Has Alan Jones changed his tone? | radioinfo

Has Alan Jones changed his tone?

Tuesday 19 November, 2019
Comment from Peter Saxon.

I don’t mean has Alan Jones changed the tone of his voice - which yesterday was more Leonard Cohen than Pavarotti. It must have been a Herculean effort to croak his way through an entire Breakfast show – perhaps even more so for those listening.
Israel Folau, who’d been in the headlines earlier this year for his intemperate remarks about gay people going to hell was at it again. This time he was preaching that the recent spate of bushfires and other natural disasters was God’s punishment for Australia legalising same sex marriage and abortion.
In a 12 and a half minute sermon at The Truth of Jesus Christ Church on Sunday, Folau said Australians, “Must turn from their wicked ways and repent."
“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are okay in society, going against the laws of what God says.”
Alan Jones had been a staunch supporter of Folau’s and highly critical of Rugby Australia who, according to Jones, The Christian Lobby anong others, had sacked the million dollar a year player for no more than expressing his sincerely held religious beliefs.  But now he felt it was time to pull the young man into line. 

Jones, of course, had been spending a good deal of his time on-air of late talking himself hoarse in an effort to help the nation’s drought ravaged farmers. It was Jones at his best for a good cause, using his vast influence to secure as much relief as he could for those on the land from governments, NGOs and the public. Then a week or so ago, the bushfires hit and Jones redoubled his efforts along with virtually every other radio station and presenter in Australia.

Along with most conservatives (and many on the left) he went berserk when The Greens tried to politicise the disaster by blaming it all on climate change. Whether one is a believer, sceptic or denier, it was generally agreed that the timing was lousy. 

Worse still was women's rights activist Sherele Moody who outraged almost everyone for saying that some firefighters after battling the blaze may return home and inflict violence on their partners. Even The Greens were quick to distance themselves from those remarks.

So, when on Sunday, Israel Folau felt it necessary to add his wisdom to the conversation by declaring that God was punishing the fire victims – those who’d lost their homes, their lives, their loved ones - for Australia’s “wicked ways,” Jones issued this advice: “Israel, button up. Button up. These comments don’t help.”

You bet they don’t help. It’s devastating for people caught up in a catastrophe to have some self-appointed holy man cum rugby star telling them where they went wrong without offering a scintilla of compassion, let alone tangible help. 

For similar reasons, Folau’s comments didn’t help gay people the first time around either when he told them they’d go to hell unless they repented for being born that way. As the song from Gershwin’s masterpiece, Porgy and Bess goes, “The t'ings dat yo' li'ble, to read in de Bible. It ain't necessarily so.” Even if you sincerely want to believe they are.


Two things pleasantly surprised me about Alan Jones turning on the celebrity at the centre of his cause célèbre.

Firstly, that the man who once famously professed that he lived by a code of “pick and stick” (which at times led him to defend the indefensible) had made the rational decision to withdraw his support of Folau once it was clear the situation was untenable. And secondly, that he resisted the urge to use the kind of ‘colourful’ language he often used to attack others with whom he disagreed, such as New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern.

Calling on Israel Folau to “button up” was far more becoming a gentleman of Jones intellectual stature than suggesting that our PM, “should shove a sock down her throat,” as he did in the case of Ms Ardern.

Perhaps it’s the influence of new management at Macquarie or the recent backlash from listeners, non-listeners and advertisers alike that has helped precipitate a change in Alan Jones’ tone and manner.
Perhaps it is the Radio Gods (4th Testament) that have taken away his voice to show their displeasure for his tendency to use their megaphone to verbally abuse those less well equipped.
Whatever the explanation, I hope Alan Jones recovers his voice soon and continues in this new vein.

Peter Saxon

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