Tomorrow at 10am the results of the Same Sex Marriage postal vote will be released.
Whatever the outcome, campaigning on this issue over the past three months has flushed out a new style of Australian politics.
But not in a good way.
We have entered a toxic era, in which the prevailing political tactic is to close down the voice of one’s opponents.
Initially, the Yes advocates didn’t want a public debate and democratic vote.
Then they warned, in the run up to November 15, Christians and other conservatives would persecute them.
No such thing happened.
The persecution was actually against Christians, as believers in traditional marriage were sacked in workplaces, axed from community organisations, harassed on university campuses, threatened with sexual assault and, in the case of Tony Abbott, head-butted on the streets.
It wasn’t a campaign based on love, but a burning hatred of alternative points of view.
In the past week, attacks on Labor Senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal Councillor Christine Forster have confirmed this worrying trend.
Australian politics has never been so feral.
How did this happen?
What has changed inside the system to create a vast tolerance deficit?
A starting point is to understand how the Dastyari and Forster attacks came from the marginal, extreme edges of politics.
The white nationalists who taunted Dastyari make up no more than 0.01 percent of the population.
The Antifa-types who assaulted Forster (in the name of refugee protection) are also a 0.01 percent grouping.
Our system will always have these radical, disruptive fringes – in some respects, a 0.02 irrelevance.
They’re not the main problem today.
I’m more concerned by what’s happening closer to the political mainstream.
With the rise of Left-wing identity politics, much of our public life now operates on the basis of vilification and censorship.
If anyone refuses to accept the narrative of “white male privilege”, attempts are made to drive them from the public square.
It’s a high-water mark of political correctness: controlling the political space by excluding those who refuse to embrace the new Leftist religion of gay marriage, gender quotas and institutionalised “diversity”.
This year, there have been hundreds of examples of this process inside the ABC, SBS, Fairfax, the Human Rights Commission, schools, universities and the public service.
It’s the fulfillment of what’s known as the Popper Paradox.
In his book The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945), the conservative rationalist Karl Popper wrote of how “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance”.
For a tolerant society to survive, he argued, it must first safeguard its own existence.
There is no point in being tolerant if authoritarian forces are allowed to destroy the foundations of pluralism and enlightenment.
Australia is now at this tipping point.
The human rights agenda of the 1970s and 80s – passing laws so that “minorities” have equal opportunities in life – is being misused by the groups it was intended to assist.
Having achieved equality, they are now pursuing revenge, attacking those who supposedly oppressed them.
In the 1950s and 60s, Australia had widespread problems of discrimination against women, migrants and homosexuals.
The White Australia policy was an obvious example.
But then the anti-discrimination laws of the Whitlam and Hawke Governments, combined with improved education access and community attitudes, produced a more tolerant society.
Today women have higher levels of education than men, and greater employment numbers than males in important industries such as the law, GP doctors and teaching.
Compared to other Australians, lesbians and gays are affluent and well-educated, enjoying disproportionate media access.
On racial issues, the Federal Government’s recent BETA report revealed preferential treatment of Indigenous Australians and other ethnic minorities in workplace recruitment.
The only group discriminated against were white men.
More than any other country, we are a land of equal opportunity and tolerance.
Except in one vital respect.
Large numbers of Left activists are using their newfound, privileged place in society to exact retribution, to rub out old enemies.
Each week, scores of anti-white racist rants appear in Australia’s parliaments and media – a tragic reversion to political debates about skin colour.
Left-feminists are now more committed to the demonisation of men than the promotion of women, with some Fairfax columnists openly advocating violence against men.
Under the awful workplace banner of “stale pale males”, men are also being targeted for sackings and redundancies.
In the same-sex marriage debate, leaders of the gay community have had little concern for the protection of religious freedoms.
They think it’s time for Christians to suffer, just as decades ago they suffered.
Transgender activists are even worse: demanding respect and tolerance for themselves, while practicing a vicious, authoritarian brand of politics.
The tables have turned: the oppressed have become the oppressors.
As Popper foresaw, this requires a new way of thinking about human rights.
Traditional anti-discrimination laws, aimed solely at the protection of minorities, have become moribund, even counter-productive.
Given the power of censorious elites in our institutions, “majorities” require protection, no less than minorities.
They are being singled out by identity politics for bans and public denigration.
All citizens must have the right to participate in society, with their freedom of speech and association enshrined in law.
It should be illegal to prevent another person’s legitimate economic, social or political participation.
Existing anti-discrimination bodies and laws are no longer fit for purpose.
A new legal framework is needed, with universal pro-participation safeguards.
The Left’s reign of terror must end.
This article was originally published by The Daily Telegraph.