In a new and bitter twist in the ongoing debate about the plebiscite we’re having because politicians lack the courage to do the job they were elected to do and just change the damn marriage laws, Lyle Shelton, managing director of the right-wing fundamentalist Australian Christian Lobby, has now called for anti discrimination laws forbidding hate speech against LGBTQI people to be relaxed, so that his tribe can argue the “no” side in the same-sex marriage plebiscite without fear of legal action being taken against them.
It’s difficult to know where to start deconstructing the bigotry of this: a Christian lobby group is demanding the right to use, with impunity, what the law defines as hate speech to argue its case against same-sex marriage.
If any group needs access to hate speech in order to argue its case about anything, it obviously has no case. The very request for impunity from the law is all the evidence needed to demonstrate that its case is already illegal, before any argument is embarked upon. However, Shelton argues that anti-discrimination laws have “such a low threshold,” anything the no side argues will make them vulnerable to the constant threat of legal action.
Shelton intends to use what he describes as “the millennia-old argument” that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Millennia-old arguments are not the best place to start when debating a point of view: they can be refuted in seconds, and besides, before proceeding with such an argument the proponent must demonstrate why longevity is an argument for anything.
I’m not a fan of marriage, however, it is currently a powerful institution and every man and woman who wants to live in that institution has the right to do so, regardless of sexual orientation. Shelton, et al, are arguing for their religious ideology. They have now admitted that they can’t make that argument without employing bullying, and discrimination. This, to me, says their religious ideology is tyrannical, as is their determination to inflict their views on those of us who do not wish to be subjected to them.
I don’t think Shelton has a hope of having anti-discrimination laws relaxed to enable him to use whatever speech he likes to argue against marriage equality. However, the upside of this unforeseen aspect of the debate about how we should run the plebiscite debate before we actually get to debating the plebiscite, let alone voting on the most unnecessary plebiscite EVAH, is that it demonstrates as nothing else can, the bigotry and tyranny of the no faction.
It also demonstrates the level of stupidity with which we are dealing, and it isn’t all on the ACL side.