This week, we in Australia had the privilege of watching a ‘demonstration’ on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra. As protesters around the world rally for their lives, being shot, stabbed and bombed for a taste of the freedoms we enjoy, the anti-carbon tax lobby thought it might be a good publicity stunt to stage a demo to protest against Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The right of every democratic citizen, you say? Yes indeed. But Fully Loaded Man Tony Abbott (a Jackboot Jack if ever I spotted one) once again revealed his ignorance, arrogance and misogyny as he joined the most vitriolic demonstrators on the lawn. Despite his protests to the contrary, he clearly endorses their view that the only carbon worth talking about is what’s left over after you burn a WitchBitchWoman at the stake. They’d all line up, torches blazing and mouths agape, to pay a tax on that.
In my editorial for Spellcraft magazine (Spring 2010), I wrote a response to the drivelling of that other Great Mind of Australian political discourse, the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt, when he raised the WitchBitchWoman flag right before the election. It read, in part:
“After some reflection, I mention Mr Bolt’s recent op-ed
pieces here, not to promulgate his ideas, but because he
uses our magazines as supporting evidence for them. In
the lead-up to the election, Mr Bolt wrote of his dismay
that publications like ours are freely available on newsagent
shelves, lamenting the rise of “witches” as evidence of the
abandonment of Reason. The subtext of these articles
was obvious, given his readership was about to enter the
polling booth. That Mr Bolt regularly employs a toolbox
of stereotypes to support his conservative viewpoint is no
surprise to anyone, and in a free press some columnists will
always polarise, demonise and neutralise sectors of their own
community to make a crust. That’s their job description.
These days, the fundamental ‘right to reply’ is reduced to
posting a comment on the author’s blog, and thereby driving
webstats ever upward. Attempting to engage Mr Bolt or his
followers in an intelligent conversation on their own media
turf is an exercise in futility. Thankfully, there is a print
While I acknowledge Mr Bolt’s right to earn his living
by expressing views with which I disagree, I lament that
he is not more responsible in moderating the comments
that appear on his blog. Comments that incite violence,
and quote biblical injunctions advocating violence, do
indeed reflect the 17th Century Age of Reason, when other
self-appointed champions of rational thought burned
thousands of their fellow human beings at the stake. Mr
Bolt may not have heard, but following hot on the heels
of the Age of Reason was the Age of Enlightenment, the
egalitarian principles of which underpin the modern
democracy we enjoy in this country. Not to mention the
concept of a free press, which allows both the Herald Sun
and Spellcraft to exist simultaneously.”
I should be very clear that I’m not a card-carrying member of any political party, religious or lobby group. I am an Australian citizen, a taxpayer and a woman. And I protest. I protest against this kind of bigotry at the highest levels of government. I protest this kind of bandwagon publicity stunt, when demonstrators around the world are being shot dead in the street, and those who escape oppression and violence often end up in little boats, to be greeted with more of the same when they reach our shores. I protest against wedge politics and divisiveness in the name of hysterical ambition, when our country is dizzy and wounded from natural disaster and destruction. Most of all, I protest that Abbott, Bolt and their spinmeisters think it’s ok to use the tools of our democracy to destroy its fabric.
I protest against the march of jackboots and fundamentalist torchbearers no matter what colours they wear, and I always will.
We published the 18th quarterly issue of Spellcraft during the Federal election in Spring 2010. In the week before Australians were to go to the polls, columnist Andrew Bolt wrote a piece which we believed used our publications to make implications about Julia Gillard and the Green Party. Gillard (being a woman and therefore a believer in magic and witches) was unfit to lead. Most pagans, Bolt intimated, were bisexual and tree-huggers. It was pretty transparent, and the far right Bolt fans went to town on his blog, unchecked.
I felt it was important to respond, even though we were delighted really that full colour images of both our magazine covers got such great coverage (thanks AB). We couldn’t resist our lovely coverboy treehugger with horns for that issue.