Saturday, March 09, 2013

And so to dog whistling rediux, thanks to Chris Kenny and Scott Morrison ...

The pond has a warped sense of humour, it has to be admitted, so perhaps it was simple perversity that this "exclusive" by "environment editor" Graham Lloyd was misread by the pond as "a global treasure waiting to be exploited".

Anyway, if you evade the lizard Oz paywall, amd trot off to Lost treasure emerges, 1.4 million years on (because diving in at the shallow end of the pool should be free), you cop a forced video featuring "environmental editor" Graham Lloyd, and such profound insights as this:

Incredibly, there are springs all through the Gulf country and crocodiles.

Incroyable, amazing, ├ętonnant, who'd have thunk it ... crocodiles and water and creatures and butterflies and stuff ...

Isn't the environment simply amazing? Now there's just the man to write about climate science with exactitude ...

Well that was the cheap laugh for the day, as the trained sparrows at The Australian once again wheeled and turned through the air, farting in unison at the rising dawn sun, like a majestic, awesome, awe-inspiring natural treasure just waiting to be explored.

Or is the baying of the Baskerville hounds a better metaphor, as they all sound off like French horns in pursuit of that diabolical red fox, each given a dandy space in the the revolving splash at the top of the digital horror?

Yes, yes, we all love furriners who come out here legitimately on proper visas, but we must remember to hate those entrepreneurial spirits who challenge the mighty seas and come out here on boats, because one is shameless dog whistling while the other has nothing to do with shameless dog whistling.

Or so the straightfaced Chris Kenny assures the world.

As a result, it's Chris Kenny who wins the pond Saturday award for the most fatuous use of adjectives, (along with a special bronzed scimitar prize for his frenzied attempt to paint himself to the right of Gengis Khan), while the other pair of dullards pretend they just love furriners.

Even Kenny's opening is a beguiling invitation to evade the paywall, and enter the bizarre world of Racism rant won't wash with the public, because everyone loves to risk breaking their neck by diving into the shallow end of the pool:

No issue better demonstrates Labor's disconnect from its base, the ideological contortions of the Left, or the moral self-indulgence of much of the media, than border protection. 
Once again this week we've had shrill cries of "racist" from the likes of Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, demeaning declarations of "dog-whistling" from Labor ministers, and moral posturing dressed up as denunciations of xenophobia from the love media.

Put it another way.

No issue better demonstrates the willingness of some hacks at the lizard Oz to trot out a defence of the indefensible, in this case Scott Morrison, who caught his fearless leader on the wrong foot, and who upset some of the moderates in his very own Liberal party, who now - it seems - must be swept up into Kenny's tirade as being part of the love media, indulging in moral posturing.

Sorry Russell Broadbent, we're talking about you. And you too Mal Washer:

... Victorian Liberal backbencher Russell Broadbent said there should ''never be special categories of laws for different categories of people … the rule of law should apply to all and we should not set some people apart''. 
''This kind of vilification of asylum seekers is unacceptable in this nation,'' he said. 
 Mr Broadbent is one of a small group of backbenchers who successfully demanded the softening of asylum laws during the Howard government. 
Fellow Liberal backbencher Mal Washer told ABC Radio on Thursday that he thought the "thrust" of Mr Broadbent's argument was correct.
"In this country what we want to ensure is that people of all ethnicity and religious backgrounds are treated equally under the eyes of the law," he said. "And we don't want to discriminate one from the other on that and there's a risk of doing that when you say those things."   (Morrison Calls for Behavioural Protocols For Asylum Seekers, forced video at end of link)

Oh you wretched demaning moral posturing members of the Liberal, sorry, the media party. And as you'd expect from Fairfax, they ran an outrageous, shocking cartoon by Tandberg to go with it:

Dog whistle!

Everything that the brave valiant Chris "just call me Don Quixote" Kenny fears as he tilts at the insidious love media and its moral posturing.

Remember, love is for sooks and sissies, what we really need is hate, hate, hate, and a little more hate while you're at it ...

Oh stop dribbling and quivering, let's plunge into the pool.

Huh, what's this?

Now we might say in hindsight that Morrison could have added caveats, qualifiers and words of assurance - if only to insulate against the inevitable backlash attack - as he did in later interviews. 

Does that include the inevitable backlash from members of his own party?

