Entitlement, bullying, and private faith

21 Jan

Since I received defamation threats from Melinda Tankard Reist’s lawyers, I’ve had occasion to consider just what a defamation threat is actually intended to achieve.

If I had done what was demanded of me, that is apologised, retracted, signed and published a letter drafted by the lawyers, and then paid all Tankard Reist’s legal costs, I would now be free of fear. This is the deal. Do what we say and you won’t have to worry about massive legal costs that will break you. Don’t do what we say and you risk ruin.

This is what a defamation threat does. It is weighed in favour of the plaintiff. It does not require a fair hearing in a court of law for it to be effective. It works entirely on fear. It is bullying. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s a bullying scam. The plaintiff counts on you collapsing and doing what she’s demanded, for fear of what will happen to you if you don’t.

You pay all the costs of her instigating this bullying action against yourself. The plaintiff will get exactly what she wants, which is you silenced, and it won’t cost her a cent.

Neither Tankard Reist nor her lawyers counted on their intended victim announcing she’d received defamation threats on Twitter. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to play out. Bullying only works when there’s secrecy. Take it out into the open, shine the light of day on it, and it’s useless as an intimidatory tactic.

Tankard Reist is reportedly horrified at the swell of reaction against her, some of which has been quite foul. I have also received some disgusting tweets from people claiming to be her supporters. I know how to use the block button. I know Melinda does as well. It works. If you don’t want to see them, Melinda, get someone else to monitor Twitter for you. And take responsibility for having created this situation all by yourself.

In her article in the SMH today, Julia Baird says in her last paragraph that it would be a pity if Tankard Reist’s faith was used to try to discredit her.

I’ve never used the ad hominem argument that MTR’s views should be dismissed because she’s a Christian. My argument is that as a public figure, seeking to influence public policy on female sexuality and its representation, and on abortion to which she is unequivocally opposed, she needs to be upfront about her religious allegiances. Women have the right to know if someone who is working to prevent access to abortion is doing so from concern for women, or is fueled by her belief system.

We need to have from MTR evidence -based arguments against abortion, and many other issues she argues on emotive and anecodotal grounds. Because if this evidence isn’t available, her conclusions are subjective. This is not good enough.

No one should be attacking Tankard Reist because of her faith. She should be rigorously questioned on her evidence for her claims and if she has none, then she should be asked to explain on what they are based. This is the price paid for advocating a public morality. I don’t care what she tells her children to do. But once she’s prescribing for women, thats another story.

Baird also asks the question when must a private faith become public? I would say certainly when the believer is in a position to effect public policy making on issues of morality. The churches have considerable power, consider for example their exemption from anti discrimination legislation in the matter of employing gays and lesbians. Any other employer who refused to hire on the grounds of sexual orientation would be liable for prosecution. Not so the churches. Why? Because of their beliefs.

So are we required on the one hand to adjust our laws to accommodate the Christian faith, while simultaneously granting the believers who influence those laws the right to conceal that faith from the public gaze?

Are any Christians entitled to wield such influence, and to demand protection from all scrutiny as well?

I don’t understand this notion of privacy around religion. It seems to me many religious followers, perhaps not all Christians but certainly some, believe that living their faith in the light of day is one of the things their God requires of them. Christian politicians for example, usually seem reasonably up front about where they are coming from. What reasons would a Christian have for demanding privacy for their faith in Australia? They aren’t facing any kind of discrimination or persecution, indeed it is their churches that are enacting discrimination.


Matthew 5:14-16  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

And this:

Matthew 28:18-20
(18)  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  (19)  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  (20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

While it seems that faith is regarded as personal in many Christian teachings, it is not regarded as private, and these are two entirely separate things.

Tankard Reist has publicly said that she tries to live her life doing what Jesus wants. Where does Jesus require his followers to be private about their belief in him?

I don’t know how long Tankard Reist and her lawyers can keep their threats hanging over my head. I have no control over this. In the meantime thank you to everyone who is helping me with their concern, interest, signing of the petition, tweets, DMs, blog comments, phone calls, and even dinners and wine. I count myself lucky. Very, very lucky. And I thank you.

92 Responses to “Entitlement, bullying, and private faith”

  1. paul walter January 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Haven’t read Baird’s article, but on spec, it sounds like a great disappointment if coming from this source, has someone who knows better, sold out? What we are actually observing is, the exploitation of the emotive power of “faith” employed a a lever for the imposing a distinctly non Christian agenda on a dumbed down and emotional populace and Baird would know that, full-well.
    Baird works for Fairfax, so these likely apologetics are unsurprising. But will disappointed to witness such a descent into wilfully reductionist cynicism from an individual of some intellect, who once earned respect as one who aspired to honest broadsheet brokery. Perhaps they’re moving her to fill the void left by the disgraceful Miranda Devine’s departure?
    Mow I must see your edgy observation proves valid in the reading.
    Better if she had launched an attack on your “Christian” oppressors, by the sound, but will not comment further till I’ve read it.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

      I was just informed that Baird is a Christian


      • Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

        I bet you won’t find that info on Wiki anymore.


      • Honest Bob January 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

        well then that obviously discounts any validity to their argument


  2. Hector January 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    The best thing to do with a threat of defamation proceedings where no facts are actually in dispute – in other words where someone just wants you to shut up – is to tell the originator of same to go jump in the lake.


  3. Ray (novelactivist) January 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Melinda certainly knows how to use the block button. She doesn’t even allow polite disagreement on her blog (yet allows some quite nasty comments provided they attack her targets). I tried an experiment over the holidays and made two moderate posts challenging her opinion. Both were refused.

