Things Deadwood is less offensive than

You may have noticed that The Australian is very angry with an indigenous woman who (a) sued Andrew Bolt and (b) said that she found a defender of the “Intervention” on Monday’s Q&A more offensive than a fairly crude scene in Deadwood.

The thing is, I doubt very much that Ms Behrendt is alone in her view that the “Intervention” is very offensive indeed, or that Deadwood is an excellent example of extreme offensiveness.

In fact, there are a whole lot of things I think many of us would agree are more offensive than even the most revolting scene in that well-reviewed but unashamedly crude series. Things that presently affect real people’s lives, in the real world. For example:

  • Laws that discriminate on the basis of race – eg the “Intervention”;
  • Laws that discriminate on the basis of gender – eg the 2004 version of the Marriage Act;
  • Mandatory detention;
  • Politicians targeting the poor and desperate on behalf of the rich and spiteful;
  • Rules that make the Disability Support Pension almost impossible to get for many very genuine cases (eg the “must be going to last more than 2 years and you can wait while our doctors take over a year to attest to that” rule);
  • The editorial board of The Australian and their abuse of their prominent media position to attempt to destroy individuals (particularly ordinary citizens without an effective way of fighting back) with whom they politically disagree;
  • A major media organisation relying on lies, half truths and smears to attempt to “destroy” a political party supported by 1.5 million Australians;
  • The chronic underfunding of mental health facilities in this country;
  • The Biggest Loser;
  • Copyright laws that make a musical reference in “Down Under” by Men At Work to a 1934 round a multi-million dollar infringement.
  • That stupid anti-theft plastic packaging that injures you when you’re trying to open it.

I’m sure you’ve got some ideas too. What else is out there that surpasses even Deadwood for sheer offensiveness?

UPDATE: Oops. I originally put the order of offensiveness backwards by accident. Those things were listed as being LESS offensive than Deadwood! I know – ridiculous. Stuffup fixed.

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24 responses to “Things Deadwood is less offensive than

  1. Splatterbottom

    “Laws that discriminate on the basis of race – eg the “Intervention””

    No doubt people concerned about this issue will also be agitating against the proposed racist amendments to the constitution.

  2. “A major media organisation relying on lies, half truths and smears to attempt to “destroy” a political party supported by 1.5 million Australians”

    I agree. Its terrible what the media did to One Nation.

  3. “I agree. Its terrible what the media did to One Nation.”

    Well, I don’t think One Nation ever got anywhere close to 1.5 million votes, but I don’t approve of the sorts of lies and smears the Murdoch press is directing at the Greens even if the target is a group I despise as much as One Nation.

    Anyway, you don’t need to lie about One Nation to point out that they were a bunch of racist nutters. Their party platform was dedicated to restricting immigration by certain racial and ethnic groups.

  4. baldrickjones

    Seeing as this is a rather interesting situation involving an urban activist vs an individual who actually lives in the area where the intervention is being implemented, I find the whole debate rather interesting. Of course, to not live in the area where a policy is being applied and therefore not have any first hand understanding of the reasons or issues associated with it, should drive an individual to defer comments to those who do. However as Ms Behrendt has seen fit to PUBLICLY criticise an individual she disagrees with (despite not living with the problem) and in such an offensive manner (basic lefty test here – what if Tony Abbott or Andrew Bolt had said it?) then I have no problems with this issue being raised for public discussion.

    Read your own post again and tell me that you are basically saying “don’t look at this issue – it doesn’t matter”. The piece in Crikey by Sue Stanton is just icing on the cake from a conservative point of view. “Whitefellas”, “colonisers’ old strategy of divide and conquer”, and “Colonists handpick their good and compliant natives” – it reads like a green left weekly article.

    “Anyway, you don’t need to lie about One Nation to point out that they were a bunch of racist nutters.”

    No worries – that statement is as factual as saying that the “Greens are a bunch of economy destroying environmental ideologues”. And that’s after reading their policies in great detail. Some of their ideas however are good, however no point supporting them due to this if the main crux of their platform is to essentially lower the standard of living in Australia.

