Image Source: ABC.net
John Laws (pictured above) and GetUp! rarely see eye to eye especially, when Laws makes the sort of comment he made this week to a victim of child sexual abuse. Laws, Australia’s most notorious radio shock-jock, had asked on-air if a woman had been “provocative” when she was sexually abused as a child. During Laws’ interview the woman said her mother believed the abuse was her fault and Laws subsequently asked: “Was it in any way your fault? … You weren’t provocative?”
Laws’ comments resulted in a 39,000-name petition organised by GetUp! and Destroy the Joint groups. It reads, “Sexual abuse is a crime. Destroy the Joint is petitioning John Laws and 2SM management, and owners Bill and Pamela Caralis, to publicly apologise and commit to education of presenters and staff because the on-air comments made by John Laws to a woman who is a sexual assault survivor reflect a culture of shaming & blaming of individuals who have been subjected to sexual assault. This shaming and blaming needs to stop.” (A link to the petition is given below).
When representatives attempted to present the petition to Laws they were met by police and a Laws’ staffer, not the man himself, who remained unrepentant.
On-air he said, “So why are there protesters outside the building? Well, because you’ve got a few self-appointed moral arbiters like GetUp! – which ought be called ‘Shut Up’ – and Destroy the Joint. Charming. Aren’t they clever little groups. They operate within the shadows of the Internet. They’re constantly searching for reasons to be offended.”
Just to rub the point in, Laws then went on to say, “You probably don’t even listen to the program and anyway, you can all go to hell. It doesn’t bother me. I’m comfortable in my skin. I’m comfortable with what I said.”
Many other victims’ groups also took Laws to task for his insensitive remarks. Among the group of protestors was Dr Cathy Kezelman, the president of the Adults Surviving Child Abuse group, who said, “I’m here today because I think, particularly with the Royal Commission starting up, it’s time that we in this country take child sexual assault and all forms of sexual assault seriously. When you have someone who has a high profile, a position of responsibility, can affect the thoughts of many Australians, perpetrating old myths that are potentially quite dangerous, we need to do something about it.”
Laws has still refused to apologise, so the petition requires more signatures and the issue should not be allowed to fade as the media circus moves on to other issues.
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TOMORROW: More on the Catholic PR unit
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)