Imperial Footprints in Africa: The Dismal Role of…

No power in history has exercised such global reach. With brutal immediacy,…

Fascism is unlikely: idiocy is the real threat

The fight against domestic fascism is as American as apple pie. Even…

Murdoch: King Lear or Citizen Kane?

By guest columnist Tess Lawrence It may be premature to write Emeritus Chairman…

"This Is All A Giant Push By (INSERT…

"Beer?" "Thanks" "So what you been up to this week?" "I went on a march…

Dutton reminds us of Abbott, but not in…

Reading Nikki Savva’s The Road to Ruin is a depressing read, because it validates…

No means no

As the now former Royal Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales discovered…

Mission to Free Assange: Australian Parliamentarians in Washington

It was a short stint, involving a six-member delegation of Australian parliamentarians…

The Angertainer Steps Down: Rupert Murdoch’s Non-Retirement

One particularly bad habit the news is afflicted by is a tendency…


Whores, Girlie-men and the Use Of Spurrs!

Honestly, what’s happening to free speech in this country! It’s got to the stage when a politician can’t even use the phrase “girlie man” without being considered sexist. He didn’t mean it in a sexist way, Cormann was only suggesting that Shorten was “girlie” as opposed to Mr Abbott who’s rather “boyie”.

And, as for Mr Spurr’s comments on various subjects – including women and people of a different colouring – what’s racist about calling Desmond Tutu a “witch doctor”? What’s so bad about calling Nelson Mandela a “darkie”? Why should Tony Abbott be offended by being called an “abo-lover”?

As Mr Spurr says this was just part of some game where he mocked extreme language by using it, in much the same way that one could mock the language of the left by referring to various members of Abbott’s front bench by calling them “out-of-touch, Nazis, who lack not only empathy but basic the basic competence to organise themselves into groups of two”.

Free speech is being shut down by these politically correct wowsers who can’t take a joke. If it were up to me, I’d ban the words “sexist” and “racist” just so we could all feel comfortable again.

* * *

In correspondence seen by Fairfax Media, Professor Spurr said the emails were part of a longstanding joke with another person.

“These statements are not reflections of my views or his,” he said.

“The comments that you refer to are largely to one recipient with whom I have had a whimsical linguistic game for many years of trying to outdo one another in extreme statements.”

They were part of a game “that mocked extreme language”, he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, October 16th 2014


* * *

Now, of course, if some of my blogs were selectively edited, then there’s plenty of stuff where people could say, “Look at what this guy wrote.”

Even the initial passage has me supporting various racist and sexist comments. However, the most cursory examination of any views I’ve ever expressed seriously either privately or to the general community would demonstrate that I support ideas of equality and have no notions that my views and values are of more worth just because I’m a WASP from a middle class background.

Which is, of course, the big problem with Barry Spurr’s comments. If they were “mocking” extreme language, the rest of us aren’t in on the joke, so it’s only his public statements that will help us see why he feels that merely using the same language counts as “mocking” it.

In the context of the review of the Australian Curriuculum, where Spurr was appointed by two old, white Australian males to advise on the study of English, what did Bazza suggest?

Among his statements were the following (my emphasis added):

In the three points on which all curriculum subjects must be focused – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples; the Asian region, and sustainability – mandating priorities that could be a distraction from the core work of the curriculum, bearing no direct relation to the educational and disciplinary purposes that the curriculum for the study of literature in English is designed to facilitate and fulfil


* * *

Creativity in any of the arts is best nurtured, especially in the pre-adult years, by a thorough grounding in what others have achieved – and with recognised distinction – in these fields. The idea of pupils as ‘creators’ of literature in English needs to be kept firmly in check.

* * *

At the very least, the major poets in English must be studied, at one point or other, in a robust and rigorous curriculum of literature in English. For example: Chaucer, Shakespeare (as poet), Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Yeats and Eliot.

* * *

As with poetry, every effort must be made to represent the great writers in the tradition, at one point or other, in a robust and rigorous curriculum of literature in English. For example: Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence, James Joyce (Dubliners, for example, for the short-story form), Patrick White, Tim Winton.

