In which Stephen Chavura goes hunting for gays (and completely misses the point)

December 28, 2017

Stephen Chavura insinuates I want to shut down debate (“Beware the martinets who would silence all debate”, The Australian; December 27 2017):

One of the most prominent activists of the Yes campaign, Michael Barnett, summed up a common attitude to the legitimacy of public debate in his tweets to Coopers Brewery:

“So you’re saying it’s acceptable to debate the merit of supporting discrimination @coopersbrewery? Seriously?”

Of course, the very issue in the debate was whether traditional marriage unjustly discriminates in the first place.

Barnett had the right to make his statements, but apparently he thought those with whom he disagreed had no similar right. He was not alone.

Unsurprisingly he gets me completely wrong.

In the Coopers Brewery situation my intention was definitely not to shut down debate, but rather to highlight to the business my dismay at them hosting a debate on my rights and equality.

It takes a special sort of stupidity to fail to understand that denying consenting same-sex couples the legal protections bestowed by marriage is actually genuine discrimination.

It’s also a no-brainer that businesses that buy into hateful discrimination should prepare for angry public backlashes.

If Coopers Brewery wants to run a series of debates putting the For and Against arguments for denying people equality on varies issues, and test the market’s response to such debates, I say bring it on.

Incidentally, Pauline Pantsdown recalls that Stephen Chavura came to my attention in connection to an entirely unrelated conversation around the Pride in Diversity programme:

This is my tweet she refers to:

Let’s remember that Stephen Chavura is no friend of LGBTIQ people and our families by virtue of his active involvement in the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an entity run by the grotesque hate organisation the Australian Christian Lobby.


OPINION

Beware the martinets who would silence all debate

STEPHEN CHAVURA
The Australian
12:00AM December 27, 2017

Until relatively recently we in the West have defined oppression largely in terms of the absence of political and civil freedoms, and the solution was to introduce new rights such as universal suffrage, freedom of conscience, freedom of movement and freedom of speech.

This is what we call liberal democracy, or that tradition of political thinking that sees the expansion of freedoms as the solution to oppression rather than its cause.

Recent controversies in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia regarding race, culture, sexuality, and gender indicate a shift from political oppression to cultural oppression. Cultural oppression is caused by, among other things, feeling excluded from prevailing cultural norms regarding sexuality, gender and nationality — norms that are said to solely benefit white, heterosexual males.

Those who feel excluded from these norms based on their professed identity seek to change the prevailing culture and make it more “inclusive”. This is the essence of identity politics.

And yet identity politics co­exists uneasily with liberal democracy, and for good reason.

Culture is to a great extent carried along by the words we use — “male and female”, “husband and wife”, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Australia Day” and so on — and the texts, images, movies and songs we encounter. This is why identity politics must be at odds with liberal democracy, for if culture is to be made more inclusive then what we can think, say and see needs to be more tightly controlled.

In other words, freedom of speech and thought are part of the problem rather than the solution..

The same-sex marriage debate in Australia confirmed this, for many citizens sincerely believed that Australians had no right to a public debate in the first place. Bill Shorten spoke for many when he castigated Malcolm Turnbull back in August as the person who “licensed this debate”.

Recall the boycott of Coopers beer by some pubs back in March. Same-sex marriage was the focal point of a “lighthearted” discussion over a Coopers beer organised by the Bible Society between MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie. Within minutes of the Bible Society uploading the debate, a storm of Twitter protests ensued, resulting in Coopers disassociating itself from the video and pledging its support for same-sex marriage.

The problem with Coopers, the Bible Society and advocates of a plebiscite was never that they criticised same-sex marriage. The crime was that they dared to suggest that anyone had the right to debate the issue in the first place.

One of the most prominent activists of the Yes campaign, Michael Barnett, summed up a common attitude to the legitimacy of public debate in his tweets to Coopers Brewery:

“So you’re saying it’s acceptable to debate the merit of supporting discrimination @coopersbrewery? Seriously?”

Of course, the very issue in the debate was whether traditional marriage unjustly discriminates in the first place.

Barnett had the right to make his statements, but apparently he thought those with whom he disagreed had no similar right. He was not alone.

The case made against Coopers and the legitimacy of a same-sex marriage debate was that inevitably things would be said that would be detrimental to the mental health of members of the LGBTQI community, which could lead to an increase in self-harm.

But these sorts of catastrophic harm arguments are very dangerous for freedom of speech and, therefore, democracy.

Of course the state should be concerned about mental health and suicide, but its approach to these matters needs to be sensitive to other goods that are profoundly beneficial for societies, especially freedom of speech. Indeed, I invite LGBTQI rights advocates to name all the countries without a robust tradition of freedom of speech that have strong and effective LGBTQI rights movements.

