- The ‘Professor of Everythingology’ model of the commentator is bad for democracy
Twitter is often exhausting. Perhaps there was once a time when the number of opinions you heard on a subject was countable. Maybe you had an extremely opinionated colleague at work. It could be that a family gathering meant that you were exposed to the fiery views of some uncle or idiot cousin. But now! Now I get several thousand half-cooked (and several dozen deeply cooked) opinions on every subject under the sun. Hot takes on everything from macroeconomic policy, national security operations, and Greek citizenship law can come streaming forth from the same source: some nerd with a BSc in Information Technology from a university I’d struggle to locate on a map.
This sneering condescension might be unfair given our media outlets seem to encourage exactly this kind of behaviour. Communications specialists, editors of student newspapers, and former speech writers from the bowels of the public service have sprouted in the daylight, a fertile ground for unforgiving opinions on literally everything.
And such it was with Bernard Keane’s ’10 truths the Left can never admit’, dishing out stone cold facts on a wide range of topics including the benefits of capitalism, asylum seeker policy, s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and education funding. What a magnificent mind to be an expert in such a diverse spread of complex policy areas.
Except, of course, he isn’t. I have a professional background in two of the areas he dished out ‘truths’ and he got them wrong. I’m also right wing. So it seems passing strange that declarations disbelieved by some conservatives on account of their factual inaccuracy should be in this list of ten truths the Australian left refuses to accept.
Continue reading “The outside looks no good and there ain’t nothing underneath… One truth @BernardKeane can’t admit”
What benefit do we get from engaging with Australia’s right wing columnists about the merits of Western Civilisation? Why is it that we disregard their opinion on practically everything, except when it comes to the definition of contested subjects?
And yet that’s where our public debate has brought us. Whatever discussion we might have about Western Civilisation (its definition, its function, its merits), we can’t have because we’re trapped in this death spiral with Australia’s worst commentators talking steaming garbage instead.
But what sort of conversation could we have instead?
Continue reading “Elementary hallelujahs; Annalise’s dulcet tone… Yet another Western Civilisation hot take”
As a conservative, I have long been opposed to the call for more conservatives on the ABC. With the pseudo-controversy around Kevin Williamson and The Atlantic, it’s worth digging into the argument a little bit deeper from a conservative perspective to see why it’s so noxious.
Continue reading “If I could take her down and run, then I’d call her… The confused call for diversity in opinion writing”
Every so often, somebody feels the need to clean up social media. Twitter is full of trolls and Something Must Be Done.
My answer, of course, is regulation. If the State would hold Twitter accountable for its content, it will immediately clamp down on antisocial content like Nazis. But that smells too much like ‘censorship’ for liberals, and so the option is drowned out by a chorus of Voltaire-quoters. Letting the State regulate public discourse is, apparently, a bigger problem than actual Nazis. In my view, this ignores the lesson of history: the reluctance of the State to regulate its extremes is what results in the worst of collective human action.
But that’s for another day.
Without formal regulation, we are left with informal regulation. Into this issue stepped Julian Burnside, one of Australia’s most prominent liberals, with a modest proposal:
But is this wise? Do we want public megaphones curating Twitter blocklists?
Continue reading “Can I take this for granted with your eyes over me? … Is @JulianBurnside’s ‘social again’ social media dystopian?”
Over Christmas, there was a fair amount of online chatter about what we could learn from the Nativity about refugee policy. On the one hand, there were people who were adamant that the Nativity should inform our imaginations about refugee policy. On the other hand, there were those who were adamant that the Nativity had nothing to do with refugee policy. With all these experts and opinions, however could we ordinary humans possibly know whether the Nativity tells us something interesting about refugee policy?
Continue reading “The stars in the sky look down where He lay… Refugee law and the Nativity”
By now, everybody should have read Richard Cooke’s piece in the Saturday Paper about how Australia’s right wing has a habit of inviting the worst of the world to our shores:
This national strain of credulousness has since been politicised and weaponised. The ABC has been cowed into compliance. Fairfax Media has been gutted, and that means the Murdoch press calls the shots. In their world, Nick Cater counts as a formidable intellectual import, and he’s a former laundry van driver who cut his teeth in the University of Exeter sociology department. In comparison, every climate change hoaxer and vape merchant and tax-cutting lightweight from abroad really is a god in the firmament, and is given Olympian treatment accordingly.
If you’d failed everywhere else in the world, argued Cooke, Australia’s right wing commentariat would give you a safe harbour. Yiannopoulos had recently suffered a number of blows to his empire, so Australia’s mainstream conservatives gave him a book tour in Australia.
Thus begins this strange tale of a weird publishing company based in Melbourne.
Continue reading “A weird story about how Australia is a cultural backwater, starring Milo Yiannopolous”
Let us be absolutely clear. A group of religious fanatics launched an attack on Australian society but used the power of the state to punch downwards. The Plebiscite was not an exercise in democracy or a good-natured exercise in public participation. It was an assault on Australian society.
Note: it wasn’t an attack on LGB Australia; it was an attack on all of us with LGB Australians suffering the most.
Unfortunately, the brain parasites that are consuming our media class haven’t quite worked out what’s going on. Here is Mark Kenny, the national affairs editor for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, praising an article by Joe Hildebrand, a crazed racist who ‘edits’ the Daily Telegraph‘s opinion column and spouts nonsense on daytime TV.
The public’s trust in the media continues to nose dive. We should ask ourselves whether we really believe that the media is good for democracy and that journalists should continue to enjoy the many protections that we give them.
Continue reading “Feel no sorrow, Feel no shame. Come tomorrow, feel no pain… Joe Hildebrand and Mark Kenny are wrong about ‘Eat Shit, Lyle’”