the thought gang

an attempted place

Month: September, 2014

2 MINUTE RANT: Jennifer Lawrence, liberty, and victim blaming

Jo Bloggs

People get so confused about what freedom means. The leaked photos of naked celebrities (including, most famously, Jennifer Lawrence) is one of those stories that exemplifies so perfectly that double standard – although it’s far from the first. Dismissing the story because it’s celebrity news, or because talking about it is publicising the existence of the pictures still further, is missing the point (and the latter verges on victim blaming).

The double standard I’m talking about of course is the unapologetically oppressive way victim blaming serves to control and restrict individual liberties, yet at the same time, those that perpetuate it so often pretend to be on the side of “freedom.”

I have free speech, cry the misogynists who like to shout at people they don’t know in the street about the shape of their bums or breasts. I have freedom of action, whine the creeps who like to grope…

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On @JohnRashton74

John Rashton is head of the Faculty of Public Health and he had a bad night on twitter, for which he has now apologised:

Rightly so, I think. Although I think that it’s his scaremongering about e-cigs that he should reconsider and apologise for. Being inappropriate on twitter is less than ideal, but scaring people away from a safe alternative to smoking (should they be so inclined as to want one) is not what a Public Health professional should be doing.

Responses to his apology (from vapers, one assumes) were uncharitable. Let’s gloss over those which were every bit as abusive as his own tweets..

More often, it was suggested that he should lose his job over it all..

Politely, that’s bollocks. He should probably be reprimanded over it, but whilst he states his employer in his twitter profile, it’s not an official account. The views expressed are his own. If he thinks someone is a cunt then I defend his right to say so. He should no more lose his job over it than any of the people abusing him back should lose theirs.

No no no. If he should lose his job, it would be over using his position to spread evidence-free rubbish about the dangers of e-cigs. He’s free (professionally or personally) to support their banning in ‘public’ places, because that’s a policy opinion. He’s not free to make up reasons in support of that policy. Making the e-cog debate about the people involved in it is a common approach. It’s unavoidable. The ‘antis’ want to make it all about those in favour of a liberal approach being shills of Big Tobacco, the pro-e-cig crowd want it all about the ‘antis’ being shills of Big Pharma. Motives matter, of course, but mud-slinging does not. Nor does a gleeful celebration of an opponent having a bad night on twitter. That conduct raises questions for his employer, but if someone who goes on the radio to lie about e-cigs is fired for swearing, rather than for his real ‘crimes’, then nobody wins.