Election 2019: The Remorse Paradox and Doublethink Denial

I was very amused by Steve Dickson having to pull out of the election today – not because he was busted going to a strip club or his appalling behaviour there. My amusement stemmed from the way the One Nation candidate so pathetically tried to excuse himself.

There is a modern phenomenon I call the remorse paradox whereby people – mostly in the public eye, but it’s spread pretty much everywhere – use weasel words to avoid full responsibility even when making admissions.

Busted sportsmen do it. Politicians and pop stars do it. In Steve Dickson’s case the weasel words were as follows:

“The footage shown does not reflect the person I am. It shows a person who was drunk and not in control of his actions and I take full responsibility for allowing that to happen.”

“I found the footage difficult to watch as my words and actions under intoxication and in that environment, are not a true reflection of myself.”

In other words, it wasn’t him. It was some alternative version of himself. He’s taking responsibility for allowing that alternative self to get air time, but he’s not taking responsibility for what that alternative self did or said. So he acknowledges, sheepishly, that he deserves a bit of a slap for letting the genie out of the bottle, but he himself is not the genie.

What a load of crap.

I’m sorry Steve, but YOU are the person who said:

“I think white women fuck a whole lot better, they know what they’re doing. Asian chicks don’t. I’ve done more Asian than I know what to do with.”

YOU are also the chap shown chatting up a dancer after slipping money into her lingerie. Then YOU said:

“You need to slide your hand on my dick.”

This wasn’t the Devil speaking, or alcohol turning you into some sort of innocent automaton. This was YOU, unleashed, showing your own true colours in all their ugly vomitous reality.

And despite behaving like that, you continued to hold yourself out as a person worthy of being elected to the Australian parliament. Until found out.

Even then, you didn’t have the grace to admit your appalling character. The person on the video did not reflect the person you truly are.

It was someone else.

Have we really fallen so low? Is this now our political reality that people with such abysmal morals and outrageous behaviour can genuinely believe they deserve to be elected to (what ought to be) the highest office in the land?

Would Menzies have behaved like this?

Would Edmund Barton, Billy Hughes, Curtin, Chifley, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard…I start to lose confidence after that…would any of those, or any of their colleagues, in any kind of bizarro universe even dreamed of carrying on like Dicko?

Now, not even the One Nation Party want him!

But if that’s bad enough, even weirder is the apparent success of Clive Palmer.

We’re talking about a bloke who went out of business owing $300 million plus many, many millions in entitlements to Queensland Nickel employees – since paid in part by the federal government. But despite still being sued for all of that, not only does he refuse to pay, he boasts about his wealth!

And that’s not even the weird bit.

The truly weird part of this story is that a bloke who tramples on the rights of battlers while boasting about his multi-billionaire success, has managed to spend nearly $40 million on advertising and is genuinely looking at holding the balance of power in the upcoming election.

Is the universe going mad?

Can no-one see what is happening here?

Palmer has taken a leaf straight out of the Donald Trump playbook. Deny, deny, deny – no matter how obvious the truth – and keep hammering home the message that the ruling elite are the true baddies.

YOU are the ruling elite Clive. YOU are the emperor swanning about starkers and it’s time the battlers you’ve ripped off saw you for what you are rather than fawning in your wake and raising you up to the Senate.

I’m just disgusted at the state of our democracy.

By no means do I want it replaced because it’s very clear that open democracy under the rule of law is the only way to maximise happiness in a free society. But there are threats to our democracy which is encouraging the B-graders, the apparatchik manipulators, the doublethink deniers and the outright scumbags to stand for office.

How on earth do we stop it?

The flow of information is so compromised by media minorities, AI algorithms and fake news that no-one can really be sure what matters or even what is objectively true. We’re swimming in a lake of info-quicksand but I can at least still be sure that a vote for Dickson or Palmer would be a really bad idea,

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Blues Fest Blues

I went to the Byron Bay Bluesfest last weekend.

