On Tony Abbott, Chewbacca and other cack-handed dudes…

ChewwieOK, so I know some of you think that Tony Abbott is the Devil in Speedos.  Well, it turns out you may have good reason for this.  Guess what?  He’s left-handed!  That explains it all, right?

At various times in history, left-handedness has indeed been seen as a mark of the devil.  Among the Eskimos, left-handed people are seen as potential sorcerers.  In Morocco, they are called ‘s’ga,’ a word that means devil or cursed person.

In many languages, the word ‘left’ is associated with evilness.  In Italian: ‘sinistra.’  The Latin word for left, ‘laevus,’ also means silly or unlucky.  On the other hand, the Latin for right, ‘dexter,’ carries connotations of skilfulness and fortunate, and the English word ‘dexterity,’ meaning manual skill, is derived directly from it.[i]

But here’s conclusive proof of Abbott’s makeup:  The Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper, Osama Bin Laden were all left-handed too.  Need I say more?

Quick!  Let’s rush off and set up Facebook page, to warn people.  Oh, hang on, there’s already a glut of such pages in Abbott’s honour, most notably the ‘Tony Abbott – Worst PM in Australian History’ page, on which he’s described as ‘a misogynist, sexist, homophobic prick, a bully, a racist and a liar’.  Well, now we can add ‘The Devil, Incarnate,’ just to round off the abuse.  Way to go, Australian public.

But, hey, it’s not all bad news for Abbott.  Being left-handed puts him in very good company.  There’s me, for starters.  I am a proud member of Club Leftie.  Did you know that we are more creative, more likely to be gay, that there are more of us with IQs over 140 than there are of you righties and that we are 100% more likely to hate using spiral notepads.

And did you know that, while it was Kevin Rudd who employed personnel from President Obama’s campaign to try and help him get over the line on 7th September, it is Abbott who has this one special thing in common with Obama — and indeed many past U.S. Presidents.

Yes, in the last hundred years, the U.S. presidency has veered more and more to the left — not in policy, mind you, but in handedness.  Barack Obama is the latest to join a long list of left-handed presidents from the 20th century: James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Henry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush (senior) and Bill Clinton were all southpaws.[ii]

So what makes lefties such successful politicians?  Some experts think left-handed people have a greater aptitude for language skills, which may help them craft the rhetoric necessary for political office.  Certainly we have seen this with Abbott, who does indeed appear to be the suppository of all knowledge.

Others claim that because most of us (ie right-handed people, 90% of the population) tend to have positive associations with the concept of ‘right’ and bad associations with ‘left,’  we are influenced by how these leaders present in televised situations, such as the debates.  When a rightie uses his dominant hand for gestures, such as a thumbs-up, television viewers — who see the image flipped — see him gesture on the left side of their screen. The left-handed politician, meanwhile, ‘appears to be putting things in a much more positive light for the 90% of viewers who are right-handed.’[iii]

Aside from politicians, there are many other famous lefties worthy of note: Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Lewis Carroll, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Gates, Germaine Greer, the Queen Mother and Prince William (and hopefully little Georgie), Ned Flanders….the list of luminaries goes on and on.

Being left-handed myself, I have always felt smug and special.  It’s fun to be in the minority.  I’ve never really seen it as a disadvantage, save for when I was seated next to righties at school and we’d bump elbows all day long.  And I do tend to steal my neighbour’s bread roll at dinner parties; I can never remember on which side the roll is traditionally placed and I naturally go for the one on my left.

Oh, and another thing: try being left-handed and drinking from the ‘kangaroo cup’ at Max Brenner (below).  You will find that coffee dribbles right down your chin because it must first make its way over the pouch which holds the oh-so-good melty chocolate pieces before it gets to your lips.   This, however, is one obstacle that I’m happy to overcome.

kangaroo cupI am also geographically challenged, by which I mean to say that I get lost quite a bit.  I once stayed in a hotel in Singapore and every time I walked out of my room to take the lift down to the lobby, I turned to the left instead of the right — and each time, my husband stared at me in disbelief.  I eventually got it right, after a few days, so no biggie.  In cinemas, I always veer to the left and when joining a seated group, I will try and make sure that everyone is on my right.  I draw backwards ticks and wear my watch on my right hand, but other than that I am completely normal and society accepts me just fine.Some of my favourite famous left-handers?  Jim Carrey, David Bowie, Rik Mayall and Chewbacca the Wookiee.

About Sonia Bowditch

Writer on society and culture in Australia. And short stories.

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