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John Passant

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June 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



No more dogf**ker ‘humour’; bust the Budget instead

Politically, I loathe Chris Kenny. He is an associate editor at the The Australian. He is the anchor for Viewpoint and Friday Night Live  on Sky News and is a regular panellist on Paul Murray Live on the same station.

In other words he is a Murdoch hack. He certainly writes like one.

I don’t watch Kenny on Sky but assume he is a mouthpiece on air for the fruitcake faction of capital now in charge of the Australian state, a faction which seems more like a Liberal Student Club than a government of adults.

After the Coalition win on 7 September Kenny’s first words were to call on the new Government to cut the ABC’s funding.

The Hamster Decides was a ‘satirical’ ABC election show done by the Chaser crew. Like its counterparts on the right it is at best undergraduate humour with occasional touches of brilliance.

Here is how David Marr in the Guardian describes their Chris Kenny dog f**ker skit:

Ten minutes into that melee Chas Licciardello gave the “boring pundit” Chris Kenny a serve: “I enjoyed the way he took almost an hour after Tony Abbott’s victory speech before he started demanding cuts to the ABC.” And there was Kenny on the screen with urgent advice for the new government: “They need to actually start to question the $1.1 billion they throw to the ABC for instance…”

Andrew Hansen agreed: “They’ve just got to cut ABC funding. This is a network that broadcasts images of Chris Kenny strangling a dog while having sex with it.” There were better jokes and better laughs that night but the studio audience let out a happy roar when Kenny’s head appeared crudely pasted on a man with his pants down mounting a Labradoodle. A sign said: “Chris ‘Dog Fucker’ Kenny”.

“Disgusting,” said Licciardello. “Very childish,” added Hansen. “I mean they have got to be cut, they’ve got to be cut.”

The Chaser saw it as a joke against the ABC as much as Kenny, a self-defeating joke about an outfit so wasteful and silly it would lash out like this against one of its most relentless critics. Licciardello explained to Guardian Australia: “It was meant to be about poking the bear in the most over-the-top, ill-advised way.”

Kenny sued for defamation and wanted damages of $90,000. The ABC recently settled the case for a reported $35,000 and a second even more grovelling apology read on air.

My guess is that the ABC figured that Kenny had about a 40% chance of winning his case ($35000/$90000) and that the money and the apology was well worth it to avoid a damaging ongoing case with possible judicial endorsement of Kenny’s argument, plus a legal bill running into the hundreds of thousands.

On top of that, the ABC faced and continues to face a government keen to cut its funding. Its critics both in and outside government incorrectly describe it as biased to the left. In fact Luke Mansillo in the Guardian argues that the facts actually don’t show this at all. What they show is evenhandedness, that is that the two parties of neoliberalism received much the same coverage. Rather than comparing left hand and right hand what we got was the rotating palm and back of the right hand.

In light of all this and the political forces against the ABC it makes sense to me for them to cut and run.

Many on the soft left have been outraged that Kenny sued and that the ABC ‘capitulated’. Well, first it was dumb politics to give the slashers and burners a justification to slash and burn. Let’s not put too fine a point on it. The dog f**ker episode was a huge serving of dog shit.

However there is something even more important in this than the political incompetence of the Chaser gang and the ABC. It is the ongoing degeneration of the reformist left.

Thirty years of compassionate (sarcasm alert) neoliberalism from Labor have rendered its politicians, their elite cheer squad and humourists shadows of their former selves or earlier incarnations.

The situation is so bad that billionaire mining MP Clive Palmer looks leftwing compared to the cabal of Labor marketeers and their apologists and hangers-on. According to the Guardian Palmer told reporters in Canberra:

“If any assets are sold between now and the next election, and we are forming part of the Queensland government, we will immediately resume them without compensation.”

“So it’s a matter of buyer beware; we’re not going to see our assets sold off to the highest bidder.”

This is a strategy I have urged on Labor and the Greens on this blog and in one or maybe two of my regular Tuesday interviews with Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp. Such a declaration would immediately put doubt into the minds of potential buyers. Labor won’t do it because it too is a party of privatisation. It was the Hawke and Keating governments which began the first Commonwealth asset sell-offs in Australia.

What the Chaser dogf**ker skit expresses is a sense of hopelessness in the neoliberal left. Rather than challenging the politics of Abbott and co, the reformist left has retreated into abuse as a form of politics.

