catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

The Alan Jones brouhaha

with 37 comments

The SMH has excerpted the new biography of Alan Jones, predictably the bits that deal with his sexuality.

Now, I would be hypocritical if I didn’t admit to having as much prurient interest in this as the average person on the street, that is, a little bit of interest, at least enough for me to read the piece in full. But the revelations that were foreshadowed all those months in advance were really no big deal and it’s amazing that so much was ultimately made out of it. So Mr Jones was a dominating teacher when he was in high school and he formed some close but Platonic bonds with his favourite students, as teachers are sometimes wont to do. And then there’s the whole public toilet incident. And the worst that apparently Masters says about him is that he didn’t choose to come out after the incident:

There was no need to confess to wrongdoing. It is not, nor should it be, a crime to be homosexual. It is not a sin to have your penis out in a public toilet. But having easily defeated the criminal charges, Jones sought to defeat common sense as well, by asking the rest of the world to join him in his denial.

This of course leads to the question of the ethics of ‘outing’ conservative figures. My view, which I’ve expressed many times in various forums, is that I think there is nothing at all hypocritical about being a mainstream conservative or even a traditionalist conservative while being gay as long as one is not in favour of re-criminalising homosexuality (which almost no conservative is in favour of nowadays) because there is nothing inconsistent about being gay and socially conservative. In fact I could add that being socially conservative and gay and in the closet or discreet about it is more consistent than being socially conservative and openly gay. That those sections of the Left that are still heavily immersed in the now passe obsessions of identity politics and would prefer people to go around shoving their sexuality or ethnicity in other peoples’ faces may not find this attitude congenial is no bad reflection on the discreetly gay social conservatives (now admittedly Mr Jones may have faltered in his attempts at discretion when he came to the attention of the law but that is a different matter and one mistake apparently never to be repeated again).

It is a matter of opinion whether the State has a role to play in securing ‘family values’ and gay social conservatives may, just like other social conservatives, think there are social benefits in the reproduction of such values throughout society even if they are not themselves involved in this enterprise (just as someone may be in favour of a strong defence and not be in the army).

Social conservatives may therefore by extension, also be opposed in good faith to recognising gay marriage (like for instance John Heard is) despite being gay, if they think that such recognition may erode the reproduction of such values. While I myself do not agree with these social conservatives, I don’t think there is any hypocrisy in what they espouse even if they happen to be gay. And for the record as far as I know Jones has never waded into the gay marriage debate anyway so this is a moot point.

Update: Here is Andrew Landeryou’s take on this, not all of which I endorse (I don’t think the Masters biography can really be characterised as homophobic) but is reasonable enough for the most part:

    The rights and wrongs of “outing” these days are complex and a bit beyond me, but we can be certain that if Jones was of the Left and such a biography appeared that its author would be denounced as homophobic from every coffee shop, Friends of the ABC caucus and lefty book-store. But because he’s a conservative, he’s fair game.
    At one level, Jones can amply defend himself and does so with such gusto that it feels redundant to do so here. His audience is huge because he talks the language of Australia, with all its imperfections. I don’t listen to him very often and I don’t like what often sounds to be – to me anyway – like gratuitous attacks on Islam. But that’s not the reason the Left hate him. They hate him because he is a rare conservative voice in a media environment dominated by leftists. They say they want diversity and yet urgently seek to denigrate their opponents and shut them down.

Written by Admin

October 21, 2006 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

37 Responses

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  1. Christopher Pearson I think fits the bill as a socially conservative gay.

    I don’t have any expertise in this area, but my hunch is that ‘outing’ is only justified if the person in question is a public homophobe – ie puts gays down, attacks gay rights, attacks gays personally etc.

    An example (note to lawyers, this is only an example for the sake of argument) would be if someone found out that Senator Heffernan was gay. Outing may be justified then.

    However, I also think the would-be outer has to think very carefully about the long term-consequences of their ‘outing’ someone in these circumstances. Irresponsible media coverage has been known to drive people to suicide (Benny Mendoza, anyone). Outing in controversial circumstances may have the same effect.


    October 21, 2006 at 6:42 pm

  2. firstly Alan Jones is not right wing.
    He wants to tax all imports and protect bludging industries for a start. Nor is he socially conservative.
    secondly it has been an open secret for ages that Jones is gay.
    I thinks it explains why he is never happy and thus has several personas as Masters says.

