Barnaby Joyce is a self-interested, openly corrupt, opportunistic scumbag, with no place in Australian politics, but I wouldn’t want him to kill himself.
The excepts from his new tell-all book in Fairfax papers today has focussed on his depression and thoughts of death as his marriage and career crashed into the ground over the last 12 months.
The problem with this, telling people you were depressed and thought about death or suicide is not actually showing remorse for your actions. Remorse would be something like, not being paid $150,000 for an exclusive puff piece interview about your love child alongside your knocked up former staff member and then later throwing the new “love of your life” under the bus when people question the morality of such a payment.
Of course, when your marriage and career simultaneously collapse in the most public and humiliating way, you’re bound to experience some depression and thoughts of death and suicide, it happened to me, so I’m not surprised it would happen to the former Deputy Prime Minister. Self-inflicted pain is one of the worst feelings, because, even if you try to blame the media for exposing your hypocrisy and cowardice, you’re still responsible for your situation.
Yet, today, as his self-indulgent book tour kicks off, there are those gleefully celebrating the fact that Joyce was depressed and suicidal, or, possibly worse, dismissing it as fake news because he did it to himself.
I once liked Barnaby Joyce, well over a decade ago, when he appeared to stand up for what he believed in, crossing the floor of the Senate to oppose John Howard’s policies on trade and privatisation. But, when Mr Joyce Goes To Canberra, he becomes beholden to mining billionaires and others willing to line his pockets and fund his campaigns. So, my fleeting interest in the boy from the bush receded faster than his hairline.
As should appear obvious, I cannot stand Barnaby Joyce, he, like so many in Canberra at the moment, is a stain on our national image. But I don’t want him to kill himself, and I know how hopelessly fucked you feel when your depression is because of the choices you made. So I empathise with him.
My message is simple, don’t find joy in another man’s depression. That’s a cunt move. No matter how you feel about him, you should be capable of recognising that his suicide, if it had occurred would have been horrible, and not just because of the image of his bloated, corpulent, ruddy face splashed across the tabloids, but because of the emotional toll it would have wrought on others, and the abject tragedy of anyone feeling their only recourse is to take their own life.
It takes some courage for Barnaby Joyce to admit he felt some guilt for his actions, and that he internalised those feelings, only now choosing to speak out after the dust has cleared. It wouldn’t have been easy for anyone to admit, or to go through.
For that I would commend Barnaby Joyce… and also call on him to leave politics and never return to the public eye.
EDIT: Given the phrasing used by Mr Joyce in these excerpts from his book describing his depression, it’s worth considering the difference between active and passive suicidal thoughts and tendencies. It seems as though Barnaby was having more passive thoughts of death and suicide, not so much wishing he was dead, but considering death as an escape from the pain he has caused and experienced. This would differ from, say, someone who is actively seeking out a means by which to end their life and is at their wits end. This is not to lessen the threat of depression and the reality of Barnaby’s experience with depression and suicide, rather, to explain how some people can overcome such thoughts, while others become victims of their own mental health. It’s great if Barnaby truly did overcome his depressive state through a new relationship, but in framing his situation as such, it creates an unrealistic expectation and representation of depression and suicide. Which is something I have found most media outlets truly incapable of managing effectively, beyond throwing out the numbers for Lifeline and Beyond Blue at the end of every article or segment.
Furthermore, the steps Barnaby is taking to reframe his flagrant abuse of power with regard to Vikki Campion’s career trajectory (and the potential for misappropriation of public funds by the Coalition in covering up their affair with a role in Matt Canavan’s office) as a lonely old man’s mid-life crisis is something for which the media needs to hold him to account. By simply reporting and regurgitating his press release and select passages verbatim, they’re giving up any chance of questioning how this sort of behaviour was allowed to continue unchecked, and when it was found out, why it was covered up for so long. Simply put, Barnaby Joyce hasn’t done anything that would earn him the redemptive arc now being laid out for him, as a part of this press release. Journalists, you can do better.