A little over 100 years ago American writer Henry Adams mused that “morality is a private and costly luxury”. Today is has become a cheap, public staple.

Money and moany. Pic: Courier Mail

The national obsession with the level of contrition showed by Alan Jones for his extreme rhetoric at a political speech in September; shrill accusations of misogyny, along with revelations of hurt feelings, hurled at the Leader of the opposition by the Prime Minister are part of a trend toward public outpourings of sanctimony.

If the price of a good or service falls, people typically buy more. That iron law of economics applies equally to moral outrage, expressions of which have always involved forgoing alternatives. Rather than spend an hour writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper people would simply forget and move on. Time is money.

Demand has not shifted. People have not suddenly become more inclined to moralise – science and technology have only altered the means, not the ends, of human behaviour – but the cost of supplying moral outrage has collapsed.

Economic growth since the industrial revolution has been chipping away at the cost of production by giving people the technology and time to express themselves. But development of the internet, and in particular the spread of social media, have utterly felled it. Moral outrage is only a mouse-click or a ‘text message’ away.

Of course the internet and social media have improved life dramatically but they also have profoundly insidious consequences for the quality of public debate and the conduct of business.

Moral outrage crowds out debate on far more pressing matters. In the past fortnight alone more than 5 per cent of the year’s news has been dominated by the Alan Jones saga. Yesterday, whether or not some politicians condemned a joke by a comedian dominated national debate. 

More pressing issues, even moral ones, are shunted aside.  Why debate the justification for taxing poor workers to give a welfare handout for well-off couple to buy a house, for example, when one can agonise over whether the opposition leader hates women and hurt the prime minister’s feelings? 

Enacting serious economic reform will become much harder as aggrieved parties marshal social media to mount campaigns against change, however worthwhile it may be. The risk of provoking a campaign in the first place will dampen the candour of public debate.

Big companies will tread especially carefully to avoid giving offence to anyone, which will ultimately push up their costs as they spend more on market research to work out which groups might take offence. They will need to develop costly marketing schemes that cater to the moral vanity of customers.

If financial damage is done to enough companies over time, the value of the entire stock market will wane, as the risk of investing increases. Nothing is without cost, even emotion writ large. 

As the payments system develops to enable immediate transfer of funds from our mobile phones, causes based on sanctimonious rage, for instance, will more easily be able to attract funds, boosting their impact even further.

In the 19th century American economist Thorstein Veblen coined the term ‘conspicuous consumption’, partly to mock Americans’ use of possessions to flaunt their social status. But free markets have so successfully slashed the price of physical luxuries they no longer serve that purpose so well. 

Conspicuous compassion is becoming the norm. Emotion of all sorts – not only sanctimony – is taking the place of reason in public debate, feelings are taking precedence over fact.

Free markets should hold these forces in check, but the profusion of government regulations, purportedly for the wellbeing of the ordinary person, has entrenched the belief that any misfortune is someone else’s fault. They have bolstered the notion that every mistake and intemperate comment deserves peremptory and relentless sanction by all and sundry. 

English author CS Lewis wrote in 1965 that he preferred morality over moral earnestness: “I’d sooner live among people who don’t cheat at cards than among people who are earnest about not cheating at cards”.

Australia desperately needs more airing of such views.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Bob Real says:

      05:13am | 12/10/12

      Let moderation and common sense reign. Are some unpleasant, insensitive comments at a private function such a big deal? Or are they being used to distract us from more important issues?

    • acotrel says:

      06:30am | 12/10/12

      Unpleasant and insensitive, and that has been the story of our lives for the past two years when the bad losers have got their knickers in a knot because Labor took their ball away frrom them !  The most important issue is whether we should promote someone with nothing constructive to offer, to the top job in our country.  The association between the two big mouths contraindicates against that.

    • fml says:

      08:24am | 12/10/12

      I think your rationalisation of the event is trying to distract us from the severity of the comments.

    • Anubis says:

      09:30am | 12/10/12

      @ acotrel - “whether we should promote someone with nothing constructive to offer, to the top job in our country”  That is a question that the Labor party really should have asked themselves both in 2007 and 2010, then maybe they might have found a decent person (if one exists in amongst the union thugs, career pollies and failed lawyers that constitute the Labor party) to lead the party, not the two incompetents they have foisted on us.

    • Mouse says:

      10:48am | 12/10/12

      I note too, that the offensive joke at Peta Credlin’s expense at an ALP function hasn’t been given much airtime. Where is the FB hate poll? Where is the list of outraged people calling for the decapitation of Media Studios. If the comedian’s comments were clearly very inappropriate and offensive, why didn’t swan say so at the time instead of waiting until the next day? Did he have to find out if gillard was offended first?  I mean to say, swan was actually there in the room when it was said, Abbott wasn’t even in the same state when Jones made his comment was he? The hypocrisy is astounding! lol

      I really think that the “outrage” at Jones was so scripted and orchestrated that anything Labor says now is just fluff.

    • Sharon says:

      02:10pm | 12/10/12


      The Opposition Leader has class not arse! He doesn’t need that kind of filth, as a ticket to personally attack his opponent who happens to be a female. Is it just me? Gillard looks lost in Bali, one would think John Howard was the PM and Abbott was the deputy! The two men looked very distinguished with their wives in their choice of dress. Gillard looked like she was dressed for Parliamentary Question Time ready to attack the enemy!

    • Mouse says:

      04:42pm | 12/10/12

      Sharon, yes, Abbott has not gone the same way as gillard and her cronies. Abbott calls her a “piece of work” and it’s the end of the world and they all scream like banshees. gillard calls him “Jack the Ripper” and it may get mentioned in passing. At least Liberal members seem to be more adult in their approach. Honestly though, anyone would seem more adult when compared to the oversized school brats we are stuck with!
      At least gillard’s dressmaker would be happy. She only has to change colours of material, all the clothes patterns are the same!  ;o)

    • Mahhrat says:

      05:34am | 12/10/12

      Reddit has a thing called “Comment Karma”, the sum total of all your ‘upvotes” (those who like your post), and “downvotes” (well, duh).

      There are any number of people who not only troll for both (depending on what they want), but another group who go around very loudly proclaiming that they don’t care.

      You know what?  I love getting upvotes.  I like putting opinions out and about - here is no exception - and seeing what people think.  Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong.  It’s all good.

      What’s important though, is that sometimes it makes me rethink my position.

      I think it’s that last bit we often forget to do in our “moral outrage” (which I’m as guilty of as anyone).  The problem isn’t emotional responses, or conspicuous compassion (I like that term).  The problem is the same as it’s always been: bloody close-mindedness.

      Always be prepared to be wrong, and don’t shoot down people happy to admit when they are.

    • James Ricketson says:

      07:13am | 12/10/12

      I’m with you, Mahhrat. The problem (one, at least) is closed-mindedness and not being prepared to have your mind changed and admit to being wrong. It is wonderful to be challenged and to deepen ones feelings and thoughts about things.This is a great piece, Adam, and I hope that the expressions ‘moral vanity’ and ‘conspicuous compassion’ become regularly used in public discourse.

    • SAm says:

      05:42am | 12/10/12

      Politicians have better things to do than play tit for tat, so yes they need to shut up and get on with actual debate and policy. BOTH of them.
      The rest of us are of course able to be ‘outraged’ at that sorry little man, so dont go and say we should just get over it. He hasnt learnt a lesson and wont if we give up now.
      PS Im really loving not listening to 2GB! I used to get angry before work, now I start the day kind of happy!

    • acotrel says:

      05:47am | 12/10/12

      It is not sanctimony to respond to Alan Jones’s constant barrage of poisonous crap when such a golden opportunity arises.  Are you claiming that he is not a deserving case to receive a good burst of flak ?

    • bazza says:

      06:21am | 12/10/12

      @acotrel…..I agree with you about Jones, a nasty piece of work, but hey, that is now old news.
      I’m wondering if you have been following the paper trail of late. You know the old saying, “if you want to get the facts, follow the paper trail”. Well the paper trail is now bringing home a lot ‘fact’. Legal documents are hard to brush aside even if you are young and naive. Enjoy your weekend.

    • nihonin says:

      06:37am | 12/10/12

      acotrel, here is a lesson for you in sanctimony, the sanctimony of the ALP, poor widdle things that they have become since the last election…...pathetic:


      How the PM, Roxon and Plibersek could ‘berate’ Tony Abbott, is a laugh, I must admit it was damn funny to watch the Labor Ministers scurry to the closest News camera to display their ‘outrage’ at the joke used to denigrate a woman from the opposition at the CFMEU dinner.

