Less Outrageous, But #QandA Still Doesn’t Get It

SCANDALISED YET DEFIANT after its outrageous disregard for social and editorial standards last week, the ABC’s #QandA roared back onto screens across the country last night; after a week in which the broadcaster has come under heavy criticism for providing a platform for a convicted criminal, terror suspect, and advocate of the pack-rape of female journalists on national television, it remains stoutly but implausibly insistent it did no wrong.

First things first: for those who’ve been under a rock somewhere, my midweek article — a follow-up to the disgusting farce perpetrated by #QandA last Monday — can be accessed here, and this piece also provides a link back to an earlier piece which features a link to that episode.

Those who did not see last night’s follow-up episode of #QandA can watch it here.

And for a slightly different perspective, I am also including a link to this article today from conservative journalist (and former ABC board member) Janet Albrechtsen, which paints an accurate picture of the ingrained left-wing bias of the national broadcaster and a compelling portrait of its systemic refusal to meet its obligations in terms of political balance and impartiality.

Senior Liberal Party figures Nick Cater and MP Alan Tudge drew the ire of the broad Left yesterday for refusing to appear on #QandA last night, and I made the point during the show on Twitter that a “line in the sand” drawn by Liberal Party figures refusing to appear is understandable, given the almost explicit anti-Liberal, anti-Abbott government agenda this programme — and by extension, the publicly funded broadcaster itself — is wont to pursue.

As we argued during the week and as Albrechtsen points out, there is no “free speech” defence to what transpired last Monday night, and whilst ABC figures from #QandA host Tony Jones down were yesterday claiming that had they known the criminal they featured, Zaky Mallah, had also championed the gang rape of journalists Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi on national television they would never have invited him to appear, the claim is as hollow as it is disingenuous.

For one thing, even without the gang rape incitement, Mallah still represented an unsuitable person to whom to  provide a platform of national airtime at public expense; and for another — as last-minute #QandA panel member Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of The Australian, noted — there is no “free speech” defence when Mallah’s appearance was a deliberately contrived “gotcha” ambush against a government MP, and that much at least was established during the week as well.

The final word on Mallah’s suitability to appear on a national programme like #QandA, ironically enough,  came from Mallah himself; a heavy user of social media to spread his opinions, I noticed last night he had tweeted that Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was “society’s cum stain (sic)” for having the temerity to stand up to him last week and suggest he should be thrown out of the country.

There is a stain at the centre of these discussions, to be sure. But it is not Steve Ciobo.

I think the ABC and its key personnel know they overstepped the mark — badly — last week, and I equally think they couldn’t give a shit about it; the whole point of its diatribes about “free” speech to justify its actions is to send the message that the ABC will say and do whatever it likes — and if that means demonising the Australian Right in order to advance the interests and positions of the Left, then so be it.

After all, host Tony Jones’ cheery declaration at the start of last night’s episode that over time, #QandA would leave no strand of opinion out of the programme is disingenuous: “over time” gives ABC staff more than enough scope to manipulate and abuse its execution of that promise.

Does a solo #QandA performance by, say, Joe Hockey after a federal budget count as “coverage” of conservatism or as a sop to the Liberal Party? If it does, that frees up more “space” at other times for stacked panels of pinkos taking aim at everything they despise.

To that end, conservatives are too often included on #QandA as either “tick-a-box” token inclusions (so the ABC can claim not to have left the Right out, even if the discussion has been fixed and sabotaged beforehand) or as targets for abuse, ridicule, humiliation, or downright bullying.

Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was regularly invited onto #QandA, only to face vicious onslaught from her fellow panelists — Jones included. NSW conservative Christian MP Fred Nile was recently invited onto a “special” #QandA show on marriage where he was outnumbered five to one. There have been plenty of other examples.

The voice of reason last night belonged to Kelly, who — graciously, patiently and eloquently — made the case that the ABC had engaged in an endeavour last week to ambush Ciobo in pursuit of a “gotcha” moment with the specific objective of embarrassing the Abbott government, and that in so doing, it provided a national platform for an individual whose presence on any ABC production is and was unjustifiable.

The real message of the ABC’s “contrition” came from the persistence of panellists to defend Mallah; one even suggested getting him media training so he would be more “media savvy” in future.

