MAN UP AND FACE UP!
There’s a great quote from George Orwell doing the rounds on Twitter at the moment: ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.’
Right now, as we cock our heads to one side like puzzled puppies over comments made by Mitt Romney, Alan Jones and attendees at a Canterbury Bulldogs “Mad Monday” party, that quote couldn’t be more relevant.
Puzzling: Alan Jones, Bulldogs player Ben Barba on Mad Monday and Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney’s declaration that 47% of American citizens don’t take personal responsibility for their own lives, Alan Jones’ utterly hilarious ‘joke’ that the Prime Minister of Australia’s father died of shame, and an attendee at an NRL team’s party yelling out to reporter Jayne Azzopardi that she should ‘suck me off you dumb dog’ were all recorded without their knowledge.
You’d think that would be enough to instil some sort of shame in the those that made the comments. Instead, in the eyes of these blokes or their supporters, they’ve become the true victims.
I’m crying on the inside, guys. Truly, I am. I know it looks like I’m belly laughing but that’s just the way I react to grief.
The defence that Romney, Jones and Canterbury are running is that they’ve been hard done by because their comments were made ‘in private.’
They’ve skewed the definition of privacy to mean, ‘times when I think I’m not being recorded’. A lack of electronic recording devices doesn’t make something private. Anyone can repeat your comments if they overhear them; they don’t need to be recorded and they don’t need to be noted by a journalist.
If you go to a barbecue at a friend’s place and start spouting a whole load of racist nonsense, there’s nothing to stop someone else at the barbecue telling their friends all about you the next day. If you go out on a Friday night and call a waitress a ‘bitch’, there’s nothing to stop her from tweeting it to all her friends. As soon as you are in a situation where there is the possibility that people you don’t know or trust are nearby, then privacy goes out the window. This isn’t a new thing; the simple repeating of comments has existed since human beings learned how to talk.
The rule is pretty simple: if you think your comments are abhorrent or offensive, then either keep them to yourself or be prepared to cop the consequences if others find out. That goes for everybody on the planet, not just public figures.
In the case of Jones and Romney, they knowingly and purposefully stood in front of their respective audiences and made speeches.
Neither of them opened by saying ‘everything I’m about to say is secret and can’t leave this room’. Irrespective of whether they’d been recorded or not, their comments could have been repeated by anyone who was there.
In the case of the Canterbury team, whoever made the comments yelled them out a window directly at the journalist in question. The Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg offered the following defence: “It was a private function…it was an opportunity for the players to do their own thing for that one day of the year.”
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