* * *

The biblical story of Noah’s ark is an obvious example of the kind of text to which the youngest children will be drawn and it can begin their introduction to the ‘great code’ of literature in English, the Bible, ‘the single most important influence in the imaginative tradition of Western literature’


* * *

It’s not that I disagree with everything he says; it’s that it’s clear from his report that he has a particular view of the importance of English Literature. On that he’s not completely wrong, but it’s his belief in the depth with which it should be studied by all students that has me concerned. That, along with the fact that he mentions no writers from any other culture except The Bible and Australians. (And even they need to studied in terms of their relationship to English Literature.) No suggestion of the need to study Balzac, Dostoevsky, Kafka or Melville.

So, I guess, that’s the thing about irony. When you have a man whose views seem to so English-centric, suggesting that using words like “sluts”, “darkies” and “abo-lover” is a “joke”, one wonders what the joke is? However, if I complain about the Abbott government not having enough people who were actually born here, then it’s reasonable to conclude that I’m being ironic, because – in spite of my views on the Abbott government – I have no history of being hostile to immigrants, so the irony should be clear.

Of course, when Andrew Bolt starts arguing that immigration should be restricted and that people who don’t approve of Australia should go back where they came from, the irony is even clearer.


Login here Register here
  1. Kerri

    “……introduction to the ‘great code’ of literature in English, the Bible, ‘the single most important influence in the imaginative tradition of Western literature’”

    The irony too of mentioning the bible as an introduction to imaginative Western literature whilst promoting the teaching of Judeo-Christian values?
    Personally I prefer to think of the bible as a great imaginative work!

  2. vivienne29

    A Liberal economic effwit would say that.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Is it ok to say I think Christopher Pyne is a big girl’s blouse?

  4. rossleighbrisbane

    No, Kaye Lee, that’s offensive, not only to big girls but to blouses as well!!!

  5. bobrafto

    I digress a little, we had the term ‘shirtfront’, now I read that Julie Bishop has button holed Putin and excuses that ‘button holed’ was meant instead of ‘shirtfront’, in the SMH, I think. Spin doctors at work, obviously.

    The def. ‘of button hole’ as per the Urban dictionary, ‘To accost or detain a person in order to force them to engage you in conversation’.

    The LNP cringe factor is at extreme level.

  6. stephentardrew

    Christopher Pyne is a fag.. Oops, ga…, oops, quea…, oops co suc…, oops, poo.. oops: well maybe the last one.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I do apologise. How about an arrogant grub with no life experience beyond sucking from the public teat?

  8. corvus boreus

    A grounding in the great western literary tradition of the testaments obviously provides the foundation for developing rich philosophical and linguistic skills that can be constructively employed by disseminating colloquial pejoratives that discriminate on the basis of geography, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status and sexual orientation, .
    Bazza Spurr(prick) represents the point of view of bigoted, superstitious, dick-arrogant gubbas.

  9. stephentardrew

    Now Kaye you can do much better than that and that ain’t no fabrication.

  10. stephentardrew

    What was that Corvus?

    Something seems to have buzzed past my eyes in a flash of hyperbola.

    Personally I think Homer Simpson is all the go.

  11. mars08

    …the ‘great code’ of literature in English, the Bible, ‘the single most important influence in the imaginative tradition of Western literature’

    Maybe someone should tell him that the texts that constitute the “single most important influence” were NOT written in English, but rather Greek and a bunch of Middle Eastern languages. So it’s hard to see exactly how much it contributed to the imaginative tradition of Western literature

  12. corvus boreus

    Homer say lern bibel lern hate-speek good.

  13. CMMC

    An old friend of mine, who is a gay guy, was recently chased on foot by Poofter Bashing thugs.

    Springtime for haters, indeed.

  14. stephentardrew

    See nothing like common sense.

  15. Matters Not

    Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has lost her bid for the presidency of an international democracy group.

    The irony is she was beaten by a Muslim woman. Apparently God was not willing. But Allah was.

    So much for the power of the Judeo-Christian education.

  16. mars08

    Bangladesh MP and former political prisoner, Saber Chowdhury, got 169 votes to Bishop’s 95.

