Clementine Ford: Between Socks And Backhanders, This Has To Be The End Of Alan Jones
On the same day a court heard graphic descriptions of the strangling murder of Eurydice Dixon, Alan Jones used his radio show to angrily rage against the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
He suggested Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down [her] throat” and give her "a few backhanders". While I would never suggest the two were linked, there is a dark synchronicity to the real-life violence inflicted on one woman's life and the 'flippant' comments made by men who don't, in my opinion, properly consider the impact of the sexist words they say.
Jones made the comments while Jacinda Ardern was attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, a Pacific Islands nation whose existence is directly under threat from climate change. Ms Ardern had warned Australia’s inaction on climate change would see us having to “answer to the Pacific” -- a statement it seems Jones took personal issue with.
Women! Telling men what to do! How dare they! It must not stand!
Jacinda Ardern is just one of the many people Jones appears to viciously hate for having opinions that do not match his own, and she’s the latest in a long line of women over whom he’s either publicly fantasised about causing physical harm to or arrogantly dismissed as being incapable of the responsibilities of leadership.
Who can forget the 2012 outburst in which he called for another female prime minister, Julia Gillard, to be “put in a chaff bag” and “thrown out to sea”. Later, he provided a signed jacket made out of chaff bags to a formal dinner hosted by the Sydney University Liberal Club. That same night, he delivered a speech in which he declared Ms Gillard’s recently deceased father had “died of shame” over his daughter. Personally, I’m just thrilled that the next generation of white male Liberals who believe themselves to be the natural inheritors of power are being influenced by such a stand-up guy.
Jones’ ongoing antics that year also led to the formation of online activist group, Destroy The Joint. Jones was apoplectic in response to news that the Gillard government would be investing in women’s empowerment and leadership programs in Pacific Island nations, scoffing that, “Women are destroying the joint!” Destroy The Joint went on to establish the Counting Dead Women project, which tracks women's deaths in Australia as a result of gendered violence. Gendered violence exists on a continuum, and cannot be separated from the kind of language used frequently by Jones. Language that is, in my view, blatantly misogynist and harmful.
But Jones doesn't just offend on the basis of gender. His long, extraordinarily well-paid career has also included what I consider to be racist taunts and irresponsible reporting. In 2005, he made the appalling choice to repeat on-air an overtly racist call to enact violence and 'revenge' against the Lebanese population of Cronulla. Does it matter that he says he wasn't endorsing the message? Of course not. That's what makes dog whistling so effective.
Despite these repeated verbal assaults against marginalised people and individual women, until now Jones has never been adequately publicly disciplined or cautioned for his behaviour by his employers. Nor has he ever been subjected to the overwhelming levels of hostility his conservative peers and colleagues inflict on activists and public figures, particularly progressive minded people of colour and women. Criticised, sure, but not vehemently pursued.
Where are the howls of outrage and calls for dismissal that were launched repeatedly and protractedly against women like Yassmin Abdel-Magied, whose ‘crime’ was posting a totally uncontroversial condemnation of war and its role in displacing people all over the world? Or Tarneen Onus-Williams, who used hyperbole to express righteous anger at an Invasion Day rally and was similarly met with pearl clutching from the right wing press?
They have all been far less vocal about Jones, not just over his most recent misogyny but throughout his entire career.
Pauline Hanson, who was one of the chief supporters of calls for the ABC to sack Abdel-Magied (with whom she was"disgusted"), today offered unqualified support to Jones, tweeting that Ms Ardern was "rightfully put in her place" and that Morrison should have "supported free speech".
It says a lot about the state of Australian media (and the hypocrites who bang the free speech drum when it suits them) that a man paid millions to indulge in what is, in my opinion, the worst of hatred and hostility is continually given a free pass while people with significantly less power are bullied out of their jobs and thrown to the wolves.
Jones is a dinosaur with antiquated opinions and far more influence than he deserves. For a long time, that worked in his favour. It may continue to do so, because Australia still lags significantly when it comes to taking truly decisive action against powerful white men who continually offend the population. But with advertisers pulling out of supporting 2GB, the tide might be about to turn on Jones and his ilk. He has offered an apology to Ardern, but it seems to me that it was likely offered unwillingly and in a nod to damage control.
But the question that needs to be asked is why it's taken so long for any measures to be taken against him, particularly when we know the causal links between normalising misogyny and men's violence against women. Management at 2GB has a lot to answer for, prioritising profits at the expense of human dignity and protecting men who don't deserve to be protected. In doing so, they've made it clear exactly where they stand -- on the wrong side of history.
And history will not be kind to any of them.