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Miranda Devine

May 9, 2010

Et tu Miranda?

What is it with Fairfax columnists making inappropriate comments on twitter this week? Firstly there was

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What is it with Fairfax columnists making inappropriate comments on twitter this week? Firstly there was Catherine Deveny’s logie tweets, which resulted in her sacking, and then on the very day that Miranda Devine published an article warning that not trashing the brand is more important than ever she ended up in a slanging match with another twitter user.

Now ‘twitspits’ are hardly newsworthy, robust debate on twitter is par for the course as there is very little room for prevarication or lengthy explainations, however the tweet from Devine seems amazing in light of her urging caution in others. Twitter user @justinbarbour seems to have initiated things with the following tweet
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How did Miranda Devine respond to a critic?

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@justinbarbour unsurprisingly took offence and so began a string of tweeted demands for apologies from both parties. At some point Devine obviously had second thoughts about her ‘gerbil’ sledge and deleted it, prompting @justinbarbour to post a screenshot of the comment.
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But in addition to that twitpic, the whole conversation is still readable in the twitter search. When attention was drawn to what Devine had tweeted more than one person commented on the irony of Devine failing to heed her own advice.

It will be interesting to see what action, if any, Fairfax take over this twitspit. Devine and Deveny write, or wrote, for different mastheads, with different editors, the target of this offensive comment was a semi-anonymous twitter user rather than a high profile child star and jokes about bestiality and child sexual abuse aren’t on a par in popular consciousness. However, given the way that Deveny was hung out to dry, can this incident simply slip under the radar? Will we see radio presenters and columnists from other papers questioning Devine’s suitability as a columnist?

Devine herself noted that

Deveny never pretended to be what she wasn’t… She is a talent. But she has never claimed to be a journalist or have the slightest interest in news.

Will a journalist be held to the same standards as a comedian? It seems that the discussion about journalists and social media has a long way to go yet.

Update: The screen capture of the twitter search has been updated to place the tweets in order, and include the Direct Message from Miranda Devine to @justinbarbour.

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91 comments

91 thoughts on “Et tu Miranda?

  1. quantize

    er but the SUBJECT was the Logie tweets

    and damnit…it was funny.

  2. GavinM

    I’ve already stated several times that I don’t believe she was advocating pedophilia, Uncle.

    I’ve no idea what her real intentions were, she has said that they were intended as jokes, I would’ve thought a professional comedian could come up with something a little better than that, and because of that lack of humour they did come off as looking like a personal attack, hence my comment regarding the difference between comedy and nasty personal jibes.

    What I actually think she was trying to do was get some attention by making a couple of outrageous remarks, which she often does — and lets face it, it worked !

    I find it interesting that everyone seems fixated on her Logies tweets though, I’ve been referring to her — in my opinion — far more offensive Anzac Day ones, do you think they were meant as a joke as well ?

  3. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    you still don’t understand the difference between comedy and nasty personal jibes.

    And you don’t understand the difference between sarcasm/satire and reality.

    Here’s the connundrum: you are taking her tweets literally, yet they weren’t meant to be taken that way.

    Do you honestly believe that Deveny seriously wanted Bindi to get laid? The comment was meant in jest. It wasn’t meant to be serious. I agree with you that it’s not funny (and what is funny and what isn’t is opinion, nothing else) but it wasn’t serious.

    You have to look at the intent behind the tweets. Do you think her intent was to personally attack Bindi and Rove (a friend of hers)? Or to have a laugh? The laugh may have failed but that doesn’t make it a personal attack.

  4. GavinM

    Catsidhe,

    Society’s attitude has changed regarding what is acceptable to present as comedy, for example I doubt shows like Love Thy Neighbour, Til Death Us Do Part and It Aint Half Hot Mum, just to name a few would make it onto tv these days — but I think you know that’s what I meant, and its also very clear that you still don’t understand the difference between comedy and nasty personal jibes.

