Wednesday, November 10, 2004

boycotting The Australian

Some weeks ago, I entered into a strange twilight zone of correspondence. Don't be scared by this, little ones. It is not quite as frightening as it seems. It is however fairly bizarre.

I am a prolific letter writer and in recent years most of my letters have been directed to the editor of The Australian. As many of you will know, when you write a Letter to the Editor, four times out of five, nothing happens. The fifth time, you open the letters page and there you are, bold as brass with your strongly held opinion right there in black and white for the whole damned world to see. That's it. That's the alternatives. You get printed or you don't. That's all she wrote. Except when....

The Editor writes back!

Now, I have been reading The Australian for a good long time. I remember when the editorials were not love songs to George Bush or odes to the righteousness of his war mongering or congratulatory snivelling to John Howard for his cleverness in supporting King George Bush 2nd. I still remember fondly the days when I was not referred to scathingly as a chardonnay socialist. Hell, I don't even drink. And back in the days when I did, it was fourex out of the stubby, mate or in a financial bind, Cardonnay or Mossel from the 'goon. .... I recall when I could open that paper and feel like I was among friends. But in the last couple of years, I have become a left wing intellectual elitist (which is a VERY BAD THING according to The Australian) simply because I believe that war is fundamentally wrong under any circumstances and that there is an even deeper bottom line than the dollar. It's called principle.

Soon after the election here in Oz, I had an epiphany! As I read the bizarre orgy of gloating that the right wing readers and the editorial writers indulged themselves in, I suddenly realised I did not have to take the abuse being meted out to me and my kind any longer. I could .... STOP BUYING THE PAPER. I could exercise the only power a consumer truly has! I would BOYCOTT THE AUSTRALIAN.

So, since I am fundamentally a polite sort of a cove, I wrote a letter telling them that I was terminating our relationship. The letter went something like this:

Dear Australian,

I'm sorry but it's over between us. What happened to us? When did you stop caring about me? When did I become nothing but a loopy loony left wing intellectual elitist to you? I have been a loyal long suffering reader but I can no longer put up with your abuse. This member of the lunatic fringe is off the books for good.

Yours truly

leigh langtree

Imagine my surprise when this arrived in my inbox:

> That's a shame, you write a good letter.
> Regards,
>> Matthew Spencer
> Letters Editor
> The Australian

At around this time, I had come up with the idea of setting up a web page explaining to the world my intention to boycott The Australian because of the way the Editorials had begun to careen out of control to the right. What a shame I didn't have a copy of the Dear John letter I had written to The Australian. It would be perfect for the home page of my new Boycott The Australian web site. I opened Outlook again and this is what I wrote:

Thanks for that, Matthew - I do love a civilised break-up. Since we are parting on good terms, I wonder if I could impose on you to forward me back a copy of my Dear John/Australian letter if you still have it on file?
Thanks, Christine

Back came this reply:

> What were some key words in the letter?
>By the way, I often get people from
> the Right saying their abandoning the paper cos its letters are biased
> against Howard. I know this week things got interesting but you need to
> expect some outpouring - especially as we have run lots of letters attacking
> Howard and he did get re-elected. Swings and roundabouts, I say.

To which I wrote:

The letter started: (I think)I'm sorry, Australian - but it's over between us. ....I also wrote in it that: I have been very loyal but ....And that: .... this loony (?) loopy (?) left wing (?) um... intelligentsia(?) person is off the books.
Thanks for your effort. And by the way, it is not the individual letters which have finally driven me away - I enjoy them. But the Editorials and the continuing venom expressed there for those of us who believe the war is wrong, that there must be a higher common denominator in society than the mighty dollar and that people who are running from regimes that we consider bad enough to wage war upon, ought not to be jailed when they turn up on our shores looking for succour. I think The Australian has forgotten who comprises its traditional base and that the growing circulation figures boasted about earlier in the week would take an enormous nose dive were the left wing lunatics the Editorial so consistantly ridicules to stop buying.

But, you know, don't get me started, Matthew! I have a soap box nailed to my shoes. I appreciate your attention and will miss the Letters page very much come the weekend.


Alas it seems I went a little too far, for no further reply was forthcoming. Neither was the copy of my letter for my home page. Dang! I was just getting to where I liked it too. I was just starting to feel the kernel of understanding beginning to emerge from the swamp of harsh words that bubbled odiferously between Matthew Spencer's place of work and the hallowed sanctuary of my mind. The moral of the story is never give your heart to a letters page editor. They are a fickle lot.

But that is not the end of my story.

To be continued...


At 10 November 2004 at 8:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as the Australian has opinion writers such as Philip Adams, I am hard pressed to believe that the Australian is nothing but balanced. Adams epitomises the dribbling left wing and he gets coverage. I guess it is the freedom thing again.......Don't you just love GWB and JWH for keeping us free, so you Adams and anyone else can keep on keeping on....

At 11 November 2004 at 5:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

keep that soap box nailed to your shoes!
'turn the wick up' on the moral conscience of those who chose more lies, racism n WW3, over health, education and national security.
-jim budd

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