    My own anecdote of Jones is he was a speaker at a ‘conference’ the bank I worked at had.
    He subsequently complained that during his speech I made loud abusive noises etc etc.
    I was made aware of these allegations about three years after the event.
    When told of them by my boss I reminded him he was sitting at the same table indeed only one place away and if I was creating such a furore surely he must have heard it.
    He thus realised Jones had lied through his teeth about me and subsequently let the board know as well.

    Jones is a very insecure and unpleasant man but appears bullet-proof given his history

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 8:56 pm

  3. Homer
    Do you believe what you throw at us about Howard. DO you beliee in truly ilmited govt. of the type librtarains advocate. Course you don’t, so you are debating from bad faith.


    October 21, 2006 at 8:59 pm

  4. JC
    I have never been a libertarian.
    First and foremost I am an evangelical christian and see small government as being totally consistent with that.

    Smaller government means greater personal responsibility.

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 9:19 pm

  5. So why dislike Howard, when for better or worse he dregulated the labor market which is the most meaningful reform since federation.

    And yea I know it’s very long but it’s certainly closer to dereg than before.


    October 21, 2006 at 9:29 pm

  6. but he hasn’t he has re-regulated it.
    If he had any idea he would have adopted the NZ model.

    I have problems with labour deregulation being a social conservative in terms of family impact but at least one would respect de-regulation his legislation is merely an attempt to destroy unions.

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 9:39 pm

  7. I thinks it explains why he is never happy and thus has several personas…

    Sounds like Paul Keating. I look forward to Marr’s biography of Placido based on the same sort of sexual psychologising. Instead of “Jones worked at a school for boys (wink wink)”, we could read about how “Paul – whose separation from wife Anita remains a mystery – loved beautiful clothes and cultivated a very male hero worship in the ranks of the outwardly masculine world of the NSW Right (nudge nudge)”.


    October 21, 2006 at 9:45 pm

  8. CL,

    Why don’t you follow the lead of the Liberal party president at the time and say he had a realtionship not onlyt with Janet Holmes A’court but a young male musician.

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 9:52 pm

  9. “it has been an open secret for ages that Jones is gay.
    I thinks it explains why he is never happy>

    Of course! Homer, your insight into the homosexual condition is uncanny.

    Geoff Honnor

    October 21, 2006 at 10:04 pm

  10. That wasn’t really my point, Homer.


    October 21, 2006 at 10:07 pm

  11. he was living a lie Geoff unlike you.

    CL, Keating never had personas. what you saw is what you got.

    Not with jones though.

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 10:13 pm

  12. Geoff
    What do you think of what’s been said about Jones?

    I see it this way. The bio is obviously written as a hit job. When it’s a hit job anything is fair game. If Jones is gay, too bad it makes it in the bio because that is something about him people would like to read. Similarly if Jones is hetro and he was playing around behind his wife’s back that would also be pertinent.

    I like the US approach to thiis stuff. If you’re a public figure be prepared for everything top come out.. dirty underwear and all.

    The reason why the left outs right wing gays is not because they don’t like gays. The real reason is because they think they can turn those “anti-gay” right wingers against the target.

    I think that’s starting to be getting stale these days because not many people actually give a shit whether someone is gay. In other words it’s a big yawn.

    Frankly though, it’s interestinfg to hear about public figures sex lives… hetro or gay. Look at the Paul M and heather shit going on at the moment. Who wouldn’t want to read more of that.


    October 21, 2006 at 10:20 pm

  13. Still not my point, Homer.

    (Although there was a gulf between the family man Keating persona and the Keating persona who is said to have dumped his wife at a dinner party).


    October 21, 2006 at 10:29 pm

  14. JC
    I’m not so sure about what you say i.e. that the outing is done to turn the right wing supporters against the outed party.

    Read some of the stuff that people have said about Jones and what it amounts to is ‘how dare you be right wing and gay’?
    Michelle Malkin gets the same sort of treatment though for a slightly different reason (not that I am a fan of Michelle and I think some of these critics do have a legitimate point e.g. her supporting internment of Japanese in WW2) – it’s basically the ‘slave escaped from the plantation’ syndrome.

    Jason Soon

    October 21, 2006 at 10:33 pm

  15. I believe the breaking up occurred because Keating wanted to prove he could make more money than Hawke but Anita wanted him home.

