Spud, Godwin's Law and the Streisand Effect

Who needs a truncheon when you've got expensive lawyers?


Image derived from AAP photo

 

Adolf Kipfler, das Gruppenfritter, Herr Shickltuber, the Gestapotato, Dick Tater, Spudley Too-Right, Dutton dressed as yam, J. Edgar Tuber - these are all droll mockings of a rabid autocrat and all-round nasty piece of work whose head has an unfortunate resemblance to a popular starchy staple. At least while satire is still legal such sledging is beyond the reach of Spud's defamation lawyer, the splendidly named Nick Ferrett, a tag that no clever pun could improve upon.


Führer-flavoured name calling, potato-themed as it may be, introduces the principle referred to as Godwin's law that asserts when a Hitler comparison is made, whoever made the comparison loses whatever debate is in progress. Godwin clarified that "its purpose has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler to think a bit harder about the Holocaust". Fair call. After all, Spud as Minister for Immigration & Refugee Degradation had merely adopted an apathetic approach to the slow mental torment of his konzentrationslager internees.


Nazi potato analogies included, lampooning politicians is everyone's right in a free country and it's been a long tradition in this one. When an indolent, flailing government reeking of corruption seeks all potential means to hide its incompetence and protect its criminality then scorn and ridicule become obligations. But this bin juice distillery t/a the Morrsion-Joyce grift shop gets beyond tetchy when their many shortcomings are pointed out. The 'champions of free speech' toss that concept onto their disposable principles binfire along with accountability, integrity, equality and other troublesome inconveniences.


A recent taste of their discomfort with challenges to their decency is from the Spud himself with a thinly disguised threat to "dirty lefties". Spud has accumulated an impressive property portfolio and is the Minister for Defence - he's a member of the wealthy power elite, a big cheese, the Potato au Gratin of the L/NP. In contrast Shane Bazzi is an obscure, arse-out-of-his-trousers refugee advocate. It turns out the Tubernator, a man whose idea of foreplay is to lock his pitbull in the wardrobe, has a sensitive side, taking offence from a Bazzi tweet calling him a rape apologist. A wise man would've let it go - to let it be lost in the noise of general social media heckling at a corrupted regime. Not the Spud. He invoked the Streisand Effect by persecuting Bazzi via a defamation suit thereby drawing attention anew to his "he-said-she-said" shrug at the in-house rape of a Lib staffer and the Tories' general indifference to bullying, harrassment and sexual assault.


The $35k in awarded damages would barely cover Spud's head waxing bill - but, never get between a Tory and a dollar. Perhaps though it was his hurt feelings? Yeah but nah; the empathy deficit is strong in this one who could never be happier than when he's pureeing kittens in his Kitchen Wizz. Feelings are weaknesses to be exploited. One of those feelings is people's attachment to their house, and lawyered-up, paranoid grifters and predators on the government benches are catching on - Dutton's message to the proles is 'shut up or you'll be out on the street'.


Scooter Morrison, possibly re-energised by the law suits from Spud, Laming and Barilaro has once more trotted out his cynical and routine attack on social media.


“Social media can too often be a cowards’ palace where the anonymous can bully, harass and ruin lives without consequence.”

Sounds reasonable. But the Tories harbour their own trolls, sockpuppets, social media stalkers and backgrounders and feigned indignation is a Scooter specialty, wrapped in hypocrisy, tied with a bow of shameless fabrications and delivered in a hectoring tone of dissembling twaddle. His genuine indignation is reserved for being challenged or held to account. Every utterance from this charlatan is misleading, obfuscating or blatant lying; every announcement is calculated from the perspective of political advantage - policing people's social media is a handy distraction from their panicked avoidance of an integrity commission.


Social media users commonly have genuine reasons for anonymity including safety from the bullies and harassers Scooter pretends to be so offended by. Given the Tories' disdain for scrutiny and intolerance of dissent it's not a huge leap to suspect that anti-troll legislation is intended to be a trojan horse for regulations designed to silence critics through libel proceedings.


Average Australians could not afford to sue for defamation and any potential costs awarded would be swallowed by legal fees. Rather, the Tories' ambitions will help the powerful to silence critics or to retaliate should that fail. Spud even had the front to suggest a fund from tax payers be established to cover the legal costs of the pursuit of their adversaries because even rich guys need our money to pay expensive silks to sue us and to intimidate inquisitive journalists.


First they came for the ABC. Then they came for journalists and whistleblowers. Now they're coming for the tweeters.



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None of this is meant to imply that Spud is an actual Nazi or a sympathiser of the Stasi, Oprichnina, Geheime Staatspolizei, NKVD, DINA, the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities or any other secret police organisation or goon squad for any repressive regime whatsoever. His resemblance to a versatile root vegetable is however indisputable.


Image: Twitter










 


Peter Dutton wins defamation case against refugee activist Shane Bazzi over tweet. The Guardian


An epic troll. Rachel Withers, The Monthly.