Thursday, April 27, 2006

Yet another outspoken cretin from Deakin University

As Andrew Norton is fond of pointing out, Deakin University has, in the last year or so, been punching well above its weight when it comes to wacky ideas and publicity-whoredom masquerading as academic research and its dissemination. Prime exhibits here are “bamboo slivers under the fingernails” law school head Mirko Bargaric, and law lecturer James McConvill (who is now at LaTrobe Uni). In the latter’s case at least, I think that some slack needs to be cut, because of (i) his age (late 20s), and (ii) his frustration working in a boomer-ocracy (a situation that is hardly unique to Deakin, of course).

Deakin University law school was also my most recent employer (part of 2004, and most of 2005), as it happens. (I regard/ed James McConvill as a colleague, but have never met or otherwise communicated with Mirko Bargaric.)

Deakin’s latest public wacko – Anne-Marie Hede – is not from its law school. This article pins her in the department of sociology, but I’m inclined to instead trust her official homepage, which has her as a marketing’n’management academic. From her photo, I’m guessing she comes from (or close to) the gilded ranks of the 1961-born.

That Anne-Marie Hede is most definitely not herself an Xer can be inferred from this:

The sanctity of Anzac Day needs to be protected from the hedonism of Generation Xers, who demand a good time in return for their participation in the day's services, a researcher has claimed.

"It's generally accepted the Generation Xers have a fairly hedonistic approach to life generally; they will demand a good time for their participation in Anzac Day services, if at all," said Anne-Marie Hede
(penultimate URL)

Yep, it’s those spendthrift, party-loving Xers, who have now come back from the dead, it would seem. By “dead”, I refer to a cohort of Xers, such as Hede imagines them, defying all empirical evidence. Xers are poorer than boomers, and so if any generation is going to get saddled with the communal-punch-bowl-drainers reputation, it should be BBs. Aka: Have you taken a look in the mirror lately, Anne-Marie Hede? Or does your “Xers Exposed!” research merely run to reading "The Protocols of the Youngsters of Glebe". (After all, if such is good enough for Clive Hamilton, Richard Neville and Mark Latham . . . )

Unpicking Hede’s gross generational defamation, it appears that it may even be a case of mistaken identity, with the sole example given of Xers’ Inappropriate Hedonism being Gallipoli in 2005. Hello! Since when are pissed 20-something skanks and stockbrokers, pausing for a BYO (= cheap), but parental-brownie-points-earning bender on their way to settling in London, classed as “GenX”? The way Hede uses GenX as a vessel, into which can seemingly be poured every modern social ill, makes me wonder if she’ll next be blaming Xers for the wanton sacrifice of Aussie lives back in 1915.

A side-thought: given that Macquarie Uni academic Andrew Fraser looks set to be dragged through the HREOC for his (equally) baseless and offensive remarks (about African immigrants, in Fraser’s case), I wonder whether Anne-Marie Hede should get the same treatment? (I’m assuming that “age” attracts the same sanctions here as “race”.)

Whilst I'm slightly reticent to defend style over substance, I think in this case it's at least a little necessary. Universities in Australia have a bit of an image problem in that they really don't have much of an image at all.

The Herald Sun will only report on a university when there's controversy, The Age and The Australian will really only give short and pithy analyses of issues when the shit has really hit the fan (ie. Glynn Davis's restructuring of the Melbourne Uni undergrad.), and beyond all that nobody seems to give a toss anyway.

It is really unfortunate, but in such in an environment is it any wonder that we have frustrated academics chasing publicity in what seems to be the only way possible? I'm at Deakin Uni doing my MA at the moment, and though I've not had the (mis)fortune to meet Mirko Bagaric, he definitely has an on-campus reputation that precedes him, and it's not a good one.

In regards to the last couple of media-whoring outbursts that he's made, I certainly have not agreed with him, but I afford him some begrudging respect in that he's got the balls to stand behind his unpopular convictions.

The real shame is that it is only these people with unpopular and controversial opinions that actually get any airplay these days.
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