Friday, December 16, 2011

Doing the dull predictable commentariat dance with Paul Sheehan and Kevin Donnelly ...

What is it about being a member of the commentariat that requires you to be utterly predictable, so that any reader with a passing familiarity with your oeuvre could write your column in their sleep?

Take Paul Sheehan, take him wherever you like, and his epic Gay marriage the least of Labor woes.

He manages to make an average somnambulist look like a livewire, and he has the logical skills of a grasshopper. Take this little flourish:

An overwhelming majority of Australians oppose discrimination against homosexuals and support giving parliamentarians the freedom of a conscience vote on gay marriage. This consensus is not, however, the same as support for gay marriage.

It takes meaningless gibberish to a whole new level.

And after using gay marriage and the thoughts of former chairman Rudd's sister as another excuse to trawl through the many deficiencies of the current Labor government, he comes up with this for a closer:

All the noise and moral outrage on the subject of gay marriage generated by sections of the media, the academy, the human rights industry and the gay rights lobby, has created the impression of a wider ferment that just does not exist in much of the marriage and mortgage belts where the next federal election will be decided.

Talk about cliche city. It's automatic writing by remote, the steady stream of utterly predictable words designed to box in thoughts. The human rights industry, the gay rights lobby ... all that's missing is a reference to agendas and Orwellian language.

Feel yourself nodding off?

It's lazy, it's sloppy, it's dull, it's predictable, and it's so commentariat, as if a knee jerk response is all you need before you rest your case.

If there's no ferment, and no agitation, and if the marriage and mortgage belts have other concerns, what harm to take care of a minority matter? Isn't all the fuss coming from the commentariat belt, lathering themselves up in a frenzy of ferment?

And why the fuss? A genuine conservative might understand that support for gay marriage is profoundly conservative, as noted awhile ago by Douglas Murray in Why conservatives should welcome gay marriage, dear sweet absent lord, in The Spectator of all places, where at least there's a hint of comedy:

Few sights in politics are quite as risible as the male politician in full, puffing flight from an issue of basic gay equality. As the campaigning lawyer Elizabeth Birch said when arguing with the three-times-married conservative representative Bob Barr in 1990, ‘Which marriage are you defending? Your first, your second or your third?’

As usual, Sheehan's a comedy free zone. He has the lightness of touch of an elephant bloated on bran.

If you want an alternative take, why not head off to New Matilda, and Enrico Brik's piece Repeal The Marriage Act!

... leaving aside the whole man-and-woman thing, which has been the subject of much recent debate, have you ever in all your days read anything so preposterous? To the exclusion of all others? Entered into for life? What nonsense this is.

Whatever spark Sheehan once had as a writer, and a thinker is long gone, as he cloaks himself and his columns in paranoia and fear-mongering.

He simply can't bring himself to think outside the box. The result is interminable dullness ... making the pond wonder why Fairfax hasn't made any moves to groom an alternative, younger, more insightful conservative scribbler who will spare their readers talk of lobbies, industries and agendas, already available by the cart load at a knock down price in the Murdoch press ...

And speaking of complete predictability, there's Kevin Donnelly at it again in Hey! Gillard! Leave them schools alone.

The piece is so dull and so predictable that the editors of The Punch clearly felt the need to punch it up, by giving it a header from a Pink Floyd song, and then linking to a performance of the song on YouTube.

While singing the siren song of how wonderful the private school system is, and how it needs government funding, and how the federal Labor government is intent on doing private scholls down - with many important references to important papers and profound conceits - you will never ever get Donnelly talking about the anomalies that see private schools run by scientologists, fundamentalist Islamics, fundamentalist Christians like the Exclusive Brethren, and fundamentalist creationist anti-science evangelical schools ... all of them sticking their snouts into the taxpayer trough with remarkable skill ...

Instead you get a remorseless writing machine churning out the same old stuff, allowing for no exceptions or alternatives. In the old days, it would have been called propaganda, and dismissed out of hand ...

These days Donnelly bobs up like a parrot squawking away in forums like The Punch and the ABC's The Drum because it's a free perch for propagandists ...

And yes, Donnelly's last bizarre piece for The Drum was Marriage equality: secrets behind a successful campaign where he did a Paul Sheehan impression, conjuring up George Orwell, the cultural left, and this conclusion we've already celebrated once, but we love it so well, we'll run it again:

By changing the definition of marriage activists not only want to radically redefine the meaning of the word so that it becomes unrecognisable - which raises the problem that if marriage is now to include gays and lesbians, what right do we have to exclude bisexual and transgender people?

Come on down Enrico Brik, share a joke with us:

Marriage is a great institution … but who wants to live in an institution?
Variations attributed to Groucho Marx and Mae West

Having myself been institutionalised twice — first, religiously, in my 20s and again, secularly, in my 30s — and also being bisexual ...

Eek, quick Kevin, the bisexuals have already been getting married - no sense of exclusion there - and it seems that just like heterosexuals, they like the institution so well, they keep trying it over and over again ...

Is calling yourself conservative just another way of saying consider me dumb? Or at least inclined to Orwellian cliches, and pompous inanities, and dull predictability?

Why right at this moment as the holydays loom, the pond feels the need to burst into song, just to provide a little colour and movement up against the dour Sheehan Donnelly elephant grey:

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm and references to Orwell in your digital columns
Commentariat members leave them bisexual and transgender people alone
Hey! Commentariat members! Leave them bisexual and transgender alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

(Below: and now to keep our series of slippery slope cartoons sliding along).


  1. Thank you, Mr (I assume you are a Mr) Pond, for referring to my piece Repeal the Marriage Act!, in New Matilda.

    It is actually an edited version of a longer piece - Deregulating Matrimony - which appears with additional jokes on my blog at:


  2. PS Pace Mr Donnelly's concerns, the longer article also deals with the subject of transsexuals and marriage, to complete the picture...



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