To incite...or not: open letter for our children

Tuesday 8 May 2012

I must apologise for the hiatus between my last Blogpost and this one. I’d forgotten what a family wedding actually entails…to say nothing of a precious few days with a daughter-not-often-seen and then three intensive days of study.

But my fingers are snapping at my ankles to get started…albeit on a post I wanted to write exactly one week ago.

I’ll pre-empt a little in case you want to tune out now…although I certainly hope at least one of you stays.  You see…it’s another letter on behalf of my two tiny granddaughters (aged 3 and 18 months).  I must admit I didn’t really expect to be writing another quite so soon after the first.  Nor did I expect that it would be to another male whom I don’t know and whose name starts once again with the letter M…only on a surname this time.

Yes Mr Grahame Morris…I speak of you.

On Monday 30 April 2012 you were reported as making a rather unfortunate remark on television.  Now at the time of reading your remark I was horrified, aghast and yes, even furious but busyness can sometimes cancel out even passionate emotions…at least for a while.

But that ‘while’ is now over Mr Morris. I have just seen my two little girls and re-kindled the necessary indignation.

Dear Mr M

I am writing this letter to you on behalf of my two young granddaughters who are not yet old enough to write to you themselves.

They are, however quite accustomed to their grandmother discussing things with them…things like ‘sharing’ and ‘manners’ and  ‘caring about the needs of others’…so it was no great surprise to them that I mentioned the remark you made the other day about our Prime Minister.

You remember the remark, don’t you – I’m sure you must because you apologized for it the next day after someone reminded you that it was probably not a politically wise thing to have said.

But just in case you’ve forgotten what you said (and don’t we all wish for amnesia re certain episodes in our lives) I shall remind you.

You said of our Prime Minister:  (Australians) ‘…ought to be kicking her to death.’

And you said it on television.

The subsequent apology from you and others concerned only about the political impact of your remark, suggested it was a throwaway line that you often use – and merely an Australian colloquialism.

That may well be Mr Morris…but the year is 2012 not 1952. We no longer say (at least publicly) lots of things we used to shriek out loud back then - albeit colloquially...offensive words like ‘nigger’ and ‘coon’ for a start.

No! ‘Oft-used colloquialism’ is not a really strong and impressive defence.  In fact, it is no defence at all - even the three year old chuckled - because, Mr Morris…she knows better and she knows she’d never get away with that at Kindergarten.

For a start she understands that at Kindergarten, kicking someone is simply not allowed.  She knows from personal experience that it hurts and she wouldn’t want to do that to someone else…let alone have it done to her again. She also knows that some little boys can kick even harder than can little girls.

But what she doesn’t know, Mr Morris is that when incited…people have been known to kick others to DEATH…that it’s a practice still happening right here in our midst.

She doesn’t even know what ‘death’ means…yet.

None of us do, Mr Morris – not really, not until we experience death itself…and then it’s all…too…late!

It’s a funny verb  ‘to incite’. You can make it work for you with very few words…like, say…‘kick to death.’

Olivia doesn’t yet realise that people CAN be incited to inflict violence on others - even in jest or by colloquial reference. She doesn't even realise that people CAN be stirred up sufficiently to perpetrate on another human being, any atrocity you can think of - given the right environment…and words. Any environment at all will do the trick…any place where human beings are gathered together – even at a family event – especially where alcohol or a touch of cocaine may be added.

Please think about it Mr Morris.

Television is EXACTLY the right catalyst – as is radio – for the promotion of violence. Just ask Mr Alan Jones how effective HE is on the good old airwaves with suggestions like a certain PM should be placed in a sack and drowned at sea?

Are you thinking? Can you see how sick this is? Can you see that I do not want my granddaughters or any of our Australian children to grow up in this environment of attitude?

I want you to think very carefully about this Mr Morris…because whilst my granddaughters may not understand the power of television, I do.  Many years ago with a careless but innocent toss of a few words I was the direct cause of two little boys burning down their parents’ garden shed.  It could have been their lives that were lost. What a lesson!

And that is the point Mr Morris.

It is one thing to say a smart, funny, clever or sarcastic jibe at someone’s expense whilst you’re entertaining in the pub or at a private social function; but it’s quite another to do so in the public arena of television broadcasting.

If you're lucky enough to get your head on the telly  - and get it on often enough to wield some influence on the average casual viewer…then there is a rule that comes into play: it’s called Duty of Care.

It's simply not good enough, not professional enough and certainly not humane enough to imply or suggest on television that violence of any sort on another human being is a good idea.

I hesitate to say that your remark - (perhaps unlike the remark made by Mr Max Tomlinson recently on the ‘obvious inadequacies of the females of the species’) - was made from any subtle or otherwise misogynistic base. But it is hard to believe that such a bully-phrase would have been directed at a male Prime Minister. Gough for one had a long reach – and so did Malcolm.

Whether or not you care for her politics, her clothes or her marital status the fact remains she is your Prime Minister; she is a highly intelligent woman who is working in an extremely difficult political environment.

She has endured death threats, incitement to violence, cruel remarks on her decision to not bear children, taunts on her atheism, her hair, her clothing, her make-up and yes…her nose.

Endured - Mr Morris. Do you believe she is inhuman - has no feelings at all?  Do you really think she deserves this kind of constant diatribe?

No human being deserves such treatment.

At the very least, Mr Morris she deserves your respect; and at the very most she deserves protection from these hideous and veiled threats we hear and see all too often. 

But no one is standing up to you Mr Morris. If there is a TV Watchdog with teeth, he took them out when he heard your remark.

It is essential we eradicate this unacceptable attitude in our society and we must do so with education on Equality & Respect.

My granddaughters along with millions of other children hopefully will be educated by family members to be aware of this scourge in our midst; and on their behalf and the many young Australian children who may not receive that benefit, I ask that you refrain from ever repeating such vile suggestions on television ever again.

We may not be on television...but we shall all be watching.

Thank you

Nancy, Olivia and Hannah


  1. I hope this crosses his path. . . a powerful 'must-read'. Thank you xx

  2. And thank YOU for reading it. There is far too much complacency in our midst from those who should be taking action on incidents like these.

  3. And I also hope Mr Morris reads this. There is, as you say, a higher standard, a greater duty of care upon those fortunate to have a public profile be it media or in the classroom. More vigilance I say...

  4. Well said Donna...I couldn't agree more. We all have to do our bit for the children's sake so they don't carry around with them a negative message on this issue.