Why aren't we beyond being offended by Alan Jones?

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Back in 2007, I made the mistake of wading into an argument on the local internet snark site The Spin Starts Here. For those unfamiliar with the site, it was populated mainly by the beta versions of the modern internet trolls. Produced anonymously by a couple who called themselves Caz and The Hack, TSSH made it their business to harass and bully other internet users and/or writers, going so far as to both publish and encourage their commenters to publish the private details of said people - their home addresses, their places of work, phone numbers. It was a nasty business run by the kinds of nasty, jealous people whose deep unhappiness can only be assuaged by the fawning adoration of an audience as bitterly acidic as themselves.

Despite the fact I barely read or engaged with the site, I was targeted myself at one stage for the simple crime of defending a friend against their ongoing campaign of abuse. In amongst the usual kinds of petty insults that were favoured there, The Hack thought it would be jolly one afternoon to write that my mother had died from ''karma-related cancer due to having a disgusting, abortion-having daughter''. It had been a month or so since her death - clearly, the wound was still raw.

But although I was upset, it wasn't really for me. I despised these people - to be frank, it didn't surprise me that a man who hid behind anonymity and enjoyed such enthusiastic daily fellatio of his ego would stoop to that kind of empathetically bereft level. I was hurt, but it was on behalf of the family who had loved my mother and didn't deserve to ever discover that her memory had been tarnished on the internet by misanthropic morons.

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I can't speak for the Prime Minister, but I imagine her feelings regarding Alan Jones's recent comments are very similar. In a speech at a dinner hosted by the Sydney University Liberal Club (SULC) a fortnight ago, Jones said that Julia Gillard's father had ''died a few weeks ago of shame … To think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament". The remarks were cruel, thoughtless and utterly despicable - but hardly unexpected. This is the same man whose broadcasting track record includes suggesting the Prime Minister should be thrown in a chaff bag and dumped at sea and declaring it was a disgrace for the government to provide financial aid for Pacific nations to empower women into leadership roles, because women were ''destroying the joint''. Jones is not known for reasoned, compassionate intelligence. Why we continue to be outraged by the rank buffoonery that comes out of his mouth is perplexing beyond belief.

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Despite the deliberate spitefulness of Jones's comments that night (a spitefulness that does not end in his public ''apology'' - he makes big bones of the fact that it was a private dinner, he was employing the kind of black humour you might hear in the trenches at Gallipoli and by the way, people have been really mean to him on Twitter ever since so it's almost like he's the real victim), I doubt very much that the Prime Minister cares what Jones thinks. In fact, I'm increasingly beginning to doubt that the majority of Australians care what Alan Jones has to say about anything, despite the continued perception that he is, as the SULC tweeted the next morning, ''the nation's most influential broadcaster''. Jones is emblematic of the kind of old, white, male privilege that is heralded in Australia and festooned with financial reward and social power despite being a complete liability to his employers.

The problem isn't that Jones is supported to retain his job time and time again - the problem is that the Australian commercial broadcasting landscape is entrenched with the kind of retro sexism that grants men like Jones, Steve Price, Neil Mitchell, Graham Cornes, Andrew Bolt, Bob Francis and all the other loud, rude, offensively entitled shock jocks free rein to speak exactly as they please with no aspirations to decency or consideration.

The fact is, the issue of Jones's continued employment is the least pressing matter to come out of the revelations of his speech. More worrying are the circumstances surrounding that evening - that here we have a university club made up of Young Liberals (many of whom will no doubt have aspirations to enter politics one day) not only brandishing the kind of obscene privilege that would enable university students to organise and attend exclusive, $100-a-head dinners at posh Sydney restaurants, but also reflecting through their choice of guest speaker exactly where their current politics and values lie. It's evident that the SULC - who, as stated earlier, deleted a next day tweet praising Jones for his ''brilliant speech'' - are still firmly tethered to the kind of close-minded, misogynist politics of a man like Alan Jones. The Liberal Party is struggling to discredit their current image of an unprogressive party led by a moralistic misogynist. It hardly bodes well for them to have the public see their most youthful members extending a VIP speaker's invitation to the only man in Australia considered more disdainful of women than Tony Abbott. Nor does it help to hear them braying with laughter at Jones's ''black humour'', when those with even a shred of decency would recognise this as a bridge too far. It looks especially bad to see that the SULC's idea of a good jape is to auction off a jacket made out of chaff bags, both signed and successfully bid on by Jones himself.

