By JR on Friday, March 09, 2012
Because George Negus hasn't come under as much scrutiny for his comments on The Circle as Yumi Stynes. The fact that Stynes and Negus made different comments (etc.) doesn't count, apparently
It is possible, if only just, to imagine that the hateswarm engulfing Yumi Stynes this week has nothing to do with her being an attractive Asian woman, but unfortunately my imagination doesn’t stretch that far. So I’m gonna say it – most of the vitriol being spewed in her face over the comments she made about Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith on The Circle are motivated by racism, gender and jealousy.
Yumi Stynes and George Negus disgraced themselves when they mocked the VC winner Roberts-Smith in a seriously ill-considered grab for a couple of cheap laughs. What they did was wrong and quite literally shameful. Media careers have been extinguished by much lesser offences. Giles Hardie wrote a great piece explaining how such mistakes are often made, not just on live TV, but at barbecues, bars and in the tea rooms of millions of workplaces every day. He explained their oafish behaviour without excusing it, because there is no excusing it.
But while those two particular citizens are probably wallowing in their shame – and I say ‘probably’ because Negus has a hide much thicker and tougher than even the giant Walrus of Stupid – some of the deranged responses directed at Stynes in particular are appalling and immeasurably more shameful than her original sin. She is being attacked with a savage and terrible glee that is largely absent from the criticism of Negus.
Producers are removing or disallowing any comments on The Circle’s Facebook page that go beyond reasonable criticism. Sexual threats and insults, threats against Stynes’ family, misspelled and misogynistic abuse (so odd, how those two often go together), they’re all being zapped. But there is no shutting down the interwebz and a search on Twitter for Stynes and Negus finds thousands of comments, some of them quite level-headed and judicious critiques of their foolishness, but many, many of them not. Many, indeed, present with an air of menace and promised violence that would go a long way towards securing Stynes the protection of the law, if she chose to seek it.
Why the difference? I asked this, not entirely seriously, on the twitterz and farcebuck the other day, as the shrieking of the horde reached an ugly, feral pitch. “I wonder why the hatin' on Yumi Stynes is so much hatier than the hatin' on George Negus? What possible difference might there be?”
Only one respondent actually replied with any sort of coherent defence of the lynching of Stynes, an irregular drop-in here at the Instrument, Lobes, who wrote on Facebook that, Stynes' comments were worse "for a start". She has achieved little since she was a contest winner VJ on Foxtel, he argued, whereas at least Negus has had a career of some accomplishment. "Saying that though, they are both retards*, but she definitely deserved it more… The initial comment was made by Stynes about BRS being brainless. She set the tone and Negus followed.”
I doubted that the mob assaulting Stynes had parsed the original exchange so minutely, and Lobes replied, “I see where you are coming from JB, and believe me I do not share the sentiment that seems to motivate those thousands. But just because you take a different path does not preclude you from arriving at the same conclusion.”
Why delve into these individual responses? Because for better or worse they at least characterise some of the moderate and more considered ‘debate’ that has flowed from Stynes’ and Negus’ abysmal misjudgment.
For the most part, though, it’s been a feeding frenzy, with the worst of our natures on display. The only person to come out of this with their integrity unsullied is Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith who graciously accepted the apologies of Negus and Stynes and moved on. He doesn’t need the army of trolls and orcs which has come boiling out of the lower levels of internet hell to defend him. The sick-making abuse and threats of violence they’ve heaped on Stynes, and the contrast with the relatively light treatment of Negus – in spite of his shark’s tooth amulet and porno mo – is a disgusting example of double standards and cowardice.