The long, slow (but increasingly strident) descent by Gerard Henderson into irrelevance is a wonder to behold. Jettisoned first by The Age, then The Sydney Morning Herald, his bilious blatherings now appear as bottom-page fillers in The Australian.

Of late, Henderson’s pieces read more like exercises in suppressed persecution mania than opinion, but this weekend he joined the neo-con bandwagon with an attack on the ABC for not using the term “radical Islam”. Crikey readers would remember the piece on the ABC staffer who had been “spoken to” after retweeting, with endorsement, the sentiment that there was no need to use the term “radical Islam” over other, more precise alternatives from an official ABC account. Avid to take offence in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre he rubbished Emma Alberici, for what she’d said in personal tweet. Wrote an outraged Henderson:

“The co-presenter of ABC television’s Lateline, Emma Alberici, tweeted: ‘Trump’s anti-Muslim stance is nonsensical. Gunman was born in the US and seems to have been motivated by homophobia’. She seemed unaware that in Islamic State-controlled parts of Iraq and Syria, homosexuals are thrown to their deaths from tall buildings. Alberici also managed to raise the issue of Catholicism. But no homosexuals are thrown from the roof of St Peters. This is false moral equivalence.”

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Quite right, Gerard. A far more telling moral equivalence might have been drawn from reference to the misery of the thousands of children and minors sexually abused by Catholic priests and brothers over the past century, and to the ways in which the Church has sought to ignore, deny and cover up the crimes of the paedophiles in their ranks.

Henderson’s piece also published a letter from Henderson to the ABC’s PR man Nick Leys in which Henderson stated: “I can only assume that Andrew West, as presenter of The Religion & Ethics Report, accepts responsibility for the tweet”.

Leys told Henderson not to make assumptions. In today’s Oz, West writes a letter saying that he himself told Henderson he wasn’t the author of the tweet. “Despite being told twice … he published an untruth”.

Henderson was “mischievous, unfair and inaccurate in his columns accusing me of being the author or endorser of a tweet that suggests the term ‘radical Islam’ not be used”, West writes, adding that he uses the phrase on air all the time. As Crikey noted last week, there are other possibilities as to wrote the tweet. The account used to carry a description that it was operated by Scott Stephens, the editor of ABC Religion and Ethics.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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