An Open Letter to Catherine Deveny

Dear Catherine,

You made a few remarks on twitter today that come close to being pretty spot on. Close but not quite, and by missing the mark you fucked up in a sensational fashion and made a total dripping twat of yourself.

Before we get to those remarks I’d like to explain something of myself, and of my Grandfather. Grandpa (as I called him) fought in WWII. He’s not alive to ask now whether he was conscripted or a volunteer, but given the views of war he shared with me as a young child, I would tend to go with the former. The treatment he received at the hands of the British military, and the fact that he was deployed in the South Pacific would further support this conclusion. The Brass in Britain viewed all Australians as cannon fodder, and reserved particular contempt for conscripts – for reasons I imagine you can fathom.

Grandpa was a POW twice during his service. Both times as a result of the incompetence, or perhaps disdain of the British High Command. The first period of incarceration he suffered was served constructing the Burma railway. I hope you’ve heard of that. My grandmother once passed on a tale of that time he had shared with her, when he had placed his leg across a tree trunk and tried to gather the courage to cut his foot off with the machete he had been supplied to clear scrub. He reasoned (apparently) that he would probably bleed to death or be shot. Either way he would be spared the agony he was enduring at the hands of his captors.

Turns in the fortunes of the war led to his liberation. Was he shipped home immediately and given the support any victim of such trauma should receive? No. He was redeployed to the front line, recaptured shortly thereafter and shipped to Japan, just outside of Nagasaki. Have you heard of the place? I hear it is quite beautiful now.

Grandpa served out the rest of the war there as a prisoner. He didn’t speak much about the conditions to me (I was only a child after all), but he did confide that sometimes he felt guilty that he came home, when many of his friends did not. He was freed for the second time after the US dropped a couple of pretty nasty bombs on a bunch of civilians in two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Did I mention Nagasaki? Apparently it’s a lovely spot to visit. Japan’s unconditional surrender included the immediate release of all prisoners of war. Grandpa was immediately airlifted out of the country and brought home to receive the care that had been denied him the first time, right? No. He and other recently released prisoners were regrouped and sent to reconnoitre the city – namely Nagasaki. I might have mentioned it.

Three days after the city was destroyed by the first ever deployment of atomic weaponry my grandfather was sent to walk through the moonscape of total destruction and ash-corpses so that some generals in England could pat themselves (and the Americans) on the back for a job well done. Of all he lived through in the previous three years, it was this that killed him. He died painfully and with little dignity of radiation sickness when I was young – his body literally a mass of cancer. 4 Corners even featured him in an episode on the subject many years ago, though I was too young to understand it when it went to air.

I never once heard Grandpa say a bad word toward his captors. In fact he taught me rudimentary Japanese and referred to them often as a noble and honourable race. He would not abide racism of any kind in his house, nor any form of mistreatment of women (perhaps due to things he had seen, I don’t know).  I have personally seen him hand bank notes to vagrants, and on one occasion I can remember he invited one to dine with us while on our way to a Chinese restaurant. I once saw him intervene in a domestic dispute on the street and pin a man at most half his age to a wall by the back of the neck. It is because of him, more than any other person in my life, that I today detest racism, nationalism (much the same thing) and all forms of testosterone driven destruction.

I understand where you’re coming from, Catherine. I really do. The whole glorification of war thing? I’m with you all the way. The heinous abuse of women & children? Yup. You’ve got me there too. Telling me that “Men only enlisted to fight for the money, for the adventure or because they were racist”? Fuck off. Even if they did enlist willingly for the reasons you claim, they had no idea of the horror they would face and the hardships they would endure. Get over your misguided sense of self importance that you get the comfort of experiencing from home, behind your noble keyboard. And while you’re at it, learn something of the suffering many, many men endured. You dishonour them and you degrade yourself.



PS. Happy ANZAC day. I won’t be waving a flag, but I won’t be acting like a fuckwit about it either.


About Gibbot

Normal working Joe. Occasional musician and writer. Avid reader and political tragic. Humanist. View all posts by Gibbot

47 responses to “An Open Letter to Catherine Deveny

  • Tweets that mention An Open Letter to Catherine Deveny « Black Dog --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heath Callaway. Heath Callaway said: My response to @catherinedeveny […]

  • alannah

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • eithne


  • uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gibbot5000: My response to @catherinedeveny

  • Bron

    Wonderful, Gibbot.

  • Pokeybun

    Absolutely. Agree 199%.

  • Smoph

    Regardless of whether they enlisted or were conscripted, they didn’t know what they were going to. Their fathers would not have spoken about it.

    War makes me furious, as does our government waging it. But I will always honour and be thankful for those who lay their lives on the line for all of us, every day.

  • lachlanr

    Props. Especially for the postscript.

