Hey Yumi, stop being so goddamn Japanese

I know you’ll be as shocked and disappointed as I am, but someone on television said something stupid last week.

George Negus and Yumi Stynes, on a morning talk show that no-one watches, made some smartarse comments about the intellect of an Australian soldier (or as headlines unemotionally put it, an “Aussie war hero”). The chap in question was Ben Roberts-Smith, an SAS corporal who recently won a Victoria Cross. The comment boards, radio, and news-report talking heads veritably exploded in a kind of indignant patriotic hyperventilation.

This all came to my attention when a friend in the defence force posted a Facebook note addressed to Stynes. At the time I’d never heard of her, and was wondering whether she was one of the now-adult Tin Lids, until I dug through the brain-crud deep enough to remember that their dad was Jimmy Barnes, not Jim Stynes. Having laid that crucial matter to rest, I read the following.

“An NCO in SASR is a man specially selected and trained to lead similarly selected and trained men into harm’s way to achieve objectives of national importance to Australia beyond the range and scope of conventional forces. They most often do this in either non-permissive or outright hostile environments at great personal and mission risk.”

“These men have not only prepared for and passed the infamous ‘Cadre’ Course to be accepted into the regiment, they have committed countless hours and days to their physical and professional development. A commitment almost unimaginable in today’s gentle society.”

“The NCO among them has been identified, further trained, and assessed as capable to lead them. Split-second decisions hold life-or-death ramifications for them, their mates, and their adversaries.”

“You sit on a couch, and gossip. Who do you really think should look for their brain on the bottom of the pool?”

Compared to other responses, it was accurate and dignified. But I also wondered at just how its author – someone normally impassive to society’s ignorance about the armed forces – had been stung enough to write it.

This may surprise you, but Network Ten’s The Circle is not in fact one of the names muttered reverentially by comedians as existing at the finely-honed cutting edge of their craft. So here, looking at photos of an inordinately muscle-bound Roberts-Smith in a pool, its hosts went with that old classic about how attractive people aren’t particularly smart. (A blackface skit was presumably scheduled after the break.)

Negus took the cue to speculate that it would be sad if someone attractive (and therefore stupid) was no good in bed. “But that sort of bloke…what if they’re not up to it in the sack?” he asked, prompting Stynes to question whether he was suggesting the corporal was “a dud root.” The clap-o-meter was going wild.

The real traction for the offended, though, came from presuming that the “in the sack” remark referred to Roberts-Smith conceiving his children via IVF, as he’d discussed in a current affairs interview a couple of nights previously. How dare someone insult to the virility of the corporal’s manly sack-juice?

I want to stop you here. To the best of my knowledge, after some research on the issue, I’m pretty sure that being designated as “good in the sack” does not generally correlate to your ratio of impregnation per sex act. In fact, you might argue that one factor of sack-goodness directly relates to the efforts you undertake to ensure that precisely that outcome does not result. Many other criteria of sack prowess, at the same time, involve acts from which conception is a distinctly distant possibility. From personal experience, my girlfriends have generally been much more appreciative of my bedroom efforts when I don’t knock them up than when I do. Nothing says ‘sexy’ like a first-trimester abortion.

Nonetheless, the fury of the bored media-consuming public came down like a pillar of holy cleansing fire. Channel Ten’s website, their Facebook page, any outlet that ran an article on the story, was subjected to strings of sputtering outrage from readers. A large proportion of these were demanding apologies long after all the parties involved had already issued them, which didn’t show the most comprehensive grasp of the subject.

Then again, a comprehensive grasp on anything is not really indicated by comments like “I will never watch this The Circle again. What Ms Styne and Mr Negus said was totally inappropriate. Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith is helping to keep our Great Country safe from the Terrorism.”

Consider the following (asterisks belong to the artists).

“You Yumi are simply a vacuous inconsiderate mole, and George, if you’d be too gutless to say this to Cpl. Bens face. Both of you should have your tongues slit out.”

“Yumi Stynes you are a dumb gutless low life! You live in your little bubble you know NOTHING of sacrifice you low breed talentless bi*ch!”

“Lock George up and deport that inbred bitch Yumi!!!!!”

“It doesn’t surprise me that Yumi made comments like this when she’s part Japanese..Look how the Japs treated our men in World war 2..a total disgrace of a woman..Learn your history and respect Love and get off your high ****y horse.”

“…I am appalled by the comments made by an ignorant, half Jap Bitch and an aging journo with no balls…”

Ah, there it is. That curious chain of reasoning that says: my sense of decency has been offended. The best way to defend that decency would be to subject the perpetrator and all others in earshot to a stream of violent personal abuse in a public forum.

While it was Negus who initiated the more controversial part of the conversation, Stynes was the focus of the coverage and the criticism. Negus was attacked, but generally with less ferocity, or as an afterthought. Comments about him lacked the sexual aspect, and less of the implied or explicit threat of violence.

You can’t help concluding that the tenor of this response has a lot to do with Stynes being female (What the fuck would you know about soldiers anyway?) and a lot to do with being identifiably Japanese (Our Aussie diggers died to keep morning television safe from your kind.). Never mind that Stynes was born in Swan Hill, so deportation would be a tricky exercise even if we did have a Foreign Minister.

But why so much rage to begin with? We can only arrive at the contention that, according to the values of this vocal proportion of the public, no-one has the right to disrespect Ben Roberts-Smith because he was a soldier. As the ANZAC Day mythologising seeps deeper into our cultural self-view, we end up with a situation in which Aussie soldiers are rendered sacrosanct, and no criticism of them can take place.

This is a dangerous place to be. Australian soldiers are and always have been ordinary guys wearing one of a range of funny hats. They’re ordinary guys with a bunch of specialised training in a range of things important to their profession, and perhaps not enough specialised training in others. Some do the right thing, some do the wrong thing, most do at least a little bit of both. To treat them otherwise is dishonest.

Do I respect Ben Roberts-Smith, and what he does? Absolutely. In winning his VC he showed tremendous courage. At the same time, I’m also aware that the fighters he killed were just other men, with their own lives and personalities. In another circumstance, they could as easily have ended up fighting alongside him. None of us are born so very different, it’s just the paths we take from there that can diverge.

The trenches of WWI found Britons up against German friends they’d drunk with in London or Berlin, or half-German cousins who’d chosen a continental university. Of course those cultures live closer together, but there were the Arabs who fought under T.E. Lawrence, the Saudis who joined the liberation of Kuwait, the American covert operatives aiding Iraq against Iran or Afghanistan against Russia. Allies and enemies come and go like any other ghosts.

Sure, the comments about Roberts-Smith were unnecessary and tasteless. An awful lot of what’s said on radio and television is. So is a lot of what I write, so are a lot of the conversations we have every day. Yet we rarely see this kind of response. And sure, a Victoria Cross winner doesn’t knowingly put himself in the public spotlight by virtue of his deeds in the manner of an actor or athlete. But a VC winner happy to volunteer for interviews about his personal life on national current affairs programs can’t have quite the same gripe about being discussed publicly as the curmudgeon who goes back quietly to his cabin in the woods and melts his medal into an ashtray.

VCs don’t come along very often, and as many generations of commanders have known, a VC is more for the soldiers still fighting and the people back home than it is for the recipient. It lifts morale, gives a sense of achievement, of collective ownership of the struggle. “Our VC winners,” people say. By going public with his achievements, Roberts-Smith agrees to be part of that charm offensive.

So the comments were inane. Of course they were. They were made on a show that devotes half of its airtime to informercials promoting new ways to slice carrots. It’s not exactly contributing a lot to society. If a bunch of us were stranded in the jungle, Yumi would probably be the first to be devoured by wild pigs.

All of which just adds to the case for ‘who gives a shit?’ If a man can storm two machine gun posts singlehanded and emerge as the only survivor, I hardly think the not-so-biting satire of a couple of TV hosts is going to keep him blinking at the ceiling through the late hours. Given Ben’s work in defending us from The Terrorism, he probably doesn’t need Schlubhead from Donger Beach to volunteer to defend him, especially not with some charmless noise about killing or deporting the citizens that Ben is tasked to protect.

