Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Tweets published as Christopher Pyne’s retirement announced

This brief survey started at around 3pm on Friday 1 March and went for about an hour after it was announced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the Liberal Party’s Christopher Pyne would retire from politics at the upcoming federal election.

This post will be of interest to people who observe Australian politics but on the other hand it does show in general how people in the public eye can be tarred once with a brush, only to have the same perceptions resist the effects of time and stick to the bitter end. In Pyne’s case, the accusation of effeminacy has stuck around regardless of its truth. The tag “poodle”, which you will find in what follows if you read on and which is related to this idea, focuses specifically on Pyne’s distinctive wavy hair. Other labels have survived as well, such as “fixer”, a word Pyne had unwisely used to describe himself in public on one occasion.

What is striking in this survey is how nasty many of the comments are, a quality that reflects badly on the Australian character. The charge of effeminacy, especially, is in very poor taste. And this from social justice warriors who pride themselves on being “politically correct” in their dealings with minorities. In response to a comment I made the other day about the lack of manners displayed on Twitter by people on the left of the political spectrum, one of these people said to me: “And define ‘political correctness’[. A]s far as I can tell it means being polite and respectful.” When I sent a link to her that led to a post I had written that illustrated precisely the opposite, she countered with this: “Yeah we swear all the fucking time, but then we don’t issue quite as many death threats as [people on] the right.”

Pyne is notable for being the Liberal Party whip (the person responsible for making sure that lower-house MPs are in the chamber for divisions, which is what votes that are held there are called, and also for draughting and assigning questions for MPs on the government’s side to ask during Question Time). He also performs a role in the management of House business as leader of the House, and is one of the government’s most senior MPs. Because of his prominence in the Parliament, his holding a portfolio (minister of defence), and his characteristic (slightly toffee-nosed) way of speaking, he has gained notoriety in the broader community.

In what follows, tweets included that are time-stamped earlier than 3pm on 1 Mar are retweets. The greatest intensity of comments came in the period leading up to about 3.45pm, after which time they slowed down and plateaued to a trickle. Most were taken from the #auspol hashtag.

This sample mostly ignores the more mundane type of comment of the “rats leaving a sinking ship” variety, of which there were literally dozens of examples, and instead concentrates on ones that had a sharper edge. I have classified the comments using arbitrary themes. As usual with this kind of thing (politically most people who use Twitter are progressives), most of the comments were insulting. Some were merely observations concerning the types of policies Pyne promoted in Parliament and these are included at the end of the selection, followed by a few comments that I saw applauding Pyne.

Other news on the afternoon in question was the announcement that retired journalist Mike Willesee had died and the announcement of the identity of the secret “Lawyer X” who had been part of the reason for the Victorian Royal Commission into Management of Informants. For three-quarters of an hour Christopher Pyne was all anyone was talking about.

