I tried to post the following comment on a blog called Talking Philosophy. As often happens, it was rejected.
I think that MTR is under no special obligation to disclose her religious views if she chooses not to. Further, it’s reasonable (and indeed preferable) to expect that the arguments she presents as part of her political advocacy should be judged on their own merits, and these obviously stand or fall irrespective of the fact that she also happens to espouse or practice some form of Christian belief.
That said, the initial impetus for the controversy was a profile on MTR (Who’s afraid of Melinda Tankard Reist?, Rachel Hills, SMH, January 8, 2012), one which prompted JW to question the absence of material more explicitly locating MTR’s advocacy within a religious framework. Of course, JW also alleges that MTR has been “deceptive and duplicitous about her religious beliefs” — which is something else again.
As I see it, whether or not JW’s allegation is correct, MTR is still under no (legal or moral) obligation to discuss her religious beliefs in a public forum. If the political sphere may be considered as something more and other than law or morality, however, then I think asking the kinds of questions JW did (and does) is a reasonable form of enquiry, especially in response to the publication of such a profile — one which is obviously not reducible to the logical elaboration of MTR’s views but paints a broader picture of her as a public figure.
Beyond this, whatever the legal dimensions of the case, I think MTR’s decision to threaten to sue was probably a political misstep. I also think that it’s the political dimensions of the controversy surrounding MTR’s legal action that animate much public discussion, and that it’s probably mistaken to reduce this to some notion regarding what is appropriate material for disclosure in this context.
Speaking of defamation, Legal threat to bloggers and Payback for the internet’s creepy cowboys (Lawrence Money, The Age, January 30, 2012) can has moaron Marieke Hardy and defamation and why defamation lawyers are brilliant men who come up with many well-thought-out, practical ideas, and are ensuring the financial future of this country.
Oh, and their personal hygiene is beyond reproach.