On Tuesday night, Australia’s only gay and lesbian radio station, Joy FM, received a bomb threat.
Here, we have yet another example of the division, the chaos and the damage that the spectre of the plebiscite on same-sex marriage has already achieved. Please pat yourself on the back, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Joy FM is a station I have a soft spot for. Not just because some of my best friends are gay, or because Joy often grants me a platform for my musings, but because the station provides a positive voice to a population largely ignored by commercial radio. And it grants opportunities to a slew of hardworking folks wanting to break into broadcasting.
The bomb threat was emailed to Joy and, as is protocol, the station was evacuated.
Be it a threat with real teeth or a hyperbolic spray of nonsense sent by a keyboard warrior hepped-up on digital bravado, the threat has enormous ramifications. And each, perhaps unsurprisingly, connect back to that P-word.
Aside from the why-don’t-you-just-set-fire-to-a-dumpmaster-full-of-cash hideous waste of money that any plebiscite would be, holding this kind of vote sets a heinous political tone. And it’s a a tone that empowered a dickhead with Wi-Fi to shoot off a threat and jeopardise the wellbeing of 350 volunteers whose experience going into the station has now been forever altered.
While we’re all to ready to malign the politics of our neighbours, a great number of them – countries far more religious than us, and in some cases far less formally developed than us – have made the correct, progressive policy decision in favour of marriage equality. Australia, conversely, wavers as an island of ineffective governance and retrograde lethargy.
The plebiscite creates a culture where it has become perfectly legitimate to not only make what consenting adults do under their own doonas the business of the majority but also the grounds on which to restrict rights.
The articulation of this nonsense is not merely accepted as freedom of speech now, but is routinely given airtime in the mainstream media under the guise of fairness. Please pat yourself on the back, Sunrise, and every other “news” outlet, granting equal time to justice deniers and climate change sceptics.
The Joy FM bomb threat is a perfect encapsulation of our zeitgeist.
Like it or in my case loathe it, conservatives in Australia and the US have created a culture where nutjobs – whose voices were once happily stifled out of taste, fairness and the law – are now stepping up to the podium, to the pulpit, and spouting the kind of hateful rhetoric that has started to sounds a lot less marginal in a world where such views have become legitimised through public policy, through public expenditure.
We all chatter incessantly about terrorism. I used this very word when interviewed about the bomb threat yesterday. This, alas, isn’t the word being used by most of the media who have largely completely ignored this recent threat against the gay and lesbian community.
Terrorism hinges on the use of politically motivated violence, or threats thereof, to intimidate, to harass. This is exactly what happened at Joy FM on Tuesday night where an out and proud radio station was targeted. Because of politics.
And this is exactly what happened in Orlando. It’s also exactly what happened when a gay club in Sydney was targeted last month through via a lubricant dispenser filled with hydrochloric acid. And this is exactly what happens each time a trans person is slaughtered.
The plebiscite is not only bad public policy, is not only a grotesque waste of money, and not only turns back the clock on many years of progress regarding sexual minorities, but it creates the toxicity that breeds the very terror that we’re apparently so petrified of.
Members of the non-heterosexual community are petrified too.
Authors: Lauren Rosewarne, Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne