There was once a man, let’s call him Lark Matham, with a newspaper column.
It’s quaint, in hindsight, to consider his words being discretely hidden behind the paywall of a newspaper, or tucked away inside its pages.
Rather than discuss these issues with regard to reason, logic or information, however, in most cases he resorted to personally denigrating a number of women, with whom he took issue.
Women who knew these issues as intimately as anyone else. Women who have experienced mental illness, post-natal depression or domestic violence.
His words angered many men and women. Not just the women he attacked.
A number of Australians argued that this man’s ‘arguments’ were not deserving of the paper’s masthead. He was not worthy of a platform. He was, to quote Annabel Crabb, a trollumnist, not a columnist.
Watch: One of Lark’s angry and abusive outbursts below (post continues after video).
Eventually, several months and several trollumns later, he parted way with the newspaper.
To some, this was a victory of sorts. To others, it was an opportunity.
Some considered the ire caused at his hand proof of Lark’s great talent. His commendable ability to push the boundaries, reject political correctness and speak for the masses.
Some mistook the protest against Lark’s trollumns as proof that the collective sensibilities of Australian women were too easily provoked.
Some figured the man who was denied one platform, needed several more.
Because of this the temptation to ignore him, and those who have afforded him a platform, is tremendous. Talking about him at all – let alone dismantling his arguments or highlighting the offence caused – is moot. It’s exactly want he and his promoters want.
The tragedy is this. The real victims in Matham’s columns weren’t merely the women he attacked and they certainly weren’t the women whose ire he drew.
The real victims were – and remain – those Australians who live with mental illness, battle post-natal depression or suffer from domestic violence. Individuals’ whose plight is made far worse by the stigma that surrounds those issues. The stigma that keeps people silent, hiding in shame.
The reaction to Lark’s words wasn’t merely mass produced outrage for the sake of mass produced outrage.
It wasn’t a personal vendetta against one man or a single newspaper.
Pushing back was the only plausible response from anyone who lives in hope for the day that mental illness, post-natal depression and domestic violence are no longer destroyers of lives and causes of death.
Pushing back the idea that mental illness is a symptom suffered by rich people with nothing better to do. Or an invented reason to pop pills.
Pushing back the idea that post-natal depression is merely a consequence of women hating their children and/or not being able to cope. That it’s a problem that certain mums in certain suburbs can escape entirely.
Pushing back the idea that domestic violence is confined only to those from lower socio-economic areas. Or a social cause that Australian of the Year Rosie Batty has created for her own personal agenda.
Pushing back the idea that being anti-family violence, is the same as being anti-men.
The battle against Lark Matham always was – and is – part of a much bigger war against the kind of damaging and false assertions that underpin a number of serious social problems that can and must be addressed. Assertions that he was – and is – committed to peddling.
In this regard it seems Matham is determined to play a starring role in Australia’s ongoing discussion about mental health and domestic violence in particular.
In this regard we’re determined to ignore him. His views, and the various platforms he’s afforded, merely underscore the bigger picture.
They remind us why education is critical and why accurate information is paramount. They remind us of the dangerous attitudes held by some within our community and tells us why these problems continue to haunt Australia in the way they do.
Conversations about mental illness and domestic violence need not be led by anyone who is profoundly ill-informed on the subjects. Fortunately we are a nation that is populated by a number of outstanding men and women who are profoundly informed on these subjects.
It is their voices to whom we must listen. It is their lead we must follow.
What’s your stance on Lark Matham and his role in the media?