The subject, naturally enough, was how the media had behaved in the past week, and generally there was a thumbs up for a job well done: Reporting the Bushfires. But there were exceptions.
The last few minutes of the program were reserved for the most savage attack. I have to admit I too had been appalled by The Devine One but mentioned it only in passing rather than dignify it; I also pointed in a comment to a rebuttal. But Media Watch went for the jugular.
…Plenty of others, last week, were pointing the finger at policies that they claim have discouraged preventive burning, and the clearing of bush around houses.
But only Miranda Devine came up with a sentence like this:
If politicians are intent on whipping up a lynch mob to divert attention from their own culpability, it is not arsonists who should be hanging from lamp-posts but greenies.
— The Sydney Morning Herald, 12th February, 2009
That’s not opinion-writing, Miranda. That’s hate-mongering.
You and your paper, which saw fit to blazon your ugly piece across the front page of its website, should both be ashamed of yourselves.
I should say, once again, that there’s been plenty of fine reporting this week under harrowing circumstances.
Rab in Indonesia also expressed concerns I share about Facebook vigilantes: Facebook, Suppression Orders, and Arsonists.
The problem with the Facebook groups is that they violate the suppression order. It is not a difficult argument to make that the Facebook groups would fall under the suppression order even if Facebook is not considered to be traditional media. If this was indeed to be made out then Facebook might find itself in contempt of court as the publisher, along with the author. And, the lawyers would undoubtedly be arguing that their client cannot get a fair trial because of the exposure.
I can understand that people need to vent their anger after such a tragic loss of life and property. However, in the aftermath I would also imagine that people would like to see justice done, and perhaps not vigilante justice, but that kind of justice that sees the perpetrator do the time for his crimes. If this is the case, then it is a risky proposition to breach the suppression order. Sometimes we just have to have faith in our judicial system that it will work and work well.
I think the point is that none of us ought to destroy our hard-won if imperfect rule of law because righteous anger possesses us for the moment. In its own way this is as destructive as the bushfires themselves.
See also what Legal Eagle said, noted here yesterday.
And the spirit of the age, in tandem with economic conditions, is a fertile ground for monsters, alas. There are so many instances I have been noting, but draw your attention to a chilling sentence from Culture Matters — Gomorra and Frozen River.
Gomorra, by contrast, is full of victims, villains and heroes, and seems to be very much in sync with Italy’s current political trends that are more anti-immigrant, anti-South (I mean Italy’s South) and pro-strongman than probably at any time since World War II.
Watch this space, as they say. Not good. Europe seems often to be a very backward place in some respects.