Last night on the Ten Network’s “The Project ” actress Magda Szubanski spoke in support of gay marriage, and about the fact that she is gay. I’m not going to discuss that in this post because it is really a distraction from her big comment of the night which I’m not sure that anybody really picked up on. Just for the record, I have no problem with Magda being gay. I do, however, disagree with her stance on gay marriage, but I respect her right to hold her view.
The comment that I found most interesting and alarming though, was her comment at the end of the interview. After stating that she would not take a pill, if one existed, to “cure” gay people of a genetic predisposition to being gay, she was interrupted and then sought permission to make one final statement. That statement was this:
If they want to look at a genetic predisposition, look at the genetic predisposition for prejudice and intolerance.
Find a pill that can cure that, put in the water. Bang! Problem solved.
If you want to see the comment for yourself, it’s at approximately the 14:30 mark of this video.
(The embedded video is not working properly in some browsers. The direct link to the video is http://theprojecttv.com.au/video.htm?movideo_p=39696&movideo_m=162684  if you’re having issues watching it. Thanks to Lynn to reporting the issue.)
Now, let’s look at what Magda is advocating here. She wants a pill which cures everyone of prejudice and intolerance. That is patently absurd. Intolerance, in particular, is a perfectly normal part of human nature. We, as people, do not tolerate many things, such as murder, rape, theft, people driving on the wrong side of the road, etc. We are intolerant of many things for our own safety and security, and as part of our own moral code. To go to an example a bit closer to what Magda was talking about, I do not tolerate gay marriage as it goes against everything that I believe in, however I am more intolerant of violent and/or threatening behaviour, and thus would protest against a move to legalise gay marriage, but would not attempt to stop a service if it were legal. I may, however, attempt to have the law overturned.
Prejudice, in this case, would be justified as well. I would not need any information about the people involved to know that I disapprove of a gay marriage. I would, as a simple side-effect of the fact that I do not agree with gay marriage, be justified in being prejudiced against any given gay marriage before it occurred. This fits the definition of a prejudice perfectly (which is “a preconceived preference or idea”). As long as I do not attempt to stop the legal service by force or by intimidation, my intolerance and prejudice in this case is simply my opinion…and opinions are allowed.
Prejudice is also acceptable, for example, in the case of preferring local produce over imported produce. You don’t need to know where the imported fruit, meat, etc comes from in order to reach the conclusion that you would prefer to support local grown products, produced by local people. Without testing the quality of every single piece of imported produce for yourself, you are making that decision on the basis of some pre-formed assumptions (which may be evidence based, but that evidence doesn’t necessarily cover every piece of imported produce), and are therefore prejudiced.
So, to examine the practicality of Magda’s idea of cleansing everyone of intolerance and prejudice, there are two ways in which it could work. People could be tolerant of absolutely everything, resulting in tolerance of murders, rapes, etc. I doubt that this is what Magda wanted to see.
Rather, what Magda appeared to be advocating is cleansing people of particular intolerances and prejudices. In other words, enforcing a particular world-view. This is worse than the “thought police” telling someone off after they have announced their view of something as it is actually mandated thought control. What Magda advocated last night was that governments should spike the water supply in order to make people think a certain way. Apart from the utterly intolerable intrusion in to the mind of the individual, think of the potential of such a move. We might never need elections again as everyone would agree on everything, even which politician should be our national leader and, without any forms of disagreement being possible, our effective dictator.
It was quite frankly the single-most horrifying idea that I have heard put forward on national television for as long as I can remember. I actually doubt that Magda would want any of what she advocated…I suspect that she really just wants everyone to agree with her position on gay marriage, but alas, Magda, one of the great things about our country is that people are free to peacefully disagree about things, and I guarantee you that you do not want to live in a society where thoughts can be banned, or even worse, made impossible by some form of mass-drugging of the population.
(h/t Channel Ten for the image of Magda Szubanski on The Project last night)