Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Think it possible that you may be mistaken

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I was asked by people on the twitter to explain my views. Has taken somewhat longer than expected :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Harvey,

    You honeybun -- you absolute champion.

    Westmere • Since Nov 2006 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    I may be mistaken but in exercising their free speech John Tamihere and Willie Jackson disqualified themselves from the debate they were supposed to be facilitating.
    There must be a threshold where concepts are discarded, not censored as such but just not worthy of respect or of forming a part of the conversation.

    I don't so much see 'willy' or ' jt' as dangerous misogynists as sad dickheads and their removal from a position of privileged arbiters of public discourse not so much a blow against free speech as a recognition that they were not fit to hold that position.

    Of course they are free to phone in to talkback radio and air their views like everybody else.

    Since Mar 2010 • 347 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I'm tired of living in a society where blokishness and treating women as lesser beings and as existing only for the purpose of providing sex for men is not only tolerated, but encouraged. As it is when people like JT and Willie are not just allowed, but are *paid* to be loutish, misogynist blokes. And it's not as though this was an isolated incident: JT has form when it comes to misogyny.

    I'm hearing overtones of a fancied up version of "women, get to the back of the bus and wait your turn" in this analysis.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1443 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    How many minds could have been changed if the response to Willie and JT was not to contact their advertisers, but to contact their switchboards, and flood the airwaves with the views of those appalled at their treatment of Amy? We’ll never know, but I’m guessing it would have been more than were changed by their silencing.

    Gut feeling is that would have achieved exactly jack shit. Pissed off people call them all the time, and they just get cut off. Then they give much much longer air time to angry conservative dad who agrees with them.

    I can't really buy anything in what you're saying here, Graeme.

    Of course, they are themselves an exercise of freedom of speech, even if it is speech that detracts from the marketplace of ideas.

    No, it IS an expression of an idea. A very strong expression of a widely felt and held idea. It entered the marketplace and crushed the competition.

    But I would like those who engage in this sort of speech to take more care.

    No dude, you're saying that it doesn't ever matter how grotesque the views are, a advertiser boycott should NEVER happen. You just took a million words to say it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10477 posts Report Reply

  • Eric Crampton,

    Nicely done, Graeme. Thanks.

    The New Zealand Initiativ… • Since Nov 2009 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • James Dunne,

    I'm afraid I don't see that 'freedom of expression' includes the right to be continue to be employed as a talkback radio host. Nor does it include, for that matter, the right to have my books stocked in bookstores or my films screened in theatres. Willie and JT haven't been silenced - they have lost their jobs, which is not at all the same thing.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    It was not just the content of Willie & JT's speech that is at issue. If they'd just talked among themselves and aired similar views, then as loathsome and dangerous as that is, I don't think there would have been the same outrage. But the way they treated Amy was indefensible, ethically or from any humane standpoint. They grilled a young woman - who was, she said, friends with rape victim, and who would have supported them through traumatising times - and demanded she answer deeply personal yet irrelevant questions, essentially blaming the actions of her and her friends for the things that were done to them. That's not "free speech", that's bullying or worse, and it has no place among civilised discourse.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    (I also think that a boycott might've been a good way of signalling to RadioLive that maybe they need a bit more diversity in their offering, and a bit less pandering to the vilest prejudices of certain generations. That, maybe, might have at least some effect upon their target audience. But I'll let others speak on that, because I'm conscious of this becoming another abstract philosophical debate among privileged white chaps.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Psycho Milt,

    It's kind of depressing that this was something that needed explaining, but thank you for doing it. This post is a beautiful piece of work.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2007 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Beagle,

    That was a good article and I generally support the idea of "more free speech". I think I'll have to read it again to pick out some of the arguments.

    But one immediate comment I have is that I didn't really notice people proposing to boycott the advertisers on the Radio Live show. What I did see was more of a "Do you really want your company to be associated with these people's ideas?" and the advertisers responding, either out of cowardice or principle, "Actually, no, we don't want to be associated with this."

    You could respond that this is just a question of semantics, that the impact is the same, but I think it's an important distinction because there was no threat to the advertisers.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2007 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Deborah,

    I’m hearing overtones of a fancied up version of “women, get to the back of the bus and wait your turn” in this analysis.

    Or worse, wait until rape culture and it’s apologists die of natural causes. Considering the Roast Busters are 25 years my junior, that’s not really fast enough. It’s only going to die if society actually kills it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10477 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to BenWilson,

    Pissed off people call them all the time, and they just get cut off. Then they give much much longer air time to angry conservative dad who agrees with them.

    I agree. Willie and JT were given an elevated level of speech by a radio station owned by a company that controls a large proportion of New Zealand’s radio spectrum with a specific design of selling audiences to advertisers.

    Giving these guys such prominence had nothing to do with free speech or nobly representing views, even if they might coincidentally represent some people. They’re given it specifically because it’s known to generate a destructive and antagonistic form of controversy, and keep it rolling, to generate an audience that’s primed for sale to advertisers who often buy purely on numbers. People could call in saying anything they like, and whatever’s said will still be framed by the host(s) to generate more controversy, because that’s what they’ve been hired to do.

    I appreciate what Graeme is saying and I agree there’s a wider risk with a boycott for some of the reasons he’s mentioned. But when that’s the game that MediaWorks and RadioLive are playing, I have trouble being offended by a boycott. I know it’s petty reasoning, but enough damage was already done when they started it.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1068 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    OK a couple of things.

