Human Rights Hypocrisy
Mark your diary for 10 December. It’s just around the corner and, no doubt, is an eagerly awaited day for the ABC’s Jane Hutcheon.
That’s because she has been nominated for a human rights award in the prestigious television category by the Australian Human Rights Commission. And it might just be presented to her then. Jolly good for Jane.
The citation reads:
Jane Hutcheon, Interview with Cate McGregor, One plus One, ABC TV.
This powerful interview with Cate McGregor, the Chief of Army’s speechwriter, raised awareness about transgender discrimination. Ms McGregor was being bullied by several bloggers because she is transgender. The interview brought hope and inspiration to many people who experience discrimination.
Now, I’m rather excited about this for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I’m glad to have played a part in the recognition and advancement of human rights in Australia. That’s because Jane Hutcheon’s little interview was about this webpage and the Bundarrah Days blog.
Secondly, and more importantly, I’m excited because when people start dribbling lies and deception it gets my gander up.
That is exactly what has happened here. And no one has been taken for greater ride than Ms Hutcheon herself. It’d be pretty embarrassing to accept an award that was based on a fraud. It’ll be up to the One plus One presenter herself to determine if she is prepared to do just that.
But fraudulent that interview was.
So let’s look at the facts.
That interview aired on 5 July 2013.
And up until that point in time I had devoted a single, solitary piece to the good Lieutenant Colonel. That article was not based on any private interaction in the workplace. It was based entirely on the fact that this officer had left a public comment on the Bundarrah Days blog in which he attacked Catholic beliefs and ridiculed that blog’s Catholic author.
So it would be a lie to say that McGregor has been targeted. He brought the crosshairs on himself. If McGregor didn’t want people writing about him in public, he shouldn’t have written about them in public first, nor should he have spent time discussing his nether regions on ABC radio, which he has shown a penchant for in the past.
It’s that simple.
Interestingly, the central point of my piece on McGregor was that he is not a woman.
So you can imagine my pleasant surprise when he confirmed exactly this in his interview with Jane Hutcheon. The words he used were “I don’t consider myself to be a woman”.
Remember, Malcolm said that, not me.
Which kind of brings unstuck the whole basis of this human rights nomination. It’s a bit hard to claim that my webpage harasses and bullies Lieutenant Colonel McGregor when he started the debate. And it’s a real stretch of all credibility to pretend that I’ve bullied him for failing to acknowledge his womanliness when he has publicly confirmed that even he doesn’t believe that he’s member of the fairer sex.
All of this, in itself, kinda sorta makes the whole interview seem a little silly. It makes McGregor look silly too, but he doesn’t need much help in that regard. He’s doing a fine job of that all by himself.
But it gets worse. Much worse.
For a start, McGregor acknowledged in this interview that he expected people would disagree with his fanciful desire to transform himself into a lesbian. So why is he so upset that I have done just that? You can’t complain about criticism when you embark down a path that you freely acknowledge will be criticised.
What’s he expect? For all of us to send him a box of Roses and a copy of the latest Women’s Weekly?
By the way, Women’s Weekly will be featuring a photo-shoot of a bloke with an Adam’s Apple and an Army-issued skirt early next year. I can’t wait to be labelled a bully for commenting on that one. Who knows, maybe some budding journalist might rack up a gong for it as well?
Furthermore, this interview was supposedly about raising awareness of transgender discrimination.
But while it may have done many things, what it certainly did not do was raise any awareness about transgender discrimination.
Yes, you got that right. It is possible for transgender people to engage in discriminatory, belittling and bullying behaviour towards others. That is exactly what the Chief of Army’s speechwriter has done.
This interview did not make any mention of the fact that Lieutenant Colonel McGregor has been counselled by the Army for breaching its code of conduct on unacceptable behaviour for his abusive comments.
Now, in Jane’s defence, she didn’t know any of this. It wasn’t public knowledge until 30 September – nearly three months after the interview aired.
But still. It’s pretty embarrassing. Especially when the comments that landed him in hot water were already publicly available for her to read, if only she had spared the time.
And all she had to do was what any journalist covering a story should do: check the facts.
