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Beware the cobweb-draped hand of the motherland.
April 28, 2011 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Australian comedy troupe The Chaser (best known for breaking into the APEC summit in 2007) have been banned from reporting on the Royal Wedding by the Royal Family. The Chaser respond.

Britain is also cracking down on anarchists ahead of the wedding. They have arrested professor of anthropology Chris Knight, who planned a Zombie Wedding/Right Royal Orgy protest which may still go ahead. Elsewhere, comedian Stewart Lee has offered his Wicker Man/mystical style take on the wedding.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (168 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Chaser hasn't been funny for a long, long time so I really can't get upset about the banning. If only they could be banned from Australian tv for all time.
posted by Wantok at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somebody abolish the monarchy already. What a waste of space.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:06 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Geoffrey Robertson in today's Age, on the bigotry and absurdity inherent in monarchy:
The bedrock of the Australian constitution - the law which defines our head of state - is the 1701 Act of Settlement. It is a blood-curdling anti-Catholic rant that enshrines Protestant religious beliefs in the succession to the throne. This means that any monarch who holds communion with the Church of Rome or who marries a Papist - heaven forbid a Muslim or Methodist or Scientologist - is immediately dethroned. The act imposes anti-meritocratic race discrimination: no one unrelated to this German family (the Windsors changed their name from Saxe-Coburg Gotha during the First World War to disguise their familial relationship with the Kaiser) can aspire to the crown.
[...]
These constitutional laws are obsolete and obnoxious, and in some cases very silly. For example, ownership of every wild swan is vested in the monarch, and in the case of ''the royal fish'', the head of every whale, sturgeon or grampus landed in the United Kingdom (it is not clear whether this law extends to Australia) belongs to the king and their tails belong to the queen. The monarch is entirely immune from legal action - which would be tough luck for any tourist who happened to be run over today by a royal motorcade hastening to get to the church on time.
posted by robcorr at 6:14 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This doesn't bode well for the Bugle's claims to being the official podcast of the Royal Wedding. Their preview of the ceremony involved Prince William shooting a horse in the head "in a tradition as old as time."
posted by Beardman at 6:14 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Chaser hasn't been funny for a long, long time so I really can't get upset about the banning. If only they could be banned from Australian tv for all time.

I was going to get my brother a Chaser book but it was just a lame ripoff of The Onion. They even had an article lampshading it. Still, with every bloody channel covering the wedding it was the best we were going to get. It's not like Australian humor is a very fertile genre.

I really love the Stewart Lee version of it, and though he's joking those sort of mystical correspondences actually would make me tune in and are a large part of what I love about Britain.

As it is I'll probably watch ancient Doctor Who episodes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:17 PM on April 28, 2011


I thought they were hella funny in the Outback Steakhouse.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:23 PM on April 28, 2011


Dame Edna is a lot more scathing than the Chaser, but even her involvement isn't enough to get me to switch on.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:26 PM on April 28, 2011


Somebody abolish the monarchy already. What a waste of space.

At the very least, I call my fellow Americans to NOT FUCKING GO ALL SQUEE OVER THE ROYAL WEDDING! IT'S... JUST WRONG!

George Washington launched a sneak attack on Christmas morning against a bunch of hung-over German mercenaries so we wouldn't have to give a rat's ass about the Royal Family of the UK. And when Americans get all misty over British royal weddings...

It's just wrong.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [24 favorites]


I want commentary by Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Micheal Moorcock and Terry Pratchett. They'd probably give it much more significance than it deserves, not less.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:31 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


At the very least, I call my fellow Americans to NOT FUCKING GO ALL SQUEE OVER THE ROYAL WEDDING! IT'S... JUST WRONG!


My fellow Americans care too? I thought the disease was confined to the Commonwealth.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:31 PM on April 28, 2011


This doesn't bode well for the Bugle's claims to being the official podcast of the Royal Wedding. Their preview of the ceremony involved Prince William shooting a horse in the head "in a tradition as old as time."

Christ I love those guys.
posted by dialetheia at 6:35 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the government is cracking down by arresting people who are throwing orgies? Do I read that correctly?
posted by boo_radley at 6:36 PM on April 28, 2011


So the government is cracking down by arresting people who are throwing orgies? Do I read that correctly?

Probably "for their own safety" cause the EDL would have beaten them up, or something.
posted by Jehan at 6:37 PM on April 28, 2011


It's not like Australian humor is a very fertile genre.

I think the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the third largest comedy festival in the world, would beg to differ.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


Interesting episode of Q&A last night considered the Rebublican/Monarchist argument. The Chaser's Craig Reuccassel was on the panel.

The discussion seemed to be heading in the direction of "well it kind of works, and we can't really be buggered changing it".

(As for the wedding, I'm just really interested in seeing the dress :) )
posted by prettypretty at 6:40 PM on April 28, 2011


The discussion seemed to be heading in the direction of "well it kind of works, and we can't really be buggered changing it".

THAT'S AUSTRALIA'S RESPONSE TO EVERYTHING
I used to join the #qanda Twitter brigade (even got one of my tweets on the screen) but they started airing Dexter at the same time. At least Dexter only has one sociopath, and he's at least charismatic.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:42 PM on April 28, 2011


I’m thinking of going over just so I can buy a bag of delicious Hearts and Rings and Other Nice Things. I do fear for that cupid bear, he appears to have his bowstring wrapped around his back.
posted by unliteral at 6:44 PM on April 28, 2011


So the government is cracking down by arresting people who are throwing orgies?

For some reason I read this as "the government is cracking down by throwing orgies". I considered it to be a fresh take on urban policing, and a substantial improvement on the Met's usual tactics.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:45 PM on April 28, 2011


I dunno about the Commonwealth states, but it makes perfect sense that Americans would be fawning over this - the Royals are the ultimate global celebrities.
posted by absalom at 6:53 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno about the Commonwealth states, but it makes perfect sense that Americans would be fawning over this - the Royals are the ultimate global celebrities.

What? Have you *seen* Prince Phillip? This is not the face of a 'cool' man.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:02 PM on April 28, 2011


Wow. Watch the video of those three people being detained if you haven't already done so. It's pretty chilling that they're being arrested for nothing more than planning to protest.
posted by Jehan at 7:05 PM on April 28, 2011


Forget The Chaser, they should have got Roy and HG to call it.

I do actually mostly agree with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" argument. Mostly, because I would like to see our system retained exactly the way it is, except chop off the monarchy at the top. We can still call the top guy the governor general. Pick them the same way. Just get rid of the useless royals, and the system may well achieve perfection.
posted by Jimbob at 7:34 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


From The Chaser's letter to the Queen:
To ensure that our coverage was respectful, we were only planning to use jokes that Prince Phillip has previously made in public, or at least the ones that don't violate racial vilification laws. We've also filmed a joke about hunting grouse which we think you might enjoy.
Well. They just lost all of my support.
posted by grouse at 7:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Forget The Chaser, they should have got Roy and HG to call it.

The only funny Australian comedian is Shaun Micallef.

I wonder if the wedding will show up in Doctor Who, like the London Olympics did. That was pretty silly.

I do actually mostly agree with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" argument.

I really, really, really hate that view. Then again, perhaps the Australians do need to be under the aegis of an older country for a few more decades.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:41 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? Have you *seen* Prince Phillip? This is not the face of a 'cool' man.

Holy cow! Do they not have someone in Buckingham Palace to help the guy out a little in the hygiene area? Some royal barber, perchance? I mean, you'd need Indiana Jones and his machete to bushwhack through those Eyebrows of Doom.

