Mandurah Mail journalists copped a small slice of life at the centre of the same sex marriage postal survey this week, when we reported on a Labor staffer who spoke at a ‘yes’ campaign event on Saturday night and took the opportunity to label Canning MP Andrew Hastie a “homophobe”.
The staffer in question, Andy Skinner, works for Senator Louise Pratt, who is Labor’s “duty senator” for the seat of Canning and tasked by her party with defeating Mr Hastie at the next federal election.
So of course the event became political. It was even sponsored by Labor Member for Mandurah David Templeman.
But after the story was reported, all hell broke loose on social media.
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One of our reporters was inundated with furious and untrue messages.
He was called “anti-gay”, “irrational”, “homophobic”, “disingenuous”, “a liar” and accused of writing “hit pieces” against the Safe Schools transgender program.
One unhappy individual sent him almost 50 messages on a social media platform over a 36-hour period.
This is despite that reporter previously revealing a case in which a child was forced to leave a school because her father was homosexual and covering the Safe Schools debate from the point of view of a gay former John Tonkin College student.
Mandurah Mail was accused of “institutional homophobia” and “anti-gay prejudice”.
Organisers of the Pride in Peel event also threw a tantrum about the report.
Coast FM’s Stephen Carter posted on social media that he was “very, very disappointed” and demanded the Mandurah Mail not publish any more articles about the Pride in Peel event.
He said it was a “successful, beautiful event filled with love”. Well, not quite. He forgot about the part where Mr Hastie was maligned in his absence.
Mr Skinner was also not particularly proud of that part of the evening. In fact, he couldn’t remember making the comment at all just two days later.
By accounts, the event was mostly a success. And every Australian should have the right to express their political opinions.
But that also includes Australians who don’t agree with you.