In my post recently, Who are these people?, I wrote about my shock and disappointment at seeing people commenting on Julia Gillard’s Facebook page to make fun of the news that her father had died. It was bad enough that fairly anonymous nobodies on Facebook thought it acceptable to write such revoting and callous comments. But then it was revealed by the Sunday Telegraph that national broadcaster, Alan Jones had said our Prime Minister’s father died of shame because of his daughter’s lies. And that Jones said this at a Young Liberal function.
Anyone who has followed Jones’s career, even at a distance, knows such comments are fairly typical of this ‘shock jock’. The main reason the latest remark has got so much coverage over the past few days was because it was recorded at a Young Liberal function, where a ‘chaff bag’ jacket was also auctioned. This item was donated to ‘celebrate’ another of Jones’s revolting comments on air, saying he would like to: “put her [Clover Moore] in the same chaff bag as Julia Gillard and throw them both out to sea”.
Ultimately, the main person responsible is Alan Jones. It is he who should apologise to Julia Gillard (since he failed to do so in a 45 minute press conference), and it is he who should stop this behavior. However, there are many people responsible for Jones’s influence on our society, and his ability to have his comments heard. These are the people and organisations who, ethically, should also be apologising to Gillard, and should be withdrawing their support for Jones and removing his opportunity to make vile public remarks in the future.
I have been supporting the #boycott2GB campaign because I see this as a way to stand up for decency and respect. If we had a fair and ethical media, Alan Jones would never have had a broadcasting job in the first place and 2GB wouldn’t now be facing a listener and advertiser backlash. But 2GB aren’t an ethical company. They see profit from Jones’s filthy remarks, and it would appear that nothing will convince them to jeopardise those profits by taking Jones off air. Today, advertisers have been announcing boycotts on 2GB, which is great to see. People power in action. But unfortunately, since Alan Jones is a major shareholder at 2GB, it’s very unlikely that the company’s executives will risk upsetting him by showing him the door. Today it was reported that Russell Tate, CEO of Macquarie Radio network, the company that owns 2GB, would not be taking any disciplinary action against Alan Jones. Tate said:
“It was the apology he wanted to give irrespective of the fact these comments were made at a private dinner and it was entirely the appropriate response and, I think, pretty unequivocal.”
He later went on to say:
“At this stage there is nothing more to talk about”.
In other words, ‘nothing to see here, move along’.
2GB can try as they might to distance themselves from Alan Jones’s comments, but the fact of the matter is, whether Jones gave a non-apology, a real apology or didn’t respond at all, he will continue to make such remarks on his radio show and 2GB will continue to support these remarks by employing Jones. In the same way that Jones supports his listeners’ vile comments about our Prime Minister by saying ‘yep’ at the end of their rants, 2GB supports Alan Jones’s comments by putting a pay cheque in his bank account every month.
So who should take responsibility for Jones’s vile comments when he is not on air? Who should take responsibility for his comments when he’s invited to speak at a Carbon Tax rally or at a private function run by a Liberal party organisation? As soon as news broke of Jones’s offensive remarks at the Sydney Young Liberal function, the LNP and their supporters have been ducking and weaving to avoid any inference that they might have supported Jones’s position. The two Liberal MPs who were at the function both conveniently claim that they didn’t hear the comment. But does this not prove that they understand that if they were to admit that they heard the comment and did not protest, they are implicated in supporting it? And what about the chaff bag auction item? Did anyone complain about that? Or does the culture of Abbott’s Liberal Party, all the way down to the Sydney Young Liberal club, dictate that the behaviour of Jones towards Julia Gillard is not only condoned but supported and encouraged?
Graham Young of the Online Opinion blog ‘Ambit Gambit’ contributed this post yesterday to argue that Tony Abbott should not have to apologise for Jones’s remarks because:
“Abbott didn’t put Jones up to this, and despite Carr’s claims, this didn’t even occur at a Liberal Party function (Student Clubs are not part of any political party), so the Liberal party in general has no connection to it at all.”
Really Graham? The Liberal party has no connection to this at all? Does the culture of the Young Liberals really not mimic the culture of the whole party? Did every guest at the function laugh at the comment and about the chaff bag auction item, or protest about it? You might be right that the Liberal students club is not technically part of the Liberal party, but ask anyone in our community if they think the two are related and I’m pretty sure most will see them as one and the same.
It’s this perception that is important and it’s the perception of Tony Abbott’s relationship with Alan Jones that is important. Why was Malcolm Turnbull’s quick repudiation of Jones’s comments so much more heartfelt and meaningful than Abbott’s? Might it be because Abbott finds it very hard to criticize his buddy, Alan Jones? Might it be because Abbott doesn’t want to damage his relationship with Jones, a man who is helping Abbott politically by waging a misogynistic, bully campaign against our Prime Minister on national radio? Might it be that Abbott is happy to share the stage with Alan Jones at Carbon Tax rallies and would hate to contribute condemnation that might destroy Jones’s career?
I also found the heading of Graham’s article particularly telling:
“The Left does outrage so well”.
Firstly, it’s not just the ‘left’ who are outraged. All decent Australians are. Secondly, we who are outraged are not ‘doing’ outrage. We are ‘feeling’ outraged. We’re not ‘putting it on’ out of convenience. We really are outraged. And the fact that you don’t get that is the most relevant part of your article.