  5. baldrickjones, I’ve also read the Greens policies and I’m somewhat bemused as to how you could come to the conclusion that “the main crux of their platform is to essentially lower the standard of living in Australia”, especially if you read them in detail as you say. I don’t think the Greens are nearly as left as portrayed in say the Murdoch press, and a lot of their policies are far more socially and economically progressive than that of the major parties. Two examples:

    1) Labor’s capitulation to the mining companies on their mineral super tax policy effectively reduced the living standards of Australia substantially (was $60billion the number?). The Liberal party of course sided totally with the miners and apposed this tax outright, so they also were greatly in favour of reducing living standards of Australians to the benefit of mining companies. It was only the Greens who supported the original policy on the mineral super tax. So on this particular piece of policy, the Greens position would have increased the living standards of Australians, whereas the policy of the two major parties on this issue effectively reduced the living standards of Australians.

    2) The Greens have a policy of death duties for estates greater than $5M. One can agree or disagree with this policy, but there is no doubting that it would increase the living standards of low and middle income earners.

    All of the rant about the Greens that you read in the Murdoch press, and copied in the rest of the media is just that, a subjective rant. It’s far easier to try and destroy the greens by smearing them with invective rather than any examination of their policies, simply because a lot of their policies are sensible and not extreme despite what News Limited writes. Many believe that the Greens are extreme left, not because of their policies but because that is how they are portrayed by News Limited and the shock jocks and this impression sticks.

    The simple fact is that the Greens represent a significant threat to the Murdoch press (and other power elites) because the presence of the Greens reduces the level of influence that News Limited is able to apply to government policy for the purposes of their own business interests.

  6. “Seeing as this is a rather interesting situation involving an urban activist vs an individual who actually lives in the area where the intervention is being implemented, I find the whole debate rather interesting.”

    Is it about the tweet or the fact that many indigenous people – and many non-indigenous people – are appalled by the Intervention and disagree with Bess Price’s rather convenient conclusions about its effectiveness?

    Because you’re just backing up my contention that the furore about Behrendt’s “offensive” remarks is really about her daring to disagree with a Liberal Party policy.

    I think I’ll ignore your trolling about the Greens and the economy – save to note that “the economy” is not synonymous with “what’s in the interests of rich people at the expense of the rest of us”. Or, if that is your definition of “the economy”, then I don’t see why we should pretend that such a thing is sacrosanct.

  7. Splatterbottom

    Behrendt’s remarks about the man and horse weren’t that offensive. Obvuiously the man chose the horse because Behrendt was his only other option.

    The real reason that Price has to be offended is that she has had a gutfull of being lectured to by white professional Aborigines who have more in common with the inner city elites they hob-nob with than with those people forced to live in squalor on reservations dreamed up for them by the leftist elite. Do-gooders rarely do anyone any good.

  8. Laws that discriminate on the basis of race – eg the “Intervention”;

    There’s nothing inherently wrong about laws that discriminate on the basis of race: I support affirmative action laws, and they discriminate on the basis of race.

    Having spent time in some remote communities, including Maningrida in the NT and Bamaga in the Cape, my view is that the Intervention is a good racist law that should be viewed similarly to affirmative action. It does discriminate on the basis of race, but it does so in order to protect, promote and assist the Aboriginal people, not to harm or marginalise them.

    Arguing that the Intervention is bad because it offends your ‘principles’ is morally unsuystainable. You can’t tell a six year-old girl that she has to continue living in squalor under the threat of sexual violence because your ‘principles’ require you to oppose laws that could help her.

    Behrendt’s views that are the most offensive ones expressed here. Her staggering arrogance is in believing that some small remnant of DNA gives her authority to dismiss the views of a woman who lives and works amongst the most disadvantaged Aboriginal people. I have no doubt she means well, but the issue of Aboriginal disadvantage cannot be resolved by cementing yourself to rigid ideological positions.

  9. “Having spent time in some remote communities, including Maningrida in the NT and Bamaga in the Cape, my view is that the Intervention is a good racist law that should be viewed similarly to affirmative action.”

