Saturday, 18 January 2014

Don't dare disagree.

If you are losing a debate you thought you had won what do you do?

We know now what the proponents of Same Sex Marriage do when faced with the awful truth that you need more than a cheap slogan and three insults to win an argument: turn to fascism and shut down the debate on the grounds that anyone speaking against your proposition is responsible for your personal misery and crimes committed against gay people. You scream "homophobia" loud and long. This is an attempt to restrict debate, an attack on free speech as insidious and nasty as any coercive censorship.

As a gay man I have come to loathe the smug, self appointed representatives of gaydom, the activists that claim to speak for me while viciously trying to shut me up. One had the stupidity to tell me on live radio that he "represented gay people" and it is possible that he believed he did. Others have applied all the strength of their fourth-hand, fifth-rate amateur psychology to declare me a self-loathing, damage-internalising, Stockholm syndrome-suffering, homophobic, mentally ill Judas with a desire for cheap publicity. Still others have expressed a simple, and to them, rational desire to kill me.

I have gotten off lightly.

The small group of people who make up the Iona Institute are seen as the biggest threat to the activist designed paradise and it is for them that the most vicious attacks have been reserved. Delenda est David Quinn and the weapon is the crime of "homophobia". The allegations are horrible. Quinn does not oppose redefinition of marriage and the diminution of children's rights from a logical viewpoint, he has a pathological fear of gay people. Worse, his very arguments hurt gay people and directly encourages brutal physical attacks on them. David Quinn is a monster. Nothing to see here folks, just some scared beasts lashing out.

It is a simple, satisfying and ancient tactic. Vilify and demonize your opposition, create a monsterous and iconic Aunt Sally, then you need not ask who would listen to such a person. It is the tactic of the bully and the coward, of those who do not have a credible, useful case to make. The defamation has a purpose. If you can't play the ball, play the man. With no winning argument the gaystabo are reduced to villification. It is also a tactic that cannot work in a law abiding society where a persons reputation and persona has even vestigial legal protection.

In a free society every citizen is entitled to their opinions and everyone to their reputation. The ridiculous pretence that it is homophobic to resist the redefining of marriage as a near meaningless companionship agreement only makes sense to a dwindling group of extremists. The self appointed leaders of the gay victimhood cult have no right to silence others nor no legal standing to destroy the reputations of dissenters.  There are hard facts that they will have to face. Repeating a slur does not make it true nor does belief make truth of a lie. In a republic, a drag queen, however inflated his sense of his own importance, has no higher legal rights than any ordinary citizen. It is courts that decide what is damaging and libelous, not a handful of ill informed social media denizens.

The routine use of the charge of homophobia to bully dissenters is not just poor public discourse, it cheapens the charge to irrelevancy. The left's use of demonizing phobia charges is explored in a wonderful blog piece, Liberal Intifada, but either homophobia means something nasty or it means nothing at all. When Brendan O Connor's guest denounced John Waters, Breda OBrien and others at Iona as homophobic, either it was a serious attack or the rant of a fool. The damage done to public debate and to their reputations does not depend on the difference.

Language matters. Free speech matters. If the powerful and well connected can destroy the reputation of those with which the disagree, debate is impossible. Defamation laws exist to protect citizens from destuctive personal attack but also to serve to protect our ability to debate the important issues. Who would debate if the cost was to have one's name becomeing a hissing and a byeword?

 I hope that David Quinn and the small group at Iona pick themselves up after their terrible loss, find the very best legal advice possible and use this as a teaching moment. Civilised debate in Ireland needs that.

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