Saturday, July 22, 2006

Criminalising funny humour II

(Earlier post here)

In February I wrote that ‘in Australia recently, a “the funnier the prank, the more criminal it must be (and vice versa)” paradigm seems to be emerging’, citing ABC TV’s “The Chaser” as a prime exhibit in one instances, and a party-by-association in the other.

This trend is clearly not only continuing, but worsening, with the news of Chas Licciardello being charged with offensive conduct – conduct that he was engaging in to generate content for a TV program segment.

Plainly, this latter detail doesn’t, and shouldn’t give legal immunity for those involved. But if no harm was done – and I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary – then charging Licciardello with a crime does seem excessively trigger-happy.

Quoth Acting Deputy Commissioner Denis Clifford:

"This was clearly an act of mindless stupidity that had the potential to stir up the large crowd and cause serious problems . . . We'll see how funny he thinks all this is [when he appears at Sutherland Court]” (same URL).

Nice one – talk about shooting the messenger. Games between the two rugby teams whose match Licciardello was filming outside ([Canterbury] Bulldogs and St George-Illawarra) have lately been afflicted with something the SMH euphemises as “anti-social behaviour”. Which a reasonable person might interpret as general drunkenness/boorishness etc. But no; the NSW police apparently deploys its riot squad to all such games. Yep, that’s got quite the makings of a nice family day out, there.

Worse, when one drills down through what actually happened, it is plain that serious criminal behaviour (= theft) was committed against the Australian public (= ultimate owners of ABC props), but the police were apparently unconcerned about this, at least in comparision to Licciardello’s crime of attire:

"I was filming for our show, hawking off a Bulldogs supporters kit, it was a silly thing, it had fake knuckle dusters, balaclavas, that sort of stuff." . . . Licciardello said the Bulldogs supporters started taking his props and "were getting a little bit rough."

Licciardello admits to being dressed in a Bulldogs' jersey and beanie outside the ground prior to the match at OKI Jubilee Stadium in Sydney's south (same URL).

Sorry NSW police - was your riot squad otherwise engaged at the time, so you had to send the fashion-and-bad-props squad down to nab Licciardello? (The latter squad presumably are too precious to arrest actual criminals)

Although "The Chaser" team, on last night’s show, showed their best fighting spirit over the incident, today’s news sounds ominous for the show’s future:

[ABC] head of arts and entertainment, Courtney Gibson, admitted yesterday the prank had received editorial and legal approvals from the ABC [but said:]

"In light of Chas's arrest last weekend, we have reviewed and tightened some of those processes and protocols that govern the making of this particular program."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Creepy Christian Right

The thing I find most puzzling about the Christian Right is its attitude to the (sexual) closet – that one's being in it is, where applicable, plainly a good thing. Well, it’s not – and I don’t only mean it’s bad for putative closetees. In particular, the closet is bad for children at large, simply because the closet’s nature tends to make paedophilia opaque, as well.

By this, I don’t only mean the closet protects some (= male predators of boys) paedophiles from scrutiny, and so prosecution. This can and does happen, but the closet’s opacity leads to other perversions as well, including of basic moral and journalistic truth.

Illustrating what I mean here is this story: “Male teacher investigated over 'sex talk' claims

Of course, the fact that the teacher’s gender (which surely makes no difference) is referred to in the headline should be sufficient warning that the accompanying story is going to be a tabloid crock, but let’s look past that for now.

In a familiarly homophobic discursive structure, the Asian (see how it feels, Chee Chee Leung?) journalist runs through a ill-defined catalogue of alleged incidents. These range from the teacher’s classroom assertion of the Christian Right orthodoxy (AFAICT) on being gay, to some rather creepy/off-colour classroom remarks, through to a single, seriously alarming one-on-one discussion, with a younger student, to boot (this student was primary-age, while the others were all apparently secondary).

Leung’s main offence lies here:

At Lighthouse Christian College in Melbourne's south-east . . . Mr Henderson allegedly made inappropriate comments to year 7 students [in class] . . . This included . . . telling students that "being gay is not a problem, unless it involves gay sex".

Huh? How is this “inappropriate” given that, as I’ve said, it is Christian Right orthodoxy? (It is certainly Catholic orthodoxy). Or am I missing the application of the de facto Rule of the Closet here, i.e. that Henderson wilfully compounded his creepy and quite possibly illegal, alleged behaviour by not being sufficiently ashamed of his (legal and God-given) sexuality?