    Well, you can trump me with your personal experience – but there are plenty of other people with even more extensive personal experience who dispute that the Intervention has been a net positive or that the positives it has achieved by virtue of increased attention could only have come about through such fundamentally-flawed legislation.

    “It does discriminate on the basis of race, but it does so in order to protect, promote and assist the Aboriginal people, not to harm or marginalise them… You can’t tell a six year-old girl that she has to continue living in squalor under the threat of sexual violence because your ‘principles’ require you to oppose laws that could help her. “

    Um, none of that good requires discrimination on the grounds of race. Are we saying that we could do nothing for a non-indigenous six year old girl because she’s not aboriginal? The problem there isn’t race, it’s entrenched poverty and violence, and there’s no reason you couldn’t tackle it with laws to protect children in that situation regardless of race.

    “Behrendt’s views that are the most offensive ones expressed here. Her staggering arrogance is in believing that some small remnant of DNA gives her authority to dismiss the views of a woman who lives and works amongst the most disadvantaged Aboriginal people.”

    I think you’ll find that so does and has Behrendt and the many people with whom she works. Price does not have a monopoly on personal experience with the Intervention – and whilst she lives “in Central Australia”, it’s not in one of these communities, either. Price apparently lives in a comfortable suburb of Alice Springs, not remotest intervention-ville.

    Nor do I see anywhere where she’s relied on a “small remnant of DNA” (you mean her Aboriginal father?) as the basis for her ability to criticise the Howard policy. The idea that you can’t honestly and reasonably oppose the Intervention – that, in fact, holding such a view is “offensive” – is absurd.

  10. SB – “…had a gutfull of being lectured to by white professional Aborigines who…”

    Mr Bolt… you know perfectly well that you aren’t supposed to comment on matters still before the court, at least not those you’re a party to.

  11. My personal experience is marginal at best Jeremy, so I would not seek to leverage it into any sort of authoritative weapon. Suffice to say that you cannot visit these places without immediately understanding the urgency of our requirement (as a country) to render some sort of solution.

    The problem there isn’t race, it’s entrenched poverty and violence, and there’s no reason you couldn’t tackle it with laws to protect children in that situation regardless of race.

    OK – that’s the nub of this disagreement, no doubt, and I agree with you in principle. But my response is to ask you what, in reality, are the racist laws to which you object?

    The intervention imposed a range of measures aimed at achieving exactly the goal you recommend above, i.e. removing entrenched poverty and violence in specific locations, including the following:

    – restrictions on the ability to purchase alcohol in prescribed locations
    – removal of the requirement to consider ‘customary law’ from bail and sentencing applications
    – suspension of the permit system
    – quarantining of welfare payments.
    – compulsory acquisition of townships

    Which of these are objectionable to you on racist grounds? Certainly the communities in which these laws have been implemented are almost entirely populated by Aborigines, but that’s just demographics. The communities have not been targeted because of their ethnicity, but because of the level of appalling and rampant abuse and social disfuction.

    It’s not good enough, in my opinion, to simply mouth platitudes about the intervention being “racist” and on that basis alone take up an ideological objection to it. What is racist about it and why is that racism unacceptable in the context of the problem it is seeking to address?

  12. Mondo, no where in the article did Jeremy offer the opinion that the intervention is/was ”racist” as you assert. He may or maynot believe that, I have no idea, and neither do you.

    This is not a left or right argument, and it should not be an argument about semantics. It should be an argument about what is in the best interests of aboriginal people.

    Everyone agrees that something needs to be done after decades of neglect. But the intervention was sprung on the Aboriginal community in the NT a few weeks before an election after the coalition not having done anything for 12 years. It is heavy handed and discriminitory, and the worst aspect of it is that it was designed and implemented without consultation with the aboriginal community in the NT.

    It is the last point that summarizes what is wrong with aboriginal policy (or lack thereof) in this country. It is paternalistic, aboriginals are treated as though they are children and are marginalised from the decision making process (as was the case with the NT intervention).

