Piers Akerman – Dinosaur Extraordinaire

The Creation Museum has it right! Dinosaurs and humans co-exist! The point was proven this weekend when Piers Akerman gave his pre-historic views on same-sex marriage on the ABC TV’s Insiders.

Here are some excerpts from the segment:

Dennis Atkins: All of the polling says people support it, anybody under 40, when they’re asked about it, say, “Why haven’t they done it yet?” That’s their point.

Barrie Cassidy: But Tony Abbott conceded that … he said that that’s the prevalent view.

A discussion ensues about how even Tony Abbott has softened his view on the issue, the Liberal Party is looking at the possibility of allowing a conscience vote and how Barack Obama’s view evolved so that he now supports same-sex marriage.

Piers Akerman interrupting the pro same-sex marriage reverie of the other panellists: Barrie! I’m sorry. This may be a big issue for the ABC, but I don’t think it’s a big issue across the country. I think it’s a very low level issue and if you ask Australians what really concerns them, gay marriage or homosexual marriage or whatever , is way down their list of priorities … It doesn’t interest me.

Barrie Cassidy: It goes to your value system …

Piers Akerman: It does go to your value system … well, the question is, “What is a man and what is a woman. What is a marriage?” A marriage is a man and a woman.

Barrie Cassidy: David Cameron says it’s an issue of basic human rights, and I think he’s right.

Piers Akerman: Well I don’t think he is right. Because, if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?

Barrie Cassidy: Because marriage is a basic civil right.

Piers Akerman: It’s a right between a man and a woman.

Barrie Cassidy: No! It’s a basic right for anybody ….

Piers Akerman: Between anybody? Then you’re talking about polygamy, then you’re talking about anything else …

Dinosaur CityReally, I’m almost past being cranky at the likes of Piers Akerman, Jim Wallace and Bill Muehlenberg. Now I’m just embarrassed for them. They are dinosaurs. They have all the hallmarks of antediluvian anachronisms blundering across an unfamiliar landscape, bellowing alarmingly as they find themselves in an environment which no longer supports the bigotry which sustains their kind.

Of course, every age has had its share of dinosaurs. And, as I contemplated the ridiculous sight of Piers Akerman channelling fellow fossil, Corey Bernardi on the Insiders, it occurred to me that, in a different age, Piers Akerman would have been making similarly ridiculous arguments about other issues.

For example, Piers, arguing that “…if you can have all of the social benefits of a civil union without calling it marriage, why do you want to go that extra step?” reminded me of the dinosaurs who argued against those new-fangled horseless carriages. Why would you want a motor vehicle when you can have a perfectly good horse?

As “Royal Blend” said of those faddish contraptions in a Barcaldine newspaper in 1896:

“… it is reckoned the whole idea will fizzle out in time like any other amusing toy invented for adults. The horseless carriages are described as clumsy to handle, awkward around corners, and utterly useless for climbing hills. To pull a tram-car that one horse can draw, an engine of six-horse power would have to be provided.”

Yep, just like same-sex marriage, horseless carriages are a passing phase, it will never catch on.

“This may be a big issue for the ABC, but I don’t think it’s a big issue across the country,” said Piers, suggesting that popular support for same-sex marriage is just some kind of media beat-up.

Yet, when a Senate Committee called for submissions into an inquiry into same-sex marriage they received an unprecedented 79,200 submissions – 46,000 of which supported the proposition.

Similarly, when the House of Representatives Committee launched on online poll to seek voters’ views on the issue, it received over 250,000 responses with a strong majority of 64 per cent favouring marriage equality.

It reminded me of how the dinosaurs of times past talked about another ‘very unimportant matter’.

“It appears to me that when Parliament meets the first thing to be considered will be women’s suffrage, and a lot of valuable time will be wasted on a (very unimportant) matter,” complained “Locus Standi” in a letter to the editor of the South Australian Chronicle on 2 June, 1894:

“Women’s suffrage is certainly not required at the present. Will 30 per cent of those who signed the petitions vote? … The temperance parties, who are considerably in the minority, are only asking for it. Then why should the minority rule the majority?”

