"Fashion is annoying, misleading and often destructive; which is why Anna Wintour made such a spectacle of herself yesterday", writes Chris Kenny in today's The Australian newspaper.
The Conservative Party abhors gratuitous virtue signalling and political correctness and wants to enshrine our precious freedom to express what we believe and hold true to our values in a Protected Freedoms Act.
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I refer, of course, not to clothing and the aesthetics of style — this is a largely harmless and perfectly understandable pursuit — but the problem of political fashion.
When people seek to demonstrate their adherence to the Zeitgeist, when they shape their pronouncements to fit fashionable views — haute commentary, if you like — they can run into trouble.
Wintour, unknown to many of us until yesterday, is a legend in the world of fashion and obviously wanted to impress her Australian audience with her chic take on our body politic.
Perhaps she was informed by fashion writers or took her views from The Guardian, but whatever her excuse, her claims about expelling gay students from Australian schools were top-grade fake news.
For all the hyper-partisanship and identity politics of our national debate there is no evidence schools have been expelling gay students, nor has there been a push for this, nor have there been changes in laws or policies in this regard, and nor has the government proposed moving in this direction.
Quite the opposite; in response to phony charges and silly politicking, the government reacted with a proposal to guarantee such practices could never be contemplated.
Wintour ought not slur the reputation of a government or an entire nation in order to display her own apparently virtuous tolerance. Especially when that tolerance seems to have such clear limits. Her denunciation of one of the world’s most successful sportswomen, Margaret Court, was uncharitable, unfair and unreasonable.
If woke is the new black then it must be overpriced when the mandatory accessory is belittling others. Denigrating your opponents is the least imaginative way of demonstrating your virtue.
Court’s deeply Christian and old-fashioned views about gay marriage and homosexuality are clearly out of step with the vast majority of people in this country; she must know that as well as Wintour or anyone else who saw the plebiscite result.
But she is entitled to hold her views, so long as she does not vilify or discriminate against people. Indeed, it is worth reminding ourselves that Court’s views were the norm in this country and most Western nations — even prescribed in law — only a generation or two ago. It is hardly surprising they linger still.
So the way to deal with views like Court’s is to understand where they spring from and how the world has changed for the better over the past few decades. Then people like Wintour ought try to convince others about change and tolerance.
Shouting people down, trying to silence them, demonising and dehumanising them, taking away all of their wonderful achievements and ignoring all of their charity and generosity in other areas of their lives is the height of … well, it’s the height of intolerance. And that is never cool.
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