Here’s the bloody thing. Conservative commentators, politicians, and policy makers abhor the term “homophobia,” or “homophobe” largely because of the suffix “-phobia” and its pre-conceived notion that that equates to a fear of LGBTQIA people. And that their actions and words are the result of that fear.
But, as a refresher, let’s check the dictionary.
Conservative politicians consistently denying access to equal marriage rights, for example? That’s prejudicial. Railing against Safe Schools because it links to a website that links to a website that links to a website that links to something else that might promote the joy of two men kissing? That’s an exhibited dislike of a subset of people.
That’s what you call “factual evidence,” and it’s a term thrown around at will in Senator Cory Bernardi‘s latest blog of self-appointed common sense.
In an email blast sent out to followers, Bernardi took party leader Malcolm Turnbull to task over comments the Prime Minister made Monday night whilst appearing on the ABC‘s flagship pissing contest ‘Q&A.’
The sole guest on the panel, Turnbull was questioned by an audience member over the vile homophobic remarks made by controversial Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman who labelled homosexuality an evil act. The audience member asked how those comments are any more abhorrent than those made by Bernardi or George Christensen in the past. Turnbull’s response, in part, read:
“I reject and condemn any comments which disparage any group of Australians, whether on the basis of their race, their religion, their sexuality, their gender.”
“You know, we have a very diverse and very successful and relatively harmonious multicultural society and it’s diverse – it’s a very diverse – we are a very diverse nation. I think it is one of our greatest strengths, if not our greatest strength. But the foundation of that is mutual respect and that – of which one of our guests here spoke a moment ago. That mutual respect is absolutely critical and so I condemn remarks which disparage Australians, whoever makes them, on the basis of their sexuality or on the basis of their religion or their gender or their ethnic background.”
When pressed further by host Tony Jones as to whether or not Turnbull had stated this directly to Bernardi, he was reasonably clear in his assertion:
“I’ve had firm discussions with a number of colleagues, yes.”
Bernardi, in his blog, practically seethed at that remark, refuting it with the kind of staunch insolence only he is seemingly able to get away with.
“By saying he’d had ‘firm discussions’ with ‘a number of colleagues’, Turnbull gave implicit support to the claim that myself and other Coalition MPs are ‘homophobic’ and implied that he’d had a conversation with me about ‘homophobia’. For the record I have never had such a conversation with any of my colleagues because they know that any such claims cannot be backed with facts.”
Facts. Factual evidence. It’s a line Bernardi falls back on to often in the blog, which is an extended defence of his own reductive beliefs; ones that are increasingly out-of-step with the Australian public, polls have shown.
“The advocates for change have determined that anyone opposed to changing the definition of one of our oldest social institutions is a ‘homophobe’. It is a term that has been levelled at me hundreds of times over the years and yet not one of my critics has been able to substantiate the slur with any factual evidence.”
“Sure, there are people who will disagree with my stance but simply disagreeing doesn’t constitute a ‘phobia’ of any description. Some seek to misquote my historical words back to me in a further smear but once again, they are relying on falsehoods to justify their cause.”
You’ve gotta wonder at which point “actively opposing legislation that would allow subsets of people access to legally binding contracts that have on-flowing familial, medical, financial, and taxation benefits” ceases being “factual evidence” of prejudicial behaviour.
Furthermore, Bernardi’s line “some seek to misquote my historical words back to me in a further smear” is an informal reference to the Q&A audience member bringing up Bernardi’s infamous linking of same-sex marriage to bestiality; a direct link that Bernardi himself has denied making.
Though it’s hard to look at the actual factual evidence and draw a conclusion of anything else, as Bernardi’s own unabridged words from 2012 will attest:
“The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society – or any other type of relationship.”
“There are even some creepy people out there… [who] say it is OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step? In the future will we say, ‘These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union’.”
“I think that these things are the next step.”
And it’s not like the ensuing years have softened the mind of Bernardi, who in writing off the citation of his own remarks as falsehoods and misrepresentation, went full circle and reconfirmed them in the very next sentence.
