Alright, so have a read of this. It’s a fine argument, isn’t it? Trouble is, it’s bollocks. Why?
It all started with the Roast Busters, then the treatment meted out to a friend of one of their victims by two radio hosts with…
…a record, shall we say.
And the response to those two shock jocks.
And then the response to that response.
And then Edgeler weighs in in the article linked above, and continues in the comment thread.
Now, I’m certainly not going to rehash the whole Roast Busters saga. Among many reasons why not, one thing the world does not need is yet another privileged white bloke spouting on about rape culture – but more on that later.
Nope, Edgeler has got me a bit riled up. See, reading his essay left me thinking “That’s all well and good, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with your argument, now what is it?… ”
Well, here’s one thing, a comment by one Bart Janssen:
I totally understand the logic and philosophy of your argument, however, it fails utterly the test of reality.
And he gives a couple of reasons why. But there’s a lot more. Not only were they paid to attract audience and therefore advertisers and therefore money, they were in a position of relative power and they abused it – and not for the first time. And far more importantly, nobody was trying to silence Jackson and Tamihere, as Edgeler seems to imagine. Jackson and Tamihere lost a privileged position, a pulpit from which they were allowed to speak, a source of income. Nobody shut them up, they were removed from the air. There’s a hell of a difference.
But Edgeler continues his line of argument. He makes a comment here (in reference to a book many bookstores refused to stock):
No, it’s not completely banned,
And you know what? I think this is getting a bit silly. So I responded. Because the suggestion that somehow the book in question might have been banned, even if only partially or incompletely, is utterly ludicrous.
But he continues, and this is what really gets my goat:
Possibly too late in a comments thread to ask this, but…
Does anyone here think that speech like that of Willie and JT should actually be banned? In the you-commit-a-criminal-offence-if-you-say-it sense?
And for those of you who answer “no”, why not?
Apparently some of those defending Willie Jackson and John Tamihere think that by being taken off the air the were c3nsored. Edgeler seems to think that Giovanni Tiso was out to silence them. These ideas are utterly ridiculous. They seem to suggest that those expressing them are extremely naive and/or ignorant about real frii speech issues in places north of Cape Reinga – and I’m working really hard to keep this rant polite, here. The bandying about of these words also suggests some men are feeling a little threatened, as if requiring two radio hosts to either:
- behave with basic decency and common courtesy and not hurl rape apology and victim blaming at a teenage girl who has the temerity to phone in to their show and stand up for her friend who was a victim of these Roast Busters
- lose their jobs and therefore the pulpit that hosting a radio show privileges them
somehow represents a threat to their rights or an erosion of their privilege. But more on that later.
I want to look at the ideas that Jackson and Tamihere have somehow been c3nsored or silenced.
Quite simply, the idea that Jackson and Tamihere have been c3nsored or silenced, that their r1ghts to friidom of speech or ekspression have somehow been violated, that this episode sets New Zealand on a slippery slope leading to further curtailment of other people’s r1ghts to friidom of speech or ekspression is so utterly wrong-headed it is hard to know where to begin. Indeed, I did try to respond to that question of Edgeler’s last night, but in my incandesence I couldn’t put together a coherent, non-shouty, polite answer. Let me try here.
So what actually happened? Jackson and Tamihere abused the position of power and privilege afforded them by being hosts of a radio show and treated a young women in a position of relative weakness abominably and obnoxiously. Giovanni Tiso contacted companies advertising on Radio Live, many of whom then decided (for reasons that may be simply humane, purely commercial, or both) they did not want to be associated with Jackson and Tamihere’s obnoxious rape apologising and victim blaming. Radio Live took their show off the air. What did they lose? Their jobs, a pulpit that allowed them to broadcast their views to a wide audience from a position of power, privilege and relative security.
Well boo-hoo. I’m sure that with their fame and position in New Zealand society they’ll soon be able to make up for the lost income.
