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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ethics at work for parliamentarians

I love this story about Matt Brown the (former) NSW Minister for Police who has been forced to resign for dancing in his (very brief) underwear at a post-budget office party. According to some accounts, Mr Brown at one point straddled the breasts of a female parliamentarian and called out to her daughter "I'm titty-fucking your mother!" The latter incident has, however, been denied by all concerned. The incoming Premier, Nathan Rees, claims that Mr Brown was sacked not for dancing in his underwear but for lying about it when originally questioned.

This story is so funny, yet so full of vagaries as to what really happened (both at the party and in the events leading up to Mr Brown's tender of his resignation), that it's difficult to comment with a straight face. Given the female parliamentarian's seemingly plausible denial of the "titty-fucking your mother" incident, there doesn't appear to be any evidence of sexual assault or blatant sexual harassment. Short of that, how wild should parliamentarians' office parties be? How far should a government minister get into the spirit of things?

It's nice that Mr Rees claims he wouldn't have sacked the minister merely for dancing in his underwear at a wild parliamentary party. That's a relief, because I've been to (and even hosted) parties that got quite a bit wilder than that - admittedly not held at public expense (one imagines) in a parliamentary office.

What can I say? I'll throw this one open for discussion. Personally, I'd rather know that the police minister in my jurisdiction is a party animal than that's he's likely to defer to the latest edict from Cardinal Pell. I can think of all sorts of behaviour that would be more likely to make me feel that the power of Leviathan is in dangerous hands.

But that's just me. Others may beg to differ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Assuming that there was no sexual harassment I love the idea that the police minister got hammered and acted wild. Even if he said or did something that can be seen as offensive, it is such a tough call to decide something like that is sackable. I mean, I’ve said far worse to people who are close friends of mine and got the joke. I guess what I’m saying is that the whole “titty fucking” bit is nothing in a room full of close friends (although the “your mother” part is a bit disturbing and harder to justify)