And yet the letters section of the papers have been full of it. The RSL has been making announcements. Federal politicians from both sides of politics are feeling the need to make their comments known. In the meantime, Syria’s on fire.

Time to get back in your goddamn boxes. And spare a thought for the people being forcibly put in theirs.

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61 Responses to Hey Yumi, stop being so goddamn Japanese

  1. Pamela says:

    Brilliant as usual and always refreshing to read something so rational amongst the vitriol. It is saddening that people find it appropriate and not at all ironic to express indignity about offensive comments via a string of racial slurs. And what about them Tin Lids?! i had forgotten all about them, thanks Geoff!

  2. Tristan says:

    Great read, Geoff.

  3. Omar says:

    “In the meantime, Syria’s on fire.” – That right there is the best line of this piece. Other great moments included:

    “How dare someone insult to the virility of the corporal’s manly sack-juice?”

    “Nothing says ‘sexy’ like a first-trimester abortion.”

    That said, before this becomes an unseemly circle jerk (see what I did there?) I don’t really understand the wild pigs comment or why Yumi would be the first to go? Is it because Japanese is so tasty?

    • geoff lemon says:

      Well, I just don’t imagine daytime TV hosts would be the most useful people to survive a plane crash with in the high Himalayas, for instance. But perhaps that’s just blind assumption and Yumi is really a Bear Grylls understudy.

      • zac says:

        do you think before you type, or do you like to read it for the first time with everyone else? If you did you would see it is racist and sexist and has no place in modern australia Geoff, they fucked up, get over it, im sure the cpl has.

  4. Thoraiya says:

    Thank you, voice of reason!!

  5. Omar says:

    I didn’t realise that the second quite had a typo. My bad. Well, it’s your bad really, but I should have noticed in singling it out. In any case, I support the sentiment…

    I’ll be quiet now.

  6. MC says:

    Exactly this. Thank you Mr Lemon, I’ve been dumbfounded by Australia’s ability to misdirect their rage and this sums up my exasperation perfectly.

  7. Marmalade says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a beer with a few of the 1CDO boys (yes, not quite the same thing). They are disciplined, intelligent guys who are not only big enough to recognise and dismiss what Negus & Stynes in context, but would generally disdain the kind of balloon-headed keyboard warriors who are leaping to their ‘defence’, LEFT LITTLE FINGER CRAMPED ON TEH CAPSLOCK.

    Negus & Stynes fucked up. They have apologised. Get over it. I can’t work out why (1) Australians are so angry, and (2) choose to channel that anger in the most useless and vapid of directions. If you want to get pissy over something, why not make it something worthwhile? I do know that the commentary on Stynes reveals Australia’s still deep-seated misogyny (where is the similar vitriolic outrage for the vile things that continually drip from the mouths of Jones, Sandilands etc.?) and the utter vacuity of our corporate media, who are only interested in stirring controversy = attention = advertising $, and the chance to kick one of their own while it’s down. It’s terrible timing for Channel 10, really. I’d strongly suspect if this was footy season (the real footy season, not this ridiculous backyard stuff), there would have been no story here to begin with.

  8. james m says:

    well said Geoff… It’s all about perspective and we as a nation seem to have lost ours.

  9. Jimmy says:

    Given the hatred and vitriol that pours forth from talk back radio each day, it does seem odd that so many people can get so up in arms over comments made on an inane tv show by two irrelevant journos. Priorities people, sort them out.

  10. Other Perspective says:

    I am big fans of Yumi & George but my issue is that if these comments were said about a female Corporal it would be called misogyny. More than Corporal Robert-Smith being a war hero, he is, as you say, another person. And taking the opportunity to perpetuate boring stereotypes “beautiful people must be dumb” is demeaning & ignorant. That’s what I take issue with. I also disagreed with their “I am sorry if you were offended apology.” That just says “I’m sorry you over-reacted to the reasonable thing I said.”
    And yes Yumi clearly copped most of the heat because she was a woman and it was an opportunity to dive down & vent some latent misogyny that had been perhaps sitting at the bottom of the viewers own pool.

