Don’t I just love twitter, besides the fact that I think that its full of empty inanities and tweets that frankly give too much information about the functionality of ugly tram driver’s bowels, or his self pleasuring regime, or the tweets from a learned fellow who later insisted that he definitely pulled off the highway to make his many traffic reports on a journey from Geelong to Melbourne. Now it seems that another barrister has got himself into trouble with twitter this time its by posting an offensive tweet and then claiming that he did not mean it to be entirely public (isn’t that a familiar line?) none the less I think that its most amusing to see the way that three different news sources Treat the same story.
Firstly lets see our national broadcaster treats the story:-
To channel that seminal fifties Cop show its a case of “Just the facts Mam”, well almost, even so it does make an effort to suggest that he was just being ham fisted in his use of the medium. Does his excuse make any sense to anyone who has a twitter account? I have one and I can’t for the life of me see how you can confuse posting a tweet with sending an SMS message, then again I don’t have a mobile device to use the medium but I can’t believe that there is no indication on the “app” that twitter is active and in use when you are using on your phone/Ipad.
The Fairfax approach:
Of course the Luvvies at Fairfax are rather keen to defend a QC whom they consider to be one of the “good guys” so they expand upon the excuse and stress the efforts that Burnside has made to pre-emptively apologise to Tony Abbott for any offence that might have been caused by the Tweet and frankly that is the right thing to do when you are insensitive or offensive when you use the internet and what you have said is a vile slur upon someone’s character and their good name.
Now lets see how the OZ treats the story:
Notice how the Oz puts the story into a proper context by pointing out how other prominent individuals have come to grief thanks to twitter? And how they make it very clear that publishing such things on twitter could very well invite a tort of defamation:
Mr Burnside has recently used his Twitter account to discuss the Federal Court judgment that Bolt – columnist for News Limited, publisher of The Australian – had breached the Racial Discrimination Act. Media lawyer Justin Quill, who led Bolt’s legal team, said Mr Burnside’s initial “Paedos in speedos” comment was clearly defamatory. “That something was an accident is not an excuse,” he said. “However, Julian’s very sensible and prompt response would mean that it probably wouldn’t be worth Mr Abbott taking legal action because any damages are unlikely to be significant.”
There is no indication that Mr Abbott, who sued author Bob Ellis for defamation, will take action against Mr Burnside. Mr Burnside said last night: “I am not going to give legal advice . . . I would hope no one would take seriously or infer a comment like that would be true of him (Mr Abbott).”
To my mind there is no doubt that The Oz wins the fair and balanced reporting prize on this incident. firstly they put the offending tweet in the right context with their illustration, they point out that the imputation of the message is clearly a defamation and that it could be actionable, further they point out that “accident” is no excuse. Is there any base that is not covered here? Hmm maybe the implausibility of the excuse offered by Burnside could have been more fulsomely explored, the fact that it wasn’t puts paid to the oft made claim that the paper is “hate media” that seeks to destroy all of those infected with Leftist thought.
Finally what is the reaction to this “Latte Apocalypse” from the self appointed crusaders against “intellectual dishonesty” :
Firstly we have something that has become a habit for our learned friend, namely he fails to link to the piece that he is specifically criticising, something that is rather intellectually dishonest in itself and secondly his treatment of the matter becomes little more than an excuse to partake in his favourite hobby of Bolt bashing, and the prosecution of his rather tired argument that there is/should be a separation between what happens on the Net and the “real world”. News Flash Jezza they are one and the same now that we are all so connected.
Personally i tend to think that Burnside did just make a silly mistake but none the less the lesson that we should all take form this episode is that we should all take care when we hit the send,or publish , button on our computers and mobile devices, and further in thsi day and age is it ever wise to make paedophile, or other bad taste jokes about anyone, in any electronic communication whatsoever because surely the examples cited in the Australian article show that to tweet in haste can mean that you may have plenty of leisure time to repent those 140 characters…