Culture

By Comparing LGBTQI Activists To ISIS, Miranda Devine Proves How Desperate Conservatives Now Are

This kind of rhetoric is hateful and harmful. But it also proves that opponents of marriage equality know they're going to lose in the end.

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This week in respectful public debate: conservative commentator Miranda Devine has penned a column about marriage equality, and even by recent standards it’s pretty nauseating. In an article that appeared in today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph, Devine spat fire at the “militants” out to impose “radical change” on “gentle Christians”, before straight up comparing marriage equality activists to members of the Islamic State.

In her defence, the Nazi analogy had already been taken.

Bill Leak Just Gave Us A Preview Of What The Anti-Marriage Equality Debate Is Going To Look Like

“It is true that the marriage debate has unleashed hatred from intolerant authoritarians. But the victims are not loved-up LGBTIQ folk,” wrote Devine. “They are gentle Christians and other defenders of traditional marriage who have been vilified for daring to hold a contrary view. Those courageous enough to raise a head above the parapet are brutally made examples of.”

“It’s the social form of warning off perfected by ISIS when they publicly behead people or lower them in cages into swimming pools or stage any number of elaborate tortures as a lesson to others who might dare even think of being disobedient.”

“Social death awaits those who defy the fashionable position on marriage.”

Social death. As opposed to actual death. The actual death being inflicted upon actual LGBTQI people who have been specifically targeted by Islamic State. Incidentally, if you feel a white hot burning sensation at the base of your skull right now, don’t worry. That is the correct reaction to this kind of inflammatory rubbish.

On the issue of the expensive, non-binding plebiscite that looks less and less likely to happen, Devine accused marriage equality supporters of being unwilling to compromise. “If the other side doesn’t want to come half way, then so be it,” she wrote. “Take our olive branch and shove it where the sun don’t shine.”

“Even if the marriage ‘equality’ activists win in parliament they won’t win,” she added. “Everyone will know the outcome was rigged, and that the change merchants didn’t trust the Australian public to legitimise this radical change to our foundational social institution.”

“We will know that victory was only achieved through lies and intimidation.”

Devine goes on to reference a number of recent incidents where opponents of marriage equality have allegedly been threatened or made to feel intimidated. And for the record, she’s right in saying that that kind of thing is not okay.

Then again, it’s also not okay to compare people to war criminals just because of who they want to marry.

Reacting to people like Devine – as well as those who frequent the comments section below her articles – is always a tricky proposition. On the one hand, it’s very tempting to scream and shout abuse. Because let’s be honest: what she’s writing isn’t just offensive – it’s also legitimately harmful to the mental wellbeing of LGBTQI Australians.

On the other hand, the more you do that, the more she and her supporters dig in.

Now for the silver lining. From reading her ridiculous article, it’s pretty clear that Devine knows that she’s on the losing side. She admits that public support for the plebiscite is waning, even as she does her level best to blame that fact on a campaign of “intimidation” by “the militant arm of Marriage Equality and Labor”.

I guess the alternative – that people want the law to change now, without more pointless delays – is something that she’s just not ready to accept.

Likewise, her assertion that “a politician-led change will never be seen as legitimate” smacks of desperation. It’s a bit like Malcolm Turnbull blaming his embarrassing election night performance on a Labor scare campaign, or Donald Trump suggesting the presidential election might be rigged.

Here’s the truth: Miranda Devine and the mean-spirited or unsympathetic people who share her views are going to lose this fight. Ideally it’ll happen soon, before we get more hatred like this frequently filling our country’s largest newspapers; if a plebiscite is pushed it could take much longer.

But make no mistake: in the end, love will win.