Why is it bad to hack and expose photographs of a woman's naked body but apparently OK to steal and make public the contents of a man's soul?
This is the question that should burn in our minds in the wake of the Barry Spurr scandal.
For just a few weeks ago, when a hacker invaded the iCloud accounts of female celebs and rifled through their intimate snaps, there was global outrage.
This theft of explicit private photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence and others was a sex crime, we were told. It was an act of misogynistic tyranny, proof that even women's private lives were not safe from the bulging eyes and clasping hands of a hateful, macho culture.
To peer into a woman's most intimate moments was a "sexual violation", said a writer for Guardian Australia. Just because these women were in the public eye, just because they "offer their image to public consumption", that didn't mean they were "trading (in) their intimacy", she said.
Fast forward to last week, and some of the same people whose jaws hit the floor at the audacity of those who leaked these women's private, unguarded pics were cheering the hacking of Spurr's private, unguarded words.
Spurr, a professor of poetry at the University of Sydney, has had his private emails pored over and published by pseudo-radical, eco-miserabilist website New Matilda. In some of his emails, in what he has since claimed was a cheeky competition between him and his friends to see who could be the least PC, Spurr used words that would no doubt cause pinot gris to be spilled if they were uttered at a dinner party.
He described Tony Abbott as an "Abo lover", referred to a woman as a "harlot", called Nelson Mandela a "darky", and used "Mussies" for Muslims and "chinky-poos" for Chinese. He now has been suspended by the university.
Many people will wince on reading those words. Just as we will have winced if we happened upon those photos of well-known women doing porno poses or engaging in shocking sex talk in videos shot by their boyfriends.
And that's because these behaviours, both Spurr's knowingly outrageous banter and the actresses' knowingly sluttish poses, share something important in common: they were private acts, not intended for public consumption. They were things done or said between intimates, far from the eyes and ears of respectable society. Yet where right-on commentators and tweeters stood up for the right of famous women not to have their private nakedness splashed across the internet, they have relished in the exposure of Spurr's soul to the panting, outraged mob.
Spurr's private thoughts are fair game for public ridicule, they claim, because of his position as a specialist consultant to the federal government's review of the national curriculum.
New Matilda says Spurr's standing as someone who could "influence what will be taught to every child in every school" means his intimate chatter is a legitimate target for moral policing. His private thoughts clash with his public duties, it says.
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