Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, May 20, 2003
WOMEN'S FUNNY BUSINESS The "secret women's business" scam, and Margaret Simons.

You may recall Ms Simons told us that The white men who steered events behind the scenes in the Hindmarsh Island affair saw themselves as combating dangerous political correctness. That is, the people she named, including Ron Brunton, Christopher Pearson, Philip Jones of the SA Museum, the Royal Commissioner who enquired into the fuss - all of whom see themselves as people of independent mind and integrity I have no doubt - are in fact a racially-motivated conspiracy aimed at destroying other people's reputations.

Margaret Simons, occasional writer for the Henny Herald, would not do that. According to a piece she presented in Auntie's op-ed program Perspective, she's dead against all kinds of name-calling:

It gets to be quite fun, in an awful kind of way, to spot the childish name-calling, the insult words that don’t mean anything. In some contexts even the terms “left wing” and “right wing” are used in this way.

What does racist mean, after all? So many things that it means nothing. Racist is such an easy and thoughtless word to throw. Often it means “not as broadminded as I think I am”. I think “racist” has ceased to be a useful word in many public debates.

But if we substitute white men who steered events behind the scenes for "conspiracy of racists" we can claim the higher moral ground. And she does.

Here are some more words that get thrown around, in a way intended to suggest that people can be written off. “Discredited.” Some newspaper columnists use that one for anything they don’t like or that one of their mates has argued against.

“Controversial”. What does that one actually mean? Literally it means “talked about and discussed”. A good thing surely. But in the world of name-calling it has come to mean “Don’t trust this person”, or “don’t get involved with this issue”.

I could go on

And she does.

You could say that Margaret Simons is a writer of fixed and narrow political views who likes to accuse others of bad behaviour without providing substantial evidence to back her charges, and to defend the bad behaviour of her political associates against a mountain of evidence, while herself claiming to be above such conduct.

Uncle prefers to say that Margaret Simons is a hypocrite.