So I am writing about Andy Blume now for some reason. Well, for a particular reason, obviously. But anyway I am.
I don't like Andy Blume. I don't think he's funny. I think he's nasty. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't like me. But I decided to write about him because I have an opinion and I thought it was right for me to voice it, because I can't make a claim to integrity if I restrict my protests about unfairness to people I like.
Like I said, I don't like him. I hardly think the fruits of his creative desires have been a net improvement for the internet. But...
But the guy's lost his job. That story I linked to says "sacked for offensive web postings", but that's actually, I think it's pretty obvious, untrue. He wasn't sacked for offensive web postings. He was sacked because the Herald Sun ran a campaign against him. With prominent stories, and photos, and editorials calling for his dismissal.
And no matter what I think of Andy Blume and his postings, I just can't see that this is right. I can't see that the comedic web activities of a tram driver, however tasteless, are deserving of the sack, and more particularly I can't see they're deserving of tabloid persecution. It's not right.
And I'm not going on an anti-Herald Sun rant. Everyone knows I'm not a big fan of certain of their columnists, but there are also people working at the paper, and elsewhere in News Ltd, who I know, and like, and respect. I'm not looking to tear the Herald Sun to shreds.
But this is bad behaviour. This is not news. This is not reportage. This is a vendetta. This is someone at a powerful media organisation deciding a powerless individual has got on their bad side and needs to be punished. Not by alerting his employer to inappropriate behaviour. And certainly not by baldly reporting the facts - the facts, as they stand, aren't even close to being worthy of being placed in the pages of a capital city daily newspaper.
The punishment, instead, is that this man must lose his job. Not just lose his job, but be humiliated, become a figure of public hatred, and have the circumstances that led to his sacking placed in the mass media to sit there forever as a warning to future employers that this man is a Public Enemy Of Dubious Character. The punishment, in essence, is to ruin the guy's life. And it's not right.
Think about what Andy Blume did. Some think he's hilarious. Some think he's appalling. But on either extreme, does anyone really think he deserved this? This campaign of revenge and personal destruction? Is this what the media's for?
It shouldn't be. This is not the way the media should be working, this deformed journalism that sees the press's role not to serve public interest, not to seek the truth, not even to inform, educate or entertain, but to pursue and crush anyone who finds themselves on your wrong side with all the power at your disposal, without mercy, and with the most devastating and vicious consequences possible for those unfortunates who find themselves in that position. It is news as weapon. It is the reporter as assassin. It is the media as Inquisition. And it is a debasement of what could be, should be, and can be, I believe, a genuinely noble profession.
I don't like Andy Blume. But I've never disliked anyone enough to want to take away his job. I've never disliked anyone enough to want to destroy his life. It's not right. The Herald Sun is capable of being better than that, and it should be. It must be.