Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Casting the First Stone on Bigotry.

Barry Spurr (Australia's first Professor of Poetry and Poetics in 2011 and Personal Chair in Poetry and Poetics, University of Sydney, link) has had a distinguished career, including his role as a consultant to the Review of the Australian National School Curriculum, ordered by the Liberal/National Coalition government ("centre-right, conservative, libertarian".)

More recently Prof. Spurr's own literary output has gained exposure, as New Matilda published "The Partial Works of Professor Barry Spurr" containing private emails allegedly "sent to friends and colleagues at the University of Sydney over a two year period, from September 2012 to late 2014".

To cut a long story short, Prof. Spurr's opus apparently includes rants against Abos, Mussies, Chinky-poos, fatsoes, harlots, whores, "worthless sluts" intent on ruining the lives of "poor chaps" whose only mistake was to put their penises in the sleeping sluts' mouths.

For New Matilda and a host of liberal, middle-class, educated commentators (see here, here, here), this behaviour is unforgivable; for Prof. Spurr perhaps not so much: he "has maintained that the emails were a 'whimsical linguistic game', and that they were largely restricted to a bit of 'oneupmanship' between himself and an old friend", according to New Matilda.

Be that as it may. I have no dog in that hunt.

Besides, even if the allegations are true, that kind of expression is not unheard of in Australia, which is precisely what makes me write this.

You see, in the past, when this kind of thing happens, involving people lower in the social ladder, middle-class, progressive, educated commentators characterized the behaviour as exclusive of bogans (as in caravan park, poor white trash). See below.

So, members of their own caste are free of sin, right? The educated middle class is immaculately innocent, only the white rabble has to answer. That's why they can cast the first stone.


Incidentally, PM Tony Abbott, a former Rhodes Scholar, apparently hasn't -- yet -- threatened anybody involved, even though he was allegedly described as an "Abo lover". Credit where credit is due.

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