evelyn woke up hungry. So I fed her, being careful to burp her frequently (she had a bit of trouble with gas yesterday), and then went back to sleep as soon as she did.

She woke up hungry again at 5.30, as expected, but this time I prodded Aidan and got him to feed her. It was cold out of bed, I didn’t want to get up! However, warmth was all I got; despite being in bed I didn’t sleep while Evelyn was awake.

At around the same time, Elspeth decided it was time to get up. Properly up, fully awake, wanting play time and books. No snuggles in bed this morning, no snoozing till 7. Aidan and I were both up, but he looked more sleepy than me so I sent him back to bed and have stayed up with Elspeth ever since.

It’s now nearly 8am, and I still feel like it’s the middle of the night. I think I will be trying for a nap later!

Bert and Ernie to marry?

A gay rights group is currently collecting signatures on a petition that requests Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie tie the knot!

From the outset, I want to make it clear that I completely support the right of gay couples to marry and have full equality with heterosexual couples.

But marrying Bert and Ernie? I’m not even sure where to start in listing my problems with this.

For starters, B & E have never exhibited any overt signs of being gay. Their behaviour and interactions lead some to believe they’re best friends, some believe they’re brothers, and others think they’re just house-mates. It might be different if they had ever been shown sharing a bed, or holding hands, or partaking in any of the usual behaviours of pre-marital couples. But they haven’t.

Secondly, if they did get married, it would be for all the wrong reasons. As outlined above, there’s no evidence that they are in love, and so the wedding would be a politically-motivated statement rather than a genuine celebration of a dedicated life-long partnership. That’s not a great example for the kids.

Thirdly, why take a long-standing arrangement which is obviously working (for B & E, for the viewers, for the ratings) and change it? Marrying B & E would change their entire vibe, changing Sesame Street itself, not necessarily for the better. It could easily make long-term viewers, who haven’t previously seen B & E as being gay, feel uncomfortable – even those in favour of gay marriage in general.

A more effective move, I feel, would be to introduce new characters on the Street who are already a gay couple. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, and can be dealt with subtly and effectively in a similar manner to what Playschool did a while back. Admittedly that stirred up some controversy, but I’m pretty sure that was mostly media-driven to sell more papers.

And so I say, leave Bert and Ernie alone! They are innocent victims of an over-zealous socio-political movement which, if successful, may even alienate more people than it wins over. Let them continue to live in harmony (or lack thereof, their conflicts being the basis of most skits) as besties, roomies, or brothers.

TV and children

The effect of television on children is something that experts like to blather about at great length. But I  never really expected to be able to observe effects on a day-to-day basis.

On days I turn the TV on early:

Elspeth is more irritable, less interested in non-electronic forms of entertainment, less inclined to read books, more indecisive (“No juice. Juice please.”) and demanding.

On days I leave the TV off for the morning:

Elspeth is happier, enjoys reading, is inclined to “imaginative play“, will spend longer on each activity (longer attention span), is more affectionate, and communicates more effectively.