Friday, June 04, 2004

Blaming the victim

Troppo Armadillo wonders what crime Joanna Lees comitted to have her private life dragged through the mud:
Her crime? The Yorkshire lass who set off for the trip of a lifetime had the misfortune to become a victim of crime, then a victim of media speculation.
What’s worse, she didn’t take a media handling course before she was catapaulted into this extraordinary nightmare.
What’s worse still, she committed some additional crimes (that only 90 per cent of today’s youth would identify with): she took recreational drugs and had an affair that has sent the tabloids into a self-righteous frenzy – as if we all lived in monasteries.

By far the worst offender in this sorry cycle of "blame the victim" has been the "Daily Telegraph". When Lees's affair came out in court this was front page news in the "Tele", covered in such lurid style that you could be forgiven for thinking she was the one on trial. And the Tele has form. The Telegraph was also the paper that decided to splash a picture of the alleged victim in the Bulldogs rape scandal on its front page. Sure, her face was "blurred", but in such a token way that you could easily recognise her again. The Tele couldn't have delivered a bigger "fuck you" to the ethical guidelines against identifying accusors in rape cases if they tried.

Alas, it seems we're back to the bad old days of the tabloid media putting the victim on trial. If we ever left them. It's a wonder anyone comes forward with information on a crime at all.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Logic watch

On the sentencing of Islamic terrorist Jack Roche, conservative journalism student Gareth Parker writes, or cites (it's never very clear) the following:

Every critic and blamer, every detractor and accuser, who continues to make the case [..] that our status as a target of terrorists is the fault of the Australian government must read this judgement. Because it spells out clearly and unequivocally that terrorists are willing to kill innocent Australians for no other reason than they live un-Muslim lives. That is the stark reality and anyone who suggests otherwise is either dishonest or a fool.

The argument is clear. Muslic terrorists want to kill us for no other reason than we aren't like them, and anyone who suggests that government policy could have something to do with it is either dishonest or a fool.

So what about this dishonest fool?

Federal Opposition leader Mark Latham's call to bring Australian troops in Iraq home by Christmas would only encourage terrorists, Prime Minister John Howard said today.


"The worry I have is that any equivocation, any weakening at the present time will be seen around the world as the product of terrorist intimidation," he said


"They will see any weakening in the coalition as a sign they should try harder and that is a worry."

It's very simple. Either the terrorists aren't influenced by government policy because they have an irrational hatred of us, or they are rationally influenced by government policy by being encouraged by a "weakening" of our stance, but simply as a matter of logic both can't be true.

The true situation is, of course, that yes, terrorists want to do harm to us and have done for a long time, but equally, terrorists have to recruit and rally forces like anyone else, and clearly they will have an easier time of it when we keep on giving them excellent reasons to hate us. As I have pointed out, if I was an Iraqi Abu Ghraib would have me reaching for my gun.

But this is of course too complicated an concept for the right wing blowhards. Sound bite politics has become thought-bite blogging, with all the idiocy that that implies.

We're still not ready for "Heather Has Two Mommies"

Whether or not you regard Play School's decision to air a segment about a child of a lesbian couple as political seems to depend very much on your politics. Such families exist, so why not show them? Clearly, only if you believe that such a family ought not to be shown.

40 years ago, showing a mixed race couple would have been just as controversial, but our society got over that prejudice, and we will get over this one. But at least the social conservatives have put their cards on the table. All this talk of de-facto recognition of gay couples as an alternative to gay marriage has been exposed as a smokescreen; what they really loathe is the idea of a lesbian family under any description.

Playschool might have stepped on a land-mine in the culture wars, but at least now we know where the front line is; for Play School to be "apolitical" means to shield us from the facts on the ground about the the very real existence of lesbian families, and you can only believe this if you think a lesbian couple is, at some level, wrong and sinful and inappropriate for children's TV. This is the underlying argument behind Richard Alston's rhetoric; it's not that Playschool has become "politicized", but rather, that in presenting a lesbian couple as normal the ABC has strayed on to the wrong side of politics. The real sin is that it has failed to bow to conservative orthodoxy.

Anyway, what's even more frightening is who's AWOL on the issue. I'm anxious to see what everyone's favorite Australian right-blogger, Tim Blair, will make of the issue. He must be feeling dreadfully conflicted, what with his idolising of ultra-libertarian blogger Instapundit, whose political philosophy dictates acceptance of lesbian families, and yet, his intense loathing of anything even vaguely "politically correct." Without wanting to sound obsessed with the guy, he's just... so... hilariously, infuriating stupid that it's guaranteed to be fun.

But what I'm really thinking of is Labor's head-ducking response. The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Labor's family spokesperson Wayne Swan saying this:

I haven't seen the program but I'd be concerned if a children's program explored issues of sexuality, because that's a matter for parents."

As the SMH points out, Labor is pro-gay adoption. Way to have the courage of your convictions, guys. I know you're paranoid about wedge issues and being flanked from the right, but will people really respect you when you're this spineless?

Note:Mr Gordon is worth reading on this too.


Ever burning the midnight oil, Tim Blair has delivered while I wrote this piece. Classic Blair. Here's the full text of my comments:

Hello, year 7 social studies class. The topic of today's lesson is is "Analysing inane arguments from right wing blogger hacks." We will focus on a post by Tim Blair on showing lesbians on Play School. Consider the following points. Tim Blair says:

So it’s okay for lesbians to take pre-schoolers to amusement parks ... but whenever I invite pre-schoolers to watch my collection of lesbian DVDs I end up explaining myself in court. How is that fair?

Class, what are the ways in which the "I have two mummies" segment was not like showing lesbian porn to pre-schoolers? Do you think Mr. Blair is being entirely honest in his argument? If not, why not?

Tim Blair also says:

All family situations? Can’t wait for the domestic violence and child slavery episodes.

Class, in what ways might having lesbian parents not be like child slavery? Explain your answer.

Extra credit: Mr Blair often cites, with approval, arguments from Libertarian weblogs. Explain what a real libertarian would make of the issue, and how this differs from Mr. Blair's own position. How hypocritical is Mr. Blair anyway?

Time flies

My God. Has it been a month since I last posted? It's unbelievable. I haven't been idle in the time; I have a stack of back-posts to put the finishing touches on and put up in the next few days. Some of them are rather stale by this point, but since at the moment I'm mostly writing for my own amusement, this isn't much of an issue. I might try exploring retroposting in order to suggest topicality.

In case I haven't made it clear; this blogging thing is hard.