It’s been an interesting couple of days moderating comments submitted to AustralianPolitics.com.
Recently I posted the text of an article that the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, circulated on Twitter. It dealt with media bias and media treatment of the Gillard-AWU matter and the Slipper-Ashby sexual harassment case.
Over recent days, I have approved a couple of comments on this post but deleted dozens of others.
I’ve been struck by the viciousness of the comments about Emerson. Many comments retailed salacious stories. The meaning of some comments was hard to discern. Many just attacked Emerson and the government in general terms. I won’t reproduce the most scurrilous and personal but here are some examples, as submitted:
“Before Dr Emmerson starts slagging off about media bias perhaps he should come clean about his adultery…” [etc, etc, snip, snip and many more like so, only more explicit]
“Reads more like a love letter than a critique. At a loose end over the Xmas break, are we! What the NBN hasn’t passed your way yet? Are downloads are so slow your getting fidgety? Try a satellite connection. Half the price and fast enough to put a “smile on your face”, until your back in Canberra, that is.”
“Emerson is a complete and utter fool. He has proven that repeatedly by his ridiculous utterances. As for Gillard, her misogyny speech was probably the most disgraceful speech I have heard from a leader of this country. For that alone, she deserves to lose the next election. Thankfully, it is not that far to go before this disgraceful, incompetent pack of losers are tossed out.”
“So Mr Emerson when you refer to “Some editors and a few journalists are blatantly biased.” are you referring to Oakes, Grattan, Harcher, Coorey and just about every journalist on the Fairfax payroll whose primary interest is to be the Gillard cheer squad! If, as you say “That has always been the case.” perhaps this is why The Age and SMH are dying mastheads. Then in your final statement, the punch line, you state “But the real problem is the abandonment of professional standards to give effect to that bias. All subtlety is lost.” I guess this is referring to the loss subtlety and one-side argument for climate change, or whatever term the Labor Government chooses to introduce re;clean energy, dirty power etc; and reference to those that challenge the idea as climate skeptics or deniers”
“I just wish Craig Emerson would go away for a long time. He hyperventilates, interrupts, claims high ground which he is not standing on. If it meant we would not hear from him again, it might almost be worth reigning in the press!!!”
“How can anyone take Emerson seriously after his childish “Whyalla Wipeout” performance. Its clear his intellect hasn’t passed the pre-school level. In any case he is certainly not we should be able to expect from senior government minister.”
“he should look to his own actions .. he should also make the party’s followers aware of how their policies are part of the big jigsaw puzzle which has a very red centre and should watch this video to make everyone aware of what they are dealing with here and in the USA…
“Is emerson serious? Hell the media, with the exceptions of a few, were bought and paid for, to the tune of $1 billion plus, by Kevin Rudd. The Lame Stream Media is a joke in this country, Labor suck ups, that should hang their heads in shame, for their fawning attitude, and refusal to hold the ALP to account. Hey Craig, if you wanna criticise something, why dont you take a good hard look at your past indiscretions… [snip, snip]
Along with the anti-Emerson abuse came a number of conspiracy theorists. The one quoted above wanted to post a link to a nutty American video about left-wing destruction of Western society. Another wrote about a long list of suspicious coincidences, of which my favourite was the claim that Lionel Murphy used to be Julia Gillard’s boss at Slater & Gordon before he was given a seat on the High Court. All nonsense, of course.
A number of things bother me about these comments. There’s the abuse. There’s the shabby allegations of personal impropriety. There’s the poor expression and inadequate punctuation. There’s the factual ignorance. There’s the lack of awareness of what constitutes debate and discussion.
At one level the comments are not particularly offensive but I don’t want them on my website. To me, they’re junk. They add nothing to the issues raised by Emerson.
I suppose it’s a subjective judgment on my part. These examples don’t do justice to the full range I’ve received but overall they strike me as ill-informed, angry, illogical and occasionally nutty.