I'm beyond being offended by Jones because he's on the way out. At this point, I just don't even care to campaign for his resignation because it seems a lost cause. But the SULC's members naturally must have aspirations to help define the future of Australia. When they graduate from university, they will try to retain jobs as staffers, lobbyists and eventually MPs. And here, in 2012, they aren't just indicating their values lie with a decrepit old dinosaur with prehistoric social politics and an archaic view of women - they're demonstrating that, as far as the Liberals are concerned, from the ground up nothing ever really changes.

62 comments

  • I cant tell you how shocked I was about all of this. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

    I mean, who'd have guessed that the Young Liberals at Sydney University would turn out to be just a bunch of gormless, tacky, preppy, clueless halfwits ?

    I heard that in addition to Alan Jones brilliant impression of a Sontaran from Dr Who, there were some jolly songs sang in the nature of spoofs too that evening. And Woolworths head of government relations was there. The fresh fruit people indeed.

    You can imagine how frightfully witty it all was - right up there with Noel Coward and PG Wodehouse. Or at least the Footy Show. I could have danced all night....

    Donald Horne got this right a long time ago: Australia is a lucky country, run by mediocre elites, who benefit from that luck.

    Commenter
    mint slice
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 8:58AM
    • If we ever needed another excuse to boycott Woolworths, this is it.

      Commenter
      Max_Gross
      Location
      Sapphire Coast
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 11:18AM
    • LOL at Sontaran...cracked me up.

      Commenter
      tombrom
      Location
      Los Angeles
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 2:01PM
  • Why aren't we beyond being offended by Alan Jones?

    Because he keeps trying new things to offend us

    Commenter
    Carstendog
    Location
    Here
    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 9:03AM
    • Jones isn't even trying. It is the cloth from which he is cut. His inability to reconcile his own personal circumstances has produced a pathetically bitter and venomous human being.

      Commenter
      doh
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 2:09PM
  • clementine this was a very honest and decent piece of journlism. i agree with you 100%. jones is a hateful ,spiteful little man.gillard has more decency in her little finger than this man has in his whole body. his apology was pathetic. as was tony abbotts 'out of order' comment. .do we really want a man who associates himself with this kind of grub being the next leader of this nation. i really feel for gillard and her mum and family that they had to be put through all this. jones and abbott have got to go. bring back turbull at least he is a decent man who condemned these remarks long before abbott did.that says it all

    Commenter
    judy
    Location
    central coast
    Date and time
    October 01, 2012, 9:20AM
    • Exactly, Clementine. The worry is that in 2012 a bunch of university students can support such views. Equally worrying is that 2GB is owned by Macquarie Radio Network which is a publicly listed company, majority owned by John Singleton, who clearly makes big profits from Alan Jones. jones' big audience numbers are due to the fact that so many people like what he says. That's the worry, that so many people are so gullible, so malicious and so lazy in their thinking - even Sydney University students! Societ is becoming dumber and dumber. They should read Chris Master's book "Jonestown" where they'll read about the litany of lies Jones has told to bolster his public image. In today's SMH he talks about going to a party for one of his 30 godchildren where he heard the remarks he made about the PM. Do you believe him - having 30 godchildren? Just part of the facade he's built up? More likely he spends his time alone, fulminating, plotting and crafting his words of bile. This man hates everybody, including himself, but particularly women.

      Commenter
      Patricia
      Location
      Lane Cove
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 9:22AM
      • Yes Patricia "Jonestown" great read! I especially liked the bit that tells of jones' first day at Kings school in the early seventies - when apropos of nothing jones grabbed the mic and belted out his rendition of - "If I ruled the World" ... courtesy of Camelot's academy award for best musical!!!!
        It seems he still can't resist a microphone ... and it seems he still - Rules the World? that pathetic little world of Young (sweaty,males... it must have been hot in that venue) Liberals
        saints preserve us that guy gives me the willies!!!!

        Commenter
        mim
        Location
        melb
        Date and time
        October 01, 2012, 10:11AM
    • Yep, even more worrying was the reaction of the crowd. The fact they would invite him as a KN speaker and have a suit tailored in more ways than sewing to auction.
      Who are these emerging politicians modelling themselves on?
      We decry bullying on FB and such to our young and yet we have this type of behaviour occurring at our top level of politics.
      He supposedly heard the words at his godsons birthday party! And decided it would be 'fun' to include in his speech, not off the cuff at all.
      Well I'll be signing the petition for sure.
      The sooner he is off the airwaves the better to even hear Bolt, Hinch et el denigrate his weasel words was a small ray of sunshine on the horizon

      Commenter
      A country gal
      Date and time
      October 01, 2012, 9:39AM
      • Please post a link to the petition

        Commenter
        Max_Gross
        Location
        Sapphire Coast
        Date and time
        October 01, 2012, 11:19AM

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