Do you know what the conservative religious people of Australia are waiting for?
They are waiting for the government’s religious discrimination bill to pass Parliament so that they can rush down to their local child care centre and shout at single mums that God is going to judge them for their kids not having a dad.
Yep that’s what they are waiting for. Longing for it. Pining actually.
Up until this point, meaning prior to the bill being passed, the good folk who wish to shout loudly at all sinners have been corralled away from their prey by protective legislation.
Now, with the bright light of bigotry just a few months away, they’re standing in their compounds, quivering and pacing in anticipation like so many slavering rottweilers. The are waiting for the dungeon-esque voice of Mr Burns to call out: “Release the hounds!”
And I for one, simply can’t wait. I can’t wait for the starter gate to go up and to, like the early bolter I am, head directly to the doctor’s surgery in nearby Struggle Town to publicly announce to parents with disabled children that God intended that to happen. Is really pleased with it in fact.
Sound stupid? Of course. But that’s the level of argument that the Sydney Morning Herald has either risen to or stooped to, depending on your view of that aforementioned organ.
Take the opening pars from that article by Judith Ireland on this very bill and its possible passing:
Proposed religious discrimination laws could make it legal for a boss to tell a gay worker “being gay is a form of brokenness”, or a childcare provider to tell a single mother “God will judge you harshly for taking away the child’s right to have a father”.
As public submissions close on the second draft of the Morrison government’s religious discrimination bill, Monash University associate professor of constitutional law Luke Beck warned the revised bill included provisions that “appear to be motivated by a desire to allow people to be nasty to others”.
As I said, release those puppies and let us get on with what we’ve been kept from all these years. The pressure is just too much! We all need to sink our teeth into something. You can read the rest of the article here.
Now I get hassled by some woke folk for reading The Australian, and it’s slavish – apparently – commitment to only ever saying what Uncle Rupert (Murdoch) wants it to say. He is, after all, the veritable Mr Burns – the bogeyman – of those who despise that newspaper. But honestly? There’s far more nuance on all of these matters in Murdoch’s paper than the supposedly “always independent” Herald. It’s a nonsense. More than that, it’s fake news. It is not true.
If Murdoch is Uncle Rupert, then the Herald is being run by a crazy aunt who lives in the attic (mind you, we had a crazy aunt who lives in the attic and she had far more insight than the Herald appears to have).
The Herald’s agenda is to stoke fear. Fear, and, ironically, bigotry. And a glaring lack of fact. For as Neil James Foster writes here in his extremely helpful blog that covers all things legal, the right to be a bigot already exists.
There is one preliminary problem- neither of the suggested statements are unlawful at the moment, except in one Australian jurisdiction under a much-criticised and idiosyncratic provision. So to say that the Bill will somehow make these thing legal to say is wrong- they are already legal.
Let me hasten to add that the fact that something is legal to say, does not mean it morally should be said! I would not support saying either of the things set out in the article’s first paragraph, in the context suggested. But the reality is that, to allow free speech in a community, we all have to put up with things being said that we don’t approve of. That I don’t approve of these comments, does not mean that they should be illegal.
In other words, despite the Herald’s running around like Rev Lovejoy’s wife calling out “Won’t somebody think of the children!”, such bigotry don’t need no pesky bill to allow it.
Praise be! I am currently free to tell my gay co-worker that being gay is a form of brokenness. Perhaps I can get him on the phone today, Saturday morning, while he is still home with his partner and ensure he knows this.
And it’s a pity it’s the weekend, because all of the child care centres are shut today and no single mum will be down there. Oh well, the silver lining is that I get to stay at home and paint obnoxious placards ready for Monday morning’s rush hour at the gate.
Here’s the thing though. I don’t want to! I don’t have the desire to do those things! And even if I did I already have the legal protection to do so. The Herald is presenting as realistic future what is in fact, the strawiest of all Straw Man conjecture. I’d say it’s beneath the Herald, but increasingly it’s not.
So I’m being facetious. Well sorry Herald, you’ve drawn it out of me. I am grateful to Neil for being incisive about the facts, and he does so calmly, dispassionately, and incisively. But sometimes you just have to use mockery to highlight the absurd.
If you think that’s a bridge too far, then listen to Neil unpick the absurdities the Herald presents as distinct possibilities:
There are other problems with the article’s critique. These comments might be made, but there seems no evidence that they are at all likely. After all, to take the second one, why would a childcare worker who wants to retain customers be so rude to one? The examples seem particularly unlikely. The example offered later in the article: “a receptionist in a medical practice telling a person with a disability “they have been given their disability by God so they can learn important lessons” ” suffers the same problems. First, it is not unlawful anywhere outside Tasmania. Second, it is completely unrealistic and unlikely that something like that would be said.
That, folks, is the level of debate that the progressive mainstream media in our land is affording us around the religious discrimination bill. It is, to use the progressive weapon against itself, a dog whistle to ensure that some sort of rottweiler has its ears pricked.
You can assured that there will be no time at any stage in the discussion of the forthcoming bill that it will be given a fair hearing by those who have implacable desire to see its defeat. There is now no possible future in Australia in which deep differences across an increasing range of topics will be able to discussed without rancour or misinformation.
And on top of all of this, it’s an insult. Judith Ireland assumes – probably because she rarely spends that much time outside the commuter belt – , that the average religious person in Australia just wants to sink their angry teeth into their neighbour. That somehow, given the chance, we want to insult, distress and abuse people, and that the only restraint upon us so far has been the law.
Well, the law of love is the biggest restraint I know. The law of love – a love that is not a Mobius strip turned in on itself – kills off any desire to say such things even if the desire is there in the first place. Do people say dreadful things to each other? All of the time. Check Twitter. The Left and the Right are both experts at being twitter-mobs. The lack of self-restraint is evident. As Neil says in his blog:
Fundamentally this SMH piece is an argument against free speech, and for authoritarianism. But good speech does not come from adding more laws, but rather from improving culture and the human heart.
One would think the Sydney Morning Herald, and its self-declared august nature, would be keen to improve culture, given that it is limited to that aspect, and can in no way improve the human heart, which is a work of God alone.
Sadly no. Uncle Rupert may have his faults, which many of my Facebook friends are keen to point out when they announce they don’t read widely, er, they don’t read The Australian. But if the SMH is the only viable alternative, then what hope do any of us have?
Release the press-hounds!