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The ‘Me Too’ movement, sexual politics and unnatural justice

By Binoy Kampmark - posted Friday, 15 December 2017


Dunham, after being subjected to a predictable salvo of baying critics, subsequently issued a statement claiming how she "naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend's situation as it transpired behind the scenes over the last few months."

That she had even assumed such a position of scepticism immediately catapulted her into the circles of fire. Gilliam B. White, writing for The Atlantic, simply assumed a robotically programmed position in favour of Miller's accuser, using a predictable cocktail of identity politics to undermine a defence. "Intentionally or not, Dunham's initial call to scrutinize Perrineau, a biracial actress, but not Miller, fed into an implicit message that believability, sympathy, and public rage are reserved only for certain women."

Rather daftly, such a stance repudiates evidence of conduct in favour of identity as truth, a point that is equally flawed from whichever racial perspective one punts for. Perrineau should hardly deserve exceptional treatment in the stakes of proving claims because she is biracial, a sort of exotic assumption of credibility. But the culture of complaint, as Robert Hughes termed it, has no limits the hyperventilating circles of US identity politics.

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Instances of such overtaxing zeal are starting to grow. Proportion and evidence were certainly left wanting regarding an accusation (note the singular) against the Australian actor, Geoffrey Rush. The Australian paper, The Daily Telegraph, sniffed a story that the Sydney Theatre Company had received a complaint "alleging that Mr. Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour."

Not being a paper known for its attention to detail, it ran a headline claiming Rush to be "KING LEER". This was a howler other papers, notably the companion Herald Sun, refused to run with. "The Tele are running with a yarn," went a text message to the paper's staff, "which is highly libellous."

Rush responded in kind, launching a defamation suit. "It is an action I am taking in order to redress the slurs, innuendo and hyperbole they have created around my standing in the entertainment industry and greater community."

Detached from probative fields of inquiry, the sexual accusation becomes dynamite and dirt. It destroys the public image, fracturing the brand. Many a figure would no doubt deserve it, but equally, such a figure would surely be entitled to that concept that lacks currency so often in public debate: natural justice.

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About the Author

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and blogs at Oz Moses.

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