Monday 26 September 2016
Somewhere along the way Australia again followed America’s lead with the arrival of ‘opinion’. As staff were sacked, decreasing the ability of newspaper journalists to investigate and research they began the concept of ‘opinion writing’. Radio had been doing it for 30 years or so but the right of radio decided to go a step further, and so was born the feral shock jocks of today.
Alan Jones, John Laws, Chris Smith, Ray Hadley, Stan Zemanek and not to forget the feral champion Andrew Bolt himself who has gained a foothold in all genres of media. (Although his audience is in decline).
Shock jocks are usually described as broadcasters who create a large audience with untruth, exaggeration, offensiveness. They are deliberately outrageous and place ratings above common decency. Hence the term ‘feral’. They are the equivalent of the Murdoch tabloid newspaper.
They are paid enormous amounts of money to be rude indecent and provocative. And do so with gusto attracting large audiences of the older demographic.
Right wing shock jocks tend to push the envelope, disregarding broadcasting authorities and even the rights of the individual.
Those who complain about media bias might note that the left of politics does not have a shock jock they can lay claim too. It’s not just the radio shock jocks who cast their opinions in feral fashion. It has insinuated itself into all facets of media communication.
Why is the Right So Feral?
A year or so back some Facebook friends took it upon themselves to add my name to three pages. The first, Australian Government Your Say is administered by a Ross Parisi who I have since been told is a failed Liberal right-wing politician. I cannot verify that, nor do I want to. Another page is called The Middle Ground and thirdly, one called Australian Political Debate. All pages purport to give their members the opportunity to debate political issues. Right Vs Left. Sounds even-handed.
I think the friends who pitched my name thought I would be someone who could present a leftish view with a sagacious intelligence spliced with some worldly wisdom, even humor. Perhaps they thought it was what these sites needed.
On that point they were correct. On the other hand they could have chosen Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and many other social democrats and their combined intellects would have been totality ineffective.
Never in my life have I come across a human rabble so feral. So nefarious, so malevolent, so xenophobic, so bigoted, so homophobic so ubiquitous, discourteous and disgustingly bad mannered.
I am not a naïve person. Far from it. However, nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of vicious, vile, ill-informed, fact-less views that were thrown at me by people spewing verbal vomit with an intensity and regularity that left me somewhat ashamed of my fellow humans. So bad was their gutter filth and their intelligence so poor that they became more rabid even when I agreed with them.
Often I asked myself if they might all suffer from some collective mental disorder. Like intelligence deficiency syndrome.
For example, I made some comments suggesting I disagreed with the Asylum policies of both parties. They formed like a group of hyenas attacking me on all fronts. The end result being that “I supported people dying at sea.” No attempt at balanced discourse or reason had any effect. They employ tactics that very quickly take you off subject so that they can employ sarcasm, verbal intimidation and emotional blackmail. I complained to Ross Parisi three times but he showed little interest. More or less telling me to mix it with them.
A friend asked me after a week of it why I bothered. Initially I thought, oh well someone needs to stand up to them. Then rather pragmatically I decided I was interested in the psychology of it so for the second week I studied their behaviour. Then I suggested to those of the left that frequented the site that they should follow me and leave. Then the right could argue among themselves. I thought the ferals would rather enjoy that.
Now I am left to analyse just why the right are as feral as they are. It is not only on Facebook pages that we find them. More alarmingly and with more influence they inhabit all forms of media. It is there that they have become progressively more outlandish, more tantalising, more seductive, more flirtatious, more provocative, more stunning and more enticing.
But what is it that occupies the minds of men and women that they need be so malevolent in their thinking? That the power of persuasion with reasoned thinking and debate no longer suffices?
What is it in the backgrounds of people that causes their narcissism, their inability to accommodate difference or equality?
Is it the sins of the fathers?
In the media, is it loyalty to the despot? Or an acceptance of serfdom? Why is it that megalomaniac Alan Jones with his vile gutter speech attracts a huge listening audience? And a perverter of the truth like Andrew Bolt command mega readership.
Why is there this preponderance of right-wing attitude? This alignment to neo conservatism. Why have we allowed ourselves to be saturated by extremism?
Perhaps the answer can be found in materialism. Or in an entitlement society. Maybe it’s those elements of Christianity who believe in a gospel of wealth. Do people believe it’s their individual right to take an ownership of prosperity and cultural worth?
Does it belong to them and them only? In my lifetime the left have moved to the right and the right have gone further so. Perhaps social media has given it a voice too loud.
Maybe it’s the preponderance of right-wing propaganda in our media. Whatever it is, why are they so feral about it? Well I’ll have a stab.
With the media I believe it is the threat of annihilation and in turn profit. Social media and the advent of bloggers is now threatening their power and influence.
In order to maintain the viewer’s interest they need to progressively become more outlandish, and this is exactly what mainstream media is doing. And in the process has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant. So they resort to lies and biased opinion with pursed lips.
Also empowered by social media the feral right have also been given a new voice. At the zenith of her popularity Pauline Hansen received 20% of the vote. Twenty years later she is back with 500,000 supporters and backed by the feral news media.
Two explanations occurred to me for the unbalanced hatred right-wing politicians and their supporters extol. Firstly, in the case of feral followers it’s the inheritance factor. Hatred is simply passed on from one generation to another.
It is born of ignorance and misunderstandings. There are in my view three psychological types. Those who know. Those who know when they are shown and those who have no interest in knowing because of their inheritance of hate. They are the feral philistines.
In the case of the politicians they have inherited the worst traits of American Republicanism and the Tea Party. People like Abbott, Bernardi and Christensen say the most outrageous things in the knowledge that they will be given immunity from the feral media. They are the repugnant ferals.
MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“Perhaps a greater understanding of what I am saying might be obtained by exercising a greater willingness to think more deeply”.
Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part two – Newspapers.