Friday, January 13, 2006

Politicians who have to go, I and II

I: PM John Howard, for crimes against free speech

No, I’m not referring to the new sedition laws, et al (though of course they’re a threat to free speech), but to something more recent, more peremptory, and altogether nastier:


Do you support Greenpeace’s presence there [in the vicinity of Japanese whalers]?


I think people have a right to express their view providing it is lawful, providing it is not provocative and provided it is not dangerous.

“Not provocative” may well be his own private mantra, and secret of political longevity. As a formula for guiding legal protest – or reporting – however, it is sickening in its authoritarianism. For a long time, an Australian consensus was that a husband beating up his wife was legally neutral, because she must have provoked him. Now Howard, master dogwhistler of the Sydney white trash that keep him in power, seems keen to resurrect this pandering argument in a new context: violence against the Left is fine; they provoke(d) it (“With their big words, and that”), after all.

II: Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon, for lying

This report makes things pretty back-and-white, without, for whatever reason, saying outright that Lennon is a liar. While some media reports have highlighted the Lennon affair as a proxy fight between Murdoch (News Ltd) and Packer (Nine, Betfair, Crown), this theory doesn’t explain (i) why News Ltd is actually going softly on the story overall at the moment (look at this Editorial in today’s Oz), nor (ii) why Fairfax is hardly covering it at all (there’s nothing in today’s Age or SMH, although a relatively mundane explanation for this might be that Fairfax – in employee profile, a boomer sepulchre – regards journalism being about covering the pissy traffic misdemeanors of footballers, rather than oh, getting to the bottom of corrupt politicians).

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