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“Language is a Virus From Outer Space”

Doors

“Language is a Virus From Outer Space” William S. Burroughs

I read in one of the comments that this site was “a joke”. Whenever someone disparages something by calling it a joke, I often ask them what’s funny about it.

“Nothing,” they invariably reply.

“Then why did you call it a joke?” I politely inquire.

“Because it’s ridiculous/stupid/dumb/(consult thesaurus rather than have me go on)” they splutter.

“Then why didn’t you say that, because by calling it a joke you implied that there was something that I wasn’t getting.”

“I’ll give you something in a minute,” is often their response at this point.

Of course, I’d like to think that rational engagement will change people’s minds. I’d like to believe that people are capable of taking in the evidence, the arguments and distinguishing fact from opinion, then coming up with a reasoned reaction to whatever’s under discussion. I also like to think that Santa will still give me presents even though I stopped believing in him. Sadly, I doubt that any of things are likely to happen.

Listening to callers on the ABC today – many who supported the ABC, by the way – I was struck by the thought that I often have. Why are the Right so angry? The Left, even when we have an allegedly left wing government, have a world that’s full of unfairness, so they always have something to be potentially angry about. And, even though I totally disagree with them, for the three years of the Gillard government, there was the argument that Tony Abbott should be Prime Minister because the Liberals got more seats than Labor. Or rather the Liberals when you add them to the Nationals got more seats than Labor, but Labor cheated by adding seats from other parties and Independents to give themselves enough seats to claim government.

Yeah, Opposition sucks. So I can understand someone being angry, even if I think that they have no right to be.

But why are they still so angry?

How dare the ABC report unsubstantiated allegations from people with a vested interest in making the navy look bad!!!

Well, how do you feel about the unsubstantiated allegations about Julia Gillard? Or even Craig Thomson?

That’s different.

How?

You’re not going to defend that pathetic, dysfunctional government, are you? You Labor types are all the same. Labor are the worst party in the history of the world.

Look I haven’t even said that I voted Labor…

You didn’t vote GREENS? They’re even worse.

I didn’t say I voted for anyone, but how can The Greens be worse than the “worst party in the history of the world”?

The Greens are the worst party in the history of the universe!

* * *

At this point, should one attempt to point out that, for now anyway, the world is still in the universe? Or will it just lead to a diatribe about that not being the point and that I’m attempting to change the subject which was the ABC bias against the Liberals, Australia, Australians, Andrew Bolt, the Flag, Rinehart, the Monarchy, the IPA, heterosexuals, cigarettes, men, millionaires, billionaires, Murdoch, free speech, racists, non-academics views on climate change, people who drink beer, people who ring up to abuse their presenters and the way they keep reporting things that would be better left unreported.

When Tony Abbott asked whether you believe the navy or the people trying to “break Australian law”, it was the sort of question that we asks ourselves every time conflicting versions of an event are broadcast. (I would suggest that Abbott’s phrasing of the question invited bias.) Undoubtedly, many people will believe that the navy is the more trustworthy source, but surely there’s a danger if the national broadcaster decides not air accusations simply because they’re coming from a group that may have a vested interest in misrepresenting events. If that vested interest is clearly exposed, we can make up our own minds. Should the ABC, for example, refuse to report the concerns from groups opposed to wind farms because many are simply NIMBYs or refuse to run any statements from the Business Council?

And, if there were mistakes or inaccuracies in the reporting of the recent incident, they should be corrected. However, to argue angrily that the ABC shouldn’t report accounts because they may not be true seems a little rich when it comes from the same people who were repeating allegations about Julia Gillard from twenty years ago.

Ah, as I said earlier, I’d like to think that reason and rational thought would influence people’s thinking, but instead it’s often emotion and gut feeling. And that makes me disappointed, angry and frustrated.

Which really is a joke, when I think about it.

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