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Remember when Yumi Stynes insulted that SAS guy?

Posted September 25, 2014 into Blunty by John Birmingham

Well she didn't. And neither did Negus. It's been a few years since the incident, which has been forgotten by most people, except Yumi and George. I'll admit that despite having written a Blunty on it, I'd pretty much wiped all the files too.

To provide a bit of context, Ben Roberts-Smith, a VC winner in Afghanistan had been doing publicity when he got back. I doubt that was his choice, but it is the lot of VC winners. Some of the pieces he agreed to do involved some 'big shirtless Roberts'* shots, including one for Men's Health.

The producers of The Circle, a show on the Ten Network, mostly for ladies by ladies (I've been on, and will attest to this) scheduled a discussion about male body image and female perceptions of such off the back of Smith's 'exposure'. The ensuing discussion was all about masculinity and women's ideas of attractiveness, not specifically Ben Roberts-Smith.

And then everything turned to shit.

Negus said "nothing about poor old Ben" before going on to say "but that sort of bloke...what if they're not up to it in the sack?". His comments weren't about Ben Roberts-Smith personally, but about well-built blokes who might pay more attention to their own bodies than their partners. Unfortunately, George was speaking quickly, through his enormous moustache and other people were speaking over him. It's easy to miss his "nothing about poor old Ben," caveat, or ignore it and imagine that Negus had a red hot go.

Yumi's follow up to him, in all the babble and chatter – "Are you, George Negus, intimating he might be a dud root?" – can therefore be seen as a reasonable question directed at Negus, not a joke or a statement directed at Roberts-Smith. Negus denied he was intimating any such thing.

Didn't matter. The bomb went off.

I jumped in on a Tuesday (I think) to defend Yumi, because to my mind she was getting the worst of it and the only reason I could see for the unequal treatment was her race and her gender.

Some of you who've been hanging around here and at Blunty for a while might recall the sort of comments that followed. And if you can't, I'm sure you can imagine the savage derp.

One thing I didn't do though, was question the over arching narrative. Like everyone else I accepted the idea that they'd done something wrong, going so far as to state that they'd shamed and disgraced themselves by mocking Roberts-Smith.

But they didn't. The Press Council recently came to that conclusion too, and although I wasn't a party to that hearing, or whatever it's called – in fact I didnt even know about it – when Yumi's redoubtable hubby drew my attention to it, I didn't see any option but to add my apology to the regrets piled up at their feet by Fairfax. (No ideas what News Corpse did, or if they were even part of the complaint.)

I swapped a few emails, sending my apolz, which I'm happy to add here too. I should have just gone with my gut and jumped in to start swinging without qualification on everyone who was having a go at them. I should have paid attention. Reviewed the tape. Applied the vaunted skepticism for which journalists are supopsedly paid. But I didn't. I accepted the established framing of the story, and in doing so, repeated exactly the same fucking mistake that everyone else did.

The only way to avoid these sorts of egregious fuck ups, which are terribly painful to the people on the receiving end, is either to pay attention in the first place, and if you're too fucking dumb or lazy to do that, to apologise profusely.

Which I now do.

Sorry Yumi. Sorry George.

*A Simpsons reference, which probably I alone get.

25 Responses to ‘Remember when Yumi Stynes insulted that SAS guy?’

tony walsh mutters...

Posted September 25, 2014
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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 25, 2014

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damian would have you know...

Posted September 25, 2014
I remember incident and the derp. I don't recall you making a bad show of it then, but while I don't exactly remember, I imagine I must have made the same mistake too.

But the more depressing thing is finding out how internalised the backlash bullshit is with people you'd imagine should know better.Though I think I am having to work on my understanding of the "should know better" bit.

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Abe Frellman reckons...

Posted September 25, 2014
I could've sworn she also said something like 'He's diving in to find his brain' or some such as footage was shown of the Hyphenator diving into a pool. So don't be too hard on yourself, JB.

HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted September 25, 2014
yeah, I think you are right, I was sure there was a couple of brain dead swipes at the time. Anyway, I guess its not that much of a bother for me...GENERALLY as I CANNOT FKN STAND HER!

