MUNGO MacCALLUM. Opponents of political correctness have had a ball.

Mar 20, 2017

The elitist couch crusaders of the far right have had a busy but productive week – so many pesky lefties to sneer at,, so much political correctness to whinge about. It was almost an embarrassment of carnage, which was just the way they like it.  

For starters, there was the Coopers/Bible Society advertisement which used two hard line Liberal conservatives to launch a brand of beer under the guise of running a terribly civilized debate on same sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, a number of serious drinkers found this inappropriate and divisive, and chose to exercise their own freedom of choice by trying to organize a boycott of the product. Horrifying political correctness, spluttered the crusaders, a blatant attempt to shut down free speech.

But when a group of business executives sent Malcolm Turnbull a terribly civilized letter urging him to get on with same sex marriage, the same crusaders screeched to juddering halt and then took off in the opposite direction. None of your bloody business, they howled. Shut up and go away. Your job is to provide lavish and slavish support to government economic policy irrespective of merit or coherence. That’s not free speech, that’s just interference.

And the same could be (and indeed was) said of the letter signed by Ian and Greg Chappell to the Adani board asking them to think again about their proposal to build a mega-mine in Queensland. How dare they, howled the crusaders – sport and politics do not mix.

Well, actually it was not long ago that sporting boycotts were instituted by conservative governments at the Moscow Olympics and, more crucially, against the apartheid regime in South Africa. But that was then and this is now, and in any case, coal is good for humanity.

But the crunch came when the incoming ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, said that she was not against breaking unjust laws if there was no other recourse. Anarcho-Marxist claptrap, opined Christopher Pyne, apparently an expert in such ideologies. And the crusaders fell over each other to agree: this was the end of democracy as they knew it.

Some defenders of McManus fought back, citing the great law breakers of history: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. They did not, however, take these somewhat exaggerated examples to their logical conclusion, which was that like them, McManus should expect to be jailed or assassinated or both, a fate which many of the right-wing crusaders would probably endorse.

But there is no need to go to such extreme comparisons when there are others right at home, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse,  has been wrestling with apologists of abusers who apparently feel they are above the law and did not and in some cases still will not follow it.

In particular the Roman Catholic church, the mother of many of The Australian’s own chapter of the crusaders, is fiercely opposed to revealing the crimes of the confessional – it would prefer to shelter and perhaps counsel them before moving them on to resume their offences than do their secular duty and report them to the police.

They regard the laws of their religion as superseding those of the state – rather like the Sharia Muslims, in fact. And yet the crusaders are strangely silent. But that is different: McManus is a union leader, and that makes her casual approach to industrial relations statute unforgiveable – anarcho-Marxist clap trap, in fact.

Actually I would have thought that anarchism and Marxism were incompatible, and while both deserve criticism, neither can be dismissed as claptrap. But I’m sure Christopher Pyne knows best. I read it in The Australian.

Mungo MacCallum was formerly a senior journalist in the Canberra Press Gallery.

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