Tuesday, May 08, 2012

In which the pond conflates fish and bicycles, Kevin Andrews and Gerard Henderson ...

(Above: more about Kevin Andrews than you needed to know).

So there's Kevin Andrews in The formula for a happy marriage, sort of .. using bodgy, dodgy manipulations of statistical data to suggest that there's a man shortage, and people are delaying getting married.

At the same time, the Catholic church used the same bodgy dodgy statistics (any male earning under 60k a year need not apply for matrimonial hand) to ring the warning bell:

Women should marry earlier and not be too picky to avoid an Aussie man drought, the Catholic Church has warned...
"Are women getting too choosy? I'd say yes," Fr Kerin, speaking on behalf of the archdiocese, said. (here).

Quelle surprise. The ponzi scheme that requires breeding as a membership activity must be suffering.

And does it come as a surprise to learn that Kevin Andrews has been a member of the Catholic Pontifical Council for the Laity, and an Adjunct Lecturer in Politics and in Marriage Education in the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne? (or so his wiki says here). Yes, you have to take a stern view on the evil activities of the likes of Disney and Time Warner in Andrews' strange world.

But hang on, according to the association of Irish priests (here), there's a simple solution to the man drought. Get rid of celibacy in the church, let priests marry, and there's an end of the shortage.

What's that you say? The average priest is in short supply, is zooming past the age of sixty, and doesn't have two shekels to rub together?

Never mind. Perhaps women can turn towards the union movement? What's that you say? Utterly useless unionists prefer to use their members' money on escort services?

Ah well, thank the absent lord, that after a ride on a bicycle, a sensible woman can settle down to a decent meal of fish rather than stand by men who love to star in films with titles like Beyond the ultra-brazen shameless valley of the credit-card pounders.

So there you are: stuck between a flood of Andrews' fundamentalists and the likes of Craig Thomson, who are you going to turn to?

Well of course it's prattling Polonius day, and there's Gerard Henderson delivering the usual guff in Sexist abuse of PM fits a general deterioration in political discourse.

It's a fascinating, compelling insight into the thoughts of a completely humourless man, worthy of a film by Russ Meyer.

This week Henderson turns to an examination of misogyny in the media in relation to Julia Gillard. Now first of all it's necessary to understand that misogyny is in no way related to there being a man shortage, and women simply being too fussy and too picky when it comes to getting married. After all there's the inspirational example of Catholic Newt Gingrich to show how marriage is for everyone, and can be tried any number of times ...

No that sort of talk would be deflection, and Henderson will hear no deflection. Gillard, it turns out, is a shocking prime minister, full of broken promises, and a carbon tax, and sex has got nothing to do with it.

Instead ... drum roll and trumpet blast, and let the clouds part and the heavens and the earth move ... it's all the fault of the ABC. Or perhaps the internet. Or both ...

You see awhile ago Wendy Harmer compiled for Hoopla a list of the top ten barbs directed at Julia Gillard, in Julia Gillard's Ugly Top 10. Naturally Bill Heffernan was there, but so was Anita Quigley from the Terror, Sophie Mirabella, George Brandis, Janet Albrechtsen, Mark Latham, Germaine Greer, Grahame Morris and Kevin Rudd as a bonus in eleventh position.

Shamefully, when she talked about the list on ABC radio with Jonathan Green, Harmer only mentioned the right wing loons, and failed to mention Latham and Greer, or Bob Ellis.

And there you see, is the opportunity for Henderson to apply misdirection:

Harmer's thesis turned on an implied suggestion of rampant sexism. Green opined that "there's maybe not sexism so much as misogyny". Maybe. What is more likely is that the criticisms of Gillard merely reflect a deterioration in the political debate, in Australia and elsewhere, which demonstrates the bad manners of the internet age.
Green should be the last to lecture about bad language, or indeed, misogyny...

Oh well played sir. Enough of the jibber jabber about Gillard, now's the time to whinge, and mope and moan about the internet, The Drum, Marieke Hardy calling Christopher Pyne a douchebag when it's more factually correct to call him a simpering liar, and Bob Ellis bagging Jillian Skinner.