    Many people are becoming increasingly concerned at her tactics. She uses intimidation, bullying, defamation, vilification and censorship to impose, what is in the end, just her opinion. In this she is like all the other moral bullies that have gone before. Eventually people stand up to them.

    What planet is Julia Baird from? If Melinda was a private person then of course her private beliefs are irrelevant. But Melinda is a very public person who seeks to aggressively control what people can see, read and do. Her front group Collective Shout has successfully campaigned to ban two films (both odious, but that’s not the point). She has made submissions to several government inquiries and proposed quite draconian legislation. She has run campaigns that have affected people’s livelihoods. She has implied prominent people of having sinister motives and intent.

    It is the right of people who are affected by her public campaigns to know what motivates her – simply so that they might be able to defend themselves.

    I’m not surprised that Melinda is shocked by the response. She made a serious tactical mistake. If she thought she could control her brand/image by bullying people, then it has backfired spectacularly. She has likely got more negative press than she has ever had before. It will be nothing compared to the reaction should she decide to proceed.

    By seeking to hide her religious affiliations she has instead put them front and centre. How many bloggers and journalists will now be digging around in her past?

    What was she thinking?


    • Jennifer Wilson January 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

      My guess is she got into a rage with me and emotion took over. Because nobody in a state of common sense and reason would have done it. Unless there’s megalomania in play and it was assumed I would just cave. My writing, with which she is very familiar, doesn’t indicate a caver! Bad judgement call MTR


      • Ray (novelactivist) January 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

        Oh yes, rage, megalomania, misdirected and frustrated emotion – unfortunately typical amongst moral campaigners 🙂


      • Honest Bob January 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

        well of course. Typical amongst moral campaigners but unknown here.


    • Helvi January 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

      Ray, I used to like Julia Baird,but found her response most disappointing; I have to stop liking people and life will be easier…no more disappointments…


    • Rebecca S. Randall January 23, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      @Ray, I don’t know how they keep letting me sneak under the rabbit proof fence at MTR. I’m not the most controversial poster, but I fear I’m being allowed through the comment filtering, so that my ‘ignorance’ can be made an example of. But as long as that scumbag Jennifer Drew continues to post on the blogs, I will follow. And hysterical is the best word to describe her, aside from delusional.


      • Jennifer Wilson January 23, 2012 at 9:48 am #

        I hope you haven’t just outed yourself!!! Big sister is watching us! (really.)


      • Honest Bob January 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

        “scumbag”. Such a powerful argument


  4. paul walter January 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Yes she’s an Anglican, but in the past her Anglicanism informed her as to her approach to social issues rather than opposed it, as may be the case here.. Still haven’t read it, getting there…


  5. paul walter January 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Just checked it out. Singularly poor effort embarked on a vilification of those who only wanted to Tanky to be bit more up front as to her positions and what impelled it. To quote David Bowie, “keeping dark is hateful”.
    And it is quite disgusting to see that Baird has joined in the obfuscation, am sure knowing full well, better. It’s not about Tanky being a bible basher, its the employ of a debauched, authoritarian and obscurantist version form of Xtianity, to justify,ultimately,an arbitrary imposition of irrational policy on the public whilst circumventing adequate consultation and debate beforehand. What comes of it is the shoring up of the sort of problematic response exhibited in the prosecution of two young people in Queensland last year, for choosing not to proceed with a pregnancy.That is, let alone some of the rubbish going down in America, where moralism is a Trojan horse for neoliberalism.
    On the subject of SMH, can you think of an organisation more actively involved in the promotion of raunch culture and comodification that Tanky purports to oppose, than Fairfax online?


    • Jennifer Wilson January 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      I don’t visit them much, really I find blogs five me much more interesting reading and I watch TV radio for news.

      I thought the piece was reasonably balanced but the private faith thing is such a wank is it not?


  6. gerard oosterman January 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    I am not Melinda Tankard.. but if I was… and wholly convinced to the bottom of my heart and the very top of my conscience of my beliefs, I would have taken every opportunity to refute Jennifer’s positions and that of her co-bloggers. It would be an almighty stoush but with the Almighty on my side I would fight to the end because that’s what I have lived for so far. These are my beliefs and that’s who I am. These beliefs define me.

    I am not Melinda Tankard.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      Gerard, what is it? Nobody thinks you are anything like her.


      • gerard oosterman January 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

        I think I botched the message with clumsey wording. I was trying to point out that MTR should have discussed and defended her beliefs here on TheSheep and/or the ABC Drum rather than threatening Court action. I know I am Gerard. ( I just had Helvi confirming this)


  7. paul walter January 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Am in absolute disagreement with you, as to Baird, the thing revolved around the proposition that Tankard Reist was the victim here,rather than those she has mislead, including yourself and if only be omission.
    Refer Gerard’s latest short comment.


    • gerard oostermangerard January 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      Paul; Perhaps there is a misunderstanding?.This is from Tankards position not mine. She has, out of the blue, taken to the threat of Court action instead of fighting the issues based on her convictions. Those defining beliefs are Tankards not mine.
      I am Gerard not Melinda. Take a look at the picture, I have a beard.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

      PW what’s wrong? Are you and Gerard misunderstanding each other?


  8. maxamillion January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    I rathe like this response to such cases posted by @jackofkent


  9. paul walter January 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    Gerard, I was citing you for, not agin. The posts get sometimes muddled as to sequence between “reply” and “comment”
    i was contesting with Jennifer, the notion that Baird’s piece was, “balanced”- the thing was based on a false premise, unconscious or deliberate, possibly damaging to those with issues with Tankard Reist, that the latter was “victim”.


  10. paul walter January 22, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Jenn, all about who gets to use which side of the glory hole.


