Aug 172011

A blog post in Crikey’s Pure Poison column today caught my eye, more from the amusement perspective than from any serious concern over the value of the exchange referred to within it, and prior posts.

We’re all pretty much familiar with Miranda Devine’s deliberate slight against Penny Wong & partner’s announcement of impending pregnancy. I say deliberate because to my mind that’s precisely what it was. To claim that same-sex couples – lesbian couples – having and raising children in a loving family relationship in any way, shape or form is indicative of the kind of societal breakdown we saw in London last week, is quite simply fallacious. To then go on and claim that in her (Devine) view…

As a Catholic, I believe the push for same-sex marriage is not about enhancing the lives of gay couples. In countries where it has been legalised, there has been no rush to the altar.

… only adds another half-tonne or so to the spoil heap as the hole she was digging gets deeper. It’s a narrow, religiously-driven, bigoted point of view. One to which Devine is entitled, and one which she surely must have anticipated negative reactions to. I mean to say, why express inflammatory opinions in the public sphere if you’re not prepared to cop criticism & comment? She drew plenty of that from the Twitter and blogospheres and amusingly from where I stand, she doesn’t like it at all. At least that’s the impression she gives out. I reckon she writes this dribble (yes, it is) to be seen to be doing her News Limited job, but let’s not go there. As someone wrote into the ether yesterday, “Tough titties, princess. Suck it up”. Being a reporter for a News Limited rag does not automatically provide exclusivity to a realm of protection over & above the rest of society. If anything, doing what Devine does in stirring the societal pot places her smack-bang in the middle of the societal crush, well within spitting distance of those so inclined.

The non-Devine spruikers in the media world have every right, just as Devine has every right, to express indignation toward her & her opinions. As do we all about them. I see Catherine Deveny wading into the fray in her own inimitable fashion today. Haven’t read her and don’t know whether I really want to either. (UPDATE: okay, during a break in the email traffic, I did read her. Nothing to see there, move along) I’d say this about the sentiments expressed in the Crikey blog though. Yes, the quality of public debate in Australia across a broad spectrum of topics, is abysmal. It is aggressive, abrasive, discourteous, self-righteous, arrogant and often downright abusive. Add to those adjectives the words ‘logical fallacy’ and you pretty much have the tenor of public discourse at the moment. Is it anything to take on personally though? I think not.

I read a piece in New Matilda earlier, written by someone who travelled on the No-Carbon-Tax-Rally bus yesterday. Very insightful piece, which pretty much sums up why this aggressive, abusive style of discussion should not be taken at all seriously, or indeed, personally. Whether its Miranda Devine or some bored-out-of-their-skull, self-funded retiree, Alan Jones fan, these people are not to be taken in the least seriously. I will take one point from Catherine Deveny and that’s that these people are expressing their own opinions. That’s all. Nothing they claim is real, none of it is backed by hard evidence and despite the shrillness of the voice or how spittle-flecked their lips may become during whatever favourite tirade they embark upon, they are merely expressing what they choose to believe. We can’t all be right on every issue and none of us can claim to be an expert on everything. We can, though, try to be more considered in our expressions, lucid in making them and rational about what we choose to tell others we know about, as opposed to what we only think we know about.

Abraham Lincoln said it best. “better to remain silent & be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt”. I also like the Dirty Harry description of opinions. They’re like arseholes. Everyone has one. To paraphrase further, some stink, and some don’t. Miranda Devine must have a very smelly arsehole.

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