Bread and circuses and Barnaby Joyce

February 15, 2018
The media has obsessively focussed on Barnaby Joyce's affair to the exclusion of real news.

Are you sick to death of the endless debate about whether odious Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has a right to privacy? 

Of course some of that debate has now veered into thoughtful comparisons of how a misogynistic press “pawed” over the private lives of female politicians, such as Julia Gillard and Cheryl Kernot. But generally it remains fixated on whether public figures have a right to keep their private lives private.

After all, these powerful figures give so much to the public: all those hours of cutting public budgets, selling off public assets, giving tax breaks to the rich and powerful and castigating trade unions.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of women and children in Australia right now are experiencing private lives of misery and degradation through domestic violence and sexual abuse. So private, indeed faceless, are they that governments feel perfectly safe to cut the public purse when it comes to domestic violence services, single parent benefits and even women’s refuges and shelters.

Or perhaps we could make comparisons with the private lives of the Kurds and their allies in Afrin. In this case, a murderous Turkish onslaught bombs the hell out of persecuted people, while public attention is drawn to less politically tortured arenas. The people of Afrin would love a bit of public attention.

But no, the salacious details of Joyce and Vikki Campion, his now pregnant partner, in their Armidale love nest are far more important. I must admit, even the members of my rather progressive workplace were riveted for a day or so as we gleefully read the titillating details and hoped it might all lead to his downfall.

Bread and circuses, I hear you say? Well, yes, but most working-class people love to see high and mighty arseholes stumble and hopefully fall.

So here is the real problem: the rich and hypocritical are more newsworthy in all their stupendous detail than the majority of the world’s population eking out their wretched private lives.

This is not because they are intrinsically more interesting, but because the exposure of their private lives humanises them. It takes our minds off the massive numbers of dead women, sexually abused children and bombed out villages. It stymies our outrage, hinders any faltering steps towards fighting back or getting our act together as the majority.

You may have noticed that I am largely referring here to the mainstream media. Of course, Green Left Weekly always covers the news you don’t get in the mainstream press. We tell you about the bombings of Afrin, the amount of money cut from women’s services and the numerous struggles to oppose injustice. We champion the private lives of those who need publicity to win their cause. And unfortunately we always need a handout because — surprise, surprise — the Malcolm Turnbull government has absolutely no intention of ever funding us.

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