  11. gerard January 22, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Sometimes an errant arrow…. Sir Walter Tyrell by mistake killed King William II (Rufus) about anno 1100 and yet…. the descendents giving us a fine brooding Shiraz here in Australia.
    Raise you glasses… All is good. It’s been a busy week for Jennifer.
    Good night.


  12. 730reportland January 22, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    You should re-produce this threat-letter EXACTLY,
    word for word, no editing and post it online. The
    public would then be able to see for themselves
    and help point out the bullshit.
    This made Mitchell look like a complete goose
    when he threatened Posetti.
    No writ was issued and the year expired with
    Mitchell not making another squeak about it.


    • Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

      Jennifer should do no such thing!

      “Someone” should “leak” it.

      “Oh dear a photocopy of it blew away on the way to the carpark! What should I do?”


  13. Bubblecar January 22, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    As I just posted on Russell Blackford’s blog

    …I think the important point…. is that Tankard Reist is essentially a lobbyist, not a public intellectual whose views are open to challenges that she’s willing to delve into and reply to. Her maintaining a “feminist” rhetoric for what is essentially a Fred Nile worldview, has enabled her to maintain a centre-stage lobbying position, whereas if she was more open about her religious motivations, she’d be a much more marginal voice. This is what seems to motivate her attempts to silence critics rather than respond to their arguments.


    • Ray (novelactivist) January 22, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Precisely Bubblecar. It’s a standard tactic of the religious right. They know fiull well that people turn off if they say ‘God said’ so they now try and make out they have objective evidence (which just happens to agree with their belief). It’s spin. Nothing but spin.


  14. Marilyn January 22, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    Abbott claims he is a christian but wants to murder innocent men, women and children who come to us for help in the name of ‘border protection’.

    Why do these lunatics think they can do whatever they like and then talk to their imaginary friends.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 23, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      Because their lunacy has become normalised.


      • Shockwave January 23, 2012 at 10:47 am #

        Religion teaches this life we have is the temporary staging ground before the eternal afterlife.
        So as long as what you are doing is in Gods name, it’s fine, as you are following Gods law, not the Earthly secular law.
        So for a true believer, everything you do to follow Gods word is permissible, and God forgives you.
        Then after you die, God gives you a great seat, and you worship him forever, secure in the knowledge that the peoples whose lives you made miserable are either in heaven with you, or burning in hell.

        This is exactly why the number of Christians in the Australian (and the USA) Government is rather worrying.
        I also must conclude this is how/why the Chaplains were introduced, as well has the tax free status of Church owned bushiness, and our lack of a Charity Commission.


      • Honest Bob January 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

        Religion teaches this life we have is the temporary staging ground before the eternal afterlife.
        So as long as what you are doing is in Gods name, it’s fine, as you are following Gods law, not the Earthly secular law.
        So for a true believer, everything you do to follow Gods word is permissible, and God forgives you.
        Then after you die, God gives you a great seat, and you worship him forever, secure in the knowledge that the peoples whose lives you made miserable are either in heaven with you, or burning in hell.

        Wow, and we’re complaining about other people using caricatures and arguments not grounded in evidence?


  15. Arved January 22, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    I missed most of this because I was travelling. Just wanted to leave a note saying that I support you in this and hope it all works out. I doubt I can help in any practical way, but if there is, let me know. I think MTR overplayed her hand, and hopefully this will go away soon.


  16. Sarah Scott January 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Even if she were to disclose that she was a Christian, how would this affect her arguments? A rational person analyses arguments alone.

    Anyone who has done the most introductory course in philosophy knows this.

    By the way, I’m a devout atheist.


    • Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      Whenever MTR is asked to prove her position with any evidence,what does she do?

      Has she proof that song lyrics cause date rape?
      That Pop Stars write songs knowing the lyrics cause date rape?

      No proof, in fact it is an absurd notion.It also denigrates men ,and society generally,.
      But she says it anyway.

      That’s just one of the many loaded positions she has posited, on online opinion blogs.
      Even the ABC.
      And what is her biggest worry now?
      Someone called her what she really is,and now she must sue to reach the moral high ground, simply because she wants to rewrite history to suit her own precious ends.
      It’s the Lib thing to do.
      That’s why her mentor (Sen. Harradine) and anti-abortion crusading boss got on so well with Howard et al.

      Not sure whether you are saying MTR is rational or not.Please elucidate.


      • Sam January 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

        Well said Sarah. And Hoffman, did you notice that your (effective and logical) argument against MTR’s opinions didn’t refer to her religious beliefs?

        Somehow Dr Wilson gets it completely right and completely wrong in the same post.

        Wrong: “as a public figure, seeking to influence public policy on female sexuality and its representation, and on abortion to which she is unequivocally opposed, she needs to be upfront about her religious allegiances”.

        Right: “We need to have from MTR evidence-based arguments against abortion, and many other issues she argues on emotive and anecodotal grounds. Because if this evidence isn’t available, her conclusions are subjective. This is not good enough.”

        Why not just argue about whether MTR’s conclusions are well-reasoned (since they’re clearly not, and you clearly know they’re not), rather than about whether she might have ulterior motives?


    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      I think I’ve explained that already. I don’t agree that a “rational” person analyses arguments alone.Doesn’t have a whole lot to do with philosophy


      • Sam January 22, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

        Just to clarify, are you challenging the coherence of the concept of “rationality”? Or are you saying that “rationality” is a coherent concept but it doesn’t mean what Sarah says it means?


        • Jennifer Wilson January 23, 2012 at 6:16 am #

          Neither. I’m saying that we are more than only the rational and we use more than the rational when we attempt understanding. we also receive information from the “arguer” that we absorb and interpret in addition to the language they use and the meanings they attribute to their language.