And, like Akerman’s objections to same-sex marriage, “Locus Standi” had good reason to oppose the shocking idea of women being allowed to vote!

Opposed_to_suffrage“If women are given the power to dabble in politics things will soon come to a pretty climax in South Australia. Would it not be most unbecoming to see women with infants in their arms (especially on a wet day) wending their way through mud and rain to the polling-booth, and in nine cases out of ten give an informal vote? …

Who will cook the dinner, clean up the house, prepare the children for school, and attend to a score of other things that require looking after every day in a well-conducted and regulated house? If such a ridiculous thing were permitted it would be a severe blow against society … Some of the noisy election meetings ,would not be a fit place for women to attend ; home darning socks would suit them much better, leaving political matters to their husbands to look after.”

Yes, there have always been dinosaurs who have been happy to argue on moral grounds against granting equal rights to others.

As Piers suggests, allowing same-sex marriage is just the start of the slippery slope to total moral decay. He would, no doubt, have found a soul-mate in “Locus Standi” who reasoned:

“… if women are to be placed on the same footing as men as regards political matters, they should also be allowed the privilege of occupying seats in Parliament. That is what it must certainly come to in the end. Now is the time to have it nipped in the bud.”

In The Queenslander on 9 June 1866, for example, “Australasian” fears that if the Americans grant suffrage to ‘negros’, who knows what liberties might be given to non-Anglo-Saxon Australians!

Coloured rule“… As well give the suffrage to apes … The common sense of the Anglo-Saxon revolts against it … No white Australian wants to sit in Parliament with John Chinaman, or wishes to discuss the tariff with an aboriginal member from the Murrumbidgee. Negro suffrage involves the necessity of negro representatives in Congress, and at the very mention of such a phenomenon your religious emancipationist starts back in horror.”

Ah yes, no good Christian could countenance sitting next to a coloured person on the parliamentary bench. It would be like … like … well, like allowing homosexuals to get married! Unchristian, ungodly and unthinkable! Whatever would Jesus think about policies which seek to include those on the fringes of our society – women, people of colour, homosexuals? Well, we know, don’t we. Just consider how he treated those who were discriminated against in his own time – lepers, tax-collectors, gentiles, prostitutes. Oh, oops, that’s a rather an inconvenient analogy isn’t it?

You see, for all the arguments that might be made about the basic civil rights of homosexual couples to marry, the bottom line, for Piers, is that it is as morally repugnant as polygamy, bestiality or incest. I couldn’t help but imagine Piers as one of sea bathingthe dinosaurs who so vehemently opposed the unthinkable practice of mixed-sex bathing on Australian beaches. As “Reformer” argued in Adelaide’s “The Register” on 13 November 1916:

“… what may be the result, afterwards, of their being in one another’s company while there is but a single layer of thin fabric separating them from complete nudity? … I maintain that mixed bathing should be abolished. Although the young people may exercise restraint while in the water; they have received the incitement to evil.- The result or effect of mixed bathing is the evil and the only way to remove the effect is to remove the cause.”

“… the question is,” growls Piers, “’What is a man and what is a woman? What is a marriage?’”

Answering his own question he asserts: “A marriage is a man and a woman.”

Dinosaurs like Piers Akerman have always argued that equal rights cannot be granted to others because … well …. because those people who say they want to be equal are just not the same as us. Take those female upstarts from the women’s lib Women's Libmovement of the 70s who thought women should have equal rights and equal pay. As DP Kenny of Nedlands, Perth pointed out in the Women’s Weekly of 6 December 1972:

“As a mere male, may I say that Women’s Lib. is doomed to ultimate failure. It is founded on the fallacy that women,were they but given the opportunities, could be man’s equal. Why the disgruntled advocates of this movement should want to emulate men remains a mystery. Men, it seems, have no ambition to be other than masculine, as God made them. Women, todav, are becoming more and more ungodly in their irrational determination to get rid of their femininity – their most formidable weapon in the time-honored battle of the sexes.”

