Mindless lynch mobs killing our sense of humour
THERE was once this thing called the Australian sense of humour, a national treasure house of self-deprecation and droll sarcasm that was withering in its putdown of pretentious, self-obsessed impostors.
As a nation, we were able to look at ourselves and laugh or at least smile at our foibles, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.
One of the harshest criticisms that could be levelled at anyone was the judgment that "he's not a bad bloke, but he takes himself too seriously".
Being "up yourself" or "a bit of a wanker" was a social death sentence. "Get your hand off it, mate" would be the earthy advice given to those who were deemed to be affected by delusions of superiority.
It's gone now and it would be a brave comedian who would mount the stage today and take the mickey out of his fellow Australians and their endless search for victimhood for fear of being denounced and driven into unemployment by the mindless lynch mobs that roam social media.
How can younger generations be expected to stand back and take a self-deprecating view of themselves when they are educated in a cocoon-like environment in which their precious, easily offended, marshmallow beings are shielded from any view that conflicts with the politically correct micro-climate of the campus? Those who would dare to enter the cocoon and voice contrary sentiments to those being preached are howled down and denied a platform and in some cases are physically assaulted.
When a survey to ascertain the level of sexual assaults on campus was held, if those responding felt uncomfortable with the way someone had looked at them while they were catching public transport to their classes, they were encouraged to list it as a campus sexual assault.
The process was to establish the result that was required to fit the feminist agenda of victimhood - male predators roaming universities and preying on female students - and work backwards to achieve it.
It's all about self now. If somebody looks at me sideways when I walk down the street, it could not possibly be because my fly is undone, my sense of sartorial style is deficient, or I forgot to brush my hair. It must be because of my skin colour.
Back when we used to laugh at each other, there was a television program titled The Comedy Company, which featured a Greek character called Con the Fruiterer.
Con became a national figure and his cries of "bewdiful!, "coupla days" and "doesn't madda" became part of the vernacular. The program was so popular that Prime Minister Bob Hawke went on and presented Con with Australian citizenship. When Con asked Hawke when he was going to fix the country's problems, Hawke replied: "Coupla days".
Everyone laughed at comedian Mark Mitchell taking the mickey while shining a light on a Greek sub-culture that remains one of the ties that bind our society together. No one took to the streets moaning that they were the victims of a racist plot designed to denigrate Greeks. They were too busy working hard, saving money, maintaining the family unit and making sure that their kids got the education they knew they would need to make a life for themselves in the new world on which they had staked their future. They were part of the joke. They had arrived.
Given my Irish ancestry, perhaps I should have been offended by recent events in the UK that saw an episode of Fawlty Towers temporarily pulled, lest Germans found its reference to World War II offensive. (The Germans started the last two big ones, as I recall, but who's counting?)
Those familiar with this brilliant comedy would be aware that it features O'Reilly, a shonky Irish builder famed for his substandard work and absolute lack of principle.
While pandering to the sensitivities of the Germans, no one suggested pulling the O'Reilly episode lest the Irish found the O'Reilly caricature to be offensive, perhaps because unlike Australians, Americans, British and Germans, it was acknowledged that they still had a sense of humour.
If we still had a sense of humour, we'd fall about laughing at current desperate attempts to conflate American society with ours.
If statues were gifted with a sense of humour, John Howard's would have been sporting a grin from ear to ear as protesters poured paint over it for he would have known that in so doing they were driving thinking Australians - of which there are still more than a few - away from their cause in droves.
The day will hopefully dawn when we can once more look at ourselves and laugh. For some, that would mean an acknowledgment that they are in charge of their own destiny, that they have stuffed it up and that marching up and down the street chanting the catchcry of the day won't change that. The time will come when the pretentious, the self-important and the self-obsessed will realise that the joke's been on them, and I live for that day.
Originally published as Mindless lynch mobs killing our sense of humour