    How can that be? Our gal Bronnie wuz robbed! And after all she’s done to promote democracy in this wide brown skidmark land…

  17. silkworm

    The teaching of the story of Noah’s Ark is not exactly suited to English lessons. There are not that many metaphors that come out of this story other than the story that the animals went in two by two, which is helpful in understanding, for example, the advertising for this year’s Big Brother programme, in which the housemates went in two by two. Rather, the story of Noah Ark is better suited to science lessons, where it can be taught alongside the theory of evolution as an alternative theory of the origin of species.

    If we are going to be teaching our kids Biblical stories that yield useful metaphors in English usage, and ones that are not already being taught in Scripture classes, then we probably can do no better than teach our kids about the coming “apocalypse” or “Armageddon,” which surely is applicable to economic theory.

  18. Bilal

    Spurr is a great advertisement for the mind broadening effects of an Oxford education! Fortunately it has also produced some truly civilized minds to counter his defamation.

    Indeed the Bible is important as the background to a lot of European literature but what translation fits Spurr’s definition of English literature? Probably the one his daddy used. What Spurr reflects is the fear of the modern, wanting to hark back to the womb of White Australia, white bread and school cadets. Unfortunately it is a world view shared by the hopefully short-lived Abbott government.

  19. Francesco

    Kaye – The old military gag was:
    Private “Sir? If I said you were an idiot, what would you do?”
    Officer “I would jail you for insubordination”
    Private “Sir? If I thought you were an idiot, what would you do?”
    Officer “Well, I couldn’t do much about that at all”
    Private “Sir? I think you’re an idiot”

    So YES it ok to say I “think” Christopher Pyne is a big girl’s blouse!

  20. Kaye Lee

    Francesco 🙂

    I remember my father telling the story about when he was playing football, the ref called him over after he tackled someone “Mr Lee!”…Dad said with a smile “You can call me Jack”. The ref promptly sent him off. One man’s humour is another man’s insubordination.

  21. bloke

    i wouldnt be channeling arnie on anything – let alone economics. cormann is a putz, let him say what he wants, it only hurts him.

    “Debt of the world’s eighth-largest economy almost tripled in Schwarzenegger’s seven years, to $91 billion on June 30 from $34 billion in 2003, state Treasury figures show. Californians owed $2,362 per person last year, up from $977 before he went to work.”

    to come to government proclaiming a budget emergency,( proved false ) to only then immediately double the debt, ( proved correct ) – highlights the hypocrisy and lies ..

  22. Möbius Ecko

    Also bloke the austerity in California was failing so they reversed it.The same will happen here if this government gets its way on both the budget and now the moves to reduce wages and conditions.

  23. stephengb2014

    Rossliegh does it again
    like the sense of humour

  24. stephentardrew

    The Real News Prof Micheal Hudson

    A serious depression is pending as a result of austerity, says Professor Michael Hudson, author of The Bubble and Beyond, and Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents

    Where the US goes we go due to Dear Leader and our Debt Burdening Treasurer.

    That austerity really works a dream.

    A serious depression is pending as a result of austerity, says Professor Michael Hudson, author of The Bubble and Beyond, and Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents

    Matt Tabbi Rolling Stone investigative journalist. As dear leader follows the Tea Party into HELL.

    The US justice divide: why crime and punishment in Wall Street and Ferguson are so different

  25. stephentardrew

    It is time for a healthy disconnect from the idolising the US before we succumb to the same. As far as I can see TPP is another step in the journey to corptocracy and misery for the masses. Thank heavens for the Guardian and Real News.

    The fact that the Australian public are so misinformed is frightening.

  26. Billy muddle moir

    Love it but it is all academic because pyne is putting education ‘right’ making it clear that literature and critical thinking is for the rich, the bible is good enough for the poor, the dark and the public schools.
    He is strangling NAPLAN by taking out the skill of writing but who cares, it will be easy to mark and no longer risk the abuse of the current minimal use as an evaluation tool for teachers and schools.
    ps the belgian accosts little billy about the economy Forbes lists Belgium in the top 7 debt countries(Japan at 200% is the worst) if we are ‘crisis’ what is his homeland? A disaster? What does little billy think??

