One week in, and how’s the “keep-the-same-sex-marriage-yes-campaign-on-track” effort going? Well-ish, despite the best efforts of The Guardian to give the No case a bit of ammunition about groupthink and the elites. “This isn’t about political correctness,” Guardian editor Lenore Taylor writes, in a long and extraordinary article which sets out what sort of arguments the Guardian won’t be publishing.
Just about everything short of a North Korean style commitment to Yes it would seem, and a karaoke rendition of I Am What I Am. Taylor can edit the publication however she likes, and must have an eye to her audience, but the list of what she won’t consider is so long as to suggest that the Guardian closes its mind as fast as it closes its comments section.
It’s reasonable to treat pseudo-scientific surveys which purport to show that same-sex-couple-raised children get scabies or somesuch as beyond the pale. But Taylor simply dismisses any argument against same-sex marriage, ex cathedra. She appears to regard any argument from a religious basis as not worthy of consideration; arguments from a purely traditional base are not even considered. Issues of religious freedom and exemption are dismissed prior to anyone arguing them. It’s a bizarre manifesto of incuriousness and self-satisfaction. Indeed, it seems to make the point of those who argue that the same-sex marriage Yes case is about a lot more than same-sex marriage; that it is simply an instrument for the enforcement of an elite-progressive agenda on social life.
Who could doubt that it will be widely circulated by those seeking a No vote against political correctness? If the Yes case is so compelling, why the marked fear of a well-made argument to the contrary? Taylor’s programmatic statement is not only an indication of why the Guardian Australia has such an air of dull groupthink about it — it’s a betrayal of the pluralist attitude that any editor should hold.
Editorial selection, and selection in a certain political direction, is not censorship; but it’s precisely because publications have a certain direction, that a good editor should keep themselves match-fit to recognise a genuinely compelling counter-argument when they see it, and publish it. Editors who turn inward create publications that spiral inward, and eventually circle the drain. It’s a dispiriting conception of the editor’s role — and strikingly counterproductive to the Yes case.
But nothing in Taylor’s close-minded statement could equal, for sheer self-sabotage, the intervention by Tim Minchin. Hippie-haired, hugely rich, the Richard Branson of whimsical pseudo-satire released a witless, shapeless parody of “I Still Call Australia Home”. You won’t believe what he did with that last word! The ironies pile up here. The song was written as a tribute to what’s held in common by expats and in-country Australians alike by a gay man, a gay man who married Liza Minnelli — which pretty much makes Peter Allen the gayest man who ever lived — and a straight man has turned it into a blast of condescension, elitism and division, in service to a same-sex marriage Yes campaign which is trying to dispel notions that the vote is about anything other than marriage. It’s not exactly Chris Lilley/S.Mouse territory, but it’s on the way. With this sort of help, the No case won’t need to make any campaign materials; the Yes case is doing it for them.