Democracy isn’t meant to be neat and orderly
Tonight on Q&A, several members from the Socialist Alternative political party asked questions on higher education and higher education funding of Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne. They interrupted Pyne’s answers, much to his disgust, and seemed agitated by the whole thing. Understandably, too. Pyne’s answers were rehearsed and reeked of disdain.
They Education Action Group then upped the ante. They lowered a banner from behind the panel that read, “More Brains | Not Warplanes | Fund Education”, and featured the date and time of an up-coming rally (May 21, UTS, 2:30pm, if you’re wondering) and began to chanting to the tune of their concerns about the governments plans for higher education in Australia.
On cue, social media came alive. There was some praise. Some hate. Some denigration. Your typical, “Get a haircut hippy” type comments. The disagreement and disgust dominated though. Many leftists weren’t happy with what had happened. But you know what, I saw it as an act of creativity and opportunism. If a company or some more agreeable cause had of done something similar there wold have been praise and wonder and ogling. Host of Q&A, Tony Jones, became shirty about the incident and complained about it not being true of democracy. Democracy to him, it would seem, is meant to be neat and tidy and orderly and by the book. No, democracy isn’t what Tony Jones or Christopher Pyne or Joe Blogg says it is. If people have a concern and what it heard, why not protest on a public show such as Q&A? John Howard ended up with a shoe tossed at him at the very same desk some years ago. That’s possibly going too far. A shoe can constitute a weapon. That’s far from a “peaceful protest”. But chanting and holding a banner on national TV? What’s the big deal?
Many are complaining that
Socialist Alternative Education Action Group have created a bad name for the group party and socialism. Why? Why do we let it get to that? Because they have gone out there and done something? Fuck that. Sometime we have to be bold to be seen and heard. If we paid more attention to the message they were communicating – their concerns for some pretty sinister reforms – rather than who they are, who they are not, how they did it, why they did it… we might make a bit of protest. I’m guessing a large number of people support the message they were spreading. Get behind them then. Support it. And encourage such interesting, challenging, creative expression. Voting once every four years isn’t what democracy is about.