Thursday, December 01, 2011

David Penberthy, and rhetorical support that's worth a plugged nickel ...

I know what you're thinking. You're a punk, and the question is, do you feel lucky? Well do you punk?

I mean, there's sweet Emma Jane, asking really deep and meaningful questions about Santa, and yet there's the dread gold bar on The Australian cutting you off from her existentially sound insights.

Sure the photo looks vaguely traumatised, but that's part of the excitement.

Hang on, hang on, here she is, but with a different header, so much funnier and deeper, and looking so much more ... je ne sais quoi. And the fickle finger of the gold bar is nowhere in sight. Only the opener remains the same:

You'se got to know? Here you go punk, off to the Punch with ye. And consider yourself lucky, seeing as how Emma Jane types some pretty mean columns for The Australian. (Just remember that the pond accepts no liability whatsoever for any brain damage arising from any punch-drunk reading of any punch-drunk link whatsoever).

Does being kicked out from behind the paywall the very same day say something about the price point for the copy?

Not to worry, on we go, before anyone notices that The Punch is a waste of time, money and resources, as well as Emma Jane piracy, and who should turn up - the fickle finger of fate being what it is - but David Penberthy with this exemplary bit of convoluted logic:

It says a lot about changing community standards that a state such as Queensland, which under Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was every civil libertarian’s nightmare, has this week voted to recognise same-sex unions.

Or does it?

It could show that the Queensland Parliament has responded to majority community sentiment in support of gay marriage. Or it could just show that the Queensland Parliament is now home to a majority of MPs who support gay marriage. (Gay marriage: there's nothing easy about "I do")

Now there's a fine relativist, legalistic, quibbling, mean-spirited response to the range of opinions canvassed and the views expressed in Queensland's civil unions debate blow by blow.

Still, it's a handy way of making a point about anything. How about a vote in favour of recognising de facto marriages in legal proceedings?

It could show that the Federal Parliament has responded to majority community sentiment in support of the legal recognition of de facto marriage. Or it could just show that the Federal Parliament is now home to a Prime Minister who's an atheist in favour of de facto marriage for some, but against actual marriage for others.

Yes, a fine old time could be had explaining that any and every bit of legislation is in fact just the result of a majority of MPs in favour of it, and therefore entirely meaningless, compared to the astonishing insights available to News Ltd journalists and their wondrous, ritual, week-by- week polling of the electorate.

Naturally Penberthy plunges into polling, placing an unseemly amount of trust in a News Ltd. online poll, which is shorthand for saying let's forget about principle, let's get down into the politics. He seems most troubled by the citizens of Penrith and those dwelling in Queensland in the seat of Maranoa in Queensland, never mind that Queensland now has civil unions.

What else to do but wring the hands, and moan and writhe?

These sorts of figures show that there is a huge divide in the community, and one which is probably comparable to issues such as the republic.

And then, wouldn't you know it, here comes the line, the mantra so beloved of News Ltd hacks in full hack flight:

If the prime minister is bludgeoned into accepting the change of the Marriage Act, a whole bunch of Australians in the suburbs will conclude that the party is the captive of the inner cities and has formally embraced a Greens agenda.

A Greens agenda! Because you see gays can't be conservative, or want to indulge in a conservative institution like marriage, or even serve on a conservative institution like the High Court. Because it's all about a Greens agenda ...

Then the routine disclaimer:

... what it is worth, I support it out of the conviction that it’s heartless to deny people happiness.

Actually Penberthy's lukewarm, gutless, jesuitical, poll-laden, fear-mongering, dog-whistling pathetic support is worth three fifths of fuck all.

Could he be trying out for a position in the Right of the Labor party? Or perhaps he'd make a better closet wet Liberal, of the kind happy to play handbag to socialites in the Eastern suburbs.

The only flaw in the piece?

Penberthy failed to mention the need for a bloc vote in favour of a conscience vote to show democracy at its finest. As in Right to vote as a bloc for conscience vote.

Whatever happened to the "k" in voting bloc? Have we all gone cheese eating surrender monkey French en bloc?

Oh and he forgot to mention that poor old New Zealand has been writhing in decadence and decay ever since they instituted civil unions there in 2005. (Poor old New Zealanders. If you want to torture them, JJJ style, try getting them to say "the grizzly bear wants a beer").

Yep, the New Zelunders have been experiencing for years the future suffering of the citizens of Penrith, writhing under the unendurable torture of treating people equally and fairly.

And they wonder why the Labor party membership is declining ... when the answer's very simple.

When you start sounding like David Penberthy in your policies - what with the marginal seats and the polling and the hideous Greens agenda - you're not really a party of social justice and fairness, you're just a branch of News Ltd.

Well for what's it worth. Penberthy can take his half-baked, mealy mouthed support and shove it where his columns should reside ...

And finally on an equally light note, there comes news of the latest outcome in the legal saga surrounding the Coco Roco restaurant matter, as explained in Richard Ackland's When judges judge critics, the results can taste a bit like reflux.

This is the antipodean equivalent of a case in Chancery in Dicken's Bleak House, complicated by deportation threats and financial disaster (Deportation threat: latest chapter in the saga of Coco Roco and the bad review).

Janet Albrechtsen was getting agitated in her best Dame Slap manner about it way back in 2007 in Judicial hubris makes meal of our rights, being most upset about the High Court decision in relation to the matter (Fairfax and Evans v Gacic, Gacic and Ciric in pdf form).

The problem for Fairfax (and Evans) was the way the review referred to Coco Roco as a single entity, even though separate and even though the review explicitly made the point that there were two restaurants:

When applying the ordinary reasonable reader principles to determine the meaning conveyed by the matter complained of, it should be borne in mind that although that reader considers the publication as a whole, this does not mean he or she does, or must, give equal weight to every part of the publication. The emphasis that the publisher supplies by inserting conspicuous headlines, headings and captions is a legitimate matter that readers do and are entitled to take into account.

Ah it's those ordinary reasonable readers again, and those naughty subbie headers.

Well if you're titillated by the legal fuss a single restaurant review can generate, the latest finding - thanks to austlii - can be found here, and thanks to the austlii search function, you can romp for hours through all the other findings here.

By golly, whoever wrote Penberthy's header Gay marriage: there's nothing easy about "I do" should watch out.

As any dinkum Aussie wag will tell you, it is of course incredibly easy to say "I do" - or would be if gays were allowed fair and equal opportunity.

The difficulties come after the "I do" ... quick, off to the courts with them, for once again offending the ordinary reasonable reader.

Oh and as for the reference to a plugged nickel in the pond's header, we have a legal defence prepared m'lud, and it resides here ...

(Below: with the law and Penberthy definitive asses - oh dear should we say that - time for some cornball humour in readiness for the weekend).


  1. A waste of time, money and resources? Rather a black hole in the internet, a frozen tundra outpost on the edges of the News Limited empire where irrelevant middle-aged writers try their best to be irreverent. I feel the Pond would be well advised to install a program such as and block the Punch's URL, a small step towards rehabilitation ...

  2. What a great program! I'm sure the interface will turn up on the pond soon as we report on another failure of self control, resulting in self abuse. And we love your way with words, which we might also steal ... a frozen tundra outpost ... the irrelevant in search of the irreverent. Mmm, tasty ...


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