    • acotrel says:

      06:44am | 12/10/12

      Always the optimist?  So far every attempt by Abbott to smear a government member has been a fizzer.  What has changed, is the LNP doing more research on it’s victims these days ? The election is scheduled to be held at the extreme end of 2013.  Until then Julia will continue to do her good work, unless Abbott grows a brain cell.

    • Bazza says:

      07:23am | 12/10/12

      Thank you acotrel for confirming the obvious, you are not extending your reading beyond that what you WANT to read.
      Somehow I don’t recall talking about LNP research, or when an election will be held, that point is of no consequence, next year is fine by me.
      What I might say in regards to “following the paper trail” is this.
      There will be many in the Labor party who now wish that whoever it was among them who called for, and got, an ex copper, skilled in the art of following paper trails, the sack from his job in radio.All it it did was free up his time to allow him to follow the paper trail on a full time basis. Maybe they need a new “strategist” the current one is dumber than dumb.
      Go to michaelsmithnews.com and follow the paper trail, you like me, appear to have ample time to do it.

    • Bertrand says:

      07:37am | 12/10/12

      @actorel - you would be well served reading and following Mahhrat’s advice a couple comments up.

    • Paul says:

      09:26am | 12/10/12

      I don’t buy your argument here.  The guy is on radio for something like 20 hours a week doing an opinion show about political and controversial issues… Often taking a point of view that I really don’t agree with (NBN, climate change etc).  But it is OPINION - And who are we to shut someone down for that?

      Acotrel, when it comes to giving opinion many of us could argue that you too spend all week on the punch with a “constant barrage of poisonous crap.”  But it’s just that we each have our own opinions which may not agree with yours… or we agree and think the “other side” has it wrong.

      The article above makes a really good point in that everything comes with a cost.  We’ve had a few decades of freedom starting from the 70’s… we now seem to be moving back towards a world where people want to enforce their moral views on others.  Where moral outrage is just a mouse click away (what a great phrase Adam!)

    • Craig says:

      06:40am | 12/10/12

      I think the conduct of the opposition leader - potentially our next PM - towards the female majority in Australia matters very much.

      It affects far more Australians than most other issues and the wages gap, rates of violence and cost of medical care (physical and mental) related to this discrimination is one of the largest costs and strains on Australians.

      So, as a father of a daughter, a husband, a son & someone who has friends, family, colleagues and had bosses and subordinates who are women - many of whom have a burden that I as a male don’t face, that cuts their happiness, well-being and security levels, as an employer who find that women add costs to business due to the need for additional security, counselling and support because of abusive males, I think the position of the Opposition leader towards women matters very, very much.

    • Joan says:

      07:14am | 12/10/12

      I think it matters that 70 members of parliament voted to retain Slipper of the sleazy texts as Speaker. It shows seriously bad judgement and that they are incapable of making the right decisions when faced with factual evidence . which we already knew-  Gillard minority government a failure. .

    • Charles says:

      07:50am | 12/10/12

      So given that Tony Abbott is surrounded by women in his family, his chief of staff is a female, and his Deputy leader is also a female, as well as the fact that he has put forward a maternity scheme for women that is considered outrageously generous by even his closest supporters, I am wondering how you could possibly conclude that Tony Abbott is antagonistic towards women. 

      I would describe him as being hopelessly in their thrall.

    • Borderer says:

      09:04am | 12/10/12

      I would be more concerned about the actual leader who is our current PM and her conduct in regards to all Autralians regardless of gender rather than borrow tommorrows problems for today.
      That being said I would not vote for someone who was a mysogonistic a-hole. So I look at the evidense and see that the only evidense against Mr Abbott thus far tabled is largely revolving around hearsay from current labor ministers saying “He has a problem with women” and some old political rivals who also side with labor saying they recall events of 30 odd years ago… calling this flimsy is to imply they have stronger evidense than they have shown. I also recall that this is after a deliberate stunt on Australia day to have him branded a racist by deceiving aboriginal activists and whipping them into a frenzy. Needless to say I’m dubious…

      So I look at the character and actions of our current PM and what do I see? Do I list her personal character flaws? Political actions? Hypocrasy? Stunts? Bad decisions? Lies? Betrayals? Or poor judgement? So spare me your “Look over there!!!” schtick, I’m not buying your brand.

