It's because we are totally inconsistent.
"Bad boy" swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk are being punished by the AOC for posting on Facebook and Twitter a silly picture of themselves holding an armload of firearms. Oooh-Aahh, they've (possibly) brought themselves and their sport into disrepute, so they won't be permitted to use social media while at the London Olympics, and they won't be allowed to attend the Closing Ceremony. As punishment goes, barely more than a stern talking-to.
In other words, some uptight sports administrator thought the photo might be a bit controversial, so jumped up and down. It turns out that Australians aren't offended - or even interested - in these young blokes or their photos, but now that the noise has been made, token punishment must follow.
So did D'Arcy and Monk do something silly or not? I don't think Swimming Australia or the AOC can make up their minds. Having said that, the two sports organisations are the punch lines of the jokes, while the athletes have public sympathy on their side. International media is reporting this "scandal" with an appropriate degree of incredulity.
I particularly enjoyed the jokes about the Australian Shooting Team being suspended after posing for photos in a swimming pool, holding goggles and flippers.
Contrast this with the photo of Queensland Minister for Computers & Creative Bits and Pieces Ros Bates holding onto some kind of military mega-gun that looks like it could take out your house. Nary a whisper from her employer or her boss, Premier Campbell Newman.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is also the subject of controversial photos with a gun. While visiting our troops in Afghanistan, he allegedly asked to have a closer look at some of the weapons, a request probably not met with joy by the army brass. Still, the photos are there. The media didn't pay a lot of attention at the time, and later, it was overshadowed by the other media event of Mr Abbott's visit: Shit Happens.
Photos of our last four decades of Prime Ministers handling firearms are virtually impossible to find.
Many people go through their entire lives without touching or firing a gun. The swimmers were holding firearms that were legal; Ms Bates and Mr Abbott were holding a weapon not available outside the military. If you're a young adult watching the news, what message do you get? Is it:
A. Don't touch guns in America
B. It's okay if you're a politician but not if you're an athlete
C. You can handle guns if you're with some soldiers
D. Swimming Australia and the AOC are a bunch of uptight sooky lalas
E. Do whatever you like, but don't post the photos on Facebook
Why are Swimming Australia and the AOC over-reacting? Is the problem with their athletes handling guns, or posting the proof on social media? It's all about perception, and protecting reputation of Swimming Australia and their naughtiest athletes.
By the way, the answer to the question above is D.