Dangerous things, words.


In some parts of the world they’ll get you killed. In more civilised quarters, merely ruined. I don’t know if the $35 000 Shane Bazzi will have to pay Peter Dutton, consequent to the Federal Court finding he’d defamed the tuber-adjacent Defence Minister will financially destroy the refugee advocate – but failing a generously supported Go Fuck Dutts/Go Fund Me campaign, you gotta figure it’s gonna hurt. Especially if he ends up having to pay Dutton’s legal costs too.

The hell of it is, the court went light on Bazzi, because the bench acknowledged that the original terrible, defamatory, no-good, very bad tweet wasn’t actually seen by that many people (including Dutton). Bazzi took it down as soon as the Spud’s lawyerly crushers came a-calling. And Dutton suffered zero material damage. He didn’t lose his job. He didn’t shed a penny of income. Indeed he was later promoted out of Home Affairs and into Defence.

Unstated was the morally extenuating but legally irrelevant fact that for some unknown but possibly very large number of people, or maybe just me, there was nothing you could say about Peter Dutton that could make you think less of him.

It gives a naive, legally untutored fellow such as your correspondent pause to wonder why Dutts got to trouser the thirty-five large, having totally Streisand Effected the offending comment from deep obscurity into vastly wider public exposure.

The ancient and noble legal doctrine of hurt feelings, perhaps? Which makes a fellow further wonder at the feelings of Ms Brittany Higgins, whose unfolding ordeal informed Shane Bazzi’s expensive six word outburst.

Old mate Spud said that he hadn’t been provided with the “she said, he said” details of Ms Higgin’s alleged rape by a Liberal Party staffer at Parliament House. This on the same day that he punched right through the bottom of the shitty political talking points barrel with his opinion that some of the women detained in our far flung refugee gulags were claiming they’d been raped so they could ‘try it on’ with a medical transfer to Australia for an abortion.

If Dutts was so deeply wounded by Bazzi’s backhander, you might very well ask yourself how a woman in Ms Higgin’s position would feel having her situation reduced to a shrug and a discursive “Like, whatevs.” But I couldn’t possibly comment. Because defamation.

Perhaps it’s got nothing to do with feelings and is instead all about dangerous rhetoric. The violent dumbfuckening of political discourse in the US and UK has already occasioned loss of life, including the murders of two parliamentarians in England, one Labour member and one Conservative. For balance. Presumably no one with a functioning brainstem would want to imitate this coarsening of political debate, potentially leading us deeper into a nasty and brutish Hobbesian war of all against all.

Well, almost nobody.

But if it’s dangerous for an obscure refugee activist to go sounding off about the Defence Minister to his micro-sized audience on a micro-blogging platform, how much more dangerous is it for that same Defence Minister to sound off about the increasing likelihood of war with China and the inevitability of Australia’s joining that war, to throw our little toothpicks against the mountain, as Paul Keating would have it?

More than fucking somewhat, I’d wager.

And yet Shane Bazzi is the one to be scourged by Law, while Peter Dutton appears to be doing his very best to live down to Penny Wong’s indictment of him as indulging in the most dangerous opportunism in Australian political history.

Dutton is not simply blowing the dog whistle like John Howard. He is talking up the prospect of war with a super power. Why?

He claims he wants ‘to deter “aggression” from the Chinese Communist party.’

But if the United States with its vastly greater resources of state power and military capability doesn’t seem able to deter Xi Jinping from the course he is set upon, why would Dutton’s contribution make any difference?

Spoiler, it wouldn’t. (With one caveat, which we’ll get back to in a second).

But painting the Labor Party as soft on China would give the Coalition’s advertising agency something to play with during an election that’s looking increasingly dodgy for them.

The problem and the caveat, of course, is that it might work all too well and the difference Dutton is hazarding by stripping all the ambiguity from Australia’s positioning against China, could be the difference between maintaining a difficult but thus far stable status quo, and half-a-dozen ICBM’s or submarine launched cruise missiles detonating multiple high yield nuclear warheads over Darwin or Townsville.

But sure.

Shane Bazzi. Dangerous motherfucker. Like, whatevs.