Alexandra Tselios

S&M: Abusing politicians and other acts of “protest”

Julie Bishop

Last Friday, Julie Bishop “dared to show her face” at Sydney University following the budget release on Tuesday evening.

I use the word “dared” as that is the way she was perceived – not only by the people on campus at the time, but also in later recounts of the experience on social media. Christopher Pyne called it an ‘assault’.

She was mobbed, in fact the word used by the press was “accosted,” and I was personally disgusted. I was obviously disappointed in the behaviour of the university students – it seemed like a misguided attempt at a protest. In actuality, it was simply an act of intimidation and aggressive bullying. I thought (hoped) it was likely to be just a one-off incident. I remembered the outrage was palpable when a sandwich was thrown at ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard – yet, when directed at Coalition MP’s, it seems this behaviour is more palatable for the general public.

Then the news hit that ex-Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was targeted by protesters when visiting Melbourne University, where she is an academic fellow. Herein lies the crux of my issue with how these protests are being conducted: they just sound like violent, angry voices. Surely it is completely unacceptable to accost a person, even if it is someone you feel is the antithesis of who you are politically? Surely, people cannot defend these actions under the guise of “free speech” and democracy? Please also note, I am not standing up for Julie Bishop, Sophie Mirabella or the 2014 budget. I understand people are scared. I know people feel they currently have no control in this or right of reply.

Hearing about the March in May protest that occurred on Sunday, I thought it fantastic that Australians were taking a stand against what they believe is unacceptable behaviour by the Coalition and its unacceptable budget cuts. If you don’t agree with the budget, and believe me I don’t agree with aspects of it, Australians should have the right of reply and it will be interesting to see what policies actually come into fruition. However, physically intimidating a member because they dared exercise their democratic right to speak on behalf of their political party is not protesting.

It’s called assault.

I think it is also funny, that the same people who are happy to accost another person publicly while they are carrying out their political duties will also similarly publicly denounce Christopher Pyne for (allegedly) saying the “C word” in parliament, while if a member of the party these people align with had said it, I would imagine the Facebook shares would be more along the lines of “What a champion,” cos you know, ‘straya.

I am not saying that we should accept what the Coalition is doing quietly. I know many are disgusted, while others feel the budget is leading Australia in a better direction. I am not suggesting anyone diffuse their passion – I am simply suggesting directing your passion and getting the attention many want in a way that actually garners results. Instead of kicking, screaming and spitting at an MP, how about finding ways to lead change, or at least contribute in a smarter way?

These are the same frustrations I had at those claiming Tony Abbott stood there with a sign saying “Ditch the Bitch”, then the story changed slightly to “Ditch the Witch”, and then as it turned out, it was his supporters holding the sign – terrible, but I just want to hear the facts, that is all – from both sides.

However, I just don’t know in what warped world that it is less justifiable than the “Kill Abbott” signs.

Are we serious here?

I actually don’t care what your sign says, sometimes they are ridiculously funny, sometimes they are just ridiculously offensive and combative – but regardless, people have the right to hold that damn sign up.

What I don’t believe people have the right to do, is bully, intimidate and swarm others. Violence is unacceptable and is never okay, whatever political persuasion you align with.

Demand change!


Make your voice heard!

Be the vigilante you so desperately want to be!

But don’t be a bloody violent dickhead.

Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

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  1. DUBIOUS said:

    I’m done wasting my time trying to have reasonable dialogues with woman like you. If you are interested, go watch some videos from “manwomanmyth” on Youtube. All the evidence of sexism in the political arena in real life is, ‘this person said mean things about me, with a possible link to myWOMAN HOOD’, grow up and realise you have failed Julie Bishop, not because of others but because of yourself. If you want to be a leader, learn to cop the insults, putdowns and attacks, whether you are male or female. Stop being a weak victim , and empower yourself without shifting the blame onto feminism. I think Alexandra would agree with me that there are is no concrete evidence of sexism in the political arena, or any other field for that matter. If you are good at what you do, there is no one who will stop you.

  2. Jordan Davis said:

    it angers me that Australian’s can be as stupid as you.

    Surely, you have to be trolling.

  3. Po said:

    the irony of an article pleading for tolerance and you mob start threatening the writer

  4. HW said:

    The depths of societies ingrained sexism — and the degree to which successful women understand it is a fact of life that requires constant vigalance and adjustment — never ceases to amaze and trouble me. A new study in the Administrative Science Quarterly (Volume 56, pages 622-641) by Yale faculty member Victoria L. Brescoll presents a trio of studies that examine gender, power, and volubility (talking time).

  5. HW said:

    Many woman won’t speak about their opinions especially in politics because they don’t want their likability to be ruined but only brave woman change this. The fact that Alexandra not only is the writer but is the publisher of this site says it all. You people have small minds you should be grateful to have a place where all views are given the same respect.

  6. Guest said:

    She should go and get a job in the banks and screw us over even harder then

  7. Guest said:

    Alexandra has no idea about democracy. Democracy is when the people take over the government and shut up those politicians. The Government should be hear to support us and no we should nto HAVE to work for the dole we should only want to work IF we WANT to FFS! I pay my taxes so I don[‘t have to work. Alexandra is an example that the 1% seem more important then they should be I am part of the 99%

  8. Bronte O'Brien said:

    Dat’s one of my favourite quotes. I respect you, stranger.

  9. Josh Shipton said:

    “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” -Voltaire (I vote Labor and adore Alexandra Tselios…even if we don’t always agree)

  10. Bronte O'Brien said:

    God. This comment thread. TBS is an intelligent publication and I’m thrilled that it attracts an intelligent audience, but certain comments below confirm that we need to really push hard to improve our education system.

  11. Bronte O'Brien said:

    Ah. People who still actually use the terms “left wing” and “right wing” and subscribe to false dichotomies. I’d actually read up on Alexandra and her politics before making such an ignorant statement if you want your opinion to be taken seriously.

  12. kabnfndowhfowhueobc said:

    This is actually a good website i admit lots on here very interesting but I still think Alexandra is no better than a right wing c*nt

  13. kabnfndowhfowhueobc said:

    The point of this article was for Alexandra to show she is anti-australian, anti-human and an elitist twat. If you aren’t standing with us Alexandra you are our enemy. Do you realise what happens to enemies?We don’t have time to be polite as you have lectured us to do this is the age of anarchy rising and australians need to be standing up or get the fuck out of our country we are battlers and we will march

  14. Bronte O'Brien said:

    Another loser hiding behind anonymity. You obviously have an “extremed” lack of intelligence because you missed the point of this article.

  15. Michelle C said:

    WOW you people are nuts this article isn’t even supporting Tony Abbott LOL WHAT!

  16. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Well fuck you dickhead.

    There are so many people willing to stand up for the disadvantaged in this country, people of education and means, so don’t give me this class warfare bullshit!

    I work hard, pay my taxes and have never been on benefits. Despite that I am the first to stand up for people that are hard done by and need all the help our society can give them. And so are many others, including Alexandra Tselios.

    So turn down your language buddy, especially when you are attacking people that are fighting to have the system you survive on saved and protected.

  17. BulldozeThisGovernment said:

    Fuck her and fuck everyone who owns cars outright homes outright and doesn’t understand that this country is a struggling nation we are battlers we don’t get it good we get it bad and the divide is massive and just getting wider why should my son who is 29 have to wait 6 months to get welfare cheques just cos the big fellas tell us so? TELL ME why he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life and I will be damned if he takes a job just for money life is not about money and the government should help us small folk out that is what the fovernment is for why would I pay my taxes if only to have to work MORE to pay MORE and get LESS

  18. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Ms. Tselios education also led her to create and publish The Big Smoke.
    If you would bother reading the articles published on TBS, especially the posts regarding the budget, you may realise that this publication is anything but hanging out with fancy mates.