    And yet again ad nauseum — I haven’t called for or supported her being sacked, so why do you think I should defend others who haven’t been for doing the same thing as her — I’ll issue the same challenge to you as I did Dean, show me the quote where I support her sacking.

    Dean,

    The only thing I’ve been arguing is that I don’t consider her tweets to be funny and that they were offensive — that’s all, the rest of the time I’ve been responding to inaccurate criticisms of my position.

    The claims that I supported her sacking were made up by others who for some reason took exception to me saying that, although they didn’t seem to take exception to anyone else saying the same thing — go figure.

  5. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    *is

  6. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    The problem with conservatives are they are too politically correct and have no sense of humour.

  7. DeanL

    GavinM,

    If you put forward a series of posts that support one side of an argument and people therefore assume it means you support that argument, it’s hardly their fault. And I’m clearly not the only one.

    I’m glad to hear you are protesting against Deveny’s sacking and I apologise for assuming otherwise.

  8. Catsidhe

    Society’s attitudes have changed as regards cannibalism?

    OK, then. Good to know.

    Akerman targets specific people with nasty personal jibes just about every day, without the excuse of “I was just trying to be funny”. When is his sacking? What about when Bolt and Blair dogpile their flying monkeys onto whoever raises their ire this week?

    It really, really looks like the only difference between Deveny and all those other boofheads is that Deveny doesn’t have a penis. Oh, and Deveny got fired, and all those others didn’t.

  9. LacqueredStudio

    [People like Bolt are a dime a dozen in our media (Devine for eg). I actually don’t think the Hun would have any problems replacing him if he were to leave.]

    They need look no further than the wealth of talent in his commenters. Any one of them would be tickled pink by the chance to fill his shoes.

  10. GavinM

    DeanL,

    You still don’t seem to understand what I’ve written — perhaps I’m not being clear enough, let me try again.

    It was a question, not a statement — that’s why there’s a question mark there — although I admit to causing some confusion by leaving off the second question mark…My mistake there, should have checked my punctuation better, but was in a bit of a rush.

    I’m not convinced that “”Rove and Tasma look so cute … hope she doesn’t die, too,” can be taken in any way other than a reference to his first wife, it certainly is neither witty or funny and nor were her Anzac Day tweets which, incidentally I found to be far more offensive than her Logies ones, but I reckon she has every right to express her opinions.

    And again, where did I say I’m glad she was sacked — how many times do I have to say this….I don’t think she should have been sacked, I was speculating that it was perhaps due to a number of issues and Ramadge stated the two of them had discussed a range of things in a number of meetings. I wasn’t at those meetings and I suspect neither was anyone else here — so who knows what all of those issues were.

    Here’s a challenge for you Dean, find the quote from me that says I support her sacking for being offensive and unfunny — and when you can’t find it you can come back here and apologise for misrepresenting what I’ve said, there’s a good chap.

    Catsidhe,

    You still don’t seem to get the difference — targetting specific people with nasty personal jibes in 2010 is very different to a comedy skit about groups or unnamed individuals made in the 1970’s.

    To be honest I don’t see the point in dragging up old comedy skits from 30 odd years ago — there’s going to be a wealth of offensive material from all sorts of performers and shows back then, all those sitcoms from that era had liberal doses of racism, sexism, and just about every other ‘ism’ you can think of in them, but they can’t be compared to today simply because society’s attitudes have changed.

  11. mondo rock

    This argument is pointless.

    Deveny’s comment is both funny and offensive, depending on your persepctive, and so arguing its one and not the other (or neither) is a complete waste of time. It’s a completely subjective argument.

    Equally, if commenters here want to indulge in the willfull stupidity of believing she was advocating paedophilia then that’s fine – even if this idiotic conclusion were true it would only make what she said more extreme. It would not establish that employers should have the right to fire employees for comments made in their personal lives.

    It might, however, defend an accusation that Fairfax is being hypocritical in its firing of Deveny compared to its total inaction over Devine.