Teaching children shame - of this sort - is bad enough. Mixing such with criminal behaviour and psychological repression in adult teachers is more toxic still.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beirut International Airport 2006 - Dawson's Field 1970 redux

Israel’s systemic bombing of Beirut’s runways seems to fall within two otherwise quite mutually-exclusive categories: “conventional war” and “high-production-value terrorism”. Here I use the T-word with some misgivings, as the runway bombing was done without the loss of human life, AFAIK.

But in its broader context, this seems to be an act of drunk-on-power, televisual spectacle (as well as, FWIW, a fairly standard strategic move, in conventional war terms). “Terrorism” is going to be the label that sticks, of course – even without loss of life, the runway bombing is of a rare intensity and unsettling familiarity, such that it “jumps out” through the television screen, and into the lounge-room of almost any Western viewer. Precisely as it was intended to, one can only assume.

In this, the Beirut runway bombings resemble the unexpected blowing up in 1970 of a billion dollar’s worth of aircraft at Dawson's Field (near Zarqa, Jordan, a town latterly famous in another terrorist context). Again, Dawson's Field – when narrowly construed – was an act of pure property damage. But as an act of violence, it was exemplary – it showed the actors behind it as being without limits – financial and, by implication, moral.

The late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was three years and eleven months old at the time of the Dawson's Field spectacle. I shudder to think of what the current crop of four-year-olds in Beirut may become in due course. Unlike their same-aged counterparts in Haifa/Israel, there is insufficient moral logic* behind the Beirut runway bombings – an undeniable, undignified adult tantrum – to satisfy even a four-year-old.

* Note: “logic” (a subjective concept), not (objective) justification

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Corrie Perkin and conflicts of interest

Corrie Perkin is a consummate media beast. Within the last five years, she has gone from broadsheet gossip/lifestyle columnist (“Critical Mass” in the Age, c 2000-2002), to head PR (aka “Communications and Audience Engagement”) at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), to arts journalist with a different broadsheet (the Australian), as from about May 2006.

Both her former recent positions – one entailing scattergun gossip-peddling, the other institutional depth and detail – have certainly been useful for her recent coverage of the property dispute between ex-partners Geoffrey Smith (a NGV curator) and art dealer Robert Gould, under the guise of serious arts journalism.

(In a stange twist, tabloid homophobe Karen Collier has also piggy-backed on Perkin’s stories here and here)

Despite her professed core concern in the Smith/Gould story being conflicts of interest (as opposed to Collier's "Pooftahs!!!"-type motivations), Perkin has not seen fit to disclose her very recent, and senior, stint with the NGV at any stage. (Formally disclosing her earlier provenance as a gossip conduit would seem redundant, in comparison.)

Perkin’s conflict of interest here runs both deep and wide. Her time at the NGV coincided with the downfall of Melbourne businessman Steve Vizard. Vizard, NGV trustees’ president between 1998 and May 2004, was embroiled in a complex insider-trading and tax-avoidance-and-art scandal between 2002 and 2005. At the start of this, Vizard was the innocent victim of a thieving bookkeeper, but by 2005, many serious question-marks hung over Vizard’s art-and-tax dealings, and now look set to do so forever, following a shambolic resolution of sorts last year. (This “resolution” resulted in Vizard getting a slap on the wrist for insider-trading, while the tax-avoidance-and-art issues just dropped from the radar).

While Perkin was careful, during the time their respective NGV roles overlapped (i.e. 2003 - May 2004) to never appear to be in Vizard’s pocket, there is a strong likelihood that she was closely involved with the commissioning and fruition of at least two journalistically-unethical puff-pieces on Vizard between August 2003 and May 2004.

Just as the wind was changing on Vizard then, someone with “ins” at both Melbourne dailies was running a last-minute charm offensive:

Gabriella Coslovich, “The collector” Age August 7, 2003

John Ferguson, Herald Sun late-May 2004

Note many people would have “ins” across these two arch-rivals, but Corrie Perkin is one of them. She wrote for the Age until c. late 2002, and her brother Steve is sometime assistant features editor at the Herald Sun, and current sports journo there. As Crikey noted at the time, the John Ferguson Herald Sun story had extraordinary timing, incongruously running just days before Vizard’s official announcement of his quitting as president of the NGV’s Council of Trustees.