  27. Rotha Jago

    Australia is dabbling in yet another oil war to ensure that USA Has access to cheap petrol. The Liberal Government still is unable to get its budget past The Senate. What meaningless rubbish shall we talk about?
    Who cares? Is Germany sliding into recession? Lets all argue about nothing. Is China going solar? Are private colleges already wrorting the system? Let’s worry about sexist language. Let’s talk about any triviality we can find. Our Government obviously is confident that it will be able to continue to act like a vacuous opposition, the newspapers will continue to find positive things to say and the country will govern itself.

  28. Stella

    really, can people (in comments) perhaps be witty clever and critical without various tired sexuality and gendered slurs here? eg Pyne’s sexuality actual, presumed or lampooned is not the issue here. Move on people, become part of a better dialogue and freedom from tired stereotypes and overused insults.. or you are in the same stinky pot as spurr and cormann and abbott et al…

  29. corvus boreus

    Does calling Professor Spurr a bigoted, superstitious, dick-arrogant gubba put me in the stinky pot?

  30. stephentardrew

    Lighten up we need the diversion. No one hurt nothing wrong with a bitta fun. We are all adults here who understand the difference between humour and abuse. This is exactly what we are questioning – the over controlling thought police. We live in a democracy after all.

    Read the last Article: The Rights to be Wrong by Rossliegh.

    An idea of how technology could help future viral outbreaks.

  31. stephentardrew

    My deepest apologies “The Right to be Wrong” was written by Roswell

  32. John Fraser


    Appears the Wallabies have been indulging in a little "whimsey".

    Someone forgot to tell the All Blacks.

    Now is that irony ?

    Or is it SNAFU ?

  33. Roswell

    It could be easy to mistake one for the other, stephen. But I’m much younger and much better looking.

  34. stephentardrew

    Damn you Roswell I am old and God knows.

  35. jusme

    I’m glad you emboldened Spurr’s: “The idea of pupils as ‘creators’ of literature in English needs to be kept firmly in check.”

    Just… wow.

    Is that cultural cringe or tall poppy syndrome on steroids… The bloke should never be allowed near developing minds.

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    It seems it’s been a long time coming, but Bazza Spurr has finally got what was coming to him, as a misogynist, racist, elitist bigot. As a former educator myself, I know one needs to think and breathe fundamental values to be able to teach them honestly. Bazza has been living a life of subterfuge. Trust Pyne to pick a clunker.

    Now, it’s Cormann’s turn for his snide, disrespectful insult to my daughters, nieces, all other young women and mature ones like me, who have been girls. Don’t denigrate females mate. In your limited time of being Hockey’s little sidekick, you are expected to treat women and girls with equitable respect. Get it?!

  37. Kaye Makovec

    “i wouldnt be channeling arnie on anything – let alone economics. cormann is a putz, let him say what he wants, it only hurts him.”

    Me either Bloke as Arnie is a putz too. And the fact he is on TV ads here all the time makes me change channels even more than usual’

    “How about an arrogant grub with no life experience beyond sucking from the public teat?”

    Perfect Kaye Lee 🙂

  38. Kaye Lee

    And that is the whole point Jennifer. As teachers we are expected to at all times be cognisant of sensitivities and to behave accordingly. Even we maths teachers realise that doing graphs of people’s weight, or even how many children in your family, are awkward situations to avoid. At all times our language must be inclusive and encouraging.

    This is true of every workplace except, it seems, the highest positions in the land. If a company manager, when asked about a colleagues attributes, described them as having “sex appeal” they would be in a world of trouble. If they denigrated a colleague by calling them “girly” then likewise. Discrimination against people due to their religious beliefs or sexual orientation would end up in tribunal yet parliament wants to segregate Muslim women and refuse the right of gay people to get married. Bernardi is allowed to spew his poison with impunity.

    Abbott lauds the worst offenders – Jones, Bolt, Hadley, Devine, Ackerman – all invited to Kirribilli House. He misses meetings with world leaders to meet with Murdoch whose papers most definitely incite hatred on a daily basis.

