Tzedek slams John Laws

March 21, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Tzedek, an advocacy group for Jewish victims/survivors of child sexual abuse has told J-Wire it is appalled by the comments made by John Laws on 2SM in response to a caller who claimed to have been sexually abused since she was six years old.

Tzedek in their comment wrote: “Although the caller is not (to our knowledge) a member of the Jewish community, Tzedek nevertheless condemns Mr Laws for his insensitive and flippant approach to this woman’s traumatic experience. Mr Laws was completely uncivilised in asking whether she was at fault or provoked the abuse, and trivialised her experience and the horror and shame she no doubt labours under.

Tzedek feels that Mr Laws demonstrates a dangerous attitude to victims/survivors of sexual abuse which may compound their torment, negative feelings and reservations about themselves and their traumatic experience. Mr Laws is not in any way qualified to provide advice or assistance to sexual abuse victims/survivors, and the manner in which he does purport to advise the caller is embarrassing and counter-productive.

We urge organisations to appeal to 2SM to condemn Mr Law’s offensive remarks and apologise unreservedly for them. We also encourage you to educate your staff about the devastating impact of child sexual abuse.

Tzedek urges all victims/survivors of child sexual abuse (whether within the Jewish community or not) to approach appropriate professionals and to speak up about their experiences if they so wish and to obtain whatever help and support they need.”


11 Responses to “Tzedek slams John Laws”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    I can’t give you the names of Mr/Mrs./Ms/Miss Perfect, as I don’t believe in perfection. However, I can say that given the circumstances you outline regarding the purported difficulties of such a situation as it occurred, going live to air, it would have been relatively easy to simply acknowledge the caller’s relation of the events by saying you were sorry to hear that she had suffered such an horrendous abuse, then suggest trauma counselling, if she hadn’t had it, and a further suggestion of reporting it to the police. Any, or all of these responses, would have been far, far better than asking the question Laws asked, which almost immediately invalidated the caller. In asking the question he asked, he allowed himself to become involved in a way that was completely inappropriate, entertaining the notion of blame – self-blame for the woman/child – and taking the whole thing somewhere it just shouldn’t have gone. (The old idea, mainly perpetrated by men, of a female deserving sexual abuse because she provokes it should surely have died a natural death by now, but obviously it hasn’t.) There’s no problem for broadcasting airing these types of situations if they’re handled intelligently and sensitively; indeed, perhaps it might even assist some people. Laws certainly didn’t assist this caller. Sometimes when people speak out in this way, they simply want to be heard and acknowledged (which isn’t a hard thing to do), they don’t necessarily expect the problem to be ‘solved’, and they certainly wouldn’t want to be judged.

    Anyway, thanks for the comprehensive discussion, Otto.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      I agree entirely with you and reckon that Laws wishes he didn’t take that call.

      If I may extend this uggly storry, I wonder what “group” of people that poor woman belongs to.
      I am sure you know what I am aluding to,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    For heaven’s sake, Otto,
    Consent? Allay any doubts that the person concerned might have consented? Statutory forensic procedure …? We’re talking about a six year old child here! That was the answer the caller so politely gave John Laws. The woman stated that as a six year old child she was sexually abused by members of her family, which abuse continued over the years. No amount of legalise talk or pontificating by broadcasters or the public can get anywhere near touching that as an overview or a concept, and neither should it. Leave that kind of thing for a criminal investigation.

    Would this be your reaction if the woman concerned was your daughter?

    Chag Sameach, Otto and best regards. L.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat
      1st. Chag Sameah to you and yours as well !!!

      You are perfectly right in everything you say. I am not trying to reduce the value of your argument, only to add that certain procedures have been put in place and people who are aware of them, even non legal minds, would find it safe, specially when the issue goes public on air and without prior knowledge of the case, as it happened, to follow what is known as “the protocols” of discussion.
      It is too obvious that a six year old abused child has no notion of consent and no one in his right mind would agree to that, but I still believe that Laws felt that he would need to be EXTRA cautious and, by doing that he did give reasons to some people to believe that he was doubting the victim’s genuine case. He made it clear that his intentions were to support the claims of abuse, but what does one do when on air and a case like this want sto be heard publicly and the station gives the “go ahead” ?!.
      These are current and ardent issues, they are widely publicised and debated by all manner of individuals and organisations. If 2GB would have refused to air such issues, whic they may from now on, they would have been accused by more or less the same who accuse now Laws/2GB of not handling it properly, that they are sweeping the issue under the carpet and all such stuff.
      So either the subject is restricted to legal fora and NO other entity or person is allowed to partake in the topic, lest the imputations of unfairness will abound ( and that goes for Tzedek as well ) or we allow the issue, as it is democratically normal, to be discussed by all sorts of entities, some of which may NOT be suitably trained to debate in a manner that will not attract ANY criticism at all !!!
      Going by my own record, I have been quite regularly critical of the way in which Tzedek has been handling at times this very issue. So, dear Liat, give us the name of Mr/Mrs/Mis/Ms Perfect .