Phrases like RABBIT and TOW BAR come to mind. so you get points for being fair and the retraction JB, a couple being deducted for being a mite hard on your self.

then again...I DONT KNOW HER, so stating... well really, the basis of my hating her is perception and what the media sends out, thats really almost as bad as your culpability I think.

I'll put the tow bar away!

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 25, 2014
Havsy, the umpire put up his finger. Time to tuck my bat under my arm and head back to the pavilion.

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted September 26, 2014


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HAL 9000 is gonna tell you...

Posted September 25, 2014

Yes, Yumi was targeted because of her race and gender. It occurred to me at the time that the title of soccer great Johnny Warren's autobiography 'Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters' [popularly believed to be the only ones who played soccer in his day] also conveniently gives us the targets of so-called 'politically incorrect' humour. And when someone who was both a sheila and 'wog' [in the sense of non-white] made fun of someone who was none of these things - outrage! No matter that George Negus' comments were arguably more offensive.

It's part of the hypocrisy of the 'politically incorrect' that they complain 'You can't tell jokes any more - whatever happened to the good old Aussie chiacking, piss-taking sense of humour?' Well, wasn't that what Yumi and George were engaging in? Can you dish it out, but not take it?

But having said all that, we have to remember she DID say: 'He’s going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there', implying Ben Roberts-Smith was thick. That's offensive too.

Craig reckons...

Posted September 25, 2014
She did indeed say that, interesting that the sands of time have scrubbed that from the record, I think Internet vitriol is indeed bullshit, but that article is bein pretty selective.

Craig ducks in to say...

Posted September 25, 2014
nope, I remain unshaken, unless not literal, in which case your euphemism escapes me.

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted September 25, 2014
Looks like that Dino ban expired pretty quickly.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted September 25, 2014
Nah, I was just distracted for an hour.

pi has opinions thus...

Posted September 26, 2014
Sadly, I think it might be time to appoint a few constable ban-hammer-handlers.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted September 25, 2014
Yeah, but no. I think this demonstrates but one of the vexed issues that relate to media regulation.
Now Birmo is a gentleman scribe who cares if he gets something wrong. Unfortunately that is not the case with most scribblers.
Self regulation in the Aust media industry is predicated on the assumption that writers & editors are motivated by accuracy and the high esteem of their colleagues.
Many, perhaps most, seem more motivated by staying half a pace ahead of the slavering horde of unemployed writers at their heels. I understand the pressure to produce content that engages an audience, in bulk.

This is similar to the regulation of the health food industry. The assumption is that practioners are only concerned by the best interests of clients & not personal profit. Indoubidably there are some such practitioners, but I'd posit they are a tiny percentage, rendering the efforts at regulation less than pointless.

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Bucko would have you know...

Posted September 25, 2014
Yumi briefly talked about this on one of the ABCs Agony of Life shows (this year I think). She recognised that she said something pretty stupid and apologised to Ben Roberts-Smith who apparently was not too worried about the whole thing.

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'notch swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 25, 2014
My kids went to the same school as hers (in the toffy part of Northcote, daaaahling*). While she seemed to be slightly prone to DYKWIAishness**, she and her kid were just another mum and kid. The sad part was when my job took me into contact with the more munty of the munters who approved of the muntishness of the muntocracy calling for her kids to be attacked.

Mind you, we'd seen some evidence - the kid missed a bit of school and the local wallopers might have done an extra lap or three at pick-up time, probably also getting a couple of Beamer X5's or Subarus with triangle stickers double-parking as bonus quota-fillin'.

When the aforementioned munters were confronted with the fact that not only would they be advocating violence against kids, but my kids too, they seemed, for a second, to be rather confuzzled. When presented with the actual consequences of making munter-statements, their 2-volt fuses blew and the munter-lobe in their brains shorted.

Regardless of whether it was used by Channel Teen to boost ratings, or whether Yumi ballsed up and didn't engage brain or did it for the attention was neither here nor there - she shouldn't have to have had that munter-hate thrown at her - and at everyone who may have been close.

*We'd been there a while, increasingly in shitty rentals while the beige-est of rich lefties gentrified the bejeeezus out of the place. We bailed the hell out not long after.