And then, after a grudging admission that maybe some people - chiefly it seems Germaine Greer, rather than conservatives and hackers for Murdoch - are playing the woman rather than the ball, there's the return to the chip on the shoulder stuff:

Sure Gillard is, at times, the victim of misogyny. But Tony Abbott is, at times, the victim of anti-Catholic sectarianism along with personal mockery for his sporting attire. Last week, for example, The Age ran a cartoon by Dan Boermans of an erect Abbott clad in budgie smugglers, having his confession heard by an excited and perspiring Catholic priest. Enough said.

Actually when you take a look at the cartoon, you wonder what Henderson is on:

(More at Dan Boermans' site here).

Why call Abbott erect? Well hung perhaps, but hardly erect. Surely the portrait of the razor teeth is the most offensive aspect of the caricature? And what makes Henderson think the pock-marked priest is excited and perspiring? Projection?

Now the pond has always been adept at post-semiotic deconstructural decoding of signs and meaning, but surely the point about cartooning is that it has long been exempt in terms of commentary, with a spirit of 'whatever shakes your boat to make a point' allowed.

It reminds the pond of a favourite Low cartoon about Billy Hughes at the height of the conscription campaign in 1916:

(click to enlarge, more about the Billiwog book here - they started making billiwogs).

It turns out then that Boermans' cartoon is just a fair average example of a kind of cartooning discourse that has been going on in the country since the nineteenth century, and in Britain since the glory days of William Hogarth.

The notion that there has been a recent decline in discourse because of the ABC, The Drum, Jonathan Green, and the internet - as opposed to some long forgotten golden age of civility - is pure, undiluted fantasy.

What Henderson is doing is an exercise in deflection and equivalence. Bob Ellis is naughty, Mark Scott defends the indefensible Ellis (and in private correspondence, what's more, in an actual letter to the prim and prissy Henderson), QED let the Murdoch hacks and Alan Jones flay Julia Gillard alive: The episode suggests that, to the likes of Green, misogyny is in the (political) eye of the beholder.

Who would have thought that Henderson is a relativist French existentialist, and so long as ratbags like Ellis can go on being ratbags, why then where's the problem with Alan Jones?

And Henderson himself finds deflection incredibly useful. Here's how it's done:

Labor's problems under Gillard primarily stem from the broken promise that led to the carbon tax. Rightly or wrongly, many voters in the suburbs and regional centres associate the Prime Minister with rising power bills.

Rightly or wrongly? That's right, it's not Henderson's business to disabuse voters, or advise them of the truth of the matter, or explain how power bills have thus far risen without benefit of a carbon tax, but with full benefit of incompetent state governments managing a half-arsed privatisation and infrastructure adjustment, compounded by costs arising from bushfires, etc etc. And the other part of the problem has been woefully inept renewable energy programs where state governments have tried to pick winners ... (Australians pay highest power prices) ... a process that is likely to continue under Abbott's half-baked energy and climate change policies.

And then Henderson has the cheek to quote Kristina Keneally, head of an utterly failed NSW state Labor government, who had the cheek to offer the Federal government advice. With geese like this as friends, who needs enemies?

By the end of it all, the pond began to wonder whether Henderson understood that it was in fact him and his scribbling that led to a complete deterioration in public discourse. It's simply impossible to read one of his pieces without steam, and rage and foaming incoherence, and then a shouting of bollocks, and perhaps - in a moment of complete incivility - you total abject dickhead.

But of course that's why he writes ... to provoke and enrage. He's just a political cartoonist who uses words - he would have been at home in the eighteenth century inflicting scars on the cheek in ever so refined passive aggressive way - and here he is, always banging on about the ABC, and never ever banging on about Murdoch and his commentariat hacks, or shock jock radio, or commercial television ... likely because he can't stand the advertisement. There's only so much a free market possum can bear ...

And getting his insights and his facts wrong as he acts as a mule for conservative causes and conservative insights and the Catholic church.

Waiter, bring me my bicycle, I've done with the fish and the flatheads for the day ...

(Below: but here's another David Low before I go).

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