    • Mouse says:

      10:31am | 12/10/12

      Craig, I think it matters too, very much, and what you have said has just reinforced my opinion. Yes, Mr Abbott appears to be a much better person than gillard does.  Thanks for that!  :o)

    • GRUMPY gen X says:

      07:11am | 12/10/12

      What concerns me is not what this pathetic excuse of a man says (AJ) but that many Australians believe him. Many grumpy Baby Boomers out there. Get off the disability pension and get back to work !!!!!  NOW

    • Bertrand says:

      07:30am | 12/10/12

      “Why debate the justification for taxing poor workers to give a welfare handout for well-off couple to buy a house, for example, when one can agonise over whether the opposition leader hates women and hurt the prime minister’s feelings? “

      Well, for one, both parties agree on the first homebuyers grant, terrible policy that it is. There wouldn’t be much debate going on.

      As Economist (I think it was him) said on a previous thread, perhaps part of the reason so much focus is being put on personality and sanctimony is that there is really actually very little distinguishing the two parties, so they need to use this stuff to manufacture the idea that there is a yawning chasm between the two of them.

    • Louise says:

      08:51am | 12/10/12

      There may not be much philosophical difference between the ALP and the coalition at the moment, but the real problem is the gross incompetence of this Government.

      The only two really intelligent, capable people in the ALP from the 2007 election were Tanner and Faulkner, who both resigned in disgust when Rudd was knifed.

      Wong and Crean at least have something to offer, but the rest are completely useless at their jobs. Gillard, Swan, Albanese, Roxon, Garrett and Plibersek (just to name a few) are so out of their depth it’s embarrassing. The only thing they’re good at is campaigning and media interviews.

      We are only now starting to feel the impact of such hopeless governance because of the strength of our nation when the ALP took over in 2007 and there will be a lot more hardship before the mess they’ve made gets cleaned up.

    • Doug says:

      09:51am | 12/10/12

      Forget about FHB grant what about the super and property investment tax breaks Australians receive ???

    • Rosie says:

      07:33am | 12/10/12

      If the PM, person holding the highest position in the land is offended by every criticism put forward for her incapability to do the job well it is no surprise a war of sexism and misogyny has developed. “Speak sanctimoniously first, then we say the wrong thing, apologize, justify and all is good.” It would be good if we could leave it at that but no because this Govt is relying on personal attacks and grubby deals they then try to make political mileage out of it.

      By the way, the the crude filthy joke about Abbott and his chief of staff must be worse than the Allan Jones offensive remarks and former Parliamentary Speaker’s sexist misogynistic text messages, no sane person is game enough to publish! I really would like to know, compare and judge for myself. The nation’s PM, her Deputy who happens to be the nation’s Treasurer declaring that their opponent, Opposition leader is a misogynist and a sexist makes it fair in love and war. Nicola Roxon female AG has also given the nation the green light when she said it is fair game!

      Govt’s responsibility is not to start wars of sexism and misogyny and if they do should take responsibility to end it! The PM’s outrageous speech was wrong place, wrong timing and nothing to do with what should have been debated! It was like she was acting in some kind of political feminist, sexist film.

    • Rosie says:

      08:33am | 12/10/12

      As Australia’s first female PM Gillard has no self control. She becomes emotional at a drop of hate by acting to be sincere, loses her temper, personally attacks whatever she is attacking and then cries the victim.

      It is obvious she can’t handle the job, should get out of the kitchen and allow someone else to lead the Govt into the next Election. We are going through the political karma she instigated when she got rid of Kevin Rudd and the deceitful way in which she gave us the carbon tax! Deceit only compounds deceit! She should have been replaced months ago!

    • Harass says:

      09:27am | 12/10/12

      Gotta love it
      Rosie agreeing with herself.

      If early onset wasn’t obvious from Rosie’s earlier posts, it certainly is now.

    • Rosie says:

      09:48am | 12/10/12

      Sorry Harrass just adding to my comments. Note: speak, apologize and justify taught to us by Gillard and her mob! So if you can’t debate the issue and no political mileage to be gained can we please move on!

    • andye says:

      11:16am | 12/10/12

      @Rosie - Yeah it was CRAZY for her to get upset when Abbott made that sideways reference about her dead father. You know, the one he is too gutless to admit?

    • TheRealDave says:

      11:23am | 12/10/12

      Yes, its embarrasing when you forget to change profiles in your Astrotrufing software…....Menzies House needs better training courses wink

    • TimB says:

      02:31pm | 12/10/12

      “Yeah it was CRAZY for her to get upset when Abbott made that sideways reference about her dead father. You know, the one he is too gutless to admit? “

      Garbage Andye. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the ‘dying of shame’ line has been used by Abbot on numerous occasions before Alan Jones added his own twist. Why are you ignoring that?

