In case you were wondering, yes I saw Miranda Devine’s article about Penny Wong yesterday. Yes, I think it deserves a response. No, I don’t know where to begin either. It’s a rambling, inconsistent, incoherent dribble.

Devine’s point appears to be that fatherless families are the first step on the path to social collapse, riots and looting. Or at least I think that’s what she was trying to say, it’s kind of hard to tell as her article weaves back and forth like a P-plater in a hotted up Honda Civic on the F3. Settle in as we try to figure out what Miranda’s trying to tell us, but please, don’t expect to find enlightenment by the time we reach the end.

Let’s start with Senator Wong’s news.

The fact that Penny Wong’s female partner is to have a baby is a cause for private celebration for them. But why are so many people exhorting the rest of us to celebrate as if this were some major milestone in human civilisation?

Who are these people Miranda? Can you name them? All of the coverage that I saw was measured, especially considering the novel circumstances, which was also the case when Senator Conroy had a child via a surrogate. Where are the people calling for statues and parades?

You’d think no politician had ever had a child before.

Well, we know that Joe Hockey’s wife had a baby, The Australian told us. And we know that Sophie Mirabella had a baby, well, two actually. So I guess Miranda’s right, we have proof that politicians have had children, so there’s no need to comment on Penny Wong at all, under any circumstances, right?

The traditional heterosexual norm of a nuclear family and children is something to be kept in a closet like an embarrassment.

Really? In general, or just in politics? Will I be shunned when I pick my kids up from school with my wife? If it’s so embarrassing then why is the family shot of a politician still such an evergreen cliché?

No one can be a wife or husband any more. Everyone is a “partner”.

Well, everyone except for Margie Abbott, Therese Rein, Janette Howard, Chloe Bryce…… I think we get the picture. Perhaps Penny Wong would prefer to refer to her partner Sophie as her wife? Would that make you happier Miranda?

… others are having a field day, cynically using the four-month pregnancy as a weapon in the relentless push for same-sex marriage.

I’ll take that as a “No” then.

Miranda points out that:

In countries where it has been legalised, there has been no rush to the altar.

Well that settles that then. Oh, wait – Rush is on for gay marriage in New York – maybe not. You’re probably wondering by now what this has to do with the London Riots, don’t worry, so am I, but Miranda appears to be lurching a little bit closer.

You only had to see the burning streets of London last week to see the manifestation of a fatherless society.

The collapse of family life in Britain has been laid bare, reported to have the highest proportion of single mothers in Europe and nearly half of all children suffering family breakdown by the age of 16.

And this is Penny Wong’s fault because? No, really Miranda, can you explain how allowing gay people to marry will make things worse? Isn’t the problem a bunch of heterosexual people whose marriages are falling apart? What has this got to do with lesbian parents?

It is politically incorrect to say so, but the ideal situation for a child is to be brought up in an intact family with a father and a mother.

That’s about as politically incorrect as asking gentlemen to hold the door open or give up their seat on public transport. Does anyone argue that an intact family is not the ideal? Of course an intact family is the ideal situation for a child to be brought up in, usually that means a father and a mother because most of us are straight, but it doesn’t mean that there are no other equally valid family structures.

As a rule, what prevents social chaos and the underclass is an intact family.

To be honest, I’d argue that what prevents social chaos and the underclass is working towards equality and trying to eliminate poverty.

Miranda then makes what is perhaps the worst defence of the institution of marriage ever:

Sure, there are aberrations, and you can always find evils within traditional families, domestic violence and child abuse.

But even this imperfect institution is better than the Hobbesian social chaos the children of the underclasses have been born into for the last 50 years.

Are we clear on that? Bad marriages are better than single families. Lovely. I wonder if it occurred to Miranda that perhaps some of the “incoherent rage” that she sees in these fatherless boys could have anything to do with violence and abuse in the home that is often the cause of marriage break-ups?

And where in Miranda’s theory is the place for those rioters who came from traditional nuclear families, particularly the well off ones? How does she explain them?

Marriage is not just a private relationship: it is a social good

Then shouldn’t we be forcing gay people to get married so that we can get some of that social good? And I’ve got great news for Miranda, there’s actually a fair chunk of the gay community who can be fathers, in fact many of them already are. Surely we should marry those ones up? Imagine how well sorted kids would be if they have two dads.

Miranda tries to finish up by letting us know that she’s not an inflexible ideologue:

obviously, that does not mean that all fatherless households are bad for children.

Wong and her partner, Sophie Allouache, will no doubt be fine mothers

Individually, these things work themselves out

Which makes me wonder what the previous nine hundred words were in aid of, if they’re so easily dismissed? Where is the line drawn Miranda? Do we allow widows to keep their kids, but not divorcees? Can gay people have kids if they promise not to use artificial conception methods? What are you trying to argue?

Miranda has tried to condemn single parent families and gay couples for causing social chaos, but all she’s managed to do is show us how illogical and hollow her argument is.

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