Dude.
posted by darkstar at 7:43 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hell’s Granny Tricoteuses bloc

Oo,OO!
posted by clavdivs at 7:43 PM on April 28, 2011


I wonder if this will cancel out the Anglophilia that Doctor Who should be bringing back to all right-thinking people. As a young science fiction and fantasy fan I thought of England as the cradle of everything right and civilized and that still hasn't left me completely. The current monarchy seems so dull, though. Perhaps the Prince should not have married a commoner. If you're going to be about symbolism and pomp, go all out. Marry an heiress or a princess or a model or a fictional character or something.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Didn't Prince William's beau have dreads not so long ago? Or was that considered unseemly?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:50 PM on April 28, 2011


The only funny Australian comedian is Shaun Micallef.

if you qualified that with an "...on television", then you might be close to correct. But as it is, you are doing a great disservice to fantastic comedians we have in this country. The Sydney Comedy Festival is on now, perhaps you should take a look.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:54 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do actually mostly agree with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" argument.

I really, really, really hate that view.

Why?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:55 PM on April 28, 2011


I mean, you would think someone with dreads would be rather sympathetic to anarchist causes. Of course, she also probably wouldn't be marrying a royal if she did.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:55 PM on April 28, 2011


I really, really, really hate that view. Then again, perhaps the Australians do need to be under the aegis of an older country for a few more decades.

Not be all "rah rah we're the greatest country on earth" or anything, god forbid, but I'd love for you to point out other governmental systems on the planet that have maintained stability, fairness and democracy for longer than the Westminster-style parliamentary system enjoyed by Australia, NZ, Canada etc.

I only have to take one glance at how democracy "works" in the US to know we don't need to take any lessons from there.
posted by Jimbob at 7:58 PM on April 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


I do actually mostly agree with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" argument.

I really, really, really hate that view.

Why?


It seems really defeatist, and leads to horrible situations being tolerated.

if you qualified that with an "...on television", then you might be close to correct. But as it is, you are doing a great disservice to fantastic comedians we have in this country. The Sydney Comedy Festival is on now, perhaps you should take a look.

I saw Stephen K Amos. Besides, I'm just recovering from all the Bluesfest sideshows. Australian humor just doesn't suit me. But even The Chaser would be better than nothing.

It's odd to compare our fawning over the royals with the vitriol and bile that greeted Oprah's visit here. And she, in some way, was chosen by the people.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:59 PM on April 28, 2011


Not be all "rah rah we're the greatest country on earth" or anything, god forbid, but I'd love for you to point out other governmental systems on the planet that have maintained stability, fairness and democracy for longer than the Westminster-style parliamentary system enjoyed by Australia, NZ, Canada etc.

Exactly. And right now we're under the umbrella of Britain. I'm talking more culturally than politically. Australia is very young, and there's a grotesque, half-savage side of it that is perhaps held in check by Britain. Not that America is any more sane, but it seems like Australia is a child that should be under parental watch for a few more years.

Maybe voting for a Republic and casting off the monarchy would be that moment when it can become an independent, adult country.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:01 PM on April 28, 2011


Australia is very young, and there's a grotesque, half-savage side of it that is perhaps held in check by Britain.

How is it held in check by Britain? The one constitutional crisis of any importance in the last century, the only thing that the Queen may have in some way played a role, was handled instead by the Governor General. Not that it was handled particularly well, but I would like some examples of actual political and constitutional ways in which Britain holds us "in check", beyond vague cultural memories.
posted by Jimbob at 8:11 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jimbob, thanks for that. I was trying to think of how to phrase a similar response, but all I could come up with was "GRRRRRAAAARRRR".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:13 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, Lib is talking shit about Australia again! He's gone and poked them with a stick. It's about to get hot in here. Gonna grab some ones that are cold to watch today's edition of "USians are like this, Australians are like that" unfold in this thread.

Remember the real enemy , people!
posted by KingEdRa at 8:14 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Exactly. And right now we're under the umbrella of Britain. I'm talking more culturally than politically.

This is so true! All those Australian kids going to exclusively British movies, aping British fashions, adapting to British cultural and political norms. I hear that one Sidneysider even chose the internet handle 'du Maurier in London' because he was so heavily influenced by British culture, that he simply wasn't aware of the culture of the United States.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:16 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Chaser hasn't been funny for a long, long time so I really can't get upset about the banning. If only they could be banned from Australian tv for all time.


Not quite the point Wantok - But I would rate their incursion into APEC as a high moment of Australian comedy.

Anyway what damage are they going to do?

(sadly I'm old enough to remember 4zzz's very good royal wedding simulcast where that crew just watched the 9 telecast and broadcast what they saw.)
posted by the noob at 8:17 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember the real enemy, people

The dread Marshmallow Emperor?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:19 PM on April 28, 2011


Jimbob: “I only have to take one glance at how democracy "works" in the US to know we don't need to take any lessons from there.”

Well, to be fair, you don't have to want everybody to become fast-food-slinging know-it-all Americans, nor want to overthrow the entire governmental system, to be anti-monarchist. In fact, there seem to be plenty of anti-monarchist Australians and Brits who don't seem very keen to reproduce the American system in their governments.
posted by koeselitz at 8:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not be all "rah rah we're the greatest country on earth" or anything, god forbid, but I'd love for you to point out other governmental systems on the planet that have maintained stability, fairness and democracy for longer than the Westminster-style parliamentary system enjoyed by Australia, NZ, Canada etc.

I only have to take one glance at how democracy "works" in the US to know we don't need to take any lessons from there.


Mmm. Since the conclusion of World War 2, has the monarchy really played a significant role in the political system of the UK? As I understand it, the Westminster-style parliamentary system could work just fine without the monarchy, since all they are are bascially glorified ribbon-cutters and hand-wavers.

I suppose my question would be, if we guillotined every single royal in the UK today, would the Westminster system collapse? My guess is no. Some people might be mildly outraged and you might see a bit of hand-wringing, but I suspect things would chug along just fine.

I guess the tabloids might have to lay off a third of their staff, but that's not a big loss.

As for Commonwealth countries - there's a wide range, with some still acknowledging the Queen as the monarch and others having completely thrown off the oppressive yoke of the imperialist monarchies some decades ago. Of course we'll never really escape the long, grasping, insidious tendrils of British cultural hegemony but that's okay, I like having tea and scones. Shakespeare makes up for some of it too.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:22 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


SUPPORT THE MUNICIPALITY!
posted by KingEdRa at 8:22 PM on April 28, 2011


In fact, there seem to be plenty of anti-monarchist Australians and Brits who don't seem very keen to reproduce the American system in their governments.

Well, that's exactly how I am. LiB seems to be suggesting that our system is broken, and that we should fix it, and that we are a bunch of parochial childish woos-bags for not wanting changes to our system beyond getting rid of the monarchy. I can't see how "change for change's sake" trumps "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
posted by Jimbob at 8:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember the real enemy, people

The dread Marshmallow Emperor?


The Judean People's Front!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Judean People's Front!

I believe you meant The People's Front Of Judea.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:43 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


SPLITTERS!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:44 PM on April 28, 2011


Personally I don't see an issue in maintaining the monarchy, I suppose its mainly because I don't want to put up with another round of punctilious windbaggery from "PROFESSOR" David fucking Flint. Also I think I prefer having the queen as head of state, she's a harmless old thing, even if she does own every fish tail in the land - Far preferable to say a Bush or (dare I say) a Trump.
posted by the noob at 8:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since the conclusion of World War 2, has the monarchy really played a significant role in the political system of the UK? ... there's a wide range, with some still acknowledging the Queen as the monarch and others having completely thrown off the oppressive yoke of the imperialist monarchies some decades ago.

I believe that this is called 'trying to have it both ways'. Either the monarchy is an inactive, meaningless anachronism or it's an active, oppressive yoke; it can't be both. ;-)

In my opinion, limiting the scope of history to 'since WWII' is too narrow. The monarchy fulfills two constitutional roles:

1. to act as a locus of national feeling and sovereignty which transcends political parties and, thus, allows us to make fun of the prime minister all we want and;

2. to act as a last-ditch constitutional safeguard against the government going crazy and becoming purely despotic.

In order to turn the army on the people, Tienanmen style, the government would have to bring the monarchy on board, because the army swears allegiance to the monarch, not the parliament. In this respect, the monarch would be much harder to suborn than an appointed or elected GG, because the Royal Household has absolutely no need to rely on the political favour of the regime of the day, and has strong internal institutional-cultural mechanisms to prevent anti-democratic and military-authoritarian ideology from taking hold.

