Freedom of Twitter

This has really gotten out of hand.

Catherine Deveny has been fired from the Age due to her provocative Twitter messages throughout the Logies.  Now I don’t run a newspaper so I can’t comment on how the pressures of back room politics must play out on editors etc but it does seem disingenuous to sack her for being 100% Catherine Deveny when that is what they have encouraged over the last few years in her column. 

Now I will say that I didn’t find her Tweets to be funny or clever but I stand by her right to say what she wants.  This is the thing everyone is forgetting about Twitter:  no one is making you read her messages.  If you don’t like what she says, don’t read it.  Stop following her on Twitter and glaze over her column in the Age if that is your preference.  There are people out there who love her (hello to my pal Noreen!) and those who don’t.  Cath has always been provocative and has been lauded for that in the past.  Now she cops some controversy and the Age flail about like they can’t believe she was capable of something like this.

Here’s the thing:  did she say anything that incited physical violence?  Did she make any statements that caused particular harm to anyone?  I don’t think Bindi Irwin jokes are particularly funny but that is my take on them.  I think that girl has been through enough and that they’re easy jokes but if Cath wants to make them it’s her choice.  Comedians many moons ago made Nikki Webster and the fat kid from “Hey Dad” jokes.  Some of those comedians are very well respected now.  Are we going to throw them to the lions now in retrospect? 

Satire only works when the target is big.  That is why right wing comedy never works as it is only picking on the lower status.  It always comes across as bullying and therefore not funny.  That seems to be Cath’s big mistake but that is only my opinion.  She doesn’t deserve to lose her job over this.  In a land where we had people “blacking up” on “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday” and where Sam Newman could sexualise a respected Age journalist in Caroline Wilson, how does this even rate alongside those gaffes.  Isn’t it funny that they all still have their jobs and Cath is thrown to the wolves.  I could be wrong in thinking this but it does have the whiff of old school chauvinism, an opportunity to put a “little lady” back where she belongs.

I know and like Cath.  Sometimes I think she hits her topics cleanly and sometimes I don’t.  I’m sure she has seen me on stage and sometimes laughed and sometimes hasn’t.  But I support her right to say what she wants to say.  If she is to be the martyr for freedom of speech then so be it but surely we should have given her a real solid platform to fight from rather than some dull “we should be allowed to tweet what we want” angle.  As I said, the Age has been complicit in helping to create the myth of Deveny and when it doesn’t suit her they’ve panicked and thrown her to the wolves.

There are much better ways to tackle this situation.  Make her be interviewed by Bindi Irwin and Rove.  Lets see how she stands by her “Tweets” when face to face with her Twitter targets.  How about this?  Get her to host the Logies next year!  It is always easier to be critical from the dark, get her up there and see what she can do.  It might be a train wreck or it might be the greatest Logies we’ve ever seen but I will bet you that we’d all tune in!  Once again to have her lose her job is a travesty and now changes the debate to whether she is a martyr for the cause or just a very naughty girl.

I hope the Age comes to their senses and bring her back into the fold.  As noted before if you don’t like her don’t read her work.  Don’t subscribe to her Twitter account.  You can do that to anyone.  If you don’t like Wil Anderson don’t follow him.  If you don’t like me don’t read what I have to say.  That is your choice.  Turn off and tune out.

It’s your right as it is Catherine Deveny’s right to have her say.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

5th of May 2010