Reist, Devine &sexually suggestive tweets.

12 May
Media eating itself

Media eating itself


There’s been something of a small online kerfuffle these last couple of days, with first Melinda Tankard Reist going public over a sexually suggestive tweet she received, and then Andrew Bolt publishing on his blog an impassioned defence of Miranda Devine, also the recipient of a sexually suggestive tweet from Mike Carlton, whom Bolt describes as a “boor.”

Bolt’s blog drew an online mea culpa from Catherine Lumby, who inadvertently retweeted Carlton’s comments before she realised they contained sexual suggestiveness.

Reist ‘s offensive tweet dates from the period when she initiated legal action against me, and Twitter took up my cause in a manner for which I will always be grateful. Reist claims in Chris Kenny’s piece in The Australian (linked above) that she has received appalling sexist and misogynist communications, including rape threats. This is the tweet she chose to take action against:

“So, has anyone found naked pictures of #mtr (Tankard Reist)? She is rootable in that religious feminist way.”

The author of the tweet, Darryl Adams, outed himself a couple of weeks later in the comments section of a Drum piece on the treatment Reist has received during her career as an anti- pornography campaigner. Adams used the persona “Fake Paul Keating” for his Twitter account. He is a public servant, and his tweeting had nothing to do with his working life.

Nevertheless, Reist did not approach Adams to complain that she was offended by his comments. She went straight to his employer, the Australian Tax Office.

Adams was duly spoken to. We do not know what form his punishment took, but his “Fake Paul Keating” account no longer exists. The ATO, for reasons known only to itself, failed to notify Reist that any action had been taken for several months.

This further enraged Reist, who felt the whole system had failed her as a victim of sexual harassment and intimidation. I encourage you to read the article in full.

Miranda Devine posted on Twitter that she was “embedded with NSW Police Public Order & Riot Squad,” with an accompanying photo. Mike Carlton then tweeted: 

“@mirandadevine is ‘embedded’ with the Police Riot Squad, as she puts it. What, all of them at once? Must be exhausting.”

Devine contacted him to request that he remove the tweet immediately. Carlton has since apologised and deleted the tweet.

Read the Bolt blog in full if you can bear it.

I’m not expressing any opinions on these situations. I’m leaving it to you. Please don’t make any sexually suggestive comments, and remember the Sheep rules, which you have so beautifully honoured recently. 🙂


48 Responses to “Reist, Devine &sexually suggestive tweets.”

  1. Garpal Gumnut May 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Jennifer, re RDNSST, I have come from a financially poor but an oh so rich culture which had a keen nose for cant, farts, and the dribbling engagements of our betters. Without mentioning any of the sods mentioned in your most delightful post, I can only say, let the fun continue. Poor, poor bastards, elevated above their station, their every word and motion noted, lost in unvisited brothels and found in chapels, lost. And that is just the Right !!


  2. doug quixote May 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Sexually suggestive? Perish the thought! We can advocate War, demand execution of criminals if we want, tow boats back to Indonesia, detain asylum seekers indefinitely, apologise to Indonesia for not letting them slaughter cattle with as much careless cruelty as they can manage, but sexual suggestiveness – that is beyond the pale.

    FFS, the BACWA types get it all their own way all the time.

    Sexually suggestive? Never. No sex please, we’re wowsers.


  3. zerograv1 May 12, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    I think we should take contributions and donate them to Darryl Adams mental health treatment fund


    • Darryl Adams May 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      Well that will help with the anti depressant cost. Thanks!


  4. paul walter May 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm #



  5. Christine Says Hi May 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Hmmm. It’s a tough one. I have had similar jokes made about (at? based on? whatever) me (‘what all of them?”) in real life, and chosen to take it them the way they are usually intended ~ a smart alec bit of throwaway “wit” which bore no reflection on my actual conduct, which I guess added to the mild amusement people felt. I laughed and replied ‘not this week’, or something similar, everyone tittered a tiny bit (see what I just did) and then the conversation moved on.