So if you want to know the last time the monarchy played a role in the political system of the UK, and of the other countries in the Crown Commonwealth, look a little further back than 'since WWII'. But not too much further! Look to the courage and leadership of poor, stammering George VI, a man who spoke seldom, and rarely well, but who spoke a truth which galvanised his people.

This is an unfashionable view, of course, and one which will find no favour among those who think that the path to independence and national dignity comes from abandoning all history and aping the metropole. But for those of us in the Crown Commonwealth, when we tear down our monarchy, when we tear down its dignity and mystique, we tear down a pillar of our democracy and freedom. And yes, that dignity and mystique may well be an illusion, but it is a useful illusion, and every bit as important as those other illusions of the kindness of humanity and the majesty of democracy, that animate our society and bring out the best in it and in us.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [25 favorites]


By god Dreadnought, you've made me cry
posted by the noob at 8:47 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, you've convinced me.

God save the Queen!
posted by Jimbob at 8:51 PM on April 28, 2011


Also, I had this image in my head as I read your post, Dreadnought. Apologies.
posted by Jimbob at 8:56 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Monarchy as pillar of democracy and freedom. Now I've heard everything.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:57 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dreadnought, that was beautiful, but, you know, a WRITTEN constitution which seperates and defines the powers of the government achieves the same thing without a bunch of largely inbred welfare queens arresting people for having orgies and banning comedians from poking some fun at the head of state. Just sayin'. (As a matter of fact, I think this was LiB's larger point all along).

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:00 PM on April 28, 2011


Now, can we all go back to making up silly royal names for ourselves again, please?
posted by KingEdRa at 9:04 PM on April 28, 2011


So if you want to know the last time the monarchy played a role in the political system of the UK, and of the other countries in the Crown Commonwealth, look a little further back than 'since WWII'.

*cough cough*
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:07 PM on April 28, 2011


Dreadnought: the government would have to bring the monarchy on board, because the army swears allegiance to the monarch, not the parliament.

Americans pledge a similar allegiance, but it's to a flag and the Republic for which it stands. The monarch in your argument is nothing more than a symbol representing the country. The Queen's symbollic function could easily be replaced by a flag, a pony or a teapot.
posted by rh at 9:10 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regarding *cough cough*, Liz Windor said:

"As we understand the situation here, the Australian Constitution firmly places the prerogative powers of the Crown in the hands of the Governor-General as the representative of the Queen of Australia. The only person competent to commission an Australian Prime Minister is the Governor-General, and The Queen has no part in the decisions which the Governor-General must take in accordance with the Constitution. Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, is watching events in Canberra with close interest and attention, but it would not be proper for her to intervene in person in matters which are so clearly placed within the jurisdiction of the Governor-General by the Constitution Act."

Once again, I don't want to look like I'm defending the monarchy, but the example you provide is one that explicitly wasn't done by the Queen.
posted by Jimbob at 9:12 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


For fuck's sake, LiB, if you're going to be snarky, at least be right. The 1975 constitutional crisis was dealt with by the Governor General, not the Queen.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:13 PM on April 28, 2011


Whoops, beaten to the punch by Jimbob.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:14 PM on April 28, 2011



For fuck's sake, LiB, if you're going to be snarky, at least be right. The 1975 constitutional crisis was dealt with by the Governor General, not the Queen


Who is the representative of the Queen of Australia.

Or do I misunderstand what that means?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:14 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just about to make that point, LiB.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:16 PM on April 28, 2011


Lovecraft, clearly you're fascinated with the cultural mysteries of your new home, which is good and intellectually engaged and all, but could you at least acknowledge in the tone of what you write that what is mysterious to you might not be to others? And not just Australian others, but other expats who have lived there longer and figured it out?

Because saying "Australian humor just doesn't suit me" before saying "it's not like Australian humor is a very fertile genre" would have saved a bunch of people the trouble of pointing out that you don't know, yet, what the hell you're talking about.

And on a related note...

THAT'S AUSTRALIA'S RESPONSE TO EVERYTHING

it seems like Australia is a child that should be under parental watch for a few more years

perhaps the Australians do need to be under the aegis of an older country for a few more decades

No, wait, this is the best:

a grotesque, half-savage side of it that is perhaps held in check by Britain

That, my friend, is champagne comedy.
posted by rory at 9:22 PM on April 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "The Sydney Comedy Festival is on now, perhaps you should take a look."

TRY OUR WONDERFUL TABLE WINES.
posted by boo_radley at 9:23 PM on April 28, 2011


Or do I misunderstand what that means?

Yes. See here.

The GG has specifc powers under the constitution that a mere representative of the Queen (who is not specifically appointed as GG) does not have. Those powers include the reserve powers, being the powers exercised in 1975. The GG didn't have those powers because he was an representative of the Queen, he had them because he was a specific constitutional officer. See the difference?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:25 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who is the representative of the Queen of Australia.

But he doesn't need to be. You could remove the Queen, the monarchy, from the whole equation and things would have transpired as they did. We could establish a model where the GG is the representative of the Sacred Bat of Don Bradman, and The Bat would respond with "It's not my problem, the GG is dealing with it."
posted by Jimbob at 9:25 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "The Sydney Comedy Festival is on now, perhaps you should take a look."

TRY OUR WONDERFUL TABLE WINES.


Goes well with the veal.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:26 PM on April 28, 2011


That, my friend, is champagne comedy.

Oh, the D Generation.... we miss you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:28 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jimbob had the right idea, I think. Dissolve the formal relationship between the British monarch and the Australian government and formally vest the Governor General with the same powers of President in a non-monarchist parliamentary democracy. But then, I am not Australian, nor do I live there, so take my thoughts with the same grains of salt that non-USians bring to the table when criticizing the US' form of government.

Although I'm not forgiving you for foisting Paul Hogan on us back in the 80's. That's some serious grounds for war right there.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:28 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although I'm not forgiving you for foisting Paul Hogan on us back in the 80's. That's some serious grounds for war right there.

I believe I speak for all Australians when I say we surrender, unconditionally.
posted by Jimbob at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2011


Jimbob had the right idea, I think. Dissolve the formal relationship between the British monarch and the Australian government and formally vest the Governor General with the same powers of President in a non-monarchist parliamentary democracy.

Why not just make the person we elected leader the full leader of the government? Crazy, I know.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2011


Jimbob had the right idea, I think. Dissolve the formal relationship between the British monarch and the Australian government and formally vest the Governor General with the same powers of President in a non-monarchist parliamentary democracy.

Yeah, it's a good idea. A lot of us voted for it.
posted by rory at 9:34 PM on April 28, 2011


Why not just make the person we elected leader the full leader of the government? Crazy, I know.

Because that may well totally suck ass.
posted by Jimbob at 9:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yep. France, Italy, the USA. Complete failed states descending into anarchy and ruin. Australia's economic prosperity has nothing to do with the minerals boom and everything to do with an overseas monarchy. I'm so silly not to have seen it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:39 PM on April 28, 2011


Something Awful weighs in
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:43 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually Italy was a bad example, now that I read further. I was confused about Berlusconi's position. Seems their parliament elects their president. Kinda what I advocate.

The system in the US, however, where the main qualification to being leader of the whole government is to be a millionaire who can buy the most ad time on TV, and make promises you can't keep because of a hostile legislature, seems like a backward step.
posted by Jimbob at 9:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lovecraft, who are you even arguing with there? Jimbob is clearly a republican. The argument against a directly-elected president is about maintaining a functioning parliamentary democracy, not about retaining the monarchy.
posted by rory at 9:46 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jimbob had the right idea, I think. Dissolve the formal relationship between the British monarch and the Australian government and formally vest the Governor General with the same powers of President in a non-monarchist parliamentary democracy. But then, I am not Australian, nor do I live there, so take my thoughts with the same grains of salt that non-USians bring to the table when criticizing the US' form of government.

