Are eggs the new wave of political terrorism?
No. Egging is not the most recent wave of political terrorism.
But plenty of people want you to think it is - "but if we allow egging, where do we draw the line? Isn't that violence?"
The major flaw in that argument, however, is that the difference between egging a public figure and actual acts of violence, abuse, and murder is so large that no adult should have trouble drawing that line.
Here is where you draw it, if you need a reminder: Egging becomes a problem when it is used to cause fear, not mockery.
Swearing until we're blue in the face that there's any similarity between a kid getting Fraser Anning with an egg and some evil clown murdering dozens in Christchurch shows we have lost the plot when it comes to context and proportion.
.@tomwconnell: It looks like the egg basically bounces straight off @ScottMorrisonMP. This has just happened at the Country Women's Association.— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) May 7, 2019
MORE: https://t.co/cnxAXrLKY3 #newsday pic.twitter.com/X1YUyWrvQC
I would like that last statement to be a fib, an exaguration, or a spin, but commentary on social media and in our own comments shows there's some catching up to be done.
The false equivilancy of jumping up and down whenever an egg is on television isn't just some internet flame war topic - it shows we have dangerously lost our way when it comes to understanding politics.
For the sake of argument, let's take the position that egging is assault and is a form of political terrorism.
Why, if that were the case, would we want to stop people egging when their next option is actual fear-driven violence instead of mockery?
It makes far more sense, if you believe that, to ensure the pranks and demonstrations that will happen no matter what we say are all as harmless as possible.
You would want the less damaging option, surely.
My concern about today’s incident in Albury was for the older lady who was knocked off her feet. I helped her up and gave her a hug. Our farmers have to put up with these same idiots who are invading their farms and their homes.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 7, 2019
Fortunately, egging does not lead to violence. Egging leads to mockery, and mockery is the most effective peaceful way of bringing down a defective leadership. Ask Trump supporters, they were able to use words to overthrow the biggest political sure-bet of all time: Hillary Clinton.
This has been something conservatives have been fantastic at since the seventies and even more so since the Newt Gingrich era in the USA. Mockery and belittling those who they think are abusing their power has worked time and time again - read the Drudge Report or Breitbart for countless examples of twit lefties being demolished by well-placed mockery.
Mockery works, conservatives were the undisputed masters of it, so why the shift to real violence?
Simply put it's because we have lost our sense of proportion. Suddenly, instead of a new policy prompting a stern letter to our representative, we see it as part of a broader attack on our way of life.
We don't see the elderly, we see 'Baby Boomers' who 'want to keep kids homeless'.
We don't see refugees, we see 'invaders' who want to 'steal our jobs while on welfare'.
We don't see Christians, we see a 'cabal' of old money who 'you can say anything about and get away with it'.
We don't see kids being kids, we see 'purpose-built terrors' who will 'murder you to avoid paying their bus fare'.
All of this is nonsense. With everything we experience falling directly into the 'panic' category, it's no wonder so many people see an egging as either a genuine terror attack or as a conveniently stupid move to distract from real issues.
If we want to defend what free speech we have in this country, we need to step back and start using it in civil ways so that egging isn't so tempting.
If 'free speech' could move beyond a smokescreen for bullying and harassment, we might have conversations civil enough to stop problems reaching the point where talking doesn't work.
I support free speech. It is how I was able to express my queer lifestyle to the world around me despite severe hatred for how I live my life. If we take that away I would be left in the dark, never to be seen.
But we need to protect free speech the way we would protect a child. It is fragile and prone to being mislead. When we defend our right to say something, we need to ask ourselves if we would want our children to be the ones making those claims.
You can defend Israel Folau's right to say something, but it is okay to then add that his opinion isn't helping anyone do anything except ruin the footy season.
In the end, who would you be more proud of, a child of yours who egged someone who has abused their power like Hillary Clinton or Tony Blair, or a child of yours who can't think of anything but swearing and violence?
Egging is childish and I hate it, but until we treat free speech with the respect it deserves, we will see more of it as the only easy-to-access response to people who misuse speech to create social division.