When the long campaign for same-sex marriage was on, leader of the religious right wing Australian Conservatives, Cory Bernardi, maintained till he was blue in the face, that businesses should be free to discriminate, and that ability should be defended and protected. The discrimination about which he was so enthusiastic, was the freedom of ‘christians’ to refuse to serve people who were involved in same sex marriages1. In many subsequent discussions, this debate ludicrously centred on whether a baker or a florist should be forced to sell their goods to a gay marriage. Although much media coverage was given to the bigoted bakers and florists, none were ever identified2.
Now Bernardi has, hilariously, found himself on the other end of the argument. In some sort of rebellion against the moving of Radio Station JJJ’s Hottest 100 songs from January 26, which was done after a survey of listeners, Bernardi had a little dummy spit. Of course, he complained that it was all because of political correctness, and launched his own Australia Day Spotify playlist. However, many of the performers jacked up and didn’t want their songs included in a playlist associated with such an ultraconservative boob. These included Bernard Fanning4, Jimmy Barnes5 and Darren Hayes6. The irony of including Savage Garden (Hayes) songs in Bernardi’s list, given that Darren Hayes was such a prominent same-sex marriage campaigner, was probably lost on Bernardi, if indeed he was aware at all.
What did Bernardi do in the face of this revolt by artists? He had another dummy spit, moaning that ‘music is for everyone’ and ‘the bullies can’t stop the music’. However, Spotify has banned Bernardi’s hottest 100. In a statement, a spokeswoman for Spotify said: “Spotify has actively supported marriage, gender and indigenous equality initiatives over the last five years, and believes in a diverse and multicultural Australia. We want to make clear that we do not endorse this playlist, nor do we have any official ties to the Australian Conservatives party nor any other political party. Finally, I would like to remind any political party who seek to use the work of others for political gain or messaging, to read the terms and conditions on Spotify that relates specifically to this situation”.
One of the best comebacks was posted on Facebook by Colin Hay (from Men At Work) who stated: “It would appear that the true meaning behind [the song] Down Under is lost on Cory Bernardi. When the lyrics were written some 40 years ago, I was worried about people like him, and movements he represents. Turns out I had good reason to be. May I suggest, Mr. Bernardi, if you haven’t already, dabbling in some light hallucinogens. Wander into a field, and sit in front of a tree, and look at it, really study it, at a molecular level. It may not change your conservative views, but it may make you realize, you’re not quite as important as you think you are.7” Touché.
Bernardi wants to be able to discriminate against people for who they are, but then believes other people’s work is his to use at will for his political benefit. That is characteristic of a true conservative: self-important and lacking in self-awareness.