Andrew Wicks

Marriage equality debate highlighting our inability to debate

It’s been a long time coming, but the marriage equality debate has exposed something galling about us. We have no time for the view we don’t agree with.



I’m unsure if anyone else has seen what I have, but the last couple of months has seen the bronzed skin of the national psyche develop substantial melanoma. Overexposure to the UV of disparate opinion might be the diagnosis. The ongoing narrative regarding marriage equality has revealed something about the way we feel toward those who possess a neighbouring view: You need to stay on your side of the fence.

Now, I’m unsure if this is a coming of age thing, and I’m only just realising it, but that golden idea of a unified Australia might be a myth. The halcyon days of Cathy outpacing the world, brandishing both flags seems a long way off. The ‘fair go’ has been replaced with the fair ‘no’. I believe that we might be spluttering from the condition that the United States currently suffers from, where the middle ground is covered in barbed wire, choosing to fire epithets from behind our mental fortifications.

You could easily point the finger at Malcolm and his plebiscite, blaming him for jimmying open the Pandora’s Box of hot takes, but all he did was merely offer a platform for the views that already existed. Prior to this being sped to our letterbox, I believe that we decided to pretend that certain people didn’t exist, pushing oppositional views to their respective corner. Which makes our sudden disbelief that people think that way is rather ironic. The rebirth of One Nation would be a suitable example, with the rhetoric being: Oh God, didn’t we get rid of those lunatics in 1995?

The marriage equality debate has birthed this dormant individual avarice, old in origin, new in intensity. Once that was kept in the lounge rooms of suburbia, it now walks in the public eye. While we recoil in horror, and shake our fists in admonition, the entire issue can be boiled down into a single equation: Neither side can believe that the other believes what they do.


 The entire issue can be boiled down into a single equation: Neither side can believe that the other believes what they do.


From here, confusion quickly morphs into anger. Speculation begins. Why do they think that? Perhaps it’s a lack of education, a surplus of ignorance, brainwashing, or they’re part of a larger plot. They cannot see the truth. So, instead of hearing out the opposite, we choose to fill in the gaps. Eventually, all hell breaks loose. Consider the Reclaim Australia v Rally Against Racism clashes as a violent semicolon to the greater sentence. People grow tired of having words put in their mouths, so they start talking with their fists.

In our everyday lives, we’re all guilty of it on some level. Whatever face takes the form of our antagonist, be it Pauline Hanson, Clementine Ford, Sam Dastyari, Miranda Devine, our eyes roll as the brain shuts off. That person and all that sailed with them are dismissed into the sea. Take a casual stroll in the comment boxes of that publication you deliberately don’t read, and you’ll see this societal construct walks both down sides of the street. I’m not saying that you should agree, but perhaps a greater dialogue is needed. There’s a byproduct of this divisive dismissal, in that many stop caring and shut off. The air of the arena is so caustic, we flee our seats in order to breathe, and often, we don’t return. I’m waiting for political atheism to be our foremost religion after the next Census.

There’s a difference between debate and just waiting for your turn to speak. The problem lies here, is that we don’t believe that the other has the equal amount of rights to a conversation, they’ve voided it with the unsuitable nature of their views. Get back to me when you get some ed-yoo-kay-shun.

I realise everyone is pissed. Whether you believe that the pushback to your views is a resistance by the unjust established ways, or that the current change represents a stripping back of the traditions that make us, us, you should know that there’s going to be some point where we’re going to address each other, as the path we step down will eventually lead us to front row seats at the local production of the 2016 US Election. Many in the US saw each option as a lose-lose, and didn’t bother. Seeing as we’re a nation that loves a donkey vote, consider the same happening here as a real possibility.

The question is, do we want what is happening over there to happen over here?

Regardless on which side you stand on the issue, the direct opposite is always going to exist. But how we treat views we don’t agree with matters. Yes, while we can automatically consign those views to the bin, know that at some point we’ll all join them.



Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks is a country boy with a penchant for movies and sport. After a few years working in health, he decided he'd rather work with today's youth and studied arts and education in rural NSW. His main interests are religion, health and lairy shirts.

Related posts