They can’t attack Abbott’s politics, apart from generalities about equality. Even then Labor’s policies of co-opting the trade union bureaucracy to shift more wealth from labour to capital shows that they in fact have in the past been more successful in creating more inequality in Australia as part of that wealth shift than the Coalition could get away with.

By doing that they make the arguments of the Conservatives acceptable. We end up with a rotating government of the two brands of neoliberalism and as we see now that has caused a splintering of support away from the two main parties.

In the circumstances of reformism’s despair and degeneration, abuse becomes a substitute for politics. The Chaser and the rest of the reformist left have no vision to resist Abbott and his apparatchiks. If Chaser did then it might be able to satirise the government and the Labor Party. It can’t because it, like Labor today, was spawned in the same neoliberal swamp as the Liberal politicians.

Those on the soft left who defend this childish and puerile dogf**ker abuse would be the first to be outraged at images on the ABC of Julia Gillard in some sort of sexual tryst with a dog. That is because their terrain is abuse and neoliberalism, not politics that fight the marketeers of both major parties.

Of course Gillard wouldn’t be such a target – she isn’t openly about cutting the ABC; she is one of the soft left; she is one of them.

Is there an alternative?

Given the complete degeneration of the Labor Party and the parliamentary cretinism of the Greens, it should come as no surprise that groups on the revolutionary left like Socialist Alternative are playing a part and winning some sort of audience in the student and other protests against the bosses’ Budget.

To reclaim humour and satire the left – rank and file unionists, left wing Labor members fed up with their party, socialists and radicalising elements in society like some students need to seriously resist the Budget.

To win laughter back for our side we on the left need to help organise the fight, the fight, the fight against the neoliberalism of both parties which renders so many on the soft left, in their passivity, humourless and without hope.

Thursday 12 June will be a key day for that. It is when the Victorian Trades hall Union rally to bust the Budget will be held in Melbourne and when Unions NSW will hold a delegates meeting to determine union responses to the Budget. Stop work to stop the Budget. That’s the way to wipe the smile from the faces of the one percent.



Pingback from No more of dogf**ker ‘humour’; bust the Budget instead | OzHouse
Time June 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm

[…] Jun 09 2014 by admin […]

Comment from paul walter
Time June 9, 2014 at 11:16 pm

I’ve found this interesting after having watched Media Watch on the same subject an hour or so ago.

Obviously I feel both sorry for the Chaser people for their lack of political sophistication, their ignorance of their own enculturalisation and the way world is set up (a source of much debate on QA tonight).

But I honor them that they should be vexed by the contradictions their keen intelligences warn them exist despite their socialisation, and there is little doubt that the skit involving Kenny follows a logical response to someone like Kenny, to the contradiction of an individual upheld as truthteller who can only tells lies, probably so many that he would no longer recognise the truth if he fell over it. Kenny KNOWS he is a liar, we know it, the Chasers know it.. what else, inevitably COULD he be but a dog fucker, a prostituter of himself for lies??

What else could they say, if they were to remain true to themselves, and the truth, in a globalised, neolib world?

MW pointed out that the incident had been mishandled by Mark Scott.
It need never have became an issue if Kenny had simply been offered an apology on the clumsy accusation that he is a dog fucker,which is an absurb accusation at face value, taken out of context.
Were Scott’s etc errors accidental or deliberate, as something that would give the right an excuse to further damage the ABC, if its possible, or something merely exploited by the right..probably the latter, until you consider that Scott is also trying to work yet more conservative current affairs at an ABC where serious news and current affairs is already a joke?

Ok, go for the stuff up.

So,Idont know if accusing the softleft of being inconsistent is really good enough . The context involves a woman, a symbol for reform rather than reaction (whatever the reality) as against a fascist lying dog only trying to drag down reform, let alone some thing more profound.
The subtext is that these people also loath the wastage and irrationality of late capitalism and are trying to identify and bell enemy cats during what is a long hard struggle shared by all the left. Kenny is not a straight jacketed politician but an individual who consciously tries to harm, and there is, per se, a difference.

Comment from John
Time June 10, 2014 at 8:37 am

Obviously my argument hasn’t won you over Paul. Kenny isn’t a fascist. He isn’t a dog. He isn’t a dogf**ker. The whole response of the soft left is overhyped abusive nonsense that actually hinders our ability to recognise the enemy and how to resist their Budget attacks. Kenny isn’t a liar. He tells the truth – the truth his class sees. I do wish we dumped the masturbatory abuse and, instead of pleasuring ourselves in an individual act of self-medication to temporarily ward off the harsh and powerful forces arraigned against us, joined with others in an orgy of revolt.

