Friday, November 15, 2013

Karl du Fresne: The tyranny of the mob - again

Sigh. Here we go again: the tyranny of the mob. Emboldened by numbers and anonymity, the finger-waggers swarm on to Twitter and Facebook, demanding the heads of RadioLive broadcasters Willie Jackson and John Tamihere for asking supposedly inappropriate questions of the friend of an alleged Roast Busters victim. Moral righteousness is never so easy as when there are thousands of you and opinion is never cheaper than when you can join the shrill chorus of condemnation without having to identify yourself.

We have been here before. We saw it with the furore over the late Paul Holmes' throwaway remark - which I suspect was meant ironically, although that point was lost in the moralistic clamour that ensued - about Kofi Annan being a "cheeky darkie". We saw it again when Alasdair Thompson was hounded from his job because he made a perfectly legitimate remark that was deemed offensive to women.Once again we see timid corporate advertisers being panicked and bullied into boycotting the programme involved, just as happened to Holmes. And once again we see the contrite hosts making the now-ritual apology - and inevitably, then being condemned because it wasn't considered sincere enough. You can't win.

The initiator of the boycott, reportedly, was left-wing blogger Giovanni Tiso, who is understandably bathing in a self-congratulatory glow. Funny how it's almost invariably the Left that wants to shut down opinions it doesn't like, and even odder that capitalist companies should meekly fall into line.

Before I'm accused of indulging in victim-blaming, which is one of those accusations (like "racist", "sexist" and "beneficiary basher") that activists use to intimidate opponents into silence, I should state that there are few things I detest more than  sexual abuse. I abhor the misogynist culture that exists within parts of New Zealand society and, like most people, I'm aghast at the reported activities of the so-called Roast Busters - and perhaps even more so at the lackadaisical reaction, at least until this week, of the police.

But the outrage over the Roast Busters has triggered a potentially valuable national conversation about how such attitudes could exist in a supposedly enlightened, civilised society, and everything should be on the table. If we genuinely want to understand what's been going on in West Auckland, a few awkward questions need to be asked. One of those questions is whether the behaviour of the victims may have been a contributory factor, consciously or otherwise. Asking that question doesn't excuse the contemptible behaviour of the perpetrators. Neither does it mean blaming the victim.

If we don't ask those uncomfortable questions, an opportunity will have been lost. And the enemies of free speech and open debate will have triumphed again. 


Duncan Brown said...
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The difficulty in making sense of the mob's outcry and subsequent boycotters is that very shortly after the first interview, any copy of the initial interview was taken down.
Re the "valuable national conversation", I agree, but it's unlikely to gain much traction if it's going to be led by a couple of shock jocks whose principal aim is to keep ratings up by being intentionally controversial

eating cunliffe said...
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Societal Insanity

The mob really got themselves excited about Len Brown. They raved and condemned and wrote raving inconsequential pretentious nonsense on blogs . And then they found something which unleashed absolute mindless hysteria. Roast Busters.
The Roast Busters were described as rapists by almost every writer. Underage sex equaled rape. Alcohol intake by the girls was not voluntary but was criminal stupification

As the hysteria reached it worst I was reminded of the eighties when a similar societal madness came to New Zealand. It was the ‘ One man in four is a sexual abuser’ campaign . It was grabbed up by NZ Society and promoted. Even at the level of the mental health foundation this idea took hold.
Sexual predation in New Zealand.
The statistics, and the way they were arrived at would make Eric Crampton’s eyes boggle out with disbelief, and give one of his students a years work on false positives, and the meaningless gibberish.
The reasons for the idea were entirely false, manufactured from a story in the woman’s weekly.
This story invited other woman to write in and give an estimate of sexual predation in New Zealand ..
Following the many victim replies , the statistic of ‘ one man in four, a sexual predator’ was pulled out of the hat. Soon enough there were Newspaper pictures of shadowy men creeping into little girl bedrooms,
where the victim, clutching her rabbit doll, had wide eyes of fear. All these adverts asked for money to help remove this terrible disease we had.

It caused the persecution and conviction of Peter Ellis [ Christchurch ] of sexual crimes and withcraft.
Even Judges were carried away by the hysteria.
It was the craziest statistic ever perpetrated on New Zealand. One man in four is a sexual abuser.
Look at your father, your brother, your uncle, your neighbor,
Its one of them or more.
The signs painted on the streets said ‘ Castrate all men they are rapists’ and so on..
The madness caused a telethon to raise 4 million dollars on behalf of the victims of the ‘one man in four sexual predators’.
Most families just shrugged, and said God these feminists are mad, and that was all.
However many men paid a price. A man trying to get custody or access ts
o his children in Matrimonial disputes often received the sexual abuse approach. He had no show. men were tainted for years..
lets see if the centre right has any guts at all .. lets see if they can print watch du fresne wilt this instead of idiot surveys

Barbara Faithfull said...
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Excellent comment. I was probably the only one initially challenging those bogus "statistics", from around 1980, and now right up to present day, with the NZ Herald still publishing them as late as 8th November, and once more rejecting my letter to try to challenge them.

The figures were actually admitted to be mere "guesstimates" in the Auckland Sun, a week before Telethon, on 18th June 1988 by lesbian psychologist Hillary Haines (later Lapsley). She was deputy director of the Mental Health Foundation which, unbelievably, had supplied the figures in the first place! However, she observed, "They are only guessing with those figures, but in a sense it doesn't really matter; THE MAIN POINT IS THAT THEY SHOCK!"

Anonymous said...
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Even though I don't like the show, as an ex broadcaster I didn't find John and Peters comments offensive, maybe a little insensitive. We are so ridiculously pc its pathetic. When it comes to Hone (John) calling us other NZers 'White Mother F...ers' apparently that's alright. He gets rewarded to a top salary for doing very little paid by you and I.
Just another step downwards for this once great little country.

Anonymous said...
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Other examples of the tyranny of the Mob that come to mind are the response to Greg Clydesdales questioning the value of pacific Island immigration, Winston Peter's "tsunami of migrants" (Mary Wilson- "should we even be reporting him) and Shane Jones "gelding" joke (Mary Wilson was white hot on that).
The question is who and how are they so effective? I suggest an ideology coming from academia (humanities) and self selection into key positions (academia, journalism, political parties). Tail wag dog.

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