From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 8 October

October 8, 2023 BY

Flying the flag: A huge banner, featuring Ethan the Wonder Dog, was hung from a major hotel to celebrate his hero status! Photo: JEFF CALLAWAY

We, all of us, need to be wary! Access to the public psyche through the media in its various manifestations comes with an onerous responsibility. It requires you put your mind into gear before your mouth goes into action!


THE meaningful opportunity to contribute to the public debate is a privilege, and not a device to espouse your own personal views, or to spread unhelpful misinformation. The view, however implacable, should be measured, and civil. On matters public and serious, it is imperative you learn to control your tongue and moderate your language. Ignorance of fact is not a defence at law.

We live in the ludicrous age of celebrity. Social media has become the bane of our society. Delusional solipsism runs rampant. Even more disquietingly, people are obsessed with their public persona. Pathetically, they truly believe they matter in the greater scheme!

It is incumbent on all public figures – however minor their status, to be confidently possessed of all the facts, and not disseminating, wittingly or unwittingly, misinformation – those half-baked theories which come from a lack of enquiry, and a rabid dose of hubris; the boldness to run-off the mouth like a mendacious fountain, without regard. The ‘big fish in a small pond’ syndrome prevails. It is pernicious.

Abstract symbols are fragile conceptions which fulfill an important role in a developed democracy: The Crown; the Scales of Justice; the Sword of Mercy; the Parliamentary Mace gifting the Speaker his authority; the Nation’s flag under which we prosper; and the Victoria Police badge, a five-pointed star, signifying their omnipresence.

Symbols are subject to egregious manipulation and must be guarded assiduously. They are threatened, persistently, by absurd social media conspiracy theories. Important argument demands perspicuity. Spurious cant and cheap point-scoring is not the path to resolution. It is too easy to be part of the problem and not the solution; to abrogate moral and social responsibility in favour of personal kudos.

Regrettably, there is preponderant lack of civility in much of the public discourse; a tsunami of hostility; and a callous evisceration of other’s sensibilities. When challenged, the perpetrator resorts to a vituperative barrage to deflect criticism and shirk responsibility.

Considered analysis lies at the root of success; however, like criticism, it needs be constructive to be truly effective; to show a genuine understanding and respect for the opposing viewpoint; and a studied cognisance of the impact of the careless, barbative diatribe.

Words are weapons. Like a stone thrown into the pond, they create a ripple. They have the power to undermine the status quo and feed into the maelstrom of discontent.

It’s a truism: Never work with animals and children!

Ethan the wonder dog, who was found dumped in the freezing Kentucky winter and only minutes from death, has been awarded the Louisville Kentucky Humane Society Prize.

It was a battle for survival. Unable to walk or even lift his head, vets estimated his likelihood at less than 20 per cent. His story went viral, and his slow recovery was followed by thousands.

A local hero, Ethan chose his new owner, Jeff Callaway. As he regained strength, he looked across to Jeff, struggled to his feet, hobbled to him, and licked his hand. The die was cast; the bond was forged. YouTube videos of Ethan, and his fight to live, are inspirational.

With this latest honour, Ethan proves, indubitably, there is an inexplicable bond between us and them. Loyal, and unconditionally loving, they are all things we should strive to be!

Roland can be contacted via [email protected].