Sometimes I sit down to write this weekly treatise and say to myself “OK, time to discuss that time when I worked at [organisation redacted]and I was with [name redacted]in a meeting and he [insufferable but not illegal activity redacted]! What a loathsome [rude word redacted]he was.” And then I’m overcome by a wave of reality, salty truth blasting up my nose – I can’t do that.
You might think I’m talking about defamation here. I’m not. It’s boring old ethics holding me back.
If I want to tee off on some permanently sweaty charlatan, some strand of pondweed, and avoid being successfully sued, the law says I simply need to make sure that what I’m saying is “substantially true”. Ha! Easy. This column is so almost entirely factual it could be renamed Substantially True.
No, what stops me from writing excoriating diatribes about [name redacted]The Waddling Clown is my own highly developed sense of right and wrong.
Make no mistake, I couldn’t give a stuff if the subject of my withering denunciation saw his own name and behaviour splashed across the pages of a daily paper – I’d send it to him, actually. But I could give a stuff about innocent parties.
I’m talking about the people who were, until this hypothetical point unaware of a person’s transgressions or odiousness. People who might have hired him or liked him. Or married him.
Who am I to push my head through their caul of blissful ignorance and shout “SURPRISE”?
I’ll keep my personal grievances, and the names of those who caused them, to myself. For now.
Jonathan Rivett maintains a library of acidic missives at haught.com.au.