      • Sam January 23, 2012 at 10:25 am #

        Ok, but now you have an is/ought problem. From a psychological perspective, your description of how people usually “attempt understanding” seems pretty accurate. But Sarah’s point (and mine) was not that we *do* analyse arguments alone, it was that we *should try to* analyse arguments alone. I don’t see the logical connection between “we don’t do it” and “we shouldn’t try to do it”.

        For example, imagine you have to adjudicate between two policy options, and each option has their own advocate. You have the choice of the advocates presenting their arguments to you face-to-face, orally, or on paper. If you received the arguments face-to-face, it might be true that you would inevitably absorb and interpret additional information pertaining to the personal characteristics of the advocate, but If you wanted to minimize the effect that such information might have on your decision, you would elect to receive the arguments on paper.


    • Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

      Sarah, can you tell me where, on any of the MTR articles at the ABC, she :

      “analysed arguments alone”.

      Under her own name?

      Can you cite any independent,peer reviewed,universally accepted data/studies she based her stated position/s on?
      (That have ZERO connections to Christian Orgs)

      And I’ll ask this again,but try to be more coherent.
      (Because you ‘appear’ to be accusing Wilson of being ‘irrational’.)

      Is the position to ‘sue,’ a rational one, given MTR has apparently declined to ever openly respond in kind to JWilson. on HER position/s ?

      What word would you use to describe a person who sought legal action instead of debate?

      Do the teach communication in Philosophy 101?
      Debating skills?
      Do the encourage interactive dialogue?
      I predict this viral thing will damage MTR more than she can imagine.
      Pretty soon media and pollies will diving under the bed to avoid a single comment.

      At least Wilson wears her heart, on HER sleeve.


      • Sarah Scott January 23, 2012 at 11:38 am #

        Hi Hoffman,

        I take your point. The implication of what I said is that, if there is a problem with the logic of her arguments, as you appear to claim above, then it would strengthen your case. So far we are consistent.

        I would merely be reluctant to bring forth an extraneous detail such as ones’ religious affiliation to a debate, as tempting as it is to do so. It does not weaken nor strengthen the argument of the issues at hand.

        As for the rightness of the legal action she sought, well, that will be up to the court to decide. As for what I personally believe, well I’m sorry for you in a sense Jennifer, as court is not pleasant for anyone. But we mustn’t say anything without being able to accept all of the possible consequences. I also think it is up to the other to decide when or how much they feel offended, especially so if a claim was not factual, was intended to harm the person’s image, and does not benefit anyone.


        Sarah Scott


        • Jennifer Wilson January 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

          There are some of MTR’s arguments that can be discredited with evidence, however the problem is that she is working in an area where there is comparatively little research available. Every time I’ve challenged her I’ve requested links to her evidence, and she never replies. From my own research I know it’s thin on the ground and highly contested.

          However she argues emotively and anecdotally, and the combination tends to drown out our calls for evidence to substantiate her claims. She is completely disregarding of evidence. The language MTR uses is not one of evidence based rational argument. She does not argue issues. I have been trying, as have many others, to have a debate with her for a long time. She will not debate.

          One is left with little choice but to question her agenda. Where is she coming from and why won’t she argue? Because her opinions are based on certain moral values and not on evidence. They are not arguable opinions.

          At any time over the years I have been challenging her, MTR could have refuted me. A well intentioned person would have simply posted o my blog, or in any other public forum and she has many, refuting anything I had said and making me look silly. Instead she chooses to threaten, bully, and if she continues , financially ruin me.

          Now doesn’t this say something about her ability to argue and her desperate need to silence debate?


      • Sam January 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

        “she argues emotively and anecdotally, and the combination tends to drown out our calls for evidence to substantiate her claims.”

        I completely agree. But is this phenomenon unique to MTR, or even feminism? I think emotive and anecdotal arguments drown out evidence-based ones in all sorts of contexts (asylum-seekers, climate change, gay rights, etc.). It is definitely a phenomenon that we must confront and (hopefully) overcome, but is questioning the motivations of those making the emotive and anecdotal arguments really the best strategy? Doesn’t that imply that it’s ok to make emotive and anecdotal arguments as long as you have good motivations?

        I understand your frustration at the fact that MTR gets taken seriously in public discourse (and may even be influencing public policy) even though she “is completely disregarding of evidence”, does not use the language “of evidence based rational argument”, and “does not argue issues”. But I don’t think a perception that MTR’s motivations are non-religious is the cause of this problem, and I worry that focusing on MTR’s motivations might also “drown out … calls for evidence to substantiate her claims.”


      • Honest Bob January 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

        That have ZERO connections to Christian Orgs

        Because that would immediately invalidate their evidence? if only they were in agreement with you – then, of course, their would be no suspicion about the quality of their evidence. The double-standards here are breathtaking.


  17. Marilyn January 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    Ah well, dear on Mandy Devine is on her side.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      That was a shocker of an article wasn’t it?


      • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

        Miranda Devine’s piece was indeed a shocker, Jennifer.

        Miranda Devine’s piece was published on Sunday 22 January 2012. (Miranda’s piece can be seen here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/why-being-christian-gets-you-crucified/story-e6frezz0-1226250226632 )

        A deconstruction of it, titled ‘A Devine Response’, has already been undertaken here: http://whyjaytea.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/a-devine-response/

        I intend to focus upon the chronology of the actual events surrounding what has come to be known as the ‘#MTRsues’ saga in relation to the claims Miranda Devine has made therein on behalf of her friend Melinda Tankard Reist. For as I see it, the chronology and Miranda’s claims don’t quite match up.