Now to get down to the serious business of defending fundie, clap happy, speaking in tongues Scott Morrison:

Yet his position passes the commonsense test. He is talking about a large group of single men who are not allowed to work, have not had their identities or status confirmed, face an uncertain future, and are answerable to immigration authorities, and have been placed in university accommodation among the students. 
 It would seem obvious, courteous and prudent to notify the students, the local police and perhaps other support agencies. This is how communities operate. 
This is the point of having local police, so they know their communities and the people living in them, including those who are vulnerable or may encounter friction.

Oh so it's only for the protection of those poor pitiful vulnerable boat people who might encounter a little friction, because who knows, they're single male rapists, the lot of them, desperate to go out on a rampage, and never no mind that only five or so of the entirety of these people have got in trouble with the law in recent times, we need to look out for the lot of them, all potential rapists and criminals, because, well because you never know ... (yes the pond was much entranced by Jonathan Holmes at Media Watch defending the use of "these people" and caring shock jocks. You people, in the media, Mr Holmes, seem to be tilting conservative by the day).

Kenny spends some time explaining how nobody - which is to say the media - knows what's going on, but the reality, as anyone who's seen a bit of the recent slavering coverage on the commercial media knows, it's inevitable that the hatches would be battened down, because the alternative would be to have a raging set of cameras highlighting the potential rapists and criminals in our midst. A bit like trying to hide a pedophile from prying eyes after doing time ...

Naturally Kenny doesn't worry too much about those who might be demonised or targeted, or who are moved around so they can't be made accountable as a group for the sins of one.

His sympathy is entirely with the poor, hapless, victimised Scott Morrison ...

...The media's questioning and criticism of Morrison has been far more pointed than anything directed at O'Connor, even though the minister presides over a system that clearly is not coping. 

And so to the matter of dog-whistling. It turns out that Morrison didn't shoot from the lips, or have a thought bubble in a chat with a shock jock, and go the exuberant dog whistle, he was just spreading oil on the waters of a troubled electorate:

The claims of "dog-whistling" are very instructive. They betray a very low opinion of the electorate - revealing a belief that electoral gains can come through racist messaging. Labor must truly believe this, going by their latest attack on foreign workers. 

What, no never. Pauline Hanson was elected strictly on the basis of her fish and chips (and how embarrassing to have your dog-whistling endorsed by her), and John Howard not once traded off on her message, even when he determined that he would determine who might come to this country and at what time when he thundered that there could be no free fish and chips for furriners ...

What's amazing is how dog eared Kenny sounds. Labor must believe there's mileage in racist messaging, and Liberals don't, as if Labor hasn't had the chance to see how the Liberals have made the messaging work for yonks, stealing Hansonites and tucking them into the party?

Somehow there are some Liberals don't believe this or act on it?

Yep, somehow, in the world of binaries that live in The Australian, Labor is full of evil dog whistlers, and Liberals just a bunch of wonderful dog lovers.

Is there any balance at all?

 Certainly, one assault should not be used to demonise asylum-seekers.

Which is precisely what Morrison did, using one assault to demonise asylum-seekers and propose that neighbours should be warned that they had possible criminals and deviants in their midst.

How to get out of this one?

But to suggest it could be is to underestimate the public. It is not the alleged assault (ugly as that is) that created the controversy here, but rather the window it provided into a shambolic system. As increasing numbers of asylum-seekers are placed in the community with no work rights, uncertain futures, and minimal support, we can expect more difficulties. 
 Mainstream voters, it may surprise the government to learn, are smart enough to realise that it makes sense to notify other residents when large groups of single men in this situation are moved into university dormitories. 

Now here's the thing. The pond spent years in university dormitories, and the one observable truth of the matter was that when large groups of single men moved into said university dormitories, the news went around the dorm in a flash (especially if it was a bunch of rural scientists, ag economists, or those bestial brutish slavering low life animals from Earle Page).

So what other residents are we talking about?

The thing is, Kenny thinks that mainstream readers are dumb enough to believe that this sort of idle chatter holds some sort of water.

Now a sensible university administration would make university dorm dwellers aware of what was happening, but this would happen anyway by word of mouth, and there is simply no parallel between this and forewarning others in the community ... say by dropping fliers in letterboxes warning that a bunch of potential criminals and deviants ... which is to say boat people ... were being housed in a house down the road from the pond in Salisbury Road Camperdown.

