Once upon a time, the causes of tolerance and diversity meant throwing off the yoke of old prejudices and being open to new ideas and different opinions.
Nowadays, those who preach diversity have less in common with their progressive forebears than the puritans they used to pit themselves against.
The imbroglio surrounding the now infamous Bible Society video featuring a few close ups of Coopers Premium Light Beer exposes the ugly authoritarianism behind many who pay lip service to toleration while waving a rainbow flag.
Attempts to bully and boycott corporations who go against the left’s enlightened wisdom of the day has long been a mainstay of the progressive playbook.
But what is different about the vitriol and scorn heaped on Coopers Brewery in the past few days is that the proprietor had not even taken a position on a contentious issue. Indeed, even the advertisements creator, the Bible Society, did not even attempt to impress upon viewers its well-known views on same-sex marriage
The short video simply featured two parliamentarians engaging in a civil, fair-minded exchange about the merits of same-sex marriage. The calm and poise shown by the videos interlocutors, Wilson and Hastie is a lesson in etiquette that many of today’s activist class would do well to heed.
While Coopers’ ham-fisted response to the saga has tried to suggest otherwise, it appears that at the least the brewer sought to take advantage of the PR opportunity of having its product featured in the advertisement. And given our draconian restrictions on when, where and how alcohol can be advertised, who can blame them?
Nevertheless, the mere presence of the beverage in the video was enough to launch a fully-fledged corporate jihad on Coopers business and public image.
Predictably enough, it took Coopers less than two days to throw the Bible Society under the bus and post a video on social media pledging its unqualified support for the correct definition of ‘equality.’
To be clear, Coopers thought crime was not even disputing with the left’s orthodoxy on same-sex marriage. Its transgression was simply to break bread with heretics who are yet to accept the progressive-sanctioned interpretation of everything it means to be virtuous and good.
There is something distinctly Orwellian that all this is done in the name of tolerance. Just as Big Brother tortured Winston until he accepted 2 +2 equalled five, tolerance now means rejecting all ideas and opinions unless they receive the express assent of the progressive hive mind.
Unlike the authoritarians of yesteryear who sought to remodel the world of the early twentieth in their own image, the ideological despots of today emblazon themselves with rainbows instead of the old black, white and red.
But perhaps more worrying is that the Coopers saga is symptomatic of a cultural shift among so-called progressives that has traded free thought and open-mindedness for forcibly imposing their views and bludgeoning dissenters into silence.
It’s this same impulse that sees young climate activists applauded for suing government over climate change instead of persuading people of their ideas through the old fashioned channels of public debate
It’s the instinct of intolerance that saw those who questioned the worthiness of Caitlyn Jenner being named woman of the year deemed persona non grata from polite society.
It’s illiberal, censorious and ugly. Progressives still worthy of the moniker should reject it.
I hate to break it to the rainbow fascists, but the cause of diversity is poorly served by quashing dissent and publicly humiliating anyone who dares to stand in your way.
Two plus two does not equal five, freedom is not slavery and launching a corporate jihad against those whose views differ to your own does not make you tolerant.
John Slater is Executive Director of the HR Nicholls Society.
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