...or, The unavoidable Zaky Mallah comment:
Somebody should probably tell Tony Abbott or his handlers about the Streisand Effect, which has become the name for unintentionally publicising something by trying to suppress it.
I would have thought that after two and a half weeks, there would be nothing left to say about the Abbott government’s ridiculous overreaction to the appearance of Zaky Mallah on Q and A. Yet here we are.
I can confidently say I would never have heard of him if it weren’t for the government’s confected outrage because for once, I didn’t even watch the program. I admit that Q and A is my favourite weekly rage-watch, but two Mondays ago, I was just too tired and too sick of derp to be bothered with it. Despite that, I now know his name, as does everyone else in the country. Can you name anyone else who has asked a question from the Q and A audience in the last seven years? Exactly!
I’m not here to say anything about the appearance. I didn’t even see it. As objectionable as his views may be, I thought this government supported free speech and indeed, even defended the right to be a bigot. Evidently, you need to be the right kind of bigot.
The prime minister’s “Whose side are you on?” comment was enough to ensure that the segment of the program in question would be seen and heard by millions more than the political tragics who make up the bulk of the Q and A audience. It was also revealed he regards the program as a “lefty lynch mob” which is a petulant attitude towards the notion of government being held to account. Just as the whole issue was beginning to die down, he stoked it again by ordering all government frontbenchers to boycott the program - because nothing gets your point across like not talking to people.
At this point, you have to wonder about the prime minister’s capacity for the job. At a time when he’s whipping up fear about terrorism, what hope has he of confronting an actual threat if he throws a three week (and counting) tantrum over a nasty person being on the tele for five minutes? Does he really have, to use his Liberal predecessor and mentor’s term, the ticker?
Then, just when you think the government couldn’t be a bigger bunch of crybabies, today they went meta. The ABC blinked two weeks ago and announced a review of the program. One of those chosen to lead the review, Ray Martin (and we will avoid any cheap shots about a former host of A Current Affair reviewing journalistic ethics), appearing on the Sunrise program (ditto) said that the government boycott of Q and A was silly. And rather than let it go, two government senators are now suggesting that Martin should step down from the review. What do they want next, a review into the review?
The coalition has made a lot of noise about being an adult government but its reaction to the merest hint of criticism or not being able to completely control the flow of information has been utterly childish. If it’s to be taken seriously on anything, this government needs to quit being such a bunch of bloody sooks.