I once shared an office with a girl who was from Vietnam. One day, she came into the office with an awed expression. “What happened?” I asked.
“I saw a protest on the way to work!” she exclaimed. As the explanation came tumbling out, it transpired she’d seen some sort of protest against the government. What had really shocked her was that some of the protesters had pairs of balloons and they had burst them, laughing and saying “We’re busting Howard’s balls!”
“So what?” I said. “Seems like a childish kind of protest, but it’s funny too.”
She looked me squarely in the eye and said, “If anyone protested against the government in Vietnam, they’d be gaoled.”
I became aware of how lucky we are to have freedom of speech, even to do silly things like burst “virtual testicles”.
This leads me to the topic of “Big Brother”. I should declare my bias at the start. I can’t stand reality TV. It makes my skin crawl to see all those people back-biting, fighting and bullying. As I said to my husband, “There’s enough of that in a law firm without having to watch it at night.” But my general belief is that networks should be free to air such programmes, even if I find them repulsive.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that “Big Brother” has crossed the line. In fact, I thought it crossed the line last year when a male housemate apparently put his genitalia into a female housemate’s hair when massaging her. Now reports suggest a male housemate held down a female housemate while a second male housemate “playfully” stuck his genitalia into her face. Both female “victims” have said that they were not offended. Maybe I’m just a prude. But I sure as hell would be offended if these things happened to me!
I note that the two men are not going to be charged with assault, and that it is doubtful whether assault charges can be laid where there is no complaint. In any case, it seems to me that the television station has encouraged housemates to engage in exhibitionist and stupid behaviour. I understand it may be fined, and I certainly think that it should be answerable for creating the situation whereby these events can occur.
It’s a sad state of affairs when that’s what Australian commercial television has to offer.