I would say to my daughters, if they were to ask the question, I would say … it is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don’t give it to someone lightly, that is what I would say.
I would have thought most fathers would answer along the lines of "not too lightly". But Abbott's answer unleashed a furious response from the left. Jill Singer, for instance, wrote an outraged article in which she compared Abbott to Osama bin Laden, complained that his response was "pervy," "creepy" and "icky" and raised the spectre of chastity belts.
I was reminded by all this of the way that the left sometimes tries to shut down free discussion of an issue by using its prominence in the media to mock and ridicule opponents. The intent is to intimidate anyone from taking an opposing view.
There are other ways, too, that the left seeks to prevent discussion of an issue from ever getting off the ground. Here, for instance, is Karen Brooks's preferred way of dealing with Tony Abbott's comment:
Seriously, Abbott is entitled to his views, he's entitled to raise his family as he wants and instill in them his faith ... but what he's not entitled to do is discuss "women's issues" (which in many instances are also men's issues - we live together in this society), as if they are homogenous, framed by a Catholic or Christian principle, and as if he, with his very narrow and privileged world-view and experiences, holds the answers.
She's suggesting that someone with a conservative stance on the issue is entitled to hold their views privately but not publicly; that it's more legitimate for a non-Christian than a Christian to express their views publicly; and that it's more legitimate for a worse off person than a better off person to express their views publicly.
It has to be said that these tactics have worked at times for the left. This was particularly the case in Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the left dominated politically. The tactics don't work as well now; there are some prominent right-liberal voices in the mainstream media and alternative sources of opinion on the internet and talk back radio.
Still, it's interesting to witness the left try it on.