When human beings whip themselves up into states of apoplectic rage they tend to all look the same. Thus the images of Barnaby Joyce frothing at the mouth at the “Look, we’re a Tea Party!” demonstration yesterday, reminded me immediately of Muammar Gaddafi. While retaining their individual features if somewhat contorted, the energy of their lunacy is foregrounded, and it doesn’t really matter anymore who they are.
Self-interested fury is a continuum with Joyce at the milder end and Gaddafi at the murderous extreme. But it is a continuum.
Then there’s the placards, backgrounding Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in TV footage: “Ditch the Bitch, Ditch the Witch, Bob Brown‘s Bitch.” I’m no fan of Ms Gillard, but whoa! We’re entering Sarah Palin territory here.(I’ve got an article in On Line opinion this morning on the merging of the religious right and state politics in NSW and the USA, that yesterday’s rally eerily supports.)
Then there’s the articles in the Drum over the last couple of days, by Gerard Oosterman, Bruce Haigh and Greg Barnes, all protesting the treatment of detainees at Christmas Island. The comments on the articles are something to behold. The rage against the authors and refugees is palpable, and the misinformation and ignorance displayed is a tribute to the propaganda talents of politicians and shock jocks. These homegrown talents are about to rival Sarah Palin’s Get them in the Crosshairs campaign against Democrats who voted for healthcare reform.
Violence, incitement to violence, brutalizing and hyperbolic language, verbal abuse, xenophobic and sociopathic disregard for the safety of human beings from other parts of the world, are all on the increase in Australia. They are aroused and nurtured by some self-interested politicians, and self-interested rabid media commentators.
It’s not that edifying watching Gillard and Abbott go at it in Question Time either.
Brutalized and brutalizing methods of communicating displeasure are becoming the default position. After yesterday, nobody can deny that. In other spheres public and private, these abusive uncontrolled verbal attacks are known as domestic violence, and intimidatory bullying.
Pointless trying to reduce these violences in intimate settings. Pointless trying to reduce bullying in schools and the workplace. As long as this type of brutalized attack is encouraged by political leaders and ranting media types, as long as it is accepted as our daily discourse, we’re fighting a losing battle in the schools and the home because its in the air that we breathe, and everyone has permission to indulge their most base emotions.
People’s revolt? No, revolting people.