I don't know, that sounds like it's right on the money to me.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:53 PM on April 28, 2011


Oh don't mind us. We just like to argue from completely different axiomatic positions in the hope it will entertain the crowd.
posted by Jimbob at 9:53 PM on April 28, 2011



Lovecraft, who are you even arguing with there? Jimbob is clearly a republican. The argument against a directly-elected president is about maintaining a functioning parliamentary democracy, not about retaining the monarchy.


I wasn't too aware of the distinctoin, though the whole Rudd/Gillard thing sorta made it make some sense.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:56 PM on April 28, 2011


Why not just make the person we elected leader the full leader of the government? Crazy, I know.

Because they would have to rewrite their whole constitution AND reorganize their political structure. Never underestimate the historical origins of the US Constitution: No More Kings. That's why we have the Seperation of Powers in our Constitution. Australia and other Commonwealth/former Commonwealth countries are in the historical process of devolving from a monarchy, rather than revolting AGAINST a monarchy. Think of it this way: In Australia, the equivalent of The Speaker of The House (The Prime Minister) runs the country. They can be removed by the appointed President (Governor General). Back home, we have the opposite system: The elected President runs the country, who can be removed from office by the Congress in a process overseen by the appointed Justices of the Supreme Court.

What we all share in common, though is the pernicous influence of money and bullshit in government undermining our natural rights
posted by KingEdRa at 9:57 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wasn't too aware of the distinctoin
Parliamentary systems -when compared to presidential systems- are characterized by having a different type of separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, leading to a different set of checks and balances. Parliamentary systems usually have a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state, with the head of government being the prime minister or premier, and the head of state often being a figurehead...
posted by Kerasia at 10:03 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]



What we all share in common, though is the pernicous influence of money and bullshit in government undermining our natural rights


I was informed that as an Australian I don't have any rights.
So why not just get rid of the Head of State and just have a Head of Government?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:05 PM on April 28, 2011


So why not just get rid of the Head of State and just have a Head of Government?

Why not get rid of the President and just let the speaker of the house sign the bills?
posted by Jimbob at 10:13 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As an Australian, living in the US, I feel qualified to pass judgement upon your entire culture. Prepare to be enlightened, Americans!
posted by Brooklyn In Lovecraft at 10:22 PM on April 28, 2011 [23 favorites]


Your favorite form of government sucks.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only funny Australian comedian is Shaun Micallef.

I really, really, really hate that view. Then again, perhaps the Australians do need to be under the aegis of an older country for a few more decades.

Absolutely. Combining your suggestions, why don't we just elect Shaun Micallef as the head of state of Australia? That way, Australians would be freed from the heavy responsibilities of participating in a democracy, and would be free to enjoy the only funny Australian comedy.
posted by Brooklyn In Lovecraft at 10:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


LiB, I love you but you're bringing me down (I keed, I keed). Please see my above comment. What you're asking for is a full-on dissolution of the State and establishing a completely new constitution. This is No Small Thing. From the comments in this and other threads from Australians, there really isn't a strong enough desire for this down there at this time. Don't get me wrong-- I can understand where your coming from, having grown up in a country where you have certain rights expressly guaranteed by the US Constitution, which you don't have in your new country's Constitution. I'd be freaked out by it, too. That said, the parliamentary system has worked out (more or less) for countries that have devolved from being part of empires. It is not without its faults (same can be said about the US, BTW), but it works for them. Cut them some slack, if for no othe reason but your own piece of mind. I worry that you really are becoming Lovecraft in Brooklyn.

Why not get rid of the President and just let the speaker of the house sign the bills?

John Boehner? Fuck that noise. I'l take my US checks with my US balances, please.

As an Australian, living in the US, I feel qualified to pass judgement upon your entire culture. Prepare to be enlightened, Americans!
posted by Brooklyn In Lovecraft at 1:22 AM on April 29 [+] [!]


And, lo The Sock Puppets arose from the Heart of The Dreaming, full of venomous bile and snark.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:33 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, lo The Sock Puppets arose from the Heart of The Dreaming, full of venomous bile and snark.

Somebody paid $5 to make fun of me and my ill-informed political views. That's... an accomplishment, I guess. The name's pretty silly... shoulda gone with Hatecraft, like Scooby Doo did.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:39 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Canadian constitution guarantees more rights and freedoms to GLBT people than the US constitution - and manages it with that pernicious monarchy thing.

so does Australia have no written constitution? I thought they had one like us (first the BNA act, then the Constitution Act of 1982). Of course, the UK has been doing fine for a few hundred years without a written constitution, but I didn't know if they had any fellow travelers.
posted by jb at 10:43 PM on April 28, 2011


Somebody paid $5 to make fun of me and my ill-informed political views. That's... an accomplishment, I guess. The name's pretty silly... shoulda gone with Hatecraft, like Scooby Doo did.

Don't take it too seriously. A little gentle mocking seemed in order.
posted by Brooklyn In Lovecraft at 10:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder what The Crown's opinion of Scooby Doo & Mystery Inc. reporting on the Royal Wedding would be? *Big reveal as mask is pulled off Government Censor* "Prince Phillip!" "And I would have gotten away with this, too, if it wasn't for you meddling peasants!"
posted by KingEdRa at 10:46 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somebody paid $5 to make fun of me and my ill-informed political views. That's... an accomplishment, I guess. The name's pretty silly... shoulda gone with Hatecraft, like Scooby Doo did.

That's how you know you've finally hit the big leagues on Metafilter.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:48 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was informed that as an Australian I don't have any rights.

Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!
posted by Brooklyn In Lovecraft at 10:56 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Australia and other Commonwealth/former Commonwealth countries are in the historical process of devolving from a monarchy, rather than revolting AGAINST a monarchy

It's more than that. Australia didn't have to revolt against a monarchy because the British did it first, and the Americans did it next. The Glorious Revolution of 1689 ended the divine right of kings and established parliament (and its leader, the prime minister) as the seat of power. That was the end of the British monarchy as anything more than a figurehead. What America overthrew in the War of Independence was British rule - the monarchy was a convenient scapegoat, but it was Westminster that levied all those taxes that got Americans' backs up. Westminster tried to centralize aspects of American administration to itself and paid the price.

Losing the American colonies taught Britain not to try the same with Australia when our colonies agitated for independence, so ours was a negotiated separation rather than a forced one. With the goal of Australian independence peacefully achievable, there was no particular need to remove the monarch as figurehead, because the monarchy had already been powerless for two hundred years. If the UK hadn't annoyed Americans with all those taxes, but instead had negotiated an amicable parting of ways, the US might well have kept the crown too.

Over the 20th century the last vestiges of legal power of the United Kingdom over Australian affairs were removed (such as right of appeal to UK courts), until by its end there were none left. The Queen of the United Kingdom doesn't have any power over Australian laws or government. There's a Queen of Australia, who happens to be the same person, but even she doesn't have power over us in any meaningful sense. In the Australian system the reserve powers (of refusing assent to laws, or dismissing governments) rest with the Governor-General; and although that person is the Queen's representative, the Queen has to appoint as Governor-General whomever the government of the day advises her to.

So all that's left of the monarchy in Australia is a figurehead; and republicans argue that a properly Australian figurehead would make more sense in this day and age than keeping this nominally Australian one who lives in, was born in, and also happens to be the monarch of, Britain. It's all about the symbolism, rather than any power that kings and queens actually have over us (because they don't); but symbolism matters.
posted by rory at 10:59 PM on April 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


so does Australia have no written constitution?

We've had one for 110 years.
posted by rory at 11:01 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, I should just have said "established parliament" rather than "(and its leader, the prime minister)", because the role of prime minister took longer to settle down.
posted by rory at 11:04 PM on April 28, 2011


It's all about the symbolism, rather than any power that kings and queens actually have over us (because they don't); but symbolism matters.
posted by rory at 3:59 PM on April 29 [+] [!]


