WHEN you've run out of positive things to say in advertising, the easiest trick is to make up a monster. The uglier and more repulsive the better.
Think of toilet cleaning ads. Take those imaginary, microscopic, horrible, slimy things that make guttural noises and squirm disgustingly as they salivate over your ceramic bowl.
Animation and special effects studios have a lot of fun designing and creating these grotesque visual metaphors with which to terrify the consumer, to the delight of advertising executives and their clients alike. Ugly monsters allow you to avoid having to spell out your own positive selling points, if indeed you have any.
It would appear the advocates of the carbon tax have cottoned on to this trick. Through a relentless and combined effort they have created their very own grotesque creature to terrify us. The hideous "climate change denier" is as ugly and repulsive as any toilet germ gremlin.
The climate change denier has become the Left's favourite bogeyman, pursued with all the zeal of a witch hunt in 17th century Salem. Stupid, vain, ugly and mendacious, the climate change denier monster is anyone who questions any or all aspects of the anthropogenic global warming theory and rejects the urgent requirement of a carbon tax/ETS. This repugnant creature lurks in your neighbourhood and threatens life on earth as we know it.
"The agents of ... planetary death will be the climate change deniers," asserted The Sydney Morning Herald columnist and ABC presenter Richard Glover recently. What, even more so than say, viral mutations, nuclear war, poverty, over-population, peak oil or even the odd asteroid? Yep. And so dangerous are these critters that Glover helpfully suggested "Surely it's time for climate change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies" before being "lashed to a pole at a certain point in the shallows off Manly? If they are right and the world is cooling ... their mouths will be above water." After this piece attracted a great deal of unwelcome attention Glover apologised and pointed out the obvious; he was only joking.
But the joke's wearing a bit thin. Only weeks earlier Glover had had another stab at humorously depicting so-called climate change deniers, eagerly conflating them with the "trolls" who clutter the internet. I'm sure former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson would be flattered to know that Glover, in effect, deems him and his opinions to be of no more consequence than an "idiot who should be corralled".
And is it honestly the case that the likes of Lord Turnbull, the former head of the civil service in Britain who has demanded that his government stop terrifying the public about climate change, have their "heads in the sand and their bums defiantly aquiver as they fart their toxic message to the world"?
And is the physicist William Happer of Princeton University, who claims it is far from clear there is any real threat from global warming - let alone a catastrophic one - really just another creature from "a septic tank teeming with snapping trolls?"
Elizabeth Farrelly, also of the Herald, decided that rather than creating her own monster to terrify us with, she would borrow an existing one. Not even the best animation studios have managed to come up with anything as slimy, evil and repugnant as our very own cane toad.
With the Herald's cartoonist on hand to make sure you were suitably repulsed, Farrelly applied the metaphor to 2GB's Alan Jones. Bemoaning the fact that Australia's highest rating broadcaster was "poisoning the logic well", "lowbrow", and will "irreparably harm our civilisation, as well as our climate," she chose to dismiss out of hand the points he was making about a) Julia Gillard having lied to the electorate about imposing a carbon tax and b) the nation's ability to have any measurable effect (negative or positive) on the world's climate.
Instead, we were treated to: "[Shock jocks] are the cane toads of contemporary culture: ugly, ubiquitous, toxic to most other life forms." There's that planetary death threat again. If only Glover and Farrelly had some Toilet Troll handy. It kills 99.9 per cent of all known climate change deniers.
Farrelly then gave us an accurate, but ironic, lecture on "dishonest tricks in argument, including caricature, anecdote and non sequitur" seemingly unaware that these are the precise tactics she and her fellow climate change denier demonisers (there! I've just created my own monster!) repeatedly use to demean anyone who happens to disagree with their point of view.
Mike Carlton (also of the Herald, is there a pattern developing here?) is also a dab hand at scaring the kiddies. When George Pell had the temerity to question the climate change orthodoxy, Carlton was ready with the ugly imagery: "Pull out a few fingernails, stretch him on the rack, a bit of how's-yer-father with a red hot poker." Carlton was trying to paint a picture of the medieval religious mind-set, but you couldn't help but get the impression he wouldn't mind wielding the red hot poker himself. Particularly if any of the following monstrous individuals had been splayed out on the rack:
"The third lot of climate denial ratbags are those tabloid media pundits cynically banging the populist drum to drag in the hordes of bogan nongs out there.
"These are people who believe they are beset by a cabal of lefties, Greenies, gays, femi-Nazis, Muslims, venal and incompetent public servants and latte-sipping intellectuals conspiring to deprive them of all they hold dear, like their inalienable right to own a jet-ski and to name their children Breeyanna and Jaxxon."
That's a lot of condescension and hate to pack into one paragraph. These wouldn't be those same people out in the western suburbs who are now lumbered with exorbitant electricity bills because of feel-good renewable schemes that, according to the Productivity Commission report, were ineffectual at best?
And let's not forget "the usual talkback shock jocks going feral and Rupert's opinionators lunging like a shoal of piranha" which, I suppose, is as good a way as any to avoid responding to those who dared question the credibility of Cate Blanchett (Hollywood millionairess) fronting Get Up's carbon tax ads (say yes to the poor being better off.) Is it possible for this debate to be conducted on the strength of the arguments alone? Or, like the toilet cleaning ads, do we have to create monsters in order to build our case?
By all means, counter every argument the climate change deniers, sceptics, carbon tax opponents and the rest put forward, and attack their opinions with passion and verve, or even better, with proven facts and irrefutable rebuttals.
But hysterically and repeatedly portraying them as ugly, stupid trolls, toads and ferals threatening life on earth as we know it, is intellectually (and morally) dubious at best.
Worthy of a toilet cleaning ad, perhaps. But not worthy of the future economic and environmental health of our country.