Jun 062011

As anticipated, The Australian has bugger all in its pages today in regard to the massive turnouts Australia wide yesterday in support of the government’s carbon pricing plan.

Why is this so? Because anti-Labor forces  are doing what anti-Labor forces always do. Ignore the realities of our democratic system. Ignoring the voices of the people. Some say as few as 20,000 and as many as 52,000 – a hugely disparate range by any accounts – people turned out to display their feelings on the issue of addressing atmospheric pollution, climate change and that most distasteful of all scientific paradigms, global warming. There has been an escalation in the decrying of support, or rather the supporters, for wanting to address  pollution of the atmosphere. To the extent of certain sections of the media deliberately avoiding any publicising of events like Saturday’s nationally organised “say yes” rallies. The Australian managed a tiny sub-link in the ‘national’ news segment online, whereas anything to do with antipathy toward the government’s proposed Carbon Price policy, on practically any ground imaginable, get’s full headline billing. Those in support of the policy seem to have taken to naming Murdoch media outlets as ‘hate media’. A term I find disturbing in a process of civil discourse within a democratic society, yet the very same media conglomerate both nationally and internationally goes out of its way to paint itself with the same brush as that wielded by Her Majesty’s Opposition by just saying NO to everything the government proposes, on principle.

It’s this level of discourse that seems to have become argument du jour and seems to be spreading to both sides of the philosophical, as well as scientific divide. This business of castigating another’s opinion without validation, or worse, attempting to deny another person the right to their opinion through aggressive responses, satirical or even to personal abuse is fast becoming the way people from both sides of the spectrum guard their own points of view on any given subject. This piece describes the situation quite clearly. The real pointy part being that it’s written by a Briton looking in from the outside.

Australia’s recent tragic pattern of extreme weather events has included both temperature extremes and wildfire conditions way above the historic range: does it really make sense to bet a nation’s future on hoping this to be a coincidence? Yet I was consistently told that even mentioning the probable link was considered impolite, somehow distasteful, and risked vicious abuse.

To argue that one of the world’s highest per-capita emitters, Australia, is too small to matter and that free-riding on the actions of others is an acceptable policy approach without consequence is delusional.

Australian politics seems unable to keep up with the pace of developments in the emerging economies. It is for Australia to make its choice. Just don’t do so with earphones plying false stories and a blindfold to the consequences.

Really pertinent observations. For anyone to overtly state their support for the carbon price regime, automatically, in the eyes of the climate changer deniers, places the proponent in the opposite ideological camp. The “lefties”, which is used as a pergorative term. The personal abuse flows from there, including and not limited to aspersions to lack of intellect, parentage or just straight-out name-calling. For the record, I’m a “leftie”, therefore in the eyes of the nay-sayers I’m overly arrogant, and dismissible as someone worthy of holding an opinion. That’s fine, no skin off my nose, but I fail to understand the need for personal abuse which just keeps coming and coming in a bid to somehow either defeat my opinion, or raise my interlocutors’ own to a level of greater importance without any valid justification. Then there’s the likes of Timmy Blair who like to employ satire in a disdainful manner deliberately aimed at his nemesis, “the left”. The linked piece is possibly the longest bleat I’ve yet seen from Tim, yet is says absolutely nothing out of character. Indeed, it only serves to confirm the man’s lack of character.

On the flip-side, there are “lefties” who will deliberately taunt deniers with snippets of the science which they know are ambiguous merely to get a rise in the personal abuse & name-calling stakes. Both sides of the debate incite the other into idiocy and sorry to say, often aggressively violent discourse.

Australian society is plumbing new depths of public discourse. Civility is a lost art, aggression the new ‘black’. If you don’t like someone’s opinion, you don’t have to agree to disagree, when you can call them all sorts of names, scream  violent invective and even threaten their lives, all from the anonymity of an online persona. That’s where this virulent societal breakdown stems from. Social media and similar forms of online positions of strategic high ground. If you’re a dedicated supporter of your cause, you can even adopt a position of attack from beneath your own personal bridge, and a great many do precisely that. It’s not indicative of a civilised society. It’s not indicative of an egalitarian society, which Australia used to be. Sadly, the ability to discuss and debate issues of importance in a civil manner is lost to Australian society. Whether our society can recover it’s egalitarian civility, only time will tell, but it’s sure as ice in Antarctica that community leadership & standard setting isn’t coming out of Canberra.

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