Anti-Greens ratf*ckers come out for Mardi Gras

March 6, 2011

Last night was the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. This year, 135 floats made their way through Sydney street, celebrating queerness in all its wonderful and outrageous manifestations. Highlights of the night for me were: the giant sequined whale from Taronga Zoo (because queer penguins need love too, apparently); the ’78ers (those amazing people who started out marching in protest and founded a tradition that has become part of Sydney life); the Rainbow Babies (celebrating the New South Wales Parliament finally passing laws to allow same-sex adoption); and a couple of mystery guests.

A surprise appearance from our fearless leader and her Opposition counterpart - or their stand-ins, at least.

It was a night for making statements, the strongest of which forcefully made the case for marriage equality. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who has repeatedly introduced bills calling for the Marriage Act to be amended to allow same-sex couples to marry, marched in the thick of the throng. Given such an atmosphere, it was probably inevitable that some slightly less positive sentiments would make an appearance.

So was anyone really surprised to see a slew of badly-printed anti-Greens posters suddenly appearing taped to telephone poles around Oxford Street? The Conscience Vote’s ‘fabulous informant’ snapped some pictures:

LOOK OVER HERE!

First, the scream sheet, following a time-honoured tabloid tradition. “DO THE NSW GREENS OPPOSE GAY RIGHTS?” Now that it’s got your attention, it gives you just a little more information: ‘By boycotting Israel, the NSW Greens are boycotting the only country in the Middle East where homosexuality is not a capital offence, or even a crime’. Finally, the admonition: ‘Choose freedom. Don’t vote Green on March 26’.

Cunning, eh? It’s even printed on green paper. That’ll get the message across to those ‘gays’.

For those who were more detail-oriented (or who perhaps just had a little more time to kill while waiting for a taxi), some considerate souls also posted the full text version:

Note the scattergun approach.

The cutaway quote from the scream sheet heads up the litany of Terrible Truths, but it doesn’t stop there. The Greens, it charges, also oppose democracy – because they’ve called for a boycott of Israel, and Israel is the ‘only’ democratic country in the Middle East. And they support ‘terror’ – because Hezbollah and Iran want to attack Israel, and by boycotting Israel, the Greens are on their side.

Seeing a theme here? And I don’t just mean the breathingtakingly, mindbogglingly hamfisted excuse for logic. It’s all about Israel. The Greens hate Israel – therefore the Greens must hate homosexuals and democracy. And support Evil Dictators and Terrorist Organisations. We must stop these terrible people gaining any sort of representation in ‘our’ government. The fate of Israel depends on it!

It’s barely worth ripping down the arguments used here – they are transparently spurious. Whoever wrote this piece of nonsense deliberately misstated facts and massacred logical thinking. Mind you, they also credit the Greens with an astonishing amount of influence – if they call for a boycott of Israel, gay people will be killed, Hezbollah and Iran will attack and the Last Bastion of Democracy (TM) in the region will fall.

So, it’s all about Israel. But who could be the Concerned Citizens behind this poster campaign? Who are these brave souls, who subjected themselves to driving rain, loud music and an onslaught of glitter and leather to bring their message of Imminent Disaster to the unsuspecting people of Oxford Street?

The crucial point is revealed in the last paragraph: “DO THE GREENS HATE CHRISTIANS?” The authors of this poster were already drawing a very long bow, but this is the point where the string snaps violently: ‘By boycotting Israel, the Greens are boycotting the only country in the Middle East with a growing Christian population’. Adopting a somewhat pleading tone, the authors cry plaintively, ‘Christians are people too’.

I smell a ratf*ck.

Remember the One Vote videos during the 2010 Federal campaign? Similar anti-Greens message, similar mixture of fabrication and a similar amount of scare-mongering mangled arguments. Similar production values, too – although in the ‘One Vote’ case, it was a failure of web design.

The Conscience Vote and The Notion Factory traced those ‘concerned citizens’ back to the Christian Democratic Party. This latest effort, however, is likely to prove much harder to track down. Not only is it (thus far) confined to photocopied posters on cheap paper, it’s devoid of any information as to who might be responsible.

But really, that’s the point. We’re supposed to think this doesn’t originate with a political party, or even a lobby group. We’re encouraged to believe that this really is some kind of grass-roots, spontaneous uprising of The People, forced to take to the streets because their voices are not heard in the corridors of power. It’s heartwarming, really.

