ANDREW BOLT: Now you howl us down. Next, will you shut us up?

And a warning to these foul-mouthed hypocrites of the Left: you don’t just discredit your cause. You actually make many of us fear what you’d do next if you win. Now you howl us down. Next, will you shut us up?

Labor and the rest of the Left are now screaming that the public is too vicious to be trusted with the Turnbull Government’s planned plebiscite — a public vote — to decide whether to legalise same-sex marriage. They claim defenders of traditional marriage will be so abusive that gays will kill themselves in despair, so we must leave it to politicians to bring in gay marriage without any public debate.

As Labor leader Bill Shorten said this week: “A ‘no’ campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers, and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many.”

Leave aside the recklessness of Shorten suggesting to the vulnerable that suicide is not just an option but understandable.

Leave aside this moral blackmail to shut down a serious debate over a critical tradition meant to keep families together.

Leave aside Labor’s selective concern about people possibly dying, when it contemptuously ignored warnings in 2008 of the lethal consequences of it scrapping our border laws — and lured 1200 boat people to their deaths.

Let’s look instead at the record. Who exactly is doing the worst of this “hate speech”?

Sure, there are ratbags on both sides of the debate in the sewers of Twitter or on our meaner streets.

But judge this debate by the leaders of it — the politicians, the press and main activists.

There’s not just Shorten, denouncing the alleged hate speech of opponents while in the same breath accusing them of persecuting gays to their deaths.

There’s also Greens MP Adam Bandt, who this week warned Christian groups would “spread their hate-speech through a plebiscite”, yet then smeared “bigots like Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby”.

Then there’s Bernard Keane of Crikey, likewise wringing his hands and warning that “for Australia’s LGBTI communities, the plebiscite will be a highly personal attack”, only to then vilify the luckless Shelton as a “creep” and “fact-free hypocrite” who was “obsessed with sex” and “a nauseating piece of filth”.

Or take novelist and Fairfax columnist John Birmingham, sanctimoniously warning this week of “the poison certain to be injected into our politics” by the plebiscite.

Having put on his chic halo, Birmingham, too, felt licensed to unleash the poisonous hatred he’d just denounced, attacking opponents of same-sex marriage as “weirdos” — “a sweating pig circus of morons and bigots” wanting to “mangulate their hate boners in the marriage equality plebiscite”.

How many more examples of this hypocrisy do you need? How about Equal Loves campaigner Anthony Wallace, warning against the vileness of opponents and vowing to “shut down their hate speech”. Yet there he was at a rally with Bill Shorten, shouting: “Tony Abbott, stick your plebiscite where the sun don’t shine.”

The important issue here is not the hypocrisy. It is the tendency of so many in the same-sex marriage push to dehumanise, demonise and abuse their opponents.

These are people who consider opponents of same-sex marriage so vile that they must be not answered but shouted down. Even silenced.

Already we’ve seen this totalitarian streak made clear. Greens candidate Martine Delaney dragged the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart to the Tasmanian anti-discrimination commission for politely arguing against same-sex marriage in a pamphlet. The commission even ordered the archbishop and his bishops to defend their opinions until Delaney dropped her complaint.

Suddenly, the defence of traditional marriage — until recently the policy of both Labor and the Liberals — is not just legally dangerous but a social sin.

Marriage Alliance, a grassroots organisation, last year booked and paid for television advertise­ments supporting traditional marriage. Channel 9 and Foxtel ran them, but Channel 7 and 10 refused.

So what next?

Once we get same-sex marriage will these punishers stop there? Or, convinced their foes are filthy bigots, will they just keep going, not just screaming down the traditionalists but demanding laws to silence them?

Will priests be allowed to refuse to marry gay couples? Will bakers be punished if they refuse to bake the wedding cake? Will defence of traditional marriage be made a crime?

Don’t dismiss these worries as far-fetched. See how same-sex marriage crusaders are acting already. What makes you think victory will make them stop?

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