OK, in what must rank as one of the stupidest things that an Australian has said in public since John Howard announced that global warming was just fiction, Dr Mark Rose, the general manager of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, has told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that girls may become infertile (or worse!) if they play the didgeridoo.

The VAEA has called for the Collins-published The Daring Book for Girls to be pulped because it encourages girls to just put their lips to the didge and blow, thus demonstrating ‘an extreme cultural indiscretion’. According to (some) aboriginal beliefs, you see, the didge is strictly Men’s Business.

This great cultural respect for the didgeridoo is apparently new-found – as far as I can see, the didgeridoo hasn’t been any kind of ‘sacred instrument’ for decades. It gets played on pop songs, in film scores, by buskers (aboriginal and white alike) on street corners for money and in performances in pubs to rock arenas. Didjeridoos are sold in just about every tourist shop from here to Innamincka (and they most certainly don’t come with warning labels saying ‘Not to Be Played by Women’). No-one seems to have been overly-concerned about any of these secular appearences of the painted hollow tree branch that makes noises.

I’m all for respecting people’s cultural beliefs, but sometimes the earnestness of some folks to do so has them bending so far over backwards that their head goes straight up their arse.

And political correctness aside, Dr Rose’s declaration that:

We know very clearly that there’s a range of consequences for a female touching a didgeridoo — infertility would be the start of it, ranging to other consequences. I won’t even let my daughter touch one.

… is superstition of the highest magnitude. Who the hell ‘knows very clearly’ that a female touching a didgeridoo would be rendered infertile? There are lots of women didge players all over the world – I bet we could find at least one who’s managed to have a baby. And as for the ‘other consequences’, Dr Rose threateningly leaves dangling – well, like so much irrational belief, the vague open-endedness of that contention smacks of yet another attempt by a religion to replace reason with fear.

What century are we living in again?