Alan Jones, beheading and respectable opinion
Two weeks ago Alan Jones, 2GB shock jock and all-round right-wing scumbag, was in the front lines baying for the blood of Muslim protesters for their offensive placards writes Dian Fieldes in Socialist Alternative.
Today he is the focus of public outrage over offensive comments of his own. The comments came at a $100+ per head Liberal Party fundraising dinner put on by the Sydney University Liberal Club. Jones was therefore among friends on Saturday 22 September when he said of Julia Gillard’s father: “The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame” because his daughter “told lies every time she stood for parliament.”
Given the racist, anti-working class, misogynist utterances for which Jones is famous, this offensive, insensitive comment hardly seems anything special for him. Perhaps it’s a sign of what passes for political commentary these days that journalists find a departure from what was supposedly “the once proudly courteous party of Sir Robert Menzies” to be more of a problem than calling for the death of Julia Gillard.
But with Alan Jones there’s always more than enough offensiveness and incitement to violence to go around. At the same Liberal Party event he also signed a jacket made out of a chaff bag – a nod to his comment last year that Julia Gillard should be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea: “The woman is off her tree – and quite frankly they should shove her and Bob Brown in a chaff bag and take them out as far to sea as they can – and tell her to swim home”. This was one of five times that Jones suggested this method of disposal for the Prime Minister in 2011. It wasn’t his only option for bringing about her death. In response to a listener’s criticism of Gillard, Jones replied “Yeah, that’s it. Bring back the guillotine”.
Yes, Jones called for the PM to be beheaded. The police didn’t carry out dawn raids or turn up to the studio with dogs and capsicum spray. Instead, when complaints were made about Jones’s comments, the toothless Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) exonerated him.
A couple of placards about beheading that were held at the Sydney Muslim protest on 15 September did not get the same mild reception. Jones was a leading figure in the racist chorus that followed. On 27 September, his breakfast show daily poll asked if Australia was “too soft” in its treatment of “militant minorities”, by which he meant Muslims. Included in the argument to answer “yes” to this question was a damning condemnation of “appalling anti-Australian, anti-social behaviour”.
No voices of respectable opinion took on this callous oaf who doesn’t know not to speak ill of the dead. Why? Because far from being the “renegade” he is now painted as, Jones is actually part of Australia’s ruling establishment. The government and the opposition often agree with his outrageous opinions. At the very least think them part of the mainstream debate. Five years ago Jones, in the lead-up to the Cronulla riot, said: “This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day …”
This is the sort of person the Liberal Party has at its fundraisers, and that major corporations have lined up to sponsor. They like being associated with Alan Jones. This is not surprising given the state and the media’s frenzied promotion of Western stereotypes of Islam as being about fanaticism, violence, misogyny and so on. This was perfectly illustrated in the Sydney Morning Herald editorial on 22 September. Entitled “Time to spell out immigrant responsibilities”, it included such gems as “Australian leaders need to be firmer in articulating exactly what are Australian values…Certain cultures do not believe in the equality of women, for example”. Which brings us back to Alan Jones.
His audience of wealthy layabouts at the Liberal Party fundraiser found none of what he said outrageous at the time. There was no heckling, no storming out of the event, nothing except a lot of retrospective deafness or memory loss from people who could no longer recall any of it happening at all. The original @SydneyUniLibs tweeted response to Jones’s speech (subsequently removed) was “Brilliant speech by Alan Jones last night. It’s no wonder he is the nation’s most influential broadcaster”. And within hours of Jones’s apology, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz was reassuring him (and presumably the rest of us) that Jones would still be welcome to front future Liberal Party events. Abetz even praised Jones’s prompt apology, only eight days after making the comments – “Alan Jones was absolutely right to apologise as soon as he was reminded of what he said” [emphasis added].
No-one reading this will be sad to see the back of Alan Jones. To further fuel this sentiment, let me leave you with his response to the shitstorm that has now descended. Jones is bleating about attempts “to silence or punish” people like himself who have criticisms of bad government. Jones somewhat undercut this self-pitying argument by making it not on a placard but on the opinion page of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph – one of the most widely read papers in the country.