    • Theresa says:

      I can’t believe you take the comments so seriously. I was watching the circle that day. This segment open with one of the other women openly objectifying, almost dribbling over a shot of the Cpl with his shirt off in the water. I have heard no comment in the media or elsewhere about how this sexually objectified him. That is because it was none of serious. It was meant to be funny. It wasn’t. It was supposed to be lighthearted discussion but it never meant to be repeated and analysed beyond the context as some people seem intent on doing.

  11. Adam says:

    Another great post Geoff. This kind of storm in a teacup always brings this to mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U7Lqwl3Vzk

  12. Martin says:

    Good post, Geoff. I agree the Circle comments were pretty average and the following nastiness was pretty nasty. But should we take any heed of fringe nastiness in online comment sections? When people ask ‘are we still talking about this?’, I think no, people who follow inanity like this are still talking about this (and yes, I realise I’m now talking about this).

    However I’m not sure I agree that Cpl Roberts volunteered to “go public”. Maybe it was his choice to discuss IVF but no doubt when you win a VC now, a big part of your job becomes forced PR – no modern VC winner would be allowed to curmudgeonly go back to their cabin – so I don’t agree that Cpl Roberts has volunteered for publicity.

    I think you summed up best with “who gives a shit”… “Syria’s on fire”.

  13. Turning Japanese says:

    What a load of racist, sexist tripe.

    Being Japanese or female has nothing to do with this issue.

    • Andrew says:

      Yes.

      Also, tell that to all the ignorant haters who attack her using every racial slur and female-hating insult that they can find in Urban Dictionary.

    • andrewelder says:

      I agree with TJ. Yes, the racist and misogynist language has been more than unfortunate but consider the following.

      Imagine if the perpetrators had been, say, Kerrie-Anne Kennerley and [insert name of young boofhead - say, a professional football player - here]. She has a reputation to fall back on, the youngster doesn’t. The younger of the two might learn a lesson about being easily led, but in the meantime becomes saddled with something that someone like KAK or Negus have long since learned to brush off.

      They say that age and treachery beats youth and vigour, and folks here’s yet more proof. Experience vs inexperience is the cake, racism and misogyny are just the icing.

  14. Stacy says:

    To me the whole thing was just a good example of one of our favourite national pastimes, tall poppy trimming.

    “So he has a perfect life, perfect family, perfect body… yeah well, I bet he has no brains and he’s a dud root!” Take that perfect man, you aren’t so perfect now are you?

    It was ignorant and totally inappropriate and deserved an apology, which he did personally receive. The backlash seemed more like a spate of guilt-ridden patriotism that we like to wheel out when we’re reminded that there is a war going on somewhere and we kinda forgot about it for a while.

    The best commentary I have read about it all is that if this guy is brave enough to face firing machine guns, then some stupid comments by members of a try-hard version of The View are hardly going to cause him much anxiety. I don’t think there’s any need for Joe Nobody to stand up and defend his honour. I think that still remains perfectly intact in his perfect body, with it’s perfect family and perfect life…

  15. Rahul says:

    Great read..and yes, as a migrant myself to this country (which I love & am proud to be Australian), I have experienced some of this myself. It’s ok for an Australian to bitch and moan about something, but as soon as migrant groups way their voice heard or speak up, they are told to pack up & piss off back home (if you don’t like it here). Reasoning is never really applied or listened to, which is a shame coz we could then be a truly great, multicultural & accepting nation.

  16. Wayne says:

    Goody. I get to be the voice of dissension here although I fear I have nowhere near the literary skills of Geoff, but I’ll have a shot.

    Yes, we respect our servicemen (past and present) and at times place them above criticism. More so, we are in awe of those who receive the Victoria Cross. Btw, I do not believe you win the Victoria Cross, it has to be earned, awarded and accepted; a minor point I know, but one the media seems to have overlooked. Even a cursory reading of any VC citation will pale even the best scriptwriter’s greatest achievements. Not that there’s any point in trying to explain that to those who find comfort behind the insular walls of the internet, academia or just plain social commentary.

