The view from Billinudgel

David Leyonhjelm: libertarian, or just vicious?
The movement for freedom and equality has a dubious record on gender


I have never personally met Sarah Hanson-Young, nor David Leyonhjelm. But I do have some acquaintance with libertarians, and have not always liked what I have seen.

The old Libertarian Society of the 1950s and ’60s was better known as the Sydney Push, a bunch of deplorables whose natural habitat was the Royal George Hotel in Sussex Street. There gathered prodigious drinkers, a few seriously good musos, some erudite but eccentric academics and a lavish leavening of lecherous layabouts. These were the ones who provided the ambience, which was sexist in the extreme.

All libertarians were free and equal, even if some of them were more free and equal than others. The alpha men ruled – they may have been male chauvinist pigs – hell, most of them were male chauvinist pigs – but that was just the way things were.

And this, presumably, is the heritage Leyonhjelm is protecting. He may or may not have believed that Hanson-Young said that all men are rapists; in fact, she said that vulnerable women would not need pepper spray if men did not rape them – something very different.

But that didn’t matter to Leyonhjelm: his kneejerk response was to abuse her personally. Libertarian or just vicious? Leyonhjelm is equally happy either way; for him and his splinter party, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and the more people like Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten (both too young for the Push) complain about him, the better chance he has of retaining his handful of votes at the next election.

And let’s face it, Turnbull and Shorten are standing on pretty shaky ground when they mount their high horses to complain of personal abuse. Turnbull’s “Kill Bill” strategy is aimed not at Shorten’s policies alone, but more importantly at his character: endless innuendo about his time as a union leader, and direct insult about him daring to enter the hallowed premises of Turnbull’s friend Richard Pratt.

Shorten has hit back, accusing Turnbull of profiting from his tax agenda to further enrich his huge bank account. Not edifying, to put it mildly. Leyonhjelm undoubtedly went too far in his determined nastiness, but the big boys gave him plenty of encouragement.

And as a libertarian, he would believe there are no limits anyway, which is why he called Turnbull a “pussy” and a “soft cock” for rebuking him. Still obsessed with sex – how very reminiscent of the libertarians of more than 50 years ago.

Mungo MacCallum

Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy. Visit his blog, The View from Billinudgel.

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