Sometime last century, when AFL player, Micheal Long put in a complaint about being called a “bl#ck c#nt” by Damian Monkhouse, a lot of people said that it was just part of the game and that Long should just put up with it. I made the observation that if somebody called me a “white c#nt”, I’d be more upset about the noun than the adjective.
This, of course, led to a long lecture about how I couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to be black and be subjected to racism. And, of course, that was true. Any privileged group attempting to suggest that they truly understand what it’s like to suffer discrimination, is like a man who, after having his first prostate exam, announces that now he understands what childbirth is like.
These days, most people understand that racism has no place anywhere – not even a football field – but, even at the time, I wasn’t trying to trivialise Michael Long with what I said. My point was simply that it was a reflection of our society that being called “black” was still more objectionable than being called something that I still feel needs censoring even though everyone knows that the word was “c*nt”…
So, at the risk of being taken the wrong way, I’m going to express my thoughts at the reaction to the Mark Latham comments from last week.
For those of you who missed it, Latham told his viewers: “The boys at the boys school look like dickheads doing their video, total dickheads. I thought the first guy was gay.”
Now, if I say that I understand that being called “gay” by someone like Latham isn’t something that’s pleasant even if the program has very few viewers, I know that a lot of you will say that I can’t possibly understand. So I’ll try to make it clear: I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be that student. He may be gay, he may not be gay, he may not be sure. Whatever, it was a nasty thing to say because Latham was using a public forum to attack a high school student who’d done nothing more than try to show some empathy by being part of a video for International Women’s Day.
I mean, if Latham wasn’t sitting in his cosy little studio with his agreeable mates around him, the conversation might have gone like this:
Latham: The boys at the boys school look like dickheads doing their video, total dickheads. I thought the first guy was gay.
Sensible Person: So what’s your point?
Latham: That the boy speaking may have been gay!
Sensible Person: What’s that got to do with anything?
Latham: Well… um, we shouldn’t let gay people make videos.
Sensible Person: Why not?
Latham: Well, it’s part of some political agenda to silence real men like me.
Sensible Person: So let me get this straight, you think that a teenage boy on a student video is part of some gay conspiracy to silence you. Why?
Latham: Well, he looked gay!
Sensible Person: You look like a garden gnome, but what’s that got to do with anything…
However, at the risk of equating a prostate exam with childbirth, I can’t help but observe that even calling the other boys “dickheads” was the sort of bullying that we see far too much of, from people who think that being armed with a microphone entitles them to say what they like without having to face any consequences. Accepting one’s right to “free speech” also means accepting the dangers which are: being sued; being sacked; being criticised; and, of course, being punched in the face.
No, I’m not condoning violence, but I do accept that calling people names to their face runs a risk. And while they may not be right to hit me, I’m not going to get a lot of sympathy when I say that I was merely objecting to political correctness by following Mark around saying that his resemblance to a garden gnome will be handy now that he’s unemployed, he can have a job sitting with the pixies in the garden saying nothing.
Contrast Latham’s comments with Peter Dutton’s rather strange reaction to the letter from the chief executives supporting marriage equality. It’s strange that he had no problem with CEOs expressing support for Liberal policy, or the campaign against the mining tax, but when they didn’t agree with his world view, he thought that they should give up their million dollar paychecks and become a politician and work for a paltry $250,000 a year if they wanted to express an opinion.
Dutton told us: “If Alan Joyce and any other CEO wants to campaign on this or any other issue in their own time and on their own dime, good luck to them.”
One wonders why he singled out Alan Joyce. Of course, one has a theory, but let’s slot Mr Latham into Mr Dutton’s shoes.
Latham: The CEOs look like dickheads writing the letter, total dickheads. I thought the first guy was gay.
Sensible Person: You mean Alan Joyce?
Latham: Yeah, him!
Sensible Person: Well, he is. He’s openly gay.
Latham: I rest my case.
Sensible Person: So, what’s your point?
Latham: Well, he’s gay.
Sensible Person: And?
Latham: Why should a gay person be expressing a view about same sex marriage? It’s just not right!
Yep, I know, I missing something. I know, it’s political correctness gone mad when a nice man like Mark can’t call people names on his own show. I know that the main reason that his show was cancelled was it’s lack of ratings in spite of Mark trying just about everything to create controversy. And I know that I should have written about the irony of Pauline Hanson talking about the dangers of vaccinating one week and suggesting that we should vaccinate against Muslims the next: “Vaccinating against Islam? Aren’t you worried about side effects, Pauline?”
Whatever, Mark Latham is gone. And, for some weird reason, he was blaming the person who sacked him for his dismissal.