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Sorting it out ourselves

By Mark Christensen - posted Thursday, 16 August 2012

Sports broadcaster Francis Leach, appearing on ABC's Offsiders on Sunday, was quick to jump on Barrie Cassidy for suggesting that perhaps St Kilda's Stephen Milne had been treated harshly for his recent on-field gay taunt. Such stupidity, he said, must be stamped out, immediately.

This uncritical response, now a widespread mantra, is indicative of why this country is losing its way.

We've forgotten, and are now too frightened to recall, that what is of ultimate value, in terms of being Australian, cannot ever be an entitlement. The concept of a fair go is only meaningful if and when it's earned through the give-and-take of social interaction. It can't be enshrined in legislation nor mandated by a political, legal or sporting institution, however well intentioned, however much its constituents want it to be a true.


Hence our admirable tradition of shit stirring.

Yes, having a crack at someone can come from a dark, malicious place. But it can also be a subtle way to corroborate the ethereal nature of what truly matters in life. Words can't hurt because they cannot properly define who we are. Running off to the authorities only confirms you've failed this crucial test.

Harry O'Brien appears to get this, which is why the Collingwood star was unperturbed by the incident, telling officials he wasn't offended and that "what happens on the field will stay on the field".

But, no, things can't be left there. It has to be rendered dramatic. Self-important jobs and policies must be justified. Brett Clothier, owner of the Orwellian title of AFL integrity officer, launched an investigation after field umpire Dean Margetts lodged a report.

St Kilda, no doubt under pressure from the establishment and other muddled-headed group-thinkers like Leach, fined Milne $3000 and demanded an apology. The inculcation and self-congratulations continued.

"It simply is not acceptable, even in the heat of battle, for AFL players to use homophobic insults on the football field,'' said Adrian Anderson, AFL football operations manager. "The St Kilda Football Club is to be commended for taking this action.''


The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby weighed in, promising to write to Mr Control Freak himself, Andrew Demetriou, encouraging the AFL to get behind its upcoming "No To Homophobia" campaign.

Here's a novel idea: How about a campaign for the truth?

Our national discourse has been hijacked by judgemental hacks convinced all that is great about Australia - or at least was - can be regenerated by enforcing more laws, better codes of conduct and tougher sanctions. And anyone who disagrees is un-Australian, cold-hearted and chauvinistic.

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About the Author

Mark is a social and political commentator, with a background in economics. He also has an abiding interest in philosophy and theology, and is trying to write a book on the nature of reality. He blogs here.

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