The Left now thinks it’s nailed one of the most irritating thorns in its flesh, the flamboyant conservative polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos, whose apparent defence of paedophilia may well mean he’s gone too far for many who have hitherto agreed with him. Those who didn’t were already trying to censor him anyway – like the Sydney bookseller and self-defined ‘passionate believer in free speech’ who had declared in advance, and without knowing what was in it, that he would not stock Yiannopoulos’s forthcoming book Dangerous, before the publishers rained on his parade by cancelling its publication.
The Left loves censorship, as long as it’s on approved grounds. Imagine the shrieks of protest and hisses of ‘homophobia’ if the believer in free speech had said he was banning Milo from his shelves because he disapproved of the writer’s homosexuality. Like the Christian bakers in Northern Ireland who declined to bake a cake for a gay wedding, the bookseller would have found himself crushed beneath an avalanche of vocal, physical and legal harassment until he went out of business. But because his refusal was on the grounds that Yiannopoulos’s ‘far right’ views ‘should not be allowed to take root in our society’, that was quite OK.
Except that it’s not. For where is the conservative outrage? Why is it only the Left that screams and yells and sues and riots until it gets its own way?
The problem with conservatives is that they don’t like making a fuss. It’s not in their temperament. They respect the institutions of our society and trust in them for the righting of social wrongs. I know people of conservative disposition who are not aware that those supposedly impartial institutions have been largely colonised by the Left in the last half-century. There are older, fair-minded people who think that universities are still places for scholarship and debate, as in their youth, rather than for de-platforming and indoctrination in the heresies of gender fluidity and climate catastrophe.
I know people who think that the ABC is a reliable voice of truth and that Fairfax newspapers are literate and intended for a ‘respectable’ readership. Younger conservatives are not under these illusions, but they still disdain the politics of mob pressure by which the Left attains and enforces its will. This must change if there is to be any hope of undoing the damage the Left has done to our way of life. Conservatives will have to clench their teeth and play the game the Left’s way.
Leftists are big on boycotts – mainly against Israel these days – so let’s start with bookshops as a target for conservative boycotts. Chances are your local bookshop has a Leftish air with all those copies of Meanjin and Arena hanging near the doorway (but never The Speccie or Quadrant). If it refuses to stock a book, any book on any topic that is legally published, dump it and go to Amazon and tell everyone you know what you’ve done and why. Forget about helping small business. Leftist bookshops with their part-time staff of pimply doctoral students aren’t small business. They’re part of the hegemonic propaganda network conservatives should be striving to dismantle.
There is some progress already. A few years ago I tried to buy a book that had been banished to the Left’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum for not toeing the line on global warming. If I’d asked for hardcore porn I’d have had a less contemptuous refusal from the snooty assistant in the branch of the prominent Melbourne booksellers I visited. These same booksellers have now put a peg on their noses and will sell you, as their managing director put it, ‘the likes of’ Andrew Bolt, Keith Windschuttle and – in the same breath – ‘Mein Kampf’. ‘I don’t believe in censorship,’ he loftily announced. Not now, perhaps. There’s a lot of competition in the book world and somebody’s decided that a dollar’s a dollar, even a tainted conservative one.
Bookshops are a pushover compared with getting fairness out of the ABC, secure in its citadel of taxpayer funding. An economic boycott wouldn’t work because, unlike the bookshops, the ABC gets your money whether you buy its product or not. But a personal boycott might. Conservative politicians, real conservatives, that is, will have to wage this as can any non-Leftist in the news. They should refuse, categorically, to go on any ABC (or SBS) programme. They should not favour a news crew with so much as a ‘no comment’ and should, above all, never appear on Q&A or 7.30. At the same time they must give other media all the interviews they want. A conservative doesn’t need the ABC to get his views across (fewer than one in four voters watch or listen to the ABC) and he may well gain from being exclusively on the channels most people turn to. But the ABC will certainly lose, because in spite of its palpable distaste for conservatives, it needs them. Leigh Sales can’t go on night after night vacuously grilling only Opposition windbags. Tony Jones might feel uncomfortable directing his trademark interruptions at a Green. Conservative absence would demonstrate the essential irrelevance of the ABC and show that we can all keep ourselves informed without this bloated relic of the pre-war days when the new medium of broadcasting had to be in the hands of the state.
Leftists like to further their agenda by complaining to the Human Rights Commission, one of their pet creations. Conservatives should do the same, in droves, declaring themselves insulted and offended (one night’s ABC viewing should be enough for the truly sensitive) and invoking their rights under Section 18C until the commission’s creaking machinery is clogged. Who cares if the complaints are frivolous? Gillian still has to examine them, in between getting her hair done, and her assessments will take up time she could otherwise be devoting to her sterling work undoing really important injustices like the one inflicted on poor Cindy Prior.
I have hardly scratched the surface. There are lots more tricks the Left routinely uses that conservatives could employ. Everything except violence. Conservatives don’t need to rush into the streets and shout idiotic slogans because they are brighter than the rent-a-Lefty mob and have arguments rooted in human nature instead of wishful thinking. Even so, they shouldn’t fool themselves that emulating Leftist strategy – one thinks of online campaigns such as GetUp! and elaborate Twitter crusades – will not sometimes mean descending to a level of vapidity and even vulgarity that is alien to conservative sensibilities. Sadly, you can’t fight a war in kid gloves, though you can lose one.
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