Catherine Deveny, in the course of 'standing by her Logies tweets' (and now that I've typed that out, excuse me while I go and have a hot bath) (razor blades optional but tempting), has said 'I'm edgy, I push the envelope.' Apparently this is the correct description of publicly humiliating an eleven-year-old child and making 'jokes' about a tragically early death. Because everyone knows that paedophilia and breast cancer are funny, right?
Sorry, Dev old bean, but my understanding is that if you're still using words like 'edgy' and 'push the envelope', both of which went out with big hair (well, maybe the year after), then clearly neither of those things is the case. 'Vile', on the other hand, is a word for which there will always be plenty of uses.
To me the most revealing thing about Deveny's remarks in that linked piece is her self-identification, in the course of her catastrophically inaccurate view of Twitter -- 'It's passing notes in class' -- as a naughty child.
The Deveny-defenders burbling on about freedom of speech don't seem to have grasped the equally important concept of taking responsibility for your own actions, or the principle of cause and effect. Deveny has, and has exercised, freedom of speech. Nobody is going to arrest or fine her. And the Age has its own freedoms, one of which is the freedom to employ whomever they choose.
As it happens, I agree that the Age shouldn't have sacked her, but my reasons are pragmatic: clearly she has a huge fan base, at least in Melbourne (I don't think anyone else cares very much), and in these parlous times for newspapers they should be hanging on to whatever makes money for them.
UPDATE: something I should have made clear in the original post: I do think that the various people (Meanjin editor Sophie Cunningham, theatre critic Alison Croggon, Crikey's Bernard Keane and several online others) arguing that there is a gender agenda in this sacking are definitely onto something. Kyle Sandilands, Andrew Bolt, Wil Anderson and Sam Newman, just to name an XY* media cross-section of comparable 'celebrities', would probably all have got a pay rise from their respective employers. On the other hand, none of them are employed by the Age, and in any case it wouldn't exonerate Deveny. But the wider point holds: we live in a culture that rewards men and punishes women for the same kinds of behaviour.
*the chromosomes, not the generations
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