    There are many who say that Roberts-Smith can obviously stand up for himself and repulse hurtful comments. Sorry, despite being a VC recipient, Roberts-Smith is a Corporal and an active Serviceman. He is precluded by Defence regulations from making public comment. A limited allowance has been made in this particular case because of the VC, however every comment he makes is under the careful eye of ADF PR personnel with the odd lawyer hanging around in the background. In essence, he can’t take a dump without his Commander’s approval. (damn, there I go gutter diving again)

    However, there is one very good reason why Servicemen in general, and bravery award recipients specifically, are off limits to airheads (Stynes/Negus/commentators)… if the Roberts-Smith’s of this world won’t do their job, you will have to stand in their stead. Good luck with that.

    • Dean says:

      I disagree, I think you do win it. Having read many of the VC stories, one thing that sticks out is that they just happened to never find themselves in the enemies sights despite being shot at.

      History is littered with the fallen brave who were not granted VCs. There’s certainly an element of luck to it.

      That’s why a large number of them are awarded to people doing what they’re trained not to do.

      Not that it takes away from them being brave, but there are plenty of dead soliders/Police/Civilians equally or more brave without VCs.

  17. samb says:

    Thanks Geoff, best article i’ve seen on this matter.

  18. Jen says:

    Dear Geoff,……… ‘None of us are born so very different, it’s just the paths we take from there that can diverge.’
    I’ve said it once quietly, I’ll say it again, “I love your brain, Geoff Lemon”.
    So much so in fact, that if indeed you were a vacuous, highly attractive man who wasn’t ‘so good in the sack’ and that highly attractive and therefore obviously feeble little brain was lying at the bottom of a pool I would dive in clothes and all to rescue it and place it back inside your pretty little head……….just saying……
    Geoff Lemon for Foreign Minister (and naturally Prime Minister when her Ladyship inevitably combusts in a whuff of flammable lies – which wont be long now).

  19. zac says:

    i will never get back those 5 mins, go back to school. i dont think the cpl would like this much attention, you are looking for a reason to bring sex and race into this, bloody pathetic.

  20. Danicam says:

    Well written and straight to the point. You’ve nailed it! the first thing I heard about this was on the net when I came across the backlash – made me wonder just what was said that was so so bad.
    Yep he’s a big boy – he’s opened up personally in public. Everyone – everyone who does this leaves themselves open – whether you’re Julia G, Abbot T, the Queen, the late princess, the new princesses etc etc. Dumb things get said on TV all the time – just watch the commercial weeknight news to get your daily dose of hilarity.
    But this vitriol and racism etc is far too too much over the top. In fact it’s downright…un-Australian!

  21. Fiona Yona says:

    my favourite was a comment in MX making fun of her name for sounding like Yummy… I’m not sure if this person actually realised her cultural heritage

  22. Luka Lesson says:

    great work man… the chain of events that says ‘my sense of decency has been offended…” – so why don’t i offend theirs to show them how wrong it is to offend mine… by writing something twice as offensive and mis-informed… PERFECT. crazy article brother… legend.

  23. Greybeard says:

    Brilliant, rational, incisive. You’ll never get anywhere with that sort of thinking.

  24. derek says:

    i’m appalled at this flagrant fullstop typo: ‘(Our Aussie diggers died to keep morning television safe from your kind.).’

  25. am says:

    Great piece – I was trying to articulate some of these points in an office debate yesterday but you did a much better job!

  26. Moko says:

    I’m planning on getting Australian citizenship soon and I’m trying to figure out what it is to be Australian. Australians don’t make this easy. It seems to me I should be looking at immigrants for a guidance because born and bred intergenerational (looking for a better word but gave up) Aussies are confused and couldn’t agree on shrimps or lamb for the BBQ. Stop whinging and just enjoy the damn BBQ. Can’t wave the Australian flag on Australia Day because that’s racist … check. Can’t be annoyed at some *whoever* – negus AND stynes without reference to age, sex, ancestry, or choice of clothing – on a stupid show taking pot shots at what I think is an example of a decent role model because if I do I’m going to be lumped in with any knob seemingly bashing the keyboard with a pork sausage – sorry if that offends any of our Aussie Halal brethren … not that it will, I’m sure. It will probably offend someone on their behalf so sorry to you – ranting for the sake of ranting because that gets the most attention and makes for an easy blog … check.

