Everyone should be uncomfortable and upset in a liberal society.
Some will be upset when they proudly see two married men holding hands and kissing in public. Some will be upset when they need to choose another photographer when a strongly religious Christian or Muslim photographer refuses them service.
Some will be upset by speech that seems to promote Islamic fundamentalism. Some will be upset by speech that seems to promotion white nationalism.
Some will be upset by abortion being freely and legally available. Some will be upset by being shown medical images of the procedure they are about to undertake.
When we approach these difficult issues in our society, both sides should lose.
Liberalism not a utopian philosophy. It’s far from perfect. It’s messy, and no-one is entirely happy with it. And that’s the way it should be. You have to put up with people doing things you despise, or not participating in things they don’t want to, and all you can do is ignore them and avoid them as much as possible.
Because the alternative is that one side completely wins, and one side ends up with nothing to lose.
And having nothing to lose is a recipe for political violence.
Unfortunately, recent decisions do not instil confidence in me that we will avoid this fate. Instead when either side is on top, they push home the advantage.
We’ve seen liberalism break down before. It’s not pretty, and has brought misery to many millions. It saddens me that politicians on all sides are insistent on repeating history.
With one exception.
The Liberal Democrats and their sitting MP Senator Leyonhjelm, was the only MP to support same-sex marriage and broad exceptions from the anti-discrimination act for service providers. Unlike the Liberal’s proposed narrow exceptions which required one to convince courts of a religious conviction, the right to refuse was absolute, and was also not discriminatory, that is, services to opposite-sex marriages could also be refused.
Senator Leyonhjelm has been a consistent defender of free speech. Whether it be on the conservative side against 18C, or voting with the Greens against the government on overly restrictive reporting laws on historical national security matters that may simply embarrass the government or agencies.
And had the Senator been sitting in the NSW parliament, despite his support of legal and safe abortion up to viability, I’m sure he would have opposed laws that ban a particular sort of speech in a particular public place that would otherwise be completely legal.
But if more Liberal Democrats are not elected, and politics continues to be a battle between the identity politics of the left versus the identity politics of the right, liberalism will continue to be squeezed, and authoritarianism and violence will inevitably be the result.
My hope is the Australian people have enough sense to avoid this fate, and vote for politicians that may make them a bit uncomfortable but at least not encourage society into a war against itself.