      What Abbott said was nothing more than a continuation of his usual theme. A poor choice in light of what Jones said? Perhaps. Deliberately chosen to refer to her Father? Almost certainly not. There is absolutely NO evidence to support your ridiculous viewpoint that it was.

      Had Gillard not invoked her father for her own political attack you wouldn’t have even mentioned it.

      “Gotta love it
      Rosie agreeing with herself.”

      Meh. Your mate Acotrel does it all the time.

    • andye says:

      03:25pm | 12/10/12

      @TimB - I heard the comment on TV (without analysis and before I had heard about the speech) and immediately stopped what I was doing to turn and look. There was no doubt in my mind when I first heard it, at that first moment that it was a deliberate reference to the Jones comment. I was actually quite shocked at that moment.

      Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a dumb mistake… that doesnt mean she realised that or wasn’t genuinely angry.

      According to conservatives, though, Abbott( who has a long history of saying dumb and/or mean things) couldn’t possibly have meant it, while Gillard (who is obviously an evil emotionless robot from planet commie) would use the death of her own father to score political points while shedding crocodile tears.

    • DJ says:

      03:51pm | 12/10/12

      think you are right TimB - Abbott made that call more as a slip of the tongue than maliciously. Somehow this is worse for me though, what if he has a slip of the tongue like this in a defence meeting, bilateral discussion or a G20 meeting? He is loose with languge and whilst it works in opposition have serious concerns regarding his abilities in government with such loose lips and forgetfulness.

    • Sharz says:

      04:42pm | 12/10/12


      Concerned about Abbott slip of the tongue when he is PM. Couldn’t be worse than Gillard in America talking about the moon landing to impressive the Americans.

    • Achmed says:

      07:52am | 12/10/12

      This term of Govt has been one dominated by provocative language initiated by Abbott.  He lost the election and has been on the longest dummy spit in history. 
      Now I get it that people call Gillard a liar for her carbon tax.  What i don’t get is that people continue to rant about her “lie” repeating what Abbott says and claiming it will be a great day when he is elected and repeals the “tax”.
      None are questioning his policy.  His use of the provocative language to stir emotions has deflected any questioning of his policies.
      He continually talks down our economy and compares it to that of Greece etc.  But no-one takes him to task, people have been conditioned to just accept what he says as truth and compared to Gillard because of the carbon tax ‘lie’.
      People need to read more than Abbott’s press releases and the Liberal newssheet.  The countires he keep comparing our economy to have things double digit inflation, double digit unemployment and mulit-BILLION dollar debt.
      Australia has 5.4% unemployment, 1.7% inflation and a multi-MILLion dollar debt, and is the envy of the world.  During the term of the Govt Aust has gone up in the world best economy stakes to be among the top ten. Not gone backwards as Abbott would have you believe.
      he needs to be asked and quesioned and force to articulate his policies and for people to stop accepting his provocative comments as gospel.

    • Rosie says:

      08:18am | 12/10/12

      Blah Blah then if Abbott had won the election there would be no dummy spit, no Govt dominated by provocative language, no sexism, no misogyny etc etc etc the people would see the Govt governing for the people and the opposition opposing what they feel is not beneficial for the nation’s future prosperity!

      At the moment because of this rotten Govt we have them trying to survive day by day and the Opposition trying to get them out as quickly as possible. Australian people are the biggest losers because their Govt has forgotten that they are there to do a job for them and a better prosperous Australia, not to rely on personal attacks and grubby deals with one thing in their minds and that is to beat Abbott and give us another term of their bad governance!

    • Pedro says:

      08:34am | 12/10/12

      I for one am very bored with the tit for tat in canberra at the moment. Who is outraged? Who is not outraged enough? Who is a mysogenist? Who is a hypocrite? Yawn. Can we just run the country, children?
      (Though I am enjoying the tables being turned on Alan Jones and his ultra-conservative cronies)
      I think we all accept that Phoney Tony will be the next PM if he can hold on to the leadership til then. He may well burn out. Who knows?
      The one thing we all agree on (LNP loons like Joan and Gregg too) is that Phoney and his mob are committed to carbon pricing and taxing mining profits. Nothing will change - and there certainly won’t be the crazy parental benefits scheme which will make Labor look like Ebenezer Scrooge by comparison.
      And of course the python squeeze on our economy that Phoney and his mostly male lieutenants were talking about until very recently has been revealed to be another LNP lie.
      Over to you Joan? Anything shrill to exclaim about Juliar and Labor hypocrisy?

