Well it was always going to end in beers.
The Bible Society’s recent teaming up with the Coopers beer company to promote 200 years of the Bible Society in Australia was always destined for a hangover.
That hangover has come, and just as all hangovers are, in hindsight, the inevitable result of an action in which one did not consider the consequences, so too this one.
Coopers’ decision to put a Bible verse on each carton of their Premium Light beer was not the problem per se, but hey, as happens when you mix your drinks, one thing led to another and now it’s gotten awkward. And not surprisingly, it’s gotten awkward about sex.
Sex, alcohol and religion. Who would have thunk?
But the hangover has not come from where one might expect it, the teetotaling more fundamentalist Chrisitan types, no siree. A different type of fundamentalist has raised their voice – again, the sexual fundamentalist.
For unbeknownst to Coopers, the Bible Society dared to bring two opponents on the same sex marriage debate, Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie, together for a spirited (friendly) video debate about the pros and cons of this position. And they washed it down with a Coopers Premium Light, the very beer promoting the Bible Society.
Game on. First that champion of diversity, Greens MP Christine Milne got in on the act, accusing Coopers of pandering to homophobia, despite the fact that Tim Wilson is a gay man in a same sex relationship and pro SSM, and who seemed extremely comfortable having a civil discussion about all things civil partnership and marriage. But hey, why let the victim speak for himself?
Then the ABC got hold of it. Enough said.
And then the twitter storm began, with calls for boycotts (sooo 2016!), and the like. Coopers, of course, is scrabbling around for a way out of this and has, as is the depressingly routine manner in such matters, released a statement, avowing its diversity credentials. Time was Coopers diversity credentials were the aforementioned Premium Light, Pale Ale, Sparking Ale, and Dark Ale etc. A very diverse crowd. But their latest statement reveals Coopers diversity is actually far lighter than their beer, so light in fact as to have no flavour at all.
For Coopers has released the usual “I have sinned!”mea culpa demanded by the fundamentalists:
We never intended to…blah, blah, blah. We always value blah, blah, blah… which is all just longhand for saying, “Please, please keep drinking our beer.”
Hotels in trendy inner city Melbourne and Sydney have assured their supporters that they will no longer be stocking Coopers in light of the video, despite the fact Coopers had nothing to do with it. Seems a gay man and a straight man can’t have a drink together these days without someone thinking something is amiss.
What will Coopers do? It’s obvious. They will distance themselves from The Bible Society and pull the bible verse campaign in toto. That’s how diversity works in our hard secular progressive framework. Shout hard, long, loud; pull out some fake news (cos that’s the crowd Trump got the idea from), and voila, mission accomplished. The opposing argument is shot down, people with a different opinion shut down, and a company with a vested interest in the bottom line is henceforth scared to raise a glass, or its head, for the sake of true diversity. Wins all round eh?
Shame on the shouty crowd. Shame – anticipatory at least – on Coopers for playing the coward.
But it’s also a wake up call. A wake up call for those who think that somehow there is any room for a middle ground debate to be had in this country on the new sexual ethics. That somehow we can have a light discussion about what the sexual fundamentalists will continue to go to the barricades for – complete acceptance of their position and complete silence of the opponents. The sexual fundamentalists have filled the social space with enough noise, light and colour, to ensure that true diversity in the public square never happens. The conversation in the public square is over. And probably over in a few pubs too.
And tomorrow? Tomorrow Coopers will wake up with no respect for the Bible Society, and the Bible Society will be nursing a huge hangover, wondering how one thing led to another and it ended up not getting its calls answered.
When have we ever looked to fundamentalism decide the future or possibility of civil/”light” discussion?
For example, see long-time marriage equality proponent Rodney Croome’s confusion over all the Cooper’s kerfuffle – and the heat he has taken from many fundies on the pro-equality side.
There are plenty of people on all sides of the debate that are open to and excited about the possibility of a meaningful and respectful conversation. It’s just not that interesting for those addicted to sensationalism.
I hope you’re right Matt. I do think that those voices will get drowned out though. I admire Tim Wilson greatly, so I am astonished at the number of people speaking for him instead of allowing him to speak for himself here.
I suggest we all go buy a Coopers beer or two and drown out those sexual fundamentalists who can’t let two blokes have a beer and a civil chat… a clever bit of promotion for The Bible Society, I must say! “The Bible who?” one asks. “That bunch who had a gay and a straight discussing marriage in front of a camera with an open Bible…”
Yeah – that’s exactly right. More people would have heard of Coopers prior to this than the Bible Society
Although I’m not on the same page as Hastie and co, I was deeply saddened that their right to speak has been voided by the shouters. But there’s the complication of mixing long term donors Coopers, a commercial venture with a conversation about values. I suspect that if Coopers had supported a conversation about a pro view, then we might not be commenting here at all.
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