If you doubt the links here, consider this account by former AFR journo Adam Shand, who had Vizard pull out from an interview with him prior to the John Ferguson story running, even after the interview had physically started (penultimate URL also). Shand also notes the very different way the Age – the AFR’s stablemate – covered Vizard’s NGV resignation:

[Vizard said in an NGV media release that] he intended to spend more time with his family. The resignation had nothing to do with the ASIC investigation and he said he planned to retain all his other public roles. And the media bought it completely, The Age virtually reprinting the PR release from the NGV website.

Are you smelling Eau de Rodent sufficiently yet? If not, may I plead a specimen of Perkin’s own byline – a twisted, nasty, and nakedly-biased disgrace to journalism, even leaving aside her own conflict-of-interest issues.

Reading this piece one could be forgiven for getting the impression that the NGV – unlike the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia – does not have any conflict-of-interest policies. This is because Perkin takes the trouble to note, mid-story, that the latter trio “confirmed yesterday that their staff were aware of policies on conflicts of interest”. So what about the NGV – could it really, as Perkin surely implies, not be meeting the usual standards here? Actually, no, but a reader needs to persevere to the very last para – past two anonymous (but somehow authoritative) sources calling the Smith/Gould matter “reprehensible” and “a scandal" and even an unnamed “NGV insider” saying that NGV conflicts-of-interest were “a very murky area” – to get to the truth (still convoluted by Perkin even in the last para) that the NGV does have conflict-of-interest policies, just like its peers.

That Corrie Perkin, as a recent senior NGV employee, should well-know this, can also be noted. But such is almost beside the point, as is her lack of first-year-uni, basic journalist objectivity and ability to order information. In a career overlapping with the spectacular, if opaque and ill-resolved, downfall of Steve Vizard, Perkin evidently feels she is untouchable – as if by rummaging around in the small-time skeletons in others’ closets, she is closing the door even tighter on her own, voluminous closet.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I finally “get” Kevin Donnelly

It’s a tough contest, but Kevin Donnelly surely must take the honours as the Right’s most over-exposed opinionator. (FWIW, the “Left” counterpart winner would be a dead-heat between Peter Craven and Philip Adams; I say scare-quotes-Left, because their over-exposure alone vitiates anything and everything they might have to say: bullies and hogs ain’t no Lefties, period).

Objective over-exposure is one thing, and who really knows why the Oz gives up so much space for Donnelly to say the same thing, over and over again? (Much the same point applies against Craven and Adams.) But for now, I’m interested in the “inner” Kevin Donnelly - what makes him tick, given that his obsessiveness on the schools-and-PC issue seems to leave my own boomer-hating’n’baiting corpus in the dust. Being bitter when one is 42, unemployed, assetless, highly-educated, and with no mainstream media “in” is at least semi-rational in my (admittedly biased) opinion.

Donnelly, in contrast, is 60-ish, not short of a quid or a million-dollar home, and has acres of newsprint apparently at his free beck and call. So where does all his bottomless bile come from? Especially given that he doesn’t have a personal stake (= children currently at school, AFAICT) in his pet issue either.

Some revealing snippets in yesterday’s Oz* help solve the mystery. Donnelly, these days the epitome of Melbourne’s blue-blood, boomer-and-older heartland, grew up in a housing commission house in Broadmeadows (a tough outer suburb of Melbourne). Unlike his co-escapee from Broady, Eddy McGuire, Donnelly did not get a ticket out courtesy of an elite private school education, nor (unlike Mark Latham, this time) an elite public school education (selective public high schools are much less common in Vic than NSW). Donnelly feels, to this day, that he nonetheless received a quite strong education at his local high school:

Strangely enough, the 60s were a time when teachers knew that working-class kids could think, and that education needed to be challenging and introduce students to unknown worlds and new experiences and emotions”.

Yep, that’s real strange, Kev. Donnelly is, of course, incorporating by reference the received Culture War Time-Frame, under which the Left hijacked much of the West, including its schools, around that late 1960s. Under this time-frame, the last 30 or 40 years have thus been toxic, and quite uniformly so, for the West’s general well-being – but this startling fact has only been generally realised quite recently.

Or does Donnelly permit a chink to pierce this usually-impregnable time-frame? It would seem so, given this:

On graduating, my first job involved teaching migrant children from Melbourne’s western suburbs. As English teachers . . . one year we ditched Shakespeare in favour of Puberty Blues [the 1979 novel by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette]. The argument was that the book was contemporary and exactly what young students would want. After several weeks discussing the book, our classes switched off.” [Donnelly then goes on to his money-shot; viz that he did then get his students’ attention back, by switching from Sydney teen/surf culture to ancient Greek tragedy.]

