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Byron Shire
May 11, 2021

Here & Now #80 No news is good news

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photo-1S Sorrensen

Byron Bay. Tuesday, 12.13pm

Let’s face it. The news, the real news, is bad.

The rule is: If it’s bad, it’s news; if it’s good, it’s spin. And it’s compulsory to believe the spin or you’re in big trouble. A couple of millenia ago, Socrates was condemned to death for not believing the state spin. (He didn’t believe in Athens’ state-sanctioned gods.)

These days it looks like protester types who don’t believe the spin will end up in jail too.

Oh dear. It could turn a non-believer like me to drink. (Not hemlock.) I should just give in to the spinners and give up real news.

So, today, I’ve had a news-free day.

I woke up in a strange place: Ballina. (Long story…) And, because it was a strange place and not my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world, I didn’t routinely turn on Radio National and subject myself to a dose of depressing discourse confirming the terminal prognosis given civilisation by those who know.

At first, I went through withdrawal. I sweated and paced. I felt uneasy in the unaccustomed silence – but, actually, it wasn’t silent: I heard parrots chatting over a nectar breakfast in a nearby eucalyptus. A leafblower moved leaves from here to there. A baby cried. I heard many things. But I heard no news.

What was happening in the world? Had Australia invaded Russia? Had the government sold the once-Great Barrier Reef to Indian miners? Had education been dropped from the curriculum? Were babies being born with a health debt?

In the strange place where I woke (don’t ask) there was a television. I could have turned it on and watched one of those cheesy morning shows, but depression fostered by reality suits me better than anger triggered by fake smiles with cue cards doing stories about Taylor Swift changing the world with an album that, really, sounds like all the rest of the stuff out there – bubble wrap for drug taking.

But, despite my cold sweat, the leafblower, and a fear that a tsunami could be heading my way and I was stuck without radio warning, I felt surprisingly good.

It was a beautiful day – sure, it’s a little hot, but it’s nothing to worry about – and I thought that maybe all really was okay in the world. (A few stinky bats dropping dead from the heat doesn’t mean that coal ain’t good for humanity.) I nearly whistled as I left the strange place and headed north to Byron.

Maybe my choice of news source is unnecessarily negative; perhaps it needs more balance. I understand now that every issue has two sides. The ABC doesn’t give the other side to climate change. Or paedophilia either, for that matter. Cutting the ABC budget should encourage balance.

It’s true. If you listen to the ABC you might think that there is an environmental catastrophe happening around the globe. If you listen to those stupid scientists or those up-themselves educated types, you’d believe that the long-term survival is more important than short-term corporate profit. Where’s the balance? Thank God for the Prime Minister.

So I sit here at the pub in Byron, the salt from a swim in a crystal sea creating a pleasant itch under my shirt, the aircon drying my sweat, and I raise my glass (not hemlock) to the beautiful people living in paradise and praise a way of life that cannot possibly be under any threat. The beer tastes too good and Zeus will surely look after us.

And I’m sure the kiddies will be just fine, what with all that job creation and prosperity just around the corner.


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