Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gerard Henderson, Nazis, Harry, Privacy and Twits

That desiccated coconut and serial rooter for Sarah Palin, Gerard Henderson, is at it again in The Sydney Morning Herald.

But somehow I'm reading him in Tamworth, home of country music and heartland of the north west of NSW. One day Melbourne, the next Tamworth. Is there nothing the wide brown land can't offer its own humble citizens, determined to save the tourism industry and the tourist bureaucrats as they face the realisation that this year is going to be a very bad year, a reality which has nothing to do with their super campaign devised around giving Rupert Murdoch A$40 million of their money to promote his film.

By travelling to such wonderful places as Tamworth, we might save the state, the country, even the world from financial meltdown. And Tamworth as y'all know has a giant golden guitar, a yearly music festival dedicated to country stylings, a horse centre rort funded by the feds, and even a Rupert Murdoch owned rag, The Northern Daily Leader. The country music festival is about to crank into action, and there's an air of anticipatory excitement in the one and only main street as the locals look forward to the fun of street buskers, beer, vomit and brawls.

Tamworth is real heartland, the Wasilla of the state, and being here (worse, being born here) I feel totally authentic. And everything Henderson has to say feels so inauthentic, a city slicker so fast and slippery you can just feel he's never lumped a bag of wheat or shorn a sheep in his life.

Okay, okay that's the rhetoric of John Howard in his prime, backed up by his chief reliable lickspittle lackey Henderson, in the good old days of Hansonism and drawing the line on refugees and terrorists. Work at it long enough and you can get a freedom medal.

Let's forget this heartland crap, and let's forget Tamworth, please. Let's get down and boogie with Henderson's latest jottings, entitled Harry's shooting from the lip a warning to all.

Poor Gerard is appalled by the way Harry has experienced a gotcha moment because he went around talking about Pakis and ragheads on camera. He even reminds us that this privileged twit has form, since he managed to get caught in Nazi uniform once, and wondered what all the fuss was about.

It seems for a moment as if Henderson wants us to have some sympathy for this public person being outed in a private moment, as if that's not the job of Murdoch-owned scuttlebag media persons, when the noble warrior Prince, third in line for the throne, should have known better.

Well, if he doesn't want to be a Royal, with all its arduous public duties and private perks, why doesn't he resign? Better still, why doesn't Henderson devote a column to explaining exactly how Australia can become a republic in the next two years, in a way that satisfies the Australian desire to vote in some way for its President? Stupid people, always thinking they're in a democracy where they should vote on such things, however much the politicians and commentators try to fix things.

Deep down you actually get the sense from Henderson that he thinks this is another moment when the Pakis and the Islamics are playing the man - and Christian men and women of a clergical kind will soon join in the breast beating. Oh Lord, that we should have to put up with Christians who want to be Christian. Why did we ever lose the colonies and thereby lose the right to keep those infidel Islamics in line (what's that you say, we're still in Afghanistan and Iraq fighting holy wars, and soon we'll have a whole brand new set of troublesome colonies? Jolly good, keep on lads, fight the just fight).

Henderson then trots out his standard whinge about how John Howard, George Bush and Tony Blair are called Hitler-loving Nazis. I can't see the resemblance myself, I just like to think of them as an axis of weevils, a war mongering bunch of war criminals who think that by killing people somehow you will convert them to the cause of democracy. If there was a hell - oh Lord if only there was a hell - they could reside there until the final rapture sent them down amongst the fiery flames.

The rest of Henderson's rant is what he would consider a measured response to changing aspects of privacy in the modern world. He quotes one time High Court chief justice Gleeson on the peculiar way people use cell phones in public, he quotes Robert McClelland on the Law Reform Commission, he quotes Commission chief David Weisbrot, and then he delivers a warning to Harry that his behavior was unwise, perhaps in the case of the Nazi uniform even an "error of judgment".

Nowhere does Henderson mention that his axis of evil chums - Blair, Bush and Howard - have been responsible for the worst unstitching of privacy in modern times, in the name of security but equally for benefit of government controlling its citizens - nor does he wonder or worry about the Rudd government's continuing enthusiasm for controlling its citizens, most notably in its desire to give the Internet in Australia a censorship regime worthy of China and certain middle Eastern countries. (Incidentally a regime already rapidly advancing in Britain with the usual incidents proving the stupidity of the exercise).

But you wouldn't expect anything more from Henderson, who is so blinkered by his desire to polish the boots of Howard that anything he says has to reflect the wisdom of his recently departed master, and never a column goes by that he doesn't brood about the lost golden days. That an independent columnist who touts himself as the executive director of the Sydney Institute should have so little intellectual independence is a continuing and remarkable phenomenon.

If only he'd grown up in the heartland, what a fine stout yeoman he might have become. Now all he can do is lecture a Prince about the dangers of journalists. Methinks I smell a rat behind that curtain, oh dull and ponderous Polonius. What would you advise?

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