Spare us!

But none of the panellists from the Left were having a bar of Kelly’s admonition; and his fellow last-minute ring-in replacement — Human Rights commissioner Tim Wilson — probably delivered the line of the night, bluntly telling Jones that he and his colleagues should have been ashamed of themselves over last week’s effort.

But defiant to the end, the insistence that editorial independence and a right to free speech contrived to dictate no fault on the ABC’s part for including Mallah last week tells the story; these people are not sorry, and the apologies they have offered should be sneered at with the same contempt with which the ABC itself dismisses anyone who disagrees with it.

The ABC simply doesn’t get it, and the fact anyone from the national broadcaster is defending last week’s episode at all proves the point: in its own world view the ABC is above criticism, beyond reproach and immune to the consequences of its actions, and I would go so far as to suggest that those responsible for #QandA really don’t care for the damage they have done to the ABC’s reputation, and to political discourse in Australia more generally.

Those who doubt this contention need look no further than the fig leaf Jones tried to appropriate as an excuse for Mallah’s presence at all: as I pointed out at the outset, he claimed that had ABC types known of Mallah’s advocacy for the gang rape of Devine and Panahi on breakfast television, then Mallah would not have been allowed into the audience or onto the ABC’s premises at Ultimo in Sydney.

In the final analysis, that the ABC has used feigned ignorance of the threat of pack rape against prominent female identities as its excuse for allowing last week’s outrage to happen is a damning indictment on those people at the national broadcaster who were involved.

Distilled to the essence, it is disgraceful that a public broadcaster would use something as tawdry to rationalise away its culpability.

Last night’s episode might have been nowhere near as bad as the one that preceded it, but the events of the past week — culminating in last night’s broadcast — show the ABC to not only stand behind its inappropriate actions last week, but that it offers no real apology or contrition for them at all.

At a cost of $1.1 billion dollars to the taxpayer each year, it is not a situation that can be permitted to continue, and the lawless ABC needs to be held rigorously to account.


Their ABC: No Free Speech Defence Exists For #QandA Outrage

WITH INQUIRIES afoot into Monday’s despicable episode of #QandA and the furore over giving airtime to a violent thug and gang rape advocate refusing to abate, apologists from ABC Managing Director Mark Scott down have sought to defend the show based on free speech. No “right” to free speech features taxpayer-funded airtime for criminals. If it did, questions of bias and decency are separate issues Scott’s “defence” fails to address.

In the wake of the reprehensible episode of #QandA broadcast on Monday night — an outrage unapologetically compounded as the ABC repeated the broadcast, unedited, on Wednesday — the most disgusting (but not unexpected) aspect of the saga to date has been the parade of various left-wing sympathisers in the press and elsewhere lining up to defend “their ABC” on the basis that convicted criminal, gang rape advocate and former accused terrorist Zaky Mallah was not only entitled to appear on the programme, but to proclaim that the fact he did was evidence of free speech at work and of the ABC’s fine record in empowering the powerless, and of giving them a voice.

What absolute bullshit.

At best, those who have been trotted out to fly the flag on the ABC’s behalf — from its Managing Director Mark Scott down — have spoken of freedom of speech without any appropriate sense of context for it; at worst, this was an unforgivable exercise in providing a national platform for a dangerous criminal that was contrived to either poke the hated Abbott government in the collective eye, or to publicly signal (yet again) the ABC’s solidarity with elements obsessed with undermining the national interest and bald in their hatred of our society.

In Scott’s case, he has also confused the difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster” and exhibited an intolerable ignorance of what is acceptable for broadcast by a media outlet entirely funded by taxpayer money.

The merit or otherwise of providing access to a vehicle for mass broadcast to a known terrorist sympathiser and would-be murderer of law enforcement officers has, coincidentally, been exposed with deadly effect tonight, as news of yet another murder attributed to Islamic State insurgents — this time in Grenoble in France — filters out of Europe, and given Mallah’s past support for radical Islamic terrorism and his intended travel to Syria to join jihadis (to “observe” them, he claims), those who now defend the wisdom of putting Mallah in front of a national audience of some 1,000,000 viewers should take a hard look at themselves.