    He ended up making more money that Hawke but failing his marriage. Bad call

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 10:36 pm

  16. Exhibit One:
    Some of the left wing commenters on Landeryou’s site are calling Jones a ‘self hating gay’

    How exactly is he ‘self hating’? Translation ‘self hating gay’ = ‘right wing gay’

    Jason Soon

    October 21, 2006 at 10:37 pm

  17. Good call, Jason. I think your theory has been amply demonstated by the close-to-vilification of black Republicans in the US.


    October 21, 2006 at 10:39 pm

  18. Jason,
    Can I go back to my original premise.

    He may well be a Government apologist most but not all the time but how is Jones right wing?

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 10:45 pm

  19. you’re missing the point as usual Homer. The left obviously don’t see him as one of them. That’s all that matters to their assesment of him.

    Jason Soon

    October 21, 2006 at 10:48 pm

  20. Jason you are one of the intellectuals of the blogoshere and here you are saying it doesn’t matter whether in fact he is right wing or left wing but whether he is perceived as right wing by ‘left wingers’.

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 10:50 pm

  21. Yes it matters for sociological purposes not philosophical purposes. What is at issue here is SOCIOLOGY i.e. how left wing opinion makers see Jones since what is at issue here is HOW THEY REACT TO JONES. They obviously don’t see him as affiliated with their nostrums.

    How many times a day do you miss the point, Homer? Do you make a mess everytime you pour yourself a glass of water?

    Jason Soon

    October 21, 2006 at 10:52 pm

  22. by gosh I like this.

    people who perceived as leftwingers then make perceptions about someone which are inaccurate and then we have to go along with the nonsense.

    They more likely to dislike Jones because he is too simialr to them in his views just like the Queen in Hamlet

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 21, 2006 at 10:59 pm

  23. The idea that someone is not “right wing” – and won’t be regarded as right wing – unless they subscribe to the libertarian economic agenda is ridiculous. I think I can say confidently that nobody regarded Joh Bjelke-Petersen or B.A. Santamaria as left-wing.


    October 21, 2006 at 11:00 pm

  24. I think I said at the time that the Masters publication controversy first broke that I couldn’t see an angle for the book other than outing Jones. The fact that Jones is an opinionated, populist broadcaster with a massive ego, a bad temper, flexible ethics and the willing ear of pollies at both state and federal level is hardly revelatory.

    I suspect that Masters’ aim in publishing is to damage an ideological enemy rather than the high-minded pursuit of the public’s right to know that was offered as the indignant response to the ABC decision not to publish.

    As Jason noted, the prurient appeal of hearing about Jones’ sexual predilections is not to be under-estimated but it’s hypocritical in the extreme to misrepresent Jones’ sexuality as some pathological defect let alone puff it up as important, groundbreaking investigative scholarship which ABC publishing is obliged to provide to us.

    Virtually all prominent homosexual Australians of Jones era (he’s 63) and background have been closeted to greater or less degree. The vast majority still are. Michael Kirby didn’t publicly own his sexuality until 1999 when he was 60 and had been on the High Court bench for 3 years and I think that there’s been a general appreciation as to why that had to be the case.

    It’s not an understanding extendable to one’s political enemies, obviously.

    Lots of gay men are conservative, lots are members of the Liberal Party. I can’t say that I see it as an easy fit, from my perspective, but I don’t accept that their sexuality is somehow rendered sinister or malevolent as a result.

    Geoff Honnor

    October 21, 2006 at 11:02 pm

  25. Yes Homer we are talking the sociology of groups here, not what is strictly correct in political philosophy.

    Can you walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Jason Soon

    October 21, 2006 at 11:03 pm

  26. “Lots of gay men are conservative, lots are members of the Liberal Party. I can’t say that I see it as an easy fit……”

    Why si that Geoff, becasue the right sees people more as individuals rather than masses of faces belonging to different groups.

    Most right wingers couldn’t give a hoot what people’s gender is these days anyway”


    October 22, 2006 at 12:08 am

  27. Actually a few weeks ago I was at dinner with a friend and two of his friends, one of whom was talking about some meeting he’d just been to. These guys all had Liberal party involvement. Anyway the fellow who’d been to this meeting said something like:

    “Oh no it wasn’t a Liberal party event. It was a meeting of Fruits in Suits. Not that there was much difference’.

