CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Freedom to Debate Marriage Now Greatly Restricted

Sep 13, 2017

Now that the postal vote on homosexual marriage is under way, some politicians have panicked, claiming we must clamp down on fundamental freedoms so that no one (that is, no one from the “Yes” camp) gets their feelings hurt. So they have rushed through a federal bill to further restrict our freedoms and further prevent truth from being told.

Believe it or not, we now have “emergency laws” in place to ban ‘vilification and intimidation and threats’ in the homosexual marriage debate – at least until the end of the matter in mid-November. And anyone found guilty of such things can face a $12,600 fine!

Wow, if free speech will be so throttled while we simply try to debate this issue now, just imagine how much worse it will get if homosexual marriage is legalised. This law is a real worry. As one government spokesman explained:

“It will be unlawful to vilify, intimidate or threaten to harm a person either because of views they hold on the survey or in relation to their religious conviction, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. That will be a sunset provision, it will only last for the period of the postal plebiscite.”

As one news report states, “The laws, to be rushed through both chambers of Parliament by Thursday night, will apply to ‘conduct’ during the campaign, which could include advertising, leaflet materials or behaviour.” Well, thanks, that is so very nice and specific.

Good to know exactly what I could be slammed for by the heavy hand of the law. Some sort of conduct involving some sort of behaviour. Leaflets. Ads. Well that really narrows things down then doesn’t it. We all know exactly where we now stand, or should stand – Not.

Thankfully some voices have been raised warning about such draconian legislation:

Tuesday’s Coalition party room meeting green-lighted the new laws despite internal dissent from Liberal MP Tim Wilson, who had concerns about freedom of speech. He was backed by his former employer, the libertarian Institute of Public Affairs think tank, whose director Simon Breheny accused the Coalition of “playing with fire”.
“Vilification laws are used to silence opponents,” he said. “These laws are a dangerous limitation on individual freedom.”

And Cory Bernardi has just spoken about the bill. He says it is “is about ‘protections’ to make hurt feelings an offence during the debate on redefining marriage.” He continues:

This was rushed into the senate this morning and within hours passed with little critical examination – but with plenty of emotional and self-serving stories over how nasty the debate has been. Unlike most, I chose to question the government over some contents of the bill and frankly wasn’t satisfied with the answers.
Firstly, it overturns the people’s right to access the legal system by requiring their complaint to be first approved by the Attorney-General, who coincidentally is a cheerleader for the rainbow brigade.
Secondly, the Minister was unable to explain whether it would be an offence to share (via social media) pre-existing and previously published images, videos or other material that doesn’t comply with the new rules. This could potentially impact millions of people and so I have been forced to write to him seeking an answer.

Yes. For heaven’s sake, all this is utterly ludicrous. If I distribute a pamphlet with five simple words like “It’s OK to vote No,” guess what? Anyone in favour of homosexual marriage can tell me he feels threatened or vilified or intimidated. Indeed, they are already claiming this is hate speech, so it looks like this simple ad may well be verboten – and we will have to cough up the $12,600 if we dare to still run with it!

And stating other perfectly true and objective things like: “Children have a right to have their own mother and father” can also be seen as hostile and threatening by anyone who holds to another point of view. Just who decides these things? Just who will determine what is threatening and vilifying?

It sounds like a small army of bureaucrats will have to be employed by us taxpayers just to assess each and every word, sentence, paragraph, article, ad, video, leaflet or book that appears in the next four weeks. And why do I suspect that only material from the “No” camp will be looked at carefully?

Just the other day I reported on how one leading homosexual activist and Fairfax journalist actually called for the rape of “No” campaigners. Yes he actually said that – see here: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/09/11/things-bad-now/

Now if there was ever anything threatening, vilifying, and intimidating, that would be it. Will Mr Benjamin Law be the first to appear before these courts and tribunals? If not, why not? Indeed, why do I suspect that he and so many others who have regularly poured actual vile abuse, hatred and contempt on their opponents will never be subject to such laws?