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Instead of basing your opinion of the correctness of the situation on a person’s qualifications or lack thereof, it would be more to the point to listen with your own ears to the conversation. You are making assumptions about the woman caller that are not yours to make. It’s she, as a victim of sexual abuse as a young child who needs defending, not the likes of John Laws. If you listened to her polite, yet ‘taken aback’ response to his question on whether or not she had provoked the abuse, you would not believe for a moment that she considered Laws’ comments ‘pertinent or civilised’.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat
      My assumption is based on the FACT(s) that John Laws would consider carefully his approach to the matter. One may also easily interpret that Laws’ questions were meant to allay any doubts that the person in question would have consented and, thus, establish that she was, indeed, a genuine victim. Such lines of questioning are reasonable in such situations and they do form part of a statutory forensic procedure in such cases, anyway. I feel confident that Laws would be well aware of this.
      I also believe that there is a genuine concern amongst public personalities involved in opinion making in strengthening the universal opprobium of such abhorent cases. Laws would be very careful not to indulge to any degree in creating doubts, conducive to accpetance of child molestation.

  4. Liat Nagar says:

    I hardly think anybody expects ‘entertainment’ to comprise questioning a caller about whether or not she had provoked the sexual abuse she spoke of experiencing as a six year old child! You don’t have to be a trained counsellor to be able to see the idiocy and obscenity of that response by Laws. You wonder how anyone would have come across on radio given the same circumstance? The question itself beggars belief under the circumstances. I’m a Victorian, however did hear the conversation between John Laws and the caller on radio. Melbourne has nothing on radio to equal the vulgarity, crassness and sheer lack of intelligence that many Sydneysiders appear to consider entertainment from their commercial radio stations – and thank G-d for that; some months ago there were efforts to import it to Melbourne, which failed dismally within a short time. Perhaps after this offensive and tasteless episode, those who have the power to change things in the Sydney broadcasting area, will attempt to do so.

    It doesn’t matter who wrote this posted article, really. It’s what it has say that’s important, and I support what it has to say entire.y.

  5. Peter says:

    You later correctly named 2SM but you headlined the story naming 2GB which is wrong

  6. Otto Waldmann says:

    Shirlee is absolutely right.
    John Laws is a well versed public figure. He has interviewed thousands of people in his career and knew in this case how to be considerate and, at the same time, provide the audience with the kind of information he thought relevant. The mere fact that the respondent offered details means that she considered Laws’ approach pertinent and civilised.
    Tzedek is, once again, on the publicity high horse and, incidentally, to replicate Shirlee’s comment on Laws’ relevant qualifications, Tzedek is NOT a phychologically professional acredited organisation either.

  7. Dianne says:

    I heard the tail end of this story last night, on the News, and decided to follow it up.
    I hadn’t looked at your site before.

    I was warmed that you chose to support the victim and condemn Laws. Especially,
    when you were unsure of whether the woman caller was a member of the Jewish community.
    I am not a member of your community either, ,except in the sense we are all members of a great big diverse community.
    For what it is worth, I am very impressed by your stand.

    I wish more groups would do this sort of thing for others.

    Thank you


  8. Shirlee says:

    Given that John Laws is not a trained counsellor, I don’t think he should be condemned. Even though I have no time for him. He is just a guy sitting on a microphone whose job it is to entertain.

    What do you honestly expect him to do.? He didn’t try to provide advice or assistance, he came across as being concerned though . You have lost me on this the way you have condemned the man.

    I wonder how anyone would have come across on radio given the same circumstance.?

    Maybe a staff member could have looked up the appropriate organisation that could help and passed it to him ?

    Who has written this article anyhow? It doesn’t really make sense. You say written by J-Wire staff but it comes across as if it is written by Tzedek.?

    The final paragraph is a real puzzle. If it is written by J-Wire why this comment “We urge your organisation to condemn Mr Law’s offensive remarks and apologise unreservedly for them. We also encourage you to educate your staff about the devastating impact of child sexual abuse”

    What organisation? To whom is this addressed?

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