Tuesday, 12 March 2019

“Whataboutism” and the political left

Radio station 2GB tweeted at around 9.10am on 5 March: "Labor leader Michael Daley tells @AlanJones he will sack him and the entire SCG Trust board if elected." Then a Queensland journalist tweets at around 11.30am: "Seeing a potential NSW premier refuse to kowtow to a puffed-up radio personality is the best thing you'll see today." If that wasn't ironic enough (freedom of the press works both ways, it doesn't just apply to views that agree with your own), an ex-subeditor tweeted at around 2.50pm: "Hey Alan Jones, you don't get to refer [to] the Leader of the Opposition as 'this man'." When I pulled him up on this, he replied: "It's Jones being discourteous to the next Premier while having a sulk. AM bandwidth is in limited supply. Responsibilities apply." So much for principles!

In response to this nice piece of bias I posted a link to an article I had written about the insulting comments that were put up on Twitter on the day Christopher Pyne announced his resignation from Parliament. In reply to this, the guy tweeted, “Whataboutism doesn't apply. Don't do it again. But I'm also on record criticising what you are talking about.” I then put up a link to an article I had published in February about the way that politicians and other people in the public eye are treated by the political left on social media. “The left is manifestly worse than the right when it comes to this sort of behaviour,” I tweeted with the link. He responded, “You've crossed the line.” Then he blocked me.

This accusation – “whataboutism” – had been used in a conversation I had had earlier on Twitter with a guy who, like the ex-subeditor, is a professional. This class of progressive likes to think that they are right about everything, even though their field of speciality is actually quite narrow. The accusation they level in these cases is a way of avoiding scrutiny and indeed of diverting attention away from a weak argument. In my case, described above, the things that the ex-subeditor accused Alan Jones of doing was exactly the same as what dozens of people had done to Pyne on Twitter. There was no difference in nature between what they two parties did. Because they cannot win the argument in any other way, the only recourse that people like this have is to block. 

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