Julie Bishop makes a poor call on Eddie McGuire

Eddie McGuire’s outrageous behaviour has divided the community in fairly predictable ways. On one hand there is the “lighten up, it’s only a joke” brigade and on the other is the “threats of violence against women are never a joke” brigade.

In the second category is Holden, Collingwood’s major sponsor. “Holden categorically disapproves of Eddie McGuire’s inappropriate comments, along with those of his co-hosts,” Holden spokesman Sean Poppitt.

Holden kicks in $3 million a year to the Collingwood coffers so its opinion is going to be important.

Predictably and disappointingly, the founding Chairman of beyondblue Jeff Kennett, a national organisation “working to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety in the community” supported McGuire. His spurious defence in the Herald Sun today did little to justify his actions.

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Not predictably but also disappointingly, Julie Bishop got into the debate.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop backed the Collingwood president, saying: ‘‘If we’re going to take offence at every silly, offhand remark or attempt at humour, then we’re not focusing on the really important issues of the day.’’

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 You would have thought Julie Bishop would have had more sympathy for a woman who has to operate in a boys’ club environment.

This wasn’t an offhand remark. It was an exchange that went on for a number of minutes. It’s a pity that no one in the studio had the guts to say ” Hold on guys, this is out of order, let’s change the subject.”

So here is a question for the Foreign Minister.

If a member of the Labor Party had made similar comments about you, would you have taken it as a joke?

I hope you wouldn’t. But if you were consistent, you would have just laughed it off.

This was not some dumb-arsed yobbo talking to his mates in a pub. This is one of the highest profile media personalities in Australia. This is the president of one of the largest football clubs in Australia. This a man with almost unparalleled access to the media.

So what he says gets a lot of attention. And there will be people who think that what he says is funny.  And there will be a small proportion of that group who will think that this kind of behaviour is acceptable.

No one is suggesting  for a moment that McGuire or his mates would ever do something like what they jokingly suggested on radio. But that commentary, like the commentary of Alan Jones about Julia Gillard, normalises and legitimises violence against women.

It’s a pity that the Foreign Minister does not realise this.

 

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