    Jason Soon

    October 22, 2006 at 12:13 am

  28. Masters’ point was that Jones comes from a generation where playing down homosexuality leads to inconsistent treatment of issues and people, which in the hands of a person perceived to be powerful has significant implications for the issues and people concerned.

    Masters’ comments, guarded and linked to his public handling of issues and people, should not be confused with those of David Marr, whose focus on Jones’ sexuality in itself (and who edited Masters’ quotes and provided the italicised text joining them) is often prurient. Marr’s jibes are of the wild bird’s calls to the caged bird, the polemicist’s wish to project his causes through a voice more powerful than his own.

    I agree that a focus on sexuality can be tiresome and of little general value in illustrating a person’s life, motivations, and impacts on those around them. Take it away and Jones becomes a voluble but flaky man whose ideas make little sense once one has woken up sufficiently to think about them. It’s understandable why Masters would stop here in a search for meaning, and even more so why Marr would choose this quote to project to SMH readers.

    Jones’ power in Sydney probably dates from 1995. He played a major role in demonising the then State Coalition government to the point where he so disillusioned conservative voters that they did not rally to defend that government, and the Labor government of Bob Carr took office. Carr courted Jones assiduously, and has succeeded in negating rallying points for the Coalition.

    Post no. 2 by Bring Back EP at LP is spot on.

    Andrew Elder

    October 22, 2006 at 11:19 am

  29. The main point Masters made but seems to eluded most people is that Jones was a bully.
    He courted favourites but if you left that sphere he unmercifully let you have all barrels all the time and at young school boys.

    Can you imagine being a favourite of the head teacher and coach and suddenly and without explanation you are subject to withering ridicule in class and school.

    No wonder parents got up in arms and wanted him moved.
    His behavior was nothing less than a disgrace.

    I am surprised how many put their hands up to complain.

    One boy at Kings who was the recipient of Jones and has said nothing is one John Anderson.

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 22, 2006 at 4:18 pm

  30. Maybe but if Masters wanted to prove that Jones is a bully why is his sexuality discussed, if not to bully Jones.

    Jones says that Masters has not contacted him for any information, which I find odd.


    October 22, 2006 at 5:40 pm

  31. because he wants to deny it after all no one is going to discriminate against him now.
    Ask Michael kirby

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 22, 2006 at 5:55 pm

  32. “why is his sexuality discussed,”

    A number of reasons potentially:

    Jones is unlikely to sue on sexuality allegations alone and Masters appears to have been very careful (at least in what we’ve seen so far) not to impute any illegality around it..

    It’s thought to be a handy way to discredit him with his older, socially conservative core support base (I think their devotion is being underestimated)

    It’s the only area of Jones’ endeavours that hasn’t already been overtly examined.

    Masters really believes that his closeted sexuality is key to the way Jones’ operates (I’m not convinced on that point)

    Geoff Honnor

    October 22, 2006 at 6:25 pm

  33. Masters has become a judith Brett clone as such!

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 22, 2006 at 8:30 pm

  34. You think that Masters will save the Libs from Jones?

    I dont think Jones had ever played that big a role, Sydney is essentially a Labo(u)r seat.

    When I lived in Sydney in the 1980s the gossip was incredible, outrageous, the legal and financial fraternity were the source of some of the most ludicrous conspiracies. Probably still the same now.


    October 22, 2006 at 9:41 pm

  35. Jones’ homosexuality has been commom knowledge in Sydney since at least 1988. It’s constantly gossoped about. Everyone knows it. Jones knows everyone knows. He doesn’t comment on it because it’s none of anyone’s damn business. He doesn’t need to “come out”. What a stupid cliche this is anyway.

    I don’t like Jones, his bullying persona nor his political beliefs. Yet I consider myself conservative and as economically libertarian as a conservative can be. I believe in free trade, am anti-protectionist, in favour of small government, etc. etc. Jones believes in none of those. To me Homer is correct – Jones isn’t right-wing, just conservative.


    October 22, 2006 at 10:50 pm

  36. maybe I should have made this the YouTube feature instead

    naah, I’d rather promote good music

    Jason Soon

    October 22, 2006 at 11:19 pm

  37. Whyisitso,
    you philosopher you

    Actually in a lot of areas it isn’t even conservative merely a populist.

    People mistake eloquence for intelligence

    Bring Back EP at LP

    October 23, 2006 at 9:38 am

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