    Maybe that’s why many migrants stay within their community’s. We just can’t figure you clowns out.

  27. Jo Grant says:

    What a delightful, clever and rational response. Maybe we find it hard as a nation born of hierarchy (and illegitimate means) to feel confident enough to wrest ourselves from the rhetoric of war and the ‘Aussie digger’ (that I bet Aussie diggers don’t even subscribe to). Funny and true and clever and brave. Good on you.

  28. sforsharona says:

    This (along with Mia Freedman’s article) is one of the best articles I’ve read on the matter. All the kudos.

  29. hexotica says:

    As a former American military cadet for 6 years I know what kinds of people are in the forces, and there are certainly as many jerks as there are heros. I’m saddened to see Australia going toward the patriotic-fervor and blindness that is an excuse for fear of the Other as in my home country.

    • No one is annoyed because someone attacked a member of the military. People are annoyed because someone attacked someone who risked their life for their mates in one of the worst situations mankind – and womankind – can find themselves in.

  30. Sal says:

    So its ok to trash and belittle a person you’ve never met, know nothing about. George Negus and Yumi Stynes should have known better. What we are talking about here is common decency, or rather the lack of it.

    George and Yumi are not the victims here. They are the perpetrators of the incident.

    Sometimes a hollow apology with insincere remorse is just not good enough..

    As for the Yumi being attacked with more vitriol then George, unfortunately most of society still clings to the quaint idea that woman have higher moral values than men. Somehow it seems worse when comments like those made come from a woman. I don’t think it has anything to do with Yumi’s Japanese heritage.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Sal, if you could point out exactly where I said that it’s “ok to trash and belittle a person” then I’d be very grateful.

      It’s equally not ok to trash, belittle, abuse, and violently threaten someone because you think they made a shit joke on TV.

      And the comments about being a half-caste bitch, and a filthy Jap, and so on? I’m pretty sure they have just a little something to do with her Japanese heritage.

      • Sal says:

        Geoff, I am not implying you’ve said this. This is what George and Yumi did with their comments in the name of humour. The public reaction has been extreme, as much due to their initial poor apologies as to the remarks made.
        Yes, some people have played the race card and the vitriol has been over the top, however I think that the overwhelming response has been one where people have been appalled by the comments.
        Yumi does not derserve the comments you’ve quoted however I dissagree with your view that this was just a poor joke and that we should move on.

        • Aunty Penny says:

          You’re right Sal, we shouldn’t move on. I say more inane racist and sexist slurs for a silly throwaway line is needed – how else will the ethnics and women learn about their role in our society?! They’ll start thinking they have equal rights – then where will we be? It’ll be anarchy!!!

          *sigh*

  31. Fantastic post as usual Geoff

  32. Kris says:

    VC winner? You are awarded the VC. You can choose not accept it. You don´t win it Geoff. It´s not a competition. Sloppy, Your not alone though, Birmingham, ( who quoted you and how I ended up here) also said the same thing. Also, Stynes did not call him a Dud Root, another coach sitter suggested that Negus was implying that when responding to Negus´s initial comment about this VC recipient. Go back back and have a look.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Kris, if you trace the word, ‘to win’ means to reach or achieve, generally in the face of some sort of difficulty.

      I can win people over with an argument, I can win favour, win a girl’s heart, win through in the end, win praise. Most words in English have a more varied lineage than their modern usage implies, and winning can involve more than raffles and the Olympics.

      • Kris says:

        Semantics is not my specialty but in this case, the Australian Army and the VC Recipient both don´t use the word `win´ when it comes to the giving this acknowledgement for service. Not my term, theirs, they are very particular about it to. Today Tonight made the same mistake so I guess you stand in with them can and argue for a win.
        Either way you win, i guess?

  33. Adam says:

    Wayne, yes, you’re right, if servicemen aren’t there to do their job, others would have to step in and do it instead. But this is also true of the office cleaners of the country, and the gynecologists, and the jazz ballet teachers. What if they weren’t there to do their jobs? Others would have to do it in their stead. And good luck with that.

