For a long time I thought reference to the ‘sword of Damocles’ signified a peril that cuts both ways, like defamation law.
In fact it refers to a peril that is ever-present, like defamation law.
Ah, defamation. The perenial favourite of sooky, white, born-to-rule, private schoolboys since forever.
One person thus perilously besworded is Professor Gemma Carey, author of some tweets which impugned the reputation of several powerful men — as sex offenders, or whatever it was — Prof Carey has deleted said tweets and offered up forumlaic apologies.
“I commented on a photograph of Christian Porter… and that comment was completely inappropriate and highly offensive. I should never have published it. I unconditionally withdraw my comment and apologise to Mr Porter for the hurt caused to him by my conduct.”
“I commented on a photograph of Peter van Onselen… and that comment was completely inappropriate and highly offensive. I should never have published it. I unconditionally withdraw my comment and apologise to Mr van Onselen for the hurt caused to him and his wife by my conduct.”
“Earlier in 2021 I published two tweets about Andrew Laming MP. I accept that the claims made about Mr Laming… were false and defamatory. I unconditionally withdraw those claims and apologise to Andrew Laming for the hurt and offense caused to him by reason of my conduct.“
But before we hook in, lets get the formalities done.
If we’re going to insist that it’s Professor Gemma Carey at every mention, then it’s also Professor Peter van Onselen, and Doctor Andrew Laming. Fair’s fair, right? Christian is simply Mr Porter, though. His BEc, BA (Hons), LLB, and MSc don’t earn an honorific.
Sucks, right? Yet he still became the Attorney General? Wow.
Grace Tame (who has an associate degree in theatre arts, or something, not sure) is fundraising for Professor Carey against Peter, Andrew and Christian, who are threatening to sue. Ms Tame says defamation laws have been weaponised to strategically silence victims, erase evidence and perpetuate abuse.
That’s not to say Grace Tame wants defamation abolished. For example, a ‘joke’ photo taken of her years ago has been used by some to suggest she was a former drug-addict: “It would be fair of me to respond with legal action” she warns, to these “defamatory claims.”
So, an update.
When powerful men are defamed by a woman, it’s wrong to sue.
But when a powerful woman is defamed by men, it’s fair to sue?
No wonder Tame attracts so much hate-mail. But that’s the point, of course. Professor Carey’s current imbroglio has been hijacked by the @TamePunk publicity machine. Because one glamour shoot is simply not enough.
But if you think I’m hating on the @TameGame then you’d be wrong.
I totally agree with Tame that “Regrettable words are said; mistakes are made, which fall on a spectrum and warrant proportionate accountability.” What chills me (and should chill you and every other person) is who gets to decide where it fell on the spectrum, and thus whether tweeting an insincere apology is legally enough.
I don’t want these decision to be made by to be thin-skinned, litigious manflakes like Laming, Porter or PVO anymore. We’ve had enough of their whining.
But I also don’t want it to be “Australian of the Year” Grace Tame celebrity-for-hire.
My vote goes to Professor Gemma Carey, because (a) she’s learned her lesson, (b) wants to get on with it, and (c) isn’t obssessed with herself.