Today’s Opinion: Creating public support

POSTED: 04/5/11 12:03 PM

Dijkstra’s opinion piece about marriage for everyone triggered a lot of reactions. We’ll focus here on those that relate to the situation in the BES-islands.

A Volkskrant-reader called Wansinck remarked that Dijkstra has little respect for Statia’s culture.  “If she is so progressive and as multicultural as D66 can possibly be, she ought to empathize with the real man as he is experienced in the BES-islands. She is shopping selectively by acting a little bit progressive-international while at the same time forcing our friends to give up their culture, because they are now “our municipalities.”

Another reader who identified him (or her)self only as lsbz wrote: “I am against same sex marriages. In California they have given it up fortunately after a referendum. Especially the black population was against it, so it seems to have little to do with discrimination. I do find that civil servants have to be loyal and perform these marriages if they are based on a democratic decision. Otherwise they ought to fund themselves another job.”

To which Matthijs L responded: “Nice argument sir. Blacks cannot discriminate, but whites can? You must be somebody who quickly feels discriminated, but never does it. Probably because of your origins.”

Hendrianus points out that it would have made more sense to find public support first and then introduce marriage for all in the BES-islands. “It is correct that these islands cannot shop in our legislation. But it is an illusion to think that the white man has the ability to create public support. You don’t do that top-down, it has to come from the inside.”

Reader Tertullius made a stand for the opponents on the islands. “The gay lobby keeps refusing to accept that there are simply people who do not support this life style. It would be to the gay lobby’s credit if it accepted that democracy is not the same as ideological equal treatment around a certain aspect of the society.”

We like the argument about creating public support. Indeed, the idea that government are able to create something like that, is a concept that was popular in socialist regimes with a strong belief in the malleable society.

In real life, things don’t work like that. A society, whether it counts 17 million citizens or a just a handful, is a living organism with an evolving set of rules. And usually, government adapts legislation under social pressure.

One example that comes to mind is the history of abortion in the Netherlands. The successive governments that struggled with this issue throughout the seventies certainly did not create public support for legalization. The push for legislation came from the other end. It was a tedious process and a long hard fight for the pro-abortionists, but in the end they prevailed.

So we understand that the government is not too eager to engage in a socialist-style venture designed to create public support for an issue that counts more opponents on the islands than a horse has hairs. The Rutte government will probably let history run its course and leave it up to the islanders to pick up the pieces.

 

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