        Miranda opens with:

        “THE cyber bullies who piled onto anti-porn
        activist Melinda Tankard Reist last week …”

        That would have been the week beginning Sunday 15 January. The claimed cyber bullying would appear to have been on Twitter, largely addressed to @MelTankardReist and/or to the hashtag conversation/timeline #MTRsues.

        “Tankard Reist’s crime was to be profiled not
        unfavourably in a magazine which described her
        as “one of Australia’s best-known feminist voices”.”

        That was the Sun Herald Sunday Life article by Rachel Hills, ‘Who’s afraid of Melinda Tankard Reist?’, published on Sunday 8 January.

        On Tuesday 10 January Jennifer Wilson published the article ‘The questions Rachel Hills didn’t ask Melinda Tankard Reist’ on her (no longer quite so obscure) blog ‘No Place for Sheep’, and left a comment on Rachel Hills’ webpage that effectively gave Hills a ‘heads-up’ as to that fact.

        “This [Rachel Hills’ 8 January article] infuriated
        the miserable orcs who lurk in the dark recesses
        of twitter and the blogosphere.”

        Well, if it was Rachel Hills’ article that was the cause of the ‘infuriation’, it seems the ‘miserable orcs’ mostly waited up to a week before “[springing] up to pour calumny upon Tankard Reist”, which ‘pouring of calumny’ largely occurred “last week”, that is the week 15-21 January, according to Miranda. Wonder why the orcs largely waited?

        One of the orcs, a certain [name deleted] didn’t wait, however. We’ll come back to him shortly.

        “Oh, and one anonymous orc reckons [MTR]
        should be anally raped with a coffee cup.”

        Yes, you guessed it, it was [ ]and he tweeted it some time before 9:52 PM on Friday 13 January. We know this because that was the time that MTR retweeted [ ]choice little cyberscat to her around 4000 Twitter followers. Her retweet was still up on her tweet timeline on Tuesday 24 January, as can be seen here: http://twitpic.com/8bdw0j . I am told by another Twitter user that the original tweet, whenever it was posted, was taken down by he who tweeted it.


        On Friday 13 January an email, threatening suit for defamation, was sent by MTR’s lawyers to Jennifer Wilson. Jennifer did not become aware of it until the following day, when she returned to her office after having been away.

        “”This is the price I pay for getting a fair
        and decent run,” [MTR] said ruefully last week
        from her Canberra home, after being “driven offline”
        by the vitriol and forced to seek legal advice.”

        MTR went offline so far as Twitter is concerned on Wednesday 18 January, as her tweet timeline shows. See: http://twitpic.com/8be3gr . According to Miranda, it was AFTER MTR was “driven offline” (which happened on Wednesday the 18th) that she was “forced to seek legal advice”. For Jennifer Wilson to have received MTR’s lawyers’ demands on Friday 13 January, MTR must have sought legal advice on, or more likely prior to, Friday 13 January, but not earlier than Tuesday 10 January when Jennifer Wilson first published ‘The questions Rachel Hills didn’t ask Melinda Tankard Reist’. MTR’s friend Miranda is a week behind the real action in her piece.

        “But last week [MTR] stopped turning the other cheek
        and decided it was time to hold the internet haters
        accountable. She engaged a defamation lawyer to ask
        Wilson for a retraction and apology. Wilson took to
        the web to claim Tankard Reist was suing her for all
        she was worth, though no one is suing anyone yet.

        The twitter hate exploded.”

        Miranda seems to remove all doubt that the legal advice claimed to have been sought by MTR “last week” (the week 15-21 January) was in relation to Jennifer Wilson’s article ‘The questions Rachel Hills didn’t ask Melinda Tankard Reist’. Miranda puts the blame for the ‘twitter hate’ exploding squarely upon Jennifer Wilson’s having ‘taken to the web’, which she did on Saturday 14 January on her blog ‘No Place for Sheep’ where she published her article ‘MTR threatens Sheep with legal action if we don’t censor our posts about her immediately’. The problem is that the lawyers’ demands were dated Friday 13 January. MTR had decided upon, and instituted, this course of action BEFORE the claimed ‘twitter hate’ had exploded.

        MTR has another problem. In the normal course of events in the twitterverse, public access to hashtag timelines is an ephemeral thing, and claims as to the prevalence and nature of ‘twitter hate’ in any hashtag conversation become progressively more difficult to gainsay with the effluxion of time. I know this from my recent experience in relation to the hashtag conversation ‘#reinstateallanasher’, an experience I have outlined on OnLineOpinion in this comments thread: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=13033#227253 , for those who want any background. The hashtag ‘#MTRsues’, however, has been tracked since its outset by the web service Tweet Reports. A full transcript of tweets on that timeline exists, and can be studied as to whether tweets can be characterised as ‘twitter hate’, or fair comment, should the need arise.

        Likewise, I have taken a series of screenshots of MTR’s tweets timeline as far back as Sunday 8 January (when the orcs first began to be infuriated, according to Miranda) complete up until Tuesday 24 January, and of her @ mentions timeline, which is the major alternative channel for the delivery of any ‘twitter hate, as far back as Wednesday 18 January. I intend posting these on Twitpic in due course, and viewers can make their own assessments as to the existence and/or extent of ‘twitter hate’ thereon. Here is the first one: http://twitpic.com/8bf1x9 . There is a mouse-over menu at the top of Twitpic images that allows you to display the image full-screen.


        The way I see it is that MTR’s friend Miranda has been enlisted to cast MTR as a victim of ‘twitter hate’ (to the extent that it may actually fairly be described as such), in the face of a hostile, and surprising, public reaction to MTR’s resort to threats of defamation suits against such as show that they are not afraid of Melinda Tankard Reist.

