I, ahem, got some response to my column last week when I dared to call retiring environmentalist David Suzukis recent performance at Lismore City Hall a bit boring.
I had to recheck the copy to make sure I hadnt written paedophile or mass murderer or imbecile instead of a bit boring.
It wasnt the number of people who took offence (bugger all) but the vehemence of those that did that made me smile.
Jeez, some people are precious.
No, I didnt call Suzuki an imbecile, but the greenie host who introduced David told the audience that David had once called John Howard an imbecile. It got a laugh. And made me wince.
It put David on the spot. He dealt with the inappropriate misquote skillfully. Hes beyond such counter-productive cheap shots. A cool guy is David Suzuki. (Despite the odd boring bit)
And lets face it John Howard is not an imbecile. Ten years of manipulating parliament, people, events and elections is not the work of an imbecile. Its political genius.
In the audience were members of our local ruling National Party family who had ventured bravely into this mostly leftie enclave to listen to this wise man of the environment speak.
I felt embarrassed for them by the hosts alienating jibe. (And in Mental Health Week as well!)
John Howard is many things but hes not an imbecile.
There are some who object to any criticism of their icons. Fair enough. We all have our funny little ways to bolster a flagging self-image.
There are some whose very existence is defined by their time at the barricades or up on the tripods at environmental actions. They were lucky enough to find a life that gave them purpose. Good on them. Im glad the environment movement was able to provide such therapy and psychological context for them.
Ive done it myself. I still remember the intense joy I felt when Nightcap Range was declared a national park. I had lived on that mountain for weeks protesting the logging. Hint: Never paint a large peace sign on your canvas army tent. It wrecks the waterproofing. The rain leaked through. (Peaced down?)
Getting flak because I found a heros rave a bit disappointing just makes me realise how fragile are the foundations on which some peoples green houses are built.
Its the psychology of the group. Whether it be the Hitler Youth or the Save Recherche Bay Group, the group gives security and identity to the member. No criticism allowed. And often its just circumstances that determine which movement is joined.
Its okay for a great man to be a bit boring. And its okay for me to say I was disappointed. When I cant say that, then it really is too late and you can unlock yourself from the bulldozer, pack up your tripod and go gush at the emperors new clothes.
Since that column, each morning when I wake I half expect to find a severed cauliflower head on the pillow beside me. (But usually the pillows empty. How sad is that?)
But you know whats really funny? Some of my critics didnt actually attend Suzukis gig!