Flat White

Definition of a nightmare: #MeToo meets free speech

31 May 2018

1:24 PM

31 May 2018

1:24 PM

The #MeToo conversation is swiftly sliding from worrying to worse as the sturdy shove for changes to defamation laws gathers momentum. It seems the fem-squad want to unravel our definition of justice in their fight for revenge.

Survivor’s stories are now being lost amidst bloodthirsty ransacking for more evil perpetrators. Morgan Freeman faced accusations last week and already his Lifetime Achievement Award is being “reconsidered”. Just like that.

Freeman’s attorney has demanded CNN retract its story. Isn’t the damage already done? His attorney insists one of the accusers misinterpreted a remark and no further investigations took place. CNN is doubling down on their report calling it an “important public issue.”

Of course we are all invested in dragging bona fide perpetrators under the spotlight for investigation. I haven’t heard any pushback to Weinstein – and rightly so.

What is perilously dangerous is the Left capitalising on emotions to push through changes to legislation. We saw similar shoves on the issue of consent – and we will see more.

A recent Inside Story piece is case in point. The emotive language sounds like a warm-up for the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award, with sentences threaded with “visceral”, “disgusting” and talk of “really punches you in the gut”, proceeding what sounds dangerously like a call for defamation law to be ditched.

The focus of the Left is not being able to “get stories up”. As in, not being able to prove them in order to print them.

“The nature of defamation law in this country is stopping the #MeToo movement in its tracks,” the Inside Story piece says. “Here, the media’s primary line of defence is truth – which means that the burden on publishers, once it has been established that a story is defamatory (which can be pretty easily argued in relation to most accusations), is to prove the truth of what they published. In the United States, defamation plaintiffs have to prove that what has been published about them is false. For the kind of allegations that #MeToo has brought forward, that burden of truth in Australia is diabolical.”

May I be so bold as to suggest that the danger here is in black and white? It’s right there. Surely, any time “burden of truth” and “diabolical” find themselves in the same sentence is time for concern? Shall we ask Freeman for his opinion on CNN’s reports and the importance of “burden of truth”? The words he chooses may be stronger than “diabolical”.

Who can seriously suggest journalists should be able to publish allegations they can’t prove? We are already living in a society where a woman’s word can destroy a man’s life, thanks to fem-policy.

The bar should be set high before accusations are lobbed around.

Inside Story’s Crikey-graduate “intellectual” continues, “But combine these standard, and necessary, journalistic requirements with Australia’s defamation laws, the most prohibitive in the English-speaking world, and then try to get a story up. Publishers have to deal with the law as it exists, and the most fundamental difference comes down to the fact that the American people have an enshrined constitutional right to free speech and we haven’t.”

So now “free speech” has entered the #MeToo debate.

Heaven help us all.

Keep these people away from policy, anyone who suggests the law is a nuisance “stopping the #MeToo movement in its tracks” is a threat to us all.

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