Pure Poison IconDavid “Five Star” Penberthy, editor of News Ltd’s The Punch and former editor of the Daily Telegraph, finally notices some of the deranged paranoid hysteria out there amongst sections of the public:

The question is whether the level and nature of the abuse is the same as it has always been, or whether there is something about the nature of this Parliament, and the ease and anonymity of modern communication, which has seen the vitriol intensify.

Judging from the emails I receive, and the comments which my colleagues moderate and edit on our opinion website, I’d say there has been a significant escalation in the ugliness. And the people who are angriest – and most unhinged – are the people who have got it into their head that Australia is no longer a democracy.

Penberthy sheets all the blame home to Tony Abbott, as if his own media organisation had no role in the matter at all:

Abbott has fanned the flames is in terms of whipping up all the fruitcakes who think that democracy is dead in Australia and that the government is illegitimate. By doing so Abbott has contributed massively to this bizarre and distressing new undercurrent of violent language, which would perhaps have had a rightful place in the old Soviet regimes or in former fascist states such as Pinochet’s Chile or Somoza’s Nicaragua, but has no place at all in a democracy such as ours.

There is a difference between a government which is illegitimate and a government which has misled the people, and Abbott has deliberately confused the two issues for political ends.

Very true. But, David, you might try letting some of your colleagues know. Like the people who devised that front page of The Australian the other day. Or your colleague Andrew Bolt, who on Friday was again ranting about “threats” to “liberties”:

Rounding up the usual suspects

Labor should feel it’s disgraced itself for being so base as to threaten media critics with new controls, proposed by a handpicked media inquiry created for that sinister purpose.

My disgust for this party and Ministers I once respected is matched only by my conviction that they must be removed before creating even more harm to our fundamental liberties…

There’s a reason so many have been convinced that the economy is about to be DESTROYED by the carbon price, that Julia Gillard is establishing A POLICE STATE, that DEMOCRACY IS DEAD, that we’ve become a COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP, that we’re being INVADED by HORDES of foreigners (and giving them “five star” treatment), that CRIMINALS are LIVING IN LUXURY and then GETTING OFF SCOT-FREE, that a terrifying WORLD GOVERNMENT is coming to oppress us on behalf of China… it’s because that’s what News Ltd pumps out, week in, week out, and many still believe what’s sitting in front of them in print when the footy paper is accidentally turned upside down.

We’ve seen the results – published and encouraged on the news.com.au website comment threads – in the Cut & Paste Trophy, before we decided the point had been so thoroughly made the section had become redundant.

The News Ltd papers have shamelessly fanned the flames of hysteria, just as much as Tony Abbott has. And this is the result. To disingenuously pretend it’s got nothing to do with News Ltd’s work over the past four years – I’d like to say their breathtaking, shameless audacity astonishes me.

I’d like to.

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