It’s Thursday evening, I’m tired, and irritable, and I’m trying to think of something to say in this editorial- anything to say. In theory, I have the freedom to say almost anything I want. I can force you to hear about my Fresher’s Flu, which I find tragic and have endless time to complain about, but you probably won’t feel the same. My housemates certainly don’t.
But there are some things I can’t say.
People who have the privilege of a speaking platform, and particularly those in the national media whose platform is extremely publicised, are held to an extremely high standard, as they should be. When George Hook addressed nearly 150,000 people that particular afternoon on national radio, he did not have the luxury of not thinking about what he was saying. The stark reality is that we live in a time of widespread victim-blaming, particularly in such a contentious issue as rape. Given all his years on national radio, Hook knows exactly the kind of effects and influence his words can have on his listeners and the air of legitimacy his platform lends him, and with that comes a certain level of responsibility. No one is punishing Hook for having an offensive opinion, but rather his use of his very public platform to further this view on one of Ireland’s most popular radio stations.
After several advertisers pulled out of sponsoring his radio show, and perhaps in fear of more doing so, Newstalk suspended the frequently controversial presenter. Many critics of the decision are asking whether the punishment went too far. After all, he did apologise, they say. Shouldn’t that be enough? Well, no, it shouldn’t. To use his own demeaning words against him, “is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?”