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argh! the stupid! it burns!

Yesterday’s Overland session on climate change at the Sydney Writers Festival seems to have fanned the low-level cretinism normally gusting out from the Quadrant blog (cf the notorious Sally-Warhaft-is-a-dumb-blonde post) into a veritable tornado of idiocy. Take, for instance, this little item:

When the Sydney [Left] Writers’ Festival hold a phoney “forum” on climate change they ensure dissent is silenced by excluding Ian Plimer – writer of the best selling Australian book on climate change.

Though the entire sentence stands as a minor masterpiece of witlessness, particular credit should be given to the scare quotes around forum, intended, one presumes, to emphasise the phoney phoniness of this counterfeit deception.

You see, over in crazyland, an event organised and funded by Overland to launch Overland 195 shouldn’t actually feature contributors from, like, Overland but instead should be given over to Quadrant‘s denialist friends such as Ian Plimer, a man regularly silenced by his thrice-weekly op-ed pieces in the Australian. Why, free speech demands that Quadrant should determine the personnel at events hosted by other publications at  festivals at which Quadrant chooses not to attend — and when that doesn’t happen, well, we’re half-way to the gulag already.

By that logic, free speech also demands that the Quadrant blog should be evenly divided between its usual roster of elderly reactionaries and an array of writers from Friends of the Earth. So will it continue to solely publishing ‘you kids get off my lawn’ rants from right-wing curmudgeons? Will George Monbiot get a regular column? No? You mean, dissent will be excluded! Gosh! In that case, perhaps everyone over at that ‘phoney’ ‘blog’ (you see, it’s addictive) could pour themselves a nice hot mug of shut-the-fuck-up.

Much against our better judgement, we seem to have descended into wrestling with the proverbial pigs (an occupation in which famously both parties get spattered in mud — and only the pig has fun). But since we’re already down on the farm, we might also mention an equally nutty item by chief online Quad Ranter Michael Connor (from each, as someone once said, according to his ability) about  Quadrant‘s bizarre clothing range.

Two years ago, Quadrant devised a clever campaign to expose the intellectual limitations of the Left. The plan was quite simple, really – which, dealing with the Left, automatically ensured its success.The magazine produced a tee-shirt with a message designed to test and challenge the left wing mind. It read: “I never read Quadrant because I don’t like it.”

Triumphantly twirling his little curly tail, Connor cuts to a photo of your correspondent wearing the said shirt: proof, you see, of my entanglement in Quadrant‘s fiendish sartorial snare. Of course, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the unfortunate fellow that his shirts are teh funny not because people don’t know who makes them but precisely because they do. As they say on the intertubes: play him off, keyboard cat.

[added] In retrospect, I kinda agree with the tenor of the comments. These kind of back and forth exchanges are a waste of time. Don’t think I’ll do them any more.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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Comments

  1. Yes it’s all pretty trite and I agree with the points you make, but rather than the wrestling with pigs down on the farm, I’m interested in how the forum went? Really wanted to get along, but alas was unable to due to a sick child.

    BTW a work colleague enjoyed the Germain Greer on Thursday night. :-)

  2. Podcast??? transcript???? We’re up in Queensland and feeling very lonely…. Would have loved to have seen this talk.

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