Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Think it possible that you may be mistaken

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  • Moz,

    I'm going to chime in at the bottom because yes, I have read all the comments. I've even read and thought about Graeme's original 3500 word essay stating very clearly that the rights of the already privileged must be jealously guarded, lest the rights of the oppressed be at risk of further diminishment. And I agree. Free speech must be guarded. But there's a balance, and some speech is (much) more important than other speech. The speech that is a report of a rape is more important than the speech which is a defence of rapists.

    So my answer to Graeme is: no. You are on the wrong side of this one. We can, and should, actively try to reduce the power and frequency of pro-rape speech. I believe we have an active obligation to do so. I am sorry that you disagree, and respect you significantly less because of your position.

    For the privileged there is never a good time to challenge privilege.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1014 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Horne,

    Depressing reading, Graeme. Man evolved from fish, and most of us are still travelling in shoals, ruled by panic.

    "No" means no, so you can send your young daughter off to a wild party in skimpy clothes and tell her to get drunk. No, you wouldn't do that? Why not? "No" means no, doesn't it?

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Moz,

    We can, and should, actively try to reduce the power and frequency of pro-rape speech.

    And some of the people who oppose your view think your speech is pro-rape. They think that the things you say mean that there will be more victims of rape. So are they justified in trying to stop you from speaking?

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Possibly too late in a comments thread to ask this, but…

    Does anyone here think that speech like that of Willie and JT should actually be banned? In the you-commit-a-criminal-offence-if-you-say-it sense?

    And for those of you who answer “no”, why not?

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

  • Jackie Clark,

    I have one thing to say. And it is this. The argument about free speech being highly gendered that several here have commented on.....Public Address is a wonderful forum for us all. A forum that values and encourages civilised and selfmoderated discussion. Even in this community, however, the gendered voice is strong. We've had this discussion, around the predominance of "bloke" threads, several times. Ironically, Graeme, this entire thread makes manifest that argument. Men, traditionally speaking, are heard more than women. Their voices are louder, their arguments more robust, their attitudes more gladiatorial. This community has had it's fair share of that for a number of reasons. I would posit that womens' voices - in threads like this (and I think it's fair to say that the entire discussion on soical media around rape culture has followed this trend) - have been muted. Graeme, women have been fighting for centuries to be heard. And sometimes, a sister just gets tired. When you have to fight every day for your views to be deemed valid and worthy of listening to, let alone factoring in the dynamics of speech - women are taught fairly early, in general, not to shout/agitate to get what they want - it is nigh on impossible to be able to shout loud enough sometimes. When you talk about people waiting their turn, that sounds so civilised. And yet. Free speech is available - pragmatically - only really to those who have the loudest voices, and that tends to be men. Do you know, in regards to Gio's fine efforts, that I sat here, at one point, and thought "Good. Let the men fight for us." I'm 49, and for all of those years, I have fought to have my voice heard. Fought against a society that still doesn't value the opinions of women - we see it every day. To hear our voices, in that case, sometimes, Graeme, you have to be quiet, so you can hear us. All the men who wade in on our behalf, who get outraged on our behalf, and all those who speak from a position of slightly distanced, and academic, interest....need to shut up. Just shut up. And listen. It may take a while - there are centuries of conditioning that we women have to wade through, always. But we get there. So no, Graham, there is no free speech when you're a woman. It always costs dearly. So please don't tell me/us that free speech always has a consequence. I fight it every day.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • A C Young, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    And some of the people who oppose your view think your speech is pro-rape. They think that the things you say mean that there will be more victims of rape. So are they justified in trying to stop you from speaking?

    You're acting as if those people aren't already attempting to control the conversation by bullying rape victims and their supporters.

    You seem to be ignoring everyone who points out that your comfortable theoretically correct argument has a massive and painful practical impact on a number of people.

    Wellington • Since Feb 2011 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    If anyone's voices have been silenced, by this particular conversation, and by the wider culture it sits in and upholds, it is the victims in this case.

    I wonder why people aren't more interested in fighting for their right to be heard?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Hey Dennis, could you liken my vagina to an unlocked vehicle? Because this thread has been sorely lacking in that so far.

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

  • Danielle, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    You thought "good. Let the men fight for us" and I thought "a woman blogger would never have gained this attention". (Of course Gio acknowledges this himself.) I am so deflated by this thread and others like it because briefly - briefly! - we started talking about things feminists had discussed for decades! And this stuff was in the mainstream media, even! It was exhilarating! And now, inevitably, we're back to Dudes Talking About Their Rights. 'Twas ever thus.

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

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Danielle,

    *Dudes talking to dudes* about their rights.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    would be better if you silenced me, or if you changed my mind.

    Its always better to change minds. But some people will fight not to have their minds changed. Minds are a funny thing impermanent they exist only in our brains, yet trying to be so much more. sigh...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1648 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Horne,

    Man is here by accident, descended from bacteria and "crocodiles", serving no purpose in the Universe. We are just animals, living by natural laws and instinct. First, survival. Second, sex. It is probable in our evolution there was a lot of sex without considered consent, and we wouldn't be here otherwise. By today's definition: rape.