Anybody who pays even the most cursory attention to the news of the world knows that Islamic terrorist groups maintain worldwide communication networks, and what happens in one location can well influence what happens in another. The attention the ABC has openly drawn to a known sympathiser of these groups could have sent a signal to allied cells in France.

On Monday, Islamic State begins a week of high-profile controversial publicity in Australia, aided and abetted by the national broadcaster; on Friday, it perpetuates its dominance of news media worldwide by murdering someone in France in the name of its cause. This is not a long bow to draw. The ABC is potentially very heavily culpable for its role in the sequence of events, however innocuous it proclaims its motives on Monday were.

But let’s come back to #QandA in its domestic context, for this is the main focus of my article tonight.

When the debate over ultimately unsuccessful attempts to modify S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act began, the Left in this country was apoplectic with fury over remarks by Attorney-General George Brandis to the effect that free speech meant people have the right to be bigots, whilst others have the right to ridicule, ignore, or rebut them; in the most strictly literal sense he was right, of course, but it wasn’t the first time that the astonishingly intelligent Brandis miscommunicated his message in such a ham-fisted fashion as to render the entire debate pointless.

But if Brandis had instead issued forth an assertion that people should have the right to mouth off like murderous lunatics, to threaten members of Parliament, and to advocate the pack-rape of female journalists on national TV, would the Left have been any less enraged or strident in its denunciation? Of course not.

Yet that formulation, in effect, is precisely what those who now seek to defend Monday night’s episode of #QandA are in fact defending.

Not a syllable has been uttered publicly by any prominent mouthpiece from the Left to denounce Mallah over the tweet he posted in January — republished and widely circulated this week — in which he argued conservative commentators Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi should be gang-raped on national television on the Seven network’s Sunrise programme, and for all the bluster about “misogyny” that has seeped from the Left ever since it decided playing the gender card might cut Julia Gillard some slack and divert voters’ attention from the woefully inept government she presided over, it is a neat little illustration of just how hypocritical the Left is when it comes to “values.”

My bet is that if it had been two women from the Left, rather than female identities from the Right, there would have been no end of condemnation from Labor and the Greens instead of the silence they have met the matter with.

And only a fool claims that putting a known terrorist sympathiser, who has threatened to kill ASIO officers, on a national television show is a shining example of free speech in action, or defends such an idiocy after the event. But again, as far as the apologists from the Left are concerned, there’s no problem with having Mallah beamed into hundreds of thousands of living rooms across Australia.

If Mallah is to enjoy the right to freely peddle his odious views, let him do it at the pub (where he could have the shit beaten out of him for insulting the women present) or in his social media accounts, where people can report him for God-knows-what, block him, or simply ignore him.

Someone like Mallah neither warrants nor deserves a spot on a national forum to air such antisocial and offensive viewpoints.

Labor “leader” and seemingly incorrigible dickhead Bill Shorten has, as usual, sought to have his cake and eat it too, using the storm that has erupted over #QandA to claim the ABC is “not a propaganda arm of the government” but — surprise, surprise — nonetheless “condemning” the ABC for having Mallah on the show in the first place.

Really, any utterance from Shorten is best ignored.

But the sobering facts that have emerged during the week are that ABC staff admitted they knew of Mallah’s background and selected him to ask an audience question (or even be in the #QandA audience at all) anyway; the show’s producers reviewed and helped draft the question he asked, and it is reasonable to infer they would have also had a fair idea of which direction discussion on the show would take immediately thereafter; production staff declined to provide a discretionary but standard briefing to the Coalition MP who got into an altercation with Mallah, Steve Ciobo, which inevitably suggests the intended effect was to ambush Ciobo; and just to make sure Mallah attended at all, and played the part carefully planned out for him, the ABC saw to it that he was transported from his base in western Sydney to the ABC studio in Ultimo and back again at no cost.

I’m sorry, but which aspect of any of this speaks to an inherent “right” to free speech on Mallah’s part? The whole thing was a planned stunt.

Scott is right that there is a difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster;” a “state broadcaster” spews ruling party propaganda out of every conceivable media orifice (TV, radio, online) whereas the ABC’s purpose, it seems, is to spew the propaganda of the government’s opponents. It’s a very straightforward arrangement.

Nobody is asking the ABC to become some mouthpiece for conservative politics or its practitioners.

But some balance — and the abandonment of partisanship altogether — would befit a public broadcaster whose role, funded by the taxpayer, is not to engage in ideological crusades and partisan brainwashing.

It’s one thing to put what in essence is a political propaganda forum on television every week and for the Left and the Right to argue about its (indisputable) bias. But Monday’s episode was something else altogether, and enough is enough.

Piers Akerman has published an excellent piece in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that runs as a complement to the points I have made this evening. I urge readers to take the time to peruse it, for this is one occasion when the Left are seeking to defend the indefensible, and it is time those who preside over the farce that is #QandA — at the expense of the taxpayer, just to labour the point — are held to account.

The simple fact is the ABC had no right putting a piece of shit like Mallah over the national airwaves in the first place, reaching a million viewers, much less trying to justify itself after the event as encouraging “diversity” of opinion and “free” speech.

Yet again, #QandA has gone far too far in offending the limits of fairness and decency in the drivel it purports to facilitate as fearless debate.

And to put not too fine a point on it, I reiterate that I think it should be axed: for a format that promises so much, this show has been abused as a propaganda tool one time too many, and if it returns to the air next week,* it will only be because saner and wiser heads have not yet managed to prevail.

*AND ANOTHER THING: As readers would expect, my strident criticism of #QandA has also been extensive on Twitter; to this end, I suggested yesterday that the program canvass mainstream issues rather than the standard diet of indigenous issues, climate change, gay marriage, “disadvantage,” and other matters peripheral to sound governance that it is already promoting in relation to next Monday night.

I received a curt response from someone monitoring the #QandA feed inviting me to submit a video question on “one of these mainstream issues” and I have indicated that over the weekend, I will record and send them exactly that.

Stay tuned. In the highly unlikely event they use the question I am going to send them — if #QandA even proceeds next week, that is — I will let readers know how things went.

But I won’t hold my breath. Neither should you.

Their ABC: Shameful #QandA Farce Deserves To Be Axed

IT MAY BE INDELICATE to be so blunt, given that I am — once again — ripping into a sinecure of the Left that the Left itself tries to protect by painting the ABC as a favourite whipping post for conservatives across the country; but the nihilistic farce of “Adventures in Democracy” that is the #QandA programme is a national disgrace. The public broadcaster has no moral or intellectual right to propagate its insidious agenda. #QandA should be axed.

At first, it’s amusing, because no rational person can believe other rational people could possibly spout such drivel.

But if you watch the ABC’s #QandA programme often enough, and for long enough, it becomes all too clear that the villains in this particular drama are in deadly earnest: their pronouncements, forged on the lunatic Left and utterly divorced from any meaningful basis in reality, are enacted in a heavily biased forum and served up by the taxpayer-funded broadcaster as factual content.

(And if you don’t believe the ABC categorises #QandA as “factual” rather than “entertainment,” click here).

Readers know that I watch #QandA religiously every week; not because I agree with it, but because it’s a useful window on the matters presently occupying the thought leaders of the Left, although the longer you watch it the angrier it should make you — unless, of course, you’re one of the slavering left-wing sycophants who finds common ground with a stacked panel of imbeciles, most of whom have their heads wedged so far up their own backsides that they mistake the reverse view of their tonsils for reality.

Since the presentation of yet more mindless twaddle on Monday night — in essence, one hour of attempts to rationalise away the unbridled outrages of Islamic State, the very real and heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Australia, and a stultifying attempt to assert the case that Muslims have absolutely nothing to do with either — I have been stewing, I will confess, and getting very angry that yet more of this bullshit is being funded and disseminated from the taxes paid by ordinary and hard-working Australians.

For those who missed the latest episode of #QandA, knock yourselves out: you can view it here.

This is now the fourth time I have been moved to tear into #QandA in this column in as many weeks, and it’s something I am acutely conscious of; the purpose of The Red And The Blue is not to simply belt the can over a narrow set of issues at every opportunity, but to comment on as broad a selection of political matters as possible, and in a way that enables those who don’t share the highly detailed and intricate love of politics that I do to participate in discussion on rather less complicated ground.

Four articles on one TV show in four weeks tells me there’s a problem.

And so I want to share an article appearing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today; it’s by one of my favourite conservative commentators, Miranda Devine, and I think Miranda’s perspective — approached from a different angle to the way I handle these things, but essentially arriving at the same conclusions — says most of what I would say about Monday’s episode myself, and I strongly urge readers to check it out.

(Anyone who wants to review the material I have previously written about #QandA can do so by clicking the #QandA tag in the list to the right of their screen, and a vignette of the articles will open — including this on another unmitigated outrage the ABC permitted #QandA to commit on the taxpayer dollar).

With Miranda dissecting Monday’s show (and an article from The Australian has also appeared online, literally as I’m checking this in readiness to hit “publish”), I want to talk about #QandA in more general terms.

I think the time has come for this indecent piece of idiocy to be axed.

There are those who will defend #QandA on the basis that free speech should be heard, and that the ABC — as a “national” broadcaster — is the ideal place for non-mainstream views to be given the airtime that would otherwise be unforthcoming in more commercially based media (which really means, with this defence usually coming from the Left, that the Murdoch press would not publish them).

It’s the kind of attempted wedge designed to back people like me, and Miranda, and every other conservative, liberal and/or libertarian voice in the country into a corner: we cherish free speech! How can we possibly champion the silencing of different views? Didn’t we advocate the abolition of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow the airing of views we now seek to silence?

This type of approach — contemptible as it is — is emblematic of the hypocrisy of the Left, which itself made so much noise in friendly media (including the ABC) that it was virtually impossible to proceed with the repeal of S18c. But at the same time it is working to stifle the views of anyone or anything it disagrees with, it demands airtime and exposure as a right from the ABC that it simply refuses should be granted to those with a different outlook.

And in any case, my view of “their ABC” where free speech is concerned is very simple: either everyone’s opinions and beliefs are given airtime in equal measure, or nobody’s are; I acknowledge that in a democratic country a state-run broadcaster has a role to play in facilitating quality discussion and debate, but it is this critical point on which the entire thing falls down.

#QandA makes the most tokenistic attempt imaginable at giving some semblance of impartiality; every week — at the commencement of each episode — it flashes a statement to screen asserting that the composition of the audience correlates with the present standing of the major political parties in current opinion polling. Nobody has any way of verifying this claim. But even if the methodology is followed, what is served up during the programme illustrates just how pointless the exercise is.

The #QandA panels — invariably skewed at least 4-2 in favour of the Left, and usually by a margin of 5-1 — spend an hour each week examining topics that never have anything to do with a conservative agenda, or any other agenda aside from that of the Left.

Its panellists (and host Tony Jones is no “impartial” moderator) routinely slap down, bully, drown out or otherwise obscure anything the token presence from the Right might have to say; this week it was Justice minister Michael Keenan. Famously, it was once former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella as regularly as the ABC could get her on before she lost her seat in Parliament, and the Twitter gnomes of the Left would revel in the siege she would invariably face. But whoever attends from the Right — with the exception of Malcolm Turnbull, if he counts as being from “the Right” — the treatment is always the same.

Nothing — aside from the sanctimonious edicts of the Left — is allowed to stand unchallenged.

And even the questions featured are tainted, with an ABC producer vetting public submissions of these to ensure “a fit” with the planned theme for each episode. Unsurprisingly, virtually every question is framed either from a position sympathetic to the Left or with a get-the-Right slant attached to it.

The simple fact is that #QandA is nothing more than a free, 60 minute open platform provided every week by the ABC to the hard Left of Australian politics.

I don’t have a problem with the Left having its own 60 minute broadcasts, mind you. But to have them, the Left should pay for them; or at the very least, in #QandA‘s case, they should be moved onto SBS where they can be made conditional on the selling of advertising revenue and commercial sponsorships to fully cover the costs involved: no money, no soapbox from which to spruik their odious propaganda.

It’s true that #QandA has broadcast some episodes worthy of merit; its deployment of a studio filled with school students to hold Kevin Rudd to account in early 2010 over his government’s perceived betrayal of the youngest voters who bought into the mania of his “Kevin ’07” campaign was one, although a cynic might have subsequently believed it part of a careful strategy to orchestrate Rudd’s overthrow in favour of Julia Gillard, the Labor MP held to be the spiritual leader of the “true” Left at that time.

Throwing Treasurer Joe Hockey to the #QandA wolves over his federal budget, ironically, was another, as Hockey turned in his best (and to date only) effective performance selling the measures in the budget, the rationale for their inclusion, and debunking some of the myths spread and allowed to take root by irresponsible Labor and Greens MPs who ought to have known better.

And some of its pre-election programmes, one-on-one with individual senior MPs on both sides, have been worthwhile.

But these — to use the Ford Fairlane analogy — are mere islands of reality in an ocean of diarrhoea whose waves and undercurrents are almost invariably fouled by the rank partisanship, hatred of conservatism, and — dare I say it — the sheer anti-Australianism of the hard Left.

If a #QandA programme was convened featuring Andrew Bolt as a moderator, Miranda Devine and Piers Akerman as press panellists, with (say) Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz facing down Christine Milne in a “themed” discussion around the importance of traditional social values, competent governance and the benefits of international trade, does anyone seriously think that the resulting brutalisation of the views offered up by the token panellist from the Left would spark anything other than a national political outrage?

Of course it would, and so it should when it comes to #QandA.

This reprehensible programme is not an “Adventure in Democracy,” as it bills itself: it has nothing to do with democracy at all.

And it’s paid for by ordinary Australians who expect decency and balance from a broadcaster they rightfully expect to be able to trust.

In this sense, #QandA represents a dereliction on the ABC’s part of its responsibility to its shareholders: the Australian public.

The problem is getting worse, and whilst it’s amusing to get on Twitter under the auspices of “Leftie baiting” and spend an hour each week poking the trolls of the Left in the eye over the ridiculous and patently unrealistic nonsense it represents, #QandA does not merit its place on the national broadcaster’s slate of content.

It is a shameful and despicable misappropriation of public money for the blatant advantage of the Left in both its political and social formulations, and it has gone on for long enough.

The time has come for #QandA to be axed. Australian democracy will be none the worse for its absence.

As Kerry Packer once famously said — of a dubious programme on his own network that, on balance, was intellectually superior to #QandA — it is time to get that shit off the air.


Fred Nile, Charlotte Dawson, Abortion And Suicide

IT’S NOT OFTEN that I find myself making any attempt to defend the Rev Fred Nile; there is conservatism, and then there is the brand of mindless, fundamentalist religious fervour he regularly advocates. But his comments — highlighting the fact virtually every obituary written in the wake of the sad death of model Charlotte Dawson has ignored the effects of an abortion she had in 1999 — have been maliciously and dishonestly pilloried.

First things first: I was devastated to learn that model and TV personality Charlotte Dawson committed suicide last weekend; it is difficult to comprehend, without a first-hand appreciation of the effects of depression (although I have a number of people in my “circle” who are sufferers), why a beautiful, vivacious woman seemingly filled with life and with everything in the world going for her would be driven to such a tragic end, although I do know enough to know that the condition and its consequences are often inexplicable in any logical or reasoned sense by what might ordinarily be described as normal standards.

And on the issue of abortion, readers already know I’m not exactly on the cheer squad for its advocacy, save for instances of rape or where a foetus is at risk of birth with severe deformity and/or disability. Even so, those decisions are for others to make — as in this case — just as any adverse consequences must be borne by those make them.

It is in this vein that I feel compelled to comment today; the point Rev Nile has sought to make is no doubt informed by his religious views but is nonetheless pertinent in light of any attempt to understand what might have motivated Dawson to take her own life.

For those readers not familiar with Nile’s comments — or who have heard or read about them only through second or third-hand sources — I suggest a reading of the actual comments he posted on Facebook on 23 February is a good place to start.

It might surprise many to see that Nile isn’t running off on a morality crusade, or a rant against abortion drenched in fundamentalist religious fervour; in fact, he simply makes the point that Dawson herself identifies the abortion she had 15 years ago as being the root cause of her depression, and notes that this fact has been largely omitted from the dozens of obituaries and tributes that have been written in an outpouring of grief in the wake of her death.

Conservative Daily Telegraph columnist (and known committed Catholic) Miranda Devine makes the point in one of her articles today — in also seeking to bat away the unreasoning and unreasonable rantings of what I call the “wimmin’s lobby” (that is, those whose view of issues such as abortion is so one-eyed that even the slightest deviation from their mantra demands immediate crucifixion at almost any cost) — that it would have taken real courage for an otherwise strong, liberated and pro-choice woman such as Dawson to articulate the impact her abortion had on her.

Perversely, Devine no doubt has in mind the christian fundamentalists rather than the wimmin’s crowd as the likely antagonists such admissions might attract. Indeed — as she notes — Nile’s post had been “gentle and respectful.”

There are a few points to make here.

First, nobody — not me, not Nile, not Devine, nor anyone else — has suggested or even sought to suggest Dawson took her own life as a consequence of having had an abortion. Clearly, a lot of factors over a very long period of time fed into her untimely demise last week. But to listen to the outraged howls emanating from some sections of the hard social Left, one could be forgiven for thinking Nile had made exactly such a direct causal link.

Second — irrespective of your views on abortion, the right to choose, or any aspect of the minefield that constitutes the debate on the subject — it is safe to say that there is no universal law when it comes to abortion, or in this case its after-effects: personal anecdote it may be, but I know a lady who’s had six abortions in pursuit of her career, has neither the interest nor intention to ever have children, and is upfront about her view that in terms of any emotional consequences she has faced none. Dawson, by contrasts, pinpoints it as the beginning of her fight with depression and an enduring source of sadness and regret. Others will have different positions and different experiences. These can’t be shut down or bulldozed away by a rigidly militant and ideological standpoint the Left insists must be unquestioningly accepted. Accusations of knuckle-dragging and “misogyny” await anyone who dares to deviate from it.

And third, if we are to embrace Dawson fully in death, we must also accept and embrace the highs and lows that defined her in life. This is not some sister of ideology we’re talking about; it’s a normal woman for whom the tribulations of life grew to be too much for her to cope with. In addition to her abortion, we have a failed marriage, an enduring love for her ex-husband, the loss of her job as a presenter at Foxtel and what is believed to have been an extremely punitive personal financial position all known to be factors that have fed the depression she has so openly battled.

The issue of the so-called trolls Dawson was confronted with on Twitter — who dared her to kill herself, very nearly succeeding on at least one occasion prior to her doing precisely that — has also been well documented, as have all of the other factors I have mentioned. And then some.

Nile’s point is that from her own mouth and in her own words, the emotional consequences of her abortion were as much a contributor among many to her depression, if not her death, as anything else, and should be noted as such.

Too much time, energy and vitriol is expended by the warriors of the wimminhood seeking to silence so much as a nanosyllable that might be uttered in contradiction to its world view on abortion, and too many good men — Prime Minister Tony Abbott a notable example — are unfairly and disproportionately slammed in its divisive and provocative crusade to neutralise anything or anyone whose opinions are out of step with that view.

In this regard — for once — far from being reviled for the stand he has taken, Nile should be commended.

And for someone whose autobiography was subtitled the “Memoirs Of A Blow-Up Doll,” it’s a fair bet Dawson herself would find the fracas that has erupted around Nile’s relatively benign remarks bemusing at best.

Another Perspective On Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, And The Mess That Is The ALP

Tonight I am doing something I rarely — if ever — do; I am giving my forum over to someone else. A journalist, whose excellent article in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper tomorrow, offers a differential yet complementary perspective on the critiques I have mounted on Labor, Julia Gillard, and the present situation.

You can read Miranda Devine’s opinion piece by copying http://bit.ly/z3U7cV into your browser.

UPDATED: I’m told the bit.ly link isn’t working; try this   http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/gillard-still-holds-poisoned-chalice/story-e6frfhqf-1226262744143?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HeraldSunOpinion+%28Herald+Sun+%7C+Opinion%29     instead.

On this occasion I’m not going to say too much, but what I would very much like is for readers to paste the link to Devine’s article into their browsers, read the article, and then come back here by way of comment — let’s have a debate about it.

And tomorrow, I’ll be back to you all with my own thoughts on a different — yet related — issue.