On Monday the 2nd of November, 2015, Q and A recorded and aired an episode that had Paul Erhlich on the panel. His appearance was ineluctably refreshing - he had no personal or domestic political agenda and he spoke frankly on some topics that, sadly these days it seems, are universally taboo. He opined on religious education of children, growth of economics and human population, mining, taxes, possibility of nuclear war and the scourge of right wing neo-conservatism.
It was easy to feel the discomfort of the host, some of the panel and much of the audience when not only such taboo subjects were raised but when someone dared to offer an opinion contrary to beliefs that are widely deemed unquestionable (let me state economic growth as one example of a sacrosanct belief in the modern world). I get the feeling that the debate on this show is strictly controlled to be within tight, acceptable boundaries. Sure, sometimes the debate is allowed to become quite heated or fierce within those boundaries, but some territory (perfectly valid and pertinent territory) is strictly off limits.
It is outrageous that this show is the most open debate that is available for TV viewers and it's even more outrageous that the ABC has recently been held to ransom by right winged governments and mainstream media to present a so called balanced view. These balanced view advocates essentially want extreme right-winged neo-conservative views to be able to be voiced unchallenged. And if that requires outright lies to be aired, and character assassinations to be the norm, then so be it. It is my belief these forces want to keep the masses in a state of fear and therefore conservative in their voting habits – no wonder the poor old Greens fare so badly on election days.
After this show I began to think about the desperate need in this country for a more open and fair debate on subjects and opinions that have been deemed off limits. In my reactionary mood I do confess to a desire for radical left wing viewpoints to be aired. I want (and I believe a large number of us want) a show based on facts, a show that is framed in secular humanist language, a show that gives a platform to selfless well informed individuals and a show willing to tackle the taboo subjects. At heart I want a show where hatred, lies and deception are called out immediately. The Q and A fact check is a great thing but I fear that it is too little too late. It also has no teeth and by the time it publishes its findings the liars have achieved their goal.
Personally, I am passionate about the all pervasive myth that growth is good. Talking against population growth and economic growth in particular is taboo. I believe the mantra of ever increasing improvement that permeates our schools, our sports and in the workplace, is just another variation of the growth myth that is detrimental to our general well-being. The growth myth is underpinned by a world view that paints Homo sapiens as a flawed being marked by sin that must continually strive to improve and redeem itself. This is fundamentally a religious construct but also a modern Hobbesian perspective on humanity. I want a show that will get us thinking about and challenging these fundamental ideas we have about ourselves. These crazy ideas that have us speeding ever faster and faster to inevitable collapse. These ideas that are taboo to oppose.
In my fantasising I was trying to think who could produce and/or host a show such as this. You came to mind.
To my surprise the very next week I watched you on Q and A advocating for Euthanasia Laws – talk about taboo land. Your arsenal of factual information, your empathy for humanity, your rational and calm demeanour and your admirable and fearless challenging of emotionally based language and questionable facts were as refreshing as Paul Ehrlich was the week before. It confirmed my opinion that you could be the person to host a TV show of the ilk I am trying to describe.
I am sure you are a busy man and I believe you retired from TV altogether. But I sensed a passion in you that might indicate that you are sick of the bullshit and narrow debate that pollutes the airwaves these days. I wonder if you may be itching to get back on set to blow away the infuriating constraints that are holding Australia back from being a land of no bullshit, a land of fair dinkum down to earth people who don't blindly and mindlessly follow the psychopaths with all the money and power.