    We cling to the myth civilisation is man's natural, preferred state; that democracy is superior and self-perpetuating. Actually, there is always barbarism. History and observation demonstrate man is not a moral animal, we are deeply flawed. To survive, society needs structure and discipline. Until recently, society had clear rules about sex, often disobeyed, but we knew what they were. We abolished them. (Talking about sex, not assault.) Not the age of consent, 16, arbitrarily; 14 and less in some jurisdictions.

    Two things. Homo sapiens is a mad animal, governed by the unconscious mind, hormones. That will never change. Second, men seduce women. Men need sex and women want to be seduced. That is the reality of our existence, we are sexual animals. It is naive or disingenuous to say, "No" always means no. It depends on the "No". Men know that "No" can mean "Try harder". There is plenty of scope for misunderstanding. And regret. (Only vulgar men and homosexuals say: "Do you want to fuck? Sign here.")

    Let me ask. A bar at midnight. A woman meets, for the first time, a man. They have a couple of drinks and she agrees,as so often happens, to go to his room. Why?

    Young girls go to unsupervised wild parties in skimpy clothes and get drunk. Why?

    The law will not save people from themselves. It might punish perpetrators but it won't reverse time. First rule of survival: Look after yourself.

    Seems to me, the real issue is control. Women used to have the upper hand. They could get men to marry them and look after them and any offspring. Feminism put at end to that.

    So now (some) feminists want to deny the very basis of our existence, our biological needs. Actually, to turn men into women. From what I've read, they're succeeding.

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2013 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Danielle,

    I also thought that. (But it was 3am when I wrote that in high dudgeon).

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to ,

    Heh. You go Full Asshole pretty quickly, don't you? Where can you even go from there?

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

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to ,

    Deleted, in order to Not Feed the Troll.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Ohhhhh. He’s an MRA. You don’t usually see them out of their natural habitat.

    ETA Although it is... interesting... that he chose this thread to spew into.

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

  • A C Young, in reply to Danielle,

    It's a bit bewildering spotting one here...

    Wellington • Since Feb 2011 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Does anyone here think that speech like that of Willie and JT should actually be banned? In the you-commit-a-criminal-offence-if-you-say-it sense?

    No (speaking for myself).

    Because the State possesses resources and powers that are different to those available to the individual citizen, such that a decision on its part to "ban" a certain form of speech has implications far in excess of an individual deciding to take action to oppose it (even by seeking to impose sanctions on people like Jackson and Tamihere for speaking). There are then a bunch of different prudential reasons not to invoke those resources and powers in regards this specific example of expression:

    (1) The consequences of the State "getting it wrong" in its judgment as to what is/is not allowable speech are significantly greater than if I (or others like me) do so;

    (2) There are line drawing difficulties associated with designating a kind of speech "criminal", meaning that there is a risk the State will over-police expression (i.e. impose sanctions on people when it is not necessary to do so);

    (3) Criminalising speech in this area risks creating "martyrs", in that the issue moves from what they are saying to the right of the State to prohibit it;

    (4) It is more effective - in the sense of achieving the desired end of changing rape culture - if the suppression of rape apology comes from the voluntary actions of civil society, rather than formalised legal prohibitions.

    Like I say, these are prudential reasons, so they may or may not apply in other circumstances or to other forms of speech. But they do provide a basis for saying "I will personally take action to try and visit consequences on Jackson and Tamihere for their speech, but do not think the State should do so" without contradiction.

    TRIGGER WARNING

    Now, to put the same sort of test to you - do you think that if Willie and JT had gone on Radio Live and expressly said "Women invent rape stories because they are by nature liars, and these girls were just sluts out for a good time", it would still be "a bad thing" for people to contact Radio Live and/or those who advertise on Radio Live to ask them their views on this speech? What if they had gone on Radio Live and expressly said "there's nothing wrong with giving a 13 year old girl what she wants - and if she's drinking and wearing a short skirt, we all know what she wants."

    Just how "free" do Willie and JT get to be on their commercial radio slot, before it is OK to say "these people should be off the air"? Or is there a status quo bias here ... once a commercial radio station decides someone can have a slot on its roster, then "free speech" demands that they get to keep that slot irrespective of what they say on it, or what people think of what they are saying?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah,

    Some of you should go read WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE TALK ABOUT RAPE. It is, as far as I can tell, written by a man, basically to men. So it’s worth reading.

    (Deal with the caps lock, you get used to it and it’s worth getting past it.)

    [Should say there's some pretty triggering stuff in there, apologies for adding this late]

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to llew40,

    Cos we can advertise where we like. And we didn't like that.

    This is exactly what concerns me. I've been staying out of this conversation because I could see both sides and would fluctuate depending on whose argument I was reading (if it were one of the many people making a good case).

    However, this is exactly what worries me. When people see how effective it is asking advertisers whether they wish to be associated with x (and I'm sure other people/groups have noticed the effectiveness of this). Advertisers are naturally safe and if they all choose to only advertise in concordance with something they like - everything will end up very bland and boring.