    As you so rightly point Jennifer, the values of equality should be a fundamental part of who we are. The emails from Mr Spurr are totally unacceptable. The fact that Pyne’s hand picked reviewers chose this man for input into the curriculum shows how low we have sunk. As with every review they have conducted, they have chosen people to support their ideology rather than credible experts who have integrity. Opinions for sale, the lot of them.

  39. mars08

    Life imitating art?? Has Cormann been watching the frightfully leftist ABC?

    This clip from ABC-TV… the show aired over 6 months ago…

  40. mark delmege


  41. stephentardrew

    Not very helpful Mars8 Just wasted an hour on Shaun Micallef, He, He.

    Kaye: This mob just don’t care what is acceptable or not they just run on hubris bashing away with no regard for the truth. It is something the Tea Party and Murdoch has taught them well. Keep bleating on no matter how factual and people will actually believe you. The last election is a prime example. The current ABC fact checker is far from adequate because the people who need to see it will rarely be exposed.

    The whole debt crisis crap is reducing purchasing power while increasing private debt and shrinking the economy. Labor just seems to be ignoring economic fundamentals while sitting back in hope that Abbott will self destruct. As is often discussed here the problem is public education and the only way to educate the public is to offer alternatives. If the lies are nor challenged how the hell will public opinion be turned. It takes effort and commitment to challenge entrench misinformation however the only way to shift misinformation is through coherent attacks and reasoned alternatives. This waiting around is really worrying me because I think that the Labor right is not really interested in challenging the economic paradigm they just want Abbott to fall on his petard. I wonder if any of them have bothered reading Professor Stephen Keen. I am not hearing anything original or innovative from them.

    We will inevitably head towards a more serious crisis unless the current paradigm is challenged. Obama’s complicity with Wall Street ,the return of Geitner and Summers and the lack of investigation of the financial sector by Holder has led to a deep malaise by the public simply because they are too confused to be able to adequately challenge the financial sector. They actually deflected from the Robber Barons so they could initiate austerity in the US and Europe and look how well that has turned out. Labor’s lack of support for the Rud/Gillard policies to avoid the GFC is pure dithering. OK they lost the election but at least they could stick by the successful policies that pulled us through the GFC. BY wimping out they are letting the Debt monster roll on with little regard for altering public opinion.

    Shorten still seem to be shell shocked while Abbott keeps acting like he is in opposition mode. These are unusual circumstances that Labor must learn to deal with forcefully to convince the public there is a viable alternative. I don’t think that after Abbott’s lying little con that the public are just going to roll over simply because this bloke is a liar and this bloke is not. They need, a cohesive set of policies that can demonstrate active, honest progressive goals based upon well reasoned arguments and facts.

    It seems to me that the ball game has changed and that Labor is not understanding that the old strategies are no longer applicable to current circumstances. They got thoroughly conned and mislead by the LNP and if they don’t shape up they may well get caught out again. Shorten is not doing a good job. Like it or not a spill before the next election may be necessary and the sooner the better. If Abbott’s popularity does not improve the LNP may have their own challengers and labor will have a real advantage if it gets in first. Its always a gamble however Labor definitely needs some knockout punches.

  42. jimhaz99

    Those comments he submitted are amazing. When did we become the bible belt of the US? – only since Abbott.

    “The idea of pupils as ‘creators’ of literature in English needs to be kept firmly in check”

    Clearly the spurious Spurr does not want kids to learn to think for themselves – he wants the rote learning of the classics.

    This is ever so typical of the religious right (and the capitalist right for that matter). These mindless nutters should not be given a say in anything educational.

  43. stephentardrew

    Russian Separatist stole Ukraine Buck missile launchers which shot down Malaysia Airlines MH17 say Germany.

