Free speech suffers no bullies

I understand that all Australians will not agree on same-sex marriage, euthanasia, refugees, and other such matters. I do, however, think that Australians should be united in favour of free speech and religious freedoms while united against the likes of child abuse, domestic violence, and crime. 

What remains of a Judeo Christian world view has us recognise that sin is with us to stay and that there will always be a criminal element who see advantage in crime. Horrifying as it may seem there are some within our society who would advocate the perversity of pedophilia. With some 650 reported cases of domestic violence per day it is clear that not all Australians think violence is to be abhorred in the home. 

I still believe that no balanced, respectable Australian would tolerate any minority who indulge in crime, child abuse or domestic violence.  

My concern is how we would respond to the criminal, abusive, violence of those who would silence free speech or freedom of religion. These concerns lay at the heart of many thinking Australians like the former Prime Minister, John Howard, journalist Paul Kelly and others. 

I was horrified by the weekend report by Miranda Divine which reported on a situation in which 15 students set up an information table on the Sydney University campus with a placard saying: “It’s ok to say no”. They tried to offer discussion on why it is ok to say “no” in the postal survey on same sex marriage. The outcome was less than civil debate as 40-60 activists arrived with a megaphone and for the next five hours screamed abuse. They upended tables, stole pamphlets, through condoms and basically disgraced themselves and their “yes” campaign.

Bad poetry, violence, unintelligent silencing of another’s views may be disappointing in infants school… but at university? 

Added to this mayhem Divine writes, “Its ok for Ian Thorpe to front the “Yes” campaign… But its not ok for Wallaby star Israel Folau respectfully to disagree. “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally, I will not support gay marriage” he tweeted last week to a chorus of criticism. 

I may find myself in disagreement with the “Yes” campaign but I acknowledge the right of people to think differently and their right to respectfully and intelligently defend their reasoning. However when I see attempts to close down debate with violence and abuse I can only be concerned for what will come next if the outcomes are in the favour of the abusive. 

Good Australians know the virtue of respectful free speech and freedom of religion and good Australians know that we must never let the bullying tactics of some win the debate.

If they bully an outcome you can be sure that the bullying will not cease with a single win. Despite the bullies and in response to the bullies I still think it is ok to say, NO”.

Rational dialogue: Good Australians know the virtue of respectful free speech and freedom of religion.

Rational dialogue: Good Australians know the virtue of respectful free speech and freedom of religion.

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