…and a few other things

Tory Shepherd’s use of the term “anti-astroturfing” in her column? Awesome. Also good for calling out Philip Nitzsche (or is that Friedrich?) as a “ghoulish right-to-die campaigner”, regardless of your views on voluntary euthanasia. He certainly does seem to get a bit too much nihilistic pleasure from the idea of death for my liking.

I’d also like to remind Adelaide Now & The Advertiser that declaring something to be the case does not make it so. To be honest, I never really got the big deal about this whole At Home With Julia thing. The show had some good comedic impressions, particular of everybody’s favourite conservative agrarian socialist Bob Katter (sorry, Barnaby) but overall seemed fairly lacklustre. Of course, my aversion might also have something to do with listening to such a good imitation of the Prime Minister’s voice and vocal inflections for a straight half hour. But nor, of course, did I agree with arguments the show was intrinsically sexist or demeaning. The fact a sitting Prime Minister was subjected to such mockery has more to do with the chaotic state of current politics than her chromosomes.

(Not to forget the program was also somewhat humanising, surely a good thing in this age of two-by-four political leaders on all sides.)

Furthermore, when the show did touch on negative gender stereotypes (such as the meanness dished out to first bloke Tim) it seemed to be satirising and criticising those who held such attitudes (read: much of middle Australia) rather than advocating them itself. The extent to which such attitudes prevail in the wider community is, of course, open for debate.

Nevertheless, in light of all the public discussion & outcry about the program, added to by everyone from misguided feminists to conservative nationalists worried about having sex under the flag (I assume their concerns only apply when condoms are used, as otherwise Peter Costello’s “one for the country” rule surely comes into effect) I feel compelled to highlight a small piece that appeared in today’s paper announcing that “PM sitcom will get the boot”.

The article declared that “tomorrow’s episode of the four-part ABC comedy send-up of Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be the last” and claimed “the move comes after strong protests over last week’s episode of At Home with Julia.” But ABC promo material suggests the show was only ever planned as a four-part series. Sure, the piece goes on to say that 6-episodes were written but the last two never filmed. However, I assume those extras were prepared in the event of high ratings, which the show didn’t end up achieving. That may or may not have been connected with alleged community outrage over infringements against both right and left-wing political correctness, but it hardly justifies the strong implication of causation (as opposed to correlation) tabloid journalism is so fond of. Sigh.

And finally, I’d like to highlight a piece in The Australian by Peter van Onselen that touched on one important aspect of the current asylum seeker debate, which gets ignored by the right and seemingly not repeated enough by the left. As van Onselen points out, “stopping boats coming to Australia will not stop asylum-seekers making their way to other destinations instead, boats will continue to sink, people will continue to die. The only difference is that it will be happening farther from our shores, so we don’t have to feel as bad about it, right? Wrong.” He goes on:

“And even if people in crowded camps don’t make the dangerous journey elsewhere, they will remain in those camps, suffering from the various reported problems: rape, disease, persecution, malnourishment and so forth.”

Exactly. In fact, I made the very same point myself almost a year ago. It all comes down to whether or not we want to turn away people who’ve been desperate enough to make the potentially dangerous journey here. The argument that some might be self-selecting Australia for economic reasons is redundant. If they are true asylum seekers we have an obligation to help. If not, that can easily be decided by thorough, efficient processing and non-refugee migrants sent back. Asserting that we should be discouraging people from getting on boats is self-serving crap. They have the right to make that choice. Besides, if it’s really so dangerous, doesn’t that seem to suggest those who make the trip genuinely are in desperate, life or death situations already?

While they sometimes touch on worthwhile points, the current line repeated ad nauseam by right-wing pundits, politicians & street plebs, from Andrew Bolt to Greg Sheridan to advisers & Tony Abbott himself is really no more than a social policy example of economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s famous observation that “the modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

Amazing what can be found in the hate media when you bother to look. That is all.


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