All you need is ... sense

The Sunday Times - - OPINION - James Morrow

WHAT is the worst Bea­tles song of all time? Revo­lu­tion 9, the Fab Four’s eight-minute “sound col­lage” laid down in 1968 would have to be up there.

But, no, the most sin­is­ter Bea­tles song of all time would have to be All You Need Is Love. Not be­cause there’s any­thing par­tic­u­larly wrong with the tune, but be­cause 40 years af­ter its re­lease, peo­ple have mis­taken the song’s cho­rus for a se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy.

Any­one who sat through the last sev­eral months of the same-sex mar­riage de­bate, will have no­ticed the way the word “love” was de­ployed by many ac­tivists and sup­port­ers as a be-all and end-all ar­gu­ment for the “yes” case — mud­dy­ing the wa­ters over whether the ques­tion is about ex­tend­ing the right to marry to gays and les­bians or whether they ought to be al­lowed to be in love at all.

And for decades, “luvvie” has been a catch-all word to de­scribe those who go in for the left­ish pol­i­tics of feel­ings and virtue sig­nals rather than hard ques­tions of costs and con­se­quences.

Now there are lots of great ar­gu­ments for same-sex mar­riage, sim­ple equity and fair­ness un­der the law be­ing chief among them. But the love that binds two peo­ple to­gether ex­ists well out­side the purview of any piece of paper granted by the Gov­ern­ment, as well it should.

But love, as any­one who’s ever been in its em­brace can tell you, is an ir­ra­tional beast — and one that’s blind as well.

If any­thing, Aus­tralia — and the world — needs more ra­tio­nal ar­gu­ment, not less of it. Ma­nip­u­lat­ing emo­tions, love, hate, tends to end in dis­as­ter, even if the cause seems like a just thing.

Or to put it an­other way, when you fall back on the cho­rus to a Bea­tles song to win your de­bate, you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready lost.

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