  19. Rainer the cabbie said:

    +1. Go Bronte.
    What an idiot this dude is. Tell me when he comes to burn your house down, I will make a Guy Fawkes out of him.
    It’s arseholse like him that totally undermine the genuine people that like to voice their opposition but get thrown into the radical camp, being discredited by having Turkeys like him make the headline.

  20. BulldozeThisGovernment said:

    Ms Tselios I don’t think you have an idea about Aussie battlers you have an extremed education go hang out with your fancy mates and let the rest of us starve to death

  21. Matthew Hadder said:

    Good reasoning and sound but people are scared as you yourself have said. I just hope many of these policies are blocked!

  22. Bronte O'Brien said:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH please keep commenting, your idiocy is very enlightening.

  23. Bronte O'Brien said:

    Also, what’s your email? I’ll send you my personal details and home address so that you can try and burn me in my home and we can get your stupid ass locked up.

  24. Bronte O'Brien said:

    Idiots everywhere. False dichotomies everywhere.

  25. Bronte O'Brien said:


  26. Bronte O'Brien said:

    Go BriskettinACup! Let’s destroy spaces where politics is discussed reasonably and rationally! Let’s make death threats towards people we don’t agree with! Let’s aim for equality and justice by abandoning fairness! Oh, wait. That’s stupid. I fucking hope you’re not a fellow University of Sydney student because you’re a belligerent halfwit. No wonder you deplore logic and reason – you’re unable to exercise intelligence in matters like this. Couldn’t even deduce from this article that Alexandra has an opinion but was choosing to critically discuss a certain facet of the situation. Sigh. Voters like you are a strong reason why politics indulges in stupidity. What kind of idiot thinks politics is simple. Actually provide a link to your article so people can “watch this space” and have a right of reply, or are you a loser who is scared of properly being in the public eye.

  27. Tanya Levin said:

    So a personal threat against Alexandra demonstrates her point entirely.
    This is where police need to be notified. Shouting, Shame On You at Julie Bishop is not violent, in my opinion. The threat of arson and murder is. I personally will be watching your space damn closely.

  28. thebigsmoke said:

    We approved this comment under the assumption that you are of course responding to the article metaphorically.

  29. BlowMeAbbott said:

    I will be first in line to burn down Alexandra’s house with you mate and anyone else who isn’t enlightened that the labor party are the only party with the answers

  30. BriskettinACup said:

    oh my dear Alexandra you dared speak the unspeakable and you will be slaughtered alive for it watch this space. You may not condone the government but it is an US vs THEM at this point and you better work out which side you are on. Logic and fairness as you request is gone and now we will burn homes and lives starting with yours. Watch this space. Check out my reply on Crikey

  31. Ben J said:

    Tops. Only thing I would add is that people need to take a page from the Bob Brown book of doing things. He made change as you suggest to do Alexandra but not done in a vitriolic and mob like way.

  32. Tanya Levin said:

    Ms Tselios, If you think that’s violence, you don’t get out much. Yes it’s intimidation, yes it’s bad manners, yes it’s bullying, but this country is intimidated and bullied by this government.
    This is not about a policy. The nation is under threat.
    Julie Bishop was jostled, Mirabella had to leave. It’s hardly violence or assault.
    In any case, this is the role of the students to be belligerent and active.
    I cannot understand the defence of this goverment’s members’ rights to move freely in the community when they have betrayed it. They started fighting way dirtier first.
    The Libs should be scared. They are threatening people’s actual lives with their proposals.
    When you can feel that fear, it’s not easy to have a pleasant conversation with these sociopaths.
    And, no, it’s because Christopher Pyne is a privileged and highly entitled member of a self-defined elite that his language and hypocrisy was so evident. But his true schoolyard bully colours are showing.
    it’s all unravelling. and not a moment too soon.

  33. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Quiet an illuminating article Alexandra.

    I think you shone the light on the grave mistake a lot of protesters make, one of disrespect and uncouth behaviour.

