Despite her looniness and contrarianism, there is a nugget of good sense in Germaine Greer's argument. Of course Steve Irwin took silly risks with the wild animals with which he entertained silly people, argues PP McGuinness.
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Poor old Germaine. She is getting the usual quota of abuse for dissenting about the posthumous praise being heaped on Steve Irwin. But as is usual with Germaine, despite her looniness and contrarianism, there is a nugget of good sense and high intelligence buried in her verbiage. Of course Irwin took silly risks with the wild animals with which he entertained silly people. Of course wild life is always dangerous, and accidents are inevitable if you get too close to it. Animals in the wild are not cuddly or well-intentioned to human beings – if they are big enough they want to eat us, if not, they don’t want to know us. And it is true that Irwin provoked and annoyed animals to provide entertainment for onlookers. However, the greatest danger in dealing with such beasts is to get too confident and assured that you know what you are doing. The real story of Irwin and the stingray is that he got careless. It is a great pity that he came to grief – he was a harmless entertainer – but, except for his family, hardly a tragedy. He knew (or should have known) the risks, and he took them knowingly. In the process he made a great deal of money – and good luck to him. The most sensible comment so far has come from John Wamsley, who pointed out once again that the real answer to preserving Australian wildlife and environment is to put a market value on it – like charging the greenies and people like Irwin for their self-indulgence, or charging those who want to collect Australian fauna. If you want to save the wilderness, buy it rather than appointing yourself a high priest with privileged access. But Germs has a point, and should not be shouted down simply because she is not toeing the conformist line. Personally, I much prefer to Irwin’s David Attenborough’s docos about the environment and the fauna. But I’d be willing to bet that there is a degree of exploitation there also.