So I heard back from the Press Council - Tactical Ninja
Nov. 20th, 2013
10:44 am - So I heard back from the Press Council
The Herald has, of course, defended itself and Bob Jones. I'm not allowed to copy/paste their response, but here is a summary of the main arguments they make:
1. I misrepresented their previous response as "He didn't mean it, where's your sense of humour?"
2. Mr Jones is deliberately provocative and should be taken that way. The vast majority of readers did take it that way. (read: he didn't mean it)
3. He was only insulting some women, so obviously he didn't mean all of them. (he didn't mean it)
4. He was trying to be funny. (where's your sense of humour?)
5. The column does not condone violence against women. (he didn't mean it)
6. Freedom of speech is important.
Oh, I stand corrected then.
Actually, I don't. Apparently because it was all a big tongue-in-cheek joke and because the police didn't take his letter seriously, we should all have a laugh together at the amusing troll and carry on our merry way.
The only place I don't entirely disagree with them is about freedom of speech. Generally, I'm a believer. But in this instance, I think that kind of speech should have consequences for the speaker, because there are consequences for those who are the victims of the attitudes he's perpetuating.
So here is how I responded. I was permitted 150 words, this came in at 146:
"The main thrust of the Herald's defence of Mr Jones is the principle of freedom of speech, whereas my complaint is based in the principle of discrimination and diversity, which states that discussion of gender issues is legitimate when relevant and in the public interest.
Mr Jones' column entitled "Spare us from road-clogging women" is neither relevant, nor in the public interest. While I acknowledge that Mr Jones seeks to be inflammatory, his column does not exist in a vacuum. The attitudes expressed in Mr Jones' column contribute to an environment of disdain for women in this country, which in turn allows situations like the recent Roast Busters scandal to thrive. Thus, I argue that Mr Jones' inflammatory opinions are not in the public interest, but against it, through perpetuating a sexist culture. It is disappointing that the Herald seeks to defend and support such attitudes."
I refuse to call this man Sir. (I didn't put that in my response, don't worry)
I do not expect that the Press Council will uphold my complaint. Part of this is because I was unable to address individual points in my response, despite the defence from the Herald being over 500 words. Part of it is because NZ's Human Rights laws and Press Council principles treat opinion pieces as if they are special. And partly because we live in a culture where a woman objecting to being insulted and denigrated by a rich old white guy in a paper is considered to be an uppity, militant man-hater who should probably just STFU and stop being oversensitive and get a sense of humour.