I was up later than usual the other night watching a fairly mainstream TV show on a fairly mainstream channel and in the break an ad appeared that initially caught me with its catchy tune. Then I registered the lyrics. The young men in their early 30's were singing, "I'm looking for someone other than my wife…Ashley Madison's right", as they looked through images of equally young women on the computer.
For those who may not know, Ashley Madison is an online dating service launched in 2001. The difference to other dating sites is that Ashley Madison target those who are already married. Their slogan is 'Life is short. Have an affair'.
When the company launched in Australia in 2010 the Advertising Standards Bureau received a host of complaints and the television and billboard ads were subsequently withdrawn. However it is evident that there has not been enough pressure kept up since then, and the ads are back. (If you are one of those people who think a company marketing infidelity is problematic, and have time to let your feelings be known you can visit www.adstandards.com.au).
That our society seemingly approves marital infidelity and breakdown, goes some way to explain the ridiculous situation that transpired in Australia recently when it was discovered that the World Congress of Families (WCF) was due to hold a regional conference in Melbourne this past August.
It all began with a misleading article on the popular but left-sitting website Mamamia accusing the group of just about everything short of war crimes. Whoever wrote the article suffered an apparent inability to separate objective statements about the goodness of traditional marriage and the nuclear family from subjective judgements about individuals who do not hold the same view.
The article led to a string of further inaccurate articles across the media about the purposes of the WCF, eventually leading to federal parliament itself where the Greens Party actually launched and passed a motion calling on members of parliament not to attend the event. In a TV interview the proponent of the motion, Senator Larissa Waters, in her most repulsive tone, called the event participants a "bunch of anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-women people" who were there to endorse "that only some families are legitimate" while "discriminating against LGTGIB, single parents, divorcees". She even had the gall to pull out the religious card and declare that the presence of politicians would send a message that those in non-traditional situations were "somehow sinful and less legitimate than other citizens". Even though no one mentioned anything about sin, it's strange that the secular left remains afraid of sin when they don't believe in a God anyway.
Now of course all these accusations about the WCF would indeed be terrible…if they were true. In response to the attacks the WCF issued a statement signed by 80 leaders of various pro-family organisations around the world stating that their advocacy of the natural family was in no way meant to shame anyone.
They cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which continues to state that men and women have the right to marry and found a family. The statement pointed out that this definition of the traditional family is repeated in the constitutions of over 100 nations. I doubt however that many people read the letter or took time to research the principles of the WCF - which include standing up against pornography and child slavery.
Unfortunately, at the last moment, the minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews MP, who was due to open the WCF conference withdrew, and the conference went ahead in a makeshift venue surrounded by police protection with a bunch of noisy individuals waving placards outside. The WCF organisers stated that the protesters would have been more than welcome to sit in on the conference, but they of course would not agree to sit and politely listen. The brand of tolerance being called for by the protestors was, as usual, fairly one sided.
Those who led the charge in attacking and vilifying the World Congress of Families certainly sit at one end of the political and ideological spectrum, and so their response could have been expected. What is most disappointing (and less and less rare) is the wider societal agreement that their cries elicited.
Those who hold 'traditional' values are unable to any longer look with certainty to the wider society for support; they will instead be labeled as 'anti' one-thing or another. Western society can no longer be said to be one of sound reason, it is simply a reed blowing in the breeze. We condone infidelity in one breath and condemn families in another. We have become a stupid nation, and a stupid nation will eventually reap a harvest befitting of what it sows.
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