Sanctimonious thought police taking charge of national debates

Sanctimonious thought police taking charge of national debates, by Michael Sexton.

The attempts in recent days by corporations such as Coopers Brewery and public bodies such as Macquarie University to avoid any identification with Christian beliefs is a testament to the powerful regime of political correctness that now operates in Australia. Coopers quickly discovered, to its cost, that there is a big difference between a company that favours same-sex marriage, such as Qantas or PricewaterhouseCoopers, and one that suggests there may be two sides to the debate.

How has the politically correct class achieved such a high level of control over the public discussion of contestable social, eco­nomic and political questions?

Most people in the bureaucracy, the business sector and the academic community are — quite sensibly — fearful of publicly questioning the conventional wisdom on issues such as levels of immigration, the extent of the terrorist threat, dealing with unauthorised boat arrivals, and sources of energy for power generation.

Naturally this class is also in favour of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act as a protection against what it sees as the inherent racism of most Australians, and a bill of rights that would transfer decisions on many political issues from parliaments to judges, whom they consider better qualified.

The recent parliamentary committee report on 18C suggests many politicians are just as reluctant to speak out on these issues. Some members of the committee apparently favoured changes but were unwilling to be identified by name in the report.

It is true, of course, that some people have been prepared to speak out on these matters but they need to have a relatively secure position — and to be prepared for abuse in much of the media. Opponents of 18C, for example, were described in a Sydney Morning Herald editorial as conducting a “campaign to weaken hate speech laws, largely to help media and political insiders to make more money from playing to the base instincts of Australians”.

The power of the politically correct class to enforce widespread conformity — at least in public — with its views lies in its control of a range of public and private sector bodies including:
• Most departments and faculties in universities.
• Many media organisations.
• Community welfare groups.
• Professional groups for bar­risters and solicitors.
• Literary festivals and writers awards.
• Governing bodies for commercial sport.
• The system for awarding Australian honours.
• Boards of many government and private sector corporations.

These largely interlocking groups are able to exclude from their ranks anyone who expresses controversial opinions, which can be broadly defined as those that contradict or even question the canons of political correctness.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that so many people in these areas choose to adopt a discreet silence when it comes to the discussion of issues with a potential for political discord.

That’s why we started the Wentworth Report.