The Gentle Art Of Victim Blaming

What a piece of art this Press Release is; how subtly and not so subtly it attempts to frame Jones and 2GB as the victims, and their valued advertisers even more so.

For my own amusement I decided to dissect it and its language to lay bare the hypocrisy and deceit.

Through this incident, 

So this whole thing is merely an “incident”, nothing more, and just something that “happened”, not something that 2GB and Jones are fully and directly responsible for. Ok.

we have experienced 

Note the passive framing – something has been done to us – not “we did something to cause a reaction”.

the ability of offended groups 

So the world is divided into people who took offence and people who didn’t, and those who did are divided somehow into groups. Clearly and by implication 2GB wasn’t and isn’t offended, because 2GB is “we” and the offended people are “they”.

Not only are they “them”, there isn’t a single group of people who are simply offended, they’re all actually part of organised “groups”, and there is more than one of them, and they have some power or “ability”.

to greatly amplify their complaints 

The irony of a commercial broadcaster talking about the ability to amplify things would be delicious if it weren’t also deceitful. One person like Jones with a microphone and radio transmitter is amplification, for sure, and if Jones does anything all day every day it’s amplify his own complaints.

On the other hand, thousands of people each saying individually what they think is not amplification at all, it’s PUBLIC OPINION. By pretending that the volume of protest is the result of some technical trickery rather than the roar of a very large crowd 2GB is dismissing the volume of the complaints and also side-stepping the critical question as to whether the complaints are valid.

and to actively disrupt you, 

Now it gets nasty. Apparently if I complain to an organisation about public statements they endorse, it’s “disruption”. Worse, it’s active disruption.

This is victim-blaming, pure and simple; instead of Jones and his sponsors having offended women, who are now complaining, it’s the women complaining who are responsible for “active disruption” of those sponsors – by voicing their individual complaints.

The victims are being blamed for complaining about the offence Jones caused. The reason why hundreds or thousands of people are complaining to these companies, 2GB is saying, is not because of anything Jones said and 2GB broadcast, and the complaints are not a natural reaction to the companies endorsing what he said; no, when I complain it’s ACTIVE DISRUPTION, and it’s all the fault of “amplified offended groups”, not Jones, 2GB or the advertisers.

Worse still, what I’m doing is not voicing a reasonable and politely worded complaint, apparently I’m actually attempting to deliberately disrupt your business, an active act of sabotage against an innocent and passive business.

This is gaslighting, pure and simple. Not only is this shamelessly pandering to advertisers, there’s no doubt this release was intended to be seen publicly, so it’s deliberate blaming and gaslighting. So if your business offends thousands of people who then complain, it’s not your fault for offending them, they’re disrupting your business by complaining. How very dare they!

our clients and your staff, who have done no more 

“Who have done no more…” – the language of innocence and victimhood. 2GB continues to encourage advertisers to see themselves as innocent victims, completely blameless and now targets for “active disruption”. “This isn’t your fault,” they’re saying, and by implication it isn’t Jones’ or 2GB’s fault either, we’re all just victims.

than seek to engage with the audience

Note the completely outward facing point of view. Although the complaints are totally about Jones and 2GB, we’re focusing on 2GB’s audience, who said nothing. Again, 2GB is erasing itself and Jones from the story, and painting advertisers as “engaging” with an audience rather than sponsoring and endorsing a program and a person. The advertisers have done more than “engage with the audience”, and that’s precisely what the complaints are about, but 2GB keeps trying to paint everyone as innocent victims.

which chooses to listen to us.

They wouldn’t be an audience if they didn’t choose to listen to you, but the implication in “chooses” of course is that these people aren’t offended by what Jones says, and by further implication none of them is offended by Jones. It’s just all these amplified offended groups of active disrupters. So it’s perfectly ok for advertisers to want to “engage” with the audience. Just innocent victims, again.

Of course, we have seen valued commercial partners withdraw from Alan’s program, but the fact is we got it wrong in the first place 

Finally, half way through, there’s an admission of guilt, but it’s very vague and anodyne, “we got it wrong”, as though there is an acceptable way to propose violence against women. This isn’t an admission that what Jones said was appalling and unacceptable, just that he got it “wrong”…

and we must now do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

The hypocrisy here is obvious. If they wanted to do “everything possible” they’d sack Jones and never put him in front of a microphone again. So this is empty rhetoric to begin with, but implicit in it is the idea that this is a one-off. They got it wrong, they’re now going to make absolutely sure it “doesn’t happen again”. But we know it has, it has happened over and over and over again, so the hollowness of this commitment is awfully apparent.

To that end, we have already commenced, with Alan’s encouragement and support, 

What a strange thing for management to say – who’s in charge here, Macquarie Broadcasting or a DJ? Obviously they’re trying to suggest that Jones is just as keen as they are to “ensure it doesn’t happen again”, and we already know he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to admit any fault, so this window-dressing is as pointless as the commitment before it.

a full review of the 2GB/4BC Breakfast Show’s content, presentation and controls with a specific focus on audience and guest/third party engagement.

If you were in any doubt that this is anything more than a PR exercise, this clinches it. There was only one reason and one cause for the problem, and everybody knows who it was. For management to pretend that they need to look at “audience and guest engagement” as well as abstractions like “content, presentation and controls” clearly demonstrates that this is going to be a charade. This isn’t a way to spare Jones’ feelings, this is a recipe for looking at everything except the elephant in the room so that they can be seen to be doing something.

That review will extend into all 2GB/4BC programs.

Just in case you were in any doubt that we’re not looking at the elephant, we’re going to not look for it everywhere it isn’t.

So, in summary, advertisers are innocent victims, and people complaining are unnaturally loud and actively disrupting your business for no legitimate reason – we blame them. You bear no responsibility for sponsoring and endorsing Jones, of course. We admit Jones didn’t propose assaulting women the right way, but rather than fire him we’re going to look at everything else possible. Ok?

[This piece originally appeared in a slightly shorter form on Twitter, and then in this edit as a post by Mad Fucking Witches on Facebook. I’ve reproduced it here for ease of reading.]

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