You travel in a magic box with the second most powerful symbol of Britain, so you would say that.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:07 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Losing the American colonies taught Britain not to try the same with Australia when our colonies agitated for independence

That and they didn't have to because there were about nine people living here at the time
posted by the noob at 11:08 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Americans pledge a similar allegiance, but it's to a flag and the Republic for which it stands. The monarch in your argument is nothing more than a symbol representing the country. The Queen's symbollic function could easily be replaced by a flag, a pony or a teapot.

It might very well be cheaper to employ a teapot than a monarch, but I think it might be rather difficult to keep the generals in line with such a system.

Please understand that every country sees the ways of the other as alien. When I was a kid, my friends and I thought the American pledge to the flag was inexplicable: 'but how could you betray a flag? It has no feelings! ... and both sides could carry it and then who would you follow?' What I didn't understand then, and understand now, is that the 'flag' was sort of metonym for the whole system of republicanism, a system grounded in many decades of history (including a nasty civil war) and constantly reinforced by public ceremony and so on.

In its first function, to provide a locus for national feeling and sovereignty, the monarch might well be replaced by a teapot, although such a replacement would take many, many decades to have the same psychological and historical impact. In its second function, to separate out the locuses of daily authority and personal loyalty, a teapot would never be able to do the job. It wouldn't have the history behind it to command the loyalty of the army, nor would it be able to decide if and when to step in and call for an election (thus ensuring the peaceful overthrow of a despotic government).

Please understand that for us, this as essential a part of our system as the 'separation of powers' is to the American one. Indeed, many of us consider this to be a Good Thing, because it allows us to have a more or less completely apolitical judiciary and a much faster moving legislature than the American system allows for. It also gives us certain ancillary benefits, like the fact that each university is essentially separate from the state, which helps bolster academic freedom.

I appreciate that this might be difficult for somebody who grew up in the American system to understand. Indeed, as American ideas become the norm in our societies, many of my compatriots are beginning to see our own system as alien (I've written about this in the Canadian context here).

But a constitutional order is a delicate thing, and very often when one knocks it down, it takes many decades for something truly resilient to build up in its place. The system we have now is losing favour because the USA is the cultural leader of the English speaking world, and American things seem normal and the Way of the Future. But I believe that struggling to fit our systems into an American model by simply lopping off bits of the constitutional order of the state is a bad idea. A GG, appointed or elected, will never be as resilient as an ancient monarchical order, nor does it capture the imagination and the heart in the same way. The Americans have their flag, and their fife and drum bands, and their presidency which is every bit as pompey and many times more expensive (and hardly less dynastic! ;-) ) than our monarchy. Were we to follow their example, it would not be enough to declare the GG to be a 'president'. We would need to substantivelly rebuild something like what we have now, only at greater expense and with the added and irreversible cost of destroying a 'social artifact' every bit as real and valuable as a historic building or a work of art.

Let's not destroy our history and remove a stabalising part of our constitutional order because of what, in the long run, may turn out to be a whim of political fashion for republics.
posted by Dreadnought at 11:09 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Somebody paid $5 to make fun of me

Considering you pop up in every Australian thread to tell us we're quite nice but we do everything wrong, from comedy to democracy, are you really surprised people would take the piss? I guess it's our half-savage side breaking through. Descended from convicts and all that. Like children who need some firm guidance from the Queen and Americans on the internet.
posted by robcorr at 11:16 PM on April 28, 2011 [21 favorites]


the monarch might well be replaced by a teapot

I'm cool with that. As long as we get to vote for the teapot.
posted by robcorr at 11:20 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


the monarch might well be replaced by a teapot

oh not the minimalist model again!
posted by the noob at 11:27 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You travel in a magic box with the second most powerful symbol of Britain, so you would say that.

I'm... not sure how to make fun of that. Well done, sir.
posted by Brooklyn In Lovecraft at 11:40 PM on April 28, 2011


When I was a kid, my friends and I thought the American pledge to the flag was inexplicable

Actually, the US armed forces swear an oath to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States in the presence of the US Flag. The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag has no formal legal standing or basis. As far as this USian is concerned, it is a pernicious piece of extra-constitutional jingoism designed to indoctrinate children into The Cult Of Flag Worship (Central Tenet: My Country, Right or Wrong!), which all too frequently passes for patriotism around here. I'd be happy with the damn thing being abolished and a recitation of the the preamble of the Constution and The Bill of Rights being substituted in its stead.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:41 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Their preview of the ceremony involved Prince William shooting a horse in the head "in a tradition as old as time."

Kate Middleton, with a grave nod from Prince William. Let's get our facts right, people!
posted by the cydonian at 11:55 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm cool with that. As long as we get to vote for the teapot.

Dangerous territory. People would probably elect some trashy aluminium thing, or be convinced to vote for a coffee plunger. I would rather a respectable teapot be chosen by a 2/3 majority in Parliament.
posted by Jimbob at 12:11 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


the monarch might well be replaced by a teapot

I'm cool with that. As long as we get to vote for the teapot.


Sure we could go down that road, but would a ceremonial teapot as head of state be able to sell as many collectible teapots as our current head of state? We might inadvertently destroy the memorabilia and other assorted tat industry! This is why constitutional change requires significant consideration.

Also, I'd like to point out that Shaun Micallef was well ahead of the curve, as he was making silly videos about cats in the 90's.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 12:17 AM on April 29, 2011


Somebody paid $5 to make fun of me and my ill-informed political view

Closer to $4.50 these days.
posted by pompomtom at 12:19 AM on April 29, 2011 [17 favorites]


I can just imagine the campaign attack ads:

"My opponent says he is a little teapot, short and stout. But is that REALLY his handle? And what ABOUT his spout? Time to tip him over and TURN HIM OUT! Vote Keurig!

*My name is Harold K. Cup, and I endorse this message*
posted by KingEdRa at 12:19 AM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why not just make the person we elected leader the full leader of the government? Crazy, I know.

posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn


You really don't understand parliamentary democracy do you? What's that old line? Something about looking like a dog who has just been shown a card trick.

Limiting the power of the executive is the whole point of democracy in the first place. That's actually what your written constitution is all about. Not that you would know this now, since that document is frequently ignored or reinterpreted.

Part of being an ex-pat in a strange country is dealing with difference. It can take awhile. But learning that the cultural propaganda we all carry around in our head is just that, cultural propaganda, can be a rewarding experience.
posted by aychedee at 12:28 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"My opponent says he is a little teapot, short and stout. But is that REALLY his handle? And what ABOUT his spout? Time to tip him over and TURN HIM OUT! Vote Keurig!

I think it's time the electorate understood that he's not a teapot AT ALL!
posted by pompomtom at 12:31 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh Lovecraft in Brooklyn, you do make me so angry sometimes. And then I think about what I would be like if I lived in the US. And I forgive you. Because I would be far far worse.
posted by awfurby at 12:44 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


In Australia, the equivalent of The Speaker of The House (The Prime Minister) runs the country.

I hate to be this guy, but the Australian equivalent of The Speaker of The House is called The Speaker of The House. Or sometimes we call him Harry Jenkins.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 2:08 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


PercyBysheShelley, obviously one to one mappings between the AU and US roles don't exist, but surely it's fairer to say Boehner ~= majority leader in the lower house ~= Gillard than, Boehner ~= Jenkins, even if they do have the same title?
posted by adamt at 2:23 AM on April 29, 2011


I'm late to the party, but just wanted to add to the below the fold info.

The 'crack down on anarchists' has been taking place over the last 24 hours, with a number of squats/social centres raided (including, and god knows why, a gardening project). The Met claim that this is nothing to do with the royal wedding, despite having boasted earlier in the week that they'd take pre-emptive action.

Meanwhile, anarchist organisations had previously stated they weren't protesting the day, basically because it's a bit irrelevant.

Chris Knight is not an anarchist, despite the media claims. He hangs around the CPGB, though rumour has it they turned him down for membership. He's largely a self-publicising stunt-meister, and seems to delight in playing into the media/police's hands. Doesn't justify the arrest, but as his proclamations arguably helped provide the cover for the squat raids I won't be shedding too many tears.
posted by spectrevsrector at 2:33 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


surely it's fairer to say Boehner ~= majority leader in the lower house ~= Gillard than, Boehner ~= Jenkins, even if they do have the same title?

