Opportunities to undermine the state can’t present themselves too often in a place like North Hobart, so it’s hardly surprising that when an ex-prime minister makes an unscheduled appearance there the Local Anarchist feels obliged to mark the occasion in some way. But like most Fairfax and ABC pundits I see no obvious connection between the swelling on Tony Abbott’s lower lip with the ‘Vote Yes’ badge pinned to his assailant’s shirt.
After watching the interviews of Astro ‘DJ Funkknuckl’ Labe explaining his actions it’s hard not to conclude that that he was probably only wearing the badge because of its shininess, and that he’s an equal opportunity offender who would have extended much the same sort of welcome to Bill Shorten or Ian Thorpe – or indeed Dawn Fraser.
In an age of bewildering change, the maintenance of traditions which may strike inner-city sophisticates as quaint provides an important sense of continuity in smaller, more isolated communities. Speccie readers may have been surprised to hear that North Hobart even has a Local Anarchist, but this title is merely a contemporary iteration of the much older and time-honoured one; Village Idiot – the difference being that instead of putting a nail through his nose and shaving in the dark Mr Labe’s ancestor would have worn a smock and chewed grass, and instead of head-butting our Tony he would have tapped him with an inflated pig’s bladder.
Anyway, given how much free publicity Mr Labe has generated for North Hobart – until now not on most tourists’ Tassie tick list – it is to be hoped that his anarchism is at least partially subsidised by the local council, and that they will now help him with any legal costs incurred in the execution of his duties. Perhaps they could even put him on a proper salary, allowing him to give up his part-time barista and DJ work and make the assault of public figures a full-time occupation.
Indeed, perhaps it should be incumbent on all prime ministers, at the end of their tenure, to travel to North Hobart to submit themselves to the hubris-reducing attentions of this spirited public servant. And if the council won’t come to the party, perhaps he could apply to a more influential and much wealthier local institution; one which in the few years since its inception has become a world famous platform for all manner of pointless, outrageous and offensive human behaviour.
It occurs to me as I write this that far from being a spontaneous, alcohol-fuelled gesture, the head-butt was actually a carefully rehearsed and choreographed piece of performance art which was surreptitiously filmed, and that this footage will soon prove as popular with visitors to our MONA as that other one is in the Louvre.
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