Being so close to Christmas most of us enjoy a beautiful leg of ham at the table during Christmas Lunch with family and friends. This year though you have a friend coming around to have lunch with you. This is person you met through sport or club, but you share a common interest and get along reasonably well.
Now this friend happens to hold a moral belief that eating meat is wrong and has made the choice to be a vegetarian. You don’t share the same views, but they have never said that you shouldn’t eat meat and doesn’t expect that others make the same choice, although, knows that there are some within their community that is vocal about it and believes it to be immoral.
Another visitor to your house is an older uncle of yours, you really only see him at family events, and because family Christmas is at your house this year, he is coming over. This guy has an opinion about everything and is very vocal especially when he has a few beers which most of us do at Christmas. He knows you have invited your friend who is a vegetarian but says nothing about it and you think, because he is family, that he has enough class and respect to show courtesy to your visitors.
Christmas day comes around, and you’re all sitting at the table enjoying yourselves, absolutely a cracker meal. Turkey, Chicken, Prawns, Ham and some excellent salads. Your friend even bought his own vegetarian plate around to share with everyone.
Your uncle questions him a bit about his choice to be a vegetarian and even says that he considers it harmful because he believes a purely vegetarian diet doesn’t provide the protein needed to support a healthy person, even offers him some ham in a joking way. “Common, get some meat on your bones, mate,” he says.
Now perhaps a little off colour but everyone including friend just laughs it off, and the topic moves on to, let us say, New Zealand and how many Kiwi’s there seem to be in Australia at the moment.
The lunch is over, and everyone is sitting down to watch a replay of the cricket played a few days before. Australia versus Pakistan, it is a great game probably because the Aussies win. Your uncle by now has had his fair share of the Crownies (beer) from the fridge, but you have a backup esky in the shed, so you don’t mind and is sitting next to you watching the cricket. Your friend, however, is off talking to some of your other family in the kitchen. All of a sudden the uncle starts making snide remarks and cracking jokes about how we should have served up some ham on your friend’s plate, all in fun as he would have you believe but it’s getting a little out of control. You would prefer your friend not hear some of the comments your uncle is saying and if he keeps going he will probably embarrass you and the rest of the family. So you tell him to pull his head in, keep it together and please respect the visitor in your home. “ahhhhh he will be okay, a little ribbing hurt no one, he shouldn’t be offended by a little joke.” your uncle says.
Well, in my opinion, an event like that just happened recently but it wasn’t at the family dinner table, it was on Twitter in a public forum, and it wasn’t my immediate family but my national family, Australians. So who is the friend? There was a hint previously, it was the Pakistani Cricket Team. Who was the Uncle then? An Australian Federal Senator by the name of Malcolm Roberts who replied to a post by a journalist from Australia’s National Newspaper “The Australian”:
Now despite what the two of them say, they both knew what they were doing while making these comments. Chris Kenny, in all fairness, was cooking a ham, and his may have been an innocuous remark, but I would say that given other bad-taste tweets I have seen from him, it would be only true to form that perhaps there was intent to link his cooking of a ham and going to the cricket to watch Pakistan play Australia, who, to the best of my knowledge, are mainly Muslim. However, I am a fair person, and perhaps nothing was meant by it.
The comment by Malcolm Roberts, however subtle, speaks very clearly to his nature, and the underlying intent of the thought of serving Ham to a team full of Muslims is funny. I know what he will say because I have seen him do it time and time again and I will say it for him before he gets a chance if ever questioned about it.
“I was just commenting on the state of the cricket tour of Pakistan. They haven’t won a game yet and the Ham, well that was just coincidence, you’re making to much of this”.
“It’s just Ham, said it as a joke, wasn’t meant in that context.”
Something similar to that kind. Most of the people who replied to the tweet or retweeted, immediately got the connection, both admirers, and haters. Add to this that the Senator has written articles and has been quite outspoken about Islam to the point of quoting Quran, also didn’t get the connection is actually just insulting to common sense.
His supporters and even he will call me a Libtard, SJW (Social Justice Warrior), Left Wing Extremist, Muslim Apologist, that I had my feelings hurt and my personal favorite, Snowflake. To them, I say yes I hold SOME left wing opinions, but in this case, I am not offended because they are Muslim and that a joke about feeding them ham was made. I am offended because, although you didn’t say it to their face, you offended someone in my home, who was a guest. Who has come here to Australia to play sport, to entertain Australian’s, and as far as I am aware besides perhaps the occasional sledging between players out on the pitch has not been disparaging to us one bit.
If one of Australia’s players had said something in similar vain out on the pitch and especially if heard by an umpire or microphone, they would be fined and perhaps penalised games for vilification. At the very least our media would be all over talking about it. These guys are sportsmen representing our country in sport. Why the hell should an Australian Senator feel, he can get away with such a sly snide remark?
As a kid growing up watching cricket, I fondly remember watching the other nations come here to Australia during the long hot summers. Swimming at the beach or the pool in the mornings and then racing to the front of a TV set to watch my heroes play. During breaks, we would be out in the backyard mimicking our favorite players. Copying the favorite bowlers run up and screaming Howzat as loudly as we could. One of my favorites at the time was Imran Khan from Pakistan. A tall, dark, menacing figure walking out to the middle of the pitch taking his place at the crease. You knew something exciting was going to happen when he was out there and damn, could he hit the ball!!!! At that time I had no idea his politics, religion or ideology all I knew was we had to get this guy out quickly if we were to have a chance to win the game. It didn’t stop me looking on in awe after the ball would leave his bat and disappear over the fence for six. That is what I want my cricket to be. In today’s age, we are surrounded by identity politics, mudslinging to see what sticks on a day to day basis. Leave my cricket out of it, you want to comment on Pakistans recent performance, ridicule them for that if you wish, but don’t insult the beliefs of the visiting nation. “Play the ball” not the man.