    • Tator says:

      08:52am | 12/10/12

      from the Australian Office of Financial Management
      Total Commonwealth Government Securities
      on Issue - $252,126m

      consisting of:
      Treasury Bonds - $218,388m
      Treasury Indexed Bonds - $16,719m
      Treasury Notes - $17,000m
      Other Securities - $19m

      As at 5 October 2012

      Now the common term used for 1000 million in Australia is a Billion, so $252126 million is in fact referred as $252.126 billion.

    • Borderer says:

      09:09am | 12/10/12

      Presently Abbott is not commenting on the comedian at the CFMEU dinner, I’m hoping that they are moving on to actually governing and such. On a plus side it does paint the PM as a PC nutbag.

    • Anubis says:

      09:44am | 12/10/12

      @ Achmed - do some research - What were the first words Gillard uttered when her Government took their place in the House of Representatives - she eyeballed the Leader of the Opposition and declared “Bring it on”

      That is provocative language. Now back to you to highlight examples of TA’s provocative language.

      And just to correct your figures

      Australia has 5.6% unemployment (if you listen to Ged Kearney the real figure is closer to 12%), 1.7% inflation and a multi-Billion dollar debt (not multi-million. The figure is actually around $270 billion gross debt and some of the worst balance of trade figures in decades were released just this week)

    • SAm says:

      08:24am | 12/10/12

      I agree entirely although your debt figure is way off.
      But your point remains, Abbott will get elected based on emotional rantings, not policy, unless someone actually tries to scrutinise him.
      Example yesterday, whilst ranting on about a ‘poor’ pensioners electricity bill going up by 80% due to ‘the carbon tax’ it was found that 9% was due to the tax.
      Enough bald faced exaggerations Tony and actually give us some alternative to consider.
      Until then I will donkey vote (Labor doesnt deserve it for many reasons either)

    • Rosie says:

      09:11am | 12/10/12

      Scrutinise the Govt first before the opposition whose job it is to oppose the bad grubby deals made with the Independents and the Greens and legislated with the help of the two sleaze, Thompson and Slipper! You can scrutinise the Opposition, their policies, their costings and their leader when Gillard gives us an Election date!

      At the moment I am concerned about the nation surviving and doing better than Greece on the borrowed hard cash treasury bonds by Wayne Swan! The money that an incoming Govt will spend comes from the same source, but who is more qualified to spend within their means is the only requirement at the moment.

    • Aux says:

      10:01am | 12/10/12

      The two slease that your beloved opposition is now frothing at the mouth to get into bed with.

      Its always one sided bullshit. Both parties are dirty and corrupt and need to be put out with the trash.

    • OzTrucker says:

      04:24pm | 12/10/12

      But one really does have to wonder how her usage managed to double in the period. I know if my usage went up that much I woul be asking questions.

      Now really think about this.

      Only 9% increase due to the cardon dioxide tax. Hmm her bill was about $1500 was it not. That makes the carbon dioxide tax bit about what $149

      So much for the assistance package.

      Hang on weren’t the emitters supposed to not raise prices due to the carbon dioxide tax? The assistance package was supposed to cover any increase. Hmmm.


    • Rosie says:

      09:19am | 12/10/12

      We here in Punch can debate the national debt, the economy, the unemployment, climate change, asylum seeker, health, education, sexism, etc etc until we are blue in the face -  those in Canberra are only interested two things, the Govt whatever it takes to survive day by day and the Opposition to boot them out asap!

    • AdamC says:

      09:22am | 12/10/12

      Another interesting take on things from Adam Creighton. I agree with his comments and predictions for things to come.

      Two of the most toxic aspect of the intersection of social media with moral sanctimony are that social media is instant and can create self-reinforcing communities of moral outrage. The ease with which people can join or engage with these communities (i.e, slacktivism) means matters can very easily, very quickly get totally out of control. Alan Jones is one of the more recent victim of this phenomenon.

    • Anna C says:

      09:30am | 12/10/12

      All politicians need to grow thicker skin.  You are paid a hell of a lot of money compared to most people and do not have the right get offended at every bloody comment.  We have bigger fish to fry than worrying about your hurt feelings.  Get over it.

