Parliamentary voyeurism

John Hargreaves 16 February 2018 19

‘What’s the goss?’ – Why do you care?

There’s nothing like a good sex scandal to out the voyeurs in our community. This voyeurism actually raises some really ugly questions about our society in general.

I have always wondered why it is that there are two standards of behaviour for “celebrities” and by this I mean the entertainment industry, sport and politics, and the rest of us.

Why is it so that the ordinary folks in our community can get high as kites, drunk as skunks, behave like rabbits and have it off with anything warm, and no-one gives a hoot? Why is it that the condemnation of behaviour in commonland, is contained within a family or social circle but not spread over the airwaves and in print media? Because it is boring, that’s why.

According to the ABS, there were 118,400 marriages in 2016 and 46,600 divorces. That’s 39.3% offset. Nearly 40% of marriages are offset by divorces! The only good news, I guess is that divorces in 2016 decreased by 3.9% over the previous year.

You can bet a lot of these divorces came about because of infidelity, substance abuse, domestic violence and other potential scandals. I don’t reckon that many happened just because people got tired of each other and called it quits.

Well, where were the stories of these infidelities etc? Nowhere, that’s where. Only the newsworthy get a run! In the day of no-fault, Joe and Jane Citizen are not exciting enough to warrant a look!

So we have two standards of behaviour. One for ourselves and one for the ”celebs”. What is so?

Maybe it’s just pure voyeurism. Maybe it’s just us childishly putting celebs on a pedestal and when they reveal their human frailty, we love it and bring them crashing down.

We pay out loads of dosh to have people represent us in public office, to entertain us on TV, radio or sports field and does this give us the right to peep through their windows at their bedrooms and judge them? Do we confine ourselves to their professional delivery and judge only that and leave their private lives alone? No way, José!

Now I’m no fan of Barnaby Joyce and loathe his politics and pork-barrelling but really, his activities of recent times are issues he and his family have to deal with. I have no right to be privy to the gory details. I hated his pork barrelling in the move of the Vet Authority to Armidale and said so but what he does with his private time is none of my business.

Whether a sports star or TV identity bonked their way to glory with someone else’s partner or not is also none of my business.

What muddies the waters are the pontificating utterances of public figures on such moral issues as fidelity, substance abuse, domestic violence etc and behaviour which is the mirror opposite. We all hate a hypocrite. But it is the hypocrisy which should be the issue not the happening which led to that hypocrisy. Give us an overview to make a decision on whether someone is a hypocrite and whether we believe that this impairs their ability to deliver rather than the gory details which make the voyeur in us salivate. We all like to be the fly on the bedroom or bar wall.

But what gives us the right to delight in the human misfortunes of these public figures? I guess it depends on which type of public figure.

If it is a TV star or politician, it is Women’s Weekly stuff. Sensational gutter journalism pandering to the reader who lives a mind numbingly boring existence and needs to have their Peeping Tom proclivities satisfied. They get off on the suggestion, the innuendo, the gossip, and the promise of intimately detailed exposés. They lust after the luxurious lifestyle of those who are celebrities because they are celebrities. Check out the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, the Royal Family and ask yourself – did you see that bit about how [insert name here] cheated on his missus or her hubby? We all indulge in it, whether we buy the rag or read it in the dentist’s waiting rooms.

But if you read about how a woman in Belconnen was mistreated and left her husband because he was a wife beater, that story has a short shelf life. She’s just one of us so no one cares that much.

The voyeurism gets a further validation through the association of perks and lurks. The public does have a right to know if public money is misspent or if advantage is given because of an inappropriate liaison. But it should be confined to the misuse of public largesse, and not focussed on the titillating sexy bits.

I have always abhorred the double standard of the “community” and the conservative uber-right in their commitment to the notion that the elected few have to be “whiter than Caesar’s wife” while the rest have a lesser standard.

But let’s call the Barnaby Joyce “scandal” for what it is. There is smoke about in the stories of jobs-for-the-girls and the use of public travelling expenses and travelling allowance but the big stuff, the public stuff, the voyeuristic stuff is just Peeping Tom voyeurism. Plain and simple!

Interestingly, we all live in glass houses and should be a bit careful of rampant hypocrisy on our own part.

Finally, voyeurism always delivers victims. The object of the peep is the prime victim but there are secondary victims. The partner of an adulterer, the children of an adulterer are the secondary victims in a breakdown. By what right do we have to look through the curtains and salivate over their pain?

The “other woman/man”, whose only fault is the human emotion of attachment to the “wrong” person is also peep-fodder. By what right do we demand the gory details of their activities, sheltering as we do in the right to our own privacy? The short answer is that we have no such right.

I don’t know Mrs Joyce, or their four daughters nor do I know Ms Campion and I have no desire to make their acquaintance but my heart goes out to them for the pain they suffer from the salivation of public voyeurism.

Why should we be concerned about what celebrities do with their personal lives?

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19 Responses to Parliamentary voyeurism
justin heywood justin heywood 11:13 am 21 Feb 18

This entire article is based on a false premise.

It is not the infidelity that has caused the outcry; jeez, we live in Canberra, surely the extra-marital bonking capital of Australia. It is Barnaby’s behaviour outside the bedroom that is the problem.

ANYONE who behaved as Joyce has done (public and shameless hypocrisy, dishonesty, dissembling, refusing to accept responsibility) is correctly regarded as untrustworthy. If my work colleague or neighbour behaved this way, I would lose trust in them. If a public figure does this, of course the dishonour is public too.

