Let’s be rational about this.

The hyperbole in Larissa Behrendt’s tweet about Bess Price, who at the time was on Q&A on ABC defending John Howard’s “intervention” in the Northern Territory, refers to a disturbing image – apparently courtesy of ABC-TV’s notoriously offensive Wild West show Deadwood – but there was no defamatory link drawn between that activity and Ms Price. The tweet simply rated the two on a scale of “offensiveness” to Ms Behrendt:

That might have been a slightly exaggerated contrast to draw (as is the whole point of hyperbole), but it’s not “obscene vilification”. It’s not an attempt to “control” or “silence” a different view. It’s not “outrageous” or “marginalising” anyone. It’s a tweet expressing Ms Behrendt’s view that what Ms Price was saying was extremely offensive to her. Ms Price’s apparent determination to seek legal recourse for someone finding her “offensive” is laughable.

Obviously The Australian, and the Liberal Party, and Ms Price, and a number of other far-right commentators, think they can ride the shock from the revolting Deadwood image all the way past the fact that it wasn’t actually applied to Ms Price other than by way of contrast, and use it to damn an opponent, an Aboriginal woman, who has dared to take on Andrew Bolt in the courtroom. They can raise the profile of another Aboriginal woman who is in favour of their “intervention” at the cost of a critic of it.

It’s pretty shameless stuff, but they’re not finished with it yet.

PS Behrendt has sent Ms Price an apology, but Ms Price apparently won’t accept it until it’s in public – you know, more in public than being quoted in full in The Australian. How about giving it in the same forum as the original – a tweet? That should be more than sufficient.

UPDATE: Via Tanja in the comments the twitter conversation surrounding the tweet. If anyone had any doubt that
(a) Bahrendt was referring to what Price was saying on Q&A; and
(b) the “show” mentioned was the episode of Deadwood that was currently airing on ABC – well, that should clear it up.

Taking tweets out of context is fundamentally misleading, because the 140 character limit means that most tweets assume that the reader is aware of to what they’re replying. So, obviously, the tweet does not mean the same thing to its original audience as when it is displayed without context.

Do I really need to start randomly picking 140 character strings from News Ltd articles to demonstrate why taking them out of context is not a fair reflection of their authors ‘meaning?

UPDATE #2: Miranda “rogering gerbils” Devine pulls out every far-right cliche she can think of:

We should be grateful for the tweet because it gave us a rare undisguised insight into the depraved and rancid core of the reflexively leftist, inner-urban, ivory-tower thinking

DING! DING! DING! If she’d managed to pop in “elites”, she’d surely have won herself a prize.

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