Mar 022011

I didn’t get to peruse the News RSS feeds today – thanks to mindlessly helpless brokers who are simply too god-damn lazy to read anything they’re sent – so I’ll simply deal with something I find to be both frightening and so very disappointing.

The Americanisation of the Australian political scene. The rabid infection of the baseless ‘left’/’right’ paradigm into what was, at one stage in our political past, a much more reasoned platform for social debate. The rise and rise of radio ‘shockjocks’ – a term I find more useful if used to describe electric underpants – news media bloggers like Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman. The collective gatherings like #auspol on Twitter and Debate_and_Relate forum which overtly attack, abuse, insult, foster fallacious claims & refuse to engage in reasoned discussion on any level, actively working to drive away those who would challenge their isolation.

This morning I hear on ABC radio an interview with Member for New England, Tony Windsor, who has apparently been receiving death threats no less! A voicemail message from Windsor’s phone was played, which included the words…

 “You’re a fucking liar, a dog, a rat … I hope you die, you bastard”.

Charming, isn’t it? Then apparently Liberal member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella came out with this gem…

“If Ms Gillard believes that under her carbon tax Australian jobs and manufacturing will be better off, she is as delusional as Colonel ‘my people love me’ Gaddafi”

Sweet! Senator Eric Abetz, a player with form on the subject of abuse, performed likewise. Conservative apologists are dismissing this most evident of logical fallacies as a non-event. The opposition leader describes the language as ‘colourful’, palms off any denial and offers no retraction. Yet much less offensive ad hominem occur daily in the Parliament, receive a wrist-slap, and re-occur with monotonous regularity. The words ‘lie’ and ‘liar’ are unparliamentary, but outside the house, and away from Parliamentary privilege, it seems far worse is du rigueur.

Comparing the nation’s leader – like her or loathe her for her personality, her dress sense, her body shape or dare I even say it, her politics – to a despotic tyrant currently inciting civil war among his people, gunning them down with his military, is quite frankly beyond the pale. The position deserves the respect it is due, regardless of the individual fulfilling the role. In this country, we do not go around fomenting civil disobedience leading to civil war. We are a democracy. A ‘liberal’ democracy, not a conservative autocracy. Our political representatives are elected to do a job, of representing their constituents and their interests. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. For Tony Abbott to be overtly encouraging a ‘people’s revolt’ smacks strongly of that autocracy.

What happened to our body politick? Where are the true statesmen & women of times past? The Fred Daly’s & Jim Killen’s who would goad each other in the House, yet share a beer & converse affably & rationally outside the House? Where did the rationality go? I suspect it died a painful and lonely death 7 September 2010 when Abbott failed to buy government from the independents who hold the balance of power in our current hung Parliament. I think we all need to be much more aware of what our body politick has become and will become as the latent bigotry within our society seeks to replace the equally innate, and I believe superior, sense of egalitarianism. We, as a people, are better than our politicians portray us to be. We need to be asking why the current crop have chosen this style of behaviour. If, as I believe, it stems from a sense of poor sportsmanship, sour-grapes and angst directed, however subconsciously, at the people who put them there, then we the people need to remove them in favour of better options. Those options are out there, we simply need to encourage them. The fault for this descent into dissent, lies solely with us. It’s past time we came to realise that.

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