TOWARDS the end of last year, erstwhile publisher Michael Duffy wrote a lament for the state of publishing. Having to admit defeat and close down the operations of Duffy and Snellgrove, one of the valiant small publishing houses in Australia, he confessed that what he hadn't counted on, when he went into the business, was the fact that right-leaning people, the conservatives, don't read.Sorensen is, to an extent, correct - wallowing in garbage gets you covered in garbage and some of it will soak in.
Um, yes, Michael ... that's what makes them conservatives. If you read, widely and openly, it's hard not to find yourself leaning leftwards. Reading makes you more tolerant and more flexible.
But leftwards doesn't mean what it used to and, though convenient, it's misleading in this context. It's better to use the term liberal: reading makes you liberal.
The Courier-Mail Arts and Books Editor, she is, of course, 'widely read' and even has a degree in French Literature. These qualifications allow her to know with great clarity that she is tolerant and flexible and anyone who doesn't think like her is bigoted and close-minded.
Sorensen, by her own words, reveals how much of an ignorant intolerant bigot she is.
It might never occur to her that people on the right are just as widely read but may have chosen to dismiss leftist analysis and thinking as ill-formed, self-contradictory and juvenile. Further, in a 7.30 Report interview, Duffy, a former journalist whose right of centre opinion columns appeared in another lift-out section of the Saturday Courier-Mail, made it clear he was talking of reading about politics and noted 'a book about a Labor subject or person will sell five to 10 times as many copies as a Liberal (Australian conservative) one'.
Given that people generally will only buy books they imagine they will enjoy, Sorensen might like to ponder the concept that people on the left constantly need to hear or read other people agreeing with them. Perhaps conservatives don't need this constant reaffirmation.
And this need not mean they are inflexible. It just means they're mature enough to make up their mind and get on with life without having to be constantly reassured that they've made the correct choice.
Sorensen's sneering and entirely superflous cheap shot at Duffy specifically and conservatives generally takes up the whole first quarter of a review of French writer Michel Houellebecq's new novel The Possibility Of An Island. The headline - Keep An Open Mind - refers to the challenging nature of the novel but is unintentionally ironic.
Sorensen's inability to keep her hostility towards those who refuse to conform to her way of thinking underscores a distinct problem among many on the left at this point in time. Enraged by a leaning towards conservatism in Australia, England and the United States, they rail against the stupid people who keep voting conservative governments into power.
Says the illiterate leftist academic Chris Sheil, recently quoted by Tim Blair:
“When it comes to Bush, we’re dealing with a cretan. The problem with cretans in a democracy is that other cretans vote for them, and the size of this demographic is not to be underestimated. The Dems need someone who can turn the cretan vote.”(Blair noted that when it comes to Sheil, 'we’re dealing with a cretin').
But as long as the left keeps stamping its feet and calling the general population a pack of idiots for voting 'wrong', the general pop is just as likely to keep seeing the left as arrogant and out of touch.
Incidentally, it's (just) worth pointing out that Sorensen is technically wrong (or maybe just further projecting her hatred) about Duffy and Snellgrove 'closing down'. The company is still trading, though no longer publishing new titles.
Note: Sorensen's sorry diatribe has not been published on the Courier Mail website. It appeared in the Saturday, 8 January 2006 hard copy.