Back when Gough Whitlam won the election a few of us guys from the local football club went along to our pub, and on this day we thought we’d drink in the lounge, rather than our regular spot; the front bar.
We talked about Gough’s win when a bloke started chatting to us about how bad it was that Labor won.
He would have been in his mid-fifties, and he was clearly a right-winger.
We gave him hell. Not just on that day, but whenever we saw him again in the lounge bar of the pub.
We were quite nasty, actually. Our language was appalling, splattered with such terms as; “F#ck off, idiot”, Go f#ck yourself”, “What the f#ck would you know”, or “Go and talk to your f#cking friends over there”.
And as we were disgusting people, the “c” word was used liberally.
You get the picture.
And of course we enjoyed it. We were bloody heroes.
After that our lives took us down different paths and 25 years later I was working for ATSIC in Port Augusta.
One evening on ANZAC Day an old WW2 veteran was interviewed by one of the local Adelaide news channels.
This bloke was in the air force and had been shot down over Germany. Parachuting (luckily) to safety, he hid from the German forces for over three weeks, managing to find his way to the Allies.
It was a tormenting, harrowing experience. At any time he might have been only a minute away from capture, or worse, death. This man – probably in his early twenties at the time – was a true Aussie hero who gave up everything to go and fight for his country.
Can you imagine the guilt I felt when I recognised him as the bloke me and some footy mates used to throw the most vile, disgusting abuse to whenever we saw him in the pub all those years ago?
We knew nothing about this bloke when he was the victim of our insults.
It’s a bit like social media. How often do we see abuse hurled at someone that the abuser – in all likelihood – knows nothing about. The abused person may be someone with a mental illness, or someone who is a hero as a community worker, or someone who had just lost their partner. The list goes on.
Sadly, very sadly, I’ve been one such perpetrator. I remember on one occasion suggesting that a very annoying person was drunk. Little did I know that this person was a non-drinker after years of fighting alcoholism.
The little things we say that we think are funny, might just be shattering to our target.
Tempers have been demonstrated this year, not just on The AIMN, but Facebook and Twitter. The looming election gives us the opportunity to focus on the true enemy, and not just each other.
From what I’ve seen elsewhere the government (and their mates in the MSM) are watching social media like a hawk.
Let’s not give them anything to swoop on.
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