Boycotting the marketplace of ideas
For many years now, Coopers Pale Ale has been the favourite drink of Australia’s progressives. It’s easy to see why; it is Australian made, relatively cheap, ferments in the bottle, and is owned and operated by the fifth generation of the Coopers family. It is, respectively, local, affordable, fancy, and authentic. It tastes okay, too. For the Aussie looking to get hammered whilst rebelling against multinational conglomerates, Coopers has been the obvious choice. And yet, although their customers are often of the flannelette-wearing variety, the Coopers family aren’t exactly hipsters themselves. They’re Jesus people. Also, they have have been generous benefactors of the South Australian Liberal Party, for all the good that’s done over the last fifteen years.
Coopers recently announced special edition cans of premium light beer to celebrate the Bible Society’s 200th anniversary. Despite the obvious heresy – there’s nothing godly about light beer – nothing newsworthy ensued. However, a subsequent promotional video uploaded by the Bible Society, featuring said beverage, has invoked harsh invective and calls for a boycott from leftists across the country. The video in question features two backbench Liberal MPs, Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson, debating the merits of same sex marriage. Speccie contributor Wilson (who is openly gay) supports it, and Hastie (who looks, sounds and thinks like a young Cory Bernardi) is opposed. There’s nothing hateful or antagonistic in the conversation. At one point, Hastie seems to actually confess love for Wilson.
It was supposedly the first in a series called ‘Keeping it Light’, in which otherwise ‘heavy’ topics would be broached in a friendly manner. How, you ask, is that offensive? With honour at the stake, the Left find quarrel in a straw.
Progressive PC media outlets like Fairfax, SBS, Triple J, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and so on, have posted story after furious story, insisting that this is a PR mess and thereby making it so. A change.org petition emerged, demanding a boycott of Coopers until they supported Marriage Equality. A few music venues across the country, seeking and finding praise, joined suit. Fitzroy’s The Old Bar wrote a Facebook post announcing they’ll ‘no longer be purchasing any stock from Coopers’. At the time of writing, more people had ‘liked’ that status than had actually viewed the offending video. Pedestrian.tv, in one of five such hit pieces (thus far) on their site, wrote that Coopers had ‘f–ked it real hard’. How, exactly? Because, it seems, a respectful debate about marriage equality is impossible. Apparently, those in favour of the law as it has stood since time immemorial do not have a ‘legitimate and rationally defensible’ argument, and a serious though convivial conversation on same sex marriage is ‘wildly condescending’ to Queer Australians.
Those calling for action have not done so because the evidence suggests Coopers Brewery is a homophobic institution. In fact, Coopers sponsor Adelaide’s gay-art Feast Festival. Not exactly what one would expect from a rabidly anti-gay brewer. They also support Canteen, Autism SA and Riding for the Disabled, though that doesn’t seem to have bought them much good will with which to weather this storm.
Progressives have gone in for the kill because Coopers were supportive of a charity, who in turn recorded a convivial discussion about gay marriage. Merely having a connection to a group that promotes honest, friendly discourse, is now enough to threaten a company. There has been a small counter-boycott but, almost by definition, individualists are neither sufficiently organised nor single-minded enough to fight and win these battles. The retaliatory conservative hashtag #illdrinkwithcoopers has been tweeted no more than eight times. Coopers are in crisis mode. In multiple press releases they’ve made clear that although their beverage was consumed in the video, they neither approved of, nor sponsored the content. In a sweaty, scripted, dead-eyed clip uploaded to twitter, head honchos Melanie and Tim Cooper insisted that they were ‘incredibly saddened by the impact our involvement with the Bible Society has had on our valued Coopers drinkers,’ that ‘our company supports marriage equality,’ and that they had ‘canceled the release of Bible Society commemorative cans’. It is tempting to compare this to a Stalinist show trial, so that’s what I’m going to do: this is very similar to a Stalinist show trial.
The rhetoric the Left has used throughout the controversy is poisonous, and contrary to the very soul of democracy. It is exactly the sort of argument which forced the Liberals to abandon the same sex plebiscite, despite their clear electoral mandate to do so. Progressives, once champions of open discourse, now insist that public debate is too hurtful to be endured. They will not trust us to speak amongst ourselves, lest errant ‘incorrect’ views drive sensitive persons to self harm. If deplorable persons were to voice their uninformed opinions, the LGBT blood would be on their hands. The Left will not allow the ‘normalisation’ of contrary opinions, and brand their opponents ‘fascist’ with a fascistic fervour. They are bald-facedly demanding that public consultation be removed from public life. Brexit and the Trump Presidency, we are informed, are proof that the proletariat cannot be trusted to vote in their own self interest. ‘We don’t need a debate’, insists the modern left, ‘we need action’. By the way, all polls suggest that Australians would have voted in favour of implementing gay marriage, which is to say that if we had had a debate, we would also have had action by now.
Of course, one has the right to demand a boycott of any product. One has the right to boycott Coopers, or Uber, or Ivanka Trump, or the Israelis, or whomsoever the Twitter elite have decided one should boycott next. The horror is not that Leftists are trying to use the marketplace as a weapon, it is that they’re pointing their weapons at the marketplace of ideas.
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