    If you are the slightest bit interested in the impact of the NT intervention on the lives of aboriginals, ABC radio national today played an interview with several NT aboriginal elders where they describe the effect of the intervention on aboriginal lives:
    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/awaye/

  13. Mondo, my daughter spent considerable time working in Maningrida and currently lives in Kununurra where she keeps in close contact with her many aboriginal friends in the Territory.
    She judges the intervention as pretty much a complete failure.

  14. Mondo, no where in the article did Jeremy offer the opinion that the intervention is/was ”racist” as you assert.

    He did it several times gordicans. In the original post he has decried laws that discriminate on the basis of race and above he wrote: Um, none of that good requires discrimination on the grounds of race. I’ll allow Lefty to speak for himself here, but I’m relatively certain he 0bjects to the Intervention on the grounds that it is racist.

    It is heavy handed and discriminitory

    Yep – that’s what I like about it. It doesn’t waste time playing in the politically correct sandpit and simply tries to clear all that nonsense away in order to help the Aboriginal people. It’s about actually benefiting them on the ground, not salving the wounded egos of the academics and rotten carpetbaggers who make their living by pretending to speak on their behalf.

    the worst aspect of it is that it was designed and implemented without consultation with the aboriginal community in the NT.

    That’s just not true gordicans, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to believe such nonsense. The truth is that many Aboriginals were consulted over the intervention – practical, tough and most importantly local people who live in the remote communities, or who deal with the broken and traumatised human beings that they produce. The noisy academic southern clique was ignored – but don’t mistake that for a general lack of consultation.

    It is paternalistic, aboriginals are treated as though they are children and are marginalised from the decision making process

    The elders in these remote communities do behave like children, and ought to be treated that way. They govern through a system of violence, bribery and tribal favouritism. There is nothing noble about these communities – no redeeming spirit of respect or connection with the land – they are just violent ghettos where rampant abuse, disfunction and suffering is allowed to proliferate unchecked by these so-called “elders”.

    If you don’t believe me then go and visit one. I guarantee that you will be shocked.

    If paternalism is what is now required in order to produce meaningful, positive results for the individual human beings living in these communities then paternalism is what is has to be. Like you said it’s not about black or white, and it’s certainly not about rejecting solutions simply because they offend your principles: it’s about delivering a solution that actually works in upholding and enforcing a minimum standard of living for all Australians.

    I believe that was the point being made by Ms Price in the first place.

  15. narcoticmusing

    Um, none of that good requires discrimination on the grounds of race. Are we saying that we could do nothing for a non-indigenous six year old girl because she’s not aboriginal? The problem there isn’t race, it’s entrenched poverty and violence, and there’s no reason you couldn’t tackle it with laws to protect children in that situation regardless of race.

    The problem is, all of those laws, services, etc to protect ALL children did exist and still do exist. That they are failing Aboriginal’s in particular is why an approach to target Aboriginal’s in particular is being utilised. I am not 100% sure where I stand on all aspects of the Intervention per se, but I do think that pretending there aren’t specific issues relating to culture and race, regardless of why, is naive.

  16. Correction: I spoke to my daughter and it appears I misquoted her, for which I apologise.
    She describes the intervention as a total disaster.

  17. jordanrastrick

    I understand that opinion on the ground in the NT regarding the intervention is very split.

    Since we’re all venturing our personal “experience” on this matter, my dad was heavily involved with the NT government’s response to the federal action for a couple of years. He didn’t know then whether it was fundamentally good policy or bad, and I doubt he has a firm idea now. He personally spoke to both vocal advocates and opponents from the affected communities. I never saw him more conflicted about a political issue, or more traumatized.

    The intervention was a response to terrible failures in families, communities, and governments. Whether it made things better or worse is hard I think for anyone to really say.

  18. Mondo, like a lot of people I’m not sure where I stand on the intervention, but I am curious as to whether you would support a similar scheme being applied across the board, and not just to blacks?

    While at uni i lived in a really bad neighbourhood north of Adelaide, huge rates of crime, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and multi generational unemployment.

    If we, as a society, are willing to apply this sort of policy to dysfunctional aboriginal communities, then perhaps we should be applying it across the board, regardless of ethnicity or location.

