“Surpassing Turnbull’s to-do list is the number of Abbott’s woulda shoulda coulda moments” Niki Savva tells us in her column in today’s Australian. A moment’s reflection might have suggested to her that an article chiding Turnbull, albeit gently, for having achieved absolutely nothing in the year since he usurped Abbott, might not be the ideal vehicle for traducing Abbott’s achievements as PM — achievements such as stopping the boats, repealing the carbon and mining taxes, three free-trade agreements, putting the brakes on corporate welfare, mending our relationship with Indonesia and, after years of prevarication, deciding the site of Sydney’s second airport to name but a few.
Undeterred, today Savva treats us to a diatribe that might have been written by David Marr, were he determined to make himself a deliberate laughingstock.
The main thrust of Savva’s treatise, as proposed in the headline, is that conservatives, whom she categorizes as “extreme Right” and “Delcons”, are allegedly hurling invective left, right and centre at proponents of same-sex marriage. Quick, dear reader, have you heard any of this strident hate speech? No? Neither have I. Savva doesn’t actually provide any examples of this, not even from her main target, which is obviously Andrew Bolt. Even Marr manages to spot and assemble the odd illustrative fact when assembling his epistles. Savva asserts and seems to think that is enough in itself
There may be some people on the “extreme right”, whatever that label means, who abuse their ideological opponents, but they are largely those inconsequential denizens of social media who have nothing whatsoever to do with mainstream conservative commentators, such as Bolt. As to those Delcons, a term coined by Miranda Devine to describe conservatives who wished ill on the Turnbull-led Coalition before the election, the label has passed its use-by date. Turnbull is back, albeit with a more chaotic Senate and a knife-edge majority in the House, so his pallid victory brings its own satisfactions — not least the spectacle of his political impotence and habitual missteps. Anyone fancy a batch of overpriced, as-yet-undesigned and security-compromised submarines? Hands down, you South Australian mendicants; no one is interested in your opinions until you start paying your own way (and not with wind-powered carbon credits).
Of course, having dished it out relentlessly to Abbott and his admirers through two years of sniping and spleen, Savva’s conceit is that she is a victim! Yes, really.
As a former conservative darling now transformed into the she-devil by the people who patted, petted and urged me on when I was pointing out the many flaws of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, I can testify that when it comes to the Left or Right there is no difference in the level, the depth, volume or viciousness of the invective dished out in public spaces to people who differ.
Examples, please Niki, of abuse – not robust disagreement or criticism, which you have invited in the first place. And again, not mindless Twitter rants.
Here is Savva being even-handed:
Now we are debating another issue that will test the character, level of tolerance and respect for alternative views of all activists. The supporters of same-sex marriage should behave with the same level of decorum as they would expect their opponents to show. Genuinely held religious or social objections should be recognised and understood, not ridiculed or belittled. Likewise the right of all people to marry if they want to, without being subjected to homophobic rants and without the hyperbole that if it happens the foundations of traditional marriage will crumble.
I have heard the argument concerning the crumbling of ‘foundations of traditional marriage’ and even expounded on it. Whatever you think of that particular argument it is not one to be dismissed as hyperbole. And, again, where are the example of homophobic rants? The vast majority of conservative commentators is respectful of the sensitivities of gay people and confine their comments to the issue at hand: same-sex marriage.
There is more of Savvathink to come as she conflates the failure of individual marriages with the alleged failure of the institution itself. Not that she need worry about that. As Mrs Woolcock, spouse of Turnbull staffer Vincent Woolcock, one assumes she is happily situated in her bed of marital roses and political pillow talk:
If marriages are weak, they will collapse, as they do with tragic consequences, every minute of every day, for all sorts of reasons, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is legal or not.
Inevitably, Savva can’t let an opportunity slip to slap the Delcons over 18C:
Delcons also should consider that a civil debate and a civil resolution of this issue might help bolster their case for repeal or amendment of 18C — if that is what they really want, but one suspects for some it is one more excuse to beat up on Turnbull after remaining silent during Abbott’s tenure. The numbers are simply not there now to fix it, but hey, why let facts get in the way of high dudgeon?
Whether or not the numbers are there to amend 18C is irrelevant. The numbers will never be there unless proponents of change prosecute their case loudly and often. If gay lobbyists wish to live in fear of slurs not uttered nor likely to be uttered, that is their sad and unconvincing tactic of the moment. Even the shrillest drama queen, however, would blush at Savva’s foam-flecked frothings.