FREE SPEECH: There was a time when journalists backed free speech—an important article by Chris Uhlmann, ABC News political editor and married to a Federal Labor MP, who sometimes shows healthy signs of independence and integrity. Chris accidentally became a leftist outcast last week, but now he fights back.
It had been prompted by an interview where an American tolerance commissar opined it was appalling, in a democracy, that people opposed to abortion and gay marriage were allowed to air their toxic views. This progressive truth was so self-evident it went unremarked by the interviewer.
But that defending free speech could be cast as a crime against tolerance screams something very disturbing about our times.
That some who lit torches with the mob were journalists says a lot about the state of the media. These reporters have appointed themselves the prefects of progressive verities. That is disturbing because when journalists parade as pointers to moral true north then check your bearings, we have drifted badly off course. Yet I had naively hoped that free speech was one of the few things on which journalists in a democracy could agree: neutral ground in the culture wars. I had long feared this was not the case and so it proved.
Tolerance is the totem of our age, a bumper sticker of virtue. Yet hidden in its many meanings is the doublespeak of defining what will be taboo. It is now considered tolerant to demand silence from nonconformists.
I hoped to remain indifferent to the inevitable change in marriage laws. But that will be impossible if those who cast themselves as oppressed seek to become oppressors. If offending the new ruling hegemony is prohibited then I stand with the right of the minority to disagree.
Stripped of their fashionable clothes, what’s striking about the tolerance police is how similar these new moralists are to the old. They pursue heretics with an inquisitor’s zeal, blinded by the righteousness of their cause.