It’s been a shameful week for those in the left leaning media in Australia this week.
For weeks progressive media outlets have been cat-calling the Morrison Government over its failure to release the Ruddock Review on Religious Freedom.
“What are you trying to hide?” was the constant cry from the likes of the ABC and the Sydney Morning Herald, with conspiracy theories afoot.
“You’re waiting until after the Wentworth by-election is over so you can spring nasty surprises without being affected at the polls!”
Sensibly the Government saw through the cry-bully tactics of such outlets by refusing to be cowed. However that did not stop Fairfax media this week publishing leaked material and publishing the 20 recommendations in full from the review.
And guess what dreadful freedom-killing review was trying to hide? Guess what the Morrison Govt was trying to slip past the people?
Nothing at all. On face value all twenty recommendations are either clarifying statements about what already exists, or minor adjustments that ensure there is little risk of running afoul of anti-discrimination legislation.
Yet what happens?
Here’s what happens: The Left leaning media – which tends to distrust religion in equal and opposite measure to its tendency to trust Venezuelan despots, does all the hiding.
Faced with zero – nix, nada -, evidence that the Ruddock Review is going to unleash a veritable Handmaid’s Tale of religious extremism upon unsuspecting Australia, Fairfax and the ABC go into conspiracy overdrive, misquoting, exaggerating and just dealing in downright lies, to ensure that the rage is maintained.
So we get headlines like this from Fairfax:
And this from the ABC:
There’s our alternate Deputy PM, Tanya Plibersek, on a puff piece on “our” national broadcaster, which shamelessly repeats that headline.
All of which is complete nonsense. As I said earlier in this week, the image that such outlets are trying to portray of faith-based schools (read Christian faith-based schools) is of medievalist and evil religious educators punishing gay students; driving away with threats and curses from their hallowed halls.
And so what if, a few days later, having been called out on it, the same media outlets reduce the heat on the burner? The damage has been done, the headlines have been splashed, and any retractions or nuances were confined to drop-downs on the online menus. Job done, eh?
I can say with the confidence of experience in the faith-based schools sector all of this is completely untrue. Turning students away is such a remote possibility, and overwhelmingly not even a desire, that to even hint at it is mischievous at best, and malicious at worst.
Who’s doing the hiding? Who’s trying to conceal something?
It was the same with the local ABC here in Perth. A federal Liberal MP mate of mine texted me to switch on the radio the other morning, and have a listen.
Sure enough, a gay lobbyist was being presented with a series of Dorothy Dixers from a sympathetic morning crew, about how terrible this was going to turn out for gay students.
And, coincidentally the lobbyist then started to bag out a range of conservative MPs who are hell-bent on smashing the rights of gay students in religious schools, including the particular MP who had just texted me.
I guess his text message proves he’s got a telephone. I am sure the ABC could source his number and give him a call to chat about it. But that would sound like a balanced and restrained thing to do. So they didn’t. And they won’t.
As my friend said to me later, exasperated, the ABC will simply speak to a less diverse audience more and more, self-selecting itself out of relevancy in the media marketplace.
But this commitment to untruth by the Left (or what we once called lies) is not just here in Australia, despite the handwringing over the big fat hairy lies of The Donald.
I was listening to Sam Harris interact with Jordan Peterson recently. Now my cards on the table: I like JP, but Jesus is the answer to the world’s woes, not merely understanding our archetypes and becoming who we know we can be.
Nevertheless when atheist Leftist Sam and increasingly Right, increasingly religious Jordan agree on something it’s worth listening to.
And here’s what was most revealing. Sam Harris noted that every time he was misquoted by someone from the media/social media on the progressive and hard Left and he contacted them to clarify or point out their misquote, without exception they told him where to get off (or spicier words than that), and that they stood by their remarks, true or not. Oh and by the way he was a bigot, etc, etc.
Yet his experience with conservative commentators was much more irenic. And more honest. Despite the fact that he agrees with them less, and holds their views with suspicion more, Harris said that, also without exception, conservative commentators agreed to fact check and correct the mistake if necessary.
And it cannot be because those on the atheist Left take exception to Harris’s religious beliefs, because he’s of their tribe! Something deeper is going on. Something that Jonathan Haidt’s new book: The Coddling of the American Mind, points out.
Haidt talks about three Great Untruths that have led to the polarisation on campuses that we have seen in the US, and which are aped here, only with less heat (so far).
Great Untruth Number Three is the key, The Untruth Of Us Versus Them: Life is a Battle Between Good People and Evil People.
What is astonishing is that in this current war of words over the Ruddock Review, it is the religious people who are hosing down the “good/evil paradigm, and it is the irreligious who are stoking it up. Who would have thought?
Actually Haidt would have thought. And he gives plenty of reasons for why it’s the case. It’s an excellent book, go read it.
As Plibersek framed it: “What kind of adult wants to turn away a child, wants to reject a kid because they are gay?”
An evil one Tanya, which is how you are more than happy to pitch this. Yet the truth is this: a belief that everyone is made in the image of God, regardless of race, colour, creed, sexuality, is a central leavening agent in the Christian faith.
And it’s a leavening agent that unbelievers do not possess. And since they do not possess it, there’s no safety net to catch their tendency to fall into this Great Untruth.
I’ll leave the last word to Greg Craven, vice chancellor of Australian Catholic University (apparently they still don’t allow students to study Galileo) who is also a constitutional lawyer:
I hate to break it to Fran Kelly (of the ABC), but as a Catholic, I know lesbian couples send their kids to Catholic schools, and are embraced. Gay men are valued colleagues in Catholic education and health providers. Transgender people are employed and loved in Catholic social services. LGBTQI students are valued, respected and nurtured in every Catholic educational context. Nothing in Ruddock will change this commitment.
Nothing in Ruddock will change this commitment. But the progressive media will spin all sorts of untruths, great and small, in a furious, and fury-filled effort, to convince everyday Australians otherwise.