There’s something pitiful about Alan Jones pretending to be a victim; we know he’s dished out more than he will ever take, and his mewling about his treatment renders him abject.
Yesterday morning, on his return to radio, he said the “unbridled hatred” directed at him was, in part at least, motivated by jealously. I suppose in his situation others might cling to that delusion. Especially because – adding insult to his injured tone – he will have to issue another apology for his racist rants against Sydney’s Lebanese Muslims. No wonder he feels set upon, what with all his chickens coming home to roost.
But he does have a point – some nasty people have said some nasty stuff about this nasty man.
And yet, as sponsors abscond and the outraged masses call for his sacking, smug would-be kingmaker Alan Jones is still using his own pile of bile to further put the boot into Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
On top of his rambling 45-minute poor-excuse-for-an-apology speech he also wrote a sneering, self-justifying piece of pap which was, in the main, devoted to slinging off Ms Gillard with one hand while giving a patronising pat on the head to her deceased father with the other.
In case you’ve missed the self-perpetuating furore, the papers revealed on the weekend that Mr Jones had told a bunch of tittering young Liberals – who tweeted that it was a “brilliant speech” – and a sprinkling of frontbenchers that he reckoned Ms Gillard’s father had “died of shame”. He hadn’t reckoned on a journo being in the room.
The backlash to the report has been extraordinary from some people (and underwhelming from others).
It seems everything he has done to date – including suggesting Ms Gillard and former Greens Leader Bob Brown be shoved in a chaff bag and taken out to sea, and his role in broadcasting material that the Australian Communications and Media Authority found likely to encourage violence in the lead up to the Cronulla riots – was not “too far”.
No, now he has finally gone beyond the pale. Maybe it’s because he just slightly overestimated how hateful some people can be. He has made an art and a lucrative career out of appealing to humanity’s more base instincts and maybe he thought we were even worse than we actually are.
Still, the simpering apologists immediately sprang into action. “Well, obviously he shouldn’t have said it,” they said. “But this Government really is the worst we’ve had.” It’s an impossible logic; disapproval of Government policy somehow justifying a grievous and cruel attack.
And Mr Jones quickly became his own Apologist in Chief. He said the dinner at which he gave the speech was private (it wasn’t, by most definitions). He says he was just repeating something else he’d heard at a party (how vapid). He says it was in ‘bad taste’ (as though he just had poor sartorial judgement). He said the journalist represented himself as a Liberal student (he didn’t). He said it was just a ‘smart Alec’ comment (when it stupid as well as cruel).
But the overall sense you get from the many words he has uttered since this story broke is that he will continue to justify it to himself on the basis that he vehemently hates this Government, and Ms Gillard in particular. And his most avid listeners will let him, because there is an appetite in this country for hate, for righteous fury.
Mr Jones should apologise properly and unreservedly to Ms Gillard – and her mother – and he should step down; better, 2GB should fire him. And then maybe we can hope for some respite before another pretender steps up to stoke the destructive passions of the more rabid sectors of society.
In the meanwhile, those who have responded precisely in kind; those who have wished for Jones’ death, or wished him put in a chaff bag, or mentioned his own parents, or private life, should be aware of their own hypocrisy. We live in a robust democracy, where outrageous things can and should be said; where Jones is free to be an appalling human being and we are free to call him such.
But an eye for an eye is not the way. Jones’ words and his actions deserve to be attacked, and savagely. And specifically.
As should former Labor speechwriter Bob Ellis’ petty claims that Ms Gillard is a “girly man” for flying home when her father died. Although in his case the minimal response has, probably rightly, been roughly proportional to his influence.
People are angry at Jones, and rightly so. I’m angry. But every time you want to go beyond the bounds of the man’s deeds and actions and welcome his death or take a swipe at his personal life, think to yourself: What would Jones do?
Then, please, do the opposite, and just shut up.