Sunday, August 12, 2012

Offended by Barnaby Joyce

I'm watching a February 2011 Q and A today.   

Featured on that panel is Barnaby Joyce and Tim Flannery.

Barnaby Joyce offended me with something he said to Tim Flannery.

I actually knew about it prior to watching the show. Or I at least knew of a similar incident. I think I was offended back then.  Now, seeing it first hand, I'm re-offended.

I should shut up and explain what happened.  Right?

They were talking about climate change.

Then Joyce asked Flannery if he's a climatologist.

It wasn't a question that needed answering.

It was a rhetorical question.

It was one of those questions that could be answered with the classic, I'll take that as a comment.

Flannery answered by saying he's a paleontologist. 

I guess that's what he got his university degree in.

He didn't get a degree in climatology.

But what is the deal here?

Can we not learn about something if we didn't get a university degree in the subject?

I got a degree in psychology and, later, one in education.

I have absolutely no degree related to Australia.

I've never even taken a class on Australia.

But I'll tell you.

I know much more about Australia than I do about psychology and education.

So yeah.

I guess I take personal offense to questions and comments like that.

Everyone has the right to their opinion.  And I do think educated opinions are more valid than ignorant ones.

But you don't need to sit in a classroom at a university to get that education. 


  1. I'm not surprised Barnaby Joyce managed to offend someone.

    I've had that question about 'qualifications' before. An equivalent question is 'have you got any children?' implying I have no right to comment or even think about a subject.
    The world would be a very narrow and selfish place if we needed qualifications before we were allowed to care about something. And if we were not allowed to voice questions about something, we would never learn anything.

  2. Your comment makes me feel guilty. Because just today I had an imaginary situation in my mind where someone inferred criticism in a parenting-child situation. Then I said to them (in my imagination). Do you have kids?

    Meaning if you don't have don't know what you're talking about.

    I think a more fair question would be "Do you have experience with children?"

    Someone might not have their own children; but they might babysit. They might have nieces and nephews. They might have read a lot about kids.

    That's not to say someone without recent experience in childhood things doesn't have a right to their opinion.

    But I think it would fall under non-educated opinion....or non-experienced opinion.

    It's like I can have an opinion about raising teenagers. And I do sometimes. But since I haven't yet raised a teenager; and I worked with them only briefly several years ago....I'm kind of talking out of my ass.

    I think my opinion will be much more educated once Jack becomes a teen.

    I think the resistance of parents hearing advice from non-parents comes from the fact that they were once non-parents too.

    As non-parents we had grand ideas. Then we have kids and learn we were totally wrong.

    Or we realize something is not as easy as we thought it would be.

    I have so many stories related to that, but I'll share just one.

    I talked to my pre-parent cousin about going on trips with Jack. This was when he was a toddler. I said it was so much easier when he was a baby; because I could drag him anywhere. Now he has to be entertained. I can't sit there doing things just for myself. I have to make sure he's happy.

    She looked at me like I'm nuts and said something like "How can he tell you what to do. He doesn't even talk!"

    Well, a few years later she had two toddlers and her life was TOTALLY run by them.

    No, we can't do that. The kids have to nap.

    No, we can't do that at that time. The kids are cranky.

    My sister rolled her eyes at us and our kids for being loud at the table.

    A few years later: It's her kids screaming at the dinner table.

    Okay...well, I guess I shared two stories.

  3. a] you've nothing to feel guilty about

    b] As a general rule I don't go around criticising individual parenting styles though I once did get really angry with a visitor for losing her temper and really smacking her little daughter too hard and long. When she told me I didn't know what it was like to have kids I reminded her that if her daughter was still out of control at four it was because they'd believed children should be free spirits and had never ever done anything to teach theirs some rules. No point blaming the kid for their mistakes. Plus, because they were on my turf I felt entitled to intervene. The discipline was excessive and the child did not know any better.
    Of course, they never came back.

    On the other hand, I know from your posts that you do make rules for Jack - e.g. insisting he do some maths exercises. And if I saw you being excessive with Jack I would assume I was hallucinating.

    Mostly if I see people being horrible to children I just wince to myself.

    c] In their twos or thereabouts, some kids don't know any better than to scream. They are just "doing their job". Mostly I just accept it as normal. But if, say, a two year old was heading for something dangerous I would try to distract them or, if necessary use a stern voice to say no.

    d] I was a child myself once, and I don't believe violence or sarcasm are necessary. And I see too many Frankstonians in shopping centres swearing and screaming at their kids.

    d] For me, the responsibility of looking after infants is a terrifying experience. So if, for example, a baby had been in a wet nappy for a very long time I would probably say something like "would you like me to change x's nappy?" but I wouldn't be too quick to judge.
    Babies don't come with an instruction manual, and they all have different personalities. Mostly, grown-ups have to make it up as they go along.

    e] I can be very bossy and arrogant and make sweeping statements in my posts but in real life I'm not a very judgmental person. We rarely know the whole story about anyone.

    So what I'm saying is you don't have to feel guilty because there was probably a good reason for your reaction. It was a specific and personal situation. I hope I didn't offend you.
    It’s just the general assumptions some people make that annoy me... e.g. all gays are bad parents and can’t know anything about children.
    Like you say, anyone might actually have experience with children or, like I say, I was a child myself, once.

