Daily Archives: 13 October 2011

Open letter to an unnamed man on the news

Dear sir

I didn’t catch your name, but I saw you on the ABC News last night. I think there had been an earlier moment when you chanted directly to the camera, ‘No man date!’ and I guessed then that you weren’t a hardened participant in demonstrations. You didn’t have that ‘Here we are again, it won’t do any good but at least we’ll have stood up and been counted’ look about you. You actually looked as if sitting in the gallery of Parliament House and chanting should have achieved more than getting yourself expelled. You even looked as if the fact that you and you friends are opposed to a piece of legislation made it an act of tyranny for the legislation to be passed.

All the same, I was taken aback when you spoke to the television cameras and called the Prime Minister a scr*g. I understand that you were furious and speaking in the heat of the moment. I don’t know if you signed any kind of release permitting the ABC to use your image and words, or even if that’s required. You might feel pleased that you were able to make your point of view known to the whole country, indeed the world. But are you aware that by using that word, you have created the impression that from your point of view there’s something deeply affronting about having a woman for Prime Minister? I do hope you wouldn’t defend that position in your cooler moments.

Contrary to the impression created by the Leader of the Opposition and others, insulting individual politicians, on the basis of their being female or any other basis, is no substitute for argument. You had your moment in front of the cameras and however sensible, self-reliant, generous, thoughtful or even visionary you may be in the real world, you were seduced by those who set the tone for our national debate into giving the world the impression that you are a bullying misogynist. I hope your grandchildren will understand the pressure you were under and manage to be tactful.

If it’s any consolation, any number of us who protested against the Vietnam War, Apartheid, the Invasion of Iraq, the turning away of the Tampa, the Northern Territory Intervention, etc etc have undoubtedly had moments that were just as silly and noxious. Mind you, most of the time we didn’t have anything like the Murdoch machine backing us, so however self-righteous we were we lacked your apparent sense of entitlement.

I hope it’s been a good learning experience for you.

Jonathan