Yesterday I experienced the distinct pleasure of being contacted and told that my chums at The Australian were holding a pity party and I was one of the courses on offer. Nom nom! It wasn’t the first time such a thing had occurred – nor, I must assume, will it be the last, not even in a year or so when the entire staff of The Australian consists of a Shetland pony with a drinking problem trotting up and down an otherwise empty News Limited office transferring feces from bucket to bucket – yet after a couple of curious emails I wandered across to see what all the batshit crazy fuss was about.

The offending piece was written by Liberal MP and friend to the stars dog whisperer Greg Hunt and generally seemed to be making the point that well yes, Alan Jones may have made a few off-colour remarks about the Prime Minister but WHY DOESN’T ANYBODY GET CROSS WHEN PEOPLE ON THE LEFT MAKE ASSES OF THEMSELVES WHICH HAPPENS ON A REGULAR BASIS EXAMPLES OF WHICH I WILL LAY OUT FOR YOU IN DETAIL NOW. The article then went on to name several left-leaning ratbags and scoundrels and the scandalous utterances they’d made over the years, including the truly evocative image painted by Mungo McCallum of stubbornly present ex-PM John Howard as ‘an unflushable turd’, which seemed to cause poor Greg no end of pink-cheeked tutting.

There was – of course – a reference to me:

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If we may for a moment address the latter part of these claims, both of which paint me as some sort of Kony-esque warlord, twirling at my moustache and demanding violence be enacted to all naysayers. The offending items Hunt refers to involve a tweet in which I wrote ‘Tony Abbott, I hope your cock drops off and falls down a plughole’ (not my finest moment, though mostly I am simply sad I forced people to briefly visualise Tony Abbott’s genitals) and a Drum article in which I said that I rather hoped Christopher Pyne would be attacked by a large and libidinous dog. To be honest, the image I had in mind when writing the Pyne piece more involved some sort of giant Dulux sheepdog rutting at his leg with slobbering and comedic force, but there you go, perhaps I am to blame for not putting it more clearly/amusingly.

To see the terms ‘genital mutiliation’ and ‘rape’ in relation to one’s name is no small thing in light of recent events and I feel – indulge me – that our friend Greg may have been gilding the lily somewhat for the purposes of his sweatily insistent piece.

The Brendan Nelson quote attributed to me, however, was not something I ever said or wrote. It was taken from a comments section on my old blog and to be honest I was rather startled to see it bandied about in such an incorrect fashion.

I ran my old blog from the years 2004 – 2008, and for the most part I didn’t moderate comments. For one thing, free-range comments gave angry anonymous people the chance to tear me a new one on a daily basis and I didn’t want to seem precious by blocking or deleting them when I was at the time giving it out with equal ferocity. For another, the idea of choosing who could say what and when seemed to set a dangerous precedent. I liked to imagine the blogging community as a robust round table of weirdos yelling at each other, and despite the fact occasional hideousness certainly got through I didn’t then have the time or inclination to sift through the countless attempts at engaging (moderating comments on a blog is hard, you guys – ask anybody). The debate about whether blog publishers are responsible for the content of their deranged commenters rages on to this very day and to be honest, I still have a foot in both camps.

Whatever the case, the Brendan Nelson quote is one I most definitely (thankfully) didn’t author, and it tires me to think that Greg Hunt lazily pulled together some random bullshit for the sake of a political argument.

During a somewhat heated phone conversation with The Australian’s op-ed editor Rebecca Weisser yesterday, during which she shrieked interesting bon mots such as I’M REBECCA WEISSER and I’M THE AUSTRALIAN (what) I made the point that perhaps including the Brendan Nelson comment in quotation marks and saying that I wrote it may in fact give The Australian’s audience (please don’t laugh, there are still a few loyal people reading it) the impression that I, well, wrote it, as well as lead to irksome things such as the following:

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and

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Rebecca conceded that it was thus, and in what may be construed as an act of pure, unmitigated generosity (I am going to assume she is slightly sweet on me and wants to take me out for candy and sodas) she adjusted the piece to say ‘published’ instead of ‘wrote’ so thankfully now it only looks as though I have written entire volumes on violent acts I wish to make on Brendan Nelson’s family and released them via Black Inc. so, you know, phew!

Certain things come back to bite you on the arse when you grow up on the internet, and it’s fair to say now that the conservative press have a go-to drawer of pull quotes I have made over the years that they can dust off and employ at any given time to support an argument or simply put me in my goddamned pinko place. Most of them are on my old blog and I haven’t deleted the entire thing in a fit of pique because firstly, I suppose it exists on public record anyway and there’s no point hiding from it, and secondly, difficult as it is now to read some of it back (like the teenaged bleatings of a pissed off Evanescence fan), it’s a document of a time and a person who no longer exists. Your writing softens as you get older, and I’d like to think that despite the fact I am still a politically irate individual I’m able to focus my rage rather than spray it across the room with the ungainly grace of an intoxicated rollerblader brandishing a machine gun.

If, at seventy-one years of age, after a lengthy and chequered career in media, I am invited to speak at a function for Young Liberals I will be fucking surprised hopefully manage to have aged gracefully enough to make whatever comedic points hit their mark for my slavish hooting audience without offending an entire nation in the process.

I am not afraid to take responsibility for my past actions, but I reserve the right to learn from my mistakes. If Greg Hunt wants to fact check for future trawling he need only call.

UPDATE:

Someone forgot to tell Cory Bernardi.

Picture_18 ‘Soz, too busy pretending to read to take your call right now.’

UPDATE:

The Australian’s equivalent of flowers and fruit basket.

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