Flat White

The other virus

22 July 2020

5:00 AM

22 July 2020

5:00 AM

The barbarians are not at the gate.  The barbarians are manning the gate.  And they decide who gets in and who stays in. 

The Overton Window is meant to represent the range of issues and subjects that are acceptable within the mainstream public discourse.   The use of the window descriptor was meant to convey an image of size, transparency, openness and something that lets the light in.  Unfortunately, we no longer have an Overton Window but instead, we have an Overton Peephole.  Something that is small, can only be accessed by one person at a time, only looks one way and that refracts light. 

The speech codes.  The safetyism.  The self-censorship.  The cancel culture.  The politicisation of everything.  They are all conspiring to limit what can be said and written, but also by whom.  Ithese symptoms were a direct consequence of government action, then it might be easier to deal with.  No.  This is a virus that has grown and mutated and taken over a vulnerable host. 

This virus does not have its origins in an obscure wet market but rather was genetically engineered in our universities and institutes of higher learning.  Once created, it reproduced and mutated into a more viral strand.  It was transported out via graduates and transmitted into other social institutions.  First the public sector, then the school education sector, then the media and now increasingly the broader business sector. 

What this virus does is that it limits and shrinks the acceptable zone of discussion and increasingly zone of financial investment and seeks to destroy anyone who dares to venture outside this zone.  One of the early viral engineers who has since lost control of his creation is Noam Chomsky who said in 1998: 

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

But it seems now that even Chomsky’s ideas are outside the spectrum of acceptable opinion as evidenced by his signing onto the recent Harper’s letter. 

We are at a critical point in the progress of this virus.  Do we allow it to continue to spread or do we try to fight it back? 

Many of our leaders seem uninterested in the spread of this virus.  Then Treasurer, now Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in 2017 that taming the Racial Discrimination Act “doesn’t create one job, doesn’t open one business, doesn’t give anyone one extra hour (of work)”.  On the other hand, not taming the Racial Discrimination Act has destroyed jobs, businesses and property. 

These are the signals that our leaders and elites send.  This was the same signal that was also sent in 2005 in response to the violence following the publication of the Danish cartoons.   

If we as a society, as a community don’t seek to destroy this virus, this virus will destroy us. 

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