The social media McCarthyists strike again and again

Tasmanian senate candidate Jess Whelan is the latest victim of the social media McCarthyists

If there’s one lesson that stands to be learned from the 2019 Australian federal election, it will be that politicians and aspiring politicians would do well to stay the hell away from so-called “social media”.

I say, “so-called”, because too often it seems that it is little more than a toxic sewer of bile, prejudice and vicious witch-hunting. Instead of developing solid policies and arguing their case, political parties are dedicating all their resources to trawling anyone and everyone’s social media accounts, hoping to hit pay-dirt.

In just the past week, this New McCarthyism has claimed at least five candidates, including one in my own electorate. Quote:

Dumped Liberal candidate Jessica Whelan claims to have received death threats against herself and her children and has not ruled out running as an independent.

Ms Whelan, who quit after being linked to a series of anti-Islamic social media posts, said the past 48 hours had been “an extremely difficult period for my family”.

“I have been receiving threats to the level I could never have imagined,” the former Liberal candidate for the Tasmanian seat of Lyons saids in a statement.

“Phone calls, voicemails, messages and emails have made those close to me startled and afraid. These have included messages to kill my children and myself.

Well placed sources say Ms Whelan was not expected to campaign as an independent but, given her name will remain on the ballot papers, had not ruled out serving as an unaligned MP should she unexpectedly win.

Ms Whelan has denied some of the anti-Muslim posts attributed to her in recent days, but admits she did write other posts including one revealed today where she supported a referendum to ban Muslims from Australia. End of quote.

Given that opinion polling has for years shown that a slim majority of Australians support banning Islamic immigration to Australia, while a strong majority support at least reducing it, Ms Whelan’s comments would seem to be in line with mainstream opinion. Quote:

“I care about our safety,” she allegedly wrote in response to a comment by former One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts. “How about we have a referendum on whether or not we close our borders to Muslims? Now that I could vote for.”

In a second, she commented on refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq: “Don’t bloody send them to Tasmania. We don’t want them”. End of quote.

Then there’s the tiresome conflation of Islam – a religion – with “racism”. This is a lie, but one the media and the left are addicted to, because screeching “racism!” is too often the only argument they have. Quote:

Ms Whelan joins a string of Liberal candidates forced out this week over offensive comments made online.

This week, the Liberals lost two candidates in the Victorian seats of Wills and Isaacs, Peter Killin and Jeremy Hearn, for anti-gay and anti-Muslim online rants respectively.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese this morning accused Scott Morrison of being involved in a cover-up over Ms Whelan.


Meanwhile, Labor have their own share of social media ghosts rattling about. Quote:

Embattled Labor candidate Luke Creasey joked online about watching his female friend have sex with multiple people and about her wanting someone to “roughly take her virginity”.

In a post from 2012, Mr Creasey told friends on Facebook that one of his female friends wanted someone to have sex with her. End of quote.


Creasey has now resigned, too.

So, sure, this is trashy stuff: but should it really define a candidate, or cost them their position? After all, who doesn’t say things in private – and too many people foolishly imagine that what they say on Facebook is private – that they don’t really mean and certainly wouldn’t say in public. Are those casting the stones really without sin?

Meanwhile, the left are reaching American levels of nastiness. Quote:

An unnerved Brian Fisher is considering walking away from ­future independent economic modelling after his analysis of Labor’s climate policy led to his family home being egged when prominent clean energy activist Simon Holmes a Court posted his address online.

The managing director and chairman of BAEconomics, who has worked as a bureaucrat for Labor and Coalition governments, told The Australian yesterday it appeared ­“extreme­ly difficult” to have ­rational, economic debate about climate change in today’s political environment and his family felt disturbed by what had happened to their Canberra­ home yesterday.

It is one of the more extreme examples of intimidation during an increasingly nasty federal ­election campaign. End of quote.