The brutalizing of Australia

24 Mar

Anger Bot by Dave Sliozis


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.

9 Responses to “The brutalizing of Australia”

  1. David Horton March 24, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    “In other spheres public and private, these abusive uncontrolled verbal attacks are known as domestic violence, and intimidatory bullying.” Well spotted Jennifer, and nicely put. That rally was a frightening taste of what is to come – the kind of language, and tone, that have been used by demagogues seeking power since human time began.


  2. PAUL WALTER March 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    A sad revelation of the australian mentality, as the demographic ages.


  3. G.Hoffmann March 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    A graphic demo,of the demo graphic??

    (Copyright (Today) is available upon request)


  4. Steve at the Pub March 25, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    I’d be more inclined to believe in the sincerity of those currently outraged about a nasty placard or two, if I was confronted with evidence of their similar outrage over previous instances of offensive (& even violent) protests in the past.

    Otherwise I’m calling “Hypocrite!”


    • Jennifer Wilson March 25, 2011 at 7:40 am #

      I’m going to have a think about why I’ve forgotten other occasions, why when I recall them they don’t seem so bad, and whether or not this has anything to do with the PM’s gender and the “bitch” thing –


    • David Horton March 25, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      Complaining about extreme right wing actions, in a demonstration, is not the same as the extreme right wing demonstrating in favour of those actions.


  5. Timothy March 28, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    While you criticize the respondents to the articles of Haigh and Barnes, you let those who done the real violence – the burning government property – of scot free.

    If an Australian(s) who believed he/she was hard done by burnt down a government building, would you then only criticize those who disdained the arsonist?


    • Jennifer Wilson March 28, 2011 at 7:13 am #

      I don’t agree that the two situations are the same and comparable.

      And I guess I don’t agree that the worst violence at Christmas Island was burning government property!


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