Donnelly’s short-lived experiment with teaching Puberty Blues would have happened in 1980, at the earliest. Eureka! A boomer-Right culture-warrior has just admitted that he was fucking up young Xer minds, way after the 60s, albeit only briefly so.

This is important because it clearly shows: (i) how the Donnelly of 2006 is over-compensating for the Donnelly of 1980, and (ii) how he is indifferent to the fate of a whole generation who were sold up Shit Creek, decades ago. By his own curricular flicking from Puberty Blues to Medea, Donnelly’s presumed conceit is that Xers at large still got the sort of quality education he got in the 60s. This is laughable, of course, as well as contradictory with the received Culture War Time-Frame.

So which one is it, Kev? The boomer-Right were powerless to do or say anything until recently (yeah, right), or that the boomer-Right (= you) committed as many culture-war-crimes on my generation as did the boomer-Left?

* "The Forum - Kevin Donnelly on classic consciousness" Australian 8 July 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Big Brother, the Christian Right, and Jamie’s hardon

Two little-known, albeit difficult to verify, facts re last weekend’s “Big Brother” controversy:

(1) Housemate “Jamie” is a fundamentalist Christian

(2) Shortly prior to the axeing of “Big Brother – Adults Only”, an image of Jamie’s erect (at the very least, semi-erect) penis was broadcast on the show

Normally, above "fact one" would be none of my business. But given the mountain of media humbug over the axeing of BB-AO, and then the near-axeing of the whole shebang, I believe the connections between the two above facts make them both valid public-interest matters.

First connection: Why was “Big Brother – Adults Only” axed?

According to Barnaby Joyce, the objectionable tipping-points for taking BB-AO off the air were (this list may not exhaustive):

- the unisex, communal shower for all housemates (the specifics of this are from memory; can’t find a link)

- a shot of a female housemate sitting on the toilet, apparently defecating

- a shot of two (I’m guessing) housemates having “simulated anal sex”

Re the last item in this ersatz dossier, Barnaby Joyce asks: “Tell me how I explain that to my daughter” (same URL)*. Umm, Barnaby, if she’s old enough (15+) to be watching BB-AO, then I reckon she’s old enough to get a lesson on what (some) gay guys do (and even some straights do too, I hear).

But that’s by-the-by, sort of. The main point from Joyce dossier is, I think, it’s lameness. None of the three items is particularly shocking. I’m assuming that the second one showed no detail from below, while the first one is laughable. Meanwhile, Joyce’s concerns in the last item reek of homophobia. (If he’s not homophobic, then the “anal” in “simulated anal sex” is redundant.)

Most tellingly, though, is that a shot of a man’s erect penis plainly trumps the Joyce dossier, when it comes to both broadcasting rules and common-sense matters of taste.

Why then did Joyce try, and succeed, in having BB-AO sent down over the equivalent of a few parking fines, when there was a "murder" scene in front of his eyes? I really don’t know, but I’d hazard a guess that Jamie’s fundamentalist Christianity was a factor, along with the axeing's clincher-reason needing to contain a sort of gay-hate banner-ad as part of it. That is, the “parking fines” approach was promising because it was GAY-coloured, and the “murder” approach would undesirably spotlight a good Christian boy’s donger. (Here, I do have some sympathy for the guy – even if Jamie had a “say” over his erection, he certainly didn’t over its broadcast.)

Strange – but the Christian Right plainly did get its way. Jamie’s donger stayed off the front page, and gay men got a “Pervert!” kick to the head as part of the deal, to boot. Meanwhile, the precedent thereby established – that an erect-penis image is now okay to be broadcast – has been filed away for another day. (Presumably, the Christian Right is hoping that when such next inevitably, ahem, rears its head, there’ll again be a nearby, convenient GAY goat named “Scape”).

Second connection: was the Christian Right behind the lightning “turkey-slap” Internet campaign?

I hinted as much the other day, and am still convinced of it, albeit such is again difficult (or probably impossible, in this case) to verify. But to start with some indisputable facts: the offending Internet live-stream was seen by 150 people (today’s “Crikey” newsletter) at 4.30 a.m. on Saturday; only hours later it was huge.

How so? An innocent explanation would be that feminist/anti-rape-activist forces were behind the story's breakneck growth. Possibly, but I think such a campaign still would have taken days, not hours, even if there were well-oiled networks in place from the outset.

