THE AUSTRALIAN: By Jennifer Oriel Columnist
In the gay marriage debate, the Labor Party and Greens want to silence public reason to impose their will on citizens.
They believe the state should rule the citizen, not the reverse. They regard the will of the people as a threat to their power. Thus, they seek to deny the Australian people the opportunity to engage in public reason on the question that forms the foundation of a healthy society: what is the meaning of marriage and family?
The proposed plebiscite is an opportunity for the Australian people to revitalise democracy by engaging in a process of public reason as we consider the meaning of marriage and family in the 21st century. It is a positive opportunity to learn from each other and challenge ourselves as we exercise reason, logic, free thought and speech to question the most fundamental social institution of society.
Gay and bisexual people should not be held captive in the centre of the marriage debate because it does not begin with the question of homosexuality. It begins with defining marriage and family and the role of the state and church authority in relation to each.
A part of the reason that the marriage debate is so angry is that the Green-Left is hostile to the exercise of public reason. Like children who throw tantrums because they lack verbal fluency, Green-Left politicians must learn to use their words. It is possible that they do not know how to discuss the question of gay marriage because they are uneducated in the philosophy of marriage, family and society. An intelligent person would take that ignorance as an opportunity to learn.
But the Green-Left’s ignorance is equalled only by its arrogance. Its activists learn only to confirm their worldview. In the classroom of the Green-Left, the citizen learns what to think, not how to think. The mind is stunted, vital questions wither on the branch, the world contracts, the citizen is hollowed out and over time, democracy begins to die. In the classroom of the Green-Left, the lights go out on enlightenment.
We renew our faith in enlightenment and human reason by affirming that democracy begins with the citizen, not the state. It is built by each generation anew on the foundations that preserve its perpetuity: the secular separation of state from church authority, universal law, political liberty, formal equality, freedom of speech and public reason.
The degradation of the foundations of democracy by the 21st century Left has no parallel in Western history. The hard Left attacks democracy using rhetorical and political tools born of a profoundly anti-democratic impulse. They seek to quash a free people’s vote on the meaning of marriage — the plebiscite endorsed in the federal election — by enforcing rule from above.
They replace public reason with emotionalism, objectivity with bigotry, freedom of speech with the mobbing of those who dissent from the Left party line.
Liberal MP Tim Wilson supports the plebiscite because he believes in free speech and democracy. Last week on Twitter, he was subjected to abhorrent abuse by Left activists who took their cue from Labor leader Bill Shorten and Greens leader Richard di Natale to accuse plebiscite advocates of hypothetically killing children. They smeared Wilson as a “disgrace to humanity” and a threat to gay youth.
But consider who poses the real threat — the politician who puts Australians’ right to free speech and democracy before his personal yearning for gay marriage, or Left activists who respond with tweets like: “F..k you hard”. The violent bigotry of the anti-democratic Left emerged once more when gay marriage activists forced the censorship of a group hoping to discuss the proposed plebiscite in relation to Christian ideas about marriage. Not content with targeting gay politicians who dissent from the Left party line, activists allegedly threatened violence against hotel staff for agreeing to host the small Christian group meeting. As reported by David Crowe in The Weekend Australian, the Accor Hotels group was so concerned about the threatening calls by gay marriage activists that it cancelled the function. The silencing of Christians by Left activists represents a gross violation of the human rights to freedom of thought and speech, freedom of movement and assembly.
The Left was once a constructive force for public reason powered by free thought and speech, objective scholarly inquiry, logic and the art of rhetoric. But in the 21st century, the Left has become what it once fought; a stifling orthodoxy of irrational establishment conformists who dominate by means of oppression and rule from above without reason.
It is the embodiment of a negation. It negates freedom. It negates universal law. It negates the scientific method by replacing reason with subjective emotion and political correctness in scholarly inquiry, public debate and jurisprudence. It negates secularism by denying the separation of powers between state and church authority, seeking instead the expansion of state power over the church.
And in the most self-annihilating doctrine of the modern Left, its members have negated formal equality by erecting a regime of codified minority supremacy. Having dispensed with liberalism and formal equality, the Left is now turning on democracy. The marriage debate has exposed the fundamentally anti-democratic constitution of the Green-Left.
Public reason is the marrow of democracy. The process of political deliberation and debate infuse democracy with meaning by encouraging the free flow of ideas towards resolution in informed choice by the majority. The majority of Australians have chosen a plebiscite to resolve the question of marriage reform.
In ancient Greece, the birth of democracy by public reason was held in contrast to politics by divination. The idea that the citizen should create and re-create the state by actively engaging in public reason is the constitution of progressive democracy. Rule from above by appeal to divination — religious or ideological — marks the end of democracy as an enlightenment project.
The proposed marriage plebiscite is the idea of democracy made manifest. Let the people speak — and be heard.