opinion

The Yassmin Abdel-Magied witch hunt has to stop.

Today, Yassmin Abdel-Magied might very well be the most hated woman in Australia.

Abdel-Magied posted a seven word Facebook status, which read “LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine).”

Image via Facebook.

The status was not up for long before Abdel-Magied deleted it, issuing an apology: "It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly."

But it was too late. The outcry was immediate and vile.

"You're a pretty terrible human being if you couldn't work that out on your own," one comment read, which attracted almost 2000 likes.

The status received more than 3500 comments, most of which referred to her as "disrespectful scum," "sickening," with some defaulting to racist epithets like "You filthy rag head."

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Did Yassmin Abdel-Magied have a point? Monique Bowley, Holly Wainwright and I enter into a heated debate. Post continues below.

But this, of course, is what we've come to expect from social media; unparalleled viciousness in a bid to publicly shame anyone who transgresses our own moral code.

If only it stopped there.

Last night, Real Housewife Lisa Oldfield was interviewed (video above) on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live (Paul Murray introduced the story by referring to Abdel-Magied as an "idiot") and echoed the same sentiment,  "Lest we forget Yassmin, that you are brown, you are Muslim and you are a girl, and that’s the only reason you have a job at the ABC," she said, before calling her a "bitch".

A number of politicians have publicly lampooned Abdel-Magied, with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott arguing that she's not on 'Team Australia'.

The front page of yesterday's Daily Telegraph.

These aren't faceless social media bandwagoners. This is the news.

Today, whether or not we agree with the sentiment of Abdel-Magied's status ceases to be the point.

Her 'crime' - for those who believe she committed one - was a poorly worded, poorly timed 51 character Facebook status. So the question becomes; does the punishment really fit the crime?

There are calls to have her sacked from her job. To leave the country. To be stripped of her citizenship.

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The outcry is completely disproportionate to the offence.

Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed interviewed Justine Sacco - the woman who infamously tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding. I’m white!”

"Nice people like us," he wrote in a column for The Guardian, "effectively sentenced Justine Sacco to a year’s punishment for the crime of some poor phraseology in a tweet – as if some clunky wording had been a clue to her secret inner evil."

Ronson's work compels us to value the human over the ideology, whereas social media demands we do the opposite.

We tell ourselves that Abdel-Magied is okay. This is just public discourse. She's probably rubbing her hands together laughing at how provocative she managed to be, we imagine. This is the job she chose. In order to justify the torrent of hate levelled at Abdel-Magied there is one belief we must subscribe to.

She deserves it.

Abdel-Magied, in the eyes of (most) of the Australian media and public today, is all bad.

But here's the thing.

No person is all good or all bad. We are imperfect and flawed, and sometimes our intentions are far removed from the result.

The people who continue to pile on must also ask themselves, what is it you want? An apology? Because she has already unreservedly issued one.

Do we want to destroy her? To make her go away for good?

I do not know Abdel-Magied, but I am a 26-year-old woman in the media, and there's one thing I know for sure.

Today, she is not okay. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who are playing a part in that.

She is sitting on the receiving end of a barrage of hate we cannot begin to imagine.

When we hate and objectify public figures, we rob them of their humanity.

Seeing the world is black and white is easy. It's time to put down the pitchforks.

Please, let us be better than that.

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here. 

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