And of course, it’s complete rubbish.

I’m not about to point the finger at anyone. It might not be the CDP behind this latest offering. After all, there’s a fine tradition of ratf*cking in Australian politics.

But it is very interesting how the same language, the same sentiments and the anonymity just keep turning up – all directed at one political party.

This time, however, it looks like the minds behind this strategy badly misread their target demographic – my fabulous informant tells me he witnessed people reading the posters and laughing.


CDP attempts to ratf*ck the Greens

August 4, 2010

 

It seems that dirty tricks in this election campaign are not limited to wording up the media about Tim Mathieson’s speeding tickets and leaking carefully-worded stories about Cabinet discussions. Now we have OneVote warning us about the dangers of an atheist Prime Minister and the Greens’ gaining the balance of power in the Senate.

The site is little more than a vehicle for a well-produced ratfucking video (albeit featuring a rookie mistake in its graphics, as pointed out by The Notion Factory on August 3). Over vaguely threatening music, we are told that the Greens will hold a Labor government to ransom, forcing it to pass laws legalising everything from same-sex marriage to euthanasia on demand (a concept that conjures up blackly hilarious images of poison-dispensing vending machines or ‘safe suicide rooms’). We are exhorted to tell everyone about this threat, and vote for ‘a Christian’. At the end of the video the words ‘Authorised by M. Carter’ appear, along with a residential address in Western Australia

If you sign up for the OneVote newsletter updates, you get even stronger language. The Greens are not genuinely concerned for the environment, according to OneVote. Their green message is, in fact, a Trojan horse concealing their ‘real’ agenda:  ‘They want to make Australia a Godless, humanist society, like the Soviet Union and China of old.’

So who is behind this seemingly independent movement of ‘concerned citizens’? Although the ABC broke the story on August 3’s Lateline, internet users had already dug into the background and discovered some revealing information. We did some more digging of our own.

The domain is owned by an advertising company which is a division of AdPack, that specialises in direct marketing and ‘spamvertising’.  Its chairman is Rudy Labordus, and a look at his profile on LinkedIn may hold the key. One of the testimonials praises Labordus for his work in helping deliver votes in a state election.

The testimonial is from the Christian Democratic Party, notable for its vocal representative Fred Nile and his crusades against everything from the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to wearing the burqa. The CDP is also co-friended with Labordus’ YouTube channel, which features the ‘OneVote’ video.

The video, incidentally, features a still shot of CDP candidate Trevor Young angrily shaking his fist at the heavens.

Now, of course the CDP are entitled to their opinion – although the Greens might have something to say about the more outrageous and deliberately misleading claims in that video. What’s of concern here is that this was not put out under the CDP’s banner – in fact, they tried to hide the association. And this is where they have shown themselves to be extremely crafty.

By providing a name and address of an ‘authorising person’, the CDP can technically avoid having to identify themselves. The Electoral Act does not require such a person to disclose their party affiliations – any time you see an attack ad from the ACTU or Nurses’ Federation, the disclosure is purely voluntary – and so the CDP can create the impression that this is all the work of concerned individuals. This also helps the CDP reach people who might otherwise be put off by the associations with its policies and personalities.

There’s nothing new about exploiting this loophole. The Exclusive Brethren are some of the worst offenders, with a long history of electoral lobbying at one remove. (Interestingly, Tony Abbott was among those in the Howard government who held closed meetings with the Exclusive Brethren, at a time when the latter were engaging in a systematic smear campaign against the Greens, and being investigated for possible electoral fraud).

The CDP, however, are not a lobby group. They are a registered political party attempting to do an end run around the Australian people.

While investigating this story, we discovered that the CDP’s YouTube channel has an interesting mutual ‘friend’: the West Australian branch of Family First. We asked the party’s Federal Secretary, Nick Greer, if he was aware of the connection. Mr Greer said he was unaware of the website’s existence until we brought it to his attention. He explicitly denied any affiliation with the CDP, AdPack or Rudy Labordus, but did not provide a comment on why the WA branch of his party was apparently involved in a cross-promotion deal with the CDP. We’re still awaiting comment from WA Family First.


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