It is personal to the person claiming it. Freedom is the notion that you are free to do things without being stopped by other persons or things.For example, I am free to walk down the street and smell the flowers.

Freedom does not mean I am free to stop you from smelling the flowers. That is not exercising a freedom. I may have an obscure right to stop you but it doesn’t derive from a freedom that I enjoy. To do that I must assert some other right such as a property owner asserting trespass or a policeman in the exercise of his duties.

If exercising your freedom involves restricting other people as to what they can or cannot do then the coercive nature of what you are doing removes your action from the realm of “freedom” and takes it somewhere else.

As soon as your so-called freedom involves restricting someone else then that necessarily restricts someone else’s freedom. To be true freedom it must happily co-exist with everyone else’s freedom.

So, claiming, that as a matter of religious freedom, you are entitled to deny a gay couple the freedom to get married is a misuse of the word “freedom”.

The only way freedom could be relevant would be if religious people were being forced to do something against their

  • A clergyman being forced to conduct a gay wedding ceremony.
  • A registry official being forced to record a gay couple on a marriage certificate
  • A photographer being forced to photograph a gay wedding
  • A religious school being forced to employ a married gay teacher

We as a society have said that nobody is forced to be a clergyman, registry official or photographer or to operate a religious school but if you do then we have certain rules and regulations which we will impose on you. You are not free to perform that job or run that businesses with total freedom. Because your job or business involves interaction with other people we will impose certain rules which are in the overall best interests of our society. These range from OH&S to trade practices laws to anti-discrimination laws. For example, if you want to erect a big heavy cross on the roof of your church we will force you to use a crane instead of a ladder.

How does society justify restricting freedom in these ways?

The fact that it is possible to run a business or do an administrative job relies on a complex civilisation involving massive amounts of cooperation, trust and mutual obligations. These roles would not exist without regulations and controls. You can’t say I want the civilised job but without the civilising restrictions because the two go hand in hand. You can’t say I want to take the job but keep my freedoms because the society offering that job or business opportunity is only offering it with conditions. If you want something from society then you have to be prepared to accept conditions that society may impose.

If you want maximum freedom, then become a self-sufficient farmer who does not interact with society and you will pretty much be free to farm how you like.

In the current debate, we simply have a battle over those conditions. Religious groups desire to avoid employment and business laws prohibiting discrimination while society is saying these laws are necessary. Religious groups are saying they should be able to enjoy religious freedom but society is saying that we only offer the privilege of integration with our civilised society on terms and conditions that ensure the continued success of our society. If you want to join us, you must play by our rules. If you aren’t prepared to give up a religious freedom then that is fine but you won’t be able to participate fully in our society.


If you want to use the roads, you have to obey the road rules.

If you want to build a highrise, you have to follow these engineering requirements.

If you want to hire an employee, you have to follow these rules about discrimination.

If you want to build a new building, you must allow wheelchair access

If you want to photograph weddings, you must not discriminate against black or gay couples.

If you want to run an accredited educational facility you must not discriminate against black or gay couples.


These rules have evolved over thousands of years because they promote a healthy society. They lose effectiveness very quickly if exceptions are allowed. Religious groups are just another ideological minority. There is nothing sacred about their ideas. Their call for special consideration above other ideological groups is without merit

With the exception of subsistence farmers, individuals and groups are not free to do their jobs or conduct their businesses as they see fit. If they want to interact with our civilised society they must agree to our rules of participation. Our anti-discrimination laws are fundamentally important and should not be watered down.


Posted in Posts by the Iron Fist

One comment on “Freedom
  1. Matt Ellis says:

    You’re a wise man Mr Fist. I’m in total agreement with this. Very well elucidated.

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Only just found this podcast. LOVE IT

Really great to see some honest conversation, that doesn’t seem concerned with making the truth more palatable for the fair of heart. I think we really need a lot more of this.


Great listen

Fantastic podcast and gets better every episode. BUT if you can’t handle the truth about the dismal state of Australian politics give this one a miss.

The Happy Dog

Look forward to this podcast every week

This is an entertaining and intelligent discussion of politics, religion, education and other important issues in Australia. If you’re not interested in politics or if you’re confused by it then you need to listen to these guys. They remove the mystery and put forward an analysis of the issues that will entertain and inform you.


Ep 81, one of the best and most enjoyable

Wel done Trevor and Hugh, one of the best Eps to date. Professional delivery by both.


Episode 68 right on the mark

This episode was just the right length, but more importantly, was a little more measured in addressing the topics. I admire the Iron Fist in the way he can craft rational statements about appalling behaviour in the topics discussed, and I found the 12th Man to be a good balance to the Iron Fist. I wish the Velvet Glove wouldn’t giggle at important topics or when religious thinking is described – we already find them ridiculous, but laughing every time is a bit much after hours of listening to episodes. This is a fun but semi-serious podcast that everyone should listen to, and I thank them for making the time to produce it.