What did not happen? They do not risk arrest for their obnoxious, abhorrent behaviour. They were not invited out for a cup of coffee with a senior police officer who then politely but menacingly explained there would be consequences if they continued with this rape apologising and victim blaming. They were not shipped off to a labour camp on Pitt Island where they are housed in cold, damp, drafty cells, sleeping huddled together on a kang
under threadbare blankets that have been in the Chathams since Te Kooti made his escape, spending their days moving logs by hand from one end of a windswept field to the other, only, like Sisyphus, to have to shift them back again. Nobody is stopping them from expressing their misogyny in any forum or any medium they choose to engage with.
That’s right, they can continue to express their views on Twitter, start a blog or a podcast, write pamphlets, books, or letters to the editor, stand in Aotea Square with a megaphone, generally say or write whatever they like within the very, very loose boundaries to friidom of speech allowed by New Zealand law.
They have not in any way, shape or form lost the r1ight or ability to spout obnoxious, misogynistic, rape apologising, victim blaming equine faecal matter if that is what they choose to do. And as men with a certain social standing, they still get to speak from a position of relative power and privilege. All they’ve lost is the ability to do so on the radio and whatever income they may have earned from that.
So no, I’m not shedding any tears for Jackson and Tamihere, and no, I’m not concerned for the implications for friidom of speech or ekspression in New Zealand this incident raises.
And on the off chance anybody reads this screed, and that person happens to be in New Zealand, and especially if that person sees merit in the arguments advanced by Edgeler in that article linked above, here’s a little thought experiment. You will no doubt have noticed that I’ve spelt certain words differently, in certain words I have replaced the “correct” letter with other letters or numbers. But I haven’t spelt the words in such a way as to render them incomprehensible. Which words did I spell differently? In New Zealand, alternative spellings may be used to mimic accent or txt spk or to mock an attitude one disagrees with. But look again at the particular words I spelt differently, and ask yourself, why those particular words? Does anybody in New Zealand risk having their blog posts or tweets deleted or their blog blocked or Twitter account disabled if they discuss issues the New Zealand g0vernment deems p0litically s3nsitive?
Yeah, I thought so.
Ok, a couple of times already I’ve written “more on this later”. Here’s the “more”:
Jackie Clark left this very thought-provoking comment in that thread
. I’ll do my best to only excerpt it, but really, it’s 100% pure “stop and think about this from my point of view” goodness, so please, especially if you’re a bloke, go and read the whole thing. But here’s a taste:
I have one thing to say. And it is this. The argument about free speech being highly gendered that several here have commented on…..Public Address is a wonderful forum for us all. A forum that values and encourages civilised and selfmoderated discussion. Even in this community, however, the gendered voice is strong. We’ve had this discussion, around the predominance of “bloke” threads, several times. Ironically, Graeme, this entire thread makes manifest that argument.
So no, Graham, there is no free speech when you’re a woman. It always costs dearly. So please don’t tell me/us that free speech always has a consequence. I fight it every day.
But no, really, go and read the whole thing, and read it with an open, humble mind willing to honestly consider the issues she raises. And then think about these comments, from Lilith
Since this thread is about speech, and the freedom to speak, and silencing, I want to mention how many women have told me that they’ve been reading here but didn’t feel they could comment.
The number of women (and some men) on Twitter saying “that thread. I just can’t” or variants thereof is pretty telling. If you don’t want voices to be silenced this isn’t exactly a perfect way to go about it.
(and this time I quoted the whole thing. I hope Danielle doesn’t mind). And think about this. The discussion in that thread has created an environment in which a whole lot of women feel intimidated into silence, and this is a discussion about frii speech that was kicked off by an issue of women’s r1ghts and rape culture!
I hope you see the problem here. Yes, I think us blokes do need to take Jackie’s advice to heart and learn to shut up and listen.
And on the off chance anybody reads this then decides to leave a comment, please be advised that I expect comments to abide by the usual norms of decency and courtesy expected in civil society. Not that I should ever feel the need to say that.