I make a point of going every twenty years so this is the second time I’ve been. It rained every day in 1999 so we wallowed in a sea of mud, but at least I got to chat to Billy Thorpe.

The site has now changed so mud isn’t quite the problem it was, but just because the Bluefest was outstandingly good, that won’t stop me bagging it.

Other blogs, no doubt, will rhapsodise over the excellence of the organisation and quality of the music. That was pretty good, especially while sitting in the craft beer space with aural and visual access to two tents. But don’t come to this blog expecting gormless praise for that which is worthy.  The Book Hammer will always focus fearlessly on that which is less than cool.

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Byron Bay and its vicinity has long been known as a new age oasis – a hotbed of hippy sensibility where we walk the streets wolfing down veggie burgers while wearing hemp and whiffing hash.

It’s very cool, very laid back, and very, very alternative.

And yet, when the Bluesfest comes to town and provides so much temporary employment, some of the vegan, peace-loving hippies turn into Nazis.

Seriously, I could not believe the number of young women covered in tatts, piercings and rainbow scarves shouting in shrill admonition at those who tried to bring in umbrellas or water, or dared to venture off the beaten track getting into the festival. Give ’em a uniform, they think they’re Hitler.

Then there was the behaviour of the fans.

Every time I tried to get near the front before a show, I’d think: “Cool! I can actually see.” But then the band would start and a sea of arms holding cameras and phones would shoot up and anyone less than six foot four would find their experience totally obscured.

Why on earth can’t people just live in the moment and enjoy the performance? It does my head in!

Then there are the gap-creepers – people who are utterly shameless about pushing into the little bit of space you’ve created for yourself to promote activities such as seeing or breathing. I lost count of the times people would push past me saying they were “looking for a friend” and then just stop in my little bit of space. In most cases they were six foot five and would then hold up their cameras or phones. Sometimes both.

If those people were bad enough, at least they weren’t wearing super-large hats or dinosaur suits that were nine feet tall!

Unbelievable.

“Look at me! Look how zany I am wearing a sombrero or stupidly obstructive costume inside a tent! What’s that? You think I’m insensitive? Well sorry, but I’m a creative free spirit and my need to express myself has greater validity than your need to see the artists for whom you’ve paid over a hundred dollars a day to watch!”

The very worst though, are the “indulgent” grandparents who think it’s a really cool idea to put one-year-olds up on their shoulders and wade into the mosh pit.

My god! The number of times I saw some irresponsible geriatric hefting a wailing kiddie onto his sagging shoulders and subjecting them to barely repressed violence at five hundred decibels. Are you kidding? When those kids are describing the ordeal (in Auslan) to a trauma analyst in twenty years time, I hope they’ll have been left enough in grandad’s will to pay the bill!

But once you got out of the Tents From Hell and headed for the carpark…good luck. On Good Friday the wait was about ninety minutes. No exaggeration…ninety minutes. It was okay for some as they lucked into the good lanes set up by the neo-nazist traffic controllers. For everyone else it was a nightmare that ended about 2.30 am.

On a slightly more positive note, the music was absolutely brilliant. There were any number of artists of who blew me away – especially Fantastic Negrito, Vintage Trouble, Yothu Yindi, Lukas Nelson, Gary Clarke Jnr, Tommy Emmanuel, St Paul & The Broken Bones, Backsliders and Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf.

Iggy Pop was great but more from a “crossing him off the bucket list” perspective.

Best of all, for me, was the Marcus King Band. My god that was powerful! I saw them twice.

Finally, if I was Peter Noble and wanted the Bluesfest to be a success going forward, I would investigate the possibility of involving Phil Scorer in the administration. Phil, who won Glen A Baker’s RAM Magazine National Trivia Contest back in 1976, is surely Australian music’s greatest fan. The effort he put in to organise and inform his many friends for the festival was nothing short of miraculous and if the Bluesfest team had just a tenth of Phil’s passion and logistical skill there would be no limit to where the festival might end up.

Grandads brandishing toddlers would certainly be banned, and hippies in jackboots would at the very least be told to cool their jets.

Over to you Pete.