When Labor MP Steve Gibbons called Julie Bishop a “bimbo” on Twitter and had to quickly update his insult to “fool”, it got me thinking…
If Julie Bishop had retaliated and called Gibbons a “himbo” would that have been equally condemned?
What about if she’d said he was a “knob”, a “tool” a “dick” or a “prick”?
And what about if he’d then shot back that she was a “trollop” a “tart” a “skanky ho” or a “twat”?
And then what if all hell broke loose and they called each other … (well, let’s just say if they spoke like any of the characters in Underbelly or repeated the stuff your kids watch on Youtube.)
I asked around on Twitter about all this and was
tartly smartly told that all gender-based insults are now off-limits in politics.
Yes, sad, but apparently true.
I suppose the sexist language has to go. It means that some MP’s will be spending the Christmas break consulting the Thesaurus and attempting to acquire a whole new vocabulary.
Can I ask that, while they’re doing that, they also think about brushing up their invective?
Yelling “rubbish” or “crap” aross the chamber or “sit down”, “shut up” or “shame” is not doing it for me or anyone else in voter land.
It’s widely acknowledged that there’s no-one in Parliament today who can come within a bull’s roar of Paul Keating’s inventive use of the English language to tear down the opposition.
“You desiccated coconut!” PJ Keating in full flight. Image via News Ltd.
His opponents were desperadoes, scumbags, a rabble, boxheads, unrepresentative swill, mugs, a motley, dishonest crew. They couldn’t raffle a chook in a pub or run a tart shop… they were painted, perfumed gigolos.
However, Keating, after his remark that “(Sydney Lord Mayor) Clover Moore couldn’t get a fuck on a troop ship coming home,” is now sin-binned.
Likewise, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell for this: “I’m not sure which other member could be the hooker, perhaps the Member for Canterbury” (MP Linda Burney).
OK, not their finest efforts, but it’s not easy to come up with quick, off -the-cuff insult gold when you’re in the heat of battle.
Comics do it. But they train for years, like Jedi Knights.
And you need time to come up with genius stuff like this: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot; and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” Mark Twain (1835-1910).
Let’s be truthful. It’s not the fighting day after day in politics that gets us down so much as the lack of sparkling repartee, the clever slice and dice.
No-one wants to see our Parliament turn into a P&C meeting. We love the witty stuff. The superlative insult. Neither Abbott nor Gillard have given us much joy in this department.
I went to the Thesaurus and came up with these alternatives for “fool”.
You’ll see that I have ruled out any words that are either: a) too American b) have reference to gender, disability, body image, are ageist or c) make you sound like a six year-old fighting over having a go on the swings.
Ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, moron, clod, nitwit, halfwit, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dingbat, dipstick, goober, coot, goon, dumbo, dummy, ditz, dumdum, fathead, numbskull, numbnuts, dunderhead, thickhead, airhead, flake, lamebrain, zombie, nerd, peabrain, birdbrain, jughead, jerk, donkey, twit, goat, dork, twerp, schmuck, bozo, boob, turkey, schlep, chowderhead, dumbhead, goofball, goof, goofus, galoot, lummox, klutz, putz, schlemiel, sap, meatball, dumb cluck.
Not a lot left to work with. So, where to next?
Perhaps back to some uniquely Australian insults? Galah, boofhead, dropkick, dill, nong…
I came up with these obscurities as thought starters:
You’re a boudoir bandicoot! (promiscuous)
You’ve got about enough brains to keep a koala sitting in a tree fork (dense)
I wouldn’t use your brains for ammo at a shit fight! (stupid)
You couldn’t find a piano in a one–roomed house! (dim)
They couldn’t train a choko vine over a country dunny! (incompetent)
If we all agree that we want the standard of debate raised in Parliament,that also means a better class of insult.
(Otherwise, God help us… who’ll watch Question Time?)
Do you have any favourite political insults or some other suggestions for our pedestrian pollies as they prepare for an election year full of windbaggery?
(Play nice! Try to imagine you’re in the House and there’s a bus load of school kids from Toowoomba in the gallery who will dob you in to Michelle Grattan if you misbehave.)