The Age sacked Catherine Deveny yesterday for her ‘tasteless’ tweets at the Logies. This is not longer after there was some complaint about her Anzac day tweets. Yes, her tweets are tasteless. They are also under her own name and people can choose to follow her or not. The Age have enjoyed her aggressive, provocative, and sometimes extremely irritating, style for some years but of course once she made a sexual crack about a child, well the sky fell in. That’s pretty well a burnable offense these days.
I agree with Crikey on this. ‘Extreme, because off-colour or not, her joking remarks were not in the context of her work for The Age. A personal Twitter feed, whether “public” or not, is not a newspaper column. And they clearly weren’t so extreme that The Age felt it must immediately sack her when it learned of them – instead it milked the story by putting its article on the incident at the top of its website for a couple of hours. If her remarks were truly shameful, embarrassing, or unforgivably offensive – if what she’d said really was a summary sackable offence – they certainly didn’t act like it.
But worse, and most disturbingly, is how quickly they folded, and on what flimsy provocation. Yes, The Age – supposedly a fearless member of the Fourth Estate, on whom we can rely to stand up to the powerful on our behalf – apparently got spooked by all the negative comments. ON AN ONLINE STORY! Negative comments! Your Neil Mitchells and Andrew Bolts had been goading their sheep into mindless, self-righteous, sanctimonious outrage, and sure enough the angry tweets soon became angry comments on their own story.’
One of the more interesting responses to her sacking came from the Sydney Morning Herald. Responding to Deveny’s defense that twitter is like passing notes, Gordon Farrer argued that, ‘Posts to Twitter are not private messages. They aren’t limited to a select group of your choosing, as notes passed in class might be, and many tweets — from reports of US Airways flight 1549 going down in New York’s Hudson River in January 2009 to the Egyptian photojournalist whose supporters kept tabs on him via Twitter when he was arrested by the government to its use during the Iranian election last year — have indeed been a news source.
Social media conversations are public conversations. Writing on someone’s wall on Facebook or tweeting to your followers through Twitter are the equivalent of talking loudly while waiting in line at the bank, or at a film festival, or on a crowded train. Everything you say — or, in this case, write — can be overheard by anyone who cares to listen. And then shared with a potential audience of millions around the globe.’
Deveny’s sacking raises the issues of confusion around social networking. What are the boundaries? No one is really sure, but the Age sure as hell needs to work on a policy. It also raises gender issues. Andrew Bolt, and other male commentators are as offensive (or, to my mind more offensive) all the time, and they certainly trigger angry comments and outrage, but there is no talk of sacking them. The moral of the story? It just doesn’t pay to be a badly behaved woman in this town, but it certainly seems to pay pretty well to be a badly behaved man – just how much is Andrew Bolt paid again?
Update: I found Jonathan Holmes’ article on The Drum on the perils of twitter and media organisation’s policy on the subject a good related read.
05 May 10 at 10:08
The best op-ed piece on the Catherine Deveny sacking yet and I’m glad someone else sees the gender divide on this issue. Will Anderson (regrettably)remains unscathed.
05 May 10 at 10:12
I liked Deveny’s comment about the people being offended are the same people that like ‘Hey, Hey.’
Whilst I did find some of the tweets tasteless, being sacked for it is ridiculous given that Bolt and Co. – as well as other racist crap can go untouched.
When someone says something offensive that seems to be what the rich assholes are thinking inside, they defend their freedom of speech to be bigots, except if you say something about a child.
05 May 10 at 10:14
Does Wil Anderson even have a job? ha.
05 May 10 at 10:15
I disagree. It’s not a gender issue. Deveny is an attention seeker and apparently not a very intelligent one. Bolt at least has some brains and does his research. It’s not about the gender divide, it’s about making money. Deveny has become a liability so the Age cut her free. Simple as that.
05 May 10 at 10:27
Simon, I take your point that Deveny is an attention seeker – but I stand by my gender comments. I suspect Deveny got about $20,000 a year from the Age but with Bolt you’d need to add zeros and some. Bolt is smart and does do research – but I personally find his USE of statistics to shore up his position on many issues – most notably climate change – suspect.
05 May 10 at 10:32
Such Missionary Position minds stifle diversity of thought and homogenize society. A sad victory for the non gender specific, people against everything.
05 May 10 at 10:36
Sorry to burst your bubble, Ben Solah, but Hey Hey is the same basket as Cath Deveny in my mind. And the Footy Show. And whatever other classist problem she has with television (incidentally, the hand that feeds her).
Anderson’s comments were just mean and he’s copping the flak the way he should rather running to the caring bosom of the ABC to defend himself.
Deveny is either not very bright or mentally ill (or both) because she has absolutely no impulse control and is so hateful of the proletariat you wonder how she walks the streets without spitting on people.
Bolt and Devine are wingnuts in their own right but both of them have a modicum of self-restraint if the same low-level of intelligence. Deveny has none and has the idea that because people dislike her, she is important (she even has the gall to re-tweet other people’s fawning comments to that effect).