Yes, I'm just being pedantic.

I would however argue that its fairer to say that Gillard is equivalent to Obama than Boehner, even if they have some strong similarities. Gillard's most important powers aren't shared by the US SOtH- the ability to select the cabinet, the ability to call elections (technically this power belongs to the Governor General, but in practice the PM sets the date and asks the GG to call it), the ability to dismiss and appoint Governor Generals*. The Prime Minister is like a hybrid of the US Speaker and the US President.

*If the Speaker of the House had the ability to fire the President, US politics would be very, very different.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 2:50 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dom Knight answers some frequently axed questions about the Chaser cancellation.

TL,DR version: he wouldn't mind if someone made fun of his wedding, but since he's not the physical and legal embodiment of the state and planning a military flyover, it's unlikely anyone would bother; it's not about freedom of speech, it's about broadcasting rights; they were aware there would be restrictions, but not that Clarence House (?) and the BBC would apply them arbitrarily (Dame Edna and the 7PM report have been allowed); the royal wedding rules are similar to those which apply to footage of our own parliament; commenting on the radio wouldn't work so well because they were going to be quiet during the serious bits like vows, etc and the scripted gags were mostly visual.

PS: LiB, it is well past time for you to stop saying derogatory things about Australians when it's clear you don't have a grasp of our basic history and facts. Lurk moar Ask questions instead of stereotyping, and quit it with the insults for now. They're not funny unless you're right.
posted by harriet vane at 2:59 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


alright, this is pretty disturbing: As Craig noted on Q&A last night, the royal wedding rules are similar to those applying to footage of our own Parliament, of whose proceedings satire and ridicule are expressly prohibited. It's hard to see how, in a robust democracy, there can be any justification for protecting the speeches of parliamentarians from mockery, and the same problem exists when restricting public events involving our rulers, who are another element of our government.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:23 AM on April 29, 2011


of whose proceedings satire and ridicule are expressly prohibited.

Then why have I seen that footage of Rudd picking his nose so many damn times?
posted by Jimbob at 3:30 AM on April 29, 2011


Ok, LiB, here's the thing. In America you have that shit written down. You're allowed to do what the hell you want (for the most part) because HEY IT SAYS THAT SHIT RIGHT THERE. Well, you would be able to if the US government didn't shit all over their constitution all the time. Very few Americans seem to care about that.

Here in Australia, we don't have that shit written down. It goes unspoken. It doesn't deserve to be dignified in text. We have our freedoms, and if someone tried to inhibit them then people would go apeshit. Writing it down and making it law cheapens it.

It's like saying to your wife "I insist on standing up while I piss" - it's a conversation that shouldn't even need to happen. You stand up while you piss and you get offended if anyone suggests otherwise. You're sure as hell not going to make a poster saying "I DON'T SIT DOWN WHEN I PISS" and put it up in your toilet just in case the situation arises.

I think I said it in a different thread a while back - you argue ideals while other people in this reply with reality. Ideals are nice and all but reality is a better place to live.
posted by gronkpan at 3:36 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most important thing to take away from this post is that I now know when the new series of Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle starts. Handily enough it's after I knock off work so I actually get to watch it.
posted by longbaugh at 3:37 AM on April 29, 2011


You travel in a magic box with the second most powerful symbol of Britain, so you would say that.

Come on, Amy's only been in the show a year - I don't think she's that powerful yet.

A point I forgot to make before... the issue with voting directly for a president in addition to a parliament is you could end up with two leaders duking it out the whole time. We wouldn't end up with the US system, we'd be like France. Which wouldn't be the end of the world, but it's a much bigger change to the system of government than replacing Liz with Dame Joan Sutherland on our coins, and even less likely to get up in an Australian constitutional referendum.
posted by rory at 3:37 AM on April 29, 2011


I think I said it in a different thread a while back - you argue ideals while other people in this reply with reality. Ideals are nice and all but reality is a better place to live.

I was quoting an Australian comedian from Australia writing about Australian laws which make his job (usually paid for by the taxpayers in Australia) harder. In Australia.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:38 AM on April 29, 2011


I was quoting an Australian comedian from Australia writing about Australian laws which make his job (usually paid for by the taxpayers in Australia) harder. In Australia.

I read this thread and was making a comment about what seems to be your overall point.

Who were you quoting though? I'm interested for a few reasons and I'm fucking impressed if you've kept a whole argument going quoting a comedian that manages to live on government funding.

If you're talking about that symbol in a box comment then let me know who you were quoting anyway so that I might get the reference.
posted by gronkpan at 3:43 AM on April 29, 2011


It was Harriet's link to The Chaser's Dom Knight. I doubt they really live on government funding... I'm betting they bring in almost as much to the ABC as Doctor Who does.

Doctor Who being said 'symbol in a magic box', though it's possible that I'm ALSO wrong about him being a British symbol.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:58 AM on April 29, 2011


Doctor Who being said 'symbol in a magic box', though it's possible that I'm ALSO wrong about him being a British symbol.

He's a friggin' TIME LORD.
posted by Jimbob at 4:01 AM on April 29, 2011


I mostly got the 'symbol of Britain' thing from TV Tropes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:04 AM on April 29, 2011


Sorry, I thought you were talking about welfare rather than government jobs.
posted by gronkpan at 4:19 AM on April 29, 2011


Talking of Dr Who...
posted by Jimbob at 4:33 AM on April 29, 2011


Somebody has to keep an eye on Davros.

Oh, that's the Duke. My bad.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:38 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kate Middleton is also the Duchess of Cambridge! Cool!
posted by allure at 5:11 AM on April 29, 2011


I thought Gronkpan was referring to you saying that Australians have no rights, not to Knight's bit about parliament?

Maybe *ask* some Brits if they think the Doctor is a symbol of themselves, rather than reading a TV wiki. There's plenty of them in the most recent Who thread, I'm sure they'd love to chat about it if asked nicely. The internet lets you learn about international culture by talking to actual international people, it's amazing!

Personally, I'd think that he's not so much symbolic of Britishness as of intellect and romance, but the show itself is obviously, undeniably steeped in British ways of thinking.

Topic? Oh. Um. Is it just me, or are there more wacky costumes in the crowd for this royal wedding than is usual? If so, that's a good sign for the monarchy being about as symbolic as a footy team mascot, rather than a real political force. The Windsors are afraid of the Chasers making fun of them, but damn, there's a woman in a home-made Union Jack dress with a collage of paparazzi pics of Diana, William, Kate and some babies on her hat.
posted by harriet vane at 5:29 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It might very well be cheaper to employ a teapot than a monarch, but I think it might be rather difficult to keep the generals in line with such a system.

...with the minor exception of every advanced-industrial democratic republic in the world.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:39 AM on April 29, 2011


They showed The Chaser on the BBC a few years ago - a compilation show - and I just didn't get it. It seemed a kind of crude satire based on the work of Jeremy Beadle. It doesn't surprise me enormously that they've gone for the controversy jugular. Offending people is cheap humour, and it's kept Frankie Boyle in biscuits long after he used up his talent.

I am British, I am ambivalent toward Dr Who, and I've been spending the wedding folding t-shirts. Most of us are just glad for the extra day off and the prospect of a party here and there.
posted by mippy at 5:47 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Although, as an aspiring dressmaker, I was interested to see the frock. Diana's was a horrid meringue that ruined British wedding albums for at least a decade.)
posted by mippy at 5:49 AM on April 29, 2011


I had a bit of it on in the background, but have switched it off to focus on my productive pursuits (playing XBox).
I tend to think of The Chaser as 'the best we've got'. If someone can point me to an Aussie version of The Daily Show I'd be grateful. Would love for John Safran to come back to TV.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:50 AM on April 29, 2011


Kate Middleton is also the Duchess of Cambridge! Cool!

