The ABC says it wouldn’t have let Zaky Mallah on its show if it’d known he was a misogynist. But is that reasoning a bit off?
Following a week of criticism aimed at ABC show Q&A, host Tony Jones has defended the controversial decision to allow audience member Zaky Mallah onto the show.
Addressing the controversy on last night’s Q&A episode, host Tony Jones sought to clarify a few facts in the first minute of Monday’s broadcast.
“Others can and no doubt will judge this program and the ABC … but it is appropriate to put a few facts on the record,” he began.
“The Q&A team were not aware at the time Zaky Mallah appeared of the very offensive and misogynistic tweet that he put out about two female journalists,” Jones said. “Had we known, we would have rejected his participation.”
The tweet Jones referred to, sent in January, suggested that female journalists Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi “need to be gangbanged”.
Jones went on to, rather sensibly, point out that the ABC’s charter requires the presentation of “a diversity of perspectives so that over time no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded nor disproportionately represented”.
Watch the original Zaky Mallah comment here (post continues after video):
Now, while we firmly believe in the value of representing a diverse range of opinions on by Q&A (read why here), we were uneasy with the logic behind one part of Jones’ explanation: The suggestion that misogynistic tweets are somehow worse than threats to kill.
Because surely they’re both as vile as each other?
Mr Mallah was charged and acquitted of two terrorism charges back in 2003, and he was also convicted that year of threatening to seriously harm or kill ASIO officers. Yep, 12 years ago he pleaded in the NSW Supreme Court to a charge of threatening Commonwealth officers. He was sentenced to a maximum of seven years for the crime.
Look closer: There’s an agenda behind this anti-ABC hype.
So was Jones saying that an abusive, lewd tweet about gang rape is worse than a threat to kill? Because in our books, both are horrendous.
We’re the first to stand against misogyny and abusive tweets, and we know all too well how harmful the online vitriol directed towards female journalists in particular can be.
But surely it’s only logical to condemn death threats just as strongly as rape threats.
So Tony Jones, we’re all for Q&A. But we’re not behind this strange logic-gap you put forward last night.
What did you think of Jones’ explanation?