Strong, please … and no sugar

So let’s see if I’ve got this right. To prove oneself morally pure, the unacceptable must be condemned (or something as closely synonymous as possible), and the vocabulary used must be of sufficient strength; all lest one be suspected of complicity. All part of the theatre of contemporary discourse, I suppose. Shock jocks in the red corner, pollies in the blue, blow for blow, expletive for expletive, character attack for character attack, strike where you can, guilt by association … and may the best tweeter win.

But when the masses follow suit, the unintended consequences follow closely. If the language is too strong, the tweets too many, the walls too public, and the gallery too full, then jurors are too scarce, and justice too fragile.

Methinks the shock jocks are winning.

The off switch

I don’t like Alan Jones, and there is no defence for his tasteless remark about the Prime Minister’s late father. However the flurry of online vigilanteism in the wake of this, his latest folly, is itself no less perplexing. Whether or not he’s axed or even disciplined is a matter surely for his employer alone, with or without pressure from sponsors.

A moment or two’s reflection prior to pressing the send button would serve us all well. Today’s collective penchant for ‘off with his head’ censorship cries on the heels of every public gaffe, seems more often driven by adrenalin than common sense. The initial moral outrage might be tempered by the realisation that ill-considered outbursts have never been the exclusive preserve of the unenlightened. It feels righteous only so long as the tar and feathers are being applied to the enemy. When the pack is baying for one’s own, we’ll all remember the ‘free speech!’ cry soon enough.

Surely the better way to preserve intelligent discourse is to let the monkey speak. Democracy’s most efficient weapon remains the off switch.