Better Than a Book-Burning

gay naziTraditionally, book-burners had to bide their time until the offending tome was published before they could spray the kerosene and strike a match, but modern technology and social media have changed all that. Today, when word spreads that a book which challenges the left’s preferred narrative and prevailing ideology is about to appear, the approach is pre-emptive and most definitely pro-active. As publisher Connor Court has discovered, there is no need for bonfires because intimidating printers is so much easier and far more effective. With an old-fashioned burning there is always the possibility that some books might be overlooked, go uncollected, and thus escape the flames. The modern approach aims to make sure ink is never laid on paper in the first place.

This has been the story with Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of Marriage Equality, the recently released book by Dr David van Gend, who heads the Australian Marriage Forum. Given that Australia may well resolve the issue of same-sex marriage via a plebiscite in February, 2017 (should Labor set aside its objections, that is), it would seem reasonable that those who favour retaining the existing definition of marriage might want to put their case before the voting public.

However, we are no longer living in a country where both sides of an argument enjoy equal access to the pulpit of public opinion, this being especially so just now in regard to same-sex marriage, whose advocates typify the difference in attitude between the “progressive” and “conservative” mind. Conservatives tend to believe that those who disagree are most likely ill-informed and that a civil conversation might change their minds. Those on the left, by contrast, tend to view all who differ as evil and give their arguments no more than a contemptuous dismissal. Rather than argue the point, in this instance they have pitched a narrative that paints opponents as gay-bashing bigots and jackbooted homophobes, further insisting that mass outbreaks of suicide and mental collapse must surely follow if such views are allowed to be freely expressed. When the vocal left turns out in force to oppose something — well, anything, really — respect for free speech becomes an also-ran.

The book is proving to be a hot seller, despite the best efforts of activists to sabotage it. First, the company that had agreed to print the book and with which Connor Court had enjoyed an untroubled, ten-year commercial relationship — McPherson’s Printing Group — suddenly refused, citing the subject matter. Sensing trouble, Connor Court took precautions and ran off several thousand digitally printed copies. The bare bones of this saga are detailed at the Books & Publishing website, whose account can be accessed via this link.

McPherson’s must have printed thousands of books representing a range of political positions over the years, so what led to this one’s rejection? The company’s only response to that question has been, to quote Books & Publishing,

[An] email from a McPherson’s representative reportedly reads that due to the subject matter and content of the book, ‘unfortunately I have been instructed by senior management not to proceed with printing this title’.

If McPherson’s was intimidated, even to the point of now having lost Connor Court as a client, it would not be alone. Two weeks ago, a discussion to have been held by the Australian Christian Lobby at the Accor Hotel in Sydney was cancelled after gay advocates harassed staff and launched a campaign against the venue on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The actual launch of the van Gend’s book, which took place in Brisbane, was attended by 40 protesters from a gay organisation calling itself “NOH8”. Despite its name, protesters yelled H8-ful insults at those who braved their abuse to attend the sold-out event.

Of course, a free society also means the right to free association. If a printer or hotel refuses business from whatever reason, they have that right to do so. When companies refuse to associate for no other reason but fear of the consequences threatened by third parties, this is an endorsement of bullying at its worst. More than that — indeed, worse than that —  members of the public are denied the opportunity to arrive at fully informed positions.  his is both a tragedy and an irony: who’s to say that, should the plebiscite be held, same-sex marriage supporters won’t be able to recruit supporters once their arguments have been heard?

Author van Gend is not one to be intimated; it’s not the first time he has faced censorship. He tried to air an ad on behalf of  Australian Marriage Forum during the 2015 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, broadcast on the taxpayer-funded SBS, outlining the case for traditional marriage. But SBS refused after first agreeing.

As it happens, I do not agree with all of David van Gend’s views, but I welcome his book as an addition to the public debate on the definition of marriage. The publisher itself has published both points of view, earlier in the year it published Faith, Love and Australia: The Conservative Case for Same Sex Marriage by former Tony Abbott speechwriter Paul Richie. I would encourage even supporters of same sex marriage to read the book and inform themselves of the opposing arguments. This will challenge their own position and allow them to better make their own case in the lead up to a plebiscite. That would be good for democracy, good for debate and, best of all, a gesture of support for the concept that free speech must never be gagged nor repressed.

Tim Wilms is the Co-Editor in Chief of theunshackled.net where he writes about promoting more economic, societal and cultural freedom. This is an edited and expanded version of an essay that first appeared on theunshackled.net



7 thoughts on “Better Than a Book-Burning

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    The left progressives are now the Neo Conservatives.

