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Pretence and posturing all the rage

By Mark Christensen - posted Friday, 21 June 2013


Monday night's Q&A opened with a question about the vicious moral outrage directed at the radio announcer who badgered the Prime Minister about Tim's sexuality. Audience member Anatol Romanov wondered if Shakespearean fools could get away with much more than we do today in modern Australia.

The panel wilfully shirked the adult conversation, focussing instead on the value judgement of whether it was necessary. No mention of the hate reserved for those deemed to be saying or doing the wrong thing in this country. Little discussion about authority shutting them up.

Fiona Stanley thought the incident demeaned Howard Sattler, but didn't go on to explain why this wasn't sufficient punishment in itself. The usually frank Barnaby Joyce opted for self-interest, arguing a line is crossed when a politician's spouse becomes implicated.

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Paul Kelly of The Australian said we shouldn't tolerate offensive and sexists remarks, though gave no account of why this in particular warranted intervention or if his position was inconsistent with his employer's vehement opposition to serious media regulation.

None of the highly educated, democracy-loving participants could bring themselves to admit those calling for Sattler's head, however you slice and dice their justifications, are intolerant hypocrites. The suppression was evidence of what Anatol was alluding to, and a likely rationalization of Sattler's outburst.

Such pitiful duplicity is not limited to politics.

The NRL is a joke, uninterested in the welfare of rugby league or its players.

Nate Miles gets a couple on the chin. Like a real man, he doesn't complain or run off to the authorities. Yeah, Gallen should have got the sin bin, but that's no reason to introduce zero tolerance.

State of Origin is a sporting triumph because it embraces the human spirit, showcasing what is natural and unforced. Success comes from operating beyond the law, without ever wanting to be lawless. Instituting more rules because whining members of the public and political class are convinced leadership is about control, confuses players into thinking what matters can be regulated, when it can't.

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The negative consequences of politically-motivated intervention are already evident with the shoulder charge ban and an obsession with head contact. In a recent televised match, I saw a player make a brilliant try-saving tackle by launching himself at the ball-carrier just before the line. Crashed into touch, the other bloke immediately gets up and successfully pleads with the ref for a penalty because no arms were used. It was farcical.

Then there's the Josh Reynolds' golden point fiasco. Sensing endless opportunities in a rules-dominated world, the Bulldogs five-eighth back-flipped onto his head in order to draw a dangerous tackle charge. He conned the officials and effectively won the match.

Though they know the truth, Dave Smith and the NRL aren't willing to come out and say rugby league is a violent and often dangerous game played by men, passionate men, who sometimes go the biff. It's not encouraged, but it happens. Tackling with the shoulder is instinctive, some hits to the head unavoidable.

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About the Author

Mark is a social and political commentator, with a background in economics. He also has an abiding interest in philosophy and theology, and is trying to write a book on the nature of reality. He blogs here.

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