Thursday, April 12, 2012

Forum bullying

Andrew Stafford (the Age 12/4 Opinion) laments a ‘culture of widespread online bullying ... (that) reminds him of children’s playgrounds, where the bullies always win – because everyone else scarpers’.

To have a forum, online or other, is a decidedly good thing (since democracy must involve the people), but the continued strong bullying influence of the mindless reminds us that democracy needs safeguards for the less able to assert their intelligent influence. One well-known service group, the Rotary Club, practices self-discipline, I believe, with the motto: ‘Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary’, but on the other hand, Stafford sees ‘the nation’s political and personal manners (as) increasingly coarse’.

We are still a long way short of the social imperative of civility in public discourse to freely establish truth in the public arena, and our basic political structure is aggravating the problems rather than helping, money often being the bully’s tool. Thus, our urgent social/political need is for forums run by independent MPs who will be vulnerable and ensure fair play – with equal access for everyone. On his/her head be it then if that does not happen! Is this a pipe-dream? Absolutely, until we have ballots ruling in our parliaments and all members independent, it cannot happen.

Our local member, with overwhelming credentials, has been round and round the electorate, being interviewed in local forums organised by various interests, all no doubt with hopes of benefits from a future government by his party, in which he will undoubtedly be a star performer. This Friday he will run a forum himself with the leader of the opposition as the chief attraction. Great, another public forum! But do you get it? It will be a top-down session if ever there was one, instead of the ‘grassroots’ able to be actively contributing, whatever those views might be.

We need to have such level discussion forums everywhere, in which anyone will have an equal say, with the local member having a vested interest in seeing that that happens or on his/her head be it if that does not happen! That is the kind of real democracy that will be ‘morally uplifting’ for all. Your thoughts? Email:

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