Politics has become a seriously major spectator sport lately. However, the real problem seems to be that it has also become a blood sport.
Anybody who witnessed the spectacle of Craig Thomson addressing parliament on Monday will know exactly what I am talking about.
Whether you care about politics or not, or whether you lean to the left or the right, it was hard to not feel sorry for Thomson as he gave his 46-minute address.
Aside from the opposition’s Christopher Pyne, who could hardly hide his scorn, and his colleague Sophie Mirabella, who pulled mock faces and rolled her eyes during the heartfelt speech, there was hardly a dry eye in the house, on either side.
Mr Thomson struggled to hold it together as he described how the press had hovered outside his bathroom window as his pregnant wife showered. (Those particular members of the press came from the same TV station that infamously waited outside a Sydney gay club, just to obtain grainy footage of NSW MP David Campbell leaving the premises.)
Whether you believe Thomson’s story or not is irrelevant, the real issue is the burden of proof.
The concept of innocent until proven guilty should be paramount in our minds.
It is amazing what endless amounts of bad press can do to the public’s perception of somebody, whether innocent or guilty.
For example, how many of you think Lindy Chamberlain was guilty of murdering her daughter Azaria?
How many of you once thought she was? Be honest now.
Lindy was the victim of a massive media campaign of misinformation, speculation, and bad photos. In the court of public opinion, she was found guilty due to rumour, outright lies, and one hell of a dodgy haircut.
If you think this comparison is a stretch, bear this in mind. The country was reasonably evenly split on Lindy’s guilt or innocence.
Thomson has no such luxury.
Many have mocked Thomson’s theories, however I believe there are enough questions and conflicts of interest to provide reasonable doubt. You can read my summation of those conflicts at my website.
I am not trying to prove Craig Thompson innocent. This has never been my intention. I am not in possession of all the facts in this case, and do not claim to know all there is to know.
It would be irresponsible of me to declare Craig Thomson innocent. However, it is just as irresponsible for anybody without ALL the facts to declare his guilt.
Craig Thomson was elected to represent the citizens of the Dobell electorate in parliament. Judging from interviews with many of them after Thomson’s speech, his electorate, by and large, seemed to support him. That’s what counts, right?
He is yet to be proved of any wrong doing and has been cleared of most allegations by the Australian Electoral Commission.
So why not wait until it all ends up in court and it is all proven one way or the other before dishing out punishment?
That is not good enough for many. Due process is for wimps, apparently.
So what is the alternative?
We could just let someone tell their side of the story without pre-judging them. Do we really need to break them in the process?
Since Monday 14th May, we have seen two of the most powerful moments in politics in recent years on our TV screens.
Penny Wong telling Joe Hockey “I know what my family is worth…” on the ABC’s Q&A, during a debate on same sex marriage. The other moment, Craig Thomson on the verge of breaking down one week later as he describes his anguish with the media during his address to parliament.
It is interesting to note that Tony Abbott not only wants to block a parliamentary code of conduct, but will also not allow the opposition to have a conscience vote on same sex marriage. It seems he believes that it upsets his family values, moral compass, and also devalues the sanctity of marriage.
Apparently cheering on from the sidelines and encouraging the absolute and total destruction of a fellow MP’s family and marriage does not.
*Peter Wicks lives in the Sydney suburbs with his wife. By day he runs his own small business, and by night he takes an insane interest in current affairs and politics. He is active on social media, and has his own blog page, wixxyleaks which he writes and rants on regularly. Twitter @madwixxy
For more on this story go to Independent Australia.