“An audience member sought to challenge the ‘homophobia’ within the Coalition, once again without providing any evidence, instead choosing to deliberately misrepresent my previous statements that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples will only lead to further calls for other changes down the track.”
“It’s the lived experience overseas and we’d be foolish to think it wouldn’t happen here too.”
The lived experience overseas, ay? Now who’s lacking factual evidence. Citation needed, Cory.
Fortunate we’d be if the blog merely ended there. But Bernardi’s keyboard copped further abuse, as his attentions then turned to the “sorry state of affairs” we are currently in, even dragging fellow-South Australian senator Penny Wong into the mix.
“It wasn’t that long ago that the entire Australian parliament agreed on what marriage was. According to the abusive militants they all must have been homophobes which I am sure is news to the likes of Penny Wong. Yes that’s right, she voted (along with a majority of senators) to keep marriage as it always has been when codified by the parliament in 2004.”
“She went even further during a television interview in 2010 when she said:
“On the issue of marriage I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect… that is an institution that is between a man and a woman.””
Tell me, dear Cory. Would cherry picking quotes, cutting out context, and ignoring external facts count as falsehoods and misrepresentation? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS.
Penny Wong’s quote-in-question came in 2010, prior to the Labor Party allowing their members a conscience vote on the issue of same-sex marriage; a decision that was ratified as party policy in 2011. In the interview, aired on Channel Ten, Wong’s words *in full* read as follows:
“On the issue of marriage, I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious and historical view around that which we have to respect.”
“The party’s position is very clear and that [it] is an institution between a man a woman.”
Does that sound like a politician standing in direct opposition of same-sex marriage? Or like one bound by party rules to toe what was the company line at the time? It’s words on a piece of paper published some four years ago, but even now you can practically see the clenched teeth those words were delivered through.
And it’s from there that Bernardi’s post devolves into stock-standard “leftish” bashing, bemoaning the fact that the continual denying of equal marriage rights has caused the “social justice warrior” to resort to factually accurate name-calling of “homophobe” and “bigot.”
“The demand for tolerance by leftists is nothing more than a thinly veiled insistence that you surrender your views, your values and your beliefs in favour of theirs. If you don’t, the name calling starts. You instantly become a ‘phobe’, a ‘bigot’ or worse.”
Again, citation needed. This is not, even at all, what the crux of the marriage equality argument is. It does not seek to erase traditional values of marriage, or steal its cultural or religious significance out of the hands of the heterosexual population. It’s an extension of inclusiveness, of (shock bloody horror) equality to all who wish to express their love to the person they want to spend the rest of their life with.
It’s not an attack on anyone’s religious beliefs. It’s simply stating that just as Carol and Wesley can get married in a Christian ceremony in a Church, just as Sheila and Abraham can be wed in a Synagogue, just as Nidhi and Lovepreet can take the seven sacred steps in front of a fire, so to should Steven and Nick, or Kristen and Melanie be able to gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes and say “I do” as the sun sets on a beautiful beach somewhere.
That’s reasoned discussion. And actively campaigning for legislation that denies that is the dictionary definition of prejudicial behaviour.
The one thing Bernardi does get absolutely right throughout the course of his little spiel, is this:
“The country deserves better. We need political and community leadership that won’t meekly surrender to the voices who shout the loudest. We need public policy determined by the national interest rather than the narrow band of self-interest. Most importantly of all, if we are to make any inroads at all in restoring confidence in our political system, we need to confront the truth.”
Couldn’t agree more. And with Simon Birmingham overtaking Bernardi for the top billing on the Liberal Party’s South Australian senatorial ticket – a state where the Liberal party holds a second seat by such a wafer-thin margin that any significant swing against the party to either Labor or the rampaging Nick Xenophon Team will see that second seat be the first to go – come July 2nd, we might actually bloody well get it.
Source: Cory Bernardi.
Photo: Cory Bernardi.