    First you appear to be utterly detached from the real world. I totally understand the logic and philosophy of your argument, however, it fails utterly the test of reality. In our real world there is almost no broadcast program that does not consider the ability to earn money from advertising while it is being made. Advertising for good or ill is an integral part of most of what we watch and hear whether we realise it or not.

    To suggest that one is genuinely separate from the other is to imagine a world that does not exist. As a thought experiment it is fine but as a justification for arguing against advertiser boycotts it is simply pointless.

    Second, you seem to imagine that the men involved were simply exercising free-speech when they victim-shamed Amy. This is not true. They were, and are still, PAID to attract an audience and as a result to attract advertisers. Their speech is a product marketed to consumers and advertisers. To argue that it is somehow for the good of society to allow them to continue to be paid for that is not the same as arguing that they be allowed to speak their opinions.

    Finally this straw man

    were hoping to silence the speech

    which you effectively demolish is false, at least for me. I in no way wanted to silence the speech. My aim in applying my tiny amount of pressure to advertisers was to stop the broadcasters and their parent company FROM PROFITING from that speech.

    Oh and from someone prone to long posts my personal feeling is that if you have to write 10 pages to justify your position it's worth taking a long hard look at your position because you are probably wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    The cure for free speech you don't like is more speech. Gio's "more speech" was "Hey advertisers, how do you like this?". Advertiser's "more speech" was, on the whole, "Not much". No boycott.

    Photo-shopping the head of a female politician onto the body of adult film star is an exercise of free speech, as is publicly commenting upon which people you consider are ugly, and who you would like to “do”. But it is speech that risks discouraging other ideas from being expressed.

    And engaging in entitled chauvinistic victim-blaming of a young woman on air is also speech that risks discouraging other ideas from being expressed, specifically any idea a woman might have of reporting a sexual assault. I have no trouble deciding which of these speeches is worth protecting.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Thomas Beagle,

    That was a good article and I generally support the idea of “more free speech”.

    That’s a nice change: when Breaking Silence was about to be released, the spokesperson for the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties was in favour of bookstores refusing to stock it :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to James Butler,

    I have no trouble deciding which of these speeches is worth protecting.

    And other people have no trouble deciding either, they just disagree. There are plenty of people out there who consider that telling women that "no means no" is dangerous because it they don't think it will protect women from rape, and may discourage actions they consider would protect women from rape.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Beagle, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The NZ Council for Civil Liberties is not the monolithic body of group-think that you obviously imagine. :)

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2007 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Oh and from someone prone to long posts my personal feeling is that if you have to write 10 pages to justify your position it’s worth taking a long hard look at your position because you are probably wrong.

    I tried it in 140 character pieces, but it didn't seem to be getting through.

    And I know this is too long. It's around 3500 words, and I have the sense that there is a 2000-word article I'd have really liked in there, but if I'd taken the time to write that, I'd have been too late for the debate.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Considering the Roast Busters are 25 years my junior, that’s not really fast enough. It’s only going to die if society actually kills it.

    Whereas I'd say: it's not going to die until you counter the idea, rather than silence some of those who give it wide currency.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Argh sorry but I couldn't ignore this

    but to contact their switchboards, and flood the airwaves with the views of those appalled at their treatment of Amy

    Again have you somehow come to this world from another reality? This has been done before. Do you know what the response is? Because such campaigns result in a surge in viewer/listener numbers the media companies respond by encouraging their hosts to be MORE provocative, to select more extreme callers and to espouse more extreme views.

    It PROMOTES rape-culture.

    Because the hosts and producers control the selection of callers they limit the number of those simply calling to express calmly sensibly and logically an opposing view an instead select "a balance" of callers ie those who support the hosts.

    Your suggestion DOES NOT WORK.

    Maybe advertiser boycotts are not ideal but they created are far stronger message that "rape-culture" is not acceptable. You argue that we shut down discussion, well I'd argue the reverse, there was far more discussion of what rape-culture actually is because of the boycott, certainly in our tea room and in the media I saw.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Deborah,

    I’m hearing overtones of a fancied up version of “women, get to the back of the bus and wait your turn” in this analysis.

    Well, I certainly didn't expect everyone to agree with me, but I wasn't anticipating this response.

    I guess maybe I suggesting that the better option is to take your turn at the same time as others, rather than silencing others so you can speak?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    You argue that we shut down discussion, well I’d argue the reverse, there was far more discussion of what rape-culture actually is because of the boycott, certainly in our tea room and in the media I saw.

    But what was the audience for that discussion? Was it people who listened to Willie and JT interview Amy?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3182 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    And other people have no trouble deciding either, they just disagree. There are plenty of people out there who consider that telling women that “no means no” is dangerous because it they don’t think it will protect women from rape, and may discourage actions they consider would protect women from rape.

    And if they think they can mobilise public opinion to back their actions they're welcome to try. I think Ben nails your misconception:

    No, it IS an expression of an idea. A very strong expression of a widely felt and held idea. It entered the marketplace and crushed the competition.

    The idea was floated on the marketplace that it was harmful for JT and Willie to continue having a paid platform for their speech. It won. This is speech, no?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Whereas I’d say: it’s not going to die until you counter the idea, rather than silence some of those who give it wide currency.

    THEY ARE NOT SILENCED. And they lost their platform because the idea was countered, effectively.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

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