Saturday, 2 January 2010

Name Suppression

So Whale Oil is the first blogger to be charged with breaking name suppression in relation to a rape case.

It's strange. It's almost 4 years ago that this post broke name suppression orders around the police rape cases. I didn't write that post to get attention, or to make a point. I wrote it because I was furious - I was politically furious. Throughout the trial Louise Nicholas's past had been brought up, under cross examination and in every paper while the men who raped her were being protected.

I still don't know what I think of name suppression, or of breaking it. I think, in balance, the breaking of name suppression that went on around the cop rape case was useful. I think it disrupted the image of poor hard done by cops and it was a way of getting a really public message of support and solidarity out there, not just to Louise Nicholas and the other women who had been raped by Clint Rickard, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton, but to the many women for whom the attacks on Louise Nicholas felt very personal.

As an action, it wasn't without risks, some of which were not mine to take. Most importantly, the trial that took place the year after that (when they were again acquitted) could have been thrown out.

I don't really have simple thoughts about name suppression, or short answers. I certainly don't oppose name suppression on principle, except insofar as I oppose everything about the criminal justice system.

But breaking name suppression just to do it? Without any political point? As part of some kind of guessing game (as Whale Oil apparently did)? That's juvenile.

One of the people Whale Oil is supposed to have named is the Olympian who raped his wife. He has name suppression not because he is famous, but because she has automatic name suppression.

As a feminist one of the things I'm fighting for is a world where victims of sexual violence don't need automatic name suppression. Where there is no shame in being abused, just being abusive. But we are so far from being there.

If the rumours I have heard about the identity of the comedian who sexually assaulted a girl (who also has name suppression because of the identity of his victim) and the identity of the Olympian are true then there are political points to be made about both of them. There are points to be made about the nature of rape culture, and the way women's lives are prioritised. But the only way to make those points is to name the abuser, and therefore out the person they abused. Political arguments about rape must never be made if you have to tread on victims of abuse to do so.

In the end it's not surprising that it is a right-wing anti-feminist man who has been the first blogger to be charged for breaking name suppression relating to sexual abuse cases. For me, the fight was never about name suppresison, it was always about rape.


Cat said...

I'm following the Whale Oil case with interest. Just thought it was worth mentioning that in the case of the 'comedian', he is only alleged to have sexually abused - nothing has yet been proven or otherwise. I think it is worth respecting the principle of innocent until proven guilty...

Anonymous said...

"...I still don't know what I think of name suppression, or of breaking it..."

I do. It's called breaking the law, and just because you have a blog doesn't make you Jesus Christ to our law courts and judicial process.

Anji said...

Anonymous, sometimes laws are wrong. I can think of several off the top of my head that are ridiculous and which I break or have broken simply because I believe them to be ridiculous. If the government made a law you found ridiculous - to make a totally frivolous example, making it illegal to have a business meeting without french-kissing everyone present - wouldn't you break it? :oP

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. This is a wind up isn't it "Maia"?. You're a comedian. There is no difference between what you did and what Whaleoil did.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maia said...

Cat - I believe that the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' is a very good one for the state to take, as it has the capacity for punishment there should be very high standards. However, Clint Rickards was never convicted of anything and that doesn't make him any less of a rapist. I don't think individuals have to (or should) take that standard when deciding whether or not they believe sexual abuse happened.

Anonymous 1 - just because something a law doesn't mean it's right. There are a lot of laws either presently or in the past that I disagree with.

Anonymous 2 - you're right - in many ways there is nothing different between what I did and what Whale Oil did. But in some ways that are really important to me, there are.

Maia said...

I just deleted a comment that denigrated a victim of abuse, such comments are not welcome on this thread.

Craig Ranapia said...

I don't think individuals have to (or should) take that standard when deciding whether or not they believe sexual abuse happened.

Well, I'm sure Cameron Slater would agree with you. Not so sure that's a place you want to be.

Anonymous said...

No Maia, you are exactly the same as that Whale fellow. No ifs or buts about it. Just because he is a right wing white man doesn't change it one little bit.

Maia said...

Craig - I have no idea where Whaleoil stands on this stuff - I don't read his blog.

But I don't think I'm making a particularly radical point, so I wouldn't be surprised if all sorts of people agree with me. For example, to say "Cameron Slater posted information identifying the Olympian charged with raping his wife, and therefore identified his wife" is breaking the principle of innocent until proven guilty. But I (and lots of other people) have no compunction about saying it.

Anonymous - in case you didn't read my post - the difference that is important to me is that I was making a point about sexual violence - Whale oil was using sexual violence cases to make a case about hte legal system (and didn't care about the effect that this had on the victims).

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, Maia - you have no idea where Whale Oil stands, but you also know what his intentions were re: sexual abuse and victims? Interesting.

Julie said...

I see Slater has breached suppression again today on a new case, and his site is currently down.

The thing that I find frustrating about his breaches is that he doesn't seem to be considering at all why suppression might have been granted. In two of the cases we now have breaches in cases where it appears that the suppression may have been given to protect the identity of the victim primarily.

But Slater seems to just think that any name suppression at all is without merit and should be breached.

Zetetic at The Standard reckons this behaviour is effectively an attack on the victim in the case of the Olympian. This looks like more of that same.

Anonymous said...

I am totally against Whale Oil and his stance re: name suppression. There are several reasons why name suppression is of benefit to the victim, and if the victim does not wish for the abuser's name to be suppressed, he/she can request for name suppression to be removed, and I believe, her request would be taken fairly seriously. I do not think it is fair to form an opinion with little knowledge about the case at hand and the relationship which the offender and his partner had. I don't believe there is any part of the name suppression in this case that has been put in place in order to protect him, but rather to protect her.