    But then, I’ve also seen the harm ongoing harassment can cause, people making that type of joke over and over, in incredibly inappropriate places, and causing a lot of grief to someone unable to fight back. To me that aspect of it, the power play, has an awful lot to do with how it pans out in my personal ‘line crossing’ olympics.

    Like so much, context, and conscience, is everything.

    Of course professional stern moralist good girls, especially of the upper “class” twit variety, hate nasty bovver boy types from the wrong side of the tracks laughing at them, ever, and I suspect that’s where that particular bit of angst may have come from, rather than from a feeling of solidarity with abused and harassed women everywhere. Mind you, that’s just a suspicion, I may be quite quite wrong.

    As to the other, it’s beyond my ability with the written language to describe the depth of loathing I feel for publicity seeking professional haters of women disguised as feminists. And I hardly need to when Margaret Atwood did it so well many years ago.

    However, one thing has become clear to me over the years, and that is that the whited sephulcres almost always own the paint shops, so following people about throwing mud hardly ever works as a tactic and soon becomes fairly tiresome as entertainment.

    With the exception of Queensland politics of course, in which case, bring out the Wattyl, we’re in for a bumpy and hilarious ride.


    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

      Good points all well made, but the more I think of it the more I realise that the tweet was really just an act of trolling of the sort that public figures sadly have to deal with and are generally better to ignore. And the more convinced I am that Germaine Greer would have simply laughed at it.


      • Christine Says Hi May 12, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

        Yes, I think people who embark on careers as public figures need a bit of resilience. Of course that does not make sexist and misgynistic tweets OK, but doesn’t collapsing in floods of tears and lawyers’ letters rather feed the beast?


        • Christine Says Hi May 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

          Ugh, spelling, typos! Sorry people!


        • hudsongodfrey May 13, 2013 at 12:01 am #

          Mind you I’m really not that sure that the beast being fed here isn’t somebody’s martyr complex!


    • paul walter May 13, 2013 at 2:18 am #

      Yes, that’s a perceptive summary.


    • Jennifer Wilson May 13, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      Thank you, that’s a beautifully considered reply, & I agree with you.


  6. hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    George Carlin in one of his comedy routines comes out with the question….

    “Why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place?”

    He goes on to make some telling points that are far more moderate than this opening line of that section of his monologue. That’s not my point right now, even if why I’m reminded of that particular quote is rather obvious…. I promise to get to that point in defence of its use.

    I merely want to point out that his was a comedy monologue, I believe a HBO special, taped before a live audience that was already well warmed up and receptive not only to his sense of humour but his outlook on life in general, as am I, unashamedly.

    I would not however tend to share that particular performance as part of a family occasion or an office get together. The point being that when dealing with topics or material that may offend some people you’ve got to pick your audience.

    It’s why comedy can be really difficult to pull off on Twitter. But it is also why it matters that when something is tweeted that isn’t addressed to you then if you’re a public figure then part of what goes with that territory is appreciating the context in which a joke was made about you, not to you.

    So I chose a quote that the content of the article somewhat mirrors simply, and I’m sure to some people transparently, because it shows that in the right context and I might add when it specifically isn’t personalised, George gets away with it.

    In Devine’s case I think being oversensitive about the use of double entendre guarantees that Carlton wins in that exchange. It’s just not bad enough to worry about!

    But in MTR’s case it was a personal attack of sorts, the question being whether the act of tweeting should be deemed to be publication for any wider public consumption than the tagged parties. I’m fine with offence, even something of a libertarian when it comes to defending people’s right to free speech, but as I understand this tweet it offered gratuitous offence quite deliberately in a way that I think MTR has a right to be able to chose to avoid. As a public figure she has a right and a platform with which she can offer the remedy of more and better speech to the bad speech that was aimed in her general direction. She’s not just using it, she’s almost playing the martyr card from what I can tell.

    So overall, and given that I’m not sympathetic to her moral crusades, I almost think that I’d rather she’d just sued if only that meant we didn’t have to listen to the song and dance she’s now made of the whole thing. It really is a problem for her in my view that she doesn’t just ignore this sort of crap. It doesn’t make it any less crappy, but in some senses of the word the guy was trolling her and she fed it! It shows her to be sensitive to something that no reasonable person thinks is a reasonable comment to make about any woman. The kind of comment that reflected far worse on the man who tweeted it than it did upon her to begin with.