  • David Jackmanson

    I think this is a good response, far better than the rabid frothing morons like Bolt will no doubt spew out at the first opportunity.

    The issues Deveney brings up should be discussed. I’m quite over the almost-compusory reverence for ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. No doubt not all Australian troops were heroes; quite likely some of them were arseholes. Certainly not all, as Deveney claims, of course.

    One thing that’s certain is that even a well-researched, measured critique of the ANZAC myth will attract vicious, reactionary attacks. Deveney is just making it easier for the sort of person who wants to frighten people away from a serious discussion about why these myths exist. This response is a good start at staking out some ground to deal with those sort of attacks.

  • mal

    brilliant mate, like you said.. deveny is right… but then so horribly wrong… repeatadly.
    she will be criticised in many ways, most being angry and savage. You are reasoned, thoughtful, sensitive, and your fuck off has so much more power because of the reason behind it.

  • Dave Gaukroger

    Spot on Gibbot. Deveny’s tweets show an amazing amount of ignorance.

    My grandfather was also on the Burma railway, and then in Changi, and his memoirs are perhaps one of the most harrowing stories I’ve ever read. The sense of duty that he expressed regarding signing up, the horrors he lived through, and the courage to build a normal life on his return home are amazing.

    I’ll be joining you in spirit tomorrow Gibbot, no flag waving for me, but I’ll certainly be taking the time to remember those who made sacrifices because they believed in something greater than themselves.

  • ellymc

    Beautifully said. I had no idea you were such a wonderful writer.

  • Gibbot

    Whoah! Thank you all for the positive feedback. I’m kind of overwhelmed.

    @David I’d just like to stipulate that I have nothing against Catherine. I am not attacking her personally, and in fact I agree with her in principle. She just misdirected her anger. We need to have the conversation about the glorification of war and tacky nationalistic flag waving. What we don’t need to do trivialise the suffering of those that endured the war first hand.

    @Dave – from you, high praise. Thanks. I’ll have a minute, or even a few minute’s silence tomorrow. I won’t be at an RSL, I’ll be at #wonkdrinks with a bunch of vibrant, politically aware folk that all want to ensure such madness never occurs again. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.

    @ellymc – Until you see me in liederhausen you’ll never know the depths of my wonderfulness.

  • Matt Kendall

    Great take down. The stories told to me after my Pops funeral (also a POW on the Burma railway) still send chills down my spine. Most of Pop’s mates were 16 at the time…kids. In her Twitter bio she states that she’s a “lover of little boys”. Put them in uniform and send them off to war with no idea about what they were getting into and it seems they become a justifiable targets for her misguided hatred and tragically ignorant polemic.

  • Cara

    Thanks for this. Her comments offended the hell out of me and I was too angry to say anything ration, so I am so glad you did.

  • anonymous

    get a life and move on.. its all history

  • Jane Shaw

    Brilliantly written, beautifully put. I hope she read it and apologised, but somehow I doubt it.

    Anonymous comment, worthy only of the sort of coward who will only comment anonymously.

  • Saintsister

    Thank you. I felt ill when I read some of her comments. Her views are adolescent at best – not those of a social commentator who is paid to think.

  • Top Posts —

    […] An Open Letter to Catherine Deveny  Dear Catherine, You made a few remarks on twitter today that come close to being pretty spot on. Close but not […] […]

  • Bleeter

    Wonder when Ms Deveny last put her life on the line, in the way of some bullets, for her country or fellow citizens? Her basic ‘some of my best friends are men’ line exposes her misandry and bigoted loathing for what it is. Fancy promotion of her own self and stuff all else. Her show’s over yet she’s still advertising herself in her Twitter background. What a media whoreslut. srsly.

  • Jason

    Very well put. I’m not a huge fan of ANZAC Day either, and contemporary celbrations of it do reek a little of state-sponsored militarism, the glorification of blood sacrifice etc. I’m old enough to remember when it was a more low-key day. But Deveny’s comments can and will be used to suggest that any critique of ANZAC Day is based on contempt for those who served. Her prominence allows progressive opinion to be seen through the prism of her ratbaggery.

  • Bill

    An excellent, progressive response to an ignorant reactionary!

    I can’t help but wonder if you might be falling into the trap of arguing with a mug, but I still applaud the the passion and compassion with which you have done so. Thank you!

  • B-29 Superfortress Bockscar Desktop Model Plane

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  • Maladjusted

    Thank you, Mr. Gibbot for providing this little oasis in a desert of drivel.

    Only Catherine Deveney would offer us the ludicrous limited option of either being a xenophobic flag-waving militaristic bigot and being Catherine Deveney…



  • toiletjackson

    Nice one, gibbot.

    Very measured.

  • DB

    Spot on. Deveney is a f&%kwit.

  • Shelley

    Very well said.Thank you.

