“I decided to visit Georgetown, Guyana for the first time, the town where my mother is from. She, herself has not been back for 30 years, 3 years before I was born. I tracked down family members, including my 92 year old grandfather, who I had never met before. In this video you will see our first ever meeting. ”
….“We need to tackle this issue in a comprehensive and considered way. We don’t need knee-jerk reactions and stunts that give the illusion of action, but don’t make any real, lasting difference,” wrote Tony Abbott in his open letter to the nation shortly before stating the the matter was “in the hands of state and local governments.”
….“Boxing taught me many things, including the power of a single punch… we all want to see the courts absolutely throw the book at people who perpetuate this kind of gratuitous, unprovoked violence,” Abbott continued, unaware of the damage George R. R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords can cause when hurled at the back of someone’s head on a busy Saturday night.
….Elsewhere in his magnum opus Abbott compared the outrageous drinking habits of ‘youngsters’ to the healthy manner in which the older generation drinks. “… there’s a world of difference between having two or three drinks a night and occasionally a bit more on a Sunday night and this new binge drinking culture which sees young people drinking nothing from one week to the next and then, when they decide to have a drink, not knowing when or how to stop,” the Prime Minister wrote.
….It is indeed a mystery how a new generation could turn something so healthy as 14-21+ drinks a week into something so ugly as a dozen drinks on the weekend.
….At the same time a recent spate of marijuana fueled violence has failed to draw comment from the Prime Minister.
….“I just said that I was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Books and I had a backlog of other things to watch,” said one man who preferred to stay anonymous.
“He proceeded to quite slowly wail on me, stopping only when he momentarily forgot what he was doing,” he said.
….Spokesperson for the Australian Association of Weedaholics, Saweet Sativa said that she was not surprised by people’s actions. “Some people are predisposed to violence with certain substances,” she said. “It’s a shame but it’s also a fact of life that some people are just biologically predisposed to become hyper violent while hitting a bong in their parents basement. Luckily these have had a lot of success drinking alcohol instead. Honestly we’re just lucky they have the choice.”
Behind the Satire
I have to admit I felt a little guilty writing this piece. That is to say despite my attitude towards satire as a constructive force in itself I felt compelled to write an afterword. While reading articles connected to Abbott’s open letter I came across tragic stories of violence that have left lives and families shattered.
After a night of drinking a man punches another man in the back of the head. Tomorrow the headline reads, teen binge drinking epidemic. It’s a very neat way of squaring the blame at the younger generation. These kids have just started drinking to excess for no reason whatsoever. Alcohol just necessarily leads to violence.
Or does it?
In the six months I’ve been living in Laos (Southeast Asia) I’ve not seen one fight. Not one punch, not one push, not even one burst of profanity. It seems pretty far away from Hindley St in Adelaide where walking down to your favorite bar is like doing a slalom around guys beating the living shit out of each other.
And that’s not to say that the Lao don’t like getting drunk. They definitely do. But their ‘binge drinking culture’ just doesn’t have that violent aspect to it.
Blaming drunken violence on ‘binge drinking culture’ is an easy way to avoid the painful truth that it’s not binge drinking that’s the problem. It’s us.
It’s our conception of masculinity in Australia that is driving violence on our streets, not alcohol. In many ways men drink heavily because they think it’s a ‘manly’ activity. In a society where our Prime Minister instructs us, for our health, to only have three drinks a night plus more on the weekends every person with a predisposition for alcoholism will surely feel its pull.
What does it mean to be a man? What exactly do we tell our boys from a young age? How does mass media, popular culture and I think most importantly Australian culture inform the way that males behave?
A man is ‘supposed’ to not cry, or accept insult, or be beaten in a contest of bravado. An Australian man is meant to be no-nonsense, he’s meant to be ‘blokey’ he’s meant to be crass and tough.
If a man is beaten in a contest of bravado, if someone shows up his machismo, then he is less of a man and more of a woman. It’s almost impossible to argue that being seen as feminine in mainstream male Australian culture isn’t undesirable.
The only way for the man to correct the grievance, to reclaim his rightful masculinity, is to display his dominance and perform an act of violence.