The ‘satire’ she put out there was her usual, sneering self-important tosh and I imagine they were just the excuse The Age were looking for because her columns are sometimes ill-conceived, often vile and utterly black-hearted or more often just plain heartless.
Sadly the ABC will hire her to make merry on Q and A more often. She’s too much idiot with too much coverage, just like the people she despises on the Footy Show and Hey Hey.
Having said all of that, I am perplexed at her sacking for the crap she spewed on her own time. It is a bit odd.
05 May 10 at 10:39
Peter, your comment about impulse control is right – Deveny lacks it and social networking is very unforgiving if you’re not disciplined in this area.
05 May 10 at 10:55
While I would normally be the last person ever to defend Bolt and his ilk, what strikes me about Deveny is the crassness of her approach. While what much of what Bolt and Devine say is shocking, it’s at least cloaked in civility and reasoned argument.
Deveny goes for pure naked shock value. A better point of comparison is probably Kyle Sandilands, Matty Johns and Sam Newman. It IS disgusting that those people continue in their excessively well-remunerated ‘careers’, but at least you can align their tackiness with the stations they work for. I never was quite sure exactly where Deveny fitted with The Age. Obviously nowhere now.
05 May 10 at 10:58
Why shouldn’t some things be off limits? I haven’t heard a convincing argument about why we should have no restrictions on public speech at all, and when well-known people tweet, it’s public. Personally, I think a child of 11, who is not responsible for her situation or her portrayal or how she has been used commercially, should be off-limits when it comes to sexual jokes. If you can’t see that, you probably don’t spend enough time around children. You’d hope a woman who styles herself a feminist would understand that. (I know, Catherine Deveny has kids too …) I think it was a regrettable and impulsive tweet — like lots of tweets. Maybe Catherine Deveny could have owned up to showing a lack of restraint and forethought (if that’s what she felt) rather than trying to construct some ideological justification for it after the storm broke. As for The Age “sacking” her — well, she’s a contractor, not an employee, so they hardly needed an excuse … I’m surprised it took this long. She is great writing about TV, very funny writing about politics, but hardly insightful on many of the social issues she has tackled.
05 May 10 at 11:06
People – particularly people with media profiles – really have to give up on the ‘Twitter is private and taken out of context’ argument. Twitter is not private, unless you have a private account. If you tweet (or blog, or are published in a paper, or appear on radio or television) under your own name, then anything you broadcast on that medium, you are liable for.
If remarks made by public figures in any broadcast medium bring their employers into what they perceive to be disrepute, then they are well within their rights to fire that person in accordance with their own internal policies.
Twitter is not ‘passing notes’, it is a public broadcast medium. Some employers will be more hardline when it comes to what they will tolerate their employees tweeting than others. Some won’t care at all, some will actively encourage courting controversy over the medium, and some will say “what’s a Twitter?”
The solutions to this are simple: either create a private account under a pseudonym and share it only with your friends, or on your public account, don’t be an idiot.
Or do, and potentially suffer the consequences.
05 May 10 at 11:07
Catherine’s joke about Bindi Irwin surprised me because, well, it wasn’t very funny and she’s usually a better comedian than that.
I do agree her sacking raises gender issues, just not sure what they are.
A few sponsors dropped Tiger Woods since his affairs came to light. Why does it matter when the affairs don’t affect his golf? And it’s “natural” for men to cheat, isn’t it? In fact, the large number of mistresses just proves he is a successful Alpha Male that the rest of us should look up to, doesn’t it? Would the sponsors do the same if it was a woman? Or do the same but even quicker? Is it a gender issue or image issue?
Would Catherine get sacked if she had joked about adultery? Or if she had been caught cheating?
If Andrew Bolt had made a sexual joke about a child, I think the public backlash would have been just as severe. But I also think he would apologise, not necessarily because he feels sincere remorse, but because he knows it would make it a little easier for his employers not to discipline him. Of course, they all my conjectures; I don’t know Bolt or how he would feel or do.
I am interested in the bigger issue of how and when a person’s private life is perceived to be so detrimental to their job that they must resign or be sacked. I think that’s what Catherine meant when she compared twitter is like passing notes in class, that it is something “private”.
05 May 10 at 11:09
To me this is clearly an issue related to gender. This is not so much about Deveny’s ability as a journalist (clearly, her comments are offensive), but about how a woman, when she tries to take on the same ‘shock tactics’ as Bolt & co, is treated.
Andrew Bolt has published some of the most offensive and racist material that plays on easy stereotypes and wedge politics under the Herald Sun masthead, which is all the worse because it seems ‘well-reasoned’ or researched. Yet when he, Sandilands & co do it, they are simply entitled to free speech or doing their jobs. When Deveny does the same, from her own personal twitter account, she’s fired for behaving badly.
