Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Think it possible that you may be mistaken

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  • Tim Hannah,

    I would also note that discussion of Roast Busters is being used by me as a springboard to a wider discussion about a variety of speech aimed at silencing (or reducing the reach) of others.

    Damn it, was going to mention that using a discussion about rape and misogyny to springboard to a 'wider' discussion about silencing people has resulted in a discussion that's 5% women - which is maybe something to think about. But then there was a fire alarm and when I got back it had gone up to 8% women. Progress.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Lilith __,

    This is not what banning a book looks like. It’s still freely available , it’s just not stocked in some stores.

    No, it's not. But I think Breaking Silence, a book about how poverty and the underclass, and cycles of deprivation can lead to tragic results, and about how we have to do something about child abuse gets a lot closer.

    No, it's not completely banned, but that isn't the point. If there is speech you think is important, you want as many people as possible to see it or hear it. If if people take actions that mean that fewer people will hear an important message, that is detrimental.

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

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Speaking for myself, I feel more diminished by casually homophobic, misogynistic rape culture enforcers being presented as the voice of Maori. There's plenty of Maori out there who can -- and do -- elevate the discourse rather than drowning it in the nearest sewer. Instead of throwing a pity party for Willie and JT, perhaps its time to move on and lift our game.

    I don't disagree - I hope that Radio Live and their corporate puppeteers will find them and give them a voice

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2543 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Anyone with a role in the media needs to read this excellent PDF on the reporting of sexual violence. If all journos worked with this knowledge and understanding, rape culture would take a hit. And we'd all be safer.

    Thanks to Lew Stoddart for alerting me to it.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tom Beard,

    that may be giving too much credit to the advertisers’ conscience and not enough to their commercial nous

    From what Gio has said it did appear to be a combination of both morals (shock horror) and commercial nous (Good God we don't want to stand next to that pile of ...).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    No, it’s not completely banned, but that isn’t the point. If there is speech you think is important, you want as many people as possible to see it or hear it. If if people take actions that mean that fewer people will hear an important message, that is detrimental.

    If we're talking about free speech, this is ABSOLUTELY the point. Getting a commercial platform from which to speak is not a right.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Tim Hannah,

    Damn it, was going to mention that using a discussion about rape and misogyny to springboard to a ‘wider’ discussion about silencing people has resulted in a discussion that’s 5% women – which is maybe something to think about. But then there was a fire alarm and when I got back it had gone up to 8% women. Progress.

    +1

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Someone else has said this, but I do want to re-emphasise it: rape culture and victim-blaming is not a generational thing which will pass as older people die off. It is literally hundreds and hundreds of years old; you could learn about it in gender studies, if we hadn't axed a bunch of Women's Studies departments recently.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lilith __,

    This is not what banning a book looks like. It’s still freely available , it’s just not stocked in some stores.

    And as I noted in my post on Breaking Silence it would be physically and financially impossible for any bookstore to stock everything, so of course choices are made. Just because I thought the choices some booksellers made in this specific case were... eccentric doesn't mean they're a hair away from building a bonfire of degenerate literature.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12352 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I think its generally accepted that people should have the right to express their views. The real battles are about access to influence and having particular views accepted as reasonable and legitimate.

    A lot of organised effort goes into legitimising and delegitimising different kinds of opinion and behaviour. Some efforts are not much more than bullying, others break down misguided norms and introduce new ideas, yet others (as in the case of advertising) are simply self-interested. I suppose you could evaluate different methods of influencing opinion according to the extent to which they inform and persuade or simply manipulate audiences.

    One set of restrictions on free speech that can be legitimate are the institutions that protect specific modes of expression. These include the courtesies that ensure that most of our everyday conversations are pleasant, the requirements that ensure that university professors are experts in their subjects, that ensure rock bands can’t hold a concert late at night or on the steps of a church (without permission), the rules that require you to be truthful and to respect judges in court. I can live with the fact that these rules constrain the behaviour of television and radio personalities.

    Society expects the mass media to reinforce certain kinds of norms. People don’t want to see misinformation on the news, to have sex or violence gratuitously broadcast to their children, or to allow rudeness and ignorance to degrade basic norms of civil society. That said, most people accept that dissent and other kinds of non-conforming opinion should be given an appropriately public forum.

    As talkback is pretty much a byword for ignorance and rudeness, you’d think it’d be a pretty safe place for most people.

    Since Nov 2006 • 704 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    stopping people you don’t like from speaking widely doesn’t actually make it easier for you to get your message out there.