        I find Miranda’s piece deceptive and duplicitous as it stands. The question is, did she spin it that way herself, or is she hostage to the quality of the account as given to her by MTR?

        It was interesting to see earlier today the announcement of the intended retirement from Federal politics at the next elections of Jo Gash, the Liberal member for Gilmore. Could it be that the threatened defamation action instigated by MTR against Jennifer Wilson, a threat that may hang like a sword of Damocles over her for as long as 12 months, is one intended to silence a blogger who MTR identifies as a potential threat to a possible MTR political ambition to win Liberal pre-selection in the seat of Gilmore, a seat not too far from Canberra? Is that why MTR has the lawyers she does?


        • Jennifer Wilson January 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

          Wow, Forrest that is an enormous amount of work and research. I’d been a bit puzzled about Miranda’s timeline, and you’ve solved that for me.

          I don’t know anything about a possible political career for MTR but it would seem a likely career move. In which case all this is going to be quite relevant.

          I think MTR has complained for a long time about abusive tweets and posts on her blogs, so this isn’t anything new. I think it’s just not on, to abuse in these ways. I don’t think any responsibility can be attributed to me for these abuses though I’m sure that will be tried.

          There’s another piece at abc religion and ethics, i’ve linked in my reply to Paul Walter. See what you make of it>


  18. Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    See this:

    “For Tankard Reist’s part, she says she’s not interested in labels – she just wants people to engage with the substance of what she has to say. “Call me whatever the hell you want, I don’t care,” she says. “I believe my work is pro-woman, pro-girl. Just let me get on with it.”

    From: Sunday Life”



    Quote “Call me whatever you want…”
    Repeat, “Call me whatever you want….”

    As long as you are not jennifer Wilson?
    How strange.
    Something for the legal team to mull over.

    Anyone know what has happened to unbelief.org????


    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      No I was wondering that Hoffman. Seems to have stopped for a while.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 24, 2012 at 9:39 am #


      You make me feel so much better already. As one who has elsewhere striven to label myself as a ‘contra-labelist’, you have revealed to me at least something that I may share as common ground with MTR. One should always try to look on the brighter side of life, I am told, and look for the best in people. I suppose that should include Melinda.

      For I had stooped, in a moment of frustration as to the direction the ongoing Twitter debate appeared to be taking, to the making of what may have been perceived to be an oblique anagramatic reference to MTR by using the expression ‘adamant riled stinker’ in this tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/ForrestGumpp/status/160948174549299200

      It, on reflection, was not my proudest moment. Perhaps it only happened as a consequence of Devine’s intervention.

      I am gratified to know, courtesy of your research, Hoffman, that at least I had, even if unknowingly at the time, Melinda’s permission in my moment of weakness to have used that expression. Especially considering how very little I have ever had to say in print with respect to her: first impressions can be lasting impressions. https://noplaceforsheep.com/2012/01/17/some-thoughts-on-being-threatened-with-defamation-by-melinda-tankard-reist/#comment-10823 (in the very last paragraph, and, like a Russian doll, within the link therein)

      In conclusion, should it be, Hoffman, that you were ever to post upon On Line Opinion, ought I expect (and I know this is sensitive in the present circumstances, so don’t take it the wrong way) that you might append the word ‘Sue’ to your userID?


  19. Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Aaagh Sam,
    An attitude and writing style not unlike a certain “Lady” from over the fence at Drum-land.

    Stagger ing resemblence.

    I’ll bid you farewell Sammy,I think I know where you’ll take us.


    • Sam January 22, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      “Lady”? Not sure who you’re referring to, but glad to hear that my “attitude and writing style” are not unique.


      • Helvi January 23, 2012 at 9:05 am #

        Not all Ladies are ladylike…


  20. Hoffmann January 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    and everyone knows that religion is totally irrelevant,it’s the substance that counts…..

    Just ask Obama….

    Or a Muslim………


    • Julia January 23, 2012 at 2:48 am #

      Or a Virginian lawmaker.

      As reported by Amanda Terkel, Fee 22, 2020 in Think Progress

      Virginia lawmaker: Children with disabilities are Gof’s punishment to women who previously had abortions.

      On Thursday, Virginian State Delegate Bob Marshall (R) spoke at a press confrence against state funding for Planned Parenthood. He blasted the organization for supporting a women’s (sic) right to choose, saying that “God punishes women who have had abortions by giving them disabled children:
      “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.
      In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

      Marshall is also fighting against health care reform, saying that “Obamacare” is trying to take “your soul.” Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has been pushing back against high-profile figures and entities who have been attacking people with disabiliies. Will she speak out against someone in her own party?

      This person’s opinions are obviously framed within his religious beliefs, sees (or uses) Christianity so as to justify his prejudices against people with disabilities, esp children, against women, against people of lesser status (eg: limiting decent health care only for those able to pay for it).
      He not only presumes to force his beliefs onto others, ignoring the most basic science to do so, he also totally mis-quotes his own Bible. It was the first born SON (who belongs to God) of WOMAN…not a man’s firstborn at all. Dedicated is not the right word either. There is no such thing as “a special punishment”. Plus don’t Christians believe OT law was superceded when JC came along?

      Fred Nile would impose his brand of Christianity onto all of us.
      Tony Abbott tells us Jesus would shun asylum seekers… the same Tony who, as a Catholic, seeks to impose his narrow minded religious views on all Australians.
      And MTR, who “tries to follow the teachings of Jesus” (which to most people means she is a Christian) has a history of pushing her views onto others.
      Each has been involved in making laws that reflect their, and only their, belief systems. “I interpret my book of myths this way, so you MUST obey my interpretation…or else!”
      And so so many others, putting themselves up as moral arbitors, demanding we all kowtow to their oppressive dictates.
      If they did offer balance & well-reasoned arguments based on facts…FINE!
      But that’s exactly what they are not doing.