  34. Adam says:

    I’ve said elsewhere that whether those making these the attacks against the CIrcle are in the right or the wrong is almost immaterial. The problem is that this is a mob. The rage is feeding on itself. There’s no reasoning there. Look at Wayne, above, who is trying to measured, but nevertheless resorts to attacking the player when he says, ‘Not that there’s any point in trying to explain that to those who find comfort behind the insular walls of the internet, academia or just plain social commentary.’ And, further, when he says those opposing his point of view would make crap soldiers. No doubt he’s right in the latter case, speaking for myself, at least; but they’re angry words that do nothing to make me see exactly why he thinks it’s justified to pour this megattonage of vitriol on one person’s head. Wayne, you make a good point when you say the offended party can’t defend himself, but you’re addressing the matter of Yumi and George’s comments, not the size and the hideousness of the nationwide response, the frankly quite terrifying nature of it. That’s what’s got us all appalled. It’s inappropriate, to say the least. I worry for Yumi’s state of mind; if she survives this, she deserves a VC too.

  35. Melissa says:

    ‘If a man can storm two machine gun posts singlehanded and emerge as the only survivor, I hardly think the not-so-biting satire of a couple of TV hosts is going to keep him blinking at the ceiling through the late hours. Given Ben’s work in defending us from The Terrorism, he probably doesn’t need Schlubhead from Donger Beach to volunteer to defend him, especially not with some charmless noise about killing or deporting the citizens that Ben is tasked to protect.?”
    A perfect paragraph of rationality

  36. Timmo says:

    I have seen the controversy, but not so much of the actual nasty comments on this. And I generally prefer not to, I just get annoyed, agitated or frustrated by them.

    My one point would be perhaps that some of the “why” of the backlash against Yumi as opposed to George, is that George has a greater degree of credibility and trust in the bank in terms of the general public opinion than Yumi. For this reason people are more willing to cut him some slack and/or see it as out of line with his general persona than Yumi, who I at least know less about. Honestly, my first instinct is to mentally put her in a stereotyped box of vacuous daytime TV host, while not having a clue about her, much as they may have done based on Cpl Roberts-Smith’s picture.

    In terms of the “how” of the comments, being misogynist, racist and downright nasty, there’s no explaining that and certainly no justifying it. With online comments, it seems playing the man rather than the ball, hits below the belt and many other sporting analogies are all legitimate plays.

  37. kim says:

    A wonderful person called Aaron Sorkin once said, ‘while everyone deserves a voice, not everyone deserves a microphone’…..

    While ironic, I agree. that’s the problem with social media.

  38. Andrew says:

    There are 2 main reasons why this happened: 1) With asians and boat people being the focus of indignation many are jumping at the opportunity to bash one (an Asian). 2) We feel guilt about our participation in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

  39. AM Gray says:

    Years ago I was going to leave Australia and go live in a foreign country. In order to be adequately prepared for that experience, I bought a book called ‘Culture shock (insert country name here). I noticed on the shelves, a ‘Culture shock Australia’. I thought, what the? I bought it. I thought it would be amusing.
    And it was. It explained quaint Aussie traditions like ‘bringing a plate’ that are obscure and bizarre to others. And it said that Australians made fun of everything… except the ANZACS. You could make a joke about almost anything to an Australian and be safe… unless you strayed into war history ground.
    And what i think Yumi and George did… was trample that hallowed ground.

  40. Ben you must apologize to poor little Yumi. If it wasn’t for that photo of you none of this would have happened. You are sooo uncool doing that to Yumi. You have even upset Andrew Bolt and he has his own show on channel 10, so he must be clever but I dont understand what he talks about. He must be a kind man coz he is telling the nasty people to go away as well.

    Anyway why should a big strong soldier like Ben have any feelings anyway, like George Negus says he kills people for a living

  41. chris. says:

    the generaliz(asian) comment about her being an ex ‘tin lid’ got the article off to a bad start in my eyes.
    subversive racism veiled in a comedic tone….just cause barnesys wife is half thai…

  42. dormouse storyteller says:

    Only just got around to reading this post. Looking forward to the ANZAC issue next week (she raises eyebrows hopefully).

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