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Media bias and Australia’s marriage debate

This month and next Australians are being given the opportunity to have their say on same-sex “marriage.” The Liberal-National (LNP) coalition ran their election campaign last year with a promise to hold a plebiscite on the issue. Like regular elections, this plebiscite would have been compulsory, with every eligible voter required to cast a ballot. However, the LNP does not have a majority in the Senate, and that resulted in the legislation for the plebiscite being blocked (twice) by the other parties. Finally, the LNP decided to undertake a voluntary postal survey – no one is required to vote – and the results are not binding on the government. Ballots have been mailed out with one question: ““Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry? Yes or No.”

Results are expected to be announced on November 15. The campaigns for both “Yes” and “No” are now fully underway.

Much of the Australian news media is unabashedly promoting the “Yes” campaign. Not only are there the usual editorials and opinion pieces, but much of the news reported on the postal survey is slanted towards influencing the “Yes” vote. However, some news outlets have gone further.

Following a post on social media of an offensive poster against SSM, some Australian news outlets were reporting that this poster had beenplastered” all over Melbourne. Broadcaster Channel 10 went out in search of the alleged poster, but came up empty. However, they needed a visual for their news story. So they got creative. They took a stock news photo of a European bus shelter and photo-shopped the poster in (see original, and as doctored for Channel 10, in the picture to the right). After being exposed, Channel 10 released a statement in which they stated, “This was not a deliberate attempt to mislead our audience, but a creative error which we regret.”

This was followed by less than truthful reporting on a “No” campaign meeting at a Roman Catholic Church in Brisbane. “Yes” campaigners gathered outside the church and succeeded in preventing the meeting from even happening. As a few of the “No” crowd drove away in their vehicles, the “Yes” side tried to block them. Some news reports spoke of a rowdy clash between the sides. Other news reports mentioned a vehicle driving “at nearly full-speed” into the protestors. Queensland Police later confirmed that these reports were completely false.

This debate reflects not just differing views on marriage, but a clash between utterly opposite worldviews. In one worldview, truth is something that exists outside of ourselves as public, objective reality. In the other worldview, truth is a subjective thing which can and must be manipulated for your own agenda. The latter is fantasy, the former fact. Christians should be encouraged: the former that will ultimately prevail, no matter the outcome of the postal vote.

Dr. Bredenhof blogs at Yinkahdinay and Creation Without Compromise.

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