POLITICAL correctness, we endlessly hear, is running amok. And yet it’s hard to imagine that 30 years ago arrant bigotry as espoused by Andrew Bolt, Pauline Hanson and Sonia Kruger would have been allowed free rein in the nation’s media.
Which suggests to me that the problem is not so much that views are being censored, as much as bigoted blowhards are increasingly being told to sit down and shut the hell up.
The problem with blowhards is that they’ve spent a lifetime thinking that their family and colleagues agree with them. The reality more often is that those unfortunate enough to share space with them have smiled, nodded, and made for the exits.
In these days of the run-amok, politically correct, horrendous people are finding out what other people actually think of them.
The transition, of course, is going to be bumpy. The longer the decades one has been tolerated, the angrier the response will be when tolerance comes to a frayed and tattered end.
The most annoying thing about the rallying cries of the bigots is their appeals to fear.
They wrap themselves in flags, talk in shrill tones about the need to “get tough”, and then act out of complete cowardice.
I’m a 40-something, white, male Australian who likes rugby and tanks. I’ve had more than my fair share of privilege in this world.
Having said that, I’ve enjoyed far less privilege than the likes of Kruger and Bolt.
But I am not afraid of refugees and migrants who want to make a better life in my country.
It’s almost sad how these very wealthy and powerful people are struck dumb with terror at the simple audacity of people other than themselves daring to live.
Speaking different languages, eating different food, worshipping slightly different gods. What is the world coming to?
We have laws to punish those who harm others in our society.
Statistics strongly indicate that they, and you and me, are in far more danger from other Australians than anyone else.
But why not, the demagogues think to themselves, whip up hatred and fear of some of the world’s least powerful and with it least-dangerous people?
I suppose they think that if it harvests votes and electoral dollars, if it sells copies of the “Herald Sun”, if it drives clicks and creates relevance, then why not pander to the worst in society at the expense of the most vulnerable?
I am far more afraid of anyone who can think like this and already wields considerable power, than I am of a cleaner, a taxi driver or a kebab vendor.
Sadly, a percentage of the Australian public are scared, confused and, in a small number of cases, downright awful.
Sadly, some people can make careers and live fat and happy by pandering to those segments of the community.
That’s no reason to let these fringe dwellers take over the public debate.
John Griffiths is the online editor of citynews.com.au