Anti-Bullying Media Outlet Bullies Man

Living in Geelong, I know first hand of the issues the city has had with criminal activity over the last few years. Much of it is alcohol-fueled, and despite the best intentions of the “powers-that-be” – particularly politicians looking to shore up a few votes for the upcoming state and federal elections, not a lot is being done. Honestly, not a lot CAN be done.

You can tighten up the liquor licensing laws, and penalise licensees for breaching the rules, but people will always find alcohol. Even without alcohol, people with socio-economic problems (such as the unemployed), or simply people who’ve just “had a bad day” can react with violence to what some might see as trivial triggers.

Nobody can ever understand the personal situation of every person on the planet. Depression is a major factor in the day-to-day lives of many people. Crime is often the resort of desperation. Bullying across all parts of the community – schools, workplaces, and online in particular – is a common manifestation of this desperation and frustration.

The local major media outlet – The Geelong Advertiser – has in the last couple of years mounted and supported a strong campaign against bullying in all its forms, especially after a number of incidences of suicide amongst the teen population in the city, after they had suffered prolonged bouts of bullying from peers.

The campaign has had many successes, and has gained a national profile. The plight of Elijah Vetmah is a particularly heartening message to come out of the campaign.

Bullying in all of its forms should not be tolerated under any circumstance. This is the message The Advertiser in particular has been taking to the public. I congratulate them and wholeheartedly support them for doing so.

Stop press!!! In recent days, The Advertiser has mounted another campaign.

It was recently discovered that a convicted murderer and rapist – who was a minor at the time of the offence, and as such has had his name suppressed – is living in Geelong, in the suburb of Belmont.

Undoubtedly, the crime committed by this person was heinous, vile and disgusting. However, it is important to remember that there is a sequence in the wheels of justice, a sequence that has been followed in this case.

He committed the crime; it was investigated by police; he was charged with the crime; he was committed to stand trial; he was convicted of the crime before a jury; he was sentenced for his crime; he served his sentence; he was released.

As far as the justice system goes – as it currently stands – he has paid his debt to society. I’m not saying the sentence was adequate or inadequate. I’m not trying to say he should or should not have been released. I most certainly do not condone what he did.

But the man has “done his time” for his crime.

Why is it then okay for The Geelong Advertiser to start a vocal online campaign to have this man named? What will naming him do, apart from starting a vigilante vendetta against him in the local community? Whether or not the man has been rehabilitated in jail, his sentence is complete, and he now has the right – (despite what some think) – to get on with his life. He will still live with the crime for the rest of his life.

This man probably just wants to get on with his life. What gives The Geelong Advertiser the right to put this man on trial – a very public trial – for a crime he has already been put on trial for, been convicted of and punished for? They have absolutely no right!

Perhaps he should have been left in jail for longer. I believe that he probably should have been put in jail for longer. But, Geelong Advertiser, you can’t complain about this, when the legal system ruled on this case ten years ago. Mount a campaign for tougher sentencing, or better yet, report the news instead of trying to create it.

For a newspaper so active and vocal against bullying, this online campaign to name this man sounds an awful lot like bullying.