Censorship is [REDACTED]

May 15, 2012 10 Comments
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The gay marriage debate rumbles and grumbles on, and while I’m not on the side of those who want to continue to use the state’s monopoly on force to maintain their preferred definition in law I have just as big a problem as those who don’t want this ended so much as to be given their turn at the controls. And what really gets my goat about this is their apparent enthusiasm for the kind of tactics they’d deplore, and rightly so, if used against the gay community.

As James mentioned the other day, Archbishop Cranmer has been taken to task by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for including on his blog an ad in favour of the current definition. It was, natch, ‘offensive’ and ‘homophobic’, though whether this is the ad or the act of carrying it isn’t all that clear, and the ASA have told him that they’re investigating and given him a time limit for response. I’d say this is pretty chickenshit of them because, as His Grace points out in his reply to the ASA, Guido and Conservative Home are apparently not being investigated despite carrying the offending ad as well. Helloooo, equality before the law? Where are you? Perhaps it’s worth approaching Muslim bloggers to see if they’d like to carry the ad as well, because I rate the chances of the ASA growing the balls needed to lean on the Muslims to embrace gay marriage as being so close to zero as makes no difference. Or maybe not since some of them would want the definition expanded in the other direction to mean man and ≤ 4 wives. and the ASA might just be capable of the kind of doublethink needed to deal with that. In any case His Grace has penned an excellent reply to the ASA and still has the ad up on his blog, and while I don’t agree with him long may it stay there. I don’t want his definition of marriage to have the force of law behind it but if his freedom to say what he thinks can be limited then anyone else in Britain can be similarly silenced, and that includes, if they’d only stop to think about it for a minute, the gay equality lobby.

And then we come to something else James mentioned, and actually what’s prompted this post. Here in Oz the Deputy Chief Trick Cyclist of Victoria (and I have to admit I had no idea we even had a Chief one – something else taxpayers are being squeezed for despite the state having some money troubles) and one time Christian missionary , Professor Kuruvilla George, co-signed a letter to a Senate inquiry into marriage equality.

Twenty-two Victorian GPs, anaesthetists, obstetricians, palliative care specialists and psychiatrists, including Prof Kuravilla George, have joined 150 colleagues interstate to argue gay marriage poses a health risk to society.

In a letter to the Senate’s inquiry into marriage equality, the group wrote that it was “important for the future health of our nation” to retain the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman.

“We submit the evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and father do better in all parameters than children without,” they wrote.

Leaving aside whether there’s merits in the argument it should be noted that Prof George signed that letter as a private citizen, not in his capacity as the No. 2 Official Brain Drainer of the state of Victoria or as a member of the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission. So why this?

… former national AMA president and gay rights activist Kerryn Phelps said the doctors should “hang their heads in shame” and that Prof George’s position on the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission should be reviewed.

Or this (from a letter to The Age)?

… Professor George is no ordinary citizen. He has used his standing as a medical practitioner to support claims that are not only scientifically false but seriously undermine any objective assessment of equality or support for good mental health.

Attorney-General Robert Clark cannot pick and choose which laws he wishes upheld or not [referring here to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights - AE]. Professor George’s private views have demonstrated his unsuitability for both offices he holds. His positions are now untenable, and he should be immediately stood down.

That same freedom of expression that means someone can write to the papers and say that someone’s publicly expressed opinions should get him the sack also means that those opinions can be expressed publicly in the first place, and if lost it applies to potentially everyone. Sadly for free speech, though I imagine happily for Melbourne’s population of trendy Fitzroy lefties who I expect were all fashionably outraged by his views, Prof George has today resigned from the Equal Opportunities Commission.

I might agree with the Fitzroy lefties that Prof George’s argument is bollocks but it worries me deeply that someone can be successfully driven from a job merely for saying something others, whether representing a majority or just a powerfully vocal minority (which here can mean Christians as often as it means the gay rights mob), dislike or disagree with. As I said earlier, if this can be done to one person it can be done to anyone at all once political fashions change and a once accepted opinion becomes the Thought That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

Today it’s homophobic (whether actually homophobic or merely allegedly homophobic) views being frowned on and those who voice them being hounded, but what’s stopping a future in which it’s the other way round or an equally right-on contemporary view being declared unacceptable and attracting punishment? If freedom to criticise the goose is good for the gander then it’s just as important for the goose to be able to say something worth criticising. Without that they’re both mute. And cooked.

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10 Responses to Censorship is [REDACTED]

  1. Voice of Reason
    May 15, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I think that the point is more about the facts. If it is true (debateable) that children are ‘better’ with two parents of different genders, then it’s a fact, and not a problem. Too many of these PC issues come up short on facts, and then cries of sexism/racism/stupidism/… shut down the argument.

    • May 16, 2012 at 7:06 am

      Yes, and it’s that shutting the argument down that I’m thinking about here. If it wasn’t gay marriage supporters working to silence their opponents I could probably have gone with warble gloaming theorists labelling sceptics as deniers or declaring that the science is settled and the debate is over. Or, on the subject of deniers, holocaust denial being an actual frigging crime in some countries. Oh, the irony! Regardless of my own thoughts on the holocaust I’m quite sure that Hitler would have thoroughly approved of the ability of the state to criminalise an opinion – perhaps not the choice of that particular one but certainly the legal means to do so. And as long as we have laws that define certain words or opinions as hate speech and therefore criminal we’re really not much better than somewhere that bans Mein Kampf because it was written by history’s most archetypical prick or even the state that said prick himself once led.

