I copped a bit of flak for referring to Tony Abbott as the ‘circus clown with the big ears’ in my previous post, and probably rightly so and I apologise to those who were genuinely offended. Under normal circumstances, I would have considered it indeed an offensive comment and would not have included it, however, these are not normal times.
They were before Tony Abbott seized leadership of his party over three years ago.
“But should have I deleted it?” I asked. I thought long and hard about that until I recalled the tone of political debate in this country and how Tony Abbott had engineered it.
Tony Abbott introduced the gutter politics of the American Tea Party into our fair country and the adoring media seized upon it with filthy lust. Both they and Tony Abbott, as a glaring example, denigrated former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a manner that makes my “circus clown with the big ears” comment appear a very limp attack on the man by comparison.
During her term as Prime Minister, she was ruthlessly ridiculed for such menial things such as having red hair, a long nose, a big bum, a Welsh accent and her unmarried status.
We witnessed hatred inspired by the shock jocks, hatred inspired by Tony Abbott, and witnessed the denigration of Parliament by Tony Abbott’s Opposition.
We heard cries from either the Opposition or the media that she should be kicked to death or tossed overboard and saw placards littering the countryside that she’s a bitch or a witch.
Tony Abbott stood in front of those signs and smirked.
One media empire even fabricated a story that she engaged in criminal activity.
And don’t forget how tens of thousands of rabid right-wingers used to lap up Pickering’s pornographic portrayal of Julia Gillard.
Offensive and insulting not just to Julia Gillard, but to all women.
Now to Tony Abbott himself. I will use words that I’ve written before, so I apologise to those who are familiar with them.
I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa.
Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core.
Stories surface that he’s been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it wasn’t until 2005 that some of the public first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage.
It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:
The day after Mr Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behaviour . . . Mr Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”
Nasty. To the core. And to a mate.
He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.
When Tony Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it wasn’t disrespectful enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.
Yesterday, Mr Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition. “It was a stunt,” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network.
“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”
He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we’ll all laugh along with him?
He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam wasn’t even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.
The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.
He said she was a ”woman of style and substance” and ”a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.
”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Abbott said.
Nasty. To the core.
And let’s not forget the role he played in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was:
“All my doing, for better or for worse. It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”
And of course, there’s the now famous Barbara Ramjan incident.
His nastiness was contagious to the Liberal Party and many of its members and supporters have been affected under his leadership. It is a point that I and many others have expressed, but I do like what Dave Horton had to say some time ago, which I often refer to:
“In effect all shock jocks and populist politicians are painting targets on people who do not share their views. In Australia the people who said the Prime Minister was a “witch” or a “cheap prostitute whoring herself” who should be “drowned in a sack” or “kicked to death” were inviting violence in a way that should not be permitted in a civilised society whether applied to the prime minister or the unfortunate woman who was the partner of Car Park Man.
Bullying, in home, school, workplace is rightly taken very seriously these days. And it is clearly recognised that verbal bullying can cause as much distress and psychological damage as physical actions.
Yet we facilitate, protect, applaud, the bullying and incitement to bullying that takes place every day in our media. Target after target of helpless and/or vulnerable groups (Aborigines, gays, single mothers, unemployed, refugees, public housing tenants, environmentalists, unions) are chosen day after day by bully boy and bully girl shock jocks and politicians. And day after day there are attempts by the same people to denigrate, delegitimise, degrade, political and philosophical opponents. Day after day words are twisted, lies told, rage consequently incited.”
If you need reminding of how hateful the media has been, here it is in an early article Pedlars of Hate.
Dave Horton summed up the landscape of the last three years and those of the right-wing have, as Dave notes, applauded it. Am I right to assume that it is those same people who now take offence at me referring to Tony Abbott as the “circus clown with the big ears”?
Yes, it was inappropriate for me to use those words, and although I won’t resort in future to such wording, I defend my right to have used them.
For over three years the left has been subject to the most hysterical attacks of personal abuse and if those of the right now object to such behaviour being fired back in return, then all I can say is . . . deal with it.