I would like to say that, this rule applies even when the other person doesn’t play the ball and decides, as is the case with Malcolm, to sink down to this form of ridicule. Just as he believes, we should act tough when threatened by banning Muslim immigration or insulting and seeking punitive actions against our closest ally and neighbor New Zealand when they make a sovereign decision against Australia’s position on Israel at the UN. Perhaps we should treat him with the same contempt and disdain. At the very least our leaders should stand up and be the decent voice of the majority of Australians. Paul Keating, never short of a few choice words when needed, called the Australian Senate “Unrepresentative Swill” and never before do I think this tag is deserved more by a Senator than it does to Malcolm Roberts, who entered the Senate at the election in July 2016 with “77” first preference votes. Our electoral system, for the most part, is fair, no system is perfect, and Malcolm entered the Senate fair and square gaining after preferences over 500,000 votes. Those votes were either the voters second or third choice but still their choice none the less. A quote from another one of our past leaders Gough Whitlam which I stumbled upon the other day also reminds me of another choice word that perhaps would be used back in his day. Whitlam called members of his own cabinet “Pissants,” again a label that would fit comfortably on the shoulders of Malcolm. Even John Howard in his own way would have been dismissive to this kind of behavior, and as a lover of cricket would have called it out for what it was, pitiful. As I believe some of our previous leaders would have stood up and shown some fortitude, our currents leaders now need to do so.
A lot has been said in Australia and for that matter around the world about the right to freedom of speech. I watched another Australian Senator give a debate about it while presenting a bill for the removal of clause 18C in our Racial Discrimination Act. I don’t like the man’s politics but his speech, for the most part, was well put together and provided some solid arguments as to why this clause should be repealed. You can find it here:
The fact that Islam is a religion, ideology and in extreme cases a political system, not a race is apparent and as such Malcolm’s comment may not fit within the guidelines of the Racial Discrimination Act. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the same principles talked about here apply. You have the right to say whatever you wish, for the most part, as long as it doesn’t incite violence or physical damage, just because you might hurt a person’s feelings doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to say something. However, also be prepared to defend those comments and suffer the consequences if it doesn’t fit with the ethos of the company you may work for, a social group you are part of or the Nation you represent.
I am okay with our politicians standing up in parliament or on the media clearly articulating a case against Muslim immigration or problems with Radical Islamic Terrorism and how to stop it as long as those arguments are based on facts, good governance and within the laws of our country. I don’t have to agree with them, and I should hope we can have a logical debate based on evidence and facts, shake hands and have a beer afterward and find common ground because after all is that not what our politicians should do? The best result is the least objectionable to the worse affected person or group. I know it is not always that simple, but just because it is hard, it doesn’t mean that we should not strive for that.
I would also be okay with a politician who was to say that we should not host Pakistan as a form of protest against their perceived human right violations (we did it to South Africa in the apartheid years), again I may not agree with it, but get it out, let’s have a debate, and may the best person win.
So if this is not about freedom of speech, what is it then? It is about respect, common decency, and good taste. As Australians, I would like to think most of us have these values, but we also call bullshit out when it comes our way and in this regard I call bullshit Malcolm. Treat our guests with respect. We don’t know their politics, and in many cases playing cricket for their nation is a way out of oppression for them.If any of them were to make sly, snide remarks about our culture, you would get upset, and I would be there by your side (as much as I would hate it) condemning them as well. You’re not just a regular Twitter user, you are a representative and Senator of Australia, act like it. I have learned to not expect a lot from my politicians, but I expect better than this and so should the Australian Public.
After seeing this on twitter and some self-reflection, I will now stop following his feed. I will find others that post the information that he does, as most are retweets with some innocuous comment.
Means nothing, I know, probably means even less to him and his followers. I started following him due to his comments regarding climate change, I wanted to expose myself to alternative arguments to my understandings and beliefs and to challenge his statements when I felt them misguided, perhaps even been “converted” with a reasonable argument. I didn’t troll, most of his comments I would let pass through to the “keeper,” but when I saw something which I felt was debatable would question it, respectfully and as nicely as I could. In every case, I got no response, and for the most part, I was okay with that, he is an Australian Senator, after all, I am sure he was busy, and why should he have responded to a small fish in a big pond with almost zero followers. Then I began to notice he would respond to comments, not his supporters or those that had valid points but mostly those that would outright depose his statements. Sometimes they would be the instigators of personal attacks, but also he would be so rude and arrogant to people sharing a different opinion that he would be almost baiting them, playing with them, just to prove his point and justify his own personal agenda. This suggests to me something very wrong at the core of his politics and the tweet discussed here just cemented my belief.
Free speech is necessary, common decency, unfortunately, isnt. Don’t like their politics, say so, don’t like their cricket playing abilities, say so. Feel sorry for them because of their losses to Australia, say that. But in cricket vernacular “Play the Ball” Malcolm otherwise it’s just not Cricket.
So like what I would say to my drunk uncle, Pull your F**KING head in Malcolm.