31 Jan 2013, Comments (3)

Freedom of speech. Shut up!

Author: Helen

Tim Mathieson said something naff in an attempt to be all jokey about prostate examinations; When challenged on it, he realised what was wrong with it, and apologised, because he’s a grownup. If only there were more grownups in the commentariat.

No, criticising privileged white men who make unfunny jokes about women and other ethnic groups isn’t an attack on our freedom of speech. It’s the opposite. It’s the extension of freedom of speech to the former targets of these jokes, who are now talking back. Get used to it, Mark Baker (“Poor Tim, prostrated by a prostate gag that gets him the finger”) and Tony Wright (“First Bloke Back in Doghouse after poking fun at prostate”).

Who are the worst enemies of Freedom™? Those annoying feminists, of course! Baker paints the new confidence of women resisting sexism in politics and society as “confected’ and “phoney”. Like other members of the old media, he fails to understand the significance of Gillard’s “misogyny” speech and the chord it struck with the lived experience of so many women. This failure in the journosphere didn’t go unnoticed in new and social media elsewhere.

Baker and Wright fire familiar damp squibs from their bunkers, hoping to chase these annoying people off their lawn, like “straighteners” and “correctness” and “puritan”. We know these are code for “STFU”. So who’s on the side of free debate here?

While people with money and privilege have used the courts to stifle the speech of others for generations, Baker sees this unseemly deconstruction of blokey jokes as the thin end of the wedge which will lead to legislative “threats to media freedom and individual speech”. The present situation is the reverse: People are daring to talk back to and challenge the chorus of guffawing lads (his words), and they really don’t like it.