Comment from Kay
Time June 10, 2014 at 9:42 am


I applaud your stand against the childish and self-defeating skit by the very unfunny (in my view) Chaser crew. And I applaud your comments in support of Chris Kenny (even though you admit you “loathe” him.

Personally – I have never been aware of having ever seen Chris Kenny on TV – maybe because I only have free-to-air TV? He may be an avowed and unashamed right-winger. But that’s OK – he is not funded by the public purse, and therefore not bound by any requirement to be ‘balanced’ in his commentary. I do read The Australian, and am aware that, at the moment, it is fairly right wing in its articles, although, of course, it also includes more left wing opinion pieces. I would imagine that anyone watching Fox would view it in the same context – and judge its news broadcasts accordingly.

I do feel strongly against any tendency to denigrate and insult anyone who has a view different from one’s own. As you say, John, “Kenny isn’t a liar. He tells the truth – the truth his class sees.” That comment applies to most people – even you and me. After all, is there such a thing as “truth” – “truth” that is unaffected by one’s own biases?? All issues can be viewed from different perspectives and outcomes – hence the very wide diversity of views, even within one country. It is all a matter of one’s values, beliefs, aspirations and experiences. I defy anyone to be able to prove that his/her view of the world is the one and only “truth”. The world is grey, not black and white.

With regard to the ABC and Kenny’s desire to see its funding cut, I would imagine his view may be influenced by the alleged ‘dirty work at the crossroads’ decision by Labor to grant the Asian broadcasting rights to the ABC, instead of to Fox. If you have ever seen the ABC’s Asian broadcasts, you would agree how pathetic they are. I mean, ‘Home and Away’ ad nauseam etc.??? More of an embarrassment, really.

Comment from paul walter
Time June 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

No, John has missed the point completely with my comment…and Kay.

Yes, Virginia, there IS a class war, the other side don’t care how they accomplish their ends and the rest must defend themselves either physically or symbolically (the Chaser issue is fought symbolically, to expose neolib memes employed for manufacture of consent) and people like the Chaser crew do well to confront the system at a relatively real rather than an abstracted theoretical level.

Tell you what, you can have Chris Kenny, for honesty and guts I’ll take the chasers and that way we are both happy.. but really, the comment from Kay that, “Kenny isn’t a liar, he tells the truth as his class sees it”, is a tremendously naive comment when we consider the oligarchic mind set, from the spiteful budget locally to under-reported mayhem in the Developing World.

I spot a Funnel web on my bed, I don’t reach over and offer it a cute rub under the chin, I flick it off and probably clobber it too, out of an instinct for self -preservation.

Comment from John
Time June 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Paul, of course someone like Chris Kenny is the class enemy. I am not for embracing him but for fighting his ideas and actions, and dogf**ker skits don’t do that. They empower him, not us.

Comment from Kay
Time June 11, 2014 at 8:16 am


Re: “Kenny isn’t a liar, he tells the truth as his class sees it”. You attribute this comment to me, but actually I was quoting John’s comment. I agree with John’s comment (as I point out), but please get your facts right, especially as you accuse me of making a “tremendously naive comment”.

I agree with John – disgusting, hateful, very unfunny skits only empower people like Chris Kenny (with whom you disagree). Unless you can convince people with the power and logic of a well-articulated argument, you will never prevail. Having said that, I do believe that intelligent humour can help point out certain hypocritical aspects of policies with which you disagree, but this skit was not funny – it was just disgusting and completely without basis, thus perfectly playing into Chis Kenny’s hands. Intelligence, not hatred, will win the argument.

Comment from paul walter
Time June 11, 2014 at 5:02 pm

To quote an old saying, “its an honest program”.

I ought to admit that Chaser has lost much of its early crispness, gone a bit stale and become labored and been crass at times.

I really feel that the Chaser people HAVE tried to raise awareness on current affairs, but the real problem has been the change in the ABC over the last decade, that leaves both the Chaser team, satire in general, also broadsheet journalism anomalous and uncomfortable within the new tabloid, anti information ABC format.

Chaser is only symptomatic of a deeper malaise, better illustrated in the example of the desolate missed opportunity that is the news channel at ABC.

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