Monday 23 April 2018

Nobody's safe when free speech itself is under fire

George Hook being wrong does not automatically make those baying for his blood in retaliation right, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren
Broadcaster George Hook. Photo: Mark Condren

Eilis O'Hanlon

Those who live by the sword die by the sword. George Hook will have known that as well, if not better, than anyone. If your appeal as a broadcaster is a willingness to shout out loud what others are afraid to whisper, there's always the risk of overstepping the mark and saying what you shouldn't have said at all.

His pronouncement two Fridays ago in which he ascribed partial "blame" (his word) to a young woman for her alleged rape in a hotel room, linking it directly to her earlier consensual sex with another man, very much fell into that category. I have a high tolerance for provocative opinions, but I was listening to the show at the time, and my jaw hit the floor. It was immediately obvious that there'd be uproar.

Even now, I struggle to understand why Hook wanted to say it, or thought that he could, or should, get away with it; but it's telling that not a single responsible person has defended what he said.

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