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Mark Ellse: Telegraph columnist Gordon trumpets her contempt for traditional families. Just happens she is married


It is a mistake to react too much to articles within newspapers. Much comment is provocative and conservative newspapers have always given space to liberal views.  But Bryony Gordon’s ‘What’s so great about traditional family values anyway?’, recently in The Daily Telegraph, was really quite extraordinary.

In Ms Gordon’s words the comment piece, a response to the Dolce & Gabbana – Elton John spat, “created a long overdue opportunity for us to redefine what, exactly, a family is, and put an end to rose-tinted nostalgia about ‘traditional values’.” I checked several times. It was indeed in the Telegraph, perhaps the nearest we have in printed text to a bastion of tradition. The article is nothing other than a rant against the concept of the conventional family and is worth reading just to note the extremes to which even once traditional media have drifted. Only in a very few places, like this blog, is the value of the conventional family expounded.

Bryony Gordon supports her views with research. At least one professor at Cambridge University  says that there is no evidence to suggest that conventional families are better for children than other types. So that’s all right then. Despite the huge cost to our economy of ‘unconventional’ families, despite the novel experiment they represent, they must be absolutely fine.

And the Dolce & Gabbana quote, “The only family is a traditional one”, that started off the tiff? Ms Gordon summarily dismisses it with “funny how often the greatest homophobes are homosexuals themselves”.  Her argument, an oft repeated one, bears examination because of the fallacy it epitomises. Of course, practising homosexuals have every right to express reservations about homosexuality, in the same way that habitual smokers may caution the young against starting the habit and those of us who are overweight want our children to have better eating habits than we do ourselves.

In life we all fail. Some mistakes we remedy in our own lives. Others are besetting sins, and particularly those of us who are parents and teachers know that often the best we can do is to encourage our offspring, our charges, to avoid the mistakes we have made ourselves.

Funnily enough, Bryony Gordon has things the other way round. She enjoins us to celebrate that “the traditional family has had its day’. But she and financial journalist Harry Wilson married in 2013. One wonders if that is because, as we all know, marriage is best for their own daughter.

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Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse is a physicist and author. He is a former headmaster, independent school inspector and A level chief examiner.

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