  • Legal Eagle

    Awesome post – well said.

  • Eyes Wired Open

    Great post. Thank you. There’s a word for Deveny’s odious attitude: mysandry. We (rightly) get upset when we encounter examples of woman-hating and we call it by its proper name, mysogyny.

    Auto-bot rad-fems like Deveny wield an equally abhorrent form of gender-prejudice, bathing in misapplied right-on-ness (cos blaming half the human race for all its problems is perversely considered progressive in their circles)….Yet somehow the correct word for that is so rarely used that I bet some of the people reading it here will scratch their heads as to its meaning. Now why is that?

  • skepticlawyer » ANZAC Day Redux

    […] came across Deveny’s twitter via Pavlov Cat’s piece at Still Life With Cat. Black Dog also has a great response to Deveny. Go read both posts, they are very well written. They say it […]

  • The Australian Middle Class Saves the World. « Pretty Cool (for an Iconodule)

    […] accidentally because of your outrage to Deveny’s ANZAC day tweets, I refer you instead to this piece which has the benefit of refusing the false dichotomy between an orgy of nationalistic fervour and […]

  • Things I didn’t write about… | The Cerebral Mum

    […] which were offensive even  to those of us who don’t like Anzac Day, I recommend reading An Open Letter to Catherine Deveny. (If you missed that controversy, there is a screengrab of the Tweets in question […]

  • Deveny the Dipstick

    Hear hear. She is just another 30 something bitter and twisted has been that needs to kick some old people to feel better about herself. That she chose to do it on Anzac day shows she wanted some attention. Don’t worry about her and don’t feed the troll

  • FDB

    Wonderfully measured. You say more with this economy than mad frothing would have done. Although ‘total dripping twat’ is liable to give La Deveny reason enough to dismiss it all as the ravings of a rapist in thrall to his testicles.

    If you’re reading Catherine – grow the fuck up.

  • poor taste vs plain wrong: a beginners’ guide « a shiny new coin

    […] her tweets on Anzac Day were pretty off. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about read this post. Calling soldiers racists who want to kill people is a massive generalisation for a start and […]

  • Tragic

    The misguided and ill-informed attack on Anzac Day says more about Deveny’s mental state than anything else. Same with the bizarre tweets on the Logies. Why would you do that?

    There are few personality types more irritating than the pretentious, aspirational bogan regardless of their politics.

    As far as being objectionable goes, Deveny ticks all the boxes.

    If I was karma I’d put her and Bolt in adjacent prison cells for a year. (adjacent so that they couldn’t have sex…aaarrghh my mind’s eye…it hurts)

  • Natalie Port

    Admiring the interval and travail you put into your blog and particularized information you put forward! I will bookmark your blog and have my children stay up here often. Thumbs up!

  • Grace

    Hi Gibbot … it’s a great pity you had to resort to “dripping twat” … that sort of language is offensive to me as a woman (though unlike the earlier post said, it did not make me disregard your otherwise excellent letter). Your love and respect for your grandfather, who was clearly an amazing man, shone through and in my view it would have been even more powerful had you not used that kind of insulting language. Do you think your grandpa would have approved? And what about your grandma? As you said yourself, your grandpa never once said a bad word about his captors … may I respectfully suggest this is a lesson you could learn from that fine man who you are so justly proud of. cheers.

  • cauptuctubomy

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, Satellite Direct Tv

  • Gibbot

    My apologies to all for my spartan responses. I feel I particularly owe an explanation to Grace. I am not a blogger per se`. The long hours of my day job prohibit much writing for writing’s sake, as the threadbare content pretty clearly indicates. 4 posts in the three months of this blog’s creation is hardly what you’d call prolific.

    As such, I tend to write only when the mood really takes me, or when driven to it out of anger. This post is an example if the latter – bashed out in a scotch fuelled, 15 minute tsunami of bourgeois indignation. Normally this would affect nobody, as I have a regular readership of about three people – all friends. That this post attracted some 2500 hits in 24 hours remains utterly incomprehensible to me. Had I realised that it would be exposed to such scrutiny, I would have taken far more care with my language.

    As this blog was intended as nothing more than a place to vent, I find it hard to apologise for the language used, but I do regret any offence caused, and will be more mindful in the future now that I’m aware my junk could find a broader audience than intended for it. Consider me chastened.

  • Delinda Trover

    I dont truly know what you talking about right here. This cant be the only way to think about this can it? It seems like you understand a lot, so why not explore it a lot more? Make it more accessible to everyone else who might not concur with you? Youd get a lot more individuals behind this should you just stopped making common statements.

  • Vppoankg

    west coast choppers symbol,

  • martinjbolton

    Funny how people say that their relative was at Gallipoli and then rehash some tawdry old conservative argument.

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