Monday, October 1, 2012

No More

There have been so many blogs that I've wanted to write this week, from some very personal stories about hope, to my thoughts on Jill Meagher, to Australia's campaign for  seat on the UN Security Council, to Alan Jones. I didn't write any of these. I watched the twitter feed scroll, and concentrated on my own life: Rob's new job, my new project, my mother's medical procedure tomorrow, two birthdays and the overdue realisation that a friendship has ended.    

Two things won't leave me alone: Alan Jones and Jill Meagher. It feels as though a tipping point was reached this week: two acts, very different in motive and scale, brought defiantly positive responses and proof of power in numbers. 

Yesterday, the streets of Brunswick were filled with people. It wasn't an organised Reclaim The Night function; it was people, the majority female, coming together to share their different emotions: grief, solidarity, relatedness, fear, revolt. What happened to Jill seems to have effected us all so much more...I was going to say, more than other rapes and murders we hear about. And then I remind myself that this is not an episode of Law & Order SVU. I am disgusted with myself, with us. This is not acceptable. Every single violent crime, regardless of who or where or when, whether captured on CCTV or not, is abhorrent.

For all the different people that gathered today for Jill, because of Jill, and for those who weren't there but shared the emotion, it was as simple as this: No More. We are not going to accept this.

When my psychologist was taking my history, she asked, straight out, if I had been abused. Attacked? Raped? She was surprised when I answered no; few women that walk through her clinic doors can answer no to those questions. It's far too common, and not talking about it, not fighting it, is tacit acceptance.

I remember in the 70s, Grandma Queenie was in her 60s and a shade under five feet tall, and at 11pm, she would walk home alone from her Wednesday night canasta games. It was a small country town, but we didn't think twice. She would not have accepted less.

And then Alan Jones "did a Romney", and I'd hate to think what she'd say about that. At a private function, this far-too-public man uttered one of the most insulting statements I've ever heard. His attempted apology yesterday did nothing to help his cause. It was a mishmash of "It wasn't me; I just repeated what someone else said", with "it's not my fault; I didn't know the media was there". 

So it's okay to be a complete arsehole unless the media gets wind of it? No! It's not! The simplest way to be perceived in a good light is to act in a good light. 

Alan Jones has long had a credibility problem with many Australians. Over twenty years ago, when I was a junior publicist, the company I worked for represented Radio 2UE. At that time, Radio 2UE boasted a lineup that included Jones, John Laws, John Stanley, Mark Day and Stan Zemanek. One of my tasks was to take the more controversial comments from Jones' Breakfast show, and try to place them in Sydney's afternoon paper. It wasn't that hard, despite being being just a year or two after his adventures in public loo in London's West End, and his switch from Fairfax to News Limited after being exposed for plagiarism. He was controversial, with high profile guests, but he wasn't unhinged. Yet.

Not long after, when I no longer working for 2UE's publicity agency, I was set a challenge by Jones' manager: get him on the front page of the Saturday Telegraph. It was easy enough to do: he was a big deal - not a celebrity, exactly, but extremely well known. He'd been in hospital - I don't recall why - and the Tele ran with a huge shot of Jones, sitting up in a hospital bed, waiting to be discharged. I wonder how I'd go if met with the same challenge today.

At what point do we say "No More" to Alan Jones and 2GB? In the past few months, he has targeted the Prime Minister, particularly regarding Carbon Tax, and referred more than once to shoving her in a chaff bag and dropping her out at sea. He's shared a laugh with Barnaby Joyce and commented that these women are "destroying the joint." He's been called out by ACMA for broadcasting lies about climate change, and now, he's suggested that John Gillard "died of shame".

I'm saying "no more" right now, and so are JJ Metro Airconditioning, Lexus of Parramatta and Freedom Furniture, who have cancelled their Advertising buys during Jones' show. I'm not in Sydney, and I wouldn't listen to 2GB even if I was, but I can choose not to deal with companies that spend their money with 2GB. Sure, it sends a message. Is that enough to change the situation? 

So here we are. We've said "no more". What's the next step?


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