I was reading an article in The Age which states that Melinda Tankard Reist has threatened a libel lawsuit against a blogger, and one section of the article jumped out at me as being quite odd and, quite frankly, wrong. Seeing as my comment was a bit more than I could fit on twitter (thought I can fit it on facebook), I’ve decided to write this very short blog article to put up my thoughts.
“While Tankard Reist has not gone so far as to issue court proceedings yet, she complains social media has intensified the level of vituperation against outspoken figures such as herself.
”Things have gone too far, people think they can just trash you,” she said yesterday. ”Why does being a blogger exempt you from the laws of defamation?””
The area where Melinda Tankard Reist has made a very serious error is one area that journalists and “professional commentators” very regularly get wrong. She has claimed that social media and blogs have “intensified the level of vituperation against outspoken figures”.
No Melinda, it hasn’t. What you see and read in blogs and social media are the exact same things people have always been saying to each other in conversation. The comments and commentary from the general public has not changed at all. The only difference with blogs and social media, is that we now have a way to express these thoughts and opinions in a way that you can see them.
Previously you were blissfully unaware, only the few that were specifically selected for “letters to the editor” do you read, and that’s only if people go to such effort. Now, social media and publicising our own thoughts is an every day, every hour, every minute occurrence, so you’re seeing a lot more of it. These are the publics actual thoughts, rather than your disillusions of what they were.
If you do happen to stumble across this particular blog, I should point out I’m using the “royal you”. Yes, it is directed at you personally Melinda, but at the same time these comments are directed with equal value to everyone else who uses the press to criticise bloggers, commenters, and social media users.
If anyone’s wondering my thoughts on Melinda Tankard Reists feminism or religious fundamentalism, well, I wasn’t overly familiar with MTR prior to the article which seemed to kick all of this off. I knew her as an anti-abortion campaigner, and that was about it.
As I read through the article, I read nothing to make me consider her as a feminist other than the regular claims that she was. All the descriptions of her and her activities sounded to me to come straight from the play books of the religious conservatives. The people who insist that everyone, religious and non-religious alike, need to play by the same rules of their particular interpretation of god. The people who insist that laws must be the way they want them and anybody who thinks differently is attacking their religious freedoms. The people who love to discriminate, offend, and act like schoolyard bullies, but when called out on it seem to somehow think they’re the victims.
Is Melinda a feminist or a fundamentalist theist? I’d say she’s probably both, but her actions to me seem to lean more towards the latter. This does need to be taken with a very big grain of salt though due to my lack of real knowledge about Melinda. I could be and most likely am extremely mistaken, these are after all only early impressions.
As to her outrage to all of this, it’s very much a Streisand affect which she’s created here. Turned lots of people against her. I can only see this as another person throwing their hat in to the circle, wanting to joint he likes of Andrew Bolt, Kyle Sandilands, Germaine Greer, and doing anything for publicity in any way shape or form. The more controversial, the better. They’ll unfortunately get ratings and people fawning to listen to them just so that those people can be offended.
It really is quite disgusting both that people act like this on purpose, and that it works.