In September 2013, an ABC-TV political comedy program displayed a Photoshopped image depicting Chris Kenny, a prominent critic of the ABC, having sex with a dog from behind.
It was a response to an election-night suggestion from Kenny — a political commentator, News Corp Australia employee and former Liberal Party staffer — that the new Coalition government should cut the public broadcaster’s funding. The visual gag was crass, to be sure. A cheap shot. A dog act. But was it really so offensive?
Chris Kenny is my dad. On one of the Sky News political analysis programs he hosts, he has replied to the Chaser joke, lamenting that if his children were ever to Google his name in the future, this is the kind of filth we would stumble across.
Kenny is a staunchly neo-conservative, anti-progress, anti-worker defender of the status quo. He is an unrelenting apologist for the Liberal Party. He was one of Alexander Downer’s senior advisers at the time of the Iraq War. He’s been known to argue for stubborn, sightless inaction on climate change. He spits at anyone concerned with such trivialities as gender equality, environmental issues or labour rights from his Twitter account on a daily basis. Recently, he characterised criticism of the lack of women in Tony Abbott’s Cabinet as a continuation of the Left’s “gender wars”. He is a regular and fervent participant in The Australian’s numerous ongoing bully campaigns against those who question its editorial practices and ideological biases. The profoundly irresponsible, dishonest, hate-filled anti-multiculturalist Andrew Bolt has recently referred to Kenny on his blog as “a friend”.
And it’s a jokey picture of a bestial embrace that I should be afraid of discovering online?
Like clockwork, and in the unlikely company of the ABC’s Media Watch, the Murdoch newspapers have taken up the question of just how this image could possibly have been allowed to go to air. In what is perhaps the most idiotic contribution, The Australian’s ‘Cut And Paste’ section has asked whether prominent feminist Anne Summers is as offended by this joke as she was by the sexual vilification of former PM Julia Gillard. To equate the two things is a ridiculous move, typical of the desperate, flat-earth refusal in some corners of liberalism to acknowledge the existence of gender politics. Involving Summers in this episode for no sound reason is transparent ideological sniping.
In the Daily Telegraph, the always yawn-inducing Tim Blair suggested that Kenny would be treated much more kindly by the public broadcaster if he were an Islamic terrorist — flogging an excruciatingly worn out, tired slur. In the Herald Sun, populist torch-bearer Bolt has demanded to know why ABC managing director Mark Scott has allowed this deterioration of standards to occur on his watch. Standards in media and cultural sensitivity, of course, being Bolt’s twin areas of expertise.
‘The Left’ is often characterised by those who appoint themselves as its opponents as lacking a sense of humour, too ‘politically correct’ and too self-righteous to lighten up and take a joke. No doubt Kenny, Bolt and Blair would argue that the difference in this case is that tax-payers fund the ABC, and should not have to hand over their hard-earned cash for this type of trash.
And I tend to agree. Let’s see the ABC give back every cent of what it cost them to use Photoshop for thirty seconds. Maybe I’ll spend the spare change on a bus to go see the Great Barrier Reef before it, like the Chaser’s dog, is completely fucked in the arse.
Liam Kenny studies in Sydney. He is Chris Kenny’s son.