We’ve known for a while that it’s a risky business to oppose gay marriage. Now it seems it’s perilous even to discuss it.
In Australia, Coopers beer – which is delicious, by the way – has found itself the target of a bizarre, shrill hipster boycott after its wares featured in a Bible Society video debate about gay marriage. In the vid, Andrew Hastie, the Liberal MP for Canning in Western Australia, and Tim Wilson, Liberal MP for Goldstein in Victoria, battle it over gay marriage. They drink Coopers Light as they do so. (Mistake. They should have gone with Coopers Pale Ale, a cloudy, fruity joy.)
Hastie makes the case against legalising gay marriage (it’s not legal yet in Oz), while Wilson makes the case for it. Wilson is one of Australia’s keenest advocates for gay marriage – I’ve had a few heated chats with him about it – and he does a good job in the video. The slogan is ‘Keeping it Light’. That is, light beer, light chat. But the response has been anything but light. It has been, and this is no exaggeration, hysterical.
Twitter went into meltdown. Coopers is fuelling homophobia by letting its beer feature in a discussion about gay marriage, said irate Twits. Bars started throwing away all their Coopers. A hotel in Melbourne posted a photo of the Coopers sign outside its venue with the letters ‘RIP’ spraypainted over it. Another bar posted a notice on its Cooper beer tap: ‘We apologise but we are not serving Coopers beer until a positive response is received to the marriage equality debate.’ Shorter: ‘Back gay marriage, beer companies, or we’ll punish you.’ A widely shared video shows hipster-looking bar owners smashing Coopers beer bottles in the streets. It brings to mind that time Christian fundamentalists in the American South smashed Beatles records in the streets after John Lennon said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus. It is really reminiscent of that.
The furious war against Coopers over a discussion of gay marriage swiftly moved to New Zealand, like a contagion of intolerance spreading through the Antipodes. Numerous NZ bars have said they will never again stock Coopers. Well, not until Coopers recants its belief that gay marriage is something that can be discussed and instead genuflects obediently before the glory and light of gay marriage. One Kiwi bar says it plans to sell off its Coopers stock and give a cut of the profits to a gay charity and then it will no longer allow this toxic brew to pollute its establishment or its patrons.