Be sure your tweets will find you out

Before the commentariat, Christian and other, condemns the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace as a loony fundamentalist bigot, let’s all take a deep breath and consider …

This is the Twitter age, and we’re all still meeting its perils along with its undoubted benefits. Staff and readers of The Age should be especially attuned, given the dismissal last year of an outspoken journalist after a similarly careless post on Twitter, amidst the frenzied online banter occasioned by the ABC’s weekly Q&A program.

If, as one of the anonymous millions, you forget who you are while tweeting in under 140 characters at the speed of light, you should consider yourself lucky merely to see red cheeks in the mirror. The same misfortune bears the sword of instant professional death if you happen to have a very public profile. Catherine Deveny and Jim Wallace make the strangest of bedfellows. But they merely share the doubtful honour of learning a most common lesson before a million judges. Let’s be slow to condemn either.

Let the twitterer without sin cast the first stone.

 

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Comments

Be sure your tweets will find you out — 2 Comments

  1. It is the world we live in, and both Catherine and Jim need to deal with that reality.

    Jim’s sin is not so much the twitter (that was clearly, from his perspective, an unfortunate mistake. It was what he expressed in the twitter, followed by his multiple public attempts at an “apology” which roughly said “sorry for when I twittered this, but I do stand by everything the twitter expressed.”

    So, the ACL have in Jim a MD that is a self professed homophobe and islamaphobe. And that is what should be condemned in the strongest terms.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Paul. Happy to have the discussion, because it’s an important subject on many fronts. I entirely agree that that’s the world we live in. But I guess my point is that few of us cyberphiles have not experienced the embarrassment of having posted something we wish we could retract but can’t – i.e. learning the lesson the hard way. The only difference between Catherine & Jim versus the rest of us is that their private fauxs pas go viral because of their public profiles. (And incidentally, in one of his TV apologies Jim observed that he was about a week in to his Twitter career!)

    But I do take issue with your charge that Jim W is “a self professed homophobe and islamaphobe”. Opposing gay marriage as a social development is not the same thing as being anti gay people, and highlighting the dangers of extremist Islam is not the same thing as being anti Muslims. In fact, though I don’t know whether Jim has personal friends who are Muslims, I do know he has personal friends who are gay. If you google say “Jim Wallace” and “gay” or “discrimination”, you’ll find he’s on record as declaring ACL’s opposition to unfair discrimination against gays in employment, property, financial entitlements, etc.

    If we want to promote fairness and trust in our community, then an excellent place to start is resisting the temptation to counter a polarising comment with an equally polarising label. Jim Wallace and the organisation he leads are opposed to certain lifestyles out of concern for their longterm impact on the wider community; they are not haters of the people who choose those lifestyles. Let’s all of us listen carefully to what people say, and be very sure we’ve understood the nuances of what they’re on about, before labelling their characters.

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