Monday, May 17, 2004

Why was Hinch a grinch?

On the weekend Australia's Mary Donaldson married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The wedding was a great success in Australia with more than a million tuning in to watch the late night live broadcast.

There was one voice of protest though. Derryn Hinch, a broadcaster on the "right wing" 3AW station, began his show with a criticism of the events. Why was he so disapproving?

Hinch disliked the fact that so much attention should be paid to Crown Prince Frederik, who, in Hinch's view, is "a man lauded purely because of circumstances of birth" and whose "only claim to fame was being to the manor born" and whose position has "nothing to do with talent".

Hinch here is simply being true to his liberal philosophy. Liberals believe that we should be self-created by our own will and reason. This means that things that we inherit or are born to shouldn't influence the role we play in life. Yet, Crown Prince Frederik does occupy a particular role because of an "accident of birth".

Hinch, therefore, is only applying liberal philosophy logically and consistently. His attitude, in other words, has little to do with any unbiased, personal response to watching the wedding. He is simply following through with an intellectual principle which became the orthodoxy many generations ago.

So Hinch was made a grinch by his stubborn attachment to liberalism. Many of his listeners, though, took a less ideological view of the wedding, and responded very positively to Mary Donaldson's grace and elegance, to the happiness of the public celebrations, and to the displays of both Danish and Australian national feeling.


  1. There is another thing I find interesting about the media/liberal response to a royal wedding that has clearly touched many, if not most, Australians.

    Recently, the peak country women's association finally brought to an end their tradition of singing "God Save the Queen" at the start of every meeting. The media presented this as a "blow for monarchists", and implied (as they often do) that this was one more step in the interminable process of abolishing the monarchy. The media salivate at the prospect that an institution that once meant so much to so many might soon be destroyed, to be replaced with - nothing.

    On the other hand, I have not heard any of the media apparatchiks describe this overwhelmingly popular wedding as "a blow to the republicans at a time when support for their cause is waning" (which polls indicate it is). The wedding's popularity has not been described as "a sign that the pageantry of monarchy (or the institution of marriage!) remains dear to the hearts of many Australians" or that "this demonstrates once again that monarchy transcends the petty exclusionary nationalism that lies at the heart of so much of our country's republican rhetoric" (ok, I got a bit carried away with that last one).

    The wedding was at midnight Friday, but by the following working day (today) the story was nowhere to be seen.

    Nevertheless, the contrast between scrooges like His Excellency Richard Butler and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark cannot but be lost on the Australian public.