General celebration
  • 3.32pm: Omg!!! We’re getting #pynefreepolitics !!! Imma throw a fucking party
  • 3.33pm: Hope the door hits #Pyne's butt on the way out. A nasty piece - good riddance
  • 3.44pm: Why wait until tomorrow #Pyne? On the bright side, 12-24hrs of more fabulously funny twitter posts
  • 3.48pm: #pynegap
  • 3.54pm: Splitters.
  • 4.02pm: And ciobo and pyne resigning. Gosh. The stench is appalling
  • 4.05pm: Quitting before the electorate .... er.......cuts his throat. Good riddance.
  • 3.14pm: Don't let the manhole hit you on the head on the way out Ciobo and Pyne. (Came with a photo of a rat coming out from a manhole set in a street.)
  • 3.16pm: Rats. Ship. Glug.
  • 3.18pm: Running from his constituents. What a sad miserable pathetic loser
  • 3.20pm: @cpyne puts himself out with the trash on a Friday afternoon.
  • 3.23pm: Oh isn't it wonderful to see all these "totally committed" LNP grubs abandoning ship. Are they expecting rough seas? Pencil Pyne broken, and addio Ciobo. Hope the emus kick down your super funds.
  • 3.24pm: Rats. Ship. Sinking.
  • 3.39pm: Squeaky won’t be missed, you know the Government is in trouble when they all retire before an election
  • 3.41pm: Christopher Pyne is take-out-the-trash Friday!
  • 4.07pm: ‘Oh oh the Rats are getting bigger’ 2 more rats @cpyne & Steve Chobo deserting sinking @LiberalAus flagship ‘No Policies’ in the background are the still afloat ‘Turnback’ & ‘Fear’ Both vessels are believed to be empty despite the cacophony emanating from them.
  • 3.19pm: But who’s gonna fix stuff now the fixer is leaving politics?
  • 3.29pm: I guess even 'Mr Fixer' could not fix what is left of this minority government.
  • 3.36pm: In a career full of hysterical interviews, @cpyne I'm A Fixer classic I think will always be my favourite. One of the funniest in #auspol history.
  • 3.41pm: Of course, he fixed it #Pyne #auspol lovin' politics at the moment #LNPFail #LibFailing BIG time. Private schooled kids don't like to lose
  • 3.42pm: The Fixer is done? Bye Pyne!
  • 3.45pm: There - that’s fixxxxxsssssed it
  • 4.06pm: I guess it can’t be fixed if the fixer is going. Call the election.
  • 3.19pm: Young Pyne to leave the Halls of Residence!
  • 3.20pm: See ya princess.. Actually - I really hope NOT to see you anywhere - ever again
  • 3.22pm: News of Christine's  retirement is a good thing for the CWA who are looking forward to his ANZAC biscuits and inclusion at the Canasta table!
  • 3.25pm: I wonder if Young Pyne is going to take a gap year? If so, what will he do? Towel boy in a "gentlemens'" private club? Who knows, the world's his oyster.
  • 3.25pm: I hear that US president, Darth Mango needs a groom of the stool. Sounds like a good job for Young Pyne.
  • 3.28pm: Ermehgerd how spicy
  • 3.43pm: Can't wait for the #ScoMo farewell speech where we reflect on Pyne's famous shoes!
  • 3.51pm: You fuck off! No, you fuck off! You fuck off first! No, you fuck off first. Why don't we both fuck off? Yes, let's finally do something positive for the Australian people & fuck off together. (Came with photo taken in the House of Reps showing Pyne and Ciobo talking to one another.)
  • 3.58pm: The other guy at the back called #CPyne a F***wit and he loved it. As he as confirmed the little weasel unpopularity.
  • 4.02pm: What now for "ship ahoy" Pyne? Off to star in a remake of a Carry On or AB FAB?
  • 3.08pm: Be good to see the back of the “mincing poodle” the duplicitous weasel, Pyne..
  • 3.12pm: Run, Poodle. Run!
  • 3.15pm: The poodle is going to the farm.
  • 3.45pm: If Pyne was the rep top bitch that I think he thinks he is, then when he announces his retirement he should say it’s because he has no confidence in the government and Scott Morrison farts when he yells.
Just strange
  • 3.34pm: I hope everyone in #auspol still remembers that time Christopher Pyne helped his dear old granny out of her chair using a friggin’ Jedi mind trick (Came with a video about the former speaker of the House of Reps, Bronwyn Bishop.)
Moderate (tweets in this category, which is about Pyne’s distinct brand of politics, were a bit more responsible than most of the others)
  • 3.17pm: With the lefties being purged from the Coalition Party or leaving because they can't handle the thought of losing, it might now be time to vote for Libs again instead of a minor? Maybe... we'll see
  • 3.17pm: It’s official. The moderates lost the War.
Past performance
  • 3.48pm: Ahhh the memories...one of my first twitter posts featured a picture of Pyne, back in the day when he was Minister responsible for pushing $100,000 degrees and a deregulated fee structure
  • 3.50pm: pyne as opposition education spokesperson for 5 years asked just three questions in parliament... none related to education...but he was thrown out 28 times.. he is a complete dick
  • 3.31pm: ....will both walk straight into high paid jobs associated with their portfolios?.......yep, of course they will......
  • 3.34pm: Would anyone be surprised if @cpyne takes up a job with the defense industry, maybe ship or submarine building in SA?
  • 3.38pm: Christopher Pyne is 51 and the Australian average life expectancy is ~82 meaning he will likely receive upwards of $6million. For NOTHING.
  • 3.41pm: The only thing that #Pyne has fixed is his superannuation - $220,000 a year.
  • 11.48am: If Pyne goes straight into a Defence Industry job I will lose it.
  • 3.52pm: What a personally rewarding career and now retirement it will be. After beinf part of a regime that made the vulnerable more vulnerable. Nevermind the irresponsible fiscal mismanagement and wilful environmental vandalism. What a generous reward for failure
  • 4pm: Time for Kevin Andrews & Rowan Ramsey to step up post Election #auspol #OppositionInWaiting
  • 3.27pm: End of an era.
  • 3.36pm: BREAKING: It's official. Christopher Pyne to announce his resignation from politics tomorrow. We may not have agreed on everything, but Christopher was one of the best in his party. His departure is a huge loss to the Liberals. All the best in your retirement mate.
  • 3.37pm: He gives the best gossip in Canberra, with daylight second.
  • 3.38pm: And it seems @cpyne is set to go. A big portion of @LiberalAus front bench experience out the door now...


