It’s Not About Duncan

The Australian is very concerned about fairness. “ Begrudging efforts to provide tax relief, especially when it is aimed at boosting economic growth and employment opportunities, seems a little unfair,” the national paper of record writes, its sense of injustice burning like fire. That flame was ignited by Duncan Storrar asking a question on Q&A, although naturally, the paper says, “Mr Storrar is not the issue — we wish him well”. A lovely sentiment.

Not necessarily a sentiment shared across the News Ltd stable, mind you.

Weird, right? The Herald Sun kind of seems to think Duncan IS the issue. It’s a shame they couldn’t assume the Australian’s kindlier, more measured approach — and not just because digging up the dirt on Duncan in order to publicly humiliate him is, to put it mildly, a dick move.

Because even beyond the sheer nastiness of this mind-blowingly petty campaign against one man who asked one question on a TV show, this vivid depiction of Duncan Storrar as a violent drug-fuelled psychopath misses some key facts. In fact, it’s not even that it misses facts: it misses the very nature of facts; the Herald Sun, and its fellow travellers, don’t even understand what facts are.

Basically, there are a couple of possibilities:

  1. The organisation of the Australian economy is such that those with wealth and pre-existing advantages are granted further advantages by government policy.
  2. The Australian economy is organised to give equal opportunity to all.

One of those could be true. Both of those could not be true. Here’s another couple of more targeted possibilities:

  1. Granting tax relief to people earning over $80,000 a year, rather than providing assistance to low-income earners, is the fairest thing to do, because they are the ones who pay the bulk of the taxes that provide services to all, and giving them a boost provides a boost to the whole economy.
  2. Granting tax relief to people earning over $80,000 a year, rather than providing assistance to low-income earners, is a policy approach calculated to further entrench the privilege of the haves and the disadvantage of the have-nots.

Or let’s boil it down to its bare bones:

  1. Duncan is right.
  2. Duncan is wrong.

Now, you could believe, in any of the above dichotomies, that either option is true. You might believe in tax cuts for the affluent over benefits for the poor, or you might urge greater distribution of wealth to address inequality. You might have seen Duncan on Q&A and thought, “Bloody legend”, or “Bloody dickhead”. You might have come to either conclusion thoughtfully and in good faith.

But if you made your decision on which viewpoint to take based on who Duncan is, what his kids say about him, what drugs he’s taken or how many times he’s been arrested…then please: be quiet, the grown-ups are talking.

Because either Duncan is right, or Duncan is wrong.

If Duncan is a drug-addled mass murderer who is right, he is still right.

If Duncan is the earthly manifestation of the Creator, come to save us all from our sins, who is wrong, he is still wrong.

If Duncan is an eccentric billionaire pretending to be poor for a lark, who has accidentally expressed the truth, it’s still the truth.

If Duncan is a homeless triple amputee who works 60 hours a week in a soup kitchen, who is talking total bullshit, it’s still bullshit.

When questions are being asked, the answers to them aren’t dependent on who’s asking them. And if someone’s trying to convince you otherwise, you can be sure they’ve got a reason to stop you finding those answers.