I feel for independent MP Tony Windsor who has been subjected to death threats:
Tony Windsor’s voicemail sounds like the wild west. A message left for the New South Wales independent MP on Monday night was charm itself: ”I hope you die, you pig,” the caller said, after working through a long list of expletives and animal analogies.
Windsor was moved to strike back in kind with some emotive language of his own. If the current political dog-whistling went on unchecked and the talkback radio ”freaks” didn’t shut their mouths, we’d need ”bulletproof glass” around the Parliament; the system may yet deliver ”a tragic event”.
Translation? Tone down the Fox News treatment, folks, or someone will get killed.
During the 12 months of running this blog I have been subjected to some horrendous abuse, called all sorts of things (from socialist, to paedophile to an idiot). Luckily I’ve never been threatened. However many of my readers have been “cyber-stalked” and sent disturbing emails.
As this debate progresses, I suspect it only going to get worse.
The intensity of the debate waged across the internet between “warmists” and “deniers” is now spilling over into the mainstream.
Personally, I think this will be the most divisive issue in Australia’s political history.
Debate can be robust, but to quote the Age Article:
Which leads me back to the difference between productive conflict and incitement. Conflict is healthy – an essential part of politics. It’s a linear process: argument, counter-argument, synthesis. Call me old-fashioned, but it’s a simple formula for human progress.
Conflict is worthy when it leads in time to synthesis, to a community consensus around an important issue, in this case the policy responses to climate change.
This is what great political leaders do – bring the community to consensus. Have we somehow lost that art in the shrieking world of 24/7 news, where radio shock jocks are locked in a desperate competitive struggle for ratings, and politics bounces uncomfortably on that choppy current?
Politics need not bore the pants off everyone, but it should also have the wisdom and the restraint to respect some basic responsibilities: try to deal with facts, play the issue not the person, avoid bottom-feeding and keep the analogies more or less on the planet.
It has to live with, but doesn’t have to pander to, the 24/7 cycle. It does not have to conduct a sloganeering and misleading discourse. It does not have to be so cynical and reductionist that it treats the voters like mugs.
Debate is essential, and it will be robust.
But we are still all Australians.