Don’t get me wrong, the mainstream idea of what it is to be feminine is equally absurd, but there are plenty of wonderful and far better versed feminist writers and activists who talk about this issue that I won’t go into it here.
The phenomenon of binge drinking has encompassed the public discourse because it allows us to distance ourselves from our own culpability.
Again, what makes a man want to punch another man over some minor grievance? What makes him think that nothing less than striking a perfect stranger will keep the respect of his friends? What makes him think that the kind of respect that requires violence is worth having?
Until we face the cold truth that we have become a society that values the transformation of men into monsters imbued with a violent code of conduct we will never stop our violent ‘binge drinking epidemic’.
….After years of posing as conservative, special agent codename Bernardi is ready to hang up his boots and return to his ecologically sustainable commune in Tasmania.
….“It all started with the formation of the Greens in 1992,” said Bernardi (whose real name will not be used to protect his identity). “The idea was to create the perfect sleeper agent to create a schism within the right wing and highlight to swing voters how outrageous their views were.”
….I asked codename Bernardi what the most difficult part of his mission was.
….“Pretending I was South Australian,” he replied laughing. “All jokes aside I’m very sorry to the people of South Australia for tarnishing your name, you’re alright,” he continued with a smile.
….For years Bernardi has had to relentlessly stay in character, admitting in this interview that he had no idea how successful he would be in discrediting Australian right wing politics.
….“To be honest when Sacha Baron Cohen and Stephen Colbert gained notoriety I thought the game was up,” Bernardi confided. “I didn’t know how Australians could believe that someone would be that callous or ignorant of decades worth of research and social progress but I suppose we lucked out,” he said with a shrug.
….Asked why he would reveal his secret plan now, Bernardi stated that he thought the damage and ridicule he had recently brought upon the Liberal party was a nice place to stop. “Plus I really miss my goats,” he added.
….“It took a team of writers over a year to put together that book,” Bernardi said referring to the jocular Conservative Revolution. Which belittled among other topics, same sex, adoptive and step parents, gay marriage and climate change.
….“We had again a lot of problems with writers not being extreme enough with the subject matter or accidentally writing chapters that had a sense of decency, compassion or basis in fact. There was a point where I had to tell the writing team to take a step back and just watch some Fox News,” he said.
….Conservative Revolution has caused a huge stir with a barrage of negative reviews on Amazon and Liberal party members taking umbrage.
….“The book was supposed to be the punchline, but then Warren Entsch got really worked up and we thought, okay, let’s push this a little further. I felt really bad about it since Entsch was vocally against mandatory internet censorship, good guy for a Lib.”
….I asked Bernardi about the threat of litigation he leveled at Entsch.
….“We all sat around in the office and thought, what would Bernardi do, we always thought of the character as a person who has had or still does perhaps harbor some feelings of same-sex attraction that mix with his religiosity to fuel his guilt and fervor. Essentially we just thought it would really do the character justice.”
….On Thursday Liberal Senator Sue Boyce accused Cory Bernardi of lacking compassion and genuine Christianity.
….“I hadn’t seen that yet,” chucked Bernardi. To be honest we really hadn’t counted on common sense views rising from the Libs to oppose the character. I like it here where she says ‘I find it immoral to pontificate on the topic of abortion without looking at some of the reasons behind why a woman might seek to have an abortion’, that’s a really good line. Sue’s alright with me,” he concluded.
….I asked Bernardi to summarize his experience and tell me what the next phase of his life would be like.
….“To be honest it’s going to be hard to let go of the character. You put a face on long enough and it starts to seem true, you know? It’s a little bit scary. To be serious though I think we’ve had an incredible run, I got removed from minor front bench positions twice by two leaders, managed to garner the animosity of the entire left wing and I think somewhat discredited conservative thinking,” he said.
….“Like I mentioned before I’m really looking forward to getting back to the commune, smoking some dope and tending to my goats and vegetables,” he concluded, pulling out a kingsize joint.
“It just worries me that some people out there actually supported the Bernardi character,” codename Bernardi said with a frown.
….“It just really fucking worries me.”