EDITORIAL MONDAY 01.06.09.
We should all feel sorry for AFL player Ben Cousins as he is clearly unable to understand the world around him. Of course it is only to be expected. He never really had a chance. Suffering from an unnatural talent for AFL which has set him apart from ordinary people, it must have been hard dealing with all of the money and the adoration. The pressure, the scrutiny, the expectations have obviously all been too much for one individual to handle. And since life at the top was obviously so difficult for him to cope with, how much harder was it for him to find himself at the bottom after his misadventures with alcohol, drugs and wild partying women brought him down, although apparently not all the way down to earth?
Confused by the extraordinary belief that aggressive obnoxious discourteous self-aggrandising behavior is somehow a desirable attribute, Ben Cousins has found himself at the centre of attention once again because he made a one-finger gesture in front of a television camera. In hindsight it is obvious that on the planet where Ben Cousins comes from this is a sign of virility, of prowess, of confidence, and he just doesn’t understand that on this planet it means something else altogether. I’m sure it is an easy mistake to make when you lack sufficient brain cells to learn anything new from past misfortunes. But it’s not Ben’s fault. He’s just misunderstood. He didn’t intend to cause any offence whatsoever. We know this because he said so. After all of the kerfuffle, a bewildered and confused Ben Cousins said: “It was never my intention to cause any offence." The poor man is simply confounded by all the fuss and has no idea why people have become so upset. You really do have to feel sorry for him.
Of course, he’s not the only one. Even ordinary everyday people have become deeply confused over what is an acceptable form of communication and what is not. It’s remarkably similar to the phenomenon where otherwise kind considerate people signal each other on the streets using this one fingered salute. Somehow they have been led to believe that this is the appropriate way of dealing with minor misunderstandings and mistakes in traffic. I did not mean to make a mistake and accidentally merge into your lane, because I was distracted by the other driver with the luggage piled up to the roof who was reversing out onto the roadway without looking, but hey, I’m only human. Despite this there is no shortage of people who will respond by making the one figure gesture, screaming obscene accusations comparing me to sexual body parts, and sometimes even leaping out of the car to make a physical assault with or without a weapon. For some reason they believe it is justified. No wonder poor Ben is so confused.
So, for the benefit of Ben Cousins, all his footballing mates, the enraged drivers on our roads and pretty much everybody who thinks it is their God-given right to indulge their righteous indignation by embarking upon a psychopathic rage, here is a simple tip. If you don’t mean to cause offence, don’t do anything offensive. Don’t make what George W. Bush called the “one fingered victory salute”. Don’t use aggressive and obscene language in your day to day discourse, and above all, don’t make the pathetic excuse that you didn’t mean to cause offence when you know damn well that’s exactly what you intended to do. It really is simple… even simpler than Ben Cousins and his ilk.