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You can’t discuss an idea with an ideologue

By 2353NM

Recently I watched an episode of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery where she ‘delivered’ Gillian Triggs back to her high school and university while discussing various elements of Triggs’ life. Towards the end of the program, Zemiro invited Triggs to read some of the commentary made about Triggs in her role as Human Rights Commissioner from 2012 until 2017.

The commentary read out by Triggs was from Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt, Peter Dutton and Eric Abetz — all of which are embedded at the right wing of the political spectrum. All the comment was critical of Triggs, who was wisely shielded from most of the commentary during her term as Commissioner by her husband.

I was watching the show with a young adult who will be voting at the next federal election. At the end of the show, the question was asked by the young adult if the commentary was accurate. The answer was ‘yes and no’.

During the TV show, Triggs stated that she is a lawyer, so when given the role of Human Rights Commissioner, task number one was to read the statutes and legislation around the position and the role of the Human Rights Commission. Once read and understood, facts were assessed against the legislation and action taken. Triggs’ charitable response to the comments she (willingly) read was that clearly those that wrote the comments didn’t understand the role of the Commission because they probably haven’t read the legislation. However Bolt, Blair and the others quoted probably believed their commentary was accurate.

The problem with ideology is that at times you can’t see the forest for the trees. Nowhere in the comments aired was a detailed description of the apparent fault in the legislation the Human Rights Commission operates under or a discussion on how the particular conservative commentator would rectify the issue. The perceived failures in the legislation or the way it was implemented were not explored, because it is far easier to fan the flames of displeasure with the person. In short, they were shooting the messenger, so using the test of reasonableness, the commentary wasn’t accurate.

Ideology gives you ‘permission’ to disregard any other point of view except your own and that of your fellow travellers. As demonstrated over the years in Australian politics, both sides of the political spectrum have implemented worthy advances to our lifestyles. John Howard and Tim Fischer’s Coalition Government implemented gun reform after the mass murder of 35 people (and an additional 23 were injured) in Tasmania in 1996.

Medibank, the universal health insurance system was launched by the Whitlam ALP Government in 1975 and relaunched as Medicare by the Hawke ALP Government after an attempted dismantling of the system by the Fraser/Anthony Coalition Government in the period between 1975 and 1983.

And if your ideology can’t find any counterpoint to the discussion promoted by those who have an alternate view, you have a go at the messenger as Bolt, Blair and others did to Triggs during her term as Commissioner and the IPA recently did to the ABC. According to research paid for by the IPA,

about a third of Australians don’t agree with the ABC, don’t trust the ABC, with some of the information that it has.

Regardless of simple mathematics suggesting that about two thirds of Australia either has no opinion or do trust the ABC, the IPA uses this research (which is questionable statistically) to justify their claim the $1.1 billion-a-year national broadcaster [should] be privatised; which suits their public agenda. The IPA also doesn’t seem to be too concerned by up to 80% of Australians being ‘worried’ about climate change (according to a survey by The Australia Institute). Maybe the positions they take are not based solely on the public good — but ideology.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of shooting the messenger. Politicians are past masters of the art. How many times in the past month have you heard Federal Ministers deflect questions on their competence or how their government is performing with a detailed commentary on what Labor are alleged to have done or promised such as Morrison attempted to do when being interviewed in early March by Leigh Sales on ABCTVs 7.30?

The honest reality is that Labor haven’t been in government since 2013 — therefore whatever policy or process they may have implemented if they had been elected is frankly irrelevant to the current situation. Secondly, we will never know if Labor would have implemented the policy if they had won, as they may have either not gained the necessary support or they might have actually listened to advice which counselled for a different course of action. Third, it seems the current government will not accept, let alone take ownership of the problems it has either caused itself or inherited from events internationally.

Certainly, the ALP also gives commentary on the actions and personalities of the Coalition Government. Frequently, the commentary also contains elements of shooting the messenger which is unnecessary, however ineptness or maladministration needs to be identified and publicised (as the Coalition should be doing if the ALP is in power).

The ideology problem is certainly not only political — there are people around who would never travel with a particular airline, listen to certain genres of music or watch a particular sporting event. And the majority of them will act as adults and not physically or mentally harm those who do use the disliked products. The ideologues are the victims here — the ‘hated’ genre of music most certainly will have some who do have the ability to craft some special melodies or lyrics that deserve everyone’s attention.

