HP & Me

I’m not much into football or tennis, but there is one sport I enjoy more than I should.

I’m raising left-leaning kids. Why don’t you come at me with your vitriol. I typed into a Facebook thread.

Our local rag had put up a link to a story about a nine year old girl remaining seated during the national anthem at school. For sure you’d have seen or read about it by now.

My first thought was, genuinely, I’m not looking.

I know how easily I get tempted to respond to these sorts of stories. So does Tracey. She tch-tches and rolls her eyes and frowns at me whenever she hears me donning my keyboard warrior persona. She can tell. Apparently, I have a ranty rhythm on the keyboard.

But I didn’t take the bait. I did dishes. I ate a sandwich. I considered Googling ‘boobies’.

Sitting down in front of my computer I refreshed my screen.

The same story reappeared.

I refreshed again.

It was still there.

Only this time I noticed it had several comments and the top one was a friend of mine. And she was getting hammered by some bloke who seemed to take offence with both her thoughts on American-style patriotism and love of The Simpsons.

I still refused to comment, instead letting a clever choice of gif communicate my ‘you’re hurting my brain’ thoughts. A compromise, I told myself.

I didn’t really understand why everyone had their knickers in a knot about this. The national anthem almost never shows up in my life. I hear it sometimes when I’m channel surfing and there’s some sort of sports event being broadcast. At the Olympics they play it sans words. That’s a guess. I don’t watch medal ceremonies anymore than I watch the sports they did well at to earn their place on the podium.

Plus, it’s a shit song. It is.

Because I happened to be in the thread and reading, I glanced at the next couple of comments. The same guy was slamming people with the same sort of thoughtless chest thumping over and over: taunts of ‘waste of oxygen’ and ‘brain dead’ and, of course, accusing anyone who didn’t have an issue with the girl not standing being a leftard or a snowflake.

Are you sick of this shit yet? This left vs right crap? Excuse my tone and cussing…but also fair warning, it’s probably gonna get worse.

I acknowledge socially I have left leanings – something I wasn’t aware of until it was pointed out to me over and over by the likes of Hate Patriot (hereafter referred to as HP because I dislike the name my ranty self came up for him) during the marriage equality debate – but that isn’t the basis for any meaningful point on any topic worth discussing. Why can’t we all just focus on making our arguments without trying to defame or pigeonhole?

And still I probably would have refreshed my screen and done some proper writing but this guy, HP, hurled abuse at a lady who happened to mention she’d be proud of her daughter for taking a stand on an issue like this. I can’t remember exactly what it was but basically something about her being a leftie and her poor parenting.

Which is the point at which I stepped up to the ball and suggested he come at me instead this nice mum. Game on.

You see, I don’t mind confronting this sort of angry person. I don’t like bullies and I have thick skin these days. Unlike the young school girl who sees racism in our national anthem and won’t be a part of that, I may not have had the guts at nine to stand up for stuff I thought was important, but heading into my fifth decade on this Earth I don’t mind sticking my neck out and getting slapped around.

Which is why I spent a lovely hour or two chasing the HP around the Gympie Times‘ Facebook comment thread.

Seeing what I was doing, my oldest son even threw his thoughts into the ring. Thoughts which, it must be said, very much mirrored my own. This caused HP to accuse me of calling on my kid to come back me up. Which made me giggle. With seven kids, if I called on my family to come fight with me he wouldn’t get a wink of sleep because his phone would be pinging all night.

From what I could glean, the young schoolgirl’s position on the national anthem goes well beyond my issue with its melody and boringness. She thinks it’s racist because it says ‘fair’ which leaves out our indigenous Australians and because it says our land is ‘young’ ignoring the fact colonists came and ran roughshod over the longest continuous culture on the planet, and refuses to stand for it. Great. I want adults with that sort of commitment to right over wrong.

Most of HP’s comments have been removed now, which might give you a hint as to their overall tone, so I’ll summarise his main points. HP’s big issue wasn’t, he informed everyone multiple times between and around slurs, the child so much as her parents. They had failed her and the nation by filling her head with nonsense. Isn’t it interesting, the people who accuse her of being a mouthpiece for her parents’ views and simply regurgitating their position don’t understand the irony whereby they straight-faced expect this girl to tow the line on their’s? There were also cries of this child not being able to follow instructions and how her life will be a disaster because she won’t be able to hold down a job. So everyone has to fall in line?Everyone must follow blindly? What a bloody scary notion. That’s not smart, that’s oppression. That’s not Australian so much as North Korean.

And there were the usual cries of how disrespectful her actions were to the men who fought and lost their lives for this country.

Of course there were.

