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Alan Jones, aggressive politics and offensiveness

Crikey readers have their say on the biggest issues of the week.

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Alan Jones debacle continues

Chris Johnson writes: Re. “Jones, Abbott and when aggressive politics gets ‘out of line’” (Monday). Yes, Alan Jones can say whatever he likes, and in his own vernacular Australians will just have to put up with the scum. Fauxpologies and appearances before ACMA won’t make a dint because this now-reviled character can’t confront his ineptness. At least Rupert Murdoch conceded pursuit of legal rather than moral righteousness was causal to his god-awful reputation. But when Alan Jones trashed all standards of common decency at a public function among business, political and young education and political aspirants with his deplorable denigration of John Gillard’s passing he invoked the manual on red-herrings — “Hoot of a night according to Chatham rules where black parody ruled and I just repeated what someone else said … et al.”

That 2GB uses Jones and a stable of same-style presenters to build an audience on vilification, slander and propaganda is a matter for Macquarie Radio network’s board of directors. But it’s not beyond the reach of advertisers and listeners to reject the toxic, anti-social skewed format that rusted-on Liberal soldier Jones broadcasts to millions around the nation. When Jones took that formula into the public arena and implied a valued member of our community died of shame, albeit our Prime Minister’s father, he epitomised just how sterile, improper and politicised he and our radio industry have become. Not only does Alan Jones need to express remorse for his in- and out-of-studio gaffes, but so too 2GB for commandeering the nation’s airwaves to influence the electorate and foster personal and corporate agendas.

Martin Gordon writes: I don’t take much notice of Alan Jones and for that matter the equally biased comments of his left-wing opponents who populate the media, in particular the ABC.

While Jones’ recent comments were tacky, they are no worse than many statements made in public or private from the Labor Party and those on the left of politics. I don’t seem to recall too much said when people proudly wore “Howard Hater” badges, or when he was called the “unflushable turd”, or when Gough Whitlam called Malcolm Fraser a dog (“Kerr’s cur”), he was often referred to as a “c-nt”, in supposedly civilised circles, but partisanism is like that. The clearly partisan get Abbott campaign of late has all the smells of partisanism attached. The same alleged anti-women claims have become common in other states and territories too. They are just rubbish.

The lynch mob seems remarkably selective in its victims and remarkably selective in what and who is offensive.

Unemployment statistics

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Battle of the shadows as RBA mulls the global environment” (yesterday).

Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer have missed a key point. The RBA uses the monthly ABS “Labour Force” unemployment survey figure of 5% in determining interest rates. This survey is based on a political definition of unemployment rather than the ABS annual “Persons not in the labour force” survey, which shows a real unemployment survey of 20%, chasing about 200,000 vacancies and is based on an actuarial survey.

The problem is that the ABS monthly unemployment estimates are “paraded” by the federal government, the RBA, most journalists and the opposition when they are back in government as indicative of their “good” economic policy; and this in turn leads to policy errors by the federal government, the RBA and others, which consequently misleads businesses and decision makers looking to invest in their future.

Unfortunately, decisions made on the basis of the ABS unemployment figures have real consequences for Australia and Australians. The RBA’s determination to maintain Australian interest rates at well above the rates of comparable countries such as Canada — the country most similar to Australia with regards to its strong resource sector, has interest rates of 1% and means real Australians and real Australian businesses suffer from the higher borrowing costs that restrict lending in Australia and reduce investment by Australian businesses that would otherwise provide employment to many more Australians.

For ministers, the RBA, economists and investment advisers the above is of crucial importance. In Australia and elsewhere we have a real economy that isn’t experiencing healthy growth but is instead staggering, with imploding employment levels. Much of the stock market is based on expectations of future growth. Remove the growth and most of the current value of the markets goes with it, for when jobs implode so do stock markets.

New evidence, new opinions?

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Attorneys-General looking for ideas to thwart social media” (yesterday). Andrew Dodd says: “Most commentators now agree … courts need to accept that juries are increasingly capable of assessing the facts in complex cases, despite the influence of negative commentary,” and he quoted law professor Andrew Kenyon, “There is a gradual recognition that if jurors hear some things outside the courtroom they can put it aside … Now there is more recognition that with better instruction jurors will try to do their job”.

This is amazing. Several decades of research has consistently shown the opposite: for example, few people give proper consideration to new evidence once they have formed an opinion. Even if they are given overwhelming proof that the basis of their first opinion is completely wrong they may be unmoved. But, miraculously, just as social media emerges as a potentially intractable source of jury contamination, a previously unknown breed of human being emerges who is relatively immune to prejudicial influences. Well, aren’t we lucky.

Where is objective evidence for this phenomenon to prove it is not the illusory product of good old-fashioned wishful thinking?

