May 112010

There’s a remarkably banal, yet pointed justification by Catherine Deveney on the ABC’s website today. Banal, because seriously, who gives a shit what she tweeted, where & when she tweeted or who she tweeted about? Pointed because to my mind, she has a very valid point in this whole internet censorship debate, and broader, depending on your perspective, on the oppression of women in the workplace.

For late-comers and foreigners, the dregs of the stormy teacup which resulted in the journalist being summarily sacked less than 24 hours post-tweet, can be read here. Is Twitter “like passing notes in class” as Deveney claims? Yes, I believe so, purely & simply because one does not paste one’s ‘notes’ on the public notices board at the local shopping mall. One passes one’s ‘note’ to someone we normally trust. However, there’s a snitch in every class. Someone who’ll shout out, “Miss! Miss! They’re passing notes!!!” It appears the class snitch dobbed on Catherine Deveney.
Twitter is a social networking medium. A messaging medium. Should one be considerate of the recipients of one’s tweets? Should one ever care who reads & who doesn’t? That’s entirely dependant upon one’s perceptions of the probable recipients. Should one conform to expected social norms when tweeting? Well, the question needs to be asked, just what are ‘social norms’ and who’s likely to be expecting them to be adhered to? One man’s meat, etcetera. Some of the comments I make on Twitter on Monday nights as I watch Q&A on ABC1 might be considered by some to be off-colour. Do I care? Not a whit, in fact, that’s why I tweet what I tweet. The entire program attracts satire from start to finish anyway, and frankly, that’s what Catherine Deveney is. A satirist. She’s not a comedian, in fact not even a comedian’s arsehole. But as a satirist, she is very cutting and focussed when she’s on song. I have to say that I ‘follow’ her on Twitter, but rarely do I find anything she has to say even remotely interesting. But every now & then she’ll post a gem and that’s what Twitter is all about. We all have something to say and we’re all entitled, no holds barred, to say it.
So what if someone, anyone, tweets “I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid” or “Rove and Tasma look so cute… I hope she doesn’t die, too”? There’s context to be taken into account, which Twitter simply can’t provide and yet, someone took offence and publicised those tweets as they and they alone perceived them, utterly out of context and in my view, with malice aforethought. No-body seriously cares what anyone tweets about. Anyone who claims they do has some serious introspection to do in regard to their own inner self. Twitter is bullshit, pure & simple. I use it to voice an opinion on Monday nights. Other than that, I rarely put anything into the ether. No point. Deveney tweets prolifically, or did anyway. I’ve noticed a decided fall off in her activity since last week. Some people are addicted to the ego-stroking medium. That’s their business, and of no concern to anyone else.
I believe Deveney’s dismissal from The Age newspaper, as a long-term columnist and contributor to Fairfax News, is based not on what her editor-in-chief might have thought was offensive, but on what her editor-in-chief perceived his female journos should behave like, even what they should or shouldn’t say in public. What they should or should not be tweeting at a celebrity shindig like Logies night. Whoever it was that ‘dobbed’ must have known the man’s predilections in regard to his female subordinates, or at least hoped for a negative outcome. Whomever they were, they’ve achieved their aim. But has Fairfax News achieved anything other than attract negative feedback? Not at all if comments from readers of various stories are to be believed. Is Catherine Deveney subdued by her experience? Disturbed, aware of a certain schadenfreude enjoyed by some that she may not have been aware of previously, angry and defiant would be much better descriptions, and more power to her, I say. Unfunny she may be, clumsy with her satire she most definitely is on occasions, but entitled to her opinions and expression of same she must remain, as must we all. Male or female, journalist, academic, barrister or nightcart attendant we’re all entitled to our own particular brand of self-expression regardless of who likes or doesn’t like our style. As a friend of mine was want to say, ‘Winners are grinners and losers can please themselves’. Catherine Deveney is a winner in my book.

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