Keep it going…

A refreshing podcast. Rational discussion on topics many won’t tackle honestly. I don’t agree with everything you say but I love the way your subject matter is explored and sometimes debated. Great work guys.


Making baby Jesus cry

Don’t listen to these baby eating heathens, God will kill an angel for every episode that you listen to.


Presenting the Inconvenient Truth

These guys are at the forefront of challenging religious privilege. If you want to be up-to-date on all the wacky goings-on by the religion pushers in this world and their attempts successful or otherwise to influence the political and social spheres of our lives then this is your podcast. We need more of this advocacy for a secular world view. Be like me or Bill and don’t miss an episode.


Christmas Special

All podcasts are great but the christmas special takes the cake. Excellent show guys.


Australian Centred Debate

This podcast is great for those looking for debates about secularism, religious power structures and Western liberal democratic ideals, all with a focus on the Great Southern Land. The two main protagonists bounce ideas off each other and occasionally guests are brought in to give different perspectives (I love to hate Right Wing Tony!). These are not Left Wing Nutters, I know as I tend to that description too often myself and disagree with them at times. Rationality and free thought rule! The boys don’t mind if you throw in your two cents, in fact, I think they love to hear from the public. Very worth a listen.


Great Job

I look forward to this show each week. So informative! Thank you.


Stumbled upon

I stumbled on this podcast and enjoyed a number of podcasts. I love the deconstruction of the arguments and the range of topics. The input of the 12th man, right wing Tony and in particular Hugh Harris and Objective morals and Moral relativism. I am a atheist/secularist and would love to see you guys on Q&A keep up the great work. Secularism is a fight worth fighting for.


Not getting any worse

I’ve been listening for a year now and you haven’t gotten any worse. It’s nice to hear a good Australian perspective with varying views. Keep it up.


Always well worth the time

The Fist and crew do a great job of debating and dissecting a range of secular topics. Great work, and always an amusing listen.


Well balanced podcast

I’ve been listening since the first episode and it has proven time and again to be my favourite podcast. The guys have a balanced view of the world and politics. Well worth a listen.


Back catalogue

Greeting Fist, Glove and Man. I’m working my way through the back catalogue and enjoying it immensely. Your discussions contain the kind of intelligence and fluid thinking with a touch of irreverence that I have been looking for in a local content podcast. Keep up the good work.

Tony W

Love your work

Love your work, your podcasts are excellent and your political commentary and general banter really improve my day! Thank you!


Sensible Secularists

A provocative and informative discussion of current affairs at the intersection of religion and politics. The perfect antidote to religious privilege and snowflake culture. Best listened to at 1.5x speed.


Episode 139 Comedy Classic

G’day Iron and Velv. When I found you blokes, I had finally found some Australian voices of reason and common sense. After listening to a chunk of the back catalogue and keeping up to date with the podcasts, I became a patron, you fellas should be on the Senate. Anyway, episode 139 was a little strange at first, until the nutter came out. And then, oh mate, it became comedy. Where did you dig up that crazy nutter? Thanks Fist and Glove. Watley


Hi guys, many thanks for

Hi guys, many thanks for your podcast which I have just discovered. I am looking forward to exploring the back catalogue. It’s great to hear Australian voices doing such a podcast. One thing though – it’s a bit blokey. Ever thought of having some women on?

Ms McIntosh


Possibly my favourite Aussie podcast. Nice one to do the gardening to!


Great Aussie Secularists..

Finally found some Aussie voices speaking about our issues with Australian accents and with Aussie guests from a secular point of view. Great work guys!



Congrats on 3 years! I’m a fairly new fan (thanks to Caitlin Langley) and this is becoming one of my favourite podcasts. Keep up the great work. – Andy Dowling, Andy Social Podcast / Self Starter Podcast / Bass Player in LORD (don’t worry, we’re not a Christian band!).

Andy Dowling

Glad I found it!

Finally! So glad to find other like minded people in Australia! You’ll be pleased to know I joined the Labor Party just before discovering your podcast and yes, I am as secular as they come!

Matt Chalk

An Enjoyable and Engaging Listen

I’ve been listening to the Iron Fist and Velvet Glove Podcast for a while now and have found it really engaging. The discourse is most often very intelligent and insightful. I often feel like I’ve learnt something when I’ve finished listening. However, I think that sometimes the hosts can be limited in their perspective and that can limit the depth of the discussion, but overall a great podcast you should all listen to.


Still Gold

Had to update the review, as I’ve been a listener and supporter for a while now. The podcast just keeps getting better. Along with the interesting subject matter, the guys are really finding a groove, or maybe i’m just getting to know them better. It’s funny, thought provoking, not afraid of controversy and genuinely interested in making a positive change. What more could you want. Keep up the great work guys.


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