It doesn’t work that way in politics. Decrying those that have a different viewpoint solely for having a different viewpoint is not only disadvantaging themselves but the rest of us. No one is 100% right all the time, neither is the introduction of a good idea the sole preserve of any one particular ideology. If politicians are decrying others in the political sphere over ideology rather than the legislation they are employed to implement or maladministration, you have to ask is there actually anything wrong with the idea or policy.

The next time you hear a politician or a commentator make the argument that a certain situation is all the fault of a person or group on ‘other side’, ask yourself if the speaker has a point or if they are just so ideologically tied to a position, they can’t see the forest for the trees.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Patagonian

    I’m on social media every chance I get reminding people how lucky we are to have Medicare, even in its current straitened state.

    There will be a worldwide reckoning for the neocons once this crisis is over.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    I choose never to argue with closed minds, whether political, religious or otherwise, as there is no chance that they will even listen to rational facts that disagree with their preconceived notions.
    Instead, I laugh and ask how will they feel when they finally realise how wrong they have been, then explain that I don’t argue with people like them and then – the clincher – I agree with all they say. Enthusiastically! if you ignore the sarcasm.

  3. Mankey Warthog

    I have been watching a Youtube programme from the USA called The ‘Atheist Experience’ in which former Christians-cum-Unbelievers take calls from believers. Almost every caller says they have ‘proof’ that God exists, and when asked what that proof is they cite verses from scripture. It is quite painful to hear them turn themselves inside out trying to convince the hosts while totally ignoring the hosts
    The majority seem to believe that God dipped a goose quill in ink and wrote the scriptures himself. And in Jacobean English, too.
    Exempli gratia – apparently, the sons of Adam and Eve were given a genetic pardon by God to have sex with their mother in order to spawn females that the sons could marry…thereafter shagging a VERY close relative was frowned upon.
    Some of the Southern States of the USA seem to believe the genetic cease fire is still in force.
    Of course, given the appalling nature of the human race, it is actually quite feasible.

  4. Pingback: You can’t discuss an idea with an ideologue #auspol - News Oz

  5. Aortic

    Saw the program with Gillian Triggs. Far far too reasonable and rational for those mentioned. A gracious lady, I put her right up there with Quentin Bryce and Marie Bashir. I well remember Abbott I think it was, criticising Triiggs for what was according to him an il timed report, saying she should be thankful to Scott Morrison, for reasons I forget. Shame all the like people in the country, don’t go into politics, but then again when one see the utter klutzes who are, one can well understand.

  6. paul walter

    This really goes to the heart of what people might have been reading here and elsewhere this evening as a number of bizarre events now unfold.

    Congrats, 2353NM

  7. Mark

    An article based on the assumption that it’s possible to have a non-ideological point of view. How very quaint.

  8. New England Cocky

    “The honest reality is that Labor haven’t been in government since 2013”.

    I could say “Don’t blame me, I voted Independent” but that would be too trite.

    Rather, read some of the many articles by Kaye Lee identifying the incompetence and corruption of the serial Lairbral Nazianal$ Rabbott, Turdball, Smirkie misgovernments …. then being informed, go out and tell all your neighbours … regularly … at every opportunity.

    Otherwise by the time of the 2022 election your neighbours will have forgotten that Australian voters elect Australian governments and ONLY AUSTRALIAN VOTERS CAN REMOVE INCOMPETENT MISGOVERNMENTS.

    Nice article 2353NM.

  9. Terence Mills

    Gillian Triggs was snapped up by the United Nations who recognised her talents – I note that nobody has snapped up Tony Abbott since he left politics :

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Gillian Triggs of Australia as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

  10. New England Cocky

    Now Terence Mills, would you buy a politician that was unfit fir purpose?

  11. 2353NM

    @Mankey Warthog – that Youtube program sounds interesting – I might have to have a look.

    @Aortic – agreed, Gillian Triggs is a very gracious lady.

    @paul walter – thanks for the compliment

    @NEC – also thanks for the compliment – and Abbott would have too many kms under the belt to be a good used buy.

  12. wam

    One of the sad truths is opinions do not need any supporting facts. The mere belief in one’s opinion is all it takes to make the opinion the truth. My ex-facebookers shared anything from pommie/confederate right wing sites just because they liked the words and invariably the content was fake.
    But you cannot argue with the truth like Hawke had hatched this corona virus plan with the United Nations

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