      • Julia January 23, 2012 at 2:57 am #

        BTW Planned Parenthod work, other than 3 % terminations of pregnancy, also offers cancer screenings, contraception advise and treatments for a wide range of female health problems, just some of it’s services to women and girls…all of which is of no consequence to Marshall in his quest to close them down.


      • Hoffmann January 23, 2012 at 8:51 am #

        Boy that fine Virginian lawmakers attitude sure rings a bell……………………………

        I wonder if he has the figures of how many sinful women had miscarriages the first time round and then disabled babies from then on.
        I mean God is consistent when he metes out this ‘loving payback’ is he not?

        I guess Marshall has all sorts of manufactured studies and data available.
        Again,familiar theme.

        What a nasty piece of work he is.


  21. paul walter January 23, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    Just a quick observation. The comment by Marilyn on Abbott ( and many others besides, who dont see in the mirror what others see… probably myself, too ). The thing is to do with lipstick on a pig, not MTR, but ideologies, cynics, defeatists and cop outs.
    A quick glance at the subject’s site and the offensive nervous chatter, thereupon-self-presentationary more than didactic I thought, had me sad- in some respect she has the basis of an idea, to do with respect, but it has all disappeared, she’s ended up backing the very people who promote her dystopia.
    The inner conflicts must be devastating, the writing bespeaks denialism and blame shifting; as ever no resolution of the contradictions..the mirror cracked, from end to end.


  22. paul walter January 23, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    A Miranda Devine, in that gospel of truth, a Murdoch rag. Had a look and came back, laughing then finding Julia’s mind is on similar issues of a WTF sort.
    A more serious culprit has been forced to reveal herself, more serious because this individual fits the closer description of the “knowing subject”, is far closer to the actual centre of power than the system’s dupes.
    The ultimate contradiction here reveals the desperate plight of these people, faced with their self deception. Devine attacks Tanky’s sceptics as folk embarked on a witch hunt, as being from the seventeenth century.
    But to impose, surreptitiously, policy on the basis of unproved metaphysics deteriorating to prejudice and self interest, is indeed indicated in the criticism offered by Marilyn- these people are deeply concerned about the occasional middle-class girl; pruriently interested in the sexual lapses, which must be policed unrelentingly, a girl having access to contraceptives or medical termination of an untimely pregnancy, remains central to their project rather than the plight of billions of people in the third world denied basic services, including access to family planning and daily crushed by ultraist death squads seeking to maintain a power structure that continues to serve oligarchic and offshore interests, to the detriment of the real victims of- modern day- feudalism.
    But Devine knows, that focus on these issues distracts western citizenry away from their imposed individual guilt trips, exposes local and global rulership as it really is, delegitimates the authority of her allies and paymasters, and raises the question of humanitarian reform that threatens the hollow wealth and power of the oligarchs, caught red-handed at the sort of projects Julia and others have identified across both the US and Europe- extending from, accurately global feudalism in the third world, to even here within the local satrapy.


  23. ItsBouquet January 23, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Paul Walter,

    On the subject of “…global rulership as it really is…” this article by John Pilger is chilling in its exposure of U.S./Western hegemony. If we’re talking bullying and entitlement on a grand scale resting on a fallacious construct of self-righteousness and faux altruism.


  24. PD January 23, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Dear Jennifer

    I strongly support your fight against those lunatics who try to impose their vile moral beliefs on all of us.

    Please keep fighting for all of us and don’t be discouraged


  25. paul walter January 23, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Thanks ItsBouquet, I noticed it was up but insomnia tells me am off for snooze, so probably a read afterwards.


  26. Ray (novelactivist) January 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Just read the Miranda Devine piece. Given that everyone knows Miranda is a conservative Catholic, saying that she considers Melinda a friend rather proves the point.

    I also love the way Devine twists the McCarthy reference. McCarthy was a conservative Catholic who applied the methods of the Inquisition to attack the ‘liberal’ intelligentsia. Those were dark days in which the likes of Devine and Reist had power and abused it.


    • Helvi January 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Ray, are you saying that Devine and Reist don’t have power anymore. It’s sad but they still seem to have lots of followers, some of them are posting right here on Jennifer’s blog.


      • Ray (novelactivist) January 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

        They have a certain degree of power and influence for sure, but the power of the moral conservatives is waning in Australia and there is an air of panic.


  27. What? January 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    @Marilyn … did you actually mean to say that Tony Abbott wants to ‘murder’ innocent men, women and children? Jennifer, you’re not taking this poster to task? Is this because he wants to turn back the boats? These people are flying to Indonesia from Iraq/Afghanistan. They’re being given ‘visa on arrival’ same as anyone else who visits the country. If they are in Indonesia for any other reason than to cross illegally into Australia, then it should not be a problem for the Indonesian customs authorities to require a fully refundable security deposit for each individual – a relatively steep one – that can be reclaimed as they return to whence they came 30 days later. It’s all very easy. If Indonesia are not prepared to support such simple border control measures, then I see no problem with the Australian Navy escorting illegal vessels back into Indonesian waters. I’m sure that the relationship with our Northern neighbours can be maintained using this friendly, non confrontational system. Of course, if that meets with serious Indignation from our friends, then we should reallocate all foreign aid away from that country to administration, maintenance and/or deportation of the illegal immigrants. It shouldn’t come to that. Murder? We’re lucky that Tony Abbott isn’t as precious as MTR, because I fear he might see that wild, baseless accusation as defamatory. While we are pointing the finger, and this time we’re talking facts, consider that Julia Gillard wants to send refugees to Malaysia, a country that uses a six-foot rattan cane – that is one inch in diameter – to split illegal immigrants open like sausages. The ‘executioner’ takes a long run up like Shane Warne delivering a ball down the wicket .. and flesh, blood, sweat, urine and faeces go flying. The physical and emotional scaring is permanent. The Malaysians do this to all and sundry, men and women, on a daily basis. Their detention centers are marginally better that concentration camps, and worse than high security jails. You desperately need to get some perspective here.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      You are taking Marilyn to task. You don’t need my help!


