David Leyonhjelm Has Spent The Last Week Being Accused Of Abuse And Slut-Shaming. His Online Supporters Are Loving It

David Leyonhjelm Has Spent The Last Week Being Accused Of Abuse And Slut-Shaming. His Online Supporters Are Loving It

Leyonhjelm has welcomed a flood of publicity this week, becoming the major news story of the last few days. Initially, it was for telling Greens MP Sarah Hanson-Young during a Senate debate to "stop shagging men". Now he's appeared on news programs on Australia's major channels, and has repeatedly refused to apologise.

Oh, and he called the prime minister a "pussy".

The senator claimed he had heard Sarah Hanson-Young imply "all men are rapists" during a debate on whether women should protect themselves against violence with pepper spray. This, he says, led to him calling across the chamber that the Greens MP should "stop shagging men".

When Hanson-Young confronted him afterwards, he told her to "fuck off."

Last Sunday, Leyonhjelm appeared on Sky News program Outsiders. There, the senator said Hanson-Young was "well known for liking men".

"The rumours about her in parliament are well known."

Reaction to the segment – which saw a Sky News producer suspended for allowing the words to appear on the show – was immense.

And while large segments of the media and other politicians have condemned Leyonhjelm's actions, support for him across the web of conservative social media communities is strong.

Barbara Jents, who posted a message of support for Leyonhjelm in the 50,000+ member Pauline Hanson One Nation Supporters & Discussion Forum, told BuzzFeed News she felt she needed to speak out "against the vitriol that is Sarah Hanson-Young."

Jents said the media had largely failed to expose comments made by Hanson-Young and said she "needs to get a grip and not be a victim and apologise to Leyonhjelm for what she said in the first place".

Elsewhere, messages of support have tallied in other large conservative forums. Thousands of comments stream out, praising Leyonhjelm for refusing to apologise.

In the 8,700 member Australian Conservatives Support Group, support for the Libertarian Leyonhjelm is rampant. Numerous stories from media outlets covering the battle between Hanson-Young and Leyonhjelm have been submitted to the group, with comments ranging from "Go David!" to "he just impressed the shit out of me."

News of Hanson-Young's possible legal action against the senator was met with vitriol. "Putrid, shameless, money-grubbing mutt!" wrote one member of the 150,000+ member Aussie Man Cave.

In the 5,000 member Australian Libertarian Forum, people reacted to news of Hanson-Young's threat of legal action with outbursts and guffaws, asking if this meant the Greens MP would have to "prove she's not a slut".

While Leyonhjelm's own Facebook is one of the more obvious places to find his supporters, a Thursday morning photo from the senator thanking his followers for their support has been shared hundreds of times. "So sad that no other politicians would 'mean up' and stand with you," wrote Theresa Kelly.

"Thank you for not apologising," wrote Lynn Taylor. "She deserved everything you said."

On Wednesday, the Guardian's political editor Katherine Murphy wrote that she saw Leyonhjelm's "politics as trolling" as a means of rallying his supporter base in the midst of an upcoming re-election campaign.

"He has to compete with other professional attention grabbers in the chamber of chaos," wrote Murphy. "If that’s the imperative, wasting a good crisis would be unthinkable. Notoriety is currency."

While not all of Leyonhjelm's supporters have been thrilled with the senator's actions, it would be hard not to label his PR play – if that is what this is – a success.