The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Yes, Germaine

Censorship is a dangerous game. Now, of course, we all censor ourselves to some extent in order to maintain some sense of civility and prevent violence breaking out (if your girlfriend or boyfriend
asks you if their arse looks ok in the new pair of jeans they’ve just bought, censoring your reply to ‘Oh darling, I love your behind’, instead of the more honest ‘No, you fucking fat lardass, get to the gym’ is fair enough).

But when it comes to an attempt by the mainstream media to censor the views of someone because they don’t deem them ‘appropriate’, we’re on dodgy ground. Take the recent media furore over Germaine Greer’s comments about Steve Irwin. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Germaine – her anti-trans philosophy and mentioning my girlfriend and me by name in her book The Whole Woman in a chapter entitled ‘Pantomime Dames’ didn’t exactly endear me to her. But she gets points for going against the popularist stance the media took over Irwin who died after being stabbed by a stingray. The words ‘iconic’ ‘animal-lover’ and ‘conservationist’ were used to describe a man who jumped on the backs of crocodiles and set up a zoo to ‘house’ wild animals captured from their native habitat so humans can gawk at them. “The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin”, Greer stated in her column in UK newspaper The Guardian. The next day she went further, calling those who mourned Irwin and labelled his death as Australia’s ‘Princess Diana’ moment, “idiots” and the whole mass grief phenomenon “embarrassing”.

The outcry against Greer’s comments was astounding. Interviewer Karl Stefanovic was hostile to her when she appeared on A Current Affair; The Daily Telegraph sent her a muzzle, printed her agent’s email address and called on readers to tell her exactly what they felt; political leaders including Labor Party foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd told her to shut up. Whatever your feelings towards Greer, it makes you wonder whatever happened to the right to free speech. Stefanovic used Greer’s refusal to name a public figure who agreed with her sentiments, as proof that no one did, but conversations in the SX office, among friends and colleagues, as well as a trawl of various chat rooms and message boards this week showed she’s by no means alone in her views of Irwin – she just had the guts to say so publicly.

We should all take note. How often do you keep quiet, stay in the closet, or pretend to agree with the majority opinion so you’ll be liked? How often do we refuse to ‘rock the boat’ because we’re afraid of the consequences? Censorship in all its forms is a messy business. Yes, we rightly rail against homophobia and incitements to violence against us, but that doesn’t mean our critics should be made to be silent altogether, just as we have a right to speak out against them, against George Bush, John Howard…and their friend, Steve Irwin.


  • At 3:56 AM, Blogger Mr. M. said…

    Hello Katrina!

    My name is Manny, I sent you an email a few weeks back. Just wanted to drop a line and say hello and see how things are going.

    Germaine - I have never been a big fan of hers, but I do take my hat off to her for standing up in her beliefs and her causes, whatever they maybe.

    I can't say to much about her because I don't know much about her, but after reading what you have written, I am keen to do some exploring. Thanks for the eye opener.

    Hope your doing well.



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