Thursday, 11 October 2012

Taken out of context

anyone can say anything. Words can be used "for" and "against". Words can also be misused and unintentionally used.
Our Prime Minister ended up doing a world trip via video this week. Outside Australia a lot of people thought what she had to say was wonderful. Indeed, looked at it in isolation it was good.It was brilliantly edited to send a certain message.  It came across as articulate, fluent and well delivered. What she had to say seemed like a fierce defence of women and the place of women in society. The message was importnant. I did not disagree with the message.
The problem is that this great rhetoric was deliberately taken out of context. It was delivered at a time when the Prime Minister voted, and required her party to vote, to keep the then Speaker in his position, a man whose behaviour was the very opposite of what she was advocating.
The Speaker was not denying that he had been sending the vilest of vile messages with a sexual content to one of his then staffers. He was and still is involved in a court case over these messages and the sexual harassment of a now former staff member.
There was a vote in parliament and the Prime Minister was able to claim victory - by one vote. Anything else would have brought the government down.
The same evening the Speaker resigned. He recognised what the Prime Minister refused to recognise. His position, always on shaky ground, had become untenable. It leaves an unpopular government hanging on the thinnest of threads. It may hang on because some of the "independents" know they are unlikely to be re-elected and they naturally want to be there as long as possible. The government may go earlier than planned if an "independent" withdraws support.
The Prime Minister knows all this so she is using the "sexist" charge to attack the leader of the Opposition. He is not popular. He ousted a man who was "popular" - made popular by the media who would find him a convenient candidate for Prime Minister.
The leader of the Opposition is accused of being "anti-women". The media has poked fun at his religious beliefs, his charity work, his fitness and his family life. They have accused him of threatening assault, temper, lack of sensitivity, being under the thumb of his church, and many other "sins". It does not matter that these allegations have not been proven or that his actions often show the opposite of what is claimed. Nothing will change that. He is not perfect. No human being is. It is very likely he does have a conservative view of the way women should be treated but to say he does not respect them would not be true. He tells lies. All politicians do.  He is a politician and he behaves the way politicians do.
His words have been taken out of context. Everything he says and does is scrutinised in the hope of using it against him. He is blamed for events over which he has no control - a "racist riot" on Australia Day (set up by his opponents), the words of a broadcaster (over whom he has no control). It's politics - but a particularly vicious and vile form of politics. Would he do the same if the position was reversed? Perhaps but his attacks on the Prime Minister have always been about performance not about personality. Still, it's politics.  
The Prime Minister made the most of all this in her "speech". It sounded good. It sounded good because it was taken out of context and it may well do good because of that. In context however it takes on another flavour. The flavour of politics - and it is not a nice flavour.
Nobody involved has anything to be proud of.


Donna Hosie said...

OMG YES YES YES! I have been on Facebook this morning, correcting all my friends overseas who think Gillard is the greatest advocate of women - EVER!

She was not taking one for the sisterhood. She was attacking an opposition leader, while defending another man for exactly the same thing.

Said it once, repeated again: I HATE politics in this country.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with both of you. It was sickening the way this went around the world and so many people have entirely the wrong impression.
Ms Gillard was not supporting women at all - she was using the situation to have another unwarranted go at the Leader of the Opposition. The man she was trying to defend is far worse than Mr Abbott who is, all said and done, a gentleman in most respects - albeit a rather old fashioned one. Ros

Bridget Whelan said...

Thank you for this - I had heard part of the speech on British radio and to be fair to the news programme they did attempt to put it in context by mentioning the speaker's behaviour etc etc but I can see from this post how complex the situation is.
My big quibble though is when you say all politicians lie. Don't worry I'm not going to rush to their defence but we can't give our representatives permission to have a lower standard of behaviour than the one we would accept from a work colleague or someone with whom we did business. In the UK they thought they had the "right" to claim expenses to make up for the fact that they couldn't get a reasonable pay rise through parliament - they didn't. If they couldn't win their case they had to accept the consequences. And they can't get away with lies because voters assume that is what they all do... Thanks again for an insightful post

catdownunder said...

Thanks Donna, Ros and Bridget.
Er Bridget I hope it did not sound as if I condoned politicians lying - I just meant they seem to think it is part of the job! And yes, it is a complex situation - one which is not going to go away in a hurry.