FREE SPEECH II: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Truth-telling now denounced as hate speech
, October 29, 2011
Recent articles of mine have provided one example after another of how, in the modern Western world, the militant political activists have all but destroyed democracy and freedom of speech.
We have come into such eerie times that the revolutionaries have now managed to convince many that simply speaking the truth should be illegal. All too often nowadays, truth is classified as “hate speech”.
A whole raft of bad laws has brought us to this point. Various anti-discrimination laws, anti-vilification laws, and so on, are now being used as a ruthless enforcer of politically-correct orthodoxy, and any dissent from the accepted line is now met with the heavy hand of the law.
Consider the most recent case. In June, the Brisbane Courier-Mail invited a Christian doctor in Queensland, Dr David van Gend, to write an article in defence of heterosexual marriage. For being willing to do this, he was taken to task by radical homosexual activists and was forced to appear before the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland. The case was recently thrown out, fortunately. But it cost the doctor no end of grief.
That is what these laws are in effect designed to do. If they cannot directly silence you, they will indirectly keep you trampled underfoot with plenty of time-consuming court cases and legal expenses. It is all part of the war against Christianity.
Fortunately, some remaining voices of sanity are standing against this blatant anti-Christian bigotry. Two important opinion pieces last week, along with a vital Senate speech, have sought to reinsert some common sense and reality into the debate.
Let me begin with the words of columnist Miranda Devine: “With its intolerance and standover tactics, the more militant arm of the gay lobby is shooting itself in the foot. Saying anything that is not wholly supportive of the gay-rights agenda is the new taboo — with same-sex marriage and adoption the hottest of hot-button topics at the frontline of the culture wars.…
“Personal vilification is the chief tactic of the activists, whether they are gay campaigners, militant libertarians or simply bystanders using the issue as a badge of identity. Opponents of same-sex marriage are being dragged before anti-discrimination tribunals with complaints that are, at times, withdrawn at the 11th hour. But mud sticks, and the time, expense and stress of the process can make defenders of traditional marriage inclined to keep their heads down in future.”
She continues: “Toowoomba physician David van Gend is their latest target, forced to attend a compulsory mediation on Thursday by the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland over an article he wrote for Brisbane’s Courier-Mail in June. ‘If you hold to the old-fashioned idea a baby deserves both a mother and a father, (Queensland ALP president) Andrew Dettmer calls your views “abominable”,’ wrote Dr van Gend, a spokesman for the Family Council of Queensland.
“Echoing Dettmer, van Gend wrote that what ‘approaches abominable’ was for IVF children of a gay couple to be ‘compelled to live their whole lives without a mother’. A member of Gay Dads NSW filed a complaint under the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act, forcing van Gend to mediation.
“The complaint was withdrawn but van Gend is still irate. ‘I had to cancel a dozen patients to front up and it cost me thousands in legal advice,’ he says. ‘It cost him (the complainant) an email and a conference call.’ The complaint was ‘utterly worthless [but] the problem of these laws is they cost innocent people lots of money and time’.”
Devine cites others who have had to pay the price: “Anyone daring to assert that, generally, children are better off with a mother and a father, a fact supported by research, is vilified to their reputational grave. If you are worried about free speech, this is as serious a threat as any.
“For instance, IBM and the ANZ pulled advertising from the website On Line Opinion earlier this year because it ran a piece by the Australian Family Association’s Bill Muehlenberg opposing gay marriage. The website has run more columns in support of gay marriage than against it, according to editor Graham Young. But that doesn’t matter. Muehlenberg is an untouchable, and the big corporates bowed to bullying.” (Sydney Daily Telegraph, October 15, 2011).
Angela Shanahan also has written about the Queensland case: “That the complaint did not succeed in going further is neither here nor there. The mere fact the onus was on van Gend to prove his innocence of something that amounts to a person being offended by his point of view should be a warning against this law.
“As for van Gend, he is left wondering what next for other individuals with an opinion, even newspaper letter writers: ‘I had nothing to “conciliate”. I resent being compelled to allocate patient consultation time to converse with this Sydney homosexual activist, as I consider that to be rewarding political harassment … at the personal cost of some thousands in legal advice and time off work, and the wearing of a defamatory accusation of being a hate-speaker and vilifier. [What of] the next complaint that any activist cares to lodge with the commission? I have to go through the same disgusting process’.” (The Australian, October 15, 2011).
On October 12, Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) Senator Ron Boswell gave an important speech on this case in particular and freedom of speech in general.
He said in part: “I did not think that we lived in an Australia where a disagreement of opinion can result in hauling someone before an anti-discrimination board. This is a country where we agree to disagree. This is a country where a two-sided debate can exist. This is a country where people are not intimidated from sharing their point of view. Or is it? First Andrew Bolt, now David van Gend.
“I know many people do not agree with their views and I know many who do. It seems that tolerance for the views of others goes out the window if you are from the Left and you do not like to hear an opposing argument. These are the same people who preach tolerance on everything, yet in fact they are the least tolerant when it comes to open debate.
“Dr van Gend expressed his views that, essentially, a child deserves a mother and that compelling a child to live his life without a mother approaches the abominable. Is that really a sentiment, which was expressed by a caring, mature, educated, medical doctor that can trigger a compulsory action under anti-discrimination law?
“The case of Dr van Gend makes a mockery of the anti-discrimination law. It lowers the value of free speech in Australia. If people like Dr van Gend are forced to appear before the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland, that is a threat to one of Australia’s greatest freedoms: the right to free speech. It is a major disincentive to people making a contribution to debate across Australia.
“Tomorrow will be a sad day for free speech in Australia. How has a country like Australia come to this? Anti-discrimination bodies should not be used as star chambers by those who simply do not like what someone else says.” (Senate: Hansard, October 12, 2011).
Quite right. All over Australia these draconian and anti-democratic laws are being used to silence dissent, squash alternative points of view, and promote a ruthless PC agenda. Today it is Andrew Bolt, David van Gend, and Graham Young. Tomorrow it will be you and me. Unless, that is, we stand up and speak out against this new fascism.
Former US President Ronald Reagan put it well when he said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”
This is certainly true of Australia as well. Either we stand up and be counted now, or we will quickly lose it all. The choice is fully ours.
Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com
Miranda Devine, “Call off the thought police”, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 15, 2011.
Angela Shanahan, “Discrimination police indulging in gay abandon”, The Australian, October 15, 2011.
Senator Ron Boswell (Liberal National Party, Queensland), Matter of Public Importance: Freedom of Speech, Senate: Hansard (Canberra, Australia), October 12, 2011.