  2. Greg Tingey
    May 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

    If you think THIS is censorship …
    Hasn anyone AT ALL, ANYWHERE tried to get serious criticism of the vile fascist-inspired, unbelievably corrupt “olympics” into the MSSM?

    Don’t bother.
    Everyone loves team games (shudder) we all know that don’t we?

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    • May 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

      I’m going to enjoy watching it almost as much as not having helped pay for it. With the Australian F1 Grand Prix it is of course roughly the other way round.

  3. May 16, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I’d say this is pretty chickenshit of them because, as His Grace points out in his reply to the ASA, Guido and Conservative Home are apparently not being investigated despite carrying the offending ad as well. Helloooo, equality before the law? Where are you?

    I’m with you on this aspect – it’s pretty shoddy altogether.

    • May 16, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Yeah, well, I always thought we’d probably still agree on more than we disagree on. :mrgreen:

      • May 16, 2012 at 11:36 am

        Popcorn. It turns out that the group who were supposed to have complained did not, and have said so huffily. Apparently one of their number complained in a personal capacity about a separate advert in a magazine.

        It is not at all clear what is going on at the ASA but they are supposed to have a competent lawyer in charge of their complaints division, instead of which it looks like they can’t even collate a complaint, read their own code or write a letter without misrepresenting their status.

        • May 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

          Very pertinent update, that. From the JGLG website via His Grace’s blog: (my bold, their caps lock key)

          UPDATED – 15/5/2012. JGLG HAS NOT CALLED FOR CENSORSHIP OF ANYTHING. ONE OF OUR MEMBERS ASKED THE ASA FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO AN ADVERT SEEN IN A MAGAZINE BECAUSE HE BELIEVED IT TO BE UNLAWFUL. HE WAS NOT ACTING ON BEHALF OF JGLG. WE WOULD LIKE TO STATE THAT CALLING FOR AN INVESTIGATION ISN’T THE SAME THING AS CALLING FOR CENSORSHIP

          On their last point it’s not actually those calling for an investigation that are doing the censoring but those responding by beginning the investigation that may end up censoring, in this case the ASA. In turn that’s only possible because someone thought something was unlawful, which is only possible where speech is not free and confusion can reign over what views can and can’t lawfully be aired.

          The popcorn smells delicious. Would you mind my seat while I go get some?

  4. graham wood
    May 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Hi AE. I see you are in OZ. Then on this issue you might take a look at fellow Ozzy Bill Muehlenberg’s site speaking on this very issue (today under “When Freedom Disappears”). As I point out in a blog response, this is not simply a matter of concern for Christians – it goes far wider and deeper. Read Bill’s article.
    Meanwhile my comment:
    “As we know there is nothing new in all this. In fact it goes right back to the persecution of Christians in the early years of the church where the Gospel was preached to see how the Jews so hated the message and messengers that they organised the “heavy mob” to shut them out.

    It is right to point out that this, and the courageous Margaret Court experiences illustrate that same hatred.
    In the more recent past, the use of the violent and intimidating mob was a stock in trade of the Nazi’s whenever their political opponents organised meetings.
    They were systematically disrupted, broken up, and brutal violence quickly intimidated all opposition.
    The end result? No more open opposition.
    The next step was more overt and dangerous – the notorious “Kristallnacht”, (Glass night) when Jewish shops and other premises were attacked and destroyed overnight in Germany.

    Please note it is not only the rights of believers to freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, and of association, which are at stake here, but also that of ALL democratic rights and freedoms, secular or religious, which are under threat at the same time.
    This is understood by some, but not by many.
    It is interesting that in the UK it is the National Secular Society which has now joined forces with the Christian Institute (temporarily) in order to protect such basic freedoms to overthrow a crucial clause in the Public Order Act on the application of just one word – “insulting”, which has been frequently used to justify the suppression of free speech, and including the arrest of Christians who have criticised the “gay” agenda.
    Does anybody care? you rightly ask Bill. A few do, but a tiny minority in comparsion to the massed forces of the militant “gaystapo”, organised, resourced, and clearly “on a mission” world-wide.

    As you suggest, it is the blind complacency of multitudes of Christians which is disturbing. It is but a short step from ‘banning’ free speech in the public square, to the church round the corner and banning it there too.

    For those who may be only dimly aware of the crucial nature of this battle – please read “The Marketing Of Evil” by David Kupelian for an overview of the strategies and tactics involved in the open warfare being waged against heterosexual marriage, and the institution of the God given family.

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Indeed, but it’s broader than I think Muehlenberg makes clear. Gay militantism (if militantism is a word) is not the problem, militantism is. In this case it happens to be gay militants attacking Christians who are vocal in their support of traditional marriage. In other cases it’s militant Christians demanding that certain computer games be especially ruined for the Australian market, and militant greenies demanding that so-called climate deniers be refused funding and not have their work published.

      On gay marriage I disagree with the Christians, but I absolutely support their freedom to say what they like about what they like. Does it offend some gays? Yes, but gay marriage sure as hell offends many Christians (and some non-Christians) and I expect that even just gayness offends some. There’s only one solution and that’s for everyone to toughen up a bit and stop getting all precious about offence. Silencing those whose views we don’t agree with is the last refuge of someone too bloody lazy to argue their case and should never be an option.

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