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Friday, July 15, 2011

~ abhorrent

I was in the country yesterday. East Gippsland. With Polly, her friend Y and Y’s dad. There was a surprising coincidence that day [the meat of which was reported on the evening news and in the following morning’s papers]



On Wednesday, in Frankston [Melbourne] a woman, who was a Greens party member, had been invited to a community meeting on the Carbon Tax to be hosted by Tony Abbott. But it wasn’t really a community meeting. It was stacked with like-minded Abbottites.

Lately, in these days of divisive politics - of politicians so desperate for a vote, they will play carelessly, amorally, with issues so sensitive they could potentially crack
open our society (consider the link between the refugee scare and the shameful Cronulla riots) - in these days, extremists, cranks, and fringe elements with dangerous potential have begun to believe that their degraded, ignorant views are suddenly acceptable in general society. Think of Lord Christopher Monckton and his Nazi wall-hanging. Think of Abbott caught sermonising before a banner reading 'The Witch is a Bitch' (or some such).



The meeting proved a perilous environment for a solitary Green. She stood out amongst the conservatively dressed faithful, simply because she looked colourful and a little interesting. She was given the microphone and made a very simple statement - that she voted green and approved the Carbon Tax. You may have seen it on the telly.



She was not only booed down, but threatened and literally chased from the venue. Frightened, weeping, she was informed by one liberal that, if he had his way, people like her would be lynched in the village square. ‘You’re not part of this community,’ spat one attendee (although she actually lived in the neighbouring suburb). Mysteriously, she was asked if she possessed a compost bin. A media pack followed her, perhaps sensing a developing story, perhaps fearing for her safety, since the police overseeing events had retreated without explanation. (Later, media elements did ask if she would like to speak out over her treatment, but she declined.)

A ghastly thing, no? Angry Australians, unable to distinguish truth from lies, or else bigoted, small-hearted and greedy, shouting each other down over supermarket checkouts, casting ad hominem attacks at our leaders - as if this was Bizarro World and such outbursts somehow constituted viable arguments - or else repeating the insufferable drivel they'd read in the Herald Sun, as if it were some universal book of wisdom.



The coincidence? The hapless Greenie was the mum of Polly’s friend. We four were watching telly, alone in a big cold room, deep in the country, eating our dinner - and suddenly there was mum: crying, leaning into a lamp-post as a form of support, desperately calling for help over her phone while Abbott’s bullies harassed and threatened her. And as the media filmed.



(Earlier, in the car going East, on a very patchy phone line, Y's father had been worried by suggestions that she ‘had been attacked’. His seven year old had overheard, as they do, and asked repeatedly who had attacked whom, until she accepted the truth of her father's ignorance.)



The sweet mystified innocent did not understand the details of the situation confronting her on TV, but could see well enough that her mother was weeping and that people, their faces made ugly and frightening by anger, were plainly upsetting her. I wondered if she thought the footage was live ...



The expression on her face was moving. Even heartbreaking. Her incomprehension was telling in a way that soared over the venal behaviour of the adults on screen. She did not cry, but immediately went to her father’s knee, and pushed her way into his arms.



He consoled her: Mum was alright now, she’d been a hero, had done the right thing - but had run into some bad people who, thankfully, were gone now....



But they’re not gone. Instead they’re recruiting. And for what? votes? money? hate? To find some way of justifying the righteousness of shitting in our communal beds? That expression - that expression on the face of a child with a lily-white soul - pointed right to the heart of it for me: not just to the shameful culture beginning to dominate our public discourse, but to something deeper, something worse.

(16.07.11 Some pages have cropped up since the events described above. Links: Declan Stephenson should be ashamed, Frankston Shame, Carbon Forum Handpicked? Woman Intimidated at Carbon Rally.)

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7 comments:

Mr. Kim Guthrie said...

it's called humanity Sammy...

smauge said...

That makes me ashamed to be human. I hope she has recovered. Regardless of where you stand on the matter (for the record I stand with her) this sort of behavior is shameful.

sam sejavka said...

of course you're right-on, smauge. and kim, it's depressing though, isn't it. like Pavlov has grown bored with dogs and started on, as you put it, humanity

cas said...

Well written, moved me to tears

sam sejavka said...

thank you, cas.

Julian Watt said...

Unfortunately, humanity often disappoints. We have the ability to bully, behave like a pack of rabid animals. Abbott learned his trade at an "elite" catholic school.

sam sejavka said...

Julian, having experienced one of the schools to which you refer, I concur.