It certainly wouldn’t shock anybody, I think, if I let them know that I was in support of many kinds of censorship. I don’t think that media/entertainment should be a free for all where anybody can produce whatever they like just because there’s a market for it. Freedom of speech laws are far too often used to the detriment of the unprivileged, and most regularly used to defend the tasteless, tacky, and indecent.
But if we are going to have the system that we’ve got — where every halfwit gets to express ‘their opinion’ (often a very staged and crafted variant of it) — then the rules have got to be consistent. At the moment, they aren’t: women opinion writers are overwhelmingly more likely to be censored than male writers.
An example cropped up recently regarding Marieke Hardy and her comments regarding Christopher Pyne. The post used to be here but it is there no longer. Fortunately, nothing’s ever gone forever on the internet, so you can find the post here. What’s striking is how mundane the post is. Compare this to a number of Andrew Bolt’s posts which are, by any objective standard, offensive to taste and decency. Indeed, so offensive was one of his columns that he’s being sued by a group of indigenous Australians. Bolt, meanwhile, hasn’t been quiet about his praise for axing the Pyne post. The difference, it seems, is that being tasteless and indecent is only okay when you’re doing it towards a marginalised group.
Oh, for those who want to argue that it’s because the ABC is publicly funded, News Corp enjoys quite a number of privileges at the expense of the taxpayer. Your taxpayer dollars are going towards supporting Andrew Bolt’s attacks on those who can’t fight back.
But it’s more insidious than merely that because there is a very clear gendered element emerging.
The high profile cases of female opinion writers saying tasteless things have all resulted in very clear censorship. Catherine Deveney is unfunny and moronic (her posts on atheism make me want to believe in God out of spite), but it’s hard to see how her comments on Twitter merited dismissal. On the other hand consider Sam Newman and Kyle Sandilands.
The examples given are illustrative of the broader misogyny in our assessments of female opinion writers. Being an oaf is considered by the mainstream media to be ‘blokey’: offensive behaviour is the sort of thing that goes on among mates, so when it extends to male opinion writers, it’s just part of the ‘matey’ culture.
Women, on the other hand, are excluded from that. Thus, when they make comments even slightly inappropriate, they’re transcending their gendered role and must be put back in their place.
Either we ought to exclude trash from the media (my preference) or we ought to say what’s good for the gander is good for the goose. This entrenchment of double standards makes an already odious profession more unpalatable.