My strong hunch is that the forces involved must have been both actively trolling, and on red-hot standby, in the lead-up to them finding their scalp at 4.30 a.m. on Saturday. Given the Christian Right’s earlier success in claiming the scalp of BB-AO, it is highly-likely that they – and not more appropriate “plaintiffs” such as anti-rape-activists – were the instrumental trolls.

In summary, serious concerns exist with how the Christian Right have so successfully – and almost invisibly – twice manipulated a public-morality issue into becoming big news. Most worrying of all is that they are doing so in attack-, not defence-mode. “Big Brother” has been particularly “gay” in 2006, and so it is no accident that the Christian Right have this year been so determined to meticulously bludgeon it to death, no holds or tactics barred.

* QV: "Whenever you complain, you're instructed to patrol the television, to stop the kids from watching it," remarks Joyce, a father of four. "So I have to turn into a policeman because you're irresponsible? What a cop-out."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Homophobia and tabloids

Twice in four days, Melbourne tabloid the Herald-Sun has run unrelated full frontal (= most of its front-page) features, primarily about a relationship between two gay men, but with a third wheel also looming large. The correct word to describe these stories is “homophobic”, which is not a term I commonly use.

To give you an idea of the Herald-Sun’s priorities and interests here, Sunday’s front-page story on MP Andrew Olexander and his admin assistant cum partner outranked the then-peak-fresh “Big Brother” sex scandal on the day. For a tabloid, the latter is self-evidently a huge story, so the Andrew Olexander story must easily be one of this year’s top ten most important, period. Of course, the Herald-Sun had an ostensible pretext for running the story: that Olexander and partner are slack with their constituency office hours, and isn’t it a bit suss that O’s employing his partner anyway? Yep, that’s B-I-G all right; we all know that heterosexual politicians would never stoop to such.

Today’s story however, has not even a flimsy public-interest veil, a la politicians’ (and their employees') accountability. It is simply a report of a property dispute (albeit involving $7m, but this surely isn’t so large a sum as to prima facie scream “front page treatment”) between ex-partners Geoffrey Smith (a National Gallery of Victoria curator) and art dealer Robert Gould. Oh, and as I mentioned, there is a third wheel; this time a gay man (who is, like Smith and Gould, a minor public figure) who is alleged to have had a secret affair with one of the couple, prior to their estrangement. (In Sunday’s story, the third wheel was Olexander’s partner’s ex-wife, who is – shock, horror – bitter.)

What prurient crap. No doubt the Herald-Sun feels emboldened to run such stories because its sibling broadsheet doesn't mind taking the occasional, nakedly homophobic tilt, albeit never as a front-page leader. No, the Oz is far too Pru/Trude-polite to be tabloid-homophobic, isn’t it Sweetie? As is this sanctimonious crew of soft-Left Chris Masters-fluffers at LP.

To be clear about it, I actually prefer my media homophobia to be served up on the front-page, and preferably with big, GAY banner headlines. Yes, it’s nastier, and so closer to encouraging/inciting actual physical violence, but this can work both ways. Chris Tinkler, Ian Haberfield and Karen Collier (= the journos who wrote the two Herald-Sun stories): if I ever meet you, I would gladly, nay . . . gaily serve you up your very own next front page shock, in a font so large and unmistakeable that it makes your eyes (and more) bleed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Spotlight on Mt Druitt Spotlight workers

Yep, they’re the mainly Xers and Yers (I’m guessing) who didn’t become media/Labor darlings for at least long enough to be once-off grandfathered against downwardly-mobile working terms – viz Coffs Harbour boomer (and home-owner, unlike the Mt Druitt crew, I’d also guess) Annette Harris.

But nor does today’s SMH story on the Mount Druitt workers amount to anything of substance.

That they get paid two cents and hour less than their Coffs Harbour (sans Annette Harris) equivalents? Pull-eaze. If journo Phillip Coorey actually thinks that this anomaly makes a real difference, then it’s a situation easily solved by his reaching into his own pocket. Let’s assume – as Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews seems to, of which more about below – that the 40 Mount Druitt workers, despite being casuals, get an ongoing average of 40 hours work each week. At two cents per hour, this adds up to 80 cents per week tops that they’re getting ripped-off for. Multiplied by all forty of them, this is $32 per week. Yes, not a trifle I know, Phillip Coorey, but most likely you spend double that amount on store-made lunches and coffee each week. Try BYOing sandwiches/thermos every second day to work, and you’ll save $32 per week in a snip.

