The treatment of Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who signalled months ago that he would abstain from voting in Parliament if the same sex marriage vote got up in the plebiscite, is appalling.
As The Australian newspaper reported today, Hastie’s office has been inundated with hateful responses; phone calls, obscene messages on his Facebook page etc. His staff are said to be shocked by the tone of the response.
Of course you’ll have to read about that in The Australian, as the Fairfax media and The Guardian, and that bastion of all things balanced, the ABC, don’t mention it. Of course they don’t. It doesn’t fit the progressive narrative of love is love after all.
And just in case you don’t pay for The Australian, here’s a grab bag (with a language warning):
“One anonymous correspondent emailed Mr Hastie’s office: “Listen you f..king maggot. You are there to carry out the wishes of your electorate & not to enforce your own homophobic & bigoted views. Don’t be a c… Vote for it in parliament.”
Even a reporter from a local newspaper expressed her fury with the MP.
“F..k you Hastie,” wrote Rachel Fenner, using her maiden name of Steward, as she shared a story on Facebook by her paper, the Mandurah Coastal Times, about the MP’s decision to abstain from voting.
The editorial director of Perth-based Community Newspapers, Ken Burrowes, said yesterday Fenner had posted to what she believed was a “closed group of friends” and she had learned a “valuable lesson”.
In a separate comment on Mr Hastie’s Facebook page, Fenner said of the deeply religious MP: “Thank you for letting your imaginary friend and a book of fables written 2000 years ago dictate your actions instead of the people you were voted in to represent.”
Nick Kapirnas also joined the debate on Mr Hastie’s Facebook page. “You are a useless piece of shit Hastie,” he wrote. “You don’t deserve to be in your seat.”
Classy eh? I wonder what valuable lesson Fenner learned? That out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks? Or that when it comes to the new media she’s better off sticking to her day job of working for the old media. Valuable lessons are what Grade 3 kids learn when they don’t share and get put in the naughty corner. Fenner doesn’t need taught a valuable lesson, she needs taught a costly one.
I write this to defend Andrew Hastie because he is an honourable man with great intellect and integrity. And I do so not because I have to, but because I want to do that now. I want to defend him now because in these cases it seems that the only response we make it to let him take the fire, while we all duck our heads.
None of this is to say that those who voted Yes are all like that by any means. But it does show that if you are loud, rude and obnoxious enough you can pretty much guarantee that your voice will be promoted the most. That’s the culture we live in. And it’s pretty much why a load of people, religious people from all stripes and persuasions, who voted No, just shut up about it.
And that’s the pathway to the future. The age of civil discourse is under extreme pressure and it will be the bullies who will have the loudest voice and gain the most carry. And let’s not just blame the bullies. When the editor of The Guardian said that she would not be running any articles that presented the No campaign, because “none were valid”, then she simply put another nail in the coffin of civil public discourse, all for the sake of activist journalism.
This is the point where someone like outer Sydney MP Jason Clare, whose constituents voted No overwhelmingly, but who is voting Yes in Parliament, should reach out to Hastie, publicly, and prove that our leaders are better, and that they will not tolerate being part of the process that sees our public conservations stoop to such levels.
But if I were Andrew Hastie I wouldn’t be sitting by the phone. I wouldn’t even be wanting to answer it these days.