A few weeks ago, Alan Joyce, openly gay CEO of Qantas, was deliberately hit in the face with a pie at a speaking engagement. Not a scalding hot meat pie, but a soft and non-damaging (or so we’re told by the assailant) lemon-merangue pie.
The reason for the attack was as an openly gay man, Alan Joyce has been using his platform as Qantas CEO to promote marriage equality within Australia. This, thought the pensioner and failed Nationals candidate who attacked Joyce, was a Step Too Far. As opposed to churches, anti-gay alliances and companies who reject marriage equality, companies who support marriage equality have no right to participate in social debates.
Of course, failed Labor leader and ebulliently pugnacious Mark Latham has an opinion on this, and was happy to tell the Daily Mail, that by pressing charges against the pensioner who pied him in the face, Alan Joyce was being a “bit of a bastard”.
As opposed, to Mark Latham himself – who is being a bit of an entitled cry-baby on the issue.
To Latham, because Joyce is ‘campaigning’ on a political issue, protests are fair game and Joyce is going too far by pressing charges, arguing that:
“Going the rounds of the kitchen with his wife is punishment enough.”
An interesting expression, there. Joyce shouldn’t press charges against the man who slammed a pie into his face because the man’s legally married spouse will let him have it. (Assuming of course, that said spouse would not have agreed with the action.)
Maybe if Joyce were able to get legally married in Australia, a legally married spouse might have likewise suggested to him that the entire incident was a joke?
Except, really, it wasn’t a joke. It was, as gays are so often accused of by the egregiously unhinged Australian Christian Lobby, an attempt to silence dissent. The message was clear: “I disagree with you, you have no right to speak.” Regardless of whether that perceived non-right to speak came from a position of “corporate bullying” or not is, in fact, irrelevant to the matter. At best this was an example of bullying.
There’s another aspect I’ve found interesting to the entire situation. Now, I can’t speak for what Mark Latham would or would not do in every single circumstance – and indeed, such a thought leaves me somewhat horrified – but if there’s one thing in particular I’ve noticed about the people who are saying Alan Joyce is going too far in pressing charges, it’s this: they all bear a striking resemblance to the sorts of guys who, in a bar, would exclaim, “He’s just a happy drunk, ignore him!” if an intoxicated friend grabbed a random woman’s breasts. I’ve seen the drunks and their friends, and they all seem to be cast from the same mould.
Again, I’m not saying Mark Latham would be the sort of person who would excuse a casual breast grabbing in the same way he’s excusing a pie to the face. He just strikes me as being somewhat similar in personality, age and behaviour to the sorts of men I have seen excuse casual breast grabbing. So I can’t really say I believe Mark Latham’s indignant carry-on.
I did though find his following comment a bit interesting:
If I was ever hit in the face by a soft pie, a cream pie, you wouldn’t think for a minute about trying to get this guy locked up.
That is indeed very true. I wouldn’t for a minute think that if someone hit Mark Latham in the face with a soft pie he’d try to get the guy locked up. Mark, after all, has demonstrated a far more … direct … response to people who displease him, such as here and here. One can’t help but think that should an old man have slammed a pie in Mark Latham’s face, Mark – the Mark from those incidents – might have responded not with a lawsuit or a laugh, but a more direct and possibly damaging action. Again, speculation, of course.
Whether it causes physical harm (lasting or trivial), what Mark is doing is trivialising the issue. It’s such a common trivialisation, too: it was minor, it was a lark, it was no harm done.
That’s the same thing gays and lesbians are told after being verbally abused, or made the butt of a crude and unfriendly joke. It’s the old “stick and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you” argument – that if something doesn’t cause lasting physical harm, then it didn’t harm.
Tell that to the kids who commit suicide after being teased relentlessly and bullied about being gay, Mark. Except, they can’t hear Mark’s dismissal of a bullying attack. And they can’t speak their disagreement.
Alan Joyce does. Alan Joyce is using his voice.
Mark Latham needs to check his daipers. I think they need to be changed.