    So I think I've finally been swayed - ironically by someone arguing for the other side.

    Since Jun 2010 • 326 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    Does anyone here think that speech like that of Willie and JT should actually be banned? In the you-commit-a-criminal-offence-if-you-say-it sense?

    Well, I'm not sure I really want to get into another round of semantic split ends with you but I'm pretty sure Professor Geddis would most definitely be unleashing the dogs of law if I went on the radio and made grossly defamatory allegations he faked research data, plagiarised other academics and coerced his students into fucking him for good grades. I'd also note Cameron Slater's "free speech" became a matter of law when he committed contempt of court by breeching name suppression.

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

  • Lilith __,

    Since this thread is about speech, and the freedom to speak, and silencing, I want to mention how many women have told me that they've been reading here but didn't feel they could comment.

    The wild-west atmosphere along with the many angry and unmoderated male voices creates a space in which most women don't feel safe.

    And that's here, on Public Address! One of the safest places there is!

    I'd like to see some more active moderation going on. So everyone feels free to speak, without being abused or insulted. That means you Graeme. If you want free speech, I think you also have to defend it here.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3884 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The other problem I have with Graeme's argument is this:

    Let's imagine an alternative history in which I didn't write to Countdown and say "I will not be shopping with you as long as you continue to advertise on JT and Willie's show". Let's assume lots of other people didn't do variations on the same thing. Let's assume Gio didn't write so eloquently to the whole lot of them.

    Let's imagine we did as Graeme suggested: we rang RadioLive endlessly, to tell them how offensive what they did to Amy was, how wrong and offensive their views on rape were.

    What would the outcome have been?

    I'm pretty confident that the outcomes would have been these:
    1. Wille and JT and whichever other callers would pretty soon have got bored of being told how revolting they were, over and over, and exercised their own editorial control over the callers, with combinations of the Hang Up button and "we've got to cut to some advertising right now, call again later."
    2. Possbly, those of us disgusted by their behaviour might have phoned in to RadioLive for the very first time, to continue using the only pressure Graeme would have us exercise, our own voices.
    3. Eventually, as Willie and JT either get bored and stop playing such callers, or decide it's a ratings winner and say even more offensive things in order to maintain the controversy, we get exhausted, as we already are, at having to try to shout or argue down men with more power and louder voices.
    4. RadioLive as a station notes that caller volumes have increased, listener numbers are up, therefore advertising revenue has also increased. They, and the advertisers, profit from Willie and JT's rape enabling. Perhaps they also give Willie and JT a payrise as a way of saying good job for increasing profits.

    At the end of the day, Willie and JT are no worse off. The message to rape enablers is: you can be as obnoxious about rape and rape victims as you like, without any adverse consequences. You might get a bunch of angry feminists yellling at you for a bit, but ha ha, that's what they do and nobody cares what a bunch of hairy-legged man-haters think anyway, ha ha ha, it's funny, let's bait them some more!

    The message to women who have been or will be sexually assaulted is "You can try to challenge the power of rapists and rape enablers, but they have more power than you, and nothing will happen to them."

    Or, another possible non-advertiser-boycott history:

    We stop listening to RadioLive in general, and Willie and JT in particular. Eventually, if the public maintain it long enough, the advertisers figure out that noone's listening. They move their advertising elsewhere. RadioLive say "sorry JT and Willie, noone's listening and you're losing us money, we're going to have to dump your show." Willie and JT and other rape enablers learn that enabling rape has consequences.

    In this second possible history, the final outcome is exactly the same as what's actually happened. The only difference is that the "advertiser boycott" is a whole lot less exhausting, and makes it happen a whole lot faster.

    There is of course another small difference between what actually happened and these possible alternatives. In the advertiser boycott version, I have power. I can email Countdown and threaten to withdraw my custom. I can feel I have a small part in ensuring that Willie and JT experience adverse consequences for enabling rape. As someone who has experienced sexual assault, I find this empowering.

    In the possible alternatives, I have no power. In the first scenario, when I phone RadioLlive for the umpteenth time, and it makes no difference, I am disempowered. In the second scenario, I can't stop listening to RadioLive, because I never listened to them in the first place, so I have no power to do anything. The realisation I have no power is also disempowering.

    Yes, there is some danger in that. All power corrupts, and all that. That's a risk I'm prepared to take.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • A C Young, in reply to bmk,

    However, this is exactly what worries me. When people see how effective it is asking advertisers whether they wish to be associated with x (and I’m sure other people/groups have noticed the effectiveness of this). Advertisers are naturally safe and if they all choose to only advertise in concordance with something they like – everything will end up very bland and boring.

    So I think I’ve finally been swayed – ironically by someone arguing for the other side.

    You're talking about this as if it is some kind of new phenomenon, when in actual fact it's been going on since advertisers started sponsoring speech.

    If it hasn't resulted in bland and boring speech by now then it is very unlikely that it is going to.

    Wellington • Since Feb 2011 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • john Drinnan, in reply to A C Young,

    The difference now is social media - which is much for open to swift and volatile movements - for good and bad. Social media very focused on media commentary.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 31 posts Report Reply

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