Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Lowering the tone - Alan Jones' "apology"

I've got hay fever that is worse than the flu.  My head is blocked up and I have to turn the television right up to hear it.  None of that has stopped me hearing Alan Jones' statement following his latest inappropriate attacks on the Prime Minister and her father.  

One snippet particularly caught my attention.  Jones said: "Those people who have complained about what I said about the Prime Minister and the language I used are using vile language in their comments about me. That apparently is OK."  (You can read a report on the whole thing here.)  Jones made this statement

I don't listen to Alan Jones' program.  I live in Melbourne and he doesn't broadcast here.  If I lived in Sydney, I know that I wouldn't tune in.  But I do know that lots of people do.  As a result, as much as I may rail against someone like Jones, he is actually a powerful thought leader in a significant sector of the community.

The comment I've quoted above shows that Jones doesn't understand this.  It is him - and other broadcasters like him - who have changed the tone of public discourse.  His abusive tirades mean that vile, vitriolic attacks are the norm these days.  He has created the environment himself and lowered the benchmark of acceptability.

I know that the shock-jocks are all about inflaming and arousing.  Luke warm isn't part of their repertoire.  I'd prefer a more intelligent, thoughtful and moderate discussion.  (Moderate in temperature.)  It is a bit much that one of the biggest bullies there is, is now pouting because his own bile has been put on a plate and set down in front of him.  

I deliberately use the term "bully".  Jones' latest comments were attributing motivation to our Prime Minister's dead father.  Only a bully throws a punch at someone they know can not retaliate.

I think we're better than this.  I hope we're better than this.  I'd love to have the mainstream media focussed on thoughtful and intelligent discussion and political commentary.  Until then, people like Alan Jones set the tone of public discourse in Australia.  It's great to see people taking a stand against this violent and bullying approach by pressuring advertisers.  It will be interesting to see whether money really does talk.  I think there will be a flurry and then everything will go back to the way it was.  

I'd love to be surprised.

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