From an article in the Herald today:
Daycare centres should not be used to teach children about gay and lesbian relationships, says Premier Morris Iemma.
His comments come after a report claimed a Tempe childcare centre uses books that feature characters from same-sex parent families.
The Learn to Include books include titles such as The Rainbow Cubby House, which is about a young girl and her two mothers who build a cubby house in their backyard with a little boy and his two fathers.
but our man Sam comes out with guns a blazin’:
Marrickville Mayor Sam Byrne said the Premier’s comments were an example of the “hysteria” that had erupted over the use of the Learn to Include books at the council’s seven day care centres.
“It’s not a gay rights debate. It’s not sex education. It’s about inclusion and about having material that reflects the diversity of our community,” Mr Byrne said.
“If the Premier, or anybody else out there, thinks that there are not families out there with two mums or there are not families out there with disabilities [or] from different backgrounds, then they are mad. They are crazy. They need to get out and get amongst the people again.”
The reason I mention this article (thanks Mayhem for passing it along) is not because I wish to start a debate on this issue here.
Rather, it’s to consider what Sam says at the end of his quote: “get out and amongst the people”. It’s an important point he makes, and one I’d like to explore, with regards to representational politics.
How much of a bigshot do you have to be to lose touch with what’s going on “in the real world”? To what extent do you lose touch with the “bigger picture” when you’re at “street level”?
I dunno about bigshot out of touch syndrome – it’s more about how clever can pollies be in invoking their allleged connection to the real world.
Politicians – even on local government level where it’s easier to meet a lot of them, are by definition a bit cut off from constituents. the very notion of representation kind of evokes detachment doesn’t it?
Lawsey and channel 9 both mobilise the ‘ordinary people’ thing, so did Pauline hanson, and so does Labour. It’s a fathomless pit of vague possibilities really.
The “of the people” line is a damn fine piece of rhetoric – which I’m all in favour of when it’s ‘my people’ that are being mobilised in the imaginary community and I’m not afraid to use it myself – but it is little more than imaginary.
Real communites are much richer, stranger, more complicated and slippery beasts than a poll or a press release can ever capture.
It has seemed to me, for a long time now, that in NSW at least, the precise moment at politics corrupts is the moment you get a cubicle (as an MP) at Macquarie St?
Apparently you lose touch, with the added bonus of contracting Right Wing hysteria. Good times. AAAAARRRGGHHHHHHHHHH!!
Yay Sam – what a fabulous response. Sensible, measured with just enough “go jump” to be perfect.
In response to your last questions, if I call my little pocket of the inner west “street level” and the majority of Sydney the “bigger picture” I would say that even a “little-shot” like myself would fall victim to losing sight of the real world.
The advantage of living here is that generally people are more accepting of others (or simply don’t register the differences). For example, we had to briefly move to Hornsby to save some cash and my license came up for renewal. Off to the RTA for a bit of standing in line. The person that was serving me was having issues with the computer so I had to listen to him for over ten minutes. Here are some samples of what he said:
“Ohhh. You’re from Petersham. That area’s full of scumbags. Lucky you moved here” (to which I replied that I was planning on moving back there ASAP)
“But it’s full of scumbags. You ever been to Redfern?” (yes, I work near there)
“Really????????? But everyone there is scum. It’s full of poofs and abos” (at this point I was too shocked to reply)
“And they want John Howard to say sorry??? scumbags. They all deserve to go to jail”
I replied that he was offending me, my family and my friends and please stop or I would report him. Lucky he stopped. There was a lot of uncomfortable foot shuffling from us and anyone within earshot!!
I guess the point is that I was soooo shocked at this level of blatant racism and hatred. I hadn’t experienced it for years. It hit me in the stomach and I was shaken up for a long time. The sad thing is that I really shouldn’t have been.
I know that he is a minority (or at least I hope so), I know that there are people like that around here, I’m not completely silly, but I’m sure that there are a lot less than in other parts of Sydney. Living in the inner west is fabulous for this exact reason.
You only see what’s presented to you. I think of a recent conversation I had with my russian girlfriend about wanting to go to live in russia for a while. Not with new russians but with her family and friends in a small town. she asked why and I said “to see what it’s really like”
Why would I get to see what it’s really like? Everyone will know I’m a rich westerner and act accordingly. All the girls will be beautiful and happy to see me and all the guys will be good and loyal friends. All the people who bitch to me will be kicked away by my good and loyal friends who don’t want me to be disturbed by those crazies. Life for me will be good and fat and happy. Unlike for the russians who I don’t get to see because they aren’t good looking enough or with the right connections. It was a very sobering picture of my short lived residency in russia.
I think being a politician is much the same but the sad and scary part…just like sex tourists, the politicians like it that all they see are the whores and boot licks.
Potemkin village describes it pretty well.