05 May 10 at 11:11
I think those who assume that it was just the tweeting at the Logies that saw Deveny sacked are not considering the way private corporations work (for that is more and more what The Age is, isn;t it?) Obviously, she didn’t have a whole heap of support and questions were probably already being asked…the life of columnists is a difficult one and it is hard to maintain quality week in, week out for a long time. Deveny was between 2-3 years, so they were probably considering looking for some new blood anyhow…she just created a space in which they could do it with an excuse that had some traction.
05 May 10 at 11:15
Deveny’s defense about how her comments were like notes passed in class show that she has absolutely no idea how twitter works, which puts her squarely in the same box she places the offended people she scorns.
I see what she was trying to do with her Bindi Irwin comment, but if, as you claim, you’re hitting out at raunch culture, and the hypersexualisation of women, you might start by making the subject of your joke, say, a woman.
So many people who make it their bread and butter to say controversial and offensive things always seem to think that they should be protected from the consequences of what they say. Is it really controversial if there’s no risk?
05 May 10 at 11:19
I don’t agree that Catherine is stupid or lacks impulse control. I think everything she does is calculated to achieve the effects she wants. Perhaps sometimes she miscalculates, but then we all do. Maybe this comment says more about how I interpret people than it says about Catherine. I don’t know her.
05 May 10 at 11:20
Dan, I have been thinking the same thing. And I agree with many of you that Deveny was very naieve about how twitter works – but i think the Age seems unclear as to how it works also. Dr Naomi – I both do and don’t take your point about civility. I understand the importance of it but I have found that when I’ve been listening to homophobic comments made by everyone from the leader of the opposition, to the former prime minister, to Nicola Roxon, the fact that those comments are civilised don’t make them okay. They feel personal. But I’m not quite clear I’d want to take my own argument to it’s logical end that civility has no purpose. I can see that it does.
05 May 10 at 11:44
Jess, may I put forth a different theory?
Bolt and Co’s remarks are offensive to you and me, but secretly some (many?) people agree with them. They display this agreement by keep reading those remarks and by not vocally condeming it. People who might feign shock at those remarks in polite company are also the ones who might say “I’m not a racist, but…”
A sexual joke about a child is also offensive, but offensive to the majority. Even the paedophiles might feel pressued to speak out, lest their silence makes them look suspicious.
So maybe Catherine got sacked because she has committed a bigger “sin” and shown no remorse, rather than because she’s a woman ?
By the way, Sandilands and Jackie O were kind of disciplined when they grilled a teenager about her sexual history.
05 May 10 at 11:46
Everyone needs to look back at the history between The Age and Catherine Deveny. It has been a tumultuous relationship, this latest episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The Age is a commercial organisation – if an employee, or in this case ( as far as I am aware), freelancer, creates a public scene which reflects badly on the company, then of course there will be repercussions.
Let’s not mistake Fairfax papers for some last bastion of free speech. They are a corporation. Their primary focus is to make money.
The greater issue here is not gender, or “free speech”, but why people like her, Andrew Bolt, and Neil Mitchell continue to be given airtime.
Why do such opinionated, uncultured, and boorish people attract so much attention? Why do we keep listening to them?
Where is the wisdom? Where is the humility? Where is the perspective? Where are the level heads?
I am glad she is gone, I will start reading The Age again – as long as they don’t replace her with another loud mouth attention seeker with a chip on their shoulder – whatever their gender.
05 May 10 at 11:47
I am surprised people think it’s unacceptable to sexualise children, yet it’s fine to propagate Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny and fear/warmongering – the bread and butter fare of Devine, Bolt, Ackerman, the Footy Show et al.
And I take it the Age is paying all their staff to adhere to professional conduct all 24 hrs of every day? If so, we can assume that everything Devine prints is embraced by the Age.
05 May 10 at 11:55
I’m interested to see if Black Inc. will re-publish more of Catherine’s columns in book form. They have published three already. I assume they are making a good profit from them.
05 May 10 at 12:09
Hey Jacinda — no one on this blog who said it is unacceptable to sexualise children also said islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny and war-mongering WERE acceptable — quite the opposite. See my comments about the need for limits on public speech above … And I’d say that Age staff would be at least careful in their public but not work-related behaviour … I worked with an editor there who was sacked over her involvement (in her own time) in Indymedia when threats against Andrew Bolt were posted on an Indymedia thread … (Hmm, Bolt’s fingerprints are everywhere …)
05 May 10 at 12:11
It’s interesting how this fits into the broader ideological circumstances. Like others have said, racism, sexism and homophobia are perfectly acceptable, as is the sexualisation of children, in the mainstream media. The threat to mythical middle-class children seems to be a threat to all of us (whoever ‘us’ is).
So let’s all be outraged by comments about Bindi Erwin, outraged by Bill Henson’s artwork – and hey, it’s starting to sound like we need a mandatory filter and to retain the ban on RC computer games.
