Fascinating discussion. Let’s go to the background: on the Outsiders panel show on Sunday 12 March we ran through a series of zany things said on International Women’s Day the previous Wednesday. Five or six items. One of them was the Sydney Boys school prefect video, which had attracted significant media attention. The young men spoke the words of women in trying to help the feminist cause. The first speaker talked about having sex with a man. The video was designed to initially mislead, as only later did it become clear the speakers were quoting women.
I have spoken to scores of people who have said, upon first viewing of the video they thought the first speaker was speaking as a young gay man. That was my impression too. I made no value judgement about that, and never would. I simply thought it was a matter of fact. I don’t know why some people regard the word ‘gay’ as derogatory. I don’t. I was taught in the ALP in the 1980s to look through race, gender and sexuality as minor genetic/preference variations between people.
On the day before our show, the SMH ran a letter from the nearby Sydney Girls school students, attacking the ‘male video prefects’ as having no right to make a statement about feminism, saying they had a “toxic male culture” at their school.
On Outsiders we played the video to highlight that “men can’t win” – if you try to help with a well-intentioned (albeit strange and misleading) video, the feminists will bag you anyway.
Ross Cameron chipped in to say, words to the effect of, “These young fellas ought to be aware that the girls they are trying to impress will run off with a Western Sydney tradie in a ute.”
Very funny. In the laughter, I quipped, words to the effect of, “Well, I thought the first one was gay, so it won’t affect him”.
All I was saying was that the first speaker wouldn’t be impacted by Ross’s observation. There was no condemnation meant, nor should any have been taken. Indeed, that was the initial outcome.
The show would have had 30-40,000 viewers, including the ABC Media Watch, Buzzfeed, Fairfax etc gang who always watched, hoping to jump onto slip-ups. No one said a word about my comments until 17 days later, when other matters had arisen via ‘lawfare’. I still don’t know the reaction to all this from the first prefect speaker. Publicly, I have said if he’s upset at all by my words or by the controversy itself, then I apologise.
This is a feature of the Left’s confected outrage/PC industry: no problem at the time, but if they can delve back into history when a political target is vulnerable for other reasons, they will.
What happened to me was essentially a stitch up. None of the critics gave a crap about the school prefect. They had long been silent. It was all about closing down my (hopefully effective) critique of their ideology.
The mere mention of the word “gay” today is enough to have companies harassed and people sacked. The Left has turned it into a demon word, when I believe I have never used it that way.
True, I am a former Labor leader. I’m not a conservative, I’m a social democrat. And from that perspective, I oppose identity politics as a divisive, segregationist doctrine that weakens social trust and cohesiveness – the basic raw materials of community and the good society. You don’t have to be from the Right to oppose identity politics as an abomination. Peter Baldwin (ex senior minister and ALP Socialist left faction) has raised a critique similar to mine. You don’t have to be from the Right to oppose the extreme Left.
In summary, that’s what happened. If civility-conservatives think that’s fine, they might as well surrender the country and culture wars to the Identity Left right now. We should all go to the pub and have a Coopers instead.
They (and others) would be saying, in fact, no one can make an evidence-based quip about another person in the context of a very funny joke and very strange video.
In hindsight, I would have been better off joining the girls’ school in attacking the male prefects as toxic and calling for them to never speak about gender issues again.
Now ain’t that sad!!