Victoria needs Voltaire

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Flat White

27 March 2023

4:30 AM

So modern and fabulous we think we are…

But it was the French philosopher of the Enlightenment period, Voltaire, who said, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’

He died 245 years ago.

His fearless scholarship and his relentless pursuit against tyranny and bigotry, were considered by some as the social precursors to the French Revolution of 1789.

Why is it that 250 years on – in a first-world nation, in what we think to be a first-class society with first-class standards – can a woman be persecuted for having a view about women, and potentially lose her democratically elected job as a Liberal, because of it?

This is a job provisioned by the power of the people!

Victorian MP, Moira Deeming, is a mum, a wife, and a biological woman.

She attended and helped organise a rally several days ago. Since then, her life has been shaken and stirred.

But it shouldn’t matter what the rally was about, or who was there, or who said what.

Remove the women, take away the men parading as neo-Nazis, take away the socialist alliance mob, and take away the transgender activists.

Think only about how lucky we are to be in Australia, a nation that – to date – has had broad enough shoulders and big enough minds to accept Voltaire’s sentiment.

We enshrine our right to protest. We celebrate our ability to think differently from others – to debate our difference and to respect this difference. We are each given one vote to peacefully reflect that contrast.

Whether it is on the streets of Melbourne, or atop the steps of our Parliament, it shouldn’t matter what the words are, or who is saying them. What matters is that we can say them.

These streets, and the Parliament behind them, are the crucible of our convictions. They are the concrete and velvet upon which we contest the ideas, challenge the status quo, stand up for tradition, or forge a new path upon greater ideals.

What are we without this freedom of expression? What are we?

We are no different to Communist China or Russia. Disagree on the streets there, and you disappear.

Our cauldrons of democracy – freedom of speech, freedom of association – are what differentiate us from communism.

In the Parliament, debates have brought raucous disagreement and rage, some have brought tears. Politicians have argued for the right for people to die. They legislate capacities for medical excellence so that people can live.

In our state, on our streets, in our Parliament, the people of Victoria should be big enough to think independently, argue confidently, and disagree vehemently. But above all, we should do so with respect and we should do so knowing we are bigger and better for our ability to handle ideas and concepts that can challenge, that stir, that keeps us sleepless at night.

May the best idea win.

Moira Deeming is a member of the Liberal Party.

It is a party that allows individuals to express their views, to cross the floor of the Parliament if they want to, without the political abandonment the Labor Party would administer.

Daring to think differently would be political death for a Labor MP.

And yet here we have a young woman, expressing a view, attending a rally, standing up for her beliefs and it is the party that is supposed to embrace bigger ideas and difference, that is looking to cut the political tether and send her adrift.

If Voltaire could be so liberal more than 245 years ago, why can’t the Liberal Party be so liberal now?

That there is even a rally to Let Women Speak, speaks volumes of the disintegration of our social courtesy and capacity.

Too quickly, opponents to the transgender view are labelled as far right wing, when all they want is to express the simple view that women also have rights and should be respected.

There is nothing wrong with a young girl, or a teenage girl, or any biological women having a point of view – a right – to feel safe in places like change-rooms and sporting fields without the presence of men in any stage of transition.

Boys and men should also feel safe in their spaces without the imposition of biological women.

It is a right to feel safe. It is not by chance that Maslow put safety and security at the very top of his Hierarchy of Needs.

Keeping people safe is the foremost task of any government.

It’s not radical to argue for safety. Being pro-woman is not to be anti-transgender. It is to recognise difference – something we used to celebrate in this nation.

To label Deeming as a Nazi and anti-trans is to be mischievous and disingenuous and the Premier’s lead role in this is disgusting. He divides and warps.

To argue the case that a woman is an adult female is not radical. If it is, what does that make of Extinction Rebellion fanatics? Perhaps Deeming should have glued herself to the road and we would have all cheered her heroics and conviction.

In modern Australia, ‘safe spaces’ should be without boundaries, including our streets, change-rooms, and rallies on the steps of our Parliament.

Deeming is pro-women and pro-safety, and the Premier’s contortion of this reality is wrong. Perhaps he can debate the merits of individual rights and safety when he lands in China?

Hypocrisy rides a high horse among Victorian MPs.

Liberal MPs should be alert to the many follies behind and before them. In deciding whether Deeming should remain within the Liberal Party, they should focus on what it is to be liberal. And then be it.

They would do well to remember Voltaire’s words to defend to the death the ability for someone to say something they disagree with.

The Frenchman also had another saying: ‘I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.’

Faux rage is exhausting, yet the competition for the silliest and most bizarre ideas keeps finding new winners.

Please note: this is an anonymous guest submission to Flat White.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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