CHRIS SMITH: When the Bubble-wrap Bursts
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CHRIS SMITH: When the Bubble-wrap Bursts

CHRIS SMITH: When the Bubble-wrap Bursts

Last week new research threatened to further regulate the classic centre point of every backyard – the trampoline – which now looks more like the by-product of a NASA research experiment. This in itself wouldn’t be a story, but this innocent-enough survey revealed a harmful trait in our society, an overly-cautious mentality that may loom further than our childhoods.

It is truly a form of art to be able to take such a story and captivate an audience, to spark outrage, to garner empathy. However, the mantle was aptly taken up by talk-back radio veteran, Chris Smith.

Chris Smith earned his colours in his formidable years in regional radio and then as a presenter for Nine’s ‘A Current Affair’. He now bolsters listeners alongside Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and Ben Fordham, on Australia’s number one radio broadcaster 2GB.

It was hardly a shock when the ‘shock jock’ suggested that we are ‘bubble-wrapping’ our kids, which leads to a ‘bubble-wrapping’ of society. We caught up with him before he went on air for his regular Afternoon Show to flesh out this dangerous hypothesis and ask what happens when the bubble-wrap bursts.

Mon Droit: You claimed on your program that society seems to be ‘bubble-wrapping our kids’ , what has led you to believe this?
Chris Smith: I’ve often spoken about bubble-wrapping and it’s primarily based on the fact that I have a twelve year old and an eleven year old. Being in my fifties now I’ve seen over the last twelve years, our friends, people in our community, parents at our school, operate in a completely fashion to the way the family unit treated children when I was a young guy.

There’s this tug-of war going on within families and between generations about how much you protect your children nowadays. I remember being ten, and as I said on air, I remember riding my bicycle, sometimes three or four kilometres away from home and coming home at six-o-clock when I was hungry.

Times may have changed and we’ve got to be extra careful, but kids are well versed on that both at home and at school. This notion that we have to protect our children to the enth degree, and I just think that there’s a happy medium between the two.

Mon Droit: What are the implications for this mollycoddling, and has it been propelled by the media?
Chris Smith: Well the media has become lazy. Media now in a lot of ways doesn’t actually get outside a door, they sit behind a screen. I think to a certain degree we’re not doing enough to ask the second question. Instead of moving on to the next question, we should be asking a follow-up question on why what we think we’ve been told as true.

I feel that we’re getting kids in their late teens unable to cope because they’ve never been called upon to do it tough. I just wonder whether we’re not preparing them enough. As parents, we’re trying to give them the best life we can, but keeping them just half arm’s length not full arm’s length and therefore not going through the trial and error that we may’ve gone through which builds you and makes you a better person and gives you experiences that enable you to handle the same kinds of circumstances later. I think [mollycoddling] is a detriment to a child, and I think when they get to the stage where they need to make their own decisions and glide on their own, their finding it difficult to cope.

Mon Droit: Is affirmative action a by-product of insulating our kids from disappointment?
Chris Smith: There is a loose connection between the two. We have as a government and as a nation have put in plenty of padding. There’s plenty of padding now for anyone connected to an indigenous background, and there is a lot of padding for anyone connected to a low socio-economic area.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing but I always suspect that sometimes overdo the generosity and as a result we create an environment where these same people need to rely on that padding. The more you allow them to rely on it the more you’re doing them a disfavour. You’re actually allowing them to barnacle onto a support source … and not be proud of what they do and not fend for themselves. That’s always the problem, that’s the danger and we’ve gone over the mark in many areas.

Mon Droit: Are we creating a society hamstrung by political correctness?
Chris Smith: We are incredibly hamstrung by political correctness. Anything vaguely associated with a man putting his nose into women’s business is seen as foul – any kind of encroachment. We’ve gone way too far! The problem with that is that we begin to shroud the truth in a smoke screen of accusations and counter-accusations when really what we should be doing is analysing the truth of the matter. But now political correctness has got in the way of the truth.