If Barnaby had owned up to what he had done, acknowledged his failure, fallen on his sword and disappeared back to Armidale the whole scandal would have been forgotten in a week.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:38 am 23 Feb 18

    Now the “me too” brigade is after him.

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 9:52 pm 20 Feb 18

Umm coz we do it on our own time and money not the tax payers... and most of us would loose our jobs if caught out. Rather than get shuffled around and offered other positions within the company/business

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 8:04 pm 19 Feb 18

People are furious with Barnaby because of his hypocrisy regarding privacy (SSM couples’ right to be left alone?) and “promiscuity” (the Gardasil outrage). He gamed the system regarding his mistress’s employment. He dissembled. This is besides the fact that Parliament had fallen well behind corporate standards regarding sexual relations in the workplace. The only affair between equals we know of was between a senior federal Labor minister and the leader of a minor party. No, ministers should not be sleeping with junior staff. The media were absolutely right in calling Barnaby Joyce out on his behaviour.

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 6:24 pm 19 Feb 18

For real? Because they have put themselves up as the best of the best when they run for office. No one would have cared about B.J (lol) if he had not preached his moral superiority at every opportunity. Live by the moral judgment, die by the moral judgment.

Rose Deo Rose Deo 4:59 pm 19 Feb 18

Most workplaces have policies in place that say no to people in higher positions have relationships with workers in lower positions ... why shouldn’t this apply to our politicians?

Natalee Gersbach Natalee Gersbach 4:05 pm 19 Feb 18

You might want to read the Ministerial Code of Conduct John

Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 1:15 pm 19 Feb 18

The conservative folks told us that their religious rights and views were concerned with the safety of our society and culture because SSM (a private matter) would damage it and they had the RIGHT to express their concerns.

Why don't they have the RIGHT now to express their dissaproval of a private matter which no doubt they deem damaging to society and its culture?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:46 am 19 Feb 18

I don’t support what Barnaby has said and done either but why are we only hearing about his exploits?

How about the media gives equal time to those MPs on the other side of politics that are “lying low” at the moment knowing they have done exactly the same as Barnaby but are safe knowing the media won’t touch them.

I can think of two serving Labor MPs for a start and one very senior one (resigned from parliament) who had an affair and a child with another Labor MP before “eloping” with a media presenter on a taxpayer funded trip to Europe.

Would you like some links?

Blen_Carmichael Blen_Carmichael 11:29 am 19 Feb 18

“By what right do we demand the gory details of their activities, sheltering as we do in the right to our own privacy? The short answer is that we have no such right.”

Straw man.

We do not ‘demand’ the gory details of their activities. If a high-profile member of government is seen repeatedly socialising with a single attractive staffer, questions are going to be asked. If that same politician busts up with his long-term wife, you can expect rumours will get out. And finally, should it later turn out that this former staffer has a Barnaby bun in the oven, how can you not expect it to be news?

Karen Ingram Hall Karen Ingram Hall 10:09 am 19 Feb 18

Only a politician/former politician would argue there should be less scrutiny of politicians. Scrutiny goes with the territory and all public office holders need to be able to cope with the heat or get out of the very well-paid kitchen.

Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 8:18 am 19 Feb 18

John I don't feel sorry for Joyce. If he wasn't lecturing the whole country about the sanctity of marriage and the risk of promiscuity from a lifesaving vaccine at the same time as having an affair the public might be able to consider a private matter. It also may have been legal to charge the public purse for accomodation and travel and to ensure his lover had a job but it's not ethical. If the person down the street had been lecturing/ hectoring me about moral behaviour and then proceeded to break the very vows and standards they had espoused they would attract the same judgement.

Liesl Mitchell Liesl Mitchell 8:11 am 19 Feb 18

My heart bleeds

Angie Carey Angie Carey 7:50 am 19 Feb 18

There really isn't two standards of behaviour - ordinary folks in our community who get high as kites, drunk as skunks and behave like rabbits are regarded by the majority of the population as trailer trash whether they're politicians, straight, or gay. It's just that it's easier to judge politicians and celibrities because of the role of the media. And gays think they're a protected species.

Ollie Raymond Ollie Raymond 7:43 am 19 Feb 18

Because John, when pollies engage in behaviour that would get the average Joe sacked (e.g. turning up drunk to work, or showing a complete lack of skills and knowledge required to do an even half-decent job), or displaying behaviour that demonstrates gross hypocrisy while trying to tell us they are "leading" our nation, they do not deserve to do it on the public dime.

    Colin Trinder Colin Trinder 8:30 am 23 Feb 18

    Spot on as usual Ollie. It's the egregious presumption of privilege and lack of self awareness that is so gobsmackingly insulting to the mug punters who pay their bills. If Hargraves doesn't understand that then there is not much point trying to educate him.

Bec Moroney Bec Moroney 7:40 am 19 Feb 18

If I made it my job to tell everyone for eg drink driving was wrong and a sin and was against everything I stood for and not was driving or drinking was for ...but then got caught drink driving ..and that I had been doing it for months and lying to my wife about it...I would expect to be judged too. I am all for " we are all just humans we all make mistakes" His affair wasnt a mistake it was a conscious decision on BOTH their parts. She knew he was married. If you want to be paid to represent the people then yes should walk the walk. In my opinion.

Ruth Lee Martin Ruth Lee Martin 7:35 am 19 Feb 18

You miss a really interesting point with this article and that is the blurring of those private / public boundaries when you do the things that Barnaby has done. He is the one to blur the distinction NOT the public. He is the one spending nights in Armidale on the public purse- the one creating jobs for his mistress. That is the problem here. It’s the blurring of these boundaries that get people riled up.

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