    Take a note of this, all of you that want to bring about change. The corporate news services will only concentrate on behaviour that can be portrait as extreme and aggressive, thereby discrediting whatever you want to achieve.
    Bring roses along, maybe your granny, and do a Gandhi. Give the roses to the cops and sit down with grandma on the biggest intersection in the city. She will appreciate the rest. Don’t forget to bring a cushion for her and maybe a flask of tea. And iced vo vo’s, in case some illuminati show up, I have it on good authority that it’s their biscuit of choice and they will let you live if you hand them over.

  34. Nathan said:

    Wow a strong article. I suspect many will read this article and take a quick assault that it is along the lines that there is any defence of the elected government. There isn’t. I read this as the way for a new Australia. One that listens and isn’t afraid of a response. one that can argue without violence. and one that defends freedom of speech without resorting to childish bullying. I am not a leftie and I am NOT a supporter of the Lib party.

  35. 21052014SYD said:

    What you have failed to realize is how they (THEM) destroy Governments and put Military property In Private hands, (PRIVATE) as in corporates that run this planet. Only corporations that have been funded by the citizens, Then they change it Over To Private owners to Centralize power and that is why Illuminati and people like this are able to get away wiht this if you don’t believe me read more about it and google illuminatti you will find out that those especially in the sub sects are creating a powerful army. It is scary but i fear no evil.

  36. Geoff said:

    I agree that these university students should be using their brains to affect real change. In 1994 I sat for 3 days in Northern NSW with the rest of my class to protest what was at the time, changes to our public school system. A small protest if you will about the changes in their staff and how it would directly affect us as students. We protested, we debated and we argued. We didn’t push and shove and act like animals. And Alexandra you hit the nail on the head, if it weren’t a Lib who made that gaffe in Parliament last week Australians would have applauded country-wide.

  37. Heather said:

    You’re missing the point of this article. It’s not about who voted for who. It’s about the fact you shouldn’t be able to ‘assault’ someone in the name of a protest. Using violence or intimidation won’t make a Government change it’s mind. University students should be encouraged to use their intelligence to get their message heard.

  38. Identifier said:

    the medicine you are peddling alexandra is obvious. i dont think that if someone could leave the inner circle alive. they wouldn’t risk being exposed. Please watch Thrive (original) free on YouTube…come forth with more

  39. BlowMeAbbott said:

    We should ‘tolerate’ the policies should we Rebecca? I think that Alexandra is ‘tolerating’ the fact that they are taking our medicare away and our rights and this government wants us to die in the streets like poor rabid dogs. Alexandra you confuse me with your fence sitting who did actually you vote for? Was it this lot? if not why do you care who we ‘visit’ on ‘our’ premises and ‘how’ we ‘welcome’ them. I get the feeling you have a fire in your belly that you want to diminish and I hope one day you let it out and attack without recourse.

  40. Rebecca said:

    careful there Alexandra you run the risk of sounding like tolerance is possible in this country

  41. kaitlyn said:

    As they sow so they shall reap. To whom much is given much is required. Julia Gillard, Julie Bishop, Sophie M – don’t matter if you are LIB or LAB you are gonna be hated in Australia it is called gender bias and it is called tall poppy syndrome. You won’t change it Alexandra I am disappointed you didn’t mention that this is a gender war. They wouldn’t attack a male MP like that.

  42. MariaB said:

    I cant stand Joe Hockey’s smock looks and Julie’s death stare but I wouldn’t abuse them either!

  43. CW said:

    Fair article. Well said. Hate coalition. Better ways to protest. Get this mob out!

  44. BratPack said:

    Also this article is about PROTESTING TECHNIQUES not sophie M despite the fact that she denies there was a stolen generation making her the scum of the earth

  45. BratPack said:

    Sophie Mirabella is the most evil creature to have come out of Australian politics. Her vitriol her caustic tongue her snide face you should be THANKing us for NOT punching it right in the kisser Alex 🙂

  46. Joe said:

    spot on Alexandra if Shorten had dropped the C Bomb we would have been laughing. Julie Bishop makes muy skin crawl but you are right there are smarter ways to behave hopefully though it will be enough to enforce change

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