    • line says:

      09:54am | 12/10/12

      “If financial damage is done to enough companies over time, the value of the entire stock market will wane”

      That’s one very long bow to draw. Far more likely companies will be dragged kicking and screaming into half-decent corporate citizenship.

    • bill.schaffer@ says:

      09:54am | 12/10/12

      This is some kind of irony about the increasig irrelevance and blindness of newspaper pundits,  isn’t it? You couldn’t possibly be trying to convince anyone that automatic self-righteousness and permanent indignation is not the modus operandi of Alan Jones himself. The man suffers from a kind of moral priapism that he vents in predictable directions across the soundscape on a daily basis. he’s been doing it for decades. If you want irrelevant moral surveillance penetrating politics, look at people’s private text messages being scrutinised in Parliament.. BTW, nice work subverting the News Ltd pay wall by publishing the same article under an even more stupid title here.

    • Bill Schaffer says:

      10:12am | 12/10/12

      Adam C, you don’t think that traditional media create communities of moral outrage? What do you think Shock Jocks do for a living? They also regularly target individuals and organise expressions of outrage against corporations and institutions. They have a right to do so under the principle of free speech and others have a right to return the favour using the net. The author of this article is simply and transparently indulging in selective meta-moralising. Hope it makes him feel better as he slides into irrelevance.

    • AdamC says:

      10:46am | 12/10/12

      Bill, I agree that ‘shock jocks’ can create communities of moral outrage. I guess the difference is that engagement is less easy or efficient. Hundreds of thousands of people cannot call the Alan Jones show, but even more people than that can easily ‘Like’ an anti-Alan Jones Facebook page or re-tweet an outraged denunciation of the man.

      I guess another aspect of social media that I didn’t mention is that any restraint on language people use seems to just disappear. Nobody would describe our PM as a ‘mole’ (shouldn’t that be ‘moll’?) on radio. On social media, legions of haters do that with expletives attached. Perspective is also lost. Again, take the Alan Jones case. The guy made some tasteless, nasty remarks off the cuff. He belatedly apologised. He is not the devil incarnate. However, on social media, he can be. (Indeed, according to some, he is.)

      I don’t think the answer to this is some sort of restriction on social media. (I am a bit of a free speech evangelist.) But people need to at least accept that this phenomenon exists.

    • Bill Schaffer says:

      10:55am | 12/10/12

      Adam, thanks for your temperate reply.  Yes, the internet is full of flaming and trolls. However, why is it necessary to believe that Jones is the devil to want to respond to the way he has manipulated the national political agenda forr decades using his relatively marginal, but intensely focussed and loyal ‘community of outrage’? His power is based purely on the perception that sponsors will benefit f from associating with his brand, and he has exploited that in every possible way. Why is it a worry that citizens are spontaneously using a less controlled medium to play the same game?  It isn’t even about morality, it is about power, profit, and political control.

    • Peter J. Pedant says:

      11:09am | 12/10/12

      Apologies for the pedantry…

      “English author CS Lewis wrote in 1965…”

      That would have been difficult for Mr Lewis considering he died in November 1963.

    • TheRealDave says:

      11:28am | 12/10/12

      Wow! JFK also died in November 1963…coincidence or conspiracy??

      I think the latter…..

    • Peter J. Pedant says:

      11:10am | 12/10/12

      Apologies for the pedantry…

      “English author CS Lewis wrote in 1965…”

      That would have been difficult for Mr Lewis considering he died in November 1963.

    • ruru says:

      11:20am | 12/10/12

      Parliament needs to clean up its act.
      My daughter is a Geo on a minesite, and their code of conduct is strict. No nonsense. If a male dominated mine site has more civility than the stoushes in Parliament something has to change.
      Forget ’ hardening up’ the reality is the rules of behaviour need to be overhauled.

    • scaper... says:

      02:34pm | 12/10/12

      Hey, that’s me flying the flag at the Convoy Rally.

      Wasn’t aware that Jones was to be the MC or six bus loads of his supporters were turning up. If I knew prior I would have strongly reconsidered convoying.

      Oh well…at least they left their witchy bitchy placards at home.

    • BruceS says:

      06:37pm | 12/10/12

      I disagree with Jones, I think Gillard’s father, keeping in mind his life time devotion to Socialism, if anything, probably died in a state of self satisfaction, which to me, is not a good thing.


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free News.com.au newsletter