**Don't You Know Who I Am?! There's quite a few C-grade celebs who are prone to it.

Martin is gonna tell you...

Posted September 27, 2014
"Regardless of whether it was used by Channel Teen to boost ratings, or whether Yumi ballsed up and didn't engage brain or did it for the attention was neither here nor there - she shouldn't have to have had that munter-hate thrown at her - and at everyone who may have been close."
(I think you missed the point of jb's post ie she didn't stuff up and ten didn't use anything for ratings. Both her and negus were misquoted.)

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pi asserts...

Posted September 26, 2014
Can you post the original links for shits and giggles?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 26, 2014
Hopefully more giggles than shits. The former is easier to clean up.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted September 26, 2014
God, i vaguely remember this - thanks for bringing it up into the forefront of my brain. I'm sure it was next in the queue to get pushed out.

What i want to know is if they covered the question at hand. What if built guys are dud roots or doesn't it matter? Is it enough that you can knife an insurgent in the dark and move onto the next guy before laying some dynamite to blow up a critical piece of hardware? (asking for a friend)

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted September 26, 2014
I always thought she was speaking generally about the subject, not at the subject. I thought Negus came across as a bit of of jealous man and the use of 'dud root' was totes awsm. But the whole attack on her, when she really didn't say anything or denigrate anybody in particular was just a bit off. Bit like the ease at which dickheads attack female video gamers.

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Craig mumbles...

Posted September 26, 2014
The people who threatened her kids or her, or even went to the effort of abusing her publicly are assholes, I make no excuse for them.

But let's reverse the races and genders:
Attractive female model of Asian descent does something incredibly brave and saves some people's lives, and is filmed in a bikini at the pool, throw to studio.

Older female reporter of Asian descent "but what if a girl like that is no good in bed?"

Younger white Australian male "a dud root you reckon? What is she doing now? Diving down to find her brain?"

Do we think this would pass without controversy because it was a white male? I suggest not.

My disappointment with what was said is zero about race or gender.

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Martin reckons...

Posted September 27, 2014
Craig has opinions thus- you're not reading what jb said. What you're missing in your example is this-

"Nothing about the incredibly muscly hero in the bikini....but, given that we're speaking of the relative attractiveness of incredibly muscly people in general, do you reckon they might pay more attention to their own bodies than their partners? "

Negus prefaced his observation with a crucial caveat that the media (and you) skipped over. "Nothing about poor old ben",
Easy to do, but still does a disservice to Negus. That's why Fairfax (and jb) apologised- it is a matter of fact, not opinion or interpretation, that neither nexus not stynes called Roberts-Smith a dud root (and their lawyers probably backed that up)

And if it was Sam Newman who'd said "hang on, George. Are you saying Roberts-Smith is a dud root?", there's no way it'd be pinned on Sam. So why Stynes?

As for the brain in pool comment, his own mum or Nan or mates) could have said something similar- "love, did you really have to show Australia you in your jocks and tats, staring off into the middle distance? People might think you look a bit of a dill..." it's hardly offensive to anyone. And it has to be looked at in the context jb outlines...
But if you're determined to be outraged, you can cut-and-paste and omit caveats and context to your heart's/hate's delight...

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Martin puts forth...

Posted September 27, 2014
Craig, keeping in mind negus' caveat ("nothing about Ben"), I challenge you to find where negus or stynes called Roberts-Smith a dud root. And if you can't, I think you need to reassess how they were misquoted and mistreated. (But if you can, more power to you.)

Craig would have you know...

Posted September 30, 2014
just a quick response, I'm going to try find the vid and have a listen/watch again, it appears my legal position needs some shoring up - but nearly all of my response is to the title and opening of the article "remember when Yumi Stynes insulted that SAS bloke? Well she didn't" I only mentioned George to maintain chronology in my hypothetical scenario of reversed genders and races and the whole dud root thing I could care less about, unfortunate they needed IVF to have kids though, but no intent.
Given Ben would be able to use encrypted satellite radios, guided missiles etc etc, the "find his brain" was a dumb and ignorant thing to say, and what his mates and Nan might say doesn't necessarily make it for for telly does it?

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