Wednesday 22 August 2012

This is Australia. Today.


Legitimate rape culture

Whether it was about US Senatorial Candidate Todd Akin claiming that raped women were unlikely to fall pregnant if they were (“legitimately”) raped or the ongoing Assange extradition circus, this week has been dominated in many ways by gender dynamics.

Both Dan Nolan and Citizen Cam have both written thoughtful pieces on the topic of Akin; the concept that there is somehow a legitimate or illegitimate way to be raped and rape culture overall. I know it may seem odd to link to two young men writing on this subject, but their responses are intelligent, measured and I would like to think indicative of a generational change in attitudes. I know they both echo my thoughts.

If you’re trying to be provocative on this subject… perhaps don’t.

On the Assange circus, Bernard Keane wrote yesterday on the dilemmas of supporting Assange, I think correctly arguing that it’s not a dichotomy of a conspiratorial honey trap or outright dismissing victims of sexual assault. In opposition, David Allen Green argues at The New Statesman that many of the legal concerns for Assange’s wellbeing are myths, and that he would be as safe in Sweden as the UK in terms of extradition (perhaps more). It’s a solid, convincing read, systematically taking down each “myth” with legal precedent and references from Assange’s actual appeals.

‘“Assange has been afforded more opportunities to challenge the warrant for his arrest than almost any other defendant in English legal history.  This is hardly “persecution” or a “witch-hunt”.’

The question I have, in fact I think many of us have, is why Assange did not address the allegations at all in his sermon from the mount/balcony. Given he happily fled the legal process, it’s hard to imagine that he was concerned about biasing the eventual case he will have to answer. Especially when the Wikileaks twitter account seems happy to paint the allegations as a complete farce. Addressing it in some way may have at least acknowledged the existence of the case.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick today released the second part of a review into the ADF’s treatment of women. In keeping with the rest of the week’s news, it found that the ADF had a long way to go, and would need to look into a range of solutions, including quotas, to increase the amount of women serving, their safety and access to places to report harassment that do not follow the chain of command. It’s worth reading the above Fairfax summary, this article by Jenna Price at Crikey (which as an updated that the ADF will implement the recommended Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office by the end of the year), and a community guide to the report is also available here. It is very good to see that the ADF appears to be taking the recommendations seriously pretty much immediately.

A tale of two scandals

It was good to see the RBA scandal on the front page of the Age again today. Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker and Maris Beck all continue to write illuminating coverage of the case as it unfolds in the courtroom, spinning out the facts that came from the original breaking story by McKenzie and Baker back in 2009. This is a hugely important issue, which goes to the heart of the conduct of senior officers in one of the fundamental cogs of Australian finance (and government)… remember that the RBA drives all of those things we like to talk about regularly in the media: “cost of living pressures”, mortgage rates – those things that concern “working families”… So, while this scandal may not be connected to those things directly, misconduct in the RBA, corruption, the abuse of power and the use of funds to bribe foreign officials for businesses related to the RBA are all deeply concerning and if true mean that we should ask some serious questions about the institution as a whole.

This coverage has been great. But the commentary has been rather muted. At least in contrast to that on the Julia Gillard/Slater and Gordon scandal.

Lenore Taylor’s piece today makes the case that there is definitely a question to be asked and answered on Gillard’s conduct, Stephen Mayne is quoted in the Australian scolding the Crikey crew for bias (interesting of course that the Australian would pick this up, don’t you think, given Mayne suggests Hedley Thomas should win a Walkey), Bernard Keane (the article that inspired Mayne’s criticism) suggests that it is a classic smear campaign and Michelle Grattan points out Slater & Gordon has stood up for Gillard yet again. In fact, Grattan seems atypically sick of this story altogether, arguing that there’s no new evidence and that the Coalition is hoping that the media will do the hard work of trying to find some where the well appears to have dried up; it’s a solid piece.

Compare the two. One is in admittedly an incredibly complex story of subsidiaries and trusts and foreign officials, but the other one is… wait, okay, a story of incorporated organisations and legal conduct. Okay, it’s not that much more simple. I bet you most people couldn’t explain what Gillard is alleged to have done wrong. And yet…

Something interesting

An interesting article on the steps to building an exciting infographic… if you’re into that kind of thing.

This hilarious piece at Bloomberg by Michael Kinsley imagines Paul Ryan’s dictatorship of the US Senate.

In keeping with that theme (actually scarily so) watch Miles Fisher’s tribute to American Psycho with his cover of “This Must Be The Place”. The cover and video are fantastic.



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