    • Marilyn January 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      WEll as Indonesia tortures refugees for us, jails them for us and then deports them for us without due process and that it is illegal to turn them away to a place where they can be tortured or sent home to their deaths then yes, Abbott supports mass murder.

      As for how they get to indonesia or any other place on earth – THAT IS NONE OF OUR FUCKING BUSINESS.


    • gerard oosterman January 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      Our intelligence service is not answerable to anyone or anything either, above the law, taking a leaf from North Korea perhaps? People are escorted ‘back to where they came from’ with many questions asked by asylum seekers supporting lawyers, but remaining unanswered. ‘A murderous regime’ is always elsewhere but not here in the land of our dreams, with jailed children and locked away boat people, languishing and out of sight and miles from care or conscience.

      The dangerous journey in rickety boats is a last resort for many of those that have already languished in many other camps, often in countries that are overrun by tens if not hundreds of thousands refugees. No one wants to leave home and hearth. As some of them have said; better to drown at least with trying. We have nothing more to lose.

      Go back where you came from seems to remain our refrain.


  28. Marilyn January 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    What I want to know though is why so many fucking racist trolls care so little about the law as they babble out their racist crap.

    Everyone comes from somewhere else, they fly from all corners of the earth yet we only demonise and want to destroy the rights of the few thousand who come by sea to ask for help.

    I don’t need to be taken to task because I am in the right.

    L&C 122 Senate Monday, 8 February 2010
    which you sighted this boat but surely you are able to tell me at what point you believed, or
    you were given direction, that it was not your responsibility anymore.
    Mr Carmody—It is a bit hard to talk about responsibility. Ultimately Border Protection
    Command can only intercept vessels on the contiguous zone around Australia, which is about
    20 nautical miles around Australian territory.


  29. gerard oosterman January 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    If you want to put your faith in a shepherd,( perhaps, and on a lighter note). This one is real and factual, based on evidence, proven to exist beyond doubt.


  30. paul walter January 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Marilyn, don’t bite, you know it is a troll and one that’s just arrived by Tardis from Jan, 2002.
    When what! pulls h(er)is head out of its arse, it will discover that Abbott’s approach here is NOT identical to the Good Samaritan version and that his snickering at the sinking of boats carrying asylum seekers does NOT emanate from the Beautitudes.
    DONT tell me this is “Christian”; it reeks so, too much of Pontius Pilate.


    • Helvi January 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

      Paul. I hope your lenghty afternoon snooze does not give you another night of insomnia 🙂


  31. Hoffmann January 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Gee Honest Bob,
    How are ya buddy.That little one sided chat we had (at your blog) the other day left me rather breathless.
    Unban me and I’ll start chatting again.
    Come on!You know you want to!


  32. Hoffmann January 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    “But we mustn’t say anything without being able to accept all of the possible consequences. ”

    Which is of course a moot point if you deny the opportunity to examine the motivations(drive/belief structure) of someone DEMANDING to share (control) the steering wheel of all encompassing public policy in MY country.

    If someone AVOIDS sharing religious affiliation,in this scenario, and also erases their past CV, then another layer is added to the ACCOUNTABILITY of said person.

    The ABC bio on Ms Reist.
    It mentioned nothing about 11+ YEARS of her tenure with the most strident anti-choice politician in our history.

    Fess up.
    Why is that so?
    Who wrote the bio?
    Who vetoed it?

    Motive matters.
    If you think not – join the cheer squad.

    “But we mustn’t say anything without being able to accept all of the possible consequences. ”
    Has anyone found out the consequences of the MTR campaigns on those she placed in the spotlight?
    Are the broken people because of her words -her campaigns?
    Broken enough to react?

    MTR is not a mere author,nor mere lobbyist.
    She has chosen to be a political figure,by her actions, campaigns and affiliations.

    The pro-life movement is PURE politics, and has a history of violence matching terrorism in some cases.
    We are entitled to ask what/who drives those politics.
    Or are we to deny that too?
    She has no more right to sue Wilson for an opinion, than Gillard has for being called a liar by Abbott.

    “But we mustn’t say anything without being able to accept all of the possible consequences. ”

    Remind what kind of nice due waffled,
    “Shall we all get together and burn the Koran then?”


  33. Hoffmann January 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    EDIT nice ‘due’ = “nice dude”


  34. Hypocritophobe January 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    I wonder how many other web/blog sites have had lawyers letters making demands to remove certain references to certain things?

    If so that will also come out in the wash.
    I must say there seems to be some gaps and circular things going on re. searching.

    Is this all a part of a ruse to get a clear political run for MTR?
    Watch this space.

    I wonder if there is already a Draft proposal for Womens Issues,up for consideration in Tony’s pending tray?
    Watch this space,also.


  35. Hypocritophobe October 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Cica_ 2012
    What religion can do to women in a modern society.
    Relentless persecution and trauma,anyone?



    • Julia October 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      What a cruel awful degrading thing to do to someone. Have these religious shitheads no shame?
      obviously not



  1. Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? « Chasing My Own Tail - January 24, 2012

    […] Jennifer Wilson said it best here: We need to have from MTR evidence -based arguments against abortion, and many other issues she […]


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