Fatherless society – a disaster for our Children

Miranda Devine THE reaction to my column last week  pointing out the perils of a fatherless society is a case study in how  intimidation, vilification, distortion and outright lies are being used  in an attempt to silence unfashionable opinions.

These are the tactics of a new “politically correct McCarthyism”.

In this case gay marriage was the sacred cow that so unhinged people.

The  column was respectful of Finance Minister Penny Wong and her female  partner, who is expecting a baby, and stated that “love conquers all”,  but its assertion that fathers are in general better for children was  beyond the pale for some.

I wrote that Wong and her partner will  no doubt be “fine mothers” providing their baby with “a stable, loving  upbringing, despite not having a father in the home. Individually, these  things work themselves out. Allowances are made, extra effort applied.  Love conquers all”.

On Twitter, people twisted my words, and claimed my column said:  “love conquers all (unless you’re gay)” when it said the precise  opposite.

“I have never felt so much anger towards someone,” was one comment.

“Shame we can’t autocorrect your mind,” was another.

The escalating rage was justified because I was somehow pushing gay teens to suicide, they claimed.

It  was performance rage, played out on social media and low-rent blogs  looking for more hits. But privately, to the email address at the bottom  of the column, hundreds of quite different messages flooded in.

The  column also said that same-sex marriage proponents should not be  “cynically using” the pregnancy as a weapon. And further that the choice  of two lesbians to relegate a father to the sidelines ought not be  celebrated as if it were some major milestone in human civilisation.

The  reason is because as a society we need to uphold the crucial role of  fathers, with the London riots a “manifestation of a fatherless  society”.

Critics then twisted my words, claiming I wrote: “People in London are rioting because Penny Wong is having a baby.”

It  is hard not to draw the conclusion that denizens of social media are  cerebrally challenged. Were they too lazy to read the original column,  or do they lack comprehension skills. Are they so entrenched in their  own beliefs they can’t tolerate another point of view. Are they  paranoid? Or are they just dishonest?

Sydney Morning Herald  blogger John Birmingham retitled my column: “Miranda Devine’s Lesbian  Mums Caused the London Riots”. The Crikey blog had former Democrats  senator Brian Greig call me “News Limited’s Catholic columnist” and  allege that I had “tried to pin the London riots on lesbian mothers”.

Straw men were constructed, and suddenly people were abusing me for a column I had not written but which they insisted I had.

On  ABC-TV’s Q&A on Monday night came an extraordinary question from an  audience member who said: “The criticism of Senator Wong is based on  the homophobic idea that a child is entitled to having both a father and  a mother.”

So there you have it. It is homophobic to say a child is entitled to a mother and a father.

Yet not one person on the panel could find the courage to knock the assertion on the head.

On  Facebook someone published a list of my Facebook friends on a page  called: “Stopping psychotic extremists who want to kill minorities”.  Inviting people to bully and harass my Facebook friends is this person’s  way of trying to silence an opinion he (or she) doesn’t like.

A  cursory glance at these rage-flecked responses offers an insight into  the illiberal mindset of those who pretend to demand tolerance. Or  rather ram it down our throats. This is not tolerance but jackboot  totalitarianism, the tyranny of the minority.

Jackie Stricker, the  lesbian partner of Dr Kerryn Phelps, wrote a letter to this newspaper  calling for me to receive “urgent counselling” and saying my columns  shouldn’t be published.

That’s right. Let’s censor the unfashionable opinions, especially those held by the mainstream.

If  people such as Stricker think their intemperate foot-stomping will stop  people holding these opinions they are wrong. The extraordinary thing  is that the opinion I expressed was unremarkable. It is being echoed all  over Britain right now, in the aftermath of the London riots, including  by Prime Minister David Cameron.

He described the riots as a  “wake-up call” to the “slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place  in parts of our country these past few generations”.

“Children  without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort.  Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities  without control.

“The question people asked over and over again  last week was ‘Where are the parents?’ …Tragically that’s been  followed in some cases by judges rightly lamenting: ‘Why don’t the  parents even turn up when their children are in court?’ Well, join the  dots and you have a clear idea about why some of these young people were  behaving so terribly. Either there was no one at home, they didn’t much  care or they’d lost control. Families matter. I don’t doubt that many  of the rioters out last week have no father at home. Perhaps they come  from one of the neighbourhoods where it’s standard for children to have a  mum and not a dad, where it’s normal for young men to grow up without a  male role model, looking to the streets for their father figures,  filled up with rage and anger.”

The Daily Express points out that  in neighbourhoods such as Tottenham, where the rioting started, “up to  four in five families have no father living with them. This  fatherlessness is the single most destructive factor in modern society”.

The  facts, in study after study, are unequivocal. The Express quotes from  the British think tank Civitas: Fatherless children are “more likely to  engage in behaviour associated with social exclusion, such as offending,  teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse or worklessness.”

Children  living without their biological fathers are more likely to live in  poverty, have more trouble in school, and are at greater risk of  suffering physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Fatherless boys are twice  as likely to be in prison by their early 30s.

In the middle of  the furore this week came an email from a friend, who grew up on a  public housing estate in western Sydney and has spent much of his career  trying to right the many problems he saw there.

“Anyone who  thinks a cadre of fatherless children is good for society,” he wrote,  “has never set foot in a public housing estate.”

Pointing out that  fathers are important is not homophobic. Nor is it an indictment of  individual single mothers, many of whom do a heroic job. But to pretend  that a fatherless society is not a disaster doesn’t delete the truth.


Miranda Devine


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