    Two things. First, it's not about "stopping people you don't like". Very specifically, it is about what those people say, not who they are. That is why a real apology or a different followup would probably have headed this all off. Second, creating highly visible consequences for saying certain things itself is getting a message out there.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    This boils down to two deceptively simple, but incredibly difficult to answer in practice, questions:

    (1) Is a message to advertisers/booksellers that you object to a certain kind of speech (be it JT/Jackson or King's book), and (whether explicit or implicitly stated) will think less of them for their connection to it, the best sort of response in the circumstances to speech that you think harmful?

    (2) Even if in the immediate case your judgment is that sending advertisers/booksellers a message is the "best sort" of response, will the long-term effect of this decision be to foster some kind of "boycott culture", in which other forms of speech that you think are desirable end up being silenced?

    It seems to me there is no "right" answer to either of these questions.

    (1) Deciding what is the "best" response to a certain form of speech depends on an assessment of the degree of "harm" being done by it, as well as the effectiveness of "more speech" as a solution to that harm. After all, no-one thinks the answer to ALL forms of speech is more speech … if I offer readers $50,000 to murder Graeme, I doubt he'd complain about the police moving to arrest me on the basis that the better response would be for him to be able to provide counter-arguments as to why murdering him is not a good idea.

    So, in the case of JT/Jackson and King's book, there are a set of nested value judgments. What was the "harm" caused by this expression (where "harm" is not measurable on any neat set of scales)? How could those who believe there is harm involved respond by airing counter views? Would that response be effective in mitigating/cancelling the harm of the original expression? Or, is the more effective mitigation/cancellation strategy to try and impose consequences on the original speaker, to express (and yes, it is a form of expression) collective disapproval of the words/message?

    We can argue about this and try to convince each other that one or another strategy is the "best" one to take. But there's no pipeline to the stars on this … no "right" answer, as we might expect in (say) a Maths or Physics problem.

    (2) Deciding how much your individual decision to express displeasure to advertisers/booksellers might contribute to a "boycott culture" similarly requires a bunch of very difficult judgments. It is, in effect, a sort of slippery slope argument - if you are effective in generating a response to this expression, then it may lead to other cases . But everything is a "slippery slope" … what if, for instance, lots of people like me ringing up Radio Live and saying on air that we think JT and Jackson are wrong in their views causes Radio Live's management to cancel their show? Doesn't that risk then mean I shouldn't ring up Radio Live, in case the cancellation of their show leads in the future to something I like hearing being taken off the air?

    That then requires an assessment of the factual question as to whether my action in approaching the advertiser/bookseller in this particular case is going to actually make it easier for others in the future to silence speech I like. Is this a "truly exceptional" example of harmful speech, such that the response to it has little or no precedent value for the future? Or, is it a run-of-the-mill example, and if I am successful in getting advertisers/booksellers to respond I'll be complicit in setting a low bar for the future.

    Equally, the argument assumes that if I hold-off approaching advertisers/booksellers, then others will be more likely to do the same. But is that true? Will, say, Family First stop calling for booksellers not to sell "Go the Fuck to Sleep", or buses to stop carrying Lady Gaga ads, if I don't act against JT/Jackson and King's book? Or, will this be a form of unilateral disarmament - in which people who don't really care about "free speech" at all keep on doing what they are doing, and only suckers like me give up the fight because of fears about "boycotts" … which are going to take place in any case? Meaning that only speech that I (as a good lefty liberal) like will be threatened, whilst speech that the bad guys (Family First, etc) like will flourish unencumbered. Which actually is the worst of all possible worlds for me.

    So … shorter version … do what you think is best, because there is no definitive way to say that you are wrong to do so.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    {redacted}

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2043 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Speaking for myself, I feel more diminished by casually homophobic, misogynistic rape culture enforcers being presented as the voice of Maori. There’s plenty of Maori out there who can – and do – elevate the discourse rather than drowning it in the nearest sewer. Instead of throwing a pity party for Willie and JT, perhaps its time to move on and lift our game.

    All the concern trolling about racism being the driver behind the campaign against Willie & JT was disingenuous at best. Wouldn't be surprised if it's from the same kind of people who'd otherwise play the one-law-for-all card.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5283 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Speech is not free.

    Speech always has consequences.

    Some have more power to use speech in socially privileged ways.

    When those people speak, their speech has more consequences.

    Some people have less power to use speech in socially privileged ways. That has consequences.

    Those people include young women who are victims of sexual violence. When they do try to speak, those with power to use speech in socially privileged ways use their speech against those young women. That has consequences.