It’s so easy to claim the dead people agree with your side of the argument, isn’t it? To claim you know their motives and what they’d be thinking about something. I imagine there was more concern about dying horribly and less humming of Advance Australia Fair than HP might imagine – especially given Advance Australia Fair has only been our official national anthem since 1984. We used to listen to God Save The Queen at school. Although I’m not sure why. I don’t think she was in danger of running point on an offensive trying to take a beach.

Rather than say what our ANZACS etc were thinking I’m going to take a punt on what they weren’t. I don’t think they would have envisioned a nine year old girl being used as fodder in a sitting of Parliament for what amounts to a disciplinary matter at school – and OMG, what does that say about us as a nation?! I just hope she’s being looked after. Being bullied by kids is hard enough, let alone by media outlets, politicians and strangers online.

If our fallen soldiers are rolling over in their graves regarding this matter I respectfully suggest they’re rotating to their left and not their alt right.

But at the end of the day, this isn’t even remotely about them. Instead of using their deaths to pick on a nine year old I think we should focus on those of us, here, living in the now, and where we see our country in five, ten, fifty years. We can do both: respect those poor bastards who didn’t get to grow old and raise young boys and girls to adulthood, and have civil debates about things like anthems, flags, marriages, our communities, removing GST on necessaries like tampons & beer, and politics in general.

Personally, I’d rather be arguing in favour of euthanasia than changing our shit national anthem to something half decent, like Solid Rock or Sounds of Then or even Working Class Man.  Anything by Cold Chisel would be an improvement. Or what about From Little Things Big Things Grow? Something without the word girt would be a good start. Something we could enjoy belting out. Even my buddy, HP, probably doesn’t even know all the words he jumps up to enjoy.

Call me old fashioned, but going forward I’d simply rather have a nine year old who knows why she won’t stand for the anthem than one who doesn’t understand why they do.

But there’s a place for both.

After all, as the Salvation Army ad sang at us back in the nineties, I am, you are, we are Australian, whether we’re standing, sitting, kneeling or respectfully ducking off to the loo to bleed the python before kick off.

^ this was the original Facebook link ^

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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  • This girls voice (or lack there of) is being heard, and whilst I disagree with the bullying of her I think it’s great that she has the courage to sit for what she believes and (unintentionally) get this debate started. Her parents must be so proud of raising such a thinking child.
    I don’t much like the anthem, however I sing it on Anzac Day and at school assemblies. I would rather it was more inclusive and more representative of the country we are not what we have been in the past.
    I think We are Australian a much better choice and sing it with feeling and gusto whenever I hear it. It gives me goosebumps and makes me proud of being an Aussie.
    Harper Nielsen for PM?

  • I’m with you, Bruce. Whether these people agree or disagree with the young girl’s action, there was no call for the vitriol and bullying to which she was subjected. The people castigating her and her parents have only emphasised their own small-mindedness.

    I can’t stand (sorry for the pun) our national anthem. It doesn’t sound too bad as a piece of music, but the words are rubbish. I don’t know them, and I refuse to learn them. We could do much better. I agree with Bailey that “We Are Australian” has possibilities.

    I just cannot comprehend how expressing an opinion on our anthem amounts to disrespect of those who fought in wars for our country, nor can I understand how expressing a dislike for our flag elicits the same response. The anthem is simply a song, and the flag is just a symbol. Several of my relatives served in World War I. My maternal grandfather and two of my mother’s cousins served in the AIF. Grandpa came home; the cousins both died and are buried in France. My father, who was English, volunteered for the British army as soon as he was old enough. He was still in training when the Armistice was signed in 1918, but one of his older brothers lost his life during the war and is buried in Iraq. I can’t see how my desire for a more relevant anthem and flag amounts to disrespect for them.

    This young girl has obviously been taught to think for herself. She and her parents deserve praise, not condemnation.
    Sadly, too many people are like your HP. They don’t stop to think before engaging their tongues. In fact, I have to wonder whether some of them can actually think for themselves. That they can only attack instead of expressing their opinion thoughtfully reinforces that notion.

  • My first thought when seeing the article was good on her, how amazing a 9 year old has taken that much notice of the lyrics because I sure as hell never did and I never picked up on the possible perceived racial element for indigenous Australians. I then read on and was absolutely gobsmacked at the school and community reaction before even getting to the comment section! We try to teach our kids to think for themselves and not blindly follow the masses because how else is change achieved and yet if they do they are vilified for it.
    To the girl involved, you made me really consider the words of the anthem, and whilst I’ve never loved it as a song I now have greater concerns regarding its inclusiveness, so well done objective achieved

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