Being a blowhard means never having to say you’re sorry. When you’re not telling everyone what to think about climate change, refugees or how to use the television remote there are those slightly embarrassing men-only Savage Club membership fees to be paid.
For celebrity advocate and QC Julian Burnside, this is the existential drama now playing out in his head alongside a speech by Noam Chomsky and an old Bob Dylan record but rest assured by the end of it all somebody will be photoshopped wearing a Nazi uniform and it won’t be Julian.
Here’s the pitch – our hero has announced he is running as a Greens candidate at the next federal election – which is not surprising though in lawyer terms he might otherwise describe them as unreliable witnesses given the heady mix of virtue signalling, pamphleteering and the sexual assault and bullying claims (I mean where do they find the time)?
And this is all ok but the Savage Club thing is not. As a barrister, Burnside is presumably very quick on his feet but it has taken him 40 years to realize that a men’s-only club is not for him. That’s a lot of billable hours in lawyer world given that like dog years you just multiply every figure quoted by seven and then one day you get to be buried in the back garden with your squeaky toy.
And I’m all for exclusive gentlemen clubs – especially the ones where they only let men join and they get to mansplain to each other over-aged port while sitting with their legs wide apart to stop the women who aren’t there from getting a seat to listen to men-centric views that they don’t want to hear anyway.
I mean isn’t the Savage Club just Fernwood for seventy-year-olds still capable of having erections?
The problem for Julian Burnside is he is a victim of an intellectual cul de sac which is where you run round and round like a dog chasing its tail (what is it with lawyers and their dog metaphors) only to realise that long tail wagging hypocrisy you are chasing is actually attached to you and your off better chasing a stationary car and that stationary car is the Greens. I hope this all makes sense.
A friend who wants to save the world one supermarket shopping bag at a time recently said to me with limpid puppy dog eyes – ‘What’s this about virtue signaling Michael, isn’t it a good thing to aspire to something’ – but this is a blowhardism trick, an intellectual Ponzi scheme to be avoided at all cost as it only leads to introspection and more celebrity save the world moments.
What ‘I’ said as I shrugged my shoulders and sucked my culturally appropriated cappuccino through my metal straw was; ‘Umm, I don’t know, but they keep on rejecting my membership application to the Savage Club.’
Burnside has waved away criticism of his Savage Club membership by tweeting that he has been too busy doing pro bono refugee cases. There may be Nazi photoshops involved.
He really needs to get a secretary to sort these things for him and on a QC’s earn he should be able to afford one.
Michael Scammell is a freelance writer
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