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6 comments

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6 thoughts on “Alan Jones, aggressive politics and offensiveness

  1. Holden Back

    I would rather see Australian politics focus on policy rather than personalities, Martin Gordon, but given the focus of the media it’s not going to happen in a hurry. Only the Prime Minister so far has managed pre-emptive strike to close down discussion of the matter in a press conference.

    The question of what was said by whom and when always needs particular examination. Jones’ mistake – almost universally acknowledged – was to imply the Prime Minister’s behaviour had contributed to her father’s death, at a Young Liberal function. As a well-known public figure he rather unwisely assumed the event would be treated as private, and not recorded. The lauding of his speech by the organisers and then a dramatic about-face, and fairly rapid condemnation of the comments by both sides of politics suggests something seriously amiss had happened. A rambling self-justificatory attempt at an apology didn’t help to clear the air.

    There were many reasons for people to hate John Howard, and while it’s not a pretty emotion to declare publicly it didn’t necessarily imply that his family was ashamed of him. That, I believe, was the line Jones crossed.

    As for the other insults directed at Howard, you might be shocked to know they had currency within the Liberal Party.

  2. drmick

    Well said Holden.
    Apologists for both sides have selective memories when it suits them.
    The point that everyone is missing is what Jones said wasn’t a”mistake”, it wasn’t a slip up, it wasn’t unfortunate and, he even said while he is sorry, he does not regret saying what he said; and that, in a nutshell, is the problem. He is rubbing every-ones noses in it and cant handle it when his abandonment of decency is returned.
    I should also add that the gutless low life, (like all the other gutless bullies including an ex labor politician), waited till she was overseas to show how tough he is. Geez his parent must be proud.

  3. Hunt Ian

    Martin Gordon adopts the pose of one commenting evenly on left and right. However, he too manages to show profound insensitivity. “Howard Haters” is hardly offensive at all. To call him Howard “unflushable turd” is mildly offensive but mostly funny.To call him a “c–t” is simply offensive. Gordon seems unaware of these distinctions.
    Moreover, Gordon joins Jones in missing entirely what outrages people about Alan Jones’s odious comment that Julia Gillard’s father died of shame at her lies. To say that Julia Gillard should be called “Ju-liar” is merely offensive. But to take one of the most distressing events in most people’s lives, the loss of a parent, and a relationship in which John Gillard was clearly proud off what his daughter achieved, and to suggest that he died of shame at his daughter’s lies is not only to be offensive but also to be cruelly and nastily offensive and to show immense disrespect for both Gillard’s grief and her dead father.

    This can be said regardless of whether one thinks, as I do, that Jones has run a cheap political campaign with his “liar” claim. Julia Gillard was pushed into denying that she would have a carbon tax by contrast with a permit trading scheme in the last days of an election campaign to squash claims that this is what she planned to introduce when she planned only to try and sell a carbon trading scheme in the teeth of concerted opposition from Murdoch media. When she found herself trying to form a minority government after the election, she was as willing as Abbott to do a deal in which a two year period of having a carbon tax would be the curtain raiser for a permit trading scheme. She therefore walked away from a commitment, as Abbott would also have been willing to do if the independents could trust him to serve out the whole term rather than go to an early election to take advantage of the powerful media support he has enjoyed.

    The so-called ‘lie” is no more a “lie” than the change of mind on whether there would be a floor price in an emission permit trading scheme, which not even Jones thinks can plausibly be beat up as a “lie”. Cheap campaigns, though offensive, are run of the mill. Gordon should realise that disrespect for a person’s grief over loss of a parent is a different order of offensiveness.
    Ian Hunt

  4. Draco Houston

    I really have to disagree with Martin Gordon, while all those examples might have offended the people they were directed at, none of those compare to using someones recently deceased father as part of a joke. It was really just below the belt and personal in a way that is rarely seen even in today’s political discourse. We should not be trying to normalize this behaviour.

    Let’s face the simple fact: Alan Jones messed up big time and Gillard will never forgive him. No matter what else happens, he is still a complete arsehole.

  5. klewso

    The negatives cited are all “Labor”?
    Me? I don’t take any notice of Jones.

  6. Dogs breakfast

    Well said Joe Boswell. There is a lot of research coming out that shows definitively that people do not change their minds merely because facts destroy their arguments. The research, worryingly, also shows that humans tend to harden their opinions when faced with facts contrary to their position.

    Worse still, anyone who has been on a jury with a moderately clear intellect would be appalled at the way they work, at the way they can be and often are regularly hijacked by the loudest rather than the smartest person, at how justice is a complete lottery in the current system.

    As I have often told friends, if you are guilty, always seek a jury trial, and if you are innocent, instruct your lawyer to seek a judge adjudicated trial.

    Judges are hardly faultless, but they are trained. My experience of juries, and those of my friends, are a tremendous concern.

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