“Tell the truth and shame the devil,” the Inquisitors would say
But for some truth tellers, misery – even death – awaited.
In 1633, the Roman Inquisition charged the astronomer, philosopher and scientist Galileo of heresy for advocating Copernican theory; that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
Faced with execution by burning – the traditional punishment for heretics – Galileo recanted (muttering, as he was led out of court, according to the story, “But, still, it revolves”).
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton was subjected by another kind of ordeal by media fire when his weekend criticism of former PM Malcolm Turnbull was taken up by the ABC and ran as headline news, as evidence of yet more disunity in Liberal ranks.
Dutton told the truth when he called out Turnbull “not have a political bone in his body” and as being more spiteful than Kevin Rudd. The ABC seized on this as yet another indication of Liberal malice against the former PM (where, incidentally, do they find these ABC news editors, the Russian disinformation unit in Moscow would love to recruit them. Oh. Wait, maybe…)
“In 2016 Malcolm ran the worst campaign in Liberal Party history and we ended up losing 15 seats and were left with a one-seat majority which just made the Parliament unmanageable. We were paralysed…Malcolm is charming and affable but he doesn’t have a political bone in his body.”
That was Peter Dutton speaking truth. And he paid the price as the ABC and the rest of the other Mal-contents fell on him for speaking what most silently acknowledge to be truth.
Dutton went further, The Liberal Party, he said, had become unrecognisable to supporters. “People who had voted for us for years had switched off…. Marginal seat members across the country believed we would lose and in the end MPs couldn’t walk down the street without people saying you have to get rid of him.”
Perhaps the starkest example of political truth telling repressed or ignored comes down to us from historical literature, from Homer’s Iliad.
Laocoön, the Trojan priest, warned against opening the never-breached walls of Troy to allow the wooden horse to be hauled through the gates. We know his famous words about Greeks and gifts.
The angry god Poseidon, an opponent of the Trojans, sent two sea-serpents to strangle Laocoön and his sons before anyone would take heed. And, the rest, as we know, is history.
Turnbull will reap rewards if Labor comes to power. Perhaps become Governor-General
Turnbull, tasked, as Bill Hayden once was, to eliminating for ever the office in favour of a Australian republic. Will Julie Bishop’s ambitions be hastened under Labour – a bid for UN Secretary-General, perhaps, or at very least, the job of head of mission to somewhere nice?
Time to remember Laocoön.
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