    By taking away powerful speech privileges from some people, we are giving powerful speech privileges to others. That has consequences.

    Are there consequences? Yes, there are consequences.

    Speech is not free.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I disagree. I think it’s an important distinction.

    Sorry, I didn't really get that out the way I wanted, had to bail in a few mins. What I mean is that arguing over that distinction is a distraction, from the way I've seen this debate play out. It's not about "is it a boycott or not a boycott?". It's about "was it right or wrong?" There's plenty of wiggle room in the definitional debate. To me it looks like a boycott, quacks like one. But so what? It's a good boycott.

    I get sick of the semantic discussion with the fall back on dictionaries and quotes from dead white men holding quills in which the message is eventually completely lost shortly before it is subsumed. Don't play that game with a lawyer, unless you think it's a good idea to get in a farting match with a skunk.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10477 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    ETA: I'm just going to link to Giovanni's article again.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    stopping people you don’t like from speaking widely doesn’t actually make it easier for you to get your message out there.

    Two things. First, it’s not about “stopping people you don’t like”. Very specifically, it is about what those people say, not who they are.

    Well, more about what they did, actually. It’s glib and disingenuous to keep pretending that this was all just about some reckons had by Willie and JT.

    It’s actually about the appalling way they handled an extended interview with a teenage girl who had called to talk about a rape gang operating in her social group, including pressing her to tell them when she lost her virginity.

    The “but free speech!” argument pretty much relies on this wilfull misdirection.

    And yes, if Radio Live had anything resembling a decent editorial process, this wouldn’t have gone as far as it did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Hubbard, in reply to George Darroch,

    “Do I want less freedom of speech? Yes. For rape apologists.”



    And for all other groups we rightfully loath: bigots, fascists, et al?

    And risque comedians? Ricky Gervais, Jo Brand, Frankie Boyle … actually, every stand up comedian I can think of, plus shows like local 7 Days and Jono&Ben … not one of these would stand up to this linguistic puritanism currently sweeping New Zealand, where every word is to be sifted for privilege and thought crimes, and stuffed into the mouths of those ‘we’ disagree with, to gag and silence them.

    Seeking to shut people down with their privilege is self defeating. It pulls people apart and shuts debate down.

    (Note the above comments specifically directed to George Darroch. Not so much Tiso).

    Geraldine / Mahau Sound, … • Since Nov 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    From what Gio has said it did appear to be a combination of both morals (shock horror) and commercial nous (Good God we don’t want to stand next to that pile of …).

    I'm not sure how much if anything I can quote from the email I got from someone at Telecom outlining their internal discussion about it, but that's a reasonable summary. They even talked to some of their own major customers about it. It was quite a process, it began before they even received Giovanni's email, and people there felt quite strongly about taking a stand.

    This is why I'm annoyed by the "boycott" line. It completely mischaracterises what happened.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    Meaning that only speech that I (as a good lefty liberal) like will be threatened, whilst speech that the bad guys (Family First, etc) like will flourish unencumbered. Which actually is the worst of all possible worlds for me.

    I will make the same argument to Bob McCoskrie, and hope to be (at least partially) successful. Bob is highly concerned about censorship (state or otherwise) of traditional Christian views about a range of issues, such as same-sex marriage. There will be a number of issues where Family First thinks the risk involved is worth it (and I imagine Into the River would be one of them), but on a lot of issues, I'd like to think that Bob could realise that his calling to limit free speech in some way could come back to bite him.

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

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Mark Hubbard,

    It’s actually about the appalling way they handled an extended interview with a teenage girl who had called to talk about a rape gang operating in her social group, including pressing her to tell them when she lost her virginity.

    ...

    linguistic puritanism

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    Don’t play that game with a lawyer, unless you think it’s a good idea to get in a farting match with a skunk.

    But I expect lawyers to use language precisely, and that clearly is not happening here.

    We can't have a reasonable debate if we get to make up our own meanings for the words we use.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Mark Hubbard,

    this linguistic puritanism currently sweeping New Zealand, where every word is to be sifted for privilege and thought crimes, and stuffed into the mouths of those ‘we’ disagree with, to gag and silence them.

    If you want a vision of the present, imagine a face slamming into a human palm - forever.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    It was quite a process, it began before they even received Giovanni’s email, and people there felt quite strongly about taking a stand.

    And they did. And it's a stand I have not slated them for. I'm pretty confident from your description that they fully weighed the pros and cons - that's all I'm asking of anyone.

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

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