We can learn a lot from history. There have always been arch-bigots and arch-conservatives who have tried to stay the tide of progress. All have failed. Today, their foolish bigotry is preserved in the archives like insects preserved in amber. We can read their humorous arguments against horseless carriages, women’s suffrage, racial and sexual equality and marvel that anyone could have been so short-sighted, so prejudiced and so narrow-minded. Just so, in the not too distant future, there will be those who, long after same-sex marriage is as commonplace and uncontroversial as horseless carriages and women’s equality, will stumble across the rantings of a long forgotten blowhard called Piers Akerman and think, “Ah yes, just another dinosaur. How very wrong he was. Silly, silly man.”

Chrys Stevenson

28 thoughts on “Piers Akerman – Dinosaur Extraordinaire

  1. Glenn Watson

    It does seem strange that opposition to an issue so “low down in the list of priorities” is so high a priority. You don’t defend from the turrets of a sandcastle with an AK-47.

  2. Eric Glare

    Excellent and funny-tragically. Really Akerman isn’t an extraordinary dinosaur – he fits in well with the other examples through history, possibly the same genus.

    I was reminded of telling my fundamentalist Christian grandmother about seeing a fossilised and opalised dinosaur skeleton that tour my school when I was 8 or 10. She told me dinosaurs weren’t real and just people getting horse and cow bones all mixed up. She wouldn’t listen to the skeleton being completely the wrong shape.

  3. Helen McBride

    Brilliant! Just brilliant – and very funny reading as well. Thank you Chrys!


  4. Bruce Poon

    Hilarious. And of course, there are some, amazingly, still consider it OK to discriminate against others because they happen not to share our species. Ridiculous for all the same reasons, and opposed for all the same lame prejudices (they don’t think like we do, they don’t feel pain like we do, it will ruin the economy).

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  6. nina390

    hang on- the negro suffrage movement was led by Christians! Like the union movement,the anti-slave movement the female suffrage movement (in South Australia) . .so on and so on.

  7. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

    Perhaps you need to brush up on your history a little. Certainly ‘some’ Christians supported progressive policies, just as some Christians support same sex marriage. However, the vast majority were opposed and used the Bible to rationalise their opposition.

    1. Christians on slavery:

    “The doom of Ham has been branded on the form and features of his African descendants. The hand of fate has united his color and destiny. Man cannot separate what God hath joined.” United States Senator James Henry Hammond

    “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God… it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation… it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” –Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

    “The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.” –Rev. R. Furman, D.D., Baptist, of South Carolina

    “There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral.” Rev. Alexander Campbell

    2. Christians on women’s suffrage and equality:

    “The appropriate duties and influence of woman are stated in the New Testament…. The power of woman is in her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of the weakness which God has given her for her protection…. When she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer… she yields the power which God has given her… and her character becomes unnatural.” – Council of Congregationalist Ministers of Massachusetts

    An early femnist slogan was “No gods, no masters”.

    Prominent US suffragette, Elizabeth Cady Stanton said: “From the inauguration of the movement for woman’s emancipation the Bible has been used to hold her in the ‘divinely ordained sphere’ prescribed in the Old and New Testaments.

    The canon and civil law; church and state; priests and legislators; all political parties and religious denominations have alike taught that woman was made after man, of man, and for man, an inferior being, subject to man.”

    Australia’s most influential early feminist was Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry. Both were atheists. Lawson was influential through her publication, Dawn. Louisa was known as “the mother of womanhood suffrage”.

    The Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society was founded in 1884 by Henrieta Dugdale – an atheist. Dugdale blamed the mosigyny of the Christian church for the subjugation of women, describing Christianity as a form of despotism designed by men to humiliate women.