It can’t have been that hard to actually contact the people who McGregor was whinging about. But Jane didn’t do this. One, perhaps, could be left with the impression that she only wanted to present one side of the story.
For instance, if Jane had taken a little time out, I could have told her before she went to air that Malcolm had tweeted on 15 June to the Chief of Defence Force that my father was a failure. Now I don’t expect Malcolm to hold my father in the same regard that I do, but he is actually another officer serving this country in the Australian Army.
So that would have been an interesting little topic for Jane to discuss with McGregor, especially as the Chief of Army, reading from the Lieutenant Colonel’s script just two days earlier, had ordered all soldiers to take a stand against bullying.
“If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it.”
Chief of Army from the speech written by Lieutenant Colonel McGregor, 13 June, 2013
Then there was this little cracker. On the 19 June, more than two weeks before Jane put Malcolm to air, he wrote an abusive email to the author of the Bundarrah Days blog in which he signed off with the words “Cate McGregor AM – suck on that f*ckwit”.
In the interests of decency, which Lieutenant Colonel McGregor clearly does not possess, the ‘*’ in that previous sentence was actually a ‘u’.
Now I’m not going to pretend that I’m a saint who has never used a bit of foul language before. But it is really not acceptable to link that word with the Order of Australia on a public forum. However, Ms Hutcheon preferred not to get to the bottom of the story and just passed off as ‘harassment’ the fact that McGregor’s fitness for the award was now called into question.
So Saint Malcolm is not as saintly as Jane portrayed. That really is too bad for him. And for Jane as well.
In fact, I do feel for her. Poor Jane. The interview was a masterful piece of PR. The lighting was sombre. The mood was serious. The topic was sensitive. The timing was perfect. Malcolm was eloquent. And her facial expressions were faultless. But it was all one big lie. Poor old Jane.
If Jane feels a little miffed, it’s not a surprise. But that’s what comes for failing to do some basic journalistic homework.
Then there was the ridiculous claim made by Malcolm as he sat opposite Ms Hutcheon that he’s decided to chart a dignified path.
His exact words were “I’m very conscious of the fact that I serve the Chief of Army directly. I have to be acutely aware that I need to conduct myself as a dignified person.”
Malcolm then went on to say “I have now withdrawn completely from biting back at people.”
This probably explains why just five days later he couldn’t help himself and emailed me a link to his interview. The Chief of Army’s speechwriter also said that my chin was irresolute and that I should join the Swiss Guards.
No doubt if I put on a skirt I’ll also be entitled to a taxpayer-funded interview with Jane on One plus One to wax lyrical about how impressive I am for surviving a bit of verbal chin music. But I’m man enough not hide behind a skirt.
And finally, there’s the dirtiness of the interview. The outright lies.
Via the ABC, Lieutenant Colonel McGregor was able to call this website scatological. He was given the opportunity to disparage my 16 plus years of military service and three deployments as nothing more than ‘a tenuous link to the Army’. He was given a free range in which he could label me a coward. But he was not brave enough to allow me an opportunity to speak.
Remember, he and I both serve in the Army and he is a higher ranking officer. He used his position and links to the Chief of Army to engage in a public attack on my name, while in uniform.
And Jane offered me no right of reply at all. Great for Malcolm. Not great for the truth.
But as they say, never let the truth get in the way of a good story or a human rights award. The problem for Jane is that even before the award night this story has been proven one big lie.
The truth is that she missed the real story about Lieutenant Colonel McGregor.
While I’ve been cleared of all wrong doing, he has not. He is the only officer serving in the Army caught up in this little scandal that has breached Defence policy on bullying and harassment. Yet he’s being portrayed as the victim. It’s about as big a lie as you can get.
It would be rather ironic to receive a human rights award for making a bully look like a victim. My integrity would not allow me to do it. Will Jane’s?
Justice will come. It always does. I do not hold any grudges against Lieutenant Colonel McGregor and wish him well. But I would prefer it if justice was done in this life and not the next. That’s up to him.
But a wise man once asked what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? Another asked if it was worth it just for Wales.
Malcolm, is it worth it just so some no-name ABC reporter can take home some no-name human rights award?