Someone texted a talkback show to suggest that there was nothing wrong with calling someone a “witch” as it meant either a Wiccan or a practitioner of magic, neither of which were offensive.
However, I tend to think that language is contextual. For example, to describe Julie Bishop as a “woman” is accurate, while to suggest to her that she wouldn’t understand because she’s a woman does leave oneself open to charges of sexism. And, of course, to call George Brandis or Christopher Pyne “a woman” is an attempt to insult them.
So when the Education Minister, Simon Birmingham suggested that what Peter Dutton had done by coming forward was worthy of our admiration, I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy.
“(He) of course has come out and publicly acknowledged that it was him, to avoid there being a witch-hunt or blame being pointed in other directions,”
A witch-hunt? Mm, you mean we need to hunt for the witches now? Surely with our surveillance laws and keeping all that meta-data we should know where all those witches are.
Of course, the focus on the word “witch” is part of the problem. Let’s not forget that it was proceeded by two adjectives: “Mad” and “f*cking”. Before the talk-back caller tells me that “mad” may mean “insane” or “angry” and neither of those things are offensive, and that “f*cking” is a perfectly acceptable and pleasant pastime, I feel compelled to suggest that when you combine all three in the one sentence, it’s hardly the sort of thing I’d say to someone interviewing me for a job.
“What experience do you have for the role, Mr Brisbane?”
“Plenty, you mad, f*cking witch.”
No, I can’t see me getting the job no matter how well I interviewed after that. Even if I apologised because I actually meant to say it to the person beside her, and I just got confused and we all had a jolly good laugh about it.
Yes, like Peter Dutton, I too use some “robust” language from time to time but to me that’s not the issue. Whether the text said, “Mad f*cking witch” or “Insane, fornicating practitioner of black magic” the issue remains the same for me.
Actually, when I come to think of it there are one or two members of the current Liberal government who could be described as “insane, fornicating practitioners of black magic”, but making their names public would be wrong. I think I’ll just text it to a few friends with a picture of them and hope that someone passes it on to “The Australian” so that they can publish it with their faces pixelated but the clothes they were wearing clearly visible. And by someone, I’d like to assure everyone it wasn’t me or Jamie Briggs or Peter Dutton who sent it on. In fact, I have it on good authority that the person who sent the Briggs’ photo on to the newspaper wasn’t Dutton making a mistake with his phone.
Yes, pixelating her face and giving out details of her position in Hong Kong was about as good an attempt to protect her identity as when the press told us that an “eighty year-old bearded Australian wobble-board player living in Britain was being investigated for sex offences but we’re suppressing his name.”
While Birmingham and others have attempted to downplay the inappropriateness of Dutton’s text and the tone of their defence makes me feel as though it’s a shame that we’ve abolished knighthoods because he’d surely be up for one after his prompt action in telling it was he who sent the text, I can’t help but wonder what Samantha Maiden did to deserve being called “mad” or “f*cking”, let alone a witch.
Ok, she did say, “”Mr Dutton is a good minister, he’s a hard worker, he’s made a strong contribution to the government,” which could qualify her as having a limited grasp on reality, but that was after Dutton’s text, so I really don’t think he was referring to that.
No, it gets down to the simple fact that for some people simply disagreeing with them or criticising them makes one insane or evil. So when Maiden dared to write an article which reflected negatively on Briggs, Dutton felt compelled to reassure him that he needn’t listen to what that nasty person was saying about him because she was a girl and we won’t let her in our treehouse, and we can have a jolly good time at the next meeting of the “Monkey pod” dancing on tables.
Remember Dutton’s response to Sarah Hanson-Young’s accusation that she was being spied on while she was in Nauru. He attacked her credibility. Remember his apology when it was discovered that she, in fact, had been spied on? No, neither do I.
Yep, Dutton certainly seems to be a member of that club that thinks that the only people who deserve answers are those who aren’t questioning them.
Insane, fornicating warlocks!
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