The pond uses that street address advisably.

There was once an abortion clinic in that street, which discreetly went about its business, just like the half-way houses for cons across the road and around the corner went about their business.

There was no need for circulars to let everyone know what was going on, because everyone knew - people gossip, communities talk - and because every so often, on a weekend, fundamentalist Christians, of the Scott Morrison kind, would turn up outside the clinic to heckle and abuse women who turned up to the place, taking moving picture footage of them and anyone who objected to the behaviour of the fundies (even now, the pond probably resides in a fundie treasure vault of satanists captured on film).

That's what can happen when you get a community dogwhistled into a fundamentalist frenzy, when sometimes it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie.

So when you get this pious, mealy-mouthed love fest crap from Kenny, you know the lad has jumped the shark:

Letting communities know may actually smooth the transition, foster acceptance and ease any tensions. 

Sheesh, pull the other leg, and pull it hard.

Apart from being pure hogwash, does that sound like the moral posturing of the love media, or what?

Sanctimonious touchy feely stuff of the nauseating kind, and what's worse, bullshit as pure as the driven snow. (see Kudelka below, celebrating that riff)

And, of course, it is sensible for the police and the immigration authorities to be advised too. Race is not an issue - the same logic would apply for Iraqi boatpeople or visa overstayers from Britain.

But actually, here's the thing.

There's nothing illegal or criminal about people seeking asylum, not yet anyway, not while we acknowledge we signed a few treaties to that effect, but if you overstay your visa, then you are an unlawful non-citizen still residing in Australia when you shouldn't (or so the helpful sheet 86 of the Department of Immigration advises in Overstayers and Other Unlawful Non-citizens).

In the usual way, Kenny conflates and confuses illegality and criminality and seeking asylum, and in the process his scribbling suggests that race is indeed an issue, since an Iraqi boatperson seeking asylum is not necessarily breaking the law in the way a visa overstayer from Britain is.

But what got the pond choking on its cornflakes (used to cut the muesli, as you do with pure nuts and fruit heroin) was Kenny's final indignant par:

As the integrity of the immigration system crumbles, Hanson-Young and the government, with support from a compliant media, seek to shut down rational debate by shrieking "racist" at critics. This is hysterical, intolerant and dishonest. And in the end it will be futile, because the public can see what is going on.

Compliant media? Rational debate?

Yes bugger off few remaining Liberal moderates, make way for the dog-whistling ratbags dressing up offensive proposals as rational debate ...

Even by Kenny's own account, Morrison got it wrong, and shot off his mouth on a talk back show with a shock jock renowned for whipping up fear and loathing.

Morrison got more than a "compliant media" upset (the omniscient hacks in dominant print Murdoch-land are somehow transformed by Kenny's into a "compliant media"), he got moderates in his own party upset, and he did anything and everything except generate a rational debate.

And then he spent his time hosing down his mistake and trying to make sense of what he said, refusing to back down, because he has a giant ego and a messianic streak, but doing what he could to make sense of his prejudices and his bigotry.

To defend his antics is to double down on his indecent behaviour, and to support all that is hysterical, intolerant and dishonest embedded in Morrison's behaviour.

It seemed everyone else could see what was going on, including members of his own party, who put a good deal of distance between themselves and his silly demonising thoughts and proposals.

Everyone except Chris Kenny.

Enough said. It takes a dog whistler to celebrate the fine art of dog-whistling ...

(Below: the fine art of dog-whistling, as played by both sides. More Nicholson here)

(And the pond did enjoy this vision splendid from Kudelka, the world according to Scott Morrison and Chris Kenny, as the humble politician goes about his daily business disguised as a kind of Clark Kent, with the world little realising that speaking in tongues will lead to paradise. More Kudelka here)

(And finally a poignant  Charles Barsotti cartoon. You can read an interview with Barsotti here).


  1. It's only a dog whistle if you can't hear it - Morrison is using a fog horn

    Kenny is a nasty piece of work by any measure. His trolling on twitter is spectacular and his threats when he's pwned are as nasty as you'd expect

  2. Know-it-all Chris Kenny is at it again. He is a great annoyance. As Isaac Asimov said: “those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do”


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