    3. Christian judge invoking God to argue against interracial marriage:

    “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. ” — Statement by Virginia trial judge in 1959 case that led to 1967 U.S. Supreme Court striking down laws in 16 states that prohibited interracial marriage.

    4. Christian support of the civil rights movement:

    “I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

    Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church.” – Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

    In Arkansas, a statement signed by eighty ministers explained the Church’s view on integration:

    “This statement is not made with any enmity or hatred in our hearts for the Negro race. We have an abiding love for all people . . . [But] [w]e believe that the best interests of all races are served by segregation …We resent the implication by certain liberal ministers that it is un-Christian to oppose integration. We believe that integration is contrary to the will of God … is based on a false theory of the ‘universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.’ We believe that integration is not only un-Christian, but that it violates all sound sociological principles and is not supported by Scripture or by biological facts.”

    5. Christian argument against Negro suffrage:

    Every hope of the existence of church and state, and of civilization itself, hangs upon our arduous effort to defeat the doctrine of Negro suffrage – Robert Dabney, a prominent 19th century Southern Presbyterian pastor

    6. Christianity and the union/Labor movement

    Ernest H. Barker, the general secretary of the Australian Labor Party, holds forth in an article entitled, “The Church is Weighed and Found Wanting.” He is quite emphatic in his statements. “The attitude of the Labor Movement in Australia to the Church is one of supreme indifference. There is little or no point of contact between the two and apparently neither considers the other in its activities and plan of campaign…. The Church preaches the brotherhood of man. What brotherhood can exist between the wealthy receiver of interest, profit, and rent and the struggling worker who sees his wife dragged down by poverty and overwork, and his children stunted and dwarfed physically and intellectually between the underworked and overfed commercial or industrial magnate and the underfed, overworked denizen of the slums? … The Church is put on trial in the minds of men. They ask, ’What did the Church do when we sought a living wage, shorter hours of work, safer working conditions, abolition of Sunday work, abolition of child labor?’ The answer is an almost entirely negative one. The few instances when church officials have helped are so conspicuous as to emphasize the general aloofness…. In how many of the advanced ideas of our time has the Church taken the lead? Is it not renowned for being a long way in the rear rather than in the vanguard of progressive thought and action? It resents any challenge to its ideas, doctrines, or authority.”

    Henry Lawson (atheist) on early Australian trade unionism (1890):

    “Trades unionism is a new and grand religion; it recognises no creed, sect, language or nationality; it is a universal religion – it spreads from the centres of European civilisation to the youngest settlements on the most remote portions of the earth; it is open to all and will include all – the Atheist, the Christian, the Agnostic, the Unitarian, the Socialist, the Conservative, the Royalist, the Republican, the black,and the white, and a time will come when all the “ists”, “isms”, etc., will be merged and lost in one great “ism” – the unionism of labor.”

    Pioneer Australian unionists included Chummy Fleming and Monty Miller – both atheists. Proto-unionism in the form of Chartism which underpinned the Eureka Stockade was led primarily by atheists. Note that at the Eureka Stockade, miners swore ‘by the Southern Cross’ – not by God.

    Sources: http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/biblical_evidence/history_lessons.html
    Stevenson, Chrys (2010), ‘Felons, Ratbags, Commies and Left Wing Loonies’ [a history of Australian atheism] in Bonnett, Warren (ed) Australian Book of Atheism, Scribe.

  8. palmboy

    He certainly is a dinosaur – but is he a stegosaurus, triceratops or one of those awkward looking flying things with the big flappy wings?
    I reckon he would be the latter – flapping around and making lots of noise and carry-on about nothing!!

  9. Paul

    Thanks Chrys. Well put. He certainly is a dinosaur. They ruled by might is right, survival of the strongest. Society has moved on from that to support the weak and disadvantaged. We no longer abandon unwanted babies to die and we take care of the old and infirm rather than abandoning them to die. We are not entirely successful but at least we aim to ‘human’. I do object to the idea of a ‘conscience vote’. Politicians are there to represent the electors. They should not vote according to their ‘conscience’ but according to the wishes of their electors.
    They should not vote according to the ‘party line’ but should be given a ‘representative vote’ to vote according to the majority of their electors. In this case the the electors are overwhelmingly in favour of equal rights and the vote should be a ‘no brainier’ and certainly not a vote according to the ‘conscience’ of some of the dinosaurs we have supposing lay representing us.

