Those are my principles and, well, if you don't like them ... I have others.
So quipped Groucho Marx many decades before the "no" campaign seemingly turned his joke into its modus operandi.
But there's nothing funny about the grab-bag of falsehoods employed by some members of the Coalition and sundry chancers in their desperation to sink the referendum and score a political win.
Nor is there much to smile about in the media performance which has - along with much solid reporting - "platformed" scares, fictions and red herrings.
Breitbart's Steve Bannon has a name for the alt-right strategy he pioneered, "flooding the zone with shit".
I've written about it many times over the past 18 months because I view Saturday's vote as the most consequential test of character we will face as a nation in our lifetimes.
I've thought long and hard about what has been going on through this period in which meaningful recognition has flipped from 60 per cent support to 60 per cent opposition.
I've listened to what has been left unchallenged, put to air in the interests of "balance". It has caused me to think further about who is actually served by it.
I've learnt that there are practical problems with cartoonishly enforcing "equal" air time when truth and empathy are its price. And I've been moved to ask an even more heretical question about the very utility of balance in the first place.
Equal broadcast time is a crude measure of fairness but in this referendum it has backfired.
It turns out that pitting cool procedural reform against alarmist hyperbole is unrealistic.
In a 12-minute taxi ride on Friday between airport and hotel in Hobart, I heard two different "no" spots on commercial radio.
One simply said, "It's not the colour of your skin that matters it's the content of your character - vote 'no' to a divisive, race-based voice".
Such lies asserting black privilege, have been sprayed about in actual interviews, too.
Media rarely ask the proponents to justify their own epic division, or show how the current "equality" they laud works for Aboriginal people today.
When Peter Dutton says he will stage another referendum and will also legislate a voice, journalists don't dwell too long on the inconsistency, let alone insist that he furnish the detail he demands from Labor. So let me ask it.
When will your second constitutional poll occur? Isn't this also inherently "divisive"? What's your referendum question? What about your legislated voice - where's your exposure draft? Show us your alternative (better) plans for addressing First Nations disadvantage, show us the detail or even just the process. What are you hiding?
If the journalistic goal is balance, persisting with these questions would be a good start.
Many editorial judgements in this major national moment have been unworthily small suggesting that when the moral terrain becomes formally contested, broadcasters resemble internet "carrier services" like Facebook, Instagram, "ex-Twitter" and TikTok.
As an avid ABC listener and lover, I've endured a daily diet of deceptive performances from assorted carnival barkers misrepresenting the Voice as dangerous, radical, inherently divisive, a gravy train for "elite" Aboriginals, and a Trojan horse for land claims.
Wouldn't a better balance involve giving equal broadcast time only to facts, reasoned argument, contentions of logical and moral substance?
This brings me to an even thornier question. Is the reflexive insistence on equal public funding for the "yes" and "no" cases as well as equal broadcast time, even reasonable given referendum particularities?
The "no" case starts out way in front in two key respects. First, it is the status quo. It takes a wilful act of initiative requiring voters to switch away from the real to the theoretical - from the known to the unknowable.
In practical terms, this is a huge familiarity deficit any new proposition must overcome. Second, the high referendum bar means it is not even democratic by the standards we accept for all other Australian elections. Its unique double majority is nearly unattainable - a colossal head start again for the naysayers. Add to this that citizens of the ACT and NT do not even figure in the "majority of states" count.
Finally, a word on the campaigns and the aftermath. The "no" case has been ruthlessly effective but Australians will rue its false and fleeting allure.
The "yes" case has been a disappointing mix of somnolent and rudderless. It beggars belief that, for 18 months, it mysteriously left a vacuum during which the "no" side framed the choices. Signs of a grand strategy were glimpsed on the horizon but never arrived. Recall the drawn-out theatre over the referendum date. What great tactical plan did that serve?
An army of the well-meaning has delivered an admirable ground-up community campaign but the "yes" side has never achieved the national salience of its opponents.
There is a sense, too, that the government was basically phoning it in.
Has it been worth it? Of course not.
On Friday in suburban Adelaide, a close friend allegedly awoke at 5am to find the family car ablaze in the driveway - four Molotov cocktails smashed through its windows - right next to the big "Vote 'yes'" sign on his front fence.
Is this really the Australia of 2023? What if it is?
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