Yes, HRH Prince William has been rightly invested with a new title upon this, his wedding day, with Princess Catherine (not "Kate", thank you), his beautiful bride, becoming HRH the Duchess of Cambridge.

But this noble bauble is merely the first sprinkling of honour that his High Royal Princiness has been imbibed with by Her Glorious Britannic Majesty.

William will also take the following titles, in accordance with just and ancient prerogatives:

- Earl of Strathearn
- Baron Carrickfergus
- Count Funkula
- Baron Harkonen of of Giedi Prime
- Lord Warden of the Cinque Privies
- Lenny from the Simpsons
- That Indian guy from the Newsagent; and
- Horace the Unwieldy

Truly a day of rejoicing for our guady nation. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:15 AM on April 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Would this be a good time for me, as an American, to explain to everyone else why every other country should be just like mine?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:44 AM on April 29, 2011


Would this be a good time for me, as an American, to explain to everyone else why every other country should be just like mine?

Sure, the thread's almost dead though. Start up something new and let's take it from there.
posted by the noob at 7:54 AM on April 29, 2011


But for those of us in the Crown Commonwealth, when we tear down our monarchy, when we tear down its dignity and mystique, we tear down a pillar of our democracy and freedom. And yes, that dignity and mystique may well be an illusion, but it is a useful illusion, and every bit as important as those other illusions of the kindness of humanity and the majesty of democracy, that animate our society and bring out the best in it and in us.

I hoped this was ironic, but then I read your second comment and realized you were serious. It's incredibly hard for me to even understand where this kind of opinion comes from. Just totally alien.
posted by Jehan at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2011


It's hard to tell; is the argument seriously being advanced here that in the absence of the monarch, the army wouldn't know what to do?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:13 AM on April 29, 2011


I hoped this was ironic

Jehan, you bilious fool - how DARE you insult the august and delicious Sovereign and Her giddy Commonwealth.

Should you ever step a hoof inside Her Majesty's Empire, you should be rounded up and thoroughly scunged by the Royal Trumpet Police for your infamous derogations.

Don't you REALISE that Elizabeth II Regina Maxima is the cynosure to which all right-thinking and lint-free subjects bow and nod and drool? And you seriously suggest that we caress her not, but instead wipe the Royal smears from our very constitution? That way lies naught but ANARCHISM, you horrible centipede.

By GOD, I wish they would bring back BEETLING so that you could be given a stiff GROBBLING right up your THORPLE, you utter MONCE.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:34 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


is the argument seriously being advanced here that in the absence of the monarch, the army wouldn't know what to do?

No, rather that a fundamental safeguard in our system is that there is an outside body which commands the loyalty of the armed forces (and, as it happens, other instruments of state), thus making it virtually impossible for the government to use them to overthrow democracy. This is as basic a part of our constitutional order as the 'separation of powers' is to the American one and it serves more or less the same purpose.

I'm not sure why this is so surprising. There are a lot of countries that work this way. 19 of the top 42 HDI states are monarchies. 13 of the 34 IMF advanced economies are monarchies. This is how a large percentage of the world's richest and most successful nations govern themselves. It may sound loony to you, but the system demonstrably works.
posted by Dreadnought at 11:25 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


And people are pointing out to you that, whatever the oath might say, the monarch probably does not actually command the personal loyalty of the armed forces. In which case, it would provide not a whit of actual protection.

At the very least, you've offered no evidence whatsoever that the armed forces do, as a matter of empirical reality, give their actual loyalty to the monarch over the government.

And I have to think that the British Military's adventures in Northern Ireland do rather against against the monarchy as an effective bulwark against using the military against its own (claimed) subjects.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:04 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


By GOD, I wish they would bring back BEETLING so that you could be given a stiff GROBBLING right up your THORPLE, you utter MONCE.

Tis true, I am an utter monce.
posted by Jehan at 12:31 PM on April 29, 2011


At the very least, you've offered no evidence whatsoever that the armed forces do, as a matter of empirical reality, give their actual loyalty to the monarch over the government.

When the Queen Mum died, the news went to interview the sergeant of a regiment for which she was a personal sponser. He was as upset as if she had been his grandmother. They had a big portrait of her up in the regiment's common room. Several people in the regiment talked like they knew her personally - which they did, because they met her. My aunt, in another regiment, was part of her personal guard once.

The point is, when you are recruited into the British or Canadian (or, I presume, the Australian, NZ, etc) military, part of the inculturation process is the development of a personal loyalty to the monarch. Kind of like what American military feel for the president as their commander-in-chief. The Queen is the commander-in-chief for the whole of the Canadian military; that's why the GG has such an close relationship with the miltary.
posted by jb at 12:36 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: I'm sorry, I didn't realize that was the issue. I'm afraid it's very difficult to empirically prove personal loyalty. One might equally question the loyalty of the armed forces of any country, I suppose. I can only offer you the assurances of my personal experiences in the military system, as well as the experiences of my many friends and relations, and of my lifelong study of military affairs. The loyalty of our armed forces, at least in the UK and Canada, is secure, and it is personally owed to our monarch and through her, her ministers. I'm not sure what I could say to convince you of that if you choose to disbelieve me... we're talking about feelings here, not something which can be measured.

As for the Northern Ireland thing... I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. That was a very long, very nuanced conflict which is sometimes painted in black and white terms by partisans on both sides. Can you be more specific about where you see the army being used to overthrow democracy in that context?
posted by Dreadnought at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2011


I can only offer you the assurances of my personal experiences in the military system, as well as the experiences of my many friends and relations, and of my lifelong study of military affairs. The loyalty of our armed forces, at least in the UK and Canada, is secure, and it is personally owed to our monarch and through her, her ministers. I'm not sure what I could say to convince you of that if you choose to disbelieve me... we're talking about feelings here, not something which can be measured.

Would you say there is a selection bias? Those who already have or are willing to give loyalty to a certain figurehead join the army because they know that is part of it. While republicans and free-thinkers avoid the army strongly? That sounds very true to me from my position, but nobody in my family has (willingly) joined the army in a long time, so I don't know.
posted by Jehan at 1:58 PM on April 29, 2011


Well I like to think that I'm a free-thinker, and I seriously considered joining the navy (but didn't because of career reasons). But if you were actively anti-authoritarian, I suppose you'd not want to join the armed forces for obvious reasons. Republicans, naturally, would not be able to join the armed forces. There was actually a case, recently, about a captain in the Canadian Forces who up and declared himself a republican. He was booted out in spite of his appeal that he would willingly serve the government but not the queen. The forces are very, very serious about maintaining the loyalty of their troops because they feel the security of the state depends on it.
posted by Dreadnought at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2011


Republicans, naturally, would not be able to join the armed forces.

Why not? People put their political beliefs to one side in the workplace all the time. If I had emigrated and changed schools, I would have been expected to pledge allegiance to the flag, even if I wasn't US-born; I went to Catholic school and attended Mass despite being agnostic, as it was simply part of the school structure to be endured. Being vocally republican is one thing, but I'm sure there are many serving men and women who privately have little or no opinion on the matter. My brother was one of them.

Just to reiterate to non UK dwellers - 99% of people have no interest in the Royal family. What you saw on the news today was the civic equivalent of everyone supporting England in the World Cup.
posted by mippy at 2:39 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was actually a case, recently, about a captain in the Canadian Forces who up and declared himself a republican. He was booted out in spite of his appeal that he would willingly serve the government but not the queen. The forces are very, very serious about maintaining the loyalty of their troops because they feel the security of the state depends on it.

Surely, then, there is a "no true Scotsman" problem (or something similar) when an individual member of the armed forces says they are loyal to a monarch? They are only a soldier if they are loyal, and nobody can voice disloyalty because it would mean they are no longer a soldier.
posted by Jehan at 2:43 PM on April 29, 2011


Republicans, naturally, would not be able to join the armed forces.

Why not?