05 May 10 at 12:19
Benjamin Laird — lots of people in the art/contemporary photography world have been uncomfortable about Bill Henson’s work with young people for a long, long time … but no one wants to say anything about it … there’s too much at stake once the censorship bandwagon gets rolling. Comments about Bindi Erwin aren’t a threat to mythical middle-class children — they are comments about a real person who has been manipulated for commercial and other reasons and is probably unable to adequately defend herself from them. It was a very cheap shot — and a form of exploitation of a relatively powerless person.
05 May 10 at 12:20
Quick, Quick – blame Andrew Bolt! He’s worse! What a laugh.
05 May 10 at 12:22
I agree with Jacinda. Why is it ok to peddle racism and xenophobia, but absolutely out of the question to make a joke about the sexualisation of children? Clearly it’s a touchy subject, paedophilia is a problem. But Deveny wasn’t promoting sex with children, she was making a comment (albeit tactlessly) about the way our culture sexualises women, even young ones: a comment against such sexualisation. Whereas Bolt and co represent their prejudices rather like they’re not only unquestionable, but considered, rational. I like Deveny, but she needs to rethink the way she’s using Twitter. The sheer volume of tweets she posts show a lack of restraint. A few, well thought out comments would serve her better.
05 May 10 at 12:26
A lack of restraint is what Catherine Deveny is all about. That’s what makes her funny. Sometimes. And offensive at others. Asking her to show restraint on Twitter is like asking a scorpion to hold back on the sting a little, please. It ain’t in her nature …
05 May 10 at 12:31
I agree with Jenna, Devney’s comment is an attempt to expose the logical conclusion of the sexualisation of children in mainstream media [whether successful or not].
And if we can justify Devney’s sacking, then the logical conclusion is that there is acceptable Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny and warmongering. When it appears civil and reasoned, for instance.
05 May 10 at 12:32
Apologies for the butchering of Deveny’s name.
05 May 10 at 12:37
regardless of whether racism, xenophobia or pedophilia are ok to joke about, catherine deveny should remember that those are real people at the receiving end of those tweets, who don’t deserve these slinging arrows, particularly after going through so much pain themselves. Grow up, catherine. Is that the best humour you can manage?
05 May 10 at 12:37
“The sheep”, eh?
The caring, non-elitist Left speaks its mind yet again, and the truth spills out.
So what about a root, Soph?
Or better yet, what about a bit of concupisence with your 11-year-old daughter, preferably on the grave of a “racist” dead digger.
05 May 10 at 12:41
Simon – I do take your point. Bolt’s comments, while offensive to me, probably also sing in tune with some of the deeper fears and prejudices out there (and therefore can appear ‘forgivable’). Deveny’s comments, while also offensive, do not, and therefore aren’t. Clearly there are other forces at play, but again I still think that gender is one of them. When Bolt & co don’t feel the need to express remorse, there is a level of acceptance that they are simply being strong willed/rational. When Deveny doesn’t, she is behaving unethically and against the gender stereotype.
05 May 10 at 12:42
“Every other day I [insert user] use Twitter to promote my work.”
“BUT NOT TONIGHT I’M DRUNK LOL IGNORE ME PLZ THIS IS PRIVATE.”
Learn internet, old people.
05 May 10 at 12:57
Right on, Elmo Keep … though I think there’s a long, long trail of young’uns trashing their reputations on Facebook et al, too …
05 May 10 at 13:10
I’m sorry, I cannot see how Deveny’s sacking is an issue of gender. You mention Bolt, his ability to offend and infer the fact he is able to get away with such an act due to his gender.
You forgot that other equally ‘offensive’ and ‘female’ ‘journalists’ i.e. Miranda Devine inhabit much the same territory as Bolt, though perhaps not as common.
You haven’t engaged in a discussion of the content of Deveny’s tweets, but somehow make them equivalent to Bolt’s writing. I’m not a Bolt apologist – I personally find Bolt’s work highly offensive, more so for the extreme prejudice that informs his opinions – but I think there is a measure of difference, perhaps so much so that it is like comparing apples and oranges.
Perhaps if Bolt comes out and declares Bindi Irwin fit for being ‘laid’ in an online medium and somehow doesn’t get fired, then we’ll see the true comparative significance.
05 May 10 at 13:13
A moment ago I posted a very vulgar comment about, well, let’s just say it involved conjugal relations with the author’s 11-year-old daughter.
And lo and behold, it appears to have been taken down and censored — an incident I take to mean that vile comments about someone else’s daughter are OK, but not about your own.
What smarmy, self-pleasuring hypocrites you all are.
05 May 10 at 13:13
Dom Knight put this best when he called it a “storm in a Tweetdeck”.
People are really just looking for something to get offended about. With The Chaser and Chris Lilley off our TVs for now, the “well I never” conservative types and the current-affair desperados put down their story on the Coke Zero addicts and head to the internet to court some controversy.
