Agreeing with Tuohy, Newton’s letter to the editor, “It is nonsense to cling to the past” (The Age 16/11/11) responds to a statement by Julia Gillard, that as marriage has come to “have a particular standing” in our culture it should “continue unchanged”. Newton begins in a mocking tone, replying with “fine words”, inferring that Gillard doesn’t know what she is talking about and swaying the reader to feel that Newton has a more informed argument than Gillard. He continues to attack her, describing her beliefs as a “logical fallacy” and demonstrating that she has fallen a victim to the cliche of “traditional wisdom”.
Newton shifts to a matter of fact and admonishing tone to discuss Gillard’s mistakes, “the error lies”, this compels the reader to feel that Newton is not bias and is stating the facts and to agree with his contention that laws need to reflect changing times. He further persuades the reader by referring to colossal mistakes in history, appealing to the reader’s reason & logic and fear, as he states that “if we applied this logic we would still have slavery, child labour and pre-Copernican astronomy. ” This invites the reader to feel it is sometimes necessary to change legal practices for the benefit and protection of the community.
He then involves the reader directly by exclaiming that Gillard’s wrong decisions are “made on behalf of the nation”, causing them to feel personally victimised by her mistakes. A cartoon image published in The Age (22/11/11) by John Spooner reflects the contention of Newton, portraying the view of moving forwards as some practices can become out-dated. The image satirically mocks the idea of traditional and religious marriage practices through his biblical reference to the infamous Garden of Eden where God created the first humans, Adam & Eve.
It features two “Eves”, which are clearly a couple whose grasp on each other symbolises that they are inseparable and not interested in Adam. The tattoo on one of the woman’s arm symbolises their modernisation, and evolving values, referencing also to Tuohy’s article and the eaten forbidden apples scattered on the ground represent the lesbian couple’s rebellion against God and the “natural” order. Adam is portrayed as upset through his body language and facial expression as he is hunched over and perched on a dead log.
The snake, who can be viewed as a “progressive”, is offering his advice to “not take it so personally” and “get on with it”. He is expressing that same-sex couples will not change and to move on and accept it, clearly supporting the move for gay marriage. The pun, “For God’s sake”, ridicules God’s intentions for Adam & Eve and how the relationship between the women was not how he created the world. The many other fruit trees in the background offer a solution to Adam’s problem, to move on and “find another apple tree”.
In similarity, Tuohy’s article again recognises that aspects of religion and culture have been eroded and are not as highly regarded. Contrasting with the first two articles, Cohen’s opinion piece “tsunami-sized backlash on same-sex marriage looms” (The Australian 12/12/11) immediately attacks the Australian Labor Party for their decision to even consider having a federal conference about gay marriage rather than on the issue of Australia on the “brink” of another global financial crisis.
He goes on to mock them further in a critical tone, and implies that the issue of whether “Bruce and Bob or Barbara and Betty could marry” is unimportant and a waste of time. His use of alliteration catches the reader’s attention, and draws them into his article, giving them a chance to consider his contention and arguments. He further asserts his position that marriage should not be redefined for homosexuals as it is a sacred, traditional act and has been for “thousands of years”.
He illustrates that it is the “basis for family life”, and appeals to the reader’s family values and tradition, while persuading readers that same-sex marriage will deeply affect the value of marriage and the natural order of family life. Cohen then proceeds to speak of “rights”, he recognises that homosexuals should be granted certain rights, demonstrating to the reader he is reasonable and rational. His vote and column on the private member’s bill of John Gorton supports that he “supported all measures to provide equality for gays”.
However he declares that marriage is not to be a right for same-sex couples, comparing it to “polygamy” and “having sexual relations with a 13 year old. ” He uses hyperbole to get an emotional response from the reader as many would feel strongly that polygamy and paedophilia are not “rights” and prompts them to feel that gay marriage is neither a “right”. Cohen progresses to involve children, who he argues will also be affected by the proposal.
He is pushing parents to agree with him by concerning them with the well-being and innocence of their children. Appealing to family values, mixed with negative connotations such as “choke” and “graphic”, Cohen indicates that the change to the Marriage Act to allow for same-sex marriage will have implications affecting others who are not directly related to the issue and targets the parents in his intended audience of the general public and those who watched the Federal conference, compelling them to agree with him that gay marriage is not a “right”.
Although none of the writers are gay and the audience is only aware that Tuohy and Cohen are married, they all have a strong viewpoint on same-sex marriage. While Newton and Tuohy share the same opinion and use of informal language, Newton focuses on the changing times and the mistake of “traditional wisdom”, whereas Tuohy goes into detail on the definition and new significance of marriage, yet still agreeing that times have changed. Cohen’s contention is the complete opposite, arguing for traditional values and consequences it will cause, while using formal language.
Cohen and Newton indirectly rebut each other’s view on “progressives”, while Cohen mocks them and attacks the “progressives”, Newton is all for leaving the past behind and mocks the people who believe in “traditional wisdom”, in a sense is a “progressive” himself. Again, Cohen and Tuohy rebut each other as Cohen claims that marriage is “the basis for family life”, whereas Tuohy states that “one in three babies is born outside wedlock”, she uses the statistic to prove that marriage is no longer essential for Australians to begin a family.