“Officially” is the new “literally”

“Labor, the party of the working class, has officially become the party of choice for intellectuals,” claimed The Australian last Thursday. Sorry, which “official” said this?

No, it wasn’t a Labor party official announcing a change in their funding source. Nor some mythical official spokesperson for “intellectuals” — could there ever be such a central organisation? No, the “official” is just the journalist who wrote the story, or his sub-editor.

In one way this is like that common mis-use of the word “literally”. As in: “Kevin Rudd was literally torn apart in Parliament this afternoon.” But there’s also some lovely propaganda at work — either because the journo thought it’d make it more dramatic, or because (heaven forbid!) The Australian is continuing its pro-Coalition stance.

First, “intellectual”. Standard right-wing name-calling, part of the cluster of words they’ve created which usually includes “latte” and “chardonnay”. They’ve successfully made a word meaning “one who tries to use his or her intellect to work, study, reflect, speculate, or ask and answer questions about a wide variety of different ideas” into a bad thing. Yes, how dare someone think!

But read the full article. The word “intellectual” is freely interchanged with “tertiary degree-holder” and “university-educated”. That includes nurses, teachers, accountants, naturopaths (yes, you can get a Bachelor of Naturopathy now, don’t get me started!) and “sport tourism managers”. Intellectuals, according to The Australian.

Now the story actually has an important core. The key swinging voters who might affect this election are very different from the parties’ traditional members.

The Liberals, originally the party of business, is now kept in power by blue-collar conservatives: “Howard’s battlers” who’ve bought into the scare campaigns about non-whites and non-Christians. They used to vote Labor before they changed from being employees into self-employed contractors and bought overly-large houses at Kellyville. Suddenly they’re fascinated with interest rates — though they haven’t yet figured out they’re set by the Reserve Bank in response to the global economy, not John Howard personally.

Meanwhile the “doctor’s wives” demographic, who once voted Liberal because their husbands and fellow tennis club members did, now drift to Labor thanks to issues like climate change and concentration camps for vulnerable refugees. They’ve vote for the Democrats (except the Democrats have imploded), or perhaps The Greens (if they washed).

This is an important news story, with serious implications for all political parties and how they run their campaigns. But The Australian just couldn’t help clouding it with propaganda. Neither could I.

3 Replies to ““Officially” is the new “literally””

  1. I might have to change my t-shirt from ‘latte-sipping socialist’ to ‘latte-sipping intellectual’.

  2. Speaking of tilted journalism, notice how cutting Kerry O’Brien was of John Howard in last nights 730 report, yet a total pussy chatting with Kevin Smirking Rudd?

    Apparently John Howard asking the Opposition to have a tax policy is “negetive” campaigning.

    Oh well whatever. I need a rock to climb under.

  3. @Quatrefoil: I find it interesting when those on the right use terms like “latte-sipping” and “chardonnay-drinking” to attempt to ridicule the left. If it’s about associating them with trendiness, then they’re forgetting that, as I’ve said before, chardonnay is far from being fashionable.

    Or is it that those on the left aren’t meant to be “sipping”? That only the conservatives can drink daintily while the lefties are all brutes and gulp noisily?

    Ah, cultural stereotypes! Gotta love them!

    @jason: Fortunately I’ve avoided all current affairs TV so far this week — and my world has not yet imploded. If there was a difference in “confrontationalist attitude” such as you describe, that’s inexcusable. Since the ABC is now monitored by all manner of bias-detecting organisations, stopwatches in hand, I daresay we’ll soon see any complaints made public.

    Bias is such a difficult thing to assess, though. I’m not saying your perception was necessarily wrong. Indeed, there’s a good chance that an interviewer will give the new boy an easy go, consciously or not — though they should try not to let that happen! But one person’s “insightful interview” is another’s “bias”, depending on how the questions and ideas accrete into existing views.

    Opinion is a snowflake…

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