    This is a real hot potato for dear leader. He cannot peg Putin with blame and then not apologize. You can be sure the MSM will do everything they can to blame Russia. My feeling is the sanctions are more about the risk of the BRICs forging their own currency than it is about the downing of the MH17. The fact that it is Germany making the claim gives substantial gravitas. If the missile launcher is Ukrainian then the whole edifice of Abbott’s grand standing falls down around his ankles. This is not to minimize the hurt and pain of the families it is rather a concerted effort to get to the truth. The Buck launcher did not come from Russia. The fact that Ukrain left such a sophisticated weapons system in reach of the rebels is just ridiculous.

    It is looking like Abbott and Bishop J. are total foreign policy incompetents. Rushing in before the facts are know. In SMH but as you can imagine no blog.

  44. mark delmege

    We are way off topic and most, unfortunately, will miss the discussion but I found the statements by Bociurkiw* compelling – he being an OSCE official and the first on the scene.

    Sure German Intel might have something to say but I wouldn’t believe them any more than I would the CIA.

    You might remember the original claims of the Ukies to have voice transcripts from the rebels claiming they did it – which was pretty much similar to the fake claims of the US backed rebels – or was it Israel? in Syria who claimed al Assad’s army used chemical weapons. Both claims were ignored and treated as rubbish within a day or so of the claim – but they did help to set the ’emotional ‘ scene for the perception management that soon unfolded.

    More recently we have heard that one of the passengers had an oxygen mask suggesting the official story is dead and doubts must be cast over the black box data as presented by the say nothing ‘report’ .

    *Bociurkiw is a Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with OSCE who, along with another colleague, were the first international monitors to reach the wreckage after flight MH17 was brought down over eastern Ukraine.
    In the CBC interview, the reporter in the video preceded it with: “The wreckage was still smouldering when a small team from the OSCE got there. No other officials arrived for days”.
    “There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machinegun fire; very, very strong machinegun fire,” Bociurkiw said in the interview.’

    you can google/bing for the interview with Bociurkiw and even Robert Parry for more on the subject. It looks like Michael Bociurkiw even has a tweeter but I dont have the time to checkit/him out.

  45. Wayne

    The hypocrisy in Labor is unbelievable, actually it’s not as we all know how juvenile and untrustworthy they are, it seems it was perfectly ok for Labor Senator Ursula Stevens to call Liberal Senator Alby Shultz a “girlie man” and no one kicked up a fuss yet when a Liberal Party member we have the rats come crawling out the wood work, including that “manly girl” Penny WONG and it’s hard to take her/him seriously as he/she takes fashion advice from Ellen. The LNP always said the adults were now in charge, looks like they were spot on with that comment.

  46. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, there’s no place for sexist language at all. Get it?!

    So don’t muddy the waters with tit for tat examples.

    And while you’re about it, consider the fact that women/girls experience vastly more discrimination based on their gender. The language that is misused is an undeniable overt example of it and that is why it must be stopped.

  47. Kaye Lee

    Wayne obviously chooses who to vote for based on their wardrobe. Blue ties good, women in suits bad.

  48. silkworm

    Wayne thinks it’s OK for his side, including himself, to be sexist, but it’s not OK for Labor. What an immoral man Wayne is.

    Re: MH17. A Ukrainian missile system was used to shoot it down, but it was impossible for the rebels to have used it, as it requires specific training. On e has to wonder why the german report did not include this vital piece of evidence. Also the video used to implicate the Russian rebels was already a month old. All the evidence points to it being a false flag op, the same way the Israelis killed those teens and blamed it on the Palestinians, all so they could continue their genocidal war against the Gazan people.

  49. mark delmege

    i didn’t think the ‘girly boy’ comment from the man who ‘will be back’ was offensive – just maybe even a little funny. Yes Silkworm I agree.

  50. corvus boreus

    Senator Ursula Stevens was utterly pathetic in using the childishly sexist and derogatory cliche of “girly-man” in political commentary.
    With such obvious deficiencies on open display, I am glad she is only a lowly opposition backbencher and not, for example, a senior minister with serious responsibilities in a supposedly ‘grown-up’ government.
    Thank you for the link and information, Wayne, although I found the rest of your comments to be thoroughly puerile.

  51. Peter Ryan

    Whatever his intention, It’s out there now and it does resonate with his recommendations for the NC. So we need to decide what message and example we want to give to future generations of students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: