Same-sex marriage survey sees freedom for all lost in the post

Same-sex marriage survey sees freedom for all lost in the post. By John Anderson, deputy prime minister from 1999 to 2005.

Freedom of conscience is the freedom not to be forced to act contrary to our deepest held values, those values without which we cannot even imagine ourselves being the same person. Everyone has a morality by which they live and therefore has an interest in freedom of conscience, for this freedom is the freedom from being forced to violate it and in doing so assaulting our own sense of self-respect.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the significance of freedom of conscience is to imagine what society would be like in its absence. In fact, we don’t need to imagine, for history is our guide. The classical world was described by Benjamin Constant as one in which “no importance was given to individual independence, neither in relation to opinions, nor to labour, nor, above all, to religion”. Democratic Athens’ greatest citizen, Socrates, was executed for falling foul of community opinion. …

A free society will naturally develop economic inequalities as free people seek their own individual economic advantage. The only way to increase economic equality is to decrease freedom, and perfect economic equality is the perfect absence of freedom. It is no coincidence that the most unfree (and impoverished) societies have been those that stressed equality as their overarching ideal.

Equality movements that pursue “uniformity of opinion” bring extinction to the ever-fragile state of freedom. Another Harvard political philosopher, John Rawls, noted that in a free society, without coercion of thought, the natural state regarding questions of morality and human identity is a state of disagreement. The only way to get all people to agree on heartfelt issues is to force them to do so. Freedom and universal agreement on controversial moral questions are incompatible. If you want the latter you must abolish the former, and that’s precisely what is happening around the world, and in grave danger of happening in Australia.

The ideology of “diversity”, which seeks to reset views on sexuality, gender and marriage, has emerged as the most serious bandwagon threat to democratic freedoms today. The aspiration of this movement is for a society in which everyone must conform on the issues of sexuality, same-sex marriage and transgenderism.

The modus operandi of the movement has been to use anti-discrimination and hate-speech laws to punish people and organisations who disagree. This is the strategy of “jamming” called for by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen in their influential 1989 book on gay political strategy, After the Ball. It calls for unrelenting personal attack and vilification on any who offer an alternative view. This has been a hallmark of the same-sex marriage campaign and a dangerous precedent in any society where viable responsible debate is essential to the maintenance of freedom. …

Perhaps the importance of freedom of conscience is best appreciated if we put the shoe on the other foot. Consider the debate about forcing cake makers to supply same-sex weddings against their conscience. Should a caterer who happens also to be a LGBTI activist be forced to cater for an Australian Christian Lobby conference? Should a proudly gay baker be forced to bake a cake with an anti-same-sex marriage message on it?