  4. One of the things you're very right about is that children DO all have different personalities.

    It reminds me that not only do non-parents do too much judging...but also parents.

    We judge each other with the idea that all children are the same; and if the parents used our parenting philosophy and methods; their child would behave as well as our child.

    Sometimes it IS about parenting styles. Other times it seems to be that way; but the child's personality plays a big factor in it.

    I think seeing a child being hit would bring up judgmental feelings in a LOT of people. I'm tempted to say that maybe parents would be...not more agreeable on the discipline method...but empathetic to the loss of control.

    But I'm not sure. Parents often lack empathy and understanding for each other.

    They're also extremely competitive with each other.

    I've never hit Jack out of anger or as discipline. But I can definitely relate to trying to be one of those parents with unlimited patience; then losing my patience.

    To turn the subject around a bit.

    We can take caring for an elderly parent. I can imagine what that's like. I can have ideas of what's the best way to handle it. But until I'm in that situation myself; I can't fully understand how hard it is; and how I'll react to it.

    BUT I do know what severe abuse looks like; and I don't need personal experience with the subject to know it's wrong.

    I would feel uncomfortable if I saw an elderly person being treated not-so-nicely. I'd try not to judge...maybe. I'd try to understand...maybe. And like you, I'd cringe.

    Well, you said wince actually. Is that the same thing?

    As for the gay parent thing. I shall try not to judge people who think that way. Sorry. I failed.

    I think they're being mighty stupid. At least about that subject.

    It's not an equation. Penis+vagina= good parenting.

  5. Do you think parents are more competitive if they are siblings? Or all parents in general?
    All parents have different personalities, just like kids. I think there are some major differences though, with looking after older parents. I really want to say all but I could be wrong so I’ll say many kids have baggage about their parents. Parents don’t necessarily have a lot of baggage about young kids.

    One of the most important bits of advice I found before I decided my mother should come and live with me was “do not take a parent in if it will just become an opportunity for revenge”. I did some serious thinking and made some rules for myself first. I had to ask myself why I would do it – affection, duty, or just because human beings deserve some sort of respect just for being human, no matter who they are.

    The best revenge might have been to just leave her on her own [now you’ll think I’m horrible]. What can I say – I’ve got more baggage than an airport carousel.
    I didn’t abuse her but it was really draining.
    I guess we all lose our patience with other people in just about any kind of situation, so maybe what matters is what we do with that impatience.

    I guess something just as important would be to decide how to cope with dementia. Some people just become confused, and a small few can become very aggressive. Some are just plain hard work. My heart bleeds for older people trying to cope with adult kids who are handicapped. e.g. a 70 year old woman with a 50 year old Down Syndrome son.

    I have a friend with 5 kids [all adults now] and 4 have aspergers – in varying degrees. As a toddler, one of them refused to eat out of anything except a yellow plastic bowl and chucked huge tantrums over the tiniest things. She said the hardest thing was going shopping because when 2 or 3 of them were mad she just felt every person who saw [or heard] them judged her quite harshly. And because it was over 20 years ago whenever she tried to get help she was also judged by experts as a defective parent. What she really needed was a gold medal.

    Well, now this is getting morbid!

    I think the one thing I really can’t handle is intolerance. Oh, and stupidity. No, wait a minute, there’s a third thing… drunks. Well, okay, better add people who won’t shut up. Or never take responsibility for their own problems, or think the world owes them a living… But I’m not at all judgmental. Not me.

  6. Fruitcake,

    Good question about siblings. I have no idea, in a scientific sense.

    My sisters and I are very competitive when it comes to parenting things.

    Right. Parents don't have baggage about young children. But they have baggage from their relationship with THEIR parents. That carries over to their relationship with their young children.

    It was hard to be a parent to baby-toddler Jack. It was ten times harder when my parents and sisters were watching me.

    It's that desperate need for approval; and the fear people are judging you.

    I imagine taking care of your mother being extremely draining. It's hard enough to take care of an invalid when you have positive feelings towards them. But when you have the baggage....SHIT.

    I feel for the mom with the Aspie kids.

    One of the only reasons I sosrt of support the label is SOMETIMES it makes people act more understanding.

    My cousin is a single mom and people would bitch about her parenting behind her back. Her son was a little different...some developmental delays. Of course it was all her fault.

    Later she got him the Aspergers diagnosis. I haven't heard anyone badmouthing her since then.

    In a way, I think it's sad we need these diagnosis to make people more understanding.

    Children are different, and some are more challenging then others.

    Jack was VERY fearful and needy as a baby and toddler. That was very challenging. I tried not to blame myself; but sometimes I did. I worried I was doing something wrong. And I felt other people blamed me. Or I felt they judged me for the way I handled his fears and neediness.

    I wonder if it would been easier if I got him formally diagnosed.

    Maybe...or maybe not.

    I think the point is...even if you're very fearful and more needy than average; that doesn't make you less valuable as a person.

    We should understand that; and understand the particular challenges that parents have to deal with. We shouldn't need a diagnosis to bring forth our compassion.