That is forever the problem with this type of legislation: these laws are utterly subjective, and those who are found guilty are forever at the mercy of those who determine what is ideologically and politically correct. Consider when I say ‘marriage is between a man and a woman,’ I believe I am making an entirely truthful and factual claim.

However my opponents will only see it as hatred, bigotry, narrow-mindedness and the like. As such, they will be threatened by it and feel it vilifies them. So we will likely lose every time here. Indeed, these laws always begin with the premise that you are guilty until proven innocent.

You have to prove to the powers that be that what you said is NOT hateful or offensive or threatening. Thus the laws actually work against the innocent, and align with those who want to drag every recalcitrant to the various tribunals and courts.

Not only that, but as is always the case, the process is the punishment. Even if after a likely lengthy and expensive process a person so charged is able to clear his name, he already has suffered greatly. He has been vilified and demonised in the eyes of the courts and the media, and he has had to pay for his defence and spend all that time doing so.

The law acts as a deterrent in other words: dare to say no to homosexual marriage, and the authorities will likely come after you. That is a great way to intimidate people into silence, and scare off most folks from ever daring to open their mouths on this vital issue.

Thus it is entirely counterproductive: if the idea was to make sure free and open debate takes place, they will instead get exactly the opposite result. They will stifle free speech, penalise those who dare to speak up on these matters, and effectively silence anyone who goes against the tide.

It is a brown shirt tactic, in other words. It is a terrific way to make sure the “Yes” case gets a full hearing, while the “No” case becomes increasingly marginalised, restricted and squashed altogether. Welcome to the Brave New World of Rainbow censorship and oppression.

And if you think things are bad now, just wait until the militants get their fake marriage. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We have been making this case for years now. Just today for example law professor Augusto Zimmermann pointed out some inconvenient truths:

Ever since the Canadian Parliament legalised it, in 2006, same-sex marriage must be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life. Civil celebrants were the first to feel the remarkable consequences of such legal change. Several provinces refused to allow civil celebrants a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings. At the same time religious organisations were fined for simply refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations. Finally, ‘Queer theory’ is now part of the compulsory school curriculum, and business owners do not have freedom to deny any service to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.
Related to this situation, in the United States, soon after that country’s judicial elite arbitrarily imposed the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the Obama administration handed down regulations requiring all entities contracting with the federal government to adhere, without exception, to absolute non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, a number of state and local governments have banned the participation of any organization that refuses to be publicly committed to non-discrimination concerning sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.

And as Tony Abbott also reminded us today:

To demand “marriage equality”, therefore, is quite misleading. Same sex couples already have that. This debate is about changing marriage, not extending it. And if you change marriage, you change society; because marriage is the basis of family; and family is the foundation of community.

Careful Cory, Augusto and Tony – your words are clearly threatening and vilifying to some. Better make sure your bank balance is ready for the possible penalties.

www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/emergency-laws-to-ban-vilification-intimidation-and-threats-in-samesex-marriage-campaign-20170912-gyfpkh.html
quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2017/09/augusto-zimmermann/
www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-on-why-same-sex-marriage-would-fundamentally-change-society-20170912-gyfi4f.html

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29 Responses to Freedom to Debate Marriage Now Greatly Restricted

  • This is happening, like in the UK under a ‘conservative’ government. if the Australian government are able to pass something like this so quickly, they can pass anything. I can’t be the only one who can see this.

  • That law is a double-edged sword?

    How about we use it on people like Benjamin Law? When lawsuits and prosecution pile up and backfires to the Yes-side, then it will be clear how ridiculous it is.

  • Thanks Sam. Well, that is the theory anyway: these laws should apply to everyone equally. But we have had decades of experience now with various state vilification and anti-discrimination laws, and they invariably are a one-way street. Conservatives and Christians are routinely at the receiving end of these laws, but hardly ever those on the other side. So I would not hold my breath here.