Mon Droit: On campus we see ‘F**k Tony Abbott’ t-shirts, what if we we’re to do the same thing with Julia Gillard whilst she was Prime Minister, is there a double standard?
Chris Smith: We got to the ludicrous stage with Julia Gillard that if you criticised her abilities as a leader, you were accused of misogyny. The jump to that was offensive. It was far more offensive than any criticism of Julia Gillard.

For the carbon tax rally in Canberra, we got thirty-four busloads of people down there and they said we had seven-hundred people down there. There wasn’t seven-hundred people there. They bashed up the idea that the right dared to protest, that somehow we were twisted, that somehow we were dinosaurs. We got absolutely pilloried.

Someone called the Prime Minister a witch – and then it occurred that everyone there must be sexist – give me a break! Some dope writes his own sign with witch on it and everyone falls into the same pit! But at least it put the carbon tax in the spotlight every day for the next two years.

Mon Droit: ‘Trigger Warnings’ have recently risen to prominence, in all walks of life, what are your thoughts on them?
Chris Smith: I’ve seen news media adopt trigger warnings. Although we’re trying to limit the exposure to war, death and violence, sometimes war, death and violence is exactly what we need to be exposed to, to have our opinions shaped on reality. But we’ve cocooned and put the cone of vision on this.
Why are we jumping in to hold peoples’ hands? We have to put warnings, we pixelate – and gee we’re being careful, and we’re being careful because we think it’s our responsibility to look after someone else’s responsibility.

Mon Droit: We’re at a stage where we have people being crucified in the twenty-first century, however that’s not going to air. As a result the left have suggested that Australian’s are being ‘Islamophobic’, when all we’re doing is confronting the truth. What are your thoughts on this?
Chris Smith: We need to stop mollycoddling the truth when it comes to Islam. If Islam seems to be in 2015 creating extremist views, violence and butchery, we have a right to ask what goes on in Islam that creates that. But whenever you start suggesting that it may emanate from the teachings of Islam, from the Quran, or the way Islam is taught in mainstream Muslim society, it becomes a NO-NO, you can’t touch it and you can’t talk about it.

Given the movement into the extremist radicalisation of Islam, we need to go back and look closely at Islam, but I don’t think we have the stomach to do that in our country because of political correctness – and that’s sad. Before you start working out what happened you need to work out how it happened and to prevent it you really need to find out what the origins are – It’s a simple investigative technique! But why aren’t we doing that? We aren’t because we’re too political correct about it!

That doesn’t mean at all you need to bash-up or talk in negative tones or terms about mainstream Muslim Australia, you can be respectful. But in the same time ask serious questions on what Muslims about whether mainstream Muslim Australia is doing enough to combat aspects of this radicalisation.

Mon Droit: Is it all a matter of balance when it comes to protecting our kids whilst also ensuring their freedoms?
Chris Smith: It’s all a matter of balance. I think too often in recent years the vocal minority has twisted this balance in the wrong direction. We shouldn’t extract ourselves from engaging with life, because we’re too petrified of being preyed upon.
It’s not so black and white. Life is grey. But we’ve gotten away from the grey and turned our life into something black and white!

Chris Smith talks to mainstream Australia from twelve to three every day. He is well-versed with the concerns and comments of ordinary Australians. His advocacy in combating this emerging ‘cotton wool generation’ is amicable.

Today we live in a world where meritocracy has been slain by the participation-ribbon culture. Our personal freedoms are severely mitigated by an over-cautious attitude that permeates our childhood and returns in our adult years.

Seemingly, the evolution of the trampoline has evolved in tandem with the level of protections we place on our children. Nowadays we have five inches of rubber underneath our swing sets in case we fall – this alone speaks wonders about the type of society we’ve become, and where these dangerous habits form.

Authored by:
Dominick Bondar | BPESS II
Sebastian Davies-Mills | Arts I

You can listen to Chris from 12 – 3pm weekdays on 2GB 873AM or alternatively listen to his highlights here

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