Comedians doing comedy? Sure, great! Oh, but not about THAT. THAT is off-limits because no-one else has done it. I think Deveny and Anderson made the Logies interesting, as did a stack of other people Tweeting about the night – I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ceremony even a quarter as much as I did without constantly checking my Twitter and seeing what everyone was thinking about what was going on. Trying to stop it was ridiculous – welcome to the future, kids.
Men who do things people deem offensive – Matty Johns, Tiger Woods, Sam Newman, Kyle Sandilands – are all still working and have been almost instantly forgiven. Is Wil Anderson – the other “offensive” Tweeter – going to get banned from performing comedy anymore because of what he wrote about the Logies? Not likely.
Will be interesting to see how The Age monitors every one of its employees over Twitter to make sure they all tweet politically correct stuff. Eugh.
05 May 10 at 13:22
The comment has been released Bunyip – I’m more than happy for people to read it. I should say I did not think it was okay that Deveny called soldiers racist, and posted to that effect at the time.
05 May 10 at 13:25
Well you all make valid points. BUT at the end of the day, Deveny was sacked for her inappropriate and offensive comments. Sam Newman – not sacked. Hey Hey – not taken off the air. Kyle Sandilands – not put out to pasture etc. The fact is, theres plenty of people doing things we might find inappropriate and wrong, but they dont get fired – and its obvious her employer wasnt so offended to sack her and publish nothing – they made their money, they used her then threw her away. Sadly, this is not hte first time and not likely to be the last, however we all put up with Kyle, Red, Sam and people love and support their revoltinb behaviour!
05 May 10 at 13:25
Bunyip, comments like yours will go into the spam folder for moderating (and we have always been open about the fact that we do moderate this blog). It now released above, despite the fact that I think you add absolutely nothing to this debate and the very real issues discussed.
05 May 10 at 13:28
Am I the only one who fails to understand how Deveney’s Bindi comment in any way plays on the “sexualisation of children in mainstream media”?
The child she chose as her target is not sexualised – she is on a tv show for young children, wears khaki, minimal makeup and otherwise looks like a normal pre-teen. She is no Miley Cyrus.
Similarly devoid of wit or reason are the KD Lang comments. You can complain about Bolt’s homophobia, but what do you call that?
Gender is irrelevant. Deveney’s comments, her excuses, and her behaviour are utterly mad. The sanest thing the Age could do was drop it like it’s hot.
05 May 10 at 13:29
Daz – Regarding Bolt – I do agree that Deveny’s tweets are a long way away from Bolt journalism and your distinction is correct. But I’d argue that her tweets are not so far away from comments he has posted, and encouraged, on his blog.
05 May 10 at 13:33
The follow-up comment is on the site, but the initial post has vanished.
Don’t play fast and loose with check-able facts, Sophie. Stick to the po-mo re-casting of issues as being pertinent to gender or capitalism or the odious nature of Andrew Bolt.
And, as always, go to bat for a vulgarian if she happens to be on your side of politics.
As I said. Hypocrite.
05 May 10 at 13:34
When has Bolt ever said that an 11-year-old needs a good schtupping?
Dissembler and a hypocrite!
05 May 10 at 13:38
I’m sure she’s find some other soapbox to blather on from. I don’t see this as a gender issue either, because like many people who’ve commented already I think it’s quite clear that the stated reasons for The Age getting rid of Deveny are transparently fictional.
She’s obviously been sacked because they were looking for an opportunity. It’s clear even to somebody who cares as little about the ins and outs of who is friends with who in Melbourne media circles that The Age has been over Deveny for quite a while now. And who can blame them? (well, I can, because they encouraged her in the first place.)
05 May 10 at 13:39
Way back in the olden days of 2004 there used ot be an internet bad smell by the nom de plume of Professor Bunyip. I bet it’s the same one. The MO is similarly pathetic.
05 May 10 at 13:42
Editrice — what you said. And double it for the K.D. Lang tweet …
05 May 10 at 13:42
I don’t think much of Deveny, but the sacking is part of a bizarre new-puritan ignorance that seems to be growing and growing, and is usually solved with a snivelling public apology, something Deveny, to her credit, rejected outright. If only the Chaser boys had’ve had the same ‘balls’.
05 May 10 at 13:48
“Deveny’s sacking raises the issues of confusion around social networking. What are the boundaries?” Elmo is spot on – learn internet, old people. This question is a no brainer to answer. The Age has positioned their brand around the ‘names’ that write for them. When Catherine repeatedly engaged in poor taste twittering on a public profile using the same name that she lends to The Age when she writes her column, by inference it damages their brand. If she wanted to partake in the consequence free heckling that the medium can offer she should have shown the good sense to use a private profile that really is just for friends, or used a pseudonym outright. Catherine getting the arse has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with brand. The Hun’s brand is about appealing to the lowest common denominator hence Andrew Bolt can say pretty much whatever he likes. It would appear The Age expects more from their employees.
05 May 10 at 14:04
When a women get’s fired – it’s obviously because she’s a woman. Oh look Catherine agrees with you:
“This is not about Twitter my friends. This is SO not about Twitter. This is about gender, class and relevance deprivation.”