More serious is Kevin Andrews’ assertion (unchallenged by the SMH, despite its patent ridiculousness) that the 40 Mount Druitt workers (of whom 38 were previously unemployed) are now $350 a week better off. With the dole being about $200/week, Andrews is obviously supposing a 40 hour week; viz earnings of ~ $570/week at $14.28 an hour. Here, I’m not even going to try to factor in tax, rent assistance etc, but obviously such omission can only favour the Andrews line of math.

So where does Kevin Andrews – and the SMH – get it so wrong, then? The answer lies in the actual AWA, which guarantees only four hours work a week. Taper rates on very small additional earnings (less than $50/week) are much more benign than for medium-sized additional earnings (of about $150-250/week). For the latter (which roughly equates to 10-18 hours/week), such workers will only be slightly ahead, compared to either working fewer hours, or remaining purely on the dole.

But the real kicker comes in terms of income security. Again, if they only get token hours, there’s no real change. Likewise, if they get no more than about 20 hours/week – above which number of hours their dole would taper to zero.

But if they get even a brief run of full-time (ish) shifts, everything changes. All it takes for the most casually and insecurely employed of casuals in Australia to be cast “off” the dole is six consecutive fortnights of zero “dole” earnings. By “off” the dole, I mean having to reapply for it from scratch, which in generally means serving months' waiting period, during which one has, by definition, no income.

Kevin Andrews saying that the Mount Druitt 40 are now $350 a week better off is a sick joke, then. Leaving aside his dodgy math, if they are currently getting the (very) full-time hours that remotely justify his claim, then they’d better pray that these hours continue for them forever. If these hours drop off substantially (after six fortnights or more), then they’re going to be much worse off, under any measure, than if they’d never started the job. Likewise if they’re sacked for good or bad reason; as long as the boss writes “misconduct” on the separation certificate, that’s an automatic two-month waiting period to serve before they can hope to get a zac.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ten pulls [Big] Brother after MP scalding

No, it’s not my prediction of tomorrow’s headline: it’s from last week, after the axeing of “Big Brother - Adults Only”.

Whenever stories of this kind arise, one’s suss-ometer needs to be set to “high”. Stranger things have happened than publicity stunts being engineered as ratings and/or ancillary revenue boosters. I feel confident that the “Adults Only” axeing was not such a stunt, but am less comfortable about the latest brouhaha.

What is beyond dispute is that if the censorious politicians do get their way here (and assuming that the whole thing is not a cynical stunt), most of the ground work will have been laid by others, in particular: (i) ostensibly pro-female campaigners acting in concert on Internet forums (particularly the official “Big Brother” one), and (ii) the expert opinion of Catharine Lumby (often spelt Catherine Lumby).

These two factors explain the 12 hour or so delay between the incident and the show’s producers evicting the offending duo (the delay was actually longer, but a long-pre-arranged band coming on-set set back the natural timetable).

Only a concerted campaign (one that, in the time available, couldn’t have happened anywhere but the Net) could explain how some grainy night-vision footage, narrowcast to a presumably-tiny (at 4:30 a.m.) Internet subscription audience, could so quickly get “big” enough to require Catharine Lumby’s urgent adjudication. (Unlike the consensus at LP, I think the overall speed here is telling, rather than any slowness). (NOTE (in case you are unfamiliar with the background): the young woman who the incident was done to did not initiate the complaint; obviously if she had, then the Internet harpie (= motivated by homophobia, which I’ll explain in another post) brigade would have been superfluous, and my reservations about "speed" would be redundant.)

Then we get to the clinching role played by Catharine Lumby, Associate Prof in Media Studies at Sydney University. My guess is that she (along with the NSW Rape Crisis Centre (doesn’t Qld have one?)) was contacted late morning or early afternoon on Saturday.

Her urgent opinion was sought on just one thing: whether less than a minute (I’m guessing) of grainy footage showed sexual assault, or just hijinks, or whatever. From what I’ve read, Lumby was expected to make her decision on the footage alone, without context, and without even interviewing the parties, especially the woman at the centre.

Predictably, her opinion was thus:

Ms Lumby said yesterday she told the producers the male housemates had crossed the line: "[t]here is a complete difference between sexual behaviour and sexual assault." (same URL)

Well derr (on the "theory"). Her "applied" call may yet be proved correct (i.e. not just based on what evidence she had available to her to make an on-the-spot (or very nearly so) decision). But then again she may not; i.e. it will turn out that she has made an error of judgment.

Given that Lumby has plenty of form as a pathetic boomer shill, I’d rate her supposedly expert opinion on absolutely anything as worth jack shit.

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