“Saner heads prevailed.” – Anna Spargo-Ryan

“Saner heads prevailed.”

“Saner heads prevailed.”

In a move that should shock precisely no one, inexplicable TV anchor David “Kochie” Koch has used his place in the public eye to speak insensitively about something he doesn’t understand.

So out of character, right?

It appears that Kochie decided, as a result of his sanity, to speak frankly about the ways in which Adam Boland’s mental health difficulties meant that he was right and Boland was an unreliable insane-o.

Here, you can watch it. It’s great for those moments when you’re feeling like maybe you can be a functional part of society even though you have a mental illness, like I just was.

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/22150938/kochie-responds-to-axing-claims/

“… saner heads prevailed,” Kochie says, to which Sam Armytage replies, “Of course they were sane!” which is not offensive because her grandfather was bipolar and also she has that alleged thing with the big guy from the telly.

(See also: Tony Abbott claiming that having daughters has made him a feminist. Circumstance and genetics do not beget understanding, folks.)

Natalie Barr, who was also implicated in the supposed email from the insane person, and who last week demonstrated how in touch she is with society with this piece, laughs, “And brilliant minds stepped in!”

After that, I can only assume that these four completely sane people went on in their sanity for the rest of the show.

Alternatively, consider this script:

KOCHIE:
In news that no one cares about except us, another show that also sucks balls played a segment about an email. This email was sent by someone who didn’t even work on the show at the time.

SAM:
It’s a steaming pile of poo!

KOCHIE:
Fortunately, less cancerous people took over.

SAM:
Of course they were less cancerous!

NAT:
And brilliant, non-cancerous bodies stepped in!

ALL HIGH FIVE

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed for a piece about speaking to employers about mental illness. The fear of speaking out is blackening. From inside depression or anxiety or other mental illnesses, it can feel like there is no one who could possibly understand. It feels like the employer will open a trapdoor under you and you will plummet into the sea.

In my case, I have been exceedingly fortunate in having understanding employers. To my great relief, these kind and empathetic people  have looked at the quality of my work and my dedication to the task and said, “Okay Anna, let’s see how we can make this work for everyone.” They haven’t said, “We should get a saner person in to do this,” or, “You are an insane person, so you are bad at everything.” But that’s not true of everyone. Many people, through lack of education or awareness, believe that “having a mental illness” and “being bad at doing stuff” is causality.

There are organisations that dedicate hours and dollars and people to combating this assumption. There are people who dedicate their lives to improving society’s understanding of what it actually means to have a mental illness. There are head shrinkers who spend countless hours taking these people who suffer from mental illness and pushing and pulling and bending to change their thinking, to help them to believe that they are valid and useful and mentally unhealthy. Not even in spite of, but just as well as.

Adam Boland speaks frankly and openly about difficulties that have arisen from his battles with his brain. That should be an opportunity to increase understanding, and to recognise that he has achieved great things and that his mental illness(es) have not stopped him from being good at what he does. Instead, at the other end of the spectrum, on another planet, in another universe, people like David Koch hold him hostage. Hold people like him hostage. Me, you, the guy opposite me in the library who is reading The Antidepressant Solution and trying to figure out whether he is still valuable and relevant.

Fuck you, David Koch, for your revolting extension and perpetuation of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Fuck you, David Koch, for implying that someone’s “saneness” has an indisputable correlation to their ability to perform.

Fuck you, David Koch, for giving half a million people new reason to think that to be mentally ill is to be less.

22 Comments
  • ellymc

    March 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm Reply

    Yes to all of this. And also, Adam Boland made their careers through crafting Sunrise, how dare they dump on him in this manner.

  • bigwords

    March 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm Reply

    yes yes and yes xx

  • Karen

    March 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm Reply

    Than goodness for you being able to articulate the despair & rage that welled up inside of me upon hearing of these irresponsible comments. It’s hard enough keeping your head above water without idiots with a loud voice trying to make you feel like a lesser person.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 26, 2014 at 11:35 am Reply

      Yes it is. I’ve never understood why we would want to compound the difficulty for someone with a mental health issue.

  • Kate Morell

    March 25, 2014 at 2:51 pm Reply

    Hear. Hear. Beautifully said Anna.

    I mean, Kochie? Not worth it.
    Don’t listen to a word he said.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 26, 2014 at 11:36 am Reply

      Thanks Kate :) Of all the people who aren’t worth it, he is right up there. Down there?

  • Rachael

    March 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm Reply

    BOO – YA. Well said lady.

  • Laura

    March 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm Reply

    Oh, they are just ignorant and vile.

    “I would NEVER make light of it.” But … you did.

    Here is an opportunity to be gracious – dismiss and distance themselves from A Current Affair’s sensationalist journalism, and extend their warm wishes for the wellbeing of their former colleague.

    Instead, they trash, degrade and humiliate him on national television. The man who crafted the show on which they thrive.

    Just appalling.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 21, 2014 at 10:44 am Reply

      Exactly. It is horrifying to think that people like this warrant such a large (and potentially influenced) audience.

  • Helen K

    March 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm Reply

    Thanks Anna – I agree (I haven’t been able to watch the segment of Sunrise, but based on the transcripts that have been printed, completely inexcusable and offensive for those who have, or are, suffering depression or any other mental illness). However, not just David Koch, don’t forget the role of the women on the show too (given they do not suffer any bias due to the gender, according to Natalie Barr, I expect they are equally culpable). On a more positive note, I missed Australian Story last night, and am now encouraged to watch it …

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 21, 2014 at 10:45 am Reply

      Oh yes, the women were equally bad. Sam Armatage’s tweet after the fact made my skin crawl. It must be easy to be smug from inside sanity and other perfections.

  • Lee-Anne

    March 25, 2014 at 6:41 pm Reply

    Insightful post. These comments reminded me of the way a racist will preface a discriminatory remark with: “I’m not a racist but…”

    It’s the subliminal way comments are made thoughtlessly by slightly smug people that – as you say – perpetuate the myths and stigma associated with mental illness.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 21, 2014 at 10:44 am Reply

      Agreed, Lee-Anne. It is precisely the same principle. Kochie seems to be something of a fan.

  • Deb @ Bright and Precious

    March 25, 2014 at 8:48 pm Reply

    Bravo, Anna. Well said. xx

  • Pingback:Dames, Knights and Village Idiots

    March 26, 2014 at 11:32 am Reply
  • Donna

    March 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm Reply

    The man is an ignoramus. Can. Not. Stand. Him! They’ve just made a huge backwards step for those fighting for equality.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 21, 2014 at 10:43 am Reply

      Agreed. He is the embodiment of everything we should hate about the media.

  • Bronnie - Maid In Australia

    May 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm Reply

    Absolutely spot-on. These people are a disgrace. Thank you for articulating how so many of us feel.

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