roger of bangalow said...

Thank you Matthew for keeping me in the loop again with trending news. A simple observation that seems to have been neglected by the tweeters must be Pyne's role as a henchman for US political/militarist interests. While it may not have been Pyne's initiative, the recent brokering of a multi billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia is morally indefensible. If tweet culture focuses on Pyne's supposed effeminacy it is just another case of 'playing the man and not the ball'. Lets hope labour can muster some constructive policies to counter the vested interests of warmongers. I hope you agree that beyond questions of left politics vs right, caring for our planet is a basic humanitarian concern and should be top priority

Matthew da Silva said...

This is the second post of its kind I have made. The other one is titled 'How people in the public eye get treated online' and was published on 26 February. What both of these posts show is that it is the social justice warriors on the left who are the number one abusers on Twitter. I don't agree with Pyne's sales of arms to Saudi Arabia but in practice the left is more objectionable on the face of things than the right, if you go by the way they behave online.

marcellous said...

I doubt if you will ever establish which side makes nastiest online comments.

It will always seem to be the other side.

Your use of "SJW" makes clear what side you are on for that purpose, though I know (like many people's) that your perspective is not so simplistic as (to take an opposite-slanted term) "RWNJ"s.

So now you can probably guess mine!

Julia Gillard demeaned herself by her "mincing poodle" remarks about Pyne all those years ago.

Of the terms you've identified above, "fixer" was Pyne's own joke and one which, in our house at least, entered our idiolect as a kind of catch phrase. It was characteristically brazen (as with his disciplined holding out to the last minute on his decision not to restand for election and any number of other times when he toed the party line, in public at least) but also funny.

I didn't agree with Pyne politically but I admired how he stuck to his guns (at a bit of risk to himself given the m.p. slur) on same-sex marriage.

Matthew da Silva said...

I don't assign any particular meaning to the term "SJW". It has a specific meaning and in that sense I use it. On most issues I an a classical progressive.

marcellous said...

Matthew, I meant your use of the term at all rather than the sense in which you use it.

Matthew da Silva said...

Not sure how using a commonly accepted term allows you to judge the politics of the writer. And on the issue of which side is the worst, it's pretty clear to me that the left are. If you go to the post on 26 February and have a read of it, it is quite unambiguous.