There is a democratic danger of linking what we can say publicly to mental health and other social maladies such as ethnic alienation from national culture.

Identity politics correctly assumes that for many of us part of our self-esteem comes from being integrated into a wider community or culture. However, if the wider cultural norms conflict with one’s own identity as transgender, or genderless, or gay, or Muslim, or indigenous, then one can feel alienated.

If one also believes one has a right that the wider culture embrace their identity, then this exclusion has all the weight of an injustice, and the person either becomes increasingly alienated from mainstream culture or seeks to manipulate culture, and therefore control others’ speech and information. Enter Safe Schools here in Australia, demands to widen 18C to include anti-Islamic speech, and demands to change the date of Australia Day.

The conflict between identity politics and freedom of speech in a nutshell is that freedom of speech means unpredictable speech, and unpredictable speech means no guarantee against words that will emotionally wound, or the emergence of cultural norms that will exclude. Thus, to enjoy a life free from the anxiety of offence and cultural exclusion, speech and even thought needs to be controlled.

This is why movements to snuff out cultural oppression, unlike movements to snuff out political oppression, see freedom as the problem rather the solution. That is, they are deeply illiberal. Certainly this mood against liberal democracy is taking hold among sections of the youth in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia.

One of the great challenges for developed societies going into 2018 and beyond is the extent to which they can accommodate millennials’ longing for inclusiveness while at the same time convincing them that the difficult task of balancing inclusiveness with freedom of speech and other liberal rights is worthy of their efforts. If this can be done then we would have achieved definite social progress.

But if not, then the future of liberal democracy becomes uncertain, for there is no shortage today of counter movements willing to take its place. Furthermore, recent debates in Australia over race, gender, sexuality and Islam have revealed no shortage of martinets who are willing to beat our brains and hearts into shape, always for the sake of love, diversity, and equality.

Stephen Chavura teaches politics and history at Macquarie University, Campion College and the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

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Eric Abetz: liar and deceitful homophobe

November 28, 2017

In his address to the Australian Senate on the afternoon of November 28 2017 Senator Eric Abetz claimed that Dr Steve Chavura was hounded because of his position on marriage:

There is the academic Dr Stephen Chavura, in New South Wales, who has been confronted because of his views in relation to the issue of marriage.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Senator Eric Abetz has lied to and deceived the Senate by making this allegation lacking in substance, facts and truth.

The facts are here:

https://mikeybear.com.au/2017/09/21/david-marr-do-you-fact-check

If this homophobic and transphobic senator has any integrity, he will familiarise himself with the facts and retract his deceitful claims.


David Marr, do you fact check?

September 21, 2017

In the September 19 Guardian article Where’s the biff? Free speech has won every round in the marriage equality debate David Marr wrote:

“One Christian at IBM and another at Macquarie University have both been targeted by a zealous yes warrior who reckons they should be dismissed because their advocacy for traditional marriage is at odds with the ethos of their employers. So have they lost their jobs? No and nor should they.”

Back in March this year I posted this tweet about Mark Allaby:

I also posted this tweet about Stephen Chavura:

I posted several more similarly worded tweets about both.  However in none of my tweets did I once call for, imply, or want the sacking of either from their respective places of employment.

On September 12 on ABC’s The Drum David Marr said Mark Allaby was “targeted by some trollish yes voters” (around 13:00) in response to Iain Benson’s claim “Allaby was asked to resign”:

 

ABC The Drum David Marr Trolls (Sep 12 2017)

In the above-mentioned Guardian article David Marr alleges [Mark Allaby and Stephen Chavura] “have both been targeted by a zealous yes warrior who reckons they should be dismissed”.

Who is this “zealous yes warrior who reckons they should be dismissed” David Marr?

If you are referring to my activism, please show me where I have called for the dismissal of either Mark Allaby from IBM or Stephen Chavura from Macquarie University.

If not mine, then whose activism are you are referring to?

I also refer David Marr to this apology from ABC’s The Drum where they clarified that my activism was in fact not related to marriage equality.


Lachlan Macquarie Institute – ACNC Register – March 22 2017

March 27, 2017

View a PDF extract of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission register for The Lachlan Macquarie Institute Limited as at March 22 2017.
20170322 ACNC Register Lachlan Macquarie Institute Responsible Persons


Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board as at March 16, 2017

March 21, 2017

Board

The Lachlan Macquarie Internship is run by the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, a not for profit company. It is a religious educational program and is neither denominationally nor politically aligned. (Bios also included).

The Director reports to a Board.