    Storm, I think you’re going to like Teacup because she’s a real slut and we have the naked pictures of her to prove it!


    I could have put two of these ** in f**k, and I really want to stick to Sheep rules, but does anyone not know what the two asterisks fail to conceal. I think I justify use of the quote adequately here, and to censor Carlin goes against every fibre of my being.


    • Jennifer Wilson May 13, 2013 at 7:57 am #

      Sheep doesn’t mind strong language. Sheep often has a fowl mouth.


      • hudsongodfrey May 13, 2013 at 11:44 am #

        This is no place for sheep, but being chicken is okay?


  7. Christine Says Hi May 12, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    Oh, do we have to use ** now? I try not to swear often on other people’s bloigs, but sometimes it does slip out. I’ll do my best to be careful!

    I do see your point regarding personal attacks, although I’m not familiar with tweeting as a regular activity, soooooo that’s a hole in my argument I guess.

    It’s sort of established that putting it out there is publishing, however you do it, the depth of offence is the issue probably.

    In the case of someone who is herself a prominent person, who publishes often on controversial matters and who solicits commentary on those matters … I find it hard to see hyow offended she could be if someone calls her nasty names. On a personal level I guess, but professionally, to me that’s just being precious.

    Of course saying she is *personally* an xyz … that’s somewhat different. Is that what happened? I guess I didn’t ‘get’ that.


    • Jennifer Wilson May 13, 2013 at 7:58 am #

      No, swearing is allowed here! There is an entire post somewhere on the glory of foul language!


      • Christine Says Hi May 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm #



  8. Christine Says Hi May 12, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    As an aside, things have become very confused in recent years. I’m thinking of people who go on celebrity big brother or apprentice or just online and say awful things about others and behave abominably and then get so upset when they are criticised online that they contact people’s employers. Personally, I think that’s kinda using their celebrity to avoid the rules others are punished for breaking.

    And another aside, right now on Facebook a new group simply called “Feminist” has started, with the group owner soliciting ‘confesions’ from members who seem eager to line up and make them. I wonder if you think the group owner, Melissa, is the same person I think it is? Confessions, anyone?


    • Jennifer Wilson May 13, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      What kind of confessions?


      • Christine Says Hi May 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

        I don’t want to post any here because it may infringe copyright (who needs the hassle) but it’s mainly stuff like ‘i hate it when friends post pictures of scantily clad women that come up on my feed’ …
        Pretty much low key stuff coming through. Very active response rate to a fairly new page/group …


        • Christine Says Hi May 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

          And, it seems I was more confused than I thought last night … the name is actually different. My apologies for that! *Hides face in shame*


  9. doug quixote May 13, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    The Return of the asterisk!? Never. Certain words used rarely have an impact; used all the time they lose force and become just another overused adjective, like a schoolgirl using “so” as her main adjective.

    So if the context calls for it we should demand the right to use whatever words we like. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere the Oxford English Dictionary has listed the word ‘fuck’ for over 100 years, and it has been in general use for at least 600 years.

    Abuse can be delivered without using any so-called offensive words at all.

    As for MTR, she is being precious, if it is not just that no-one is taking any notice of her lately and she feels publicity deprivation.

    Devine ought to have a better sense of humour in her line of work; can she really be offended by that? Reminds me of “I am the first Australian woman to go down on a submarine” as gushed by Bronwyn Bishop.


    • zerograv1 May 13, 2013 at 7:51 am #

      Sorry if this is a bit rude, but I suspect MTR might be secretly thrilled that someone has taken an interest


  10. Jackie May 13, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    What ever happened to humour? Aren’t we all getting a little too precious? A little too PC? Are we so anally retentive that when something funny pops into our head we are too scared to share it? Mike Carlton used a double entendre based on the word “embedded” Wasn’t it really the minds of the people reading the tweet who decided what the tweet meant? Perhaps he meant Miranda must have been exhausted after a busy day including meeting with the Police Riot Squad? Seriously, lighten up people…..we are a long time dead and I want to go out with a smile on my face (and you can put what ever connotation on that last line as you like)


    • paul walter May 13, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      Jackie, that is so astute.


    • helvityni May 13, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      I’m with you Jackie, it’s all about nothing, be buried under the rubble for seventeen days in Bangladesh and come out of it alive…you will be not worrying about some silly tweets…
      I worry about having a twit like Abbott as PM, the plight of asylum seekers, all those Syrians in tents in Turkey…
      Miranda Devine is nothing to me.


    • hudsongodfrey May 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      I’m very much with you on the Mike Carlton tweet. I just can’t see how anyone in the media could be so ignorant of public perceptions as to miss the fact that when it’s merely an opportunistic double entendre then any response seems petulant.

      I’m not so sure that Adams wasn’t just trolling though. And this I think is where he comes unstuck by offering the opportunity for offence to be manipulated and marshalled against him.

      I think that Reist’s response is more cynical than Devine’s. I’m sure she’s copped as many if not more insults over her journey than Devine has, and yet she chooses to single out this one because it suits her to add a martyr’s stigmata to her crusader’s shield.

      The question I think we have to ask here is who’s buying the confected outrage of such a serial offender?


    • doug quixote May 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      Miranda?? The tall English comedian?

      Here was I thinking it was Melinda!

      Miranda is much funnier, and not shy of a double-entendre.


  11. samjandwich May 13, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    Thanks for that investigative work Jennifer. Poor Darryl Adams! Sheesh, it could happen to anyone!

    Mainly this is in response to Christine’s first comment: I think the reason we all feel a little bit of sensitivity around this is because we know, not just how easily humour can turn into harassment, but also that some people have very strong reactions to all things sexual, for reasons that most of us understand are better not to interrogate others about too deeply, because we know that doing so will probably be unhelpful. We can be surprised, or in this case, incredulous at MTR’s seemingly unwarranted reactions, but then we also understand that there may well be elements of her past that have caused these sensitivities, and which she is entitled to come to terms with on her own.

    Basically, when I think of “sex” , i think primarily of something that is fun, enjoyable, a source and effect of a strong interpersonal connection, and which is exclusively mutual. If someone wanted to rate my “fuckability” I would probably be a little bit amused, a little bit flattered, and feel just self-conscious enough to give the experience a pleasantly confronting edge. Whereas it seems that a negative reaction to such a statement has to be indicative of a negative attitude towards sex – ie where it is thought of as threatening etc. And while someone with a positive attitude to sex might feel this is unfortunate, and unnecessary, we also know that we probably shouldn’t go there.

    Essentially, it’s a shame that we live in a world where we need to be sensitive to such issues, and while it’s sensible to behave accordingly, it’s also a little bit depressing to have to do so, as it’s a direct consequence of the fact that the abusers are still winning.


    • samjandwich May 13, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      Oh and, what was that Margaret Atwood ref? I’m not familiar with that one…


      • Christine Says Hi May 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

        I was thinking of Serena Joy, a character in Atwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale. Quite an old book but extraordinarily prescient.


        • paul walter May 13, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

          Yes, I know who you mean- the embittered, control freak Wife,has me thinking of a number of american female public figures and some here also. since so much of our politics is directly imported by the think thanks from the US..


  12. paul walter May 13, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    It is impossible to sympathise with Devine.
    The”embedding” is evocative of the obnoxious practice developed by the US in bloodstained Iraq to control media coverage and is deliberately offensive as a defacto attempt to validate authoritarianism.
    What a sly thing to try and legitimise ultraism in what eventuates in a partisan way as a way to foster a siege mentality in her demographic when people all over the world are fighting austerity,,as we may have to soon.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      paul walter,

      Proof that you are correct with respect to the connotations of the word ’embedded’ in recent usage: look at the date upon which a Certain Person used it, and in what context!