  • Lawriewal says:

    luvvie regressives are now and always have been neo -fascists?

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    Interesting … the closing down of ‘the contest of ideas’ … which has really only slowly ( like a thick fog) enveloped us since the feminists introduced PC (‘Ideological correctness’ – Beatrice Faust) in the 1980’s …. so thirty years or so from that – to ‘the end of ideas’. The progressives seem to think that we have arrived at the end of thought … that a continuing of the ‘contest of ideas’ would produce no better thought … that we must have arrived finally at the ‘truth’ … which seems to be a genderless, homonormal, green, feminine type of society – who are ‘obedient’ to the fetishes of even the tiniest minority. Forget the end of history … it seems that we have finally arrived at the end of thought.

  • Trog says:

    If the left had any semblance of the understanding of irony….I would suggest their views are so 1930’s.They have to know their actions are risible, surely?

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    Should indigenous football players heed the despicable call to disrespect the national anthem at the grand finals and should supporters fail to boo them loudly, that would be the unmistakable confirmation that we, as a nation, have no backbone.

  • Warty says:

    Personally, I think arguments for and against are a waste of time, in that both camps are well and truly entrenched. On the left the guts of the argument is ‘equality’, flawed as it is. On the conservative side it is a little more complicated, depending on how frank and outspoken you choose to be. You no doubt all read Julian Porteous’ article in The Australian yesterday, and a very polite, decent article, but it was perhaps too polite. Certainly he pointed out the intransigence and attitudes of uncompromising hated on the part of the pro SSM equality merchants.
    You see, possibly the bulk of the Quadrant readers were born many years ago, when the was no hint of such a thing as ‘marriage equality’ other than the fact that one would have hoped that there was respect, love and mutual support in each and every marriage (unfortunately not always the case). Homosexuality was illegal and lesbianism (as Queen Victoria informed us) simply did not exist. Then a number of we baby boomers unwisely became involved in the sexual revolution of the late 60s and 70s, where marriage (of any form) was simply inconceivable. And the minuscule blemish first implanted itself on an otherwise healthy looking apple. I need to mix metaphors here, but the seeds of confusion were probably first sown back then.
    Since then one has witnessed the gay lobby (long before SSM and before they appropriated the word ‘gay’) infiltrate advertising, the film industry, MSM and in some cases the judiciary and the white-anting began. Unfortunately, I know what community standards were like before this process began and ideas of what might be right and wrong were still largely unchallenged. Whether or not we discuss what marriage is still doesn’t get round the fact that many of the older generation see the key issue being one of moral decline and that is unarguable, when notions of an absolute standard are beyond comprehension: we live in a world that thinks change is ‘normative’ and that there are no absolutes as there is no God. If you concede that then you would have to agree to equality in marriage, because what do you measure it against?
    The problem is, if you then concede that ‘standards’ are always in a state of flux, then you by default must agree with Cory Bernardi’s ‘slippery slope’ argument, for which he was sacked from Abbot’s ministry, and I’m afraid we are already there.
    Our Rob Ellison didn’t like to be reminded of the case, but on 9th June, this year the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 7-1 that a sex act between a human and an animal was not bestiality, if there was no penetration. The fact that the accused, known only as DLW included his 15 year old daughter in unspeakable acts with their family dog seemed not to sway the esteemed judges, who seemed quite oblivious to the fact that they were opening a window to the future. Now, as I mentioned three months ago, Cory did not have recourse to this case, if he did he would have not only remained in the ministry, but may have struck a major blow against SSM. Perhaps.
    So, if standards are indeed in a state of flux, as they seem to be, then why not marriage between a man and his greyhound bitch? Or a woman and her stunning looking Saanen billy goat. Who are we to say it is disgusting?

  • en passant says:

    I don’t really care what relationships people form among themselves. It does not bother me so long as they do t behind closed doors and in private. Unfortunately, that is not the point: this is about the totalitarians bullying the populace into giving up another established norm. Chip, chip, chip.
    The more they demand and threaten and bully, the stronger my resolve to vote against any change to the status quo. Nothing to do with hatred, except a hatred of being told what I must do and think by unwashed people not nearly as smart as me – or else.
    The best personal example I have is that I am not a monarchist, but I voted against Oz becoming a Republic as the thought of President Mal was only a slightly less horrific prospect than that of PM Mal.
    The fact that the second nightmare actually occurred has proved my point in spades.
    Fortunately, despite the flawed system that put him there, at least he will soon be gone as another footnote among the pantheon of Gillard, Rudd, Fraser failures in the dustbin of history. Still, now that Rudd is no longer a contender I suppose the UN and world government might beckon.

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