Speaking your brain

The obituary praised the young man's honesty, his work ethic, his easy smile and ability to "speak his mind" - even when it got him into trouble.

Ahoy there, muckers! There's the crux of the matter - "speaking your mind" - so much fun, like farting for the brain, but the ripe smell of truth can often get you into all sorts of trouble.

Take Kevin Rudd's expletive-ridden video from his time as prime minister, which was leaked last month. What a rarity! What a treat! What a bucket of froth and bubble it spilled on all involved!

To be fair, it probably caused more hassles for Prime Minister Julia Gillard than it did for Rudd, whom it humanised, possibly bringing him even closer to the Australian voting public.

Given that side-effect, what do you think would happen if we got to hear all politicians - in fact, all people who regularly lie us, from our bosses to celebrities and partners - actually say what they're feeling?

War? The collapse of civilisation? Or perhaps a reorganisation of our loyalties and priorities once we realised where we stood with those who mattered in our lives?

A while ago, I saw the barista at my local cafe for the first time in many months and she said "Hey, fatso."

Part of me despaired that she'd so commented publicly on my weight gain, but it also freed me to mock her own rather bulbous bum.

I think we were both happy with the transaction. It was honest, we spoke our minds, it didn't leave us feeling like used-car salesmen because we'd done one of those horrific "so how you been?", "good to see you" conversations.

What I don't get is why there's not more of this? We all know that people in power lie to us, that they lullaby us with plausibly deniable horseshit so as not to make waves until they have to.

Some would argue this is "what we want to hear", that we're not used to the truth and its unalloyed brutality, so, when it oozes out of someone's mouth by accident, we're overwhelmed by a knee-jerk mass psychosis.


Isn't it better that this stuff is out there? Isn't it preferable that we have to navigate in the real world, rather than some grown-up fantasy land where everyone pretends to like each other and says "golly gosh" when they're angry?

Perhaps, but I think there's a massive difference between a person "speaking their mind" and actually telling the truth. Too often when people "speak their mind", they're just running off at the mouth, confusing facts with "how I'm feeling right now" because most of us speak emotionally and not intelligently.

Last year, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was quoted as saying to independent MP, Tony Windsor, that "I would do anything for this job [PM]. The only thing I wouldn't do is sell my arse, but I'd have to give serious thought to it."

I mean, that's fantastic stuff, because it leaves you in no doubt as to what Abbott is capable of, just as last month's video of Rudd swearing like a wharfie showed you Rudd could, at times, be a demanding, foul-mouthed sook.

But that's about it - which is why I don't think speaking your mind deserves to be held up as the holiest of virtues, nor is it worthy of a mention in anyone's obituary.

Speaking your mind is invariably talking crap - which is why we're taught as children to think before we speak.

The alternative might better be called "speaking your brain".

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.