  12. DeanL

    And, by the way, GavM, I and many others have been offended by certain media personalities for a long time and I think their humour is very poor. Will you see to it they’re sacked right away? There’s a good chap.

    Or does it depend on to whom you give the offence and who takes it? Thought so.

  13. Catsidhe

    Catsidhe,

    I’m sorry, what was your point ?

    I don’t see any reference to a specific person’s wife dying of cancer, a child having sex or any false accusations of rape and murder anywhere in what you have quoted.

    No, what you saw was a clear case of Monty Python exhorting people to cannibalise their own mothers.

    And in another episode, the line “And what do you think the troops ate in Aden? Arabs?” is not just accusing the British Navy of Cannibalism (“… and we now have the problem relatively under control.”), but saying that it would be alright if they were eating foreigners rather than each other.

    Funnily enough, not a single mention of Bindi Irwin in the entire history of Monty Python.

    Bad taste is not a new thing.
    Crude attempts at humour are not a new thing.
    Dude Not Funny is not a new thing.

    I’m with DeanL.

    I more often than not don’t find her funny. (Although the sheer vituperation of some of her rants do have me stand back and applaud in awe.)

    But I don’t think she did anything worth being fired over. And if she was a man making similar comments, then more than likely (based on the evidence) she would not have been fired, but taken for Sensitivity Training or the like. Like Kyle, or just about everyone in the Footy Show, or that twit in England who abused the actor who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

  14. DeanL

    GavinM,

    “How do you take a Twitter comment out of context ? Aren’t they basically just one-liners.”

    I take this to mean that you are choosing to take her literally. What else could anyone take from such a statement?

    I didn’t realise offence and bad humour accumulated into a sackable offence – thanks for clarifying that.

    You don’t like her. I don’t like her. You’re glad she’s sacked. I think it was unwarranted, cowardly and decidedly hypocritical.

  15. GavinM

    Hello DeanL,

    Please read some of my posts on other threads on this topic before jumping to conclusions on my position — I have never stated that these tweets are grounds for her dismissal, what I said was that I believed her sacking was the result of an accumulation of issues…Ramadge apparently said as much in his radio interview with Jon Faine.

    I also have never said I believe she is advocating pedophilia.

    What I have actually said is that I think her tweets — both on Anzac Day and Logies night (I’m not just talking about the Irwin one) — were not funny and were offensive.

    My first post on this subject was actually a question in response to Deveny’s claim that the tweets had been taken out of context – the question, I thought was fairly innocuous…It’s on the open thread for 3rd – 7th May

    “How do you take a Twitter comment out of context ? Aren’t they basically just one-liners.”
    This question was then somehow twisted by one somewhat dishonest commenter into me “getting on my high horse” and trying to deny Deveny her right to free speech.

    I also showed a link to The Age’s code of conduct, in response to the same commenter’s claim that the Age has no code of conduct that covers what Deveny did and quoted a clause that I thought she “may” have breached, I also stated at that point that I wasn’t sure that breaching it alone should be grounds for dismissal.

    Catsidhe,

    I’m sorry, what was your point ?

    I don’t see any reference to a specific person’s wife dying of cancer, a child having sex or any false accusations of rape and murder anywhere in what you have quoted.

    Trying to compare bad taste comedy skits to offensive tweets about specific people just doesn’t work — it’s apples and oranges, and it still doesn’t make Deveny’s tweets funny or less offensive.

    Erik,

    Oops, sorry about the Lenny Bruce / Lenny Henry confusion there — you’ll have to forgive me, I can’t remember ever hearing of Lenny Bruce.

    Your post at @75 is interesting, but like Catsidhe’s skit, it also doesn’t make Deveny’s tweets funny or less offensive.

  16. marcus

    nah its ok to sledge gays, just not virgins. or anyone related to steve irwin.
    deveny just had to wait til bindi’s a teenage trainwreck and she would have been fine.