  • I can’t believe how quickly this has devolved. For too long people have been sitting back and saying it won’t happen – well guess what – it just happened – and will only become increasingly more oppressive. This is indeed scary! Speak up while your voice can still be heard!!

  • Yes exactly right Craig!

  • “As it was in the days of Noah …. ” Matt 24:37

  • Yes Geoff. All the more reason to work and pray harder than ever before to defend marriage from those who would destroy it.

  • I had that ‘vilify’ thing thrown at me a lot when, years ago, I was opposing the entry of people with a homosexual orientation into the priesthood and religious life. I argued that one couldn’t take a vow of celibacy if one didn’t want to get married anyway. One doesn’t vow to do something irrelevant. But what if the ‘yes’ vote gets up? I’m out of all this now but my old argument goes down the shoot. Their vow of celibacy is validated. I’ll bet they’re pleased about that! What a tangled web we weave….

  • Wow, terrifying: dead-of-night laws, largely in response to truth telling about ‘Safe Schools’.

  • Bring on the law! All the vilification I have received is from the Yes Camp. I hope they have got deep pockets.

  • Surely such a bill could not pass the lawyers scrutiny in its current form. Isn’t it unconstitutional that everyone has a right to exercise one religion and the government shall not make law prohibiting the freedom to worship, ie serve our God. What about the freedom to speak? This whole situation is a red herring and would not pass scrutiny surely? Even the Senate would not be behaving responsibly passing this bill!

  • Dear Tony, I don’t share your confidence. I saw Senator Brandis — a fake conservative — teaming up with Labor to rush this through. Senator Cory Bernardi opposed it, but to no avail. There’s no way this law would work in our favour.

    This day is just getting worse. I came home from Bible study to find this in the news:-

    www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/marriage-trashed-by-straight-people-not-gays-says-christian-lobby-boss-lyle-shelton-20170913-gygegw.html

    Are the quotes real??

  • Thanks Peter. I heard the talk he gave. His point is fair enough: with things like easy divorce, easy remarriage, affairs, adultery and so on, heterosexuals have often done a lot to trash marriage. That should be resisted as much as the attempt to redefine marriage out of existence.

  • This is a slippery Law. if someone says you have caused them anxiety & they feel threatened by your words, i.e. if you end up in court on a Domestic protection order case, for example, you are in a bind, for how can you argue, as to the ‘feelings’ a third party has had, regarding what was only a request regarding wanting an address to serve legal papers, to? if they felt threatened, then that is their personal perspective, & it is not worth trying to fight that moot point, as ultimately, it’s their reality.

  • I’d say the western church has done a lot to trash marriage with easy divorce, easy remarriage, affairs and adultery, including paedophilia. Why should we expect the world to listen to the church, when the church has not upheld marriage?

  • The saddest part of this is that the average voter doesn’t think this through.
    They are allowing these restrictions on free speech and with the Left -wing media will cheer it all on.
    I fear this legislation has made it very dangerous for anyone to suggest:
    homosexuality is a sin; with God’s help homosexuals can ‘come out’ of the homosexual lifestyle; homosexuality is not innate; transexuality is not innate; transexuals cannot ever change their gender, they can only change their appearance; children should not be taught that any is born to be homosexual or transexual, that on average children are better of with a mother and a father.

  • The Australian version of blasphemy laws in every sense
    – aimed at anyone who disagrees with the ruling paradigm
    – completely subjective
    – no one knows how high the bar will be set, so we have to assume it will be very low
    – likely to be used capriciously
    – in reality used to settle grievances and silence dissent.

  • Thanks guys. One religion and law expert just penned this about how we might understand the new law:

    lawandreligionaustralia.blog/2017/09/13/free-speech-and-vilification-in-the-marriage-law-postal-survey/

  • Yes exactly right Peter S.

  • Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is abomination to God.
    Lev 18:23 And you shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it. And a woman shall not stand before an animal to lie down to it. It is a perversion.
    Lev 18:24 Do not defile yourselves in any of these things. For in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out before you.
    Lev 18:25 And the land is defiled. Therefore I visit its wickedness on it, and the land itself vomits out those who live in it.
    Lev 18:26 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, neither the native, nor any stranger that lives among you.
    (MKJV)

  • Dear Bill, thank you for the link.

    Now that this law has received “Royal assent” does that mean we can no longer use “sodomite” to describe those who are?

    If that is the case I don’t know if I can participate any more in this debate. I cannot speak a lie even if the law says I must, and unlike Campbell Markham I am not experiencing the joy of persecution.

  • What would happen if a gay baker refused to bake a cake displaying a message the baker deemed to be offensive about homosexuality?

  • After getting over the initial shock of this news, giving it some thought, Im thinking this could actually work in the “NO” camps favour, if those who can afford it are willing to dare.
    A TV add for the NO vote, they say, costs 30 grand per day to run.
    Bring out a new add, not insulting or rude, but chock o block full of unpleasant facts & truth about the dangers of voting yes, so full of unpleasant damaging truth that it gets banned & its authors given the 12 grand fine for hurting peoples feelings.
    This sort of event would surely make big news.
    The money saved from not having to pay any more for the add, would more than cover the fine.
    The add itself would then be restricted to the internet only.
    Everyone loves to see an add thats been banned, out of curiosity.
    The add could well become an internet sensation, with more views than ever thought possible.
    The end result being the message in the add reaching a wide audience, free of charge.

    When up against nazis, let them do their worst, never be afraid to take their punishment, and never forget your mission is to bring them to justice, whatever they may throw at you in the meantime, never forget your mission.

  • What is “respectful” in one person’s eyes may be “vilification” in another’s eyes.

    By the time the Act reaches its “sunset” date, the matters before the relevant judicial authorities could conceivably be almost as numerous as the number of postal votes returned with “informal” responses to the ABS.

    Yes, ad hominem arguments may be the stock-in-trade of contemporary political activism, despite the fact that they only serve to replace awful truths with red herrings of brightest hue.

  • Adolph must be doing a jig in hell for the adoption of Nazi tactics to cower the population.

  • Hi Bill,
    I am just back from three weeks overseas, and have been able to follow some of this stuff.
    My wife just brought this legislation to my attention, and I think we need to know more about how to get around it.

    One thought is that I could put a big “NO” or “I’m voting NO” sign on my wheelie bin and leave it out longer than usual. Thousands of those will say something.
    It sounds that expressing ones voting intention may not be a problem.

    I have come back to find some responses to the “Kangaroo” letterbox leaflet.
    Two of the three accuse me of the usual things, and one asked what I meant.
    Verbal and phone responses have been positive two to one.
    And that is from a distribution of about 250 leaflets.

    There needs to be those who are willing to be “martyrs” for this cause.
    Peter and Jonny, perhaps it is the right time for us to employ the Acts 4.19-31 principle.
    We need to be harmless as doves, cunning as the serpent, and as bold as your namesakes.

  • This might be going off topic here a bit, but what I have heard from a member from my church, is that some people from Australia Post use lights to shine through the voted envelopes, which reveals which box has been marked. According to him, people from Australia Post throw away the “no”- voted envelopes as a result.

    Now, I do not know the validity of this, nor have I witnessed or heard about it from anyone else apart from him… just perhaps something to be mindful of.

  • Brownshirts, or pinkshirts? Using two old doors, I made a double-sided sign saying “Marriage = Man + Woman”, and bolted it to a flat-tray ute, which I then parked in a highly visible location beside the highway. Before day’s end, it had been defaced by a woman and two teenagers, who taped home-made signs saying “wo” in front of the word “man”.
    I had earlier some people acting suspiciously, so they must have gone home and come back ready. I got footage of them the second time, running back to their silver/grey 4-door hatchback, registration FE7166. I have removed and kept their additions, so I can return them if I see them again. I intend to put my sign in the same place tomorrow.

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