Opinion

Time for a chill pill Australia

by
June 11, 2017

A supplied image obtained Wednesday, June 7, 2017, of an image captured on CCTV of commentator Andrew Bolt being attacked by men with shaving cream and glitter in Melbourne restaurant, ll Gambero. (AAP Image/ ll Gambero) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Is it just me, or are we all getting angrier as a nation?

Earlier in the week vision leaked of the Herald Sun’s divisive columnist Andrew Bolt getting mobbed by some masked protesters who attempted to spray him with dye and glitter.

The protesters, who all looked at best guess to be much younger than the 57-year-old Andrew Bolt, seemed to be taken aback when he not only defended himself, but gave it back as good as he got.

I strongly disagree with many of Andrew Bolt’s opinions, especially on global warming and multiculturalism, but I fail to see how assaulting him would achieve anything.

The attack ended with the hilarious vision of the protesters running from the man they failed to humiliate, with their tails between their legs.

It was a very funny video because the angry and violent jerks got what they deserved, but it seems to be the latest case of an irrational anger manifesting itself in strange ways.

A few months back Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce copped the brunt of a similar attack, when a man pushed a lemon meringue pie into his face at a business breakfast.

The protester’s gripe was that Mr Joyce, who is openly gay, dares to push for marriage equality in his role at Qantas (a view I might add, which is shared by the majority of Australians).

In the words of the late Rodney King, can’t we all just get along?

As a political obsessive I used to watch on with horror at the intense division in the United States with a democratic system that seems to pit half the country against each other.

Barack Obama had to endure whispering campaigns about his birthplace and his faith by Americans who just did not seem to accept that he won the election fair and square in 2008 and 2012.

Australia seemed to be a much calmer place and, even if the political debate was fierce, we basically treated each other as humans deserving of respect, even if we did disagree with someone’s choice of political party.

We voted with passion on election day, but we all lined up for a sausage sizzle afterwards and accepted the outcome even if our party didn’t get in.

Then something seemed to have changed. Prime Minister Julia Gillard had to endure a lot of sexist nonsense that none of her male predecessors had to put up with.

The anger seemed truly bipartisan and when Tony Abbott took over he had to deal with whispering campaigns that, like Ms Gillard, had very little to do with his politics.

Sometimes I think the internet is making us angrier. Twitter is a perpetual anger machine always looking for the next controversy, and on Facebook people can tailor their news feeds to be filled with constant anger-inducing headlines to fit with their political beliefs.

Perhaps it is just easier for a lot of people to treat politics like barracking for a footy team rather than a battle of ideas.

Smashing a pie or glitter into someone’s face to humiliate them is easy, but trying, and succeeding, in changing someone’s mind is a battle most people have given up on.

Take a chill pill Australia. Life is way too short to be constantly angry.

Barclay White is a News journalist.

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