Monday, September 15, 2008

Outrageous Behavior

Last week I made some observations about the Matt Brown office party affair which have provoked quite a response, mostly negative. One listener, Bill Brindle, wrote on my website “Do you really need to be an apologist for the alleged incident?” Another by the name of Richard wrote to offer me this advice: “Leon, stand up and be a responsible commentator, not a cover up merchant.” It seems that there is no shortage of people outraged by what was alleged to have occurred at that party.

Although the alleged facts remain in dispute, it’s clear that, whatever happened, it was embarrassing enough for Matt Brown to try to cover it up. It’s also clear that whether or not people admit to being drunk there was enough alcohol being consumed for the accusation to carry some legitimacy. It’s also a fact that whatever it was that happened, took place during a parliamentary sitting, when the people of New South Wales might expect their elected representatives to have their minds on the job.

I was also criticized for suggesting that “no one in his right mind would use those words unless he was in the company of friends…” Well, the phrase which Matt Brown is alleged to have uttered is gross, indecent, and just downright dirty. It would take a special kind of idiot to say that to strangers, but of course, it is possible that Mr. Brown is just such an idiot. I don’t know, because I wasn’t there. But note that I did say “in his right mind”.

Many people are offended, even shocked, by any form of outrageous behaviour. But it’s not the behaviour itself that is the problem. This is supposed to be a free country where consenting adults can do as they please behind closed doors, so long as they are not breaking any laws. The problem is that this particular party should not have occurred in a parliamentary office, during a parliamentary sitting. The choice to do so demonstrated a substantial lack of judgement, and having made that mistake, the subsequent cover-up, denials and recriminations, only compounded it.

And so, I come back to my original point. Matt Brown had to go, not so much because he allegedly likes to dance in his underwear, but because he and the rest of the Government should have more important things on their mind, like health, education, transport, and the fiscal disaster now unfolding in the state budget.

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