Thursday, December 02, 2004

Keelty, frank and fearless...again

I predict that Mick Keelty must be ready to retire. Otherwise he would not have made such a bold and frank statement, again.

Last March after Mick's little outburst of truth, Alexander Downer and John HoWARd went halves and bought him Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words.
Mick is using it,
  1. to prop open the back door
  2. has read it and is claiming back language with meaning
I'm going with option b.
I can just see Mick quoting Don's sentiment saying:

"Weasel words are the words of the powerful, the treacherous and the unfaithful, spies, assassins and thieves. Bureaucrats and ideologues love them. Tyrants cannot do without them. The Newspeak of Orwell's 1984 is an invention, but also a satire on real states such as the Soviet Union where death from starvation and abuse in slave camps was recorded by officials as "failure of the heart muscle". Were any five words ever more melancholy than this?

Politicians readily convince themselves that weaseling is no less essential in their affairs. When certain remarks by Richard Nixon turned out to have been untrue, his minders described them as inoperative. John Howard and his ministers chose words that persuaded the public to believe that the refugees on a sinking boat had thrown their children into the sea, and that the Government was right, therefore, to stop them landing in Australia. These people seeking asylum in Australia were not the sort of people Australians wanted in this country.

It is possible that only weasel words could put Howard and his ministers beyond the reach of their better feelings and give them up to bastardry. More direct and pungent language might have made the lie unbearable. This is not to assume that there were better angels in their nature to be found, but to remind us that this language anaesthetises both the users and the used. It poisons politics: the politicians, the media, the public service and the voters.

At a recent Senate hearing into that incident, a senior public servant was asked if the Prime Minister or his staff had indicated to her the importance and significance of her evidence: had they, in other words, leaned on her? She replied, I do not recall that being particularly the case."
I really hate the way the Prime Minister is often portrayed as a kindly, benign senior citizen...he's not.

He behaves just like a schoolyard bully.


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