Sports broadcaster Brendan Telfer has come up with a rather cynical way to sell his new autobiography: the book includes an account of the fall from grace of Tony Veitch, following public revelations of Veitch's assault on his ex-partner, Kristin Dunne-Powell.
Apparently, Telfer's book describes Veitch as a 'broken man', destroyed by a vengeful public who jumped to conclusions. It seems to me that the best way to avoid being criticised for domestic violence is to not commit domestic violence. Leaving that aside, however, attempts to cultivate sympathy for Tony Veitch are quite disturbing.
The fact is this: Veitch hasn't apologised. His sorry was follow by 'but', then a range of excuses for the violence he has admitted to committing. If Veitch had made any meaningful attempt to atone for his violence - by admitting that there is no circumstance, not one, which can excuse domestic violence - I would feel sorry for him. I would support his efforts to seek help and reestablish his career. Then, perhaps, he could serve as an example for other men seeking the strength to stop violence.
As it is, we're being asked to feel sorry for a guy who brought his problems entirely on himself, is not particularly repentant about what he's done, and sees no reason why his career should be limited by having made a potentially fatal attack on another human being. Veitch's supporters seem to think that, having smashed a woman's spine and spent a few months being disliked by the public, he should now be able to recommence his privileged, high-paid life as if nothing had happened. Would these supporters be so quick to overlook such a vicious attack on a girlfriend, sister or mother?*
Brendan Telfer's book looks like a new attempt to offer mitigating factors for Veitch's violence. Telfer seems to be playing some sort of semantic game - sure, Veitch admitted to 'lashing out', but did he actually say he'd broken his ex-partner's spine? If this foreshadows the defence Veitch plans to use in his trial, it surely marks a new low in his personal integrity. I have a dark feeling that Veitch's trial will be nothing but a string of misogynistic, nasty slurs against Dunne-Powell's character, which will only be a continuation of his violence against her.
Veitch may indeed be broken. So was Kristin Dunne-Powell's back. One person is responsible for both injuries.
* It's been a few months since charges were laid against dodgy Blue Chip directors. No one has yet said that the public should cut these guys some slack - they've had a lot of public hatred focused on them, and maybe they've suffered enough. Why this different attitude to these two crimes? Is there just some undercurrent of belief that, although it's never OK to make off with someone's savings, domestic violence is sometimes understandable?