Well, it is illegal in Britain, to advocate for the abolition of the Monarchy (though since 2003 it had been legal to publish non-violent republican sentiments), just like it's illegal for a Catholic to ascend the throne, or for the heir to marry a Catholic and keep his place in line. Not sure how that applies to serving in the army and swearing fealty to the Queen.

On the subject o Australia and the Royal Family, I once saw a TV show by Tony "Baldrick" Robinson examining the subject of "Are the House of Saxe-Coburg von Gotha Windsor is the REAL royal family of the United Kingdom?"

See, there's an argument (for which TR examines the evidence) that way back in the day King MUMBLEMUBLE the MUMBLETH was in fact born out of wedlock. It has to do with where his parents were at the time (they have dated letters) and other considerations that, even at the time, seemed plausible that the King in question was not the son of the last king. SO much so that there was an official propaganda effort to emphasize that he was the legitimate heir.

But if he wasn't... then the Plantagenet line of succession should have shifted to another family line altogether, and the descendents today live in Australia.

So TR goes to meet the family under the pretext of doing a special about the Plantagenets (they know they're distant cousins). And then TR rolls out the evidence they've collected, and this elaborate alternate Royal family tree using this Australian family rather than the Windsors. The entire history of the Royal family is given an alternate version with the Aussies starring in the lead roles.

Suddenly uncle John who almost bankrupted the family is the Duke of Whatever (with a proportionately nation-sized financial mess), aunt May was that notable Queen who did that thing, brother Bobby is actually the Earl of Whatever, kinda cool stuff.

TR made the point that if you're gonna play these monarchy games, there are rules and they should be played by. And by the rules, it matters who your parents are when deciding who is King.

He didn't expect anything to come of it, and the Australians didn't seem inclined to move to England and challenge their German cousins for the Throne of England.

But it was a pretty cool show, especially the very ending. Wish I could find a vid link.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:08 PM on April 29, 2011


born concieved out of wedlock...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2011


Surely, then, there is a "no true Scotsman" problem (or something similar) when an individual member of the armed forces says they are loyal to a monarch?

I don't think this is the Scotsman fallacy because the Scotsman fallacy relies on the status in question being denied rather than revoked. If the army says you're not a 'true' loyal soldier of the crown, then you're not: you're fired.

I think what you're getting at is the problem that disloyalty, being illegal, wouldn't be publicly seen. There could be a deep, concealed undercurrent of anti-constitutional subversion rotting the reliability of the armed forces from the inside while all looks fine on the surface.

Well yes, there could be. I don't think there is, though.
posted by Dreadnought at 3:21 PM on April 29, 2011


For the sake of completeness, here are the prerecorded Chaser sketches. Looks like Clarence House did them a favour.
posted by robcorr at 4:11 PM on April 29, 2011


mippy: "Just to reiterate to non UK dwellers - 99% of people have no interest in the Royal family. What you saw on the news today was the civic equivalent of everyone supporting England in the World Cup."

This 99% figure doesn't jive with the Daily Mail's constant slavering over the Royals' every move.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:37 PM on April 29, 2011


Having watched from the U.S. as ...War on Everything was conceived and broadcast its (I'm friends with the longtime (now ex-)girlfriend of one Chaser; War was the first Chaser thing I was able to watch due to the rise of torrenting), I thought that series was quite strong in its first season. Over time, I thought it started to go in a direction that the Kilborn-era Daily Show did and which Jon Stewart seems to have steered the show away from: Plain old making fun of people.

From the inside, I know they struggled more from the second season on, just because their faces and antics were now widely known, and they couldn't get away with the things they'd been able to when they were still relatively anonymous. They were under enormous pressure to produce more shows, but they had sort of hamstrung themselves by their own success. They had to take the show in a different direction, including more character work, which I think ended up being less funny.
posted by jocelmeow at 6:41 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah that's exactly what I've been thinking, jocelmeow. That sort of satire works well for the first season, but once everyone knows who you are (and in the case of the Chaser, security staff at major events started carrying around photos of them so they could identify them and kick them out), it becomes much more difficult. Unless you're constantly changing your character like Sacha Baron Cohen.
posted by Jimbob at 9:52 PM on April 29, 2011


I always preferred the CNNNN stuff to the War on Everything - possibly because it came just as I was realising that Howard wasn't just the guy I didn't vote for, he was opposed to everything I valued and dogwhistling to racists on top of that.

A lot of the best Australian tv humour has been topical, which means that after a couple of years it's not as sharply relevant anymore. Frontline and The Games were great, but I wouldn't want to watch them now. Micallef's Program/Pogram/etc still works because it was surrealist rather than ripped from the headlines.
posted by harriet vane at 9:55 PM on April 29, 2011


Try giving Frontline another whirl, harriet - it's still very funny and relevant.
posted by rory at 12:54 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I have to think that the British Military's adventures in Northern Ireland do rather against against the monarchy as an effective bulwark against using the military against its own (claimed) subjects.

The majority of people in Northern Ireland, when polled, have chosen to stay with the UK. However inconvenient and galling this is for people who feel that the territory more naturally belongs to Ireland, or feel that the votes of people with that opinion shouldn't count because they're identified with groups who have "only" been there for four or five hundred years, that's how it is.
posted by rodgerd at 1:42 AM on April 30, 2011


Rory, based solely on you being a MeFite and therefore having excellent taste, I'll give Frontline another whirl :) I did like it back in the day (along with the rest of the D-Gen stuff - champagne comedy!) and if it holds up I'll be pretty happy.
posted by harriet vane at 3:38 AM on April 30, 2011


part of the inculturation process is the development of a personal loyalty to the monarch. Kind of like what American military feel for the president as their commander-in-chief

This is really not true, at least not in the last couple decades when there's been a Democrat in the White House.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:01 PM on April 30, 2011


In order to turn the army on the people, Tienanmen style, the government would have to bring the monarchy on board, because the army swears allegiance to the monarch, not the parliament. In this respect, the monarch would be much harder to suborn than an appointed or elected GG, because the Royal Household has absolutely no need to rely on the political favour of the regime of the day, and has strong internal institutional-cultural mechanisms to prevent anti-democratic and military-authoritarian ideology from taking hold.


Don't get me wrong - I loved The King's Speech - but are we really saying that a small group of hereditary landowners supported from the public purse both have no need for the favor of the political establishment? For that matter, are we saying that a group of aristocrats carefully protected from the people of Britain with a penchant for military regalia are the best possible counterbalance against militarism and anti-democracy? Within living memory, there was Edward VIII, whose positions on these issues might have been found somewhat lacking.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:25 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


there's a reason why E8 was quietly eased out. It's checks and balances - Parliament checks the Crown, and the Crown checks Parliament.
posted by jb at 1:33 PM on May 1, 2011


Then my queen checks your king, and that's checkmate.
posted by koeselitz at 2:21 PM on May 1, 2011


there's a reason why E8 was quietly eased out.

I wasn't there, but I can say with confidence that Edward VIII wasn't quietly eased out, as one might ease out the elderly CEO of a mid-sized engineering conglomerate. If he hadn't wanted to marry a divorcée with still-living ex-husbands, he would in all probability still have been king at the outbreak of World War 2 - although he might have come under pressure to abdicate if he was clearly sympathetic to the opposing side.

Parliament is supposed to check itself - the Lords check the Commons, although after the Parliament Act of 1911 the power of the Lords was significantly reduced, and has continued to be diminished. If the Crown got involved in checking Parliament, I'm pretty sure it would cause a constitutional crisis, as it would have if Edward VIII had proceeded with plans to marry and Baldwin's government had resigned. The Monarch is so much less significant in 2011 than in 1936 that I can't see that being a viable possibility. You have to go a hundred years before the 1930s to find a Prime Minister actually being dismissed by the Monarch, and a hundred-some years before that to find a bill passed by Parliament but deprived of royal assent.

The whole point about the Crown is that it has delegated all its powers to its ministers. The monarch can't just decide to take those powers back - otherwise the accession of Charles III might shortly be followed by the abolition of allopathic medicine and the flattening of London's skyline.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:46 PM on May 1, 2011


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