Oh – of course, she was fired because she was middle class. Only aristocrats and serfs can write for the Age.
Also, what would you say to someone who posts racist tweets like this:
“My best friends being gay Asians probably explains why I am home on a Saturday night alone doing tax. They’re all home fixing computers. 4:05 AM May 1st via web ”
What a racist stereotype. I bet Andrew Bolt wrote that. Oh wait, it was Catherine Deveny. Never mind, nothing to see here.
05 May 10 at 14:09
Deveney’s right, it is about class. Lack of.
05 May 10 at 14:17
One of our twitter followers mentioned the controversy NIck Sowden caused with his tweets. I agree, it’s a good comparison.
05 May 10 at 14:38
Laura, linger in a sewer long enough, grow accustomed to the stink and, when you emerge, the fragrance of a rose will strike you as deeply disturbing.
You really should get out more.
05 May 10 at 14:43
Hey Bunyip — is it possible to have a discussion about something without calling people names, insulting them and impugning their motives? Most of us act in good faith most of the time, however misguided … I find using a human name helps me to keep it civil, too — I call it taking responsibility for what I say (no offense intended if your human name really is Bunyip …)
05 May 10 at 14:52
Bunyip, if you keep on sledging, I’m more than happy to be considered a smarmy, self-pleasuring hypocrite who’s 11-year-old daughter deserves to be rooted on the grave of a racist digger and start deleting your comments.
05 May 10 at 15:01
Are you serious, Bob? Are you unaware of the forms of humour known as satire and sarcasm? If people really think that Deveny wanted Bindi Iriwin and Ray Meagher to “get laid” and that she wanted kd lang to get “fingerbanged” you’re obviously on a very different, almost Autistic, wavelength where EVERYTHING A COMEDIAN (read: COMEDIAN) says is taken seriously.
05 May 10 at 15:06
Bob – On the Gay/Asian racist stereotype point Jess (Asian) and me (gay) are aware of when we’re being insulted. That particular tweet by Deveny was a joke and reads like one.
05 May 10 at 16:00
Nothing Rhymes With David the real issue is not about the subjective rating of whether something is ‘funny’. The issue is about the brand The Age is trying to project. Ms Deveny uses the same name on her twitter account that is associated with her work at The Age. If The Age considers those comments to be in such poor taste that they could harm their brand they have a perfect right to take action to protect it by removing her association with them.
05 May 10 at 16:05
Hey Nothing Rhymes With David — we get that Catherine Deveny really didn’t hope those things would happen … that’s not the point. The point is that some speech goes too far, and the problem here is defining where “too far” is. That they were said by a comedian doesn’t cancel that out. Comedians aren’t exempt from constraints on speech just because they are trying to be funny. Human speech and culture are more complicated than that.
05 May 10 at 16:14
BTW, I think Sophie is totally within her remit to remove comments such as Bunyip’s original post, which was pretty vile, although I think I can see the point he/she (surely not a she) was trying to make in a very ham-fisted way …
05 May 10 at 17:22
Bob Leigh, What Sophie said was probably enough, still the gay/asian joke was made as part of a ‘back and forth’ on Twitter between Catherine and Benjamin Law (Frankie/The Monthly). Benjamin being both gay and asian also tweeted Deveny: ‘@CatherineDeveny And all my best friends are foul mouthed offensive women. We’re going to get on just fine.’
This whole business reflects so poorly on The Age, and renders Natasha Walter’s ‘The Return of Sexism’ so painfully relevant.
05 May 10 at 17:47
Geez Laura, that’s a cracking piece of bloggy history.
I had totally forgotten about him, rightly so, but I reckon you are on the money with that piece of detection.
An entirely unwelcome return to the fray.
05 May 10 at 18:06
Deveney’s defenders are all barbarians, apparently: http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/on_not_quoting_deveny_in_her_defence/
05 May 10 at 18:08
Can someone post a link to anywhere where CD has made an apology or shown some contrition for what she said? All I’ve read that she’s been “taken out of context”. She does not feel compelled to apologise.
I googled “Catherine Deveny sorry” and only found an opinion piece where she apologized for travelling with her toddlers and then whinged about travelling to Europe next to someone elses toddlers. Labelled such people “wankers”. Lovely.
What happened to taking responsibility for what you put out into the universe? There are others mentioned above who have done things considered heinous – The Chaser and their sick kids skit, Sandilands and the 14 year old girl, Johns and his hijinks in NZ. I remember reading/seeing apologies from them. Sure, it doesn’t make their behaviour right, but they did admit they were wrong. Apologised. Were contrite (genuine or not is debatable).
05 May 10 at 18:29
I don’t see how it reflects badly on The Age. Catherine Deveny owes her prominence to The Age. The newspaper has been a huge platform for her to express herself, and she is associated with strongly with it. Most people would never have heard of her were it not for her columns in The Age. A bit of circumspection goes with that territory … their mistake was putting her on the opinion page in the first place, where people would take her more seriously than they probably should.
