Sometimes you’ve just got to admit you got it wrong. This is one of those times. Last week I began an article with the phrase ‘Paul Sheehan has finally lost his stupid fucking mind’. I did so based on the best possible information available to me at the time. I am now willing to say that I was wrong and I apologise to Mr Sheehan unreservedly.
Because if Paul Sheehan indeed lost his stupid fucking mind last week, then he would not be able to lose his stupid fucking mind this week, which is invariably the case. This is just logical. In my defence, his op-ed last week in which he claimed Alan Jones had been the victim of cyber-bullying had all the hallmarks of lunatic ravings, less at home in print on the pages of Sydney’s leading broadsheet than smeared in shit on the walls of an abandoned amusement park.
But then he went and published this. In the bullshit stakes, the piece is flawless. It’s Mozart’s Requiem, Poe’s Raven, The Guy From There Will Be Blood’s Beating Paul Dano To Death With A Bowling Pin. I imagine after finishing his article, Sheehan let out a wistful sigh, wiped a tear away and muttered to himself ‘That’ll do, Paul, that’ll do”, before throwing his typewriter through his closed office window, declaring himself the Queen of Spain and screaming at a cupcake.
Why not start from the very beginning:
The dictionary defines misogyny as “hatred of women”
Mr Sheehan, you are a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, not 1st speaker of the Caringbah High debate team. The only time where it is okay to open an argument with a dictionary definition is if you are defending a word you played in Scrabble, and even then you should probably just shut up and enjoy the dinner party. It also robs you of your only possible excuse for what follows; that you have never been exposed to a definition of ‘misogynist’ and that you have been labouring under the assumption that this word refers to a breed of colourful bird, which, I would have to concede, the leader of the opposition is most certainly not.
He presses on:
After sending out two attack dogs, Gutter and Sewer, to do the dirty work, after hiding behind two political zombies, Insufferable and Unspeakable, to stay in power, after using the Minister for Innuendo and the Compromise-General to play the gender card, the mask has finally dropped away to reveal the driver of the politics of hate in Australia.
Now, if you are feeling stupid for not knowing to whom Gutter and Sewer refer, do not. Sheehan, without so much as a lick of warning, has pulled two nicknames (for Albanese and Swan) out of the list of rejected Ninja Turtles henchman names, or far more likely, his arse. As for Insufferable and Unspeakable, these, we’ll learn in the next paragraph, refer to Oakeshott and Windsor because why the fuck not we’ve already come this far.
I only mention this because Calling Things By Things That They Are Not becomes a running theme of his piece. Like when he called Gillard’s speech ‘a low point of political opportunism’.
But let’s get a couple of things out of the way real quick. Gillard and Labor failed spectacularly to manage the Peter Slipper affair, and from his appointment last November to his resignation this week, this has been a depressing exercise in cynicism. Labor should have voted to sack Slipper as speaker after his texts were published, if for no other reason than political expediency. The fact that they did not is testament to how frightened they are of losing their razor thin majority. But Gillard’s speech was not a defence of Slipper. To read the bulk of articles written since her address, you would be forgiven for believing that she said ‘Look, in Pete’s defence, vaginas be cray’. It was a long-overdue and blistering attack on a man who has been getting away with staggering amounts of sexism for his entire career. This point has been made this week, and made very well. You can see two examples of this here and here.
Not so, screams Sheehan, and he counters Gillard’s accusation of misogyny with this:
Why invoke the accusation of misogyny, hatred of women, against an opposition leader whose chief of staff, Peta Credlin, is famously one of the most formidable woman in politics, whose mostly female staff is devoted to their boss and who, unlike the Prime Minister, has raised three daughters?
That last bit, right there, is the point where Sheehan boards the bus to Crazy Town, then hijacks the bus to Crazy Town before driving it off a cliff. Are you, Paul Sheehan, actually arguing that Julia Gillard can’t call Tony Abbott sexist because he has three daughters where she has none? Do you realise that when you type things and send them off to the man from Fairfax that they are seen by thousands of people? The problems with this statement are so obvious, the inherent irony so stark, that it actually looks like lazy satire. But you, or far more likely, someone from the SMH, realised this eventually, because you took that bit of the article out late yesterday afternoon. The only thing worse than an ignorant bigot is one who’s gutless too.
But let’s meet him on his own terms; his argument is that Abbott could not be sexist because he has three daughters. Paul, please read this carefully: That Tony Abbott has daughters does not speak to an affinity with the sisterhood, it speaks to statistical probability. It’s indicative of how dire the situation is when the best his supporters can muster in his defence is ‘Need I remind you that his balls are positively brimming with lady-making sperm?’ Because what the fuck are we actually congratulating him for here? Not drowning them as babies in a sack? I’m not questioning whether he’s a good father to his daughters, by all accounts he absolutely is, but that’s the baseline, that’s the bare minimum. Not discriminating against your own children on the basis of sex is not something that makes you a feminist; it means that you’re not a complete monster. So well done on that front.
Sheehan rounds out his argument with this:
But then why did she mislead the Australian people before the last election on the carbon tax? Why did she leave her law firm under a cloud? Why did she shaft her own leader? Why did she depose a prime minister who had a mandate from the people? Why has she methodically deployed the politics of personal abuse?
Can I answer your five questions with a question, Paul? What the actual fuck does any of this have to do with anything you wrote before writing that? This is not an argument; this is a list of things that are pissing you off. Anyone can do that, check it out. Why are you such a cantankerous shithead? Why are you allowed to write ‘journalist’ on your customs slip? Why is Nando’s so expensive when the quality is not that much higher than other spicy chicken-based outlets? Where did I leave my keys?
So, Mr Sheehan, I’m sorry that I said you had completely lost it last week, in my defence I had not accounted for the staggering depths of delirium you would be able to plumb while still being able to string a sentence together. I am confident now that I have accurately pin-pointed the moment you completely lost your mind. Please do not prove me wrong.