The Bible Society’s Marriage Equality campaign has received a massive amount of attention. Just not the kind it was prepared for. 

Two Liberal MPs, Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson, featured in the now-infamous video, having a beer and a chat about marriage equality, with both of them agreeing to disagree. The purpose of the video was to point out that the debate could happen civilly. It was a piece that meant well, but ultimately fell on its face due to its pointlessness and banality. Bless their hearts for trying to have a conversation rather than enter a shit-slinging fest, which is so often how we communicate with each other politically nowadays.

 

Predictably, there was backlash, but not for the reason I expected. I figured the negative reaction would have more to do with the asinine nature of the “Hey, guess what kids? People can disagree without killing or insulting each other, who knew?!” video, and less to do with the insane interpretation of it as a homophobic endorsement of the lynching and oppression of all homosexuals.

 

Coopers has attempted to distance itself from the furore, but pubs have already stymied the flow of their beers with boycotts galore. On the surface, the boycotts seem a noble move. Coopers has long benefited from Bible Society donations, and this video lends validity to the anti-marriage equality argument simply by allowing it to air.

 

But this raises further questions. If the point of the video is to encourage debate while demonstrating that one can indeed debate this issue with respect to both sides – why the disproportionate anger? They were just talking.

Coopers, cowed by the immediate and rabid outrage, issued an apology. Not only that, it also said it would cancel its limited-edition Bible Society beer and join the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group.

 

However, the Liberal MPs in the video have come to its defence.

 

Hastie said of the outrage surrounding the video, “It demonstrated that the left demand your surrender if you disagree with them, they shut down dissent and at their heart they are totally illiberal.”

 

And you know what? I’m inclined to agree.

 

Many argue that hate speech has no place in our society; that there are no laws that protect or support a right to say whatever we want with impunity. But I don’t see any evidence of hateful or violence-inciting speech in this video.

 

I think the level of outrage lobbed at this entire thing has emerged from a deep, fathomless guilt.

 

 

Think about it: so many young, progressive people down Coopers beers without a second thought. When faced with the realisation that the company might have aligned itself with a group or ‘side’ that is perhaps socially not in vogue, they scramble to assuage their guilt by hurling as much righteous abuse as they can muster against the company. Then after the company apologises and surrenders its spine, everyone can go back to happily getting pissed, conscience clear.

 

I mean, if these outraged masses really cared, they could join and help marriage equality campaigns across the country, but I suppose it’s easier to have a ready-made vehicle that you can use to ease your guilt and simultaneously excuse yourself from having to do anything more. Neato.

 

The rest of us homos can continue being second-class citizens while this is all happening. It’s clear that Australian society values its foul obsession with alcohol much more than its duty to human rights. So what else is new?

Arca Bayburt writes her Out & About column in the BRAG every week. You can help support marriage equality at equalitycampaign.org.au.