05 May 10 at 19:22
DF, sorry – but Catherine doesn’t need to apologise. She was only fired because of “sexism”. Anytime a woman is fired, it’s because of sexism, and probably classism too. We blame Andrew Bolt, Hey Hey it’s Saturday, the Footy Show (the AFL version, but not the NRL version) and The Age for engendering (no pun intended) such a sexist environment. The jury is still out on whether the Catholic Church is at fault.
05 May 10 at 19:25
I have several points to make. Firstly I don’t see Deveny as a journalist but rather a columnist, since she primarily deals in opinion.
Secondly, yes Mr Bolt and co can be offensive but I note the absence of examples. Have they or any other commentator publicly suggested that an 11yo girl should get laid? I doubt it.
Thirdly, I suspect that any public figure, male or female, should and would be treated the same way in this case, so I see no gender issue.
And finally, is it just me or are her comments about kd lang equally offensive, being as they were of a sexual and homophobic nature?
I think Deveny has exposed her true, malicious self and is paying the price.
05 May 10 at 19:31
Andrew skewers you Sophie, and many of your commentators perfectly here:
Trust you will post this.
05 May 10 at 21:04
My goodness me, Bob Leigh, if that’s your idea of ‘perfectly’ then your standards are very low.
I’m a left-wing feminist, and I abominate Deveny’s writing, much of which I regard as an affront both to feminism and to the left. This determination of wingnuts to turn a discussion of the many issues raised by this affair into a simple black/white left/right thing is ridiculous. It is clearly no such thing.
05 May 10 at 21:09
According to Andy it’s a civilisation/barbarism thing. Pity that when he starts carrying on about the “barbarians” he sounds so much like Attila the Hun denouncing the Sack of Rome.
05 May 10 at 22:10
I hope you don’t mind me sharing my thoughts with you, but after learning the vile news that Catherine has been fired I needed to find a community of sympathetic souls who understand the worth of this wonderful, charismatic, courageous and funny woman.
Can I tell you how Catherine speaks to me?
First, as a woman who has found liberation in the inner city lifestyle, where I have left my sterile suburban roots behind. For Catherine, paradise is Brunswick. For me, North Melbourne, where I can be me. No more washing hair and swallowing consumerist dogmas about what makes a “proper” woman. Here I can wear whatever I like, rejoice in the rough pleasure of my unshaven legs and scratch myself whenever I have an itch. When I see Catherine’s meaty and “unfashionable” upper arms, I know that having a big bum and “unfeminine” ankles is a statement of defiance.
When she ridicules the toxic bogans who shop at Southland, I jeer right along with her, because are the same people who are the useless eaters of Australia, born and bred to shop, consume and die.
As a victim of abuse by catholic clergy, I recognise in Catherine who offers me the comfort of knowing the spirit cannot be broken, that laughter seals the cracks in a broken heart. When she assaults the Vatican’s molesters, my heart sings and I feel like baring one breast, taking up the banner of freedom and mounting the barricades of protest.
As a vegan, I would love to cook for her, help her skin to glow with the radiance of a wholesome diet.
As a refugee from heterosexuality, I would love to stroke her hair and talk for hours about this sad world’s woes. Her wit and laughter would be an antidote to my earnestness.
I love Catherine so much I wish I had a subscription to the Age because then I could cancel it.
Who can we lobby at the ABC to make sure she continues her columns. Can she pay the rent without her Age salary?
Is there any way we can find out how she is holding up?
It is all so sad, so very, very sad.
05 May 10 at 23:40
The most insightful commentary on this brouhaha thus far. For one, Deveny’s comments weren’t in her capacity as a columnist, regardless of whether they were public. It is as ridiculous as sacking her over bad taste jokes she made in a stand up gig. For another, she is no more offensive than plenty of conservative, male columnists, who never get boned over their insulting remarks. She’s not a politician, but a comedian, and she has always been divisive, and outrageous, which presumably is why she was hired in the first place. Whether or not you think her comments are tasteless is irrelevant. The Age shouldn’t have been so spineless as to cave in such a knee jerk fashion, just because of the snarky comments of Herald Sun readers, talkback radio listeners, and political correct prudes. How ridiculous!
06 May 10 at 8:53
I agree with Laura, I think The Age took its chance because it had wanted to rid itself of Deveny for a while. Personally, I’ve never liked Deveny’s writing. As someone said above, she lacks impulse control, and she just says whatever comes into her head without thinking it through. I cancelled my subscription to The Age three years ago in part because I was so irritated by the prevalence of columnists like Deveny in the Opinion page. I want well thought out left wing commentaries, not bigoted “comedy”.
If Bolt wrote a similar thing on Twitter, I think he’d last about 2 seconds at the Herald Sun. I don’t like the man’s opinions at all, but he’s far too canny to be offensive in that manner.