  17. Eric Sykes

    Obscenity is not a quality inherent in a book or picture, but is solely and exclusively a contribution of the reading mind, and hence cannot be defined in terms of the qualities of a book or picture. Theodore Schroeder

    Take away the right to say “fuck” and you take away the right to say “fuck the government.” Lenny Bruce

    That’s Bruce, not Henry…so

    See, the thing is, when you do a press day, sometimes you`re tired in the morning and you say things at the beginning of the day that you have to spend the rest of the day trying to correct. Lenny Henry

  18. confessions

    [his abililty to show right-wing fundamentalism and Hansonism for the shallow, vaccuous idiocy that it is cannot be readily replaced.]

    On the contrary. People like Bolt are a dime a dozen in our media (Devine for eg). I actually don’t think the Hun would have any problems replacing him if he were to leave.

  19. DeanL

    GavinM,

    I didn’t think Deveny was funny either. But since when has that been grounds for dismissal?

    There’s a real disingenousness being perpetrated in all this. People are deliberately choosing to believe that she actually meant that Bindi should have sex. Do you really believe that is what she meant, GavinM? Honestly? A chair-sniffing Liberal kept his job and office for months but Deveny – a comedian and part time columnist goes for this.

    It was a piss-poor attempt at humour. How many times does it have to be said?

    Personally, I’m glad she’s out of the limelight – or at least less in it. The willingness of some idiots in the media to conflate her and her opinions with “Leftism” will be a sad loss to them only.

    I’d actually be mortified to lose Andrew Bolt from the Commentariat – his abililty to show right-wing fundamentalism and Hansonism for the shallow, vaccuous idiocy that it is cannot be readily replaced.

  20. Catsidhe

    there’s no reference to child sex, breast cancer victims or claims that all soldiers are rapists and murderers in any of them though.

    No, as far as I know, they did not make any of those specific and exact imputations.

    Can’t have been very offensive then, can they?

    Undertaker Morning.
    Man Good Morning.
    Undertaker What can I do for you, squire?
    Man Um, well, I wonder if you can help me. You see, my mother has just died.
    Undertaker Ah well, we can help you. We deal with stiffs.
    Man What?
    Undertaker Well, there’s three things we can do with your mum. We can bury her, burn her, or dump her.
    Man Dump her?
    Undertaker Dump her in the Thames.
    Man What?
    Undertaker Oh, did you like her?
    Man Yes!
    Undertaker Oh well, we won’t dump her, then. Well, what do you think? We can bury her or burn her.
    Man Well, which do you recommend?
    Undertaker Well, they’re both nasty. If we burn her, she gets stuffed in the flames, crackle, crackle, crackle, which is a bit of a shock if she’s not quite dead, but quick. (the audience starts booing) and then we give you handful of ashes, which you can pretend are hers.
    Man Oh.
    Undertaker Or, if we bury her she gets eaten up lots of weevils, and nasty maggots, (the booing increases) which as I said before is a bit of a shock if she’s not quite dead.
    Man I see. Well, she’s definitely dead.
    Undertaker Where is she?
    Man She’s in this sack.
    Undertaker Can I have a look? She looks quite young.
    Man Yes, yes, she was.

    Increasing protests from audience
    Undertaker (calling) Fred!
    Fred’s voice Yeah?
    Undertaker I think we’ve got an eater.
    Man What?

    Another undertaker pokes his head round the door
    Fred Right, I’ll get the oven on. (goes off)
    Man Er, excuse me, um, are you suggesting eating my mother?
    Undertaker Er … Yeah. Not raw. Cooked.
    Man What?
    Undertaker Yes, roasted with a few french fries, broccoli, horseradish sauce …
    Man Well, I do feel a bit peckish.

    I’m sorry, what was your point, again?

  21. GavinM

    Hello Returned Man,

    I do know of that song and a fair few of their others — I’m something of a Monty Python fan — as far as I can remember, there’s no reference to child sex, breast cancer victims or claims that all soldiers are rapists and murderers in any of them though.

    But I’m here to learn…

  22. returnedman

    “Did Lenny Henry or John Cleese make jokes referring to …”

    Have you seen some of the really hard-core stuff the Pythons have done? Makes Deveny pale in comparison!

