A recent article in the NewsDaily titled 'Why Coopers boycott could be bad news for same sex marriage' requires a comment.
This is the story in a nut shell. Coopers Brewery had sponsored a light beer celebrating the Bible Society's 200th anniversary. Coopers is a well recognised specialist beer company and long term supporters of the Bible Society and numerous other charities.
No problem. What happened next saw the fringe same-sex movement rail against Coopers and why was this – their beer bottles were utilised as a prop in a Bible Society video debate on same-sex marriage by two very civil Federal politicians.
Say that again!
The Bible Society video featured Liberal federal politicians Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie, dubbed the “MP for same-sex marriage” and “MP for traditional marriage” respectively, clinking Coopers bottles with host Matt Andrews, engaging in a discussion about the differing views on marriage equality.
That was it.
What happened next saw a loud noisy very public protest by a fringe group advocating same-sex marriage against Coopers Brewery – some Sydney and Melbourne bars and hotels immediately withdrew Coopers products.
What this means?
The article above, cited Monash University Professor in human rights law Paula Gerber. Professor Gerber said she believed the Bible Society video itself was “great” but that the boycott made many assumptions.
“I’m in favour of marriage equality but I’m also in favour of free speech,” Professor Gerber said. “I don’t see a problem with the video. It encourages exactly the civil, respectful conversations we need to be having about marriage equality.
“I think the boycott reaction may have been due to the video being created by the Bible Society and that the organisation has been perceived as anti marriage equality.” Professor Gerber said she was interested to know how many of the petition signatories had watched the video from start to finish. “Informed positions are always more useful than those who haven’t done their research,” she said.
Professor says apology not required
The article stated that Professor Paula Gerber explained - “I don’t think Coopers was in a position to apologise for anything.” Federal politician Andrew Hastie, who featured in the controversial video, told Fairfax that Coopers’ apology was a “craven capitulation” that showed “little spine”.
“The whole point of this video was to demonstrate that two MPs can disagree on a very important issue and still be friends and still respect each other,” Mr Hastie said. “The public reaction from the left has demonstrated there is something seriously wrong at the heart of our democracy…
“Are we truly free, are we truly democratic, do we allow free thought? “They [Coopers Brewery] are apologising for nothing; they’ve done nothing wrong.”
Business' finances threatened
In effect, a company such as Coopers can be effectively shut down. As Andrew Hastie questions whether we have freedom at all when free thought is challenged.
This now is the legal question - Is this an illegal act where third party laws might apply. Surely the authorities and a half decent silk could evaluate this question where such a tiny group of fringe same-sex advocates can in effect, shut down a business.
Little wonder the British people voted by Brexit, Americans voted in Trump, there is a very strong call now for 18c to be fixed after the untimely death of Bill leak at 61, as these types of things are surely creating a mix for a major pendulum swing.
This is a time for the followers of Christ to step forward and stand tall and come against such authoritarian self promoting agendas that can close down a business, in this case, a third party – where it's beer bottles were props in the video.
As a Christian, I'm wondering whether the existing strong labour laws against third party entanglements might apply here. If so, those identified calling for the boycott and the pubs that ditched Coopers might just find themselves on the other foot.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html