Sticks and stones 

Cathy Bannister writes: Re. “There is a great hunger for Trump’s vulgar speech, and for good reason” (Thursday). Helen Razer is correct in implying that we have become too precious by far about language. My mother’s threat of having my “guts for garters” shouldn’t have ever been taken to mean that she at any stage intended to use my intestines for holding up her stockings (sausage casing are another matter). Nor does anyone who spoke of furnishing Tony Abbott’s undercarriage with a Bodleian-sized suppository of wisdom actually want him to bend, spread and goatse in front of them.

However, and it’s a big “however”, in condemning those who see this statement of Trump’s to be going too far, Razer fails to take context into consideration. When Trump hinted at a “second amendment solution” to Hillary Clinton’s choice of Supreme Court appointment, he did so to an audience known to contain a lot of very angry people who own and adore their guns, and who justify their weapons passion by clinging to a belief that the constitution protects their right to armed rebellion.

These people would have felt the hair prickle on their backs at being given tacit permission to consider enacting that right. This is precisely the sort of nuance that one would hope someone fit for the US presidency would have some sort of feel for. Trump clearly does not.

That said, there is something about social media’s brevity and echo chamber nature that encourages herd behaviour and polarises subtleties away. Anyone who disagrees slightly becomes defined as an enemy, which leaves more stupid or tenuous positions unexamined, and the extreme emphasis on politically correct language appears to be a symptom.

On Ausgrid

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Ausgrid decision that of a cowering country closed for business” (Friday). While lambasting the lack of logic in the Treasurer blocking Chinese bids for Ausgrid, Bernard Keane doesn’t make much sense himself. Pointing out the range of assets already owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure, he comments “If it’s a national security risk, as Morrison claims it is, then we’re already screwed.” That’s hardly reassuring!

Of course there’s inconsistency. What about Optus, which is owned by the dictatorial Singporean government? Owning a telco really takes the challenge out of espionage. You have to be a blinkered ideologue to claim that the accumulation of vital infrastructure in the hands of foreign powers is not a valid strategic issue.

No, I don’t think Australia should fear an invasion by China. China can’t even conquer Taiwan. But seeing this merely in terms of xenophobia is wrong.

National security aside, the theory of privatisation is all about the free market. It makes no sense to transfer ownership from an Australian government to a foreign government, or to a monopolistic multinational. Mike Baird seems hell bent on selling all of NSW’s assets. He is even proposing to privatise the Land Titles Office, which puts at risk the integrity of the Torrens system of registration. Where will in end?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey