Friday, February 4, 2011

Political Pond Scum

Well this may be a record. It’s taken less than 24 hours for me to break my pledge not to be personal and not to add to the hate. But I really want to say this:

Mark Latham, you are a complete and utter wanker.

Today it was revealed that in the next issue of The Spectator Australia (no I don’t read it, and couldn't find anyone at work who did either) Latham writes a charming little piece titled “Latham’s Rules”.latham

In it, relates Jacqueline Maley and Ellie Harvey, he writes of Julia Gillard that:

she is ''not a particularly empathetic person - displaying, for instance, noticeable discomfort around infant children''.

He then tops it off with this pearl of wisdom from the sociology sh*t heap:

“'The femocrats will not like this statement but I believe it to be true: Anyone who chooses a life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them.”

Maley and Harvey end with a beautiful stab at Latham, saying:

As opposed to Latham, of course, who is known as a great spreader of love and a favourite of little children.

Now a couple things.

First: What the hell??!!

Why is he writing a piece of political “analysis” in which he thinks it is relevant whether or not Julia Gillard is good around infant children. I have two kids, and I’m not sure if I’m all that good around infant kids. I love my own kids. The infants of others? Well you know, I’ll smile when I see them and given them a little wave, but it’s not like I am volunteering to do babysitting. But hell that’s all by the by, because it is utterly irrelevant to Gillard’s performance during the flood crisis. It wasn’t the shots of Anna Bligh with young kids that made people think she was doing a great job, it was the way she did her job that made people think she was doing a good job.

So while that is bad enough – and irrelevant enough – to then go on and make such a butt-numbingly stupid statement as to suggest those who “choose” a life “without” children “cannot have much love in them” is to go beyond the pale. Well beyond.

All I know is that anyone who would choose to write such a line, even though he knew it was going to cause great offense, must be lacking in a fair bit of love for his fellow man and woman as well.

There is, as I wrote last night, a lot of hate around – on the net and in the media. Some of it is written because people didn’t think what they wrote was offensive to some people, some is written because they had no idea that taken out of context it could be offensive, some is written because it was done in the heat of the moment and it is regretted immediately.

But in this instance Latham calmly and calculatedly thought about and wrote something he knew would be offensive – in fact the whole point of his writing it was because it was offensive. He wanted to offend people.

How do you get to that point in your life?

Well, we all know how – hate. Hatred especially of one person (though Latham certainly hates more than one)

Latham hates Julie Gillard without any limitations. He used to be a friend but now, as sometimes happens when friends fall out, he hates her more than poison. The way he writes and commentates about politics, you know it is a deep seeded hate. Gore Vidal wrote that it is not enough to succeed, others must fail. Well for Latham it is because he has failed; others must be torn down.

But the problems of Latham’s hatred for Gillard are only a minor issue here; what is more important is why is The Spectator giving this guy a voice? Why does the Australian Financial Review give him column inches? Why does Sky News give him time on its programs? Why did 60 Minutes give him a voice in the last election?

Where is the editor or news director who is saying, you know what Mark, we know you hate Gillard (and Rudd), have you got anything else to contribute?

But no, they don’t say that, they bring him on and let him go and laugh at the attention they get.

If Latham were dropped in a pit deep enough so that no journalist could ask his opinion and no internet service would allow him to email his column to any media outlet or blog, then not only would the political discourse of this nation not be worsened, it would be improved more than it would by the absence of any other person. Big statement I know, and I’m prepared to debate a few other names that could go in the pit. But most of the others commentators who I vehemently disagree with, I disagree with because I think their political philosophy and views so completely out of whack that what they write is disgusting. With Latham, I don’t care about his politics, because he has none, other than hatred of Gillard (and Rudd, and the ALP and.. and..) – all he says and writes must be viewed through that lens.

Here’s a tip to all media outlets who wish to use Latham’s services: he is not doing you any good. His hatred makes him blind to common decency. To suggest that someone who chooses not to have children (male or female) cannot have much love in them is so offensive that were Latham to have said it to the face of a person in that circumstance, I wouldn’t be surprised if a judge were to let them off for slapping the guy in the mouth.

I don’t mind snark in my political coverage; I don’t even mind bias (heck I am biased), but when all you have to offer is hatred of someone because they got to PM and you didn’t? Well, I think we’d all be best to give his opinions a wide berth.

Will I rush out and get this month’s The Spectator magazine? Not on your life. And I suggest even those who normally would buy it to give it a miss.

As a mate of mine who spent time in the army would say – Latham is a waste of rations. In a media context, he is a waste of column inches. To editors I suggest this – give that space to someone who will add to the betterment of the political discourse – it wouldn't be hard to find someone better; and don’t worry, you could stay in the gutter, because Latham is in the sewer.


benharrisroxas said...

Remember the good old days when magazines were about more than print versions of online trolling and linkbaiting?

Yeah, neither do I to be honest. Maybe when The Banjo used to write for the Bulletin.

Thirdborn said...

I'm losing the energy to be cranky, the crazies just keep on coming. Keep on punching Grog, we're in your corner.

Anonymous said...

The Spectator really is a vile magazine. Its contributors include all manner of angry and bitter people such as Ian Plimer, James Delingpole and Patrick Cook. Latham should be right at home.

Unknown said...

You know I was shocked when I thought how close we got to having him as leader, until I remembered a protracted incident where two friends fell out. I was one of those and it was on the back of what me might call failed expectations based psychotic incident. My old mate had a long term relationship plans rejected on grounds of his religion, and managed to fail his dipEd exam, in the same week and went to a personal hell for a few months. When he came up for air he was a different person and seemed to me to have replaced his blood with bilge water, hardened by cognitive dissonance and indifferent to those who had helped through without topping himself. I am of the view that to associate with these cracked ego cases is too harsh and embittering. I've tried but it is useless trying to walk a mile in the boots of somebody who has grown too big for them. I just wished he'd come out of it more grateful.

wordsfailme said...

Pretty fired up after reading that, Grog!

While the article is indicative of Latham being pond scum, it still manages to be representative of a wider social commentary about politicians (who just so happen to be women).

For example: Lara Giddings. A conservative relative's one-gendered logic is that because Giddings hasn't had kids, she has no life experience and therefore (this part is unsaid) will be an inept politician.

In short: the double-standard about women in leadership roles is systemic. It will resonate even if purely intended to be offensive.

Christopher Anderson said...

Handing out HTV cards to elect that turd is one of my life's greatest regrets.

Anonymous said...

"The Spectator" seems to be an appropriate name for the magazine, given the status of its contributors.

Kyna62 said...

Oh dear. I don't know where to start on what Latham said.

Did he join Family First while nobody was looking? Does he believe a woman must give birth to be fulfilled and to be a "real woman"?

This is the 21st century for goodness sake, not the 1950s. I am so glad he never made it to the Lodge.

And there goes my "no more knee-jerk reactions" resolution ...

Liz said...

"Oxygen thief" is my preferred terminology for those who are unable to add anything constructive to the humanity. God forbid that one of Mr Latham's boys might be gay.

Michael Byrne said...

Mark Latham displays worldly wisdom and the courage to express it. PM Julia lacks it, as displayed in her public expressions - not in her words but in her ability to personally empathise, a quality lost with machine politics.

Having said that, it is a pity Mark did not have his own children for a good few years before his ascent to ALP leadership. In place parenthood would have smoothed him a fair bit.

bells said...

And once again the childless woman, childless by choice or otherwise, is held up as some kind of witch.

Fuck him.

Women like me, childless by cruel twist of medical fate, or women who choose it (and we have no real idea whether JG is childless by choice or not and nor should we know) are held up for public scrutiny because our ovaries have not done what nature supposedly intended.

Fuck Mark Latham.

Hydro Food said...

There's more bile in Latham than just his pancreas, sadly.

As for the Spectator, who the f#@k reads that crap anyway?

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

Why is it that no one, which basically means anyone in the Murdoch Press gang, ever points out that Julie Bishop, Deputy Opposition Leader, ferchrissakes, and the most senior female in the Coalition, also is childless and unmarried? Though, as Latham is an equal opportunity hater, he probably doesn't think much of her either.
To think I worked hard in 2004 to convince Christian Kerr to convince Stephen Mayne as Editor of Crikey to advise a vote for Mark Latham to become Prime Minister of this country.
Don't worry, I've beaten myself with rose bushes until I bled since then, for my sins.

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

Might I also add, that based upon Latham's own 'No Bludgers' credo, whereupon, according to him, you had to be 'Learning or Earning', I wonder whether he considers sitting at home constructing Poisen Pen letters and being a 'Home Dad', while his wife goes out to work every day, good enough to qualify as 'Earning'? I consider it qualification for 'Bludging' myself. Especially when the guy won the Sydney University medal for Economics.
I wonder what he puts down as his occupation on his Tax Return? 'Professional Hater'?

Wil Rouse said...

I pretty much agree with most of the stuff here by Grog. My take on Mark Latham (and others of similar ilk)is that he is an unhappy chappy. Unhappies pick on others. He is also a continueing bad loser, politically. He may actually have some untainted and relevant comments from time to time but you can't understand him with his feet stuck in his mouth. William

L said...

I'm sure the Mad Mark assumed that he was just writing for the two dozen people who read the Australian Spectator and that nobody else would ever know. He must be mortified.

Greg Jericho said...

Some great comments guys. Yeah The Spectator... seriously have some fun, play find 10 people who have read it. It'll keep you busy for hours... days...

Christopher, I didn't hand out HTV cards for him, but I did vote for him. One I'd definitely take back. Only vote in any election since 1990 I regret.

Thirdborn said...

And for the record - not that we should even be discussing this - I think gillard looks completely comfortable with kids. I like watching her with the school kids, she's always trying to put them in front of her when the cameras are around to boost their self esteem. She has a wonderfully constructive personality, can't say the same about latham.

2353 said...

Mark who?

Another has-been politician who doesn't realise that the world has moved on and no one really cares about them any more.

A bit like Peter Costello really - who seems to have got the better gig in the Opinion pages of Fairfax newspapers across the country.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I read latham's sentence as "anyone who chooses a life without children cannot have much love in children", ie she doesn't like kids much.

To me this is a far more defensible statement and probably true if there is a real choice involved, ie not gay, infertile, has a partner, etc.

denise said...

hey bells "fuck mark latham", no thanks

Anonymous said...

You gotta be a hater!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Latham has turned into such a hate filled puss bag. This boy has serious problems and must hate the ALP with a passion. Wonder that Gough thinks of him now??

pudgyfeet said...

Not that it's any excuse, but imagine just how psychologically damaged Latham must be to turn out like this. I pity him. And I pity any children he has raised who will probably be, at least in part, screwed up by their father.

I'm also a 40-something childless woman, and I find his comments offensive and saddening.

Sir Ian Crisp said...

Why did Mark Latham write such an article? We must peel away the veneer of media professional, serious columnist, and social commentator to find the real Mark Latham, who only a short time ago was an ALP hero. Mark Latham has been diagnosed with pancreatitis and some of the symptoms are feeling light-headed, irritability, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and bringing up amounts of bile. With that knowledge it’s easy to understand why such vituperation flows from his pen.

Liz said...

For what it's worth, my daughter waitressed at an up-market restaurant in Canberra while at ANU and served many pollies. She used to say that Gillard was the only one who ever engaged her in conversation of a personal nature: "How are you? What are you studying? How's it going?" etc. BTW, Wayne Swan always tips 10%. I won't repeat her comments about some other pollies she served.

thefactis said...

Great post Grog. Latham is getting crazier by minute!

Greg Jericho said...

Thirdborn - that's actually a good point - during the floods, Gillard was actually at her best when she WAS out among people. It was in the press conferences that she struggled.

Anonymous said...

Mr Latham demonstrates not only a level of vitriolic hatred, but also a large helping of privilege in his comments regarding Julia Gillard's non-parental status. There's the masculine privilege which ignores the way most childrearing and maintenance duties are coded as "women's work". There's the non-childbearing privilege which ignores the simple physical reality that carrying a pregnancy to term is hard physical work, topped off by approximately 24 hours of something which is even harder, much more painful, and prior to about fifty years ago, was regularly life-threatening. There's the upper-middle class privilege which assumes any role at the top is pretty much being held for himself or someone like him. There's the misogynist privilege which is insulted by any woman occupying a job which has previously been coded "male". There's the ignorant misogyny of not thinking about the way a pregnancy interrupts a woman's career - careers aren't "put on hold" for childbirth, they're actively derailed, because not only does the woman involved lose approximately one year minimum (pregnancy, labour, raising an infant to childcare-capable age) of her career time, she also loses all the momentum she built up behind her career progression, and pretty much has to start again from scratch with regards to accumulating this.

There's also the rather ignorant privilege of considering all things childbirth-related to be solely a female concern. As has been said by any number of people in the comments here, we don't know why Julia Gillard doesn't have children. The reason could be as simple as her partner having had an unfortunate case of mumps as a teenager (one of the known side-effects of mumps in men is sterility). Or it could be (shock, horrors) a joint choice made by the pair of them. Either way, it's their lives, their decisions, and their choices. It isn't any of our business, nor is it any of Mr Latham's business.

[Statement of personal bias: I'm female, forty this year, and I've chosen not to have children, for a variety of reasons; the primary one being I'm reasonably certain I wouldn't be a very good mother, and I have no desire to discover I was correct at the expense of someone else's life, socialisation and sanity. Which I would argue shows I have a greater regard for children than a dislike of them.]

DenaMar said...

This article only came to my attention today because it has stirred enough controversy to make the mainstream press. Some of Labor's leading women have understandably pitched in to defend their leader and her choices, but the real surprise was Barnaby Joyce! I hope Latham appreciates that he has truly overstepped the mark when no less than the delightfully unreconstructed Senator from Queensland steps in to defend the leader of the country and calls you 'absurd and cruel in the extreme'.

Anonymous said...

I remember the day Mark Latham was made leader of the opposition. Mr reaction was to put my hands over my head and mutter "Oh no, we are screwed". My radar for nutbags, jerks and Aholes is pretty darn spectacular. In forty five years, I haven't been proven wrong. I had the same reaction to Abbott as well.

Wood Duck said...

Well Greg, you have certainly engendered some strong feelings amongst the followers - lots of talk about waste of rations, oxygen thief, etc. Who knows, somebody might be moved enough to do something about this much-hated man. There has already been an offer madeby an ABC news presenter to smash him in the face.

Anonymous said...

I really think you start of with one bad assumption. That someone actually cares what Latham thinks, knows what the Spectator is and bothers to read the Australian any more.

I'm fed up with the bile and have solved the problem by not wasting my time reading it, life is too short.