Jim Wallace AM – Chairman

 
Jim Wallace

Brigadier (ret.) Jim Wallace AM left the Army as a Brigadier in late 2000 after a 32-year career which included command of the SAS Regiment, Special Forces, and the Army’s mechanised Brigade of 3,000 personnel and most of the Army’s fighting vehicles. He is a graduate of Duntroon in Canberra, the British Army Staff College and the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies.

Mr Wallace has lived overseas, including in the Middle East. He has also visited Palestinian refugee camps as an unarmed United Nations observer. He is also the former Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, a position he held for 10 years.

In 1984 Mr Wallace was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to counter-terrorism. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Studies Centre and was appointed by the Minister of Defence to the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Mr Wallace and his family worship at the Hughes Baptist Church in Canberra.

Anthony McLellan – Deputy Chairman

Anthony McLellan

Mr McLellan and his family lived abroad for more than 25 years where he served as the President and CEO of a number of major international corporations. Since returning to Australia, he has been appointed chairman of several public-company boards, principally in the resources area.

With a passion for the poor, Mr McLellan served as a director of Opportunity International Australia for many years, and as chairman of Habitat for Humanity Australia. He has also served as chairman of a number of other Christian NGOs. An accomplished public speaker, Tony has addressed audiences in several countries, and has also appeared frequently on American television as a commentator on family issues.

Mr McLellan and his wife, Rae, recently celebrated 50 years of marriage, and attend St Jude’s Anglican Church in Bowral.

David Burr

David Burr

David Burr is a lawyer and businessman. Together with his wife May Wan, David has practised law in Melbourne for over 30 years, chiefly in the areas of property and commercial law. He has a strong commitment to social justice and the role of the Church in achieving fundamental human rights for all. David is committed to the work of LMI in developing Christian leaders in public policy.

In addition to legal practice, David has also pursued a number of business activities. These include property investment and development, a manufacturing and distribution business, and mixed agricultural production.

He and May Wan have four adult children, and have attended Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne for almost 20 years.

Mark Allaby

 
Mark Allaby

Mark Allaby is a Principal with a major professional services and accounting firm.

With over 25 years experience in Europe, North America and Australia, Mr Allaby has worked in an executive capacity across the financial services industry. As both a senior partner in the management consulting field, and as corporate senior executive, he has had extensive experience setting strategy, leading organisations through large scale organisational change, and managing risk.

Mr Allaby’s commitment to LMI is a result of his passion for the freedoms we enjoy in this country, a nation and society grounded in Christian principles, and a belief that active engagement with the nation through the political process is required to ensure those foundations are not lost in order that our grandchildren may enjoy the same freedoms we take for granted.

Mr Allaby and his wife Susan attend St Thomas’ Anglican Church in North Sydney.

Lyle Shelton

Lyle Shelton is the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Lyle is a journalist by profession. He worked in rural journalism as a roving reporter for Queensland Country Life before serving as the Melbourne-based Group Commodities Editor for Rural Press Limited, with articles syndicated to the stable’s rural weeklies, including The Land newspaper.

In 1997 he became youth pastor at Toowoomba City Church before being elected to Toowoomba City Council in 2000. He was re-elected to Council in 2004 and unsuccessfully contested the 2006 Queensland state election.

After a short stint as a political adviser, Lyle was appointed in 2007 as National Chief of Staff at the Australian Christian Lobby, based in Canberra. He served this role for six years before being appointed Managing Director in May 2013.

Michelle Pearse

Michelle Pearse

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, Michelle Pearse stepped into the role of WA Director for the Australian Christian Lobby and spokesperson for the fight against prostitution and human trafficking.

Michelle and her husband John are both employed at Kingdomcity Perth, a thriving Pentecostal church that is committed to impacting our nation through the love of Christ, socially, economically and politically. Michelle also lectures at Kingdomcity Perth college to give students greater perspective on national issues and encouraging them to be positioned to make a positive impact and create change.

Dr. Steve Chavura 

Steve Chavura

Stephen Chavura is a Senior Research Associate at Macquarie University, Sydney. He received his Ph.D. in the history of political thought from the University of New England in 2007. He has published articles in national and international scholarly journals such as History of European Ideas, Journal of Religious History, and Australian Journal of Political Science. His book Tudor Protestant Political Thought 1547-1603 was published in 2007. He has taught political theory for the Lachlan Macquarie Internship since 2011 and also teaches Australian history at Campion College, Sydney. He is currently part of an ARC team exploring the emergence and history of the secular state in Australia. Dr. Stephen Chavura, B.A. (Hons. I), Ph.D. (UNE) Senior ARC Research Associate, Macquarie University.


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