    If not, I recommend starting with “Come Sit On My Face” and then just go downhill from there …

  23. GavinM

    As I said Erik — I didn’t see what Newman did (I’m assuming that’s what you’re alluding to), if it was as bad as you are suggesting, then I agree he shouldn’t be on air.

    And I have at no stage said that Deveny should have been sacked — had you bothered to look at the other threads on this topic you would have seen that and wouldn’t have just made such a fool of yourself — Again.

  24. Eric Sykes

    Good ole reasonable Gav, I mean let’s abuse women on national TV in front of lounge rooms full of children eh? That’s ok, but should a woman twit overstep the mark of good honest decent Australian folk she gets sacked. Jolly good show, pip pip, toodle ooh. Pathetic.

  25. GavinM

    Yawn — the usual suspects, nothing of value to add, just personal abuse.

    Did Lenny Henry or John Cleese make jokes referring to someone’s wife dying of breast cancer, or about an 11 year old having sex, or did they claim that all soldiers were rapists and murderers ?

    If so, please show me the quotes.

    I’m not a huge fan of the footy show either — are they pigs, maybe they are — but again I can’t recall them ever coming to attention for making jokes about any of the above, in fact the only controversy I can remember was over something Newman did with a mannequin with Caroline Wilson’s face stuck to it — I didn’t see it so I’m not sure if he should still have his job or not.

  26. Bloods05

    [“genuine comedy and ignorant offensiveness”]

    That’s genuinely funny.

  27. Eric Sykes

    Yes indeed GavinM knows the difference between “genuine comedy and ignorant offensiveness”. So Gav was Lenny Bruce genuine comedy, or was he offensive? When Cleese says “don’t mention the war”?..on and on and on.

    I think Deveny is a middle class dill most of the time, but sometimes she’s funny. She’s always funnier than, as she herself says, the pigs on the Footy Show. The footy show is still on air, footy a religion and untouchable, ANZAC a religion and untouchable, blokes in tight shorts stroking their snakes a religion and untouchable.

    “genuine comedy and ignorant offensiveness” really, get over yourself.

  28. Bloods05

    [Can’t say I’ve ever been accused of being pious before]

    Someone had to tell you Gavin. It was starting to get awkward.

  29. Bloods05

    [just WHO the hell are you arguing with? yourself?..]

    Gavin’s been doing that for a LONG time Quantize…..he ain’t gonna stop now.

  30. GavinM

    Quantize,

    Can’t say I’ve ever been accused of being pious before — interesting.

    Also interesting that I must be humourless because I don’t see anything funny in Deveny’s tweets.

    The reason I pointed out that other people thought Devine’s comment was funny was in response to bpobjie’s comment that

    “Some people found them funny.

    This is the only qualification needed for anything to be classified “funny”.

    I’m sorry if you aren’t capable of appreciating the irony of arguing that an offensive remark by one person is funny because you think it is, but an offensive remark by someone else isn’t funny because you don’t find it to be so.

    “you represent nobody’s opinion but your own, which plenty of people obviously do not agree with. Get over yourself.’

    And who’s opinion are you representing quantize ? Plenty of people disagree with you too, so I’d suggest you get over yourself as well.

  31. quantize

    Deveny at least has the guts to comment on it…whilst you’re obviously happy to sit around and ‘not support it’. Who cares what your idea of ‘funny’ or ironic is anyway Gavin, you sound like a pretty humorless and pious individual and pretty happy to let your poster girl equate homosexuality with deviancy…then you have the gall to point out other people thought that was funny…just WHO the hell are you arguing with? yourself?..you represent nobody’s opinion but your own, which plenty of people obviously do not agree with. Get over yourself.

  32. GavinM

    There’s no doubt that Irwin Inc. has taken advantage of the popularity of their name and have unashamedly and, I’d say, rather crudely used Bindi as a marketing tool — I certainly don’t support the exploitation of her that has occurred, however, that still doesn’t excuse Deveny, nor does it make what she tweeted either funny or ironic.

    I pity you in your inability to tell the difference between genuine comedy and ignorant offensiveness, and I note that you still avoid the rest of the tweets from Deveny that were also inappropriate and plainly unfunny.

  33. quantize

    Rather than stoop to pontificating about who ‘needs help’ (you ain’t Dr Phil, Gavin)
    I would rather ask whether you recognize the clear ‘adultification’ of young Ms Irwin and how she was ‘put to work’ the moment of her father’s passing…at the very least Gavin if you are unable to bring yourself to apply the necessary amount of cynicism to the Irwin ‘industry’ and subsequent humor in Deveny’s comment then I pity you and your bloated self-important piety.

  34. GavinM

    quantize,

    Barbour took a pretty harmless snipe at Devine, she replied with an offensive, but ultimately rather juvenile comment back — 2 adults (well, supposed adults), trading insults — end of story.

    As Mondo correctly points out, the gerbil remark is so off-target that for most gays it is more likely to see them laughing at Devine’s ignorance than be offended by it.

    Deveny made “jokes”, not just about wanting an 11 year old child to get laid, but also about wanting to see another actress have sex in the car-park and about the death of Rove’s first wife…Sorry, but along with her efforts on Anzac Day there’s no irony or humour in any of those comments — only offense.

    Seriously, if you believe Irwin was in any way portrayed in a sexual manner on logies night, you really need to seek help.

    bpobjie & quantize,

    From the comments on the link to Devine’s Tweets, it appears that some found her gerbil comment funny too — so, given you have no problem with Deveny’s ‘jokes’ I can assume you are ok with Devine as well ?

    They do say small things amuse small minds.

  35. bpobjie

    “Not that I care what you accept quantize — unlike you, I fail to see the humour in any of deveny’s tweets, either on Anzac Day or on Logies night, perhaps you could enlighten me on what was funny about them.”

    Some people found them funny.

    This is the only qualification needed for anything to be classified “funny”.

  36. quantize

    Crash, maybe they don’t call her out on her overt religilious driven homophobia…if that’s your definition of an ‘obnoxious’ jerk, then count me in…

  37. quantize

    Gavin, your response alone tells me you are bereft in any sense of irony, much less the obvious humor in an outrageous and OTT remark, clearly mocking the inappropriate ‘adultification’ of Irwin…and then your pithy attempt to dismiss an obviously repulsive homophobic remark made by Devine says you are simply not equipped mentally to GET IT.

  38. confessions

    [As far as I’m aware actual gerbil abuse is no more prevalent within gay society than it is for the straights, ergo insults based around it more commonly raise a shared laugh than an offended yelp. ]

    The real offensiveness has nothing to do with gerbil abuse and everything to do with that Predatory Gay Man meme beloved of homophobes which they use to prosecute the lie of pedophilia being more prevalent in homosexual communities. The meme is at the heart of commentary by bigots like Tony Abbott who recently confessed to a fear of gay people.

    If the SMH have any sense they’ll send Ms Devine off to some kind of training where she can learn about institutional and other forms of discrimination against gay people.

  39. Crash

    At least a couple of men she talks to on Twitter are Teh Ghey, and she doesn’t seem to have any issues with them. Maybe it’s just obnoxious jerks she’s “prejudiced against”?

  40. mondo rock

    For the record I think Deveny’s comment about Bindi Irwin was both hilarious and well crafted.

    The ‘adultification’ of that girl is out of control.

  41. GavinM

    Not that I care what you accept quantize — unlike you, I fail to see the humour in any of deveny’s tweets, either on Anzac Day or on Logies night, perhaps you could enlighten me on what was funny about them.

    For you to call my interpretation of these 2 events bizarre is, well — bizarre.

    And given the number of comments both here and elsewhere, the majority of which would seem closer to my thoughts about Deveny than yours, I’d say perhaps it isn’t just me.

    And Mondo @48

    You are right again.

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