      • Christine Says Hi May 13, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

        Hahaha, that is genuinely funny 🙂


  13. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Jennifer, I mean Commander Wilson, in the third paragraph of her blog post, has quoted Darryl Adams’ (then-Twitter-userID ‘@FakePaulKeating’) tweet against which MTR is claimed to have taken legal action. As stated by Chris Kenny in the article reachable from the text link ‘Melinda Tankard Reist’ in the first paragraph, that tweet was:

    “… launched into the Twittersphere on January 18
    last year by an account operated under the pseudonym
    of @FakePaulKeating. …”

    The tweet said:

    “So, has anyone found naked pictures of #mtr (Tankard Reist)?
    She is rootable in that religious feminist way.”

    I have a question about that quoted tweet. Did the words ‘Tankard Reist’ in parentheses that follow the hashtag ‘#mtr’ appear in the original tweet, or were they inserted subsequently, perhaps by Chris Kenny of The Australian, in whose article they also appear?

    The date of 18 January 2012 claimed for the offending ‘@FakePaulKeating’ tweet rang a bell with me. Chronology can be everything in such matters. That date places it AFTER the ‘#MTRsues’ tweetstorm had got under way, a tweetstorm that arose IN RESPONSE to the news of Jennifer Wilson having been served with ‘concerns letters’ by MTR’s lawyers broke on 14 January 2012. From memory, it took a few days for public outrage on Twitter at this action to settle upon the hashtag ‘#MTRsues’ under which most of the Twitter discussion took place: it is interesting but not surprising that the allegedly-offending ‘@FakePaulKeating’ tweet purportedly bears a slightly different hashtag, ‘#mtr’.

    What is interesting as to the possibility of MTR’s reaction being one of taking opportunistic or confected offence to a sexually suggestive tweet is her recorded reaction to another that had occurred some time prior to 9:52PM on Friday 13 January 2012. Her response is described in this (rather lengthy) comment on ‘Sheep’: . MTR re-tweeted this other offending tweet to over 4,000 of her Twitter followers HERSELF at a time AFTER which she had already decided to threaten defamation action against Jennifer Wilson! So much for genuine concern as to the content of that tweet, but what an opportunity to cast herself in the role of martyr!

    Interesting, too, that Miranda Devine was MTR’s mouthpiece around that time.


    • paul walter May 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      Yes they are just control freaks looking for a fight. No wonder Bolt has climbed aboard.


      • paul walter May 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

        You know, just back from Facebook and a thread there that indicates what’s really at stake here.
        The thread I’m thinking of is an Anne Summers one critical of the difficulties in real life women still find in seeking to obtain a termination of pregnancy.
        The people who ridiculed the pomposity of Tankard Riest and Devine now probably realise that they have provided them a point from which to push their own claims for legitimacy. This is unfortunate, The social conservative right is no friend of working people, least of all working women.
        The tweeters have been ok speculating on whatever it is that makes a control freak a control freak, why there seems nothing better in these peoples lives than the vicarious pleasure of controlling others.
        What is lacking , the Puritan life.
        The brief comments appear to a speculation as to where else the lack is, that drives the frustrated need to superintend others, But the tweeters should have known that any lack of subtlety was going to be exploited as an opportunity for the targets to present themselves as victims.


    • paul walter May 14, 2013 at 1:16 am #

      Vanity..the missing ingredient..yuk.


  14. Garpal Gumnut May 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    I do fear that in one thousand years, an archeologist will find some hard drive with these conversations upon it, and posit an argument for our temporary cultural survival as masturbation over argument.


    • paul walter May 14, 2013 at 1:13 am #

      On that, we agree.


      • samjandwich May 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

        Well I think it’s a poor analogy – in fact I’d say our conversations more closely resemble sex, ie an exchange of fluids!


  15. Trev May 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    I love Mike Carlton. The quintessential grumpy old man. I miss his acerbic with on the radio. My heart bleeds for Reist, Devine and Bolt. Shadowspawn the lot of ’em.


  16. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 16, 2013 at 12:08 pm #



  1. On sexual harassment: Revisiting Helen Garner’s ‘The First Stone’ | No Place For Sheep - May 14, 2013

    […] book sprang into my mind yesterday, after thinking about how the matter of the offensive tweets I posted yesterday was handled, and after reading commenters’ responses to that post. The situations hold […]


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