  10. dandare2050

    This sort of thing is why I love you Chrys.
    Dianne and I had the misfortune of watching that episode of Insiders. The thing that struck me most was how unwilling the others were to wrestle P.A. to the ground on the issue. They were cringing cowards. If you had been there I think we might have got some terrific “reality TV”.

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  13. Wendy Smith

    Chrys, Jesus liberated women when he asked… “Those of you (men) without sin, cast the first stone. The apostle he chose to follow him (Matthew) was a tax collector, Mary Magdalene was an adulteress and prostitute, he healed the lepers, Jesus himself was a Jew, and therefore a person of colour, and he blessed the Gentiles and made them equally as worthy as the Jews to inherit his kingdom. Sounds like a fair minded bloke to me. His Father ordained marriage specifically between men and women for the purpose of procreation. I suppose meeting half way, perhaps gays who want to be parents should be able to marry Piers is far from a dinosaur. He is a Christian man with morals.

      1. Wendy Smith

        I’m a big Mahatma fan too Chrys. Finding true Christians is as hard as finding true Politicians. Politicians are supposed to be independent thinkers in parliament fighting for their constituents wishes according to their own consciences… even the so called ‘independents’ aren’t doing the constitutional right thing by their constituents by aligning themselves with parties.

        The brief time I have known Piers Akerman’s views on politics and life in general from his blog has me understanding the things he values in his own life. He had a bit of a wayward youth, and has had many life experiences he’s learned from. He has grown spiritually as you would expect everyone should by his age, and I find him a generous, kind human being. He has spoken to me many times off topic, and has helped me enormously. I can not say what anyone else’s experiences with him have been like, but Chrys, I can say that for what it’s worth, and in the biblical sense, now, he is a Christian man. Not perfect of course, but always willing to listen and learn as well as teach. You can’t aspire to do more than that eh.

  14. Fred

    If you dont want to hear a point of view……… just call them a name….. that’s it: a dinosaur!

  15. Me so sad

    Why are leftards always doing evil stuff?
    Like killing babies.-abortion.
    Killing old folk.-euthanesia.
    Importing murdering religious nutters.-islam
    condoning sodomy.-gay whatever.
    Taking advantage of people who care.-global warming.
    Being cruel to animals.-no grazing in national parks,while cows starve.
    Calling people names.-denier,racist,dinosaur etc.
    Art that is just filth.
    Education that is thinly disguised indoctrination.
    Always demanding a huge slice of what others work to produce.
    Saying God doe’s not exist while doing all this satanic stuff!
    and lies! so many lies!-Orwell warned of leftards aka the filthy rotten,corrupt layber pardee.

      1. Wendy Smith

        I disagree, Cross-eyes. God would be kranky that ‘Me so sad’ left out one of His most important human rights gifts that the new Labor Feminazi Movement are trying to abolish. The stifling of our freedom of speech in the guise of Political Correctness.

        Shame on you, Me so sad.

  16. bob

    akerman literally has nothing of substance to offer the public discourse of australia. yet murdoch gives him a pointless platform. pointless, because if you have read akerman once, you’ll never need to bother again, because, it’s basically the same fact lite rant everytime. a broken record of anti gillard vitriol (her election win truly did singe the political self entitlement located deep in the right’s heart) & pro coalition fuzzy love.

  17. Julie

    Most of the ageist and left wing comments remind me of the the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”. The middle aged, overweight character is taunted by a group of youths who take her parking space. She responds by smashing their car out of the parking space. She climbs out of her Cadillac and says very calmly, “I may be fat and old but I’m also richer and smarter”. Akerman is a male version of that character.


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