I agree with Wolf above: “The Age has positioned their brand around the ‘names’ that write for them. When Catherine repeatedly engaged in poor taste twittering on a public profile using the same name that she lends to The Age when she writes her column, by inference it damages their brand.”
That’s the bottom line – she was damaging their brand.
06 May 10 at 9:06
Rosie – you sound as pathetic as Catherine.
06 May 10 at 9:44
I do think the issue is partly one of brand management, as several people have said. It would be interesting to have a discussion (I think we’ll post on this) on what an employer can/should expect from a freelance employee. I’m not talking about Deveny in particular, but more generally. AFL players run into this all the time, and I think it’s tough on young men to be role models all the time -but they are paid alot of money. Many freelancers aren’t. How much a person’s soul? (and brand).
I do think I skewed the conversation bringing up Bolt – I agree that Sandilands, Newman and Will Anderson would have been more appropriate examples of the point I was trying to make.
Bob – I won’t link to Bolt on Deveny, people can follow your link, above, if they want to read what he said. But I would say that the reason I didn’t go over the content of Deveny’s tweets was that I thought the issues this case raised weren’t just about what she said – though clearly, as the debate above indicates, alot of people would disagree with me on that.
06 May 10 at 10:56
The Age is not the Herald Sun. You seem to be calling Fairfax hypocrites for sacking Deveny while News allow Andrew Bolt to roam free. One companies actions have nothing to do with the other and all this comparison does is suggest that the Herald Sun at least has the spine to back their writers positions where The Age will cut and run. Which is their choice in the end. Who gives a damn one way or another if she’s gone? And don’t give me some flimsy point about principles because in reality she’s got plenty of other avenues to express her opinion. Twitter for instance. And at any rate, she’s abandoned principles and integrity long ago. See http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/what-a-day-boned-20100505-u8yx.html
My favourite part is her statement that she doesn’t even believe a lot of the stuff she writes. That pretty much sums her up – a sack full of garbage.
06 May 10 at 12:20
I would not characterise this as a major “gender divide” issue but as men are the perpetrators of most sexual oppression and violence (as we are constantly reminded), we all known that jokes about paedophilia are rarely tolerated in private company, and never in public. Deveney should have known this, and I assume she did. I also find Bolt offensive but clearly in a much more measured and reasonable way – he would never say that he wished an eleven year old girl would “get laid”.
06 May 10 at 16:40
“When she ridicules the toxic bogans who shop at Southland, I jeer right along with her, because are the same people who are the useless eaters of Australia, born and bred to shop, consume and die.”
Wow, Rosie. Wow. What a hateful, bigoted, dehumanising thing to say. So contrary to the sensitive and touching tone of the rest of your post.
06 May 10 at 16:43
I’m assuming Rosie’s post is a fake, to underline the poster’s concerns about Deveny’s style? But I could be wrong.
06 May 10 at 17:06
Well, if so, then I certainly got played! Oops.
As to the topic at hand, I don’t have much to add, except to second the notion others have put forward – that if a man had made a sexual joke about an 11-year old girl, he would likely have been treated far more severely, by both his employer and the public. I mean, can you imagine the outrage? The comment would no longer just be tasteless, but would be take on a predatory, oppressive air that would take the affair to a whole other level.
I agree that women are hard done by in many areas of our society, but in this particular case, Deveny’s probably lucky that she’s a woman, as the consequences could have been worse for her otherwise. Although if she was a man, she probably wouldn’t even dare make a joke like that. Few men would.
06 May 10 at 20:24
Interesting thread, this one. To declare my bias, I’ve always quickly turned the page when I see Deveny’s name, as I can’t handle the nastiness and shouty bile, and personally don’t find her writing at all funny.
But two things stand out for me about all this: I’m amazed how often Deveny is referred to as a journalist, because she is not — she is (was) a columnist, who also self-identified as a comedian. There’s a world of difference between a journalist and a deliberately provocative columnist, although some people do both. It’s a bit of a worry that the two have become so blurred in the public mind. Very bad news for good journalists!
Also — and I think Sophie and another poster raised this — presumably CD was a freelancer. You can’t fire a freelancer, as they’re self-employed: you just stop using their services. This happens all the time — for various reasons, some valid and some not — and nobody makes a fuss publicly. Only when the freelancer is as vocal and deliberately provocative as this one, and the whole thing’s played out in public, does it suddenly become a big deal.
06 May 10 at 20:29
Good on you for posting on this, it takes guts to. Blogging about such news always seems to attract a few savage comments. But I’ve enjoyed reading the range of views above, particularly on branding & the gender comparison.
I saw Deveny speak at the Crime & Justice Literature festival last year. I don’t remember what she said, only that it had little to do with the panel topic, but scored points with the audience anyway – presumably because it was provocative. But that’s again about her style.
I don’t know how public figures can cope with new media – FB, twitter, etc – there are so many more ways for them to slip up.
17 May 10 at 22:33
Does anyone else think this is BULL faeces?
Bring her back says I: