A Tale of Twitter, Two Journalists, and a Telling Dispute

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-LGBTI-Bullies.jpgLike all Australians, journalists have a lot at stake in the marriage debate. With their jobs essentially dependent on freedom of speech and expression, one would think that journalists would recognise each other’s right to hold an opinion on the issue. Not so according to the “yes” campaign.

As journalist Caroline Marcus wrote, the bullying tactics of same-sex marriage activists are doing more to push people away from the “yes” campaign over to the “no” campaign.

IF GAY marriage advocates and their media allies want to see the “No” vote triumph in the plebiscite, they’re going about it in exactly the right way ... Now, I say this as someone who is sympathetic to the same-sex marriage cause, someone already mentally planning the outfits that’ll be best to tear up the dance floor at the fabulous future weddings of her gay friends.

But if the dirty tricks we’ve seen since the plebiscite was first tabled at the end of last year continue, activists are almost sure to push many like me into the negative column. They certainly aren’t doing anything but strengthen the resolve of the one-in-four already against gay marriage, nor are they likely to tip the 13 per cent on the fence to their side.

Among Marcus’ example of bullying tactics, she called out Lateline host Emma Alberici for her viperous attacks against those who disagree with her:

[H]ysterical hyperbole has become the fallback of the “Yes” brigade. Lateline host Emma Alberici has been one of the worst offenders, breathlessly accosting Finance Minister Mathias Cormann for his party’s “bickering” with a story about her daughter’s 15-year-old friend who had been kicked out of home after coming out to his family.

While terribly sad, Alberici doesn’t explain how legalising same-sex marriage will soften the hardened attitudes of those already so homophobic they can’t accept their own gay children.

When one viewer took to Twitter to reprimand Alberici for exploiting a child to score a political point — the same critique made so often by the other side — she responded: “You’re [sic] while male privilege is deplorable.” What his race had to do with the issue is anyone’s guess. 

Marcus was expressing her opinion – which as she showed, was not unfounded. That didn’t stop Alberici from attacking Marcus:

But Alberici wasn’t taking the criticism lying down, sparking heated debate between the pair including accusations of bullying on both sides. The Lateline host said it was “not very intellectually robust” to say that equality supporters were pushing advocates to vote “no” in the plebiscite.

As is customary for “yes” campaign advocates, Alberici resorted to emotions and ad hominem attacks in an effort to discredit Marcus herself. This lead to a heated Twitter exchange:

 

 

 

Further on, Marcus defended herself against the bullying claims:

 

The thread continued to garner interest and elicit responses from many people, including figures such as Tony Abbott and Tim Wilson:  

 

 The whole exchange reveals the true nature behind the “yes” campaign. For those still on the fence for which campaign they will support, look at the facts. Look at how each sides treats those with whom they agree, and with whom they disagree. It reveals a lot about what the future would look like if either campaign won.

Debate is important. Free speech matters. Bullying is never acceptable. To all three of these statements, the “yes” campaign’s actions exemplify that it believes the opposite.

There are consequences hanging on the same-sex marriage postal vote, and it’s not just journalists and media figures who will be affected – ALL of us, will be affected. All of us have much at stake in the marriage debate. 

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