  19. jordanrastrick

    While at uni i lived in a really bad neighbourhood north of Adelaide, huge rates of crime, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and multi generational unemployment.

    I seriously doubt there are any suburbs in Adelaide that reach anywhere near the level of dysfunction in the worst remote NT communities.

    In principle these kinds of policies should be applicable to all communities or none, just like in principle Affirmative Action should never be necessary. In practice, two centuries of abysmal treatment of this land’s first inhabitants has left them far worse off than non-indigenous citizens; it is quite plausible that laws aimed at addessing such serious problems, which are de jure completely non-discriminatory, de facto only end up being applied to indigenous people. Also in practice, the scope of Federal powers in somewhere like Adelaide is much more limited, since South Australia is a state not a territory.

  20. I agree the suburbs of Elizabeth and Salisbury, crappy as they are, are not as dysfunction as many remote Aboriginal communities, but that’s not really the point i was making.

    What i am is curious as to where other posters here stand on the policy on its own merits, with race removed entirely. On the idea that if people are being supported by the state, that they also have an obligation to the state.

    Trying to find work if you are able. Giving priority to paying the rent and bills over buying drugs, smokes or alcohol. Ensuring your children go to school, or are properly home schooled. Keeping your home and your children safe, clean and healthy.

    Regardless of how bad many Aboriginal communities are, these same problems exist in every city and town in the country and should be treated exactly the same, regardless of race.

    So should we apply welfare quarantine across the board to anyone who proves unable to take care of themselves, leaving those on welfare who DO take responsibility for themselves to continue to do so, regardless of where they live or what colour they are?

    Or do we continue a racist policy that targets blacks and particular communities, regardless of the competence of individuals?

    Or do we scrap the whole thing and let people live in whatever way they see fit, regardless of the consequences for themselves, their children and the communities they live in?

  21. Mondo, like a lot of people I’m not sure where I stand on the intervention, but I am curious as to whether you would support a similar scheme being applied across the board, and not just to blacks?

    Absolutely I would Duncan. If the circumstances of any group of Australians were as poor as those facing Aborigines in the NT then I would support direct government action such as the intervention.

    She describes the intervention as a total disaster.

    Zoot – in these discussions with your daughter did you at any time find a need to ask her why the intervention has been a failure from her perspective? Unexplained assertions by family members may be persuasive to you, but they carry very little weight in a discussion such as this.

  22. jordanrastrick

    What i am is curious as to where other posters here stand on the policy on its own merits, with race removed entirely.

    Well, part of the policy involves compulsory acquisition of land held under native title. As non-indigenous people can’t hold land under native title, the policy inherently has a racial element. Compulsory federal acquisition of land held under other kinds of title raises potentially different questions.

    Since you want us to focus on the hypothetical Duncan – I agree with Mondo that in the case of another social emergency on the scale of that in the Territory, the government would be justified in taking extreme measures. For me the problem in this case is judging whether the specific extreme measures taken work well enough (especially when viewed over the long term) to be justified. The Intervention is clearly very far from perfect, but I think the ongoing bi-partistan support stems from the fact that no one in government has managed to come up with any better ideas yet.

    This is not just a generic question about reciprocity under the welfare state. The statistics in the communities on drug and alcohol addiction, property crime, life expectancy, etc are all shocking, but in and of themselves wouldn’t justify sending ADF personnel to restore law and order. Ultimately its the level of violence and sexual assault (especially domestic) in some of these communities – the numbers of women and children being routinely and brutally beaten and/or raped – demanded some sort of response to uphold their basic human rights.

    Its one thing to try and persuade an alcoholic to spend less of their welfare on booze, to try and gain stable employment, etc. Its another thing when entire towns are more or less run by violent alcoholics, such that every inhabitant becomes a victim of an almost completely failed social system. The NT government’s report that triggered the intervention (and bearing in mind that this was a Labor government, with massive popular support amongst indigenous citizens) was officially titled Little Children are Scared for a reason.

  23. It was actually “Little Children are Sacred”. But nice malapropism all the same.

  24. jordanrastrick

    Roflmao. I stand corrected and yet at the same time rather happy with the outcome.

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