Friday, 22 April 2011

One of our state MPs has been arrested

for possession of child pornography. This has naturally made headline news on the front page of the state newspaper as well.
The MP was not named. These are, after all, allegations and not yet proven. The media has managed to get around this by putting in a photograph of a front fence. It is a fairly distinctive fence. If you knew where the MP lived then you would be able to work out who he is. They gave away the fact that it was the MP's "suburban home" - in other words he is a rural MP.
An MP has now resigned from cabinet, he is a rural MP. It does not take much arithmetic to work out which MP was arrested.
Many people now know. The news will soon be "whispered" all over the state. By the time he appears in the magistrate's court he will have been tried and found wanting.
In the meantime his family will also have been put on trial. Some of their friends will support them but most, including his parliamentary colleagues, will keep well away. They cannot afford to be "contaminated" by association. His family are going to be punished simply because of who they are, not what they are.
Some years ago there were allegations made about a High Court judge. His primary school aged children suffered what can only be described as extreme emotional distress at school. They were taunted with "your dad is going to gaol" and other such statements. The judge died soon after and it is likely that the children have never fully recovered from the behaviour that was meted out by children and adults alike. They were guilty by association.
My siblings and I were students in the same schools my parents taught in, indeed that my father was principal of, for most of our schooling. It meant that an almost impossibly high standard of behaviour and work was expected of us. Any decision made by our parents also reflected on us. We were fortunate that our parents did nothing to acutely embarrass us - however we might have felt at times - and they were perhaps equally fortunate that we did nothing to acutely embarrass them.
Whether he is innocent or guilty, the mere allegations against the MP are going to cause acute embarrassment to many people. The media will claim there is a "right to know" and that making the arrest known is "in the public interest" and that reporting the matter ensures that the judiciary deals with it honestly and openly. Does it really?
There is a fine line between "the right to know", "in the public interest" and the right of the innocent to be protected.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

And yet here in Britain we have rich sportsmen and TV 'personalities' buying silence with 'super Injunctions'.

I feel so sorry for that poor family, it'll definitely be trial by mob. If the guy is guilty of course he should be tried and punished. Such a shame his family will be on trial before him.

Christine said...

Yes, there is a 'right to know' when there is something to know. But at this stage it's mainly speculation. The media will try to build a story where one does not yet exist, just to have someone to slander... that sells papers. It's pure titivation. And the more it's repeated the more we're buying into it. Like now.

Anonymous said...

Agree Christine - although I do not think Cat was trying to repeat the allegations, just point out the way the media is making something out of it. As one who lives here I am with Cat on this one. The paper came very close to contempt of court according to her.

catdownunder said...

Yes Christine! The paper went as far as it possibly could without actually naming the person. I found the whole thing quite sickening.
You are right Sarah - even here money and position can buy a lot of silence.
The legislation actually forbids naming a person who is charged with these particular offences so, as Chris suggests, I felt the media came pretty close to contempt of court. No doubt their own legal teams vetted the story very carefully.
There are times when the media really, really disgusts me.

Talei said...

Oh, this is terrible. You just never know who would watch this god awful stuff. I hope his family are protected, it's definitely not fair to have them dragged through the media scrum for this.

Rachel Fenton said...

There is very little actual news in the press. Sensationalism, fear politics, yes. News, no. And children will carry the guilt/shame for the rest of their lives, long after the adults have moved on to the next story.