The two cases of Abdel-Magied and Quadrant display how quick we are to judge, and show our inability to differentiate between something worth our outrage, and something not.
The outrage machine seems to moving at a furious clip so far this calendar year. And it’s fair enough – there’s much to be outraged about. It’s fine and good to be outraged by about 99% of what President Trump is doing. It makes sense to be outraged by the insensitive Twitter “joke” posted by a freelance journalist merely hours after a blast killed 22 people. You can be outraged at Labor turning on itself to shoot down the ICAC. Whatever.
Whether you’re on the left or right of the political spectrum, there seems to be enough to go around. Why, just recently, Yassmin Abdel-Magied was put through a social media trial by fire for what many considered to be an inflammatory post over ANZAC Day.
There were calls for her to be fired immediately. The outrage climbed the peak of the diplomatic mountain where Julie Bishop eventually stated no, but the shitstorm swirled on still, a month later, resulting in her program on the ABC being axed yesterday. And for those on the right-hand side of the spectrum, why not? She was being disrespectful! How dare she! Anyone who defended her freedom of speech was shouted down as similarly “Un-Australian”. The old adage was, once more, proven true in that “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence”.
Unless, of course, you’re taking aim at someone on the left. Then apparently it’s all fair game. Yesterday, Quadrant writer Roger Franklin posted a piece decrying the fact that the Manchester bombing did not occur at the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters.
That, in short, is a heinous thing to say. That these concert-going children did not deserve to be bombed is true, obviously, but to follow that up with, “here’s a group of people I disagree with politically who will be of no great loss, what a shame they aren’t dead” is simply unacceptable.
And where is the general outrage? His name on front pages, the stories that attack his previous acts, his next moves surely picked apart as Abdel-Magied’s were before him? The left is outraged, of course, because it seems to be an open-palmed mouth-agape effort, like holy shit do I need to explain why? The right, on the other hand, are silent. Silent because the ABC is their target. Silent because the offending sentence was changed soon after publication? Silent because of the freedom of speech double standard?
Silent because who cares?
Beyond the ABC demanding an apology, where’s the rest of the fire?
yassmin: war is bad
the right: BEYOND THE PALE
quadrant: bomb the abc
the right: hmm, gotta hear both sides
— plant dad (@alanvaarwerk) May 24, 2017
This person is lamenting that a possible terrorist bombing did not occur in downtown Sydney, and adding that if people of the ABC were killed instead, it would be – essentially – no great loss. And the audience for this online paper, the political right, are fine with this. They are fine with him musing on the terrorist bombing of a Sydney television studio. They are now happy to defend freedom of speech when, only one month ago, they were crying for blood after an ill-timed post from Yassmin Abdel-Magied.
There is no balance in our outrage. And that is messed up. We can expect this kind of imbalance when it comes to binary issues like taxes or government spending, because people have their opinions, all fired in the jab-and-weave of modern day politicking. No harm, no foul. Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.
This is not one of those times. However, on the cusp of Sydney’s own Chinatown sits the crucible of the issue. Nowhere in Abdel-Magied’s post did she say, “If only it was just the soldiers that had died, because soldiers are bad, and not these innocent victims.” She expressed remorse for groups that are, generally, forgotten and sidelined. Perhaps it was ill-timed, and possibly insensitive, especially to those with connections to the ANZACS, but it wasn’t malicious, and she endured the response from those seven letters on ANZAC Day.
Roger Franklin said he wished a bomb had blown up in a TV studio in Ultimo.
You see, in this modern world, where people can be put on trial, judged, and sentenced by social media, it behooves us to choose our targets carefully and with great thought. Regardless of our choice, our targets should be treated equally, whether they be musicians, politicians, commentators, or some ignoramus member of the public. An even burning of the soles of their feet. Colloquially put, talk shit, get banged. Criticising your own should become the norm. For example, yes, I’m a leftie, but those who ride with me can be horribly grating at times, and crucially, can be wrong. What we need is clarity of vision. Criticism when criticism is due. Otherwise, any outrage becomes white noise; an unbalanced beast with one leg shorter than the other, failing to stand – and when that complicated beast warbles something deserving of our chagrin, it will go unheralded.
White noise. A wolf without teeth. A theoretical bombing.