Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Not Quite a Hypothetical Question

Say there's a man who comments on a few issues that involve women reasonably commonly in the media. These issues are not solely about women, and he is asked to comment because of his knowledge of other facets.

Then say that you hear that he used to beat up his wife; you don't know if he does anymore. Does it effect the way you view his comments?

For me some information I was passed on at the wedding I attended (and it was from a reasonably reliable) has meant that I will never listen to what he says again.

It's not that I don't think that a man who has been violent against women could never have valid contributions to any issue involving (although I do think a man who is currently violent against women is showing their attitude towards women). I do like to think (although I have no evidence for this hope), that violent men can change, that there is hope. But for me to believe that this change had happened (and I have no reason to believe that it happened in this case) then the person involved would have to stop hiding their violence.


  1. Ay yi yi.
    Yeah, I know the dilemma. I personally work in a DV shelter and all I can say is, someone will have to demonstrate theat they have changed, because, unfortunately they don't. No many how many batterers groups they attend, they won't change until their fundamental views on women change.

    So no, I wouoldn't listen to him either.

  2. Anonymous7:41 pm

    Hey way too much titilation there Maia

    abstract academia don't cut it here

    everyone wants to be in the in crowd and know who is the dude,give us a clue.

  3. Sorry I don't know nearly enough about libel laws.

  4. Anonymous10:32 pm

    Much as I abhor domestic violence, I don't think it's right to pass judgement on someone on the basis of hearsay, even if it comes from a reliable source. Of such stuff are witch hunts made.

  5. I'm probably going to write a little more about this soon, but I do think gossip and heresay play an important role in women keeping themselves safe (I have a friend who was taken aside by an older girl in intermediate school and warned to stay away from a particular teacher, this teacher was convicted of abuse while she was at the school).

    I don't think I could conduct a witch hunt against this man because I don't have any power over him. I have no problem judging those with more power than me on pretty much anything I want to.

  6. Anonymous12:24 am

    Maia, a witch hunt is not an individual action, it's the harnessing of social power, through gossip or rumour or other unsubstantiated claims. I don't think the witch hunt against Peter Ellis was helpful to the victims of sexual abuse because it created a backlash and is still used by masculinist extremists to discredit women's claims.

    I do think we should listen to our own gut reactions when making a judgement about a person's character, but sharing our misgivings involves more complex ethical considerations. If someone is committing an offence, there are legal remedies available.

  7. Anonymous11:20 am

    This might be useful:

    What is a defamatory statement?

    The courts have given a number of different definitions of what is "defamatory", including a statement that tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, or that tends to cause the person to be shunned or avoided, or that tends to cause the person to be exposed to hatred, contempt or ridicule.

    The particular words used are assessed in their context, but examples of what have been considered to be defamatory statements are:

    claims or suggestions of anti-social behaviour

    claims or suggestions of fraud or dishonesty, or of incompetence

    If it is found that the words do convey a defamatory meaning, the defendant will be liable even if this was not intended.


  8. Anonymous1:31 pm

    And note this:

    O'Brien vs Brown (September 2001)
    The following article appeared in the Waikato Times, September 2001:

    Net users warned on defamation

    New Zealand's growing community of internet users has been put on notice of good behaviour with a landmark court judgment awarding $42,000 against a website contributor for defamation.

    The penalty, for statements placed on an electronic newsgroup and e-mail list, has raised immediate complaints by internet users that their freedom of speech in website newsgroups could be affected.

    In a reserved judgment in Palmerston North District Court, finding Manawatu Internet Service director Alan Brown guilty of defamation, Judge Gregory Ross warned net users to be wary of their language -- or face the consequences.

    "I know of no forum in which an individual citizen has the freedom to say what he likes and in any manner he wishes about another individual citizen with immunity from suit for all consequences," Judge Ross said.

    "Merely because the publication is being made to cyberspace does not alter this ... There can be no question that publication on the internet counts as publication for defamation purposes."

    The action was taken by Patrick O'Brien, ex-chief executive of the New Zealand Internet Registry, trading as Domainz. A third party posted criticism of Domainz procedures.

    Awarding $30,000 general damages, Judge Ross also imposed punitive damages of $12,000.