“Joe Hockey is a prick.” This was the dominant sentiment in my Facebook feed yesterday, and its expression fairly eclipsed pictures of children eating cardamom-flavoured cake. This is no surprise, of course, as the default setting for social media use sits somewhere between righteous and cardamom-flavoured smug. If it were just a timeline that had permitted personal insult to stand in the way of something we might legitimately call an opinion, there would be no urgent cause for worry. But ad hominem is no longer endemic to the yowling children of Facebook. It has found its way into the press gallery.
“Joe Hockey is a prick.” This may be true. Its utterance, however, is embarrassing — destructive, even, when it begins to inform a line of professional questioning.