We shouldn’t lower ourselves to Anning’s level
Since we are living in a time when, more than ever, there's evidently no time for nuance or complexities of any kind, let's start with a few cold, hard, really-can't-argue-with-that facts.
Fact 1: Fraser Anning is an utter disgrace; an embarrassment and insult to all sensible and decent human beings, much less the Australian voters whom he purports to represent as an "elected" senator.
His vile and inexplicable declaration that the "real cause" of the devastating massacres carried out in two mosques in Christchurch last Friday, which left 50 people dead, was "the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place" has eradicated any doubt that this is someone fit to serve in the Australian parliament.
As obtuse as they were offensive, the Senator's comments have been rightfully condemned from all sides of the political spectrum - and with a bipartisan censure motion awaiting him and more than a million people having signed a petition calling for his removal, we can only hope that the thug who managed to sneak his way onto the taxpayer-funded gravy train on the back on 19 votes (yes, count them and weep: 19) in the 2016 election will soon be unceremoniously shown the door.
Fact 2: It's never OK to physically attack a fellow human being, even when the weapon of choice is an otherwise inoffensive grocery item. In other words, no matter how vindicated the teenager who smashed an egg on the back of Senator Anning's head may feel, it's incumbent on all of us so-called adults in a civil society to hold ourselves to a higher account that than the simply feel-good and reflexive.
Just as it was wrong for then prime minister Julia Gillard to be hit with a sandwich during a visit to a school in 2013 - her second time in a month to be targeted by a lunchtime missile - it is wrong for even a politician as moronic and dangerous as Anning to be assaulted with an egg.
Fact 3: It is all but impossible to have a sensible discussion about the aforementioned two facts at the same time. In the hyper-partisan and ultra-simplistic environment that is #AusPol 2019, conventional wisdom dictates that you must pick a side. One side. You know, like Sunday night footy.
And so it is that over the last few days we have seen what is nothing less than an inexplicably horrendous human tragedy somehow hijacked by grandstanders determined to see things only though their own narrow prism.
To briefly recap much of what has passed for public debate since last Friday: Anning is either a lone voice of reason in a politically correct age or he's a Nazi who's crimes are on par with those in the Third Reich and can only be reasoned with through violent means. The 17-year-old, dubbed Egg Boy, is a national hero. Or he's a social-media attention-seeker and the political world's answer to a Kardashian.
As happens so often, the truth lies somewhere in the middle: the thankless, non-headline making, sensible but dull middle.
And in this instance the complex yet thankless conclusion is that Anning is neither a hero nor a martyr.
Yes, he's pathetic, but does that justify being attacked?
Of course it goes without saying but, in a concession to these nuance-free times in which we live, let's be sure to spell it out and let the record show: there is simply no comparison between being gunned down while innocently worshipping at a mosque one quiet morning and having an egg cracked upon one's head.
So let's not waste anyone's time on the semantics of false equivalence - one was an unprovoked violent act at a horrifying scale; the other was a cowardly prat getting his comeuppance.
And yet, the minute we abandon all accountability is the minute the morons, the haters - and yes, the terrorists - win.
On social media the past few days, the consensus has been clear. Nothing less than utter adulation of Anning's egg-throwing assailant is acceptable. He's a flat-out national hero, thank you, and any views to the contrary will simply not be entertained.
And so we have seen the usual mob bullying those who dare to deviate from this 140-character sanctioned sound bite, with political commentator Annabel Crabb having spent the better part of the weekend trying to convince her critics that a wry observation about the "handwringing" over political violence did not suggest she equated egg-cracking with mass murder, while comedian Adam Hills was widely condemned after suggesting that Egg Boy's actions only played into the hands of Anning and his cheersquad.
"It makes him a victim, and emboldens his supporters," he observed on Twitter. "Take him down with wit, rules and due process."
Naturally, the backlash was as swift as it was brutal, with hysterical denunciations of Hills's unfashionable yet astute comments escalating with every passing minute." If you can find a supportive comment amongst them, you're doing better than us", smugly observed New Matilda of the vitriolic response to Hills.
And yet what was so inflammatory about what he said? Is it really so revolutionary to observe that allowing a hate-peddling opportunist like Anning to drag us down to his level is not the smartest response?
Is Hills truly alone in acknowledging that otherwise decent people suddenly endorsing lowest-common denomination retaliation is only delivering the likes of Anning exactly the vindication they long for?
If events of the past 96 hours have taught us anything, surely it's that the fury of delusional self-appointed avengers leads only to misery.
Hate only begets hate. Violence only begets violence. Whether it's a pitiful coward brandishing a shotgun, or a "Final Solution"-spouting senator shamefully blaming victims for the atrocity, the onus is on all of us not to give in to our anger, no matter how justified that anger may be.
Lowering our collective standards is hardly a victory. On the contrary, it is exactly the outcome those who seek to divide us with their vile rhetoric so desperately want.
Sarrah Le Marquand is the editor-in-chief of Stellar magazine and the founding editor of RendezView.