Better than that: Benito Mussolini – he created fascism which plunged Europe into darkness. Photo: SUPPLIED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 31 May

May 31, 2020 BY

You need to exercise caution when it comes to what you say, and how you react, publicly, to a specific and disputatious situation. There are times when an unintentional misjudgement may come back to bite you on the bum!

IT is not easy to behave well all of the time. The electronic technological age has made it too easy to fire of a missive which should have been left to ‘cook’ overnight. Sometimes, in a moment of uncertainty, one is influenced by a spurious comment. Often times, I have returned to a subject the following morning, only to discover a good night’s sleep has dispelled my first reaction of outrage and revenge, regardless.

Writing a weekly newspaper column has been a most fascinating experience. While I do not actively pursue other opinions, I am delighted, always, when someone takes the time to contact me. While I have no interest in allowing a stranger to define me, I have, on several occasions, sent stern emails in response to blatant impertinence, ending with a demand there be no further contact since any pursuit of dialogue would be a waste of my time.  As I say, with tedium: I couldn’t give a fat rat’s clacker what anyone thinks of me. The journey is too short, and it is too easy to be distracted by spiteful and baseless comments! Consequently, I make a point of never reading any social media which has provided the chattering middleclass with a megaphone; however, my email address is provided should someone want to share their opposing point of view. I am not beyond being converted by civility, sound logic, and an intelligent argument. I have learned, over years of broadcasting, to control my tongue and moderate the language. It is too easy to run-off at the mouth like a tap. Occasionally, and with wilful intellectual intent, one poses an argument in an attempt to shock someone out of their prevailing torpor.

I am saddened, but not surprised, by the maliciousness aimed at the three City of Ballarat councillors who, at the recent special council meeting, voted outside of the majority. They argued, from a strong base of logic, against the dismissal of the CEO, Justine Linley, without first hearing her explanation and defence of the accusations – none of which stood outside of the law. You may, or may not, agree, but fair process is not a quantum leap and is the right of every individual. The last time I looked it was Elizabeth on the throne, not Mussolini. The court of public opinion is a dangerous one, and should be ignored when due process is being followed. Uncontrolled outrage and personal attacks do nothing to advance the narrative. Public discourse should be tempered with respect. One is talking about name and reputation, and all fair-minded people would agree, under the circumstances, an opportunity to offer a defence is not an outrageous expectation; indeed, it is one of the ten basic human rights as defined by the United Nations.

People’s lack of tolerance and respect has become more strident in recent times. Good manners, fairness, and concern are seen as weakness. I am not a shrinking violet, and where once I might have struck a note of appeasement and indulgence, now I am more inclined to retaliate, viciously, if I feel I have been attacked, unduly.

In truth, people behave as well as they know how. The social media attacks on Ballarat councillors Samantha McIntosh, Grant Tillett, and Jim Rinaldi, are both wrong and regrettable. They voted as they judged fair and reasonable. While you may disagree, it does not provide open slather for an onslaught of vitriol and personal vilification. That they have been forced to defend their support of democracy is most disquieting, and is reason for reflection.

Roland can be heard on RADIO 3BA, every Monday morning, 10.45 and contacted via [email protected].