Who hasn’t yet read, bickered about, or been pissed off about Ryan Bridge’s opinion piece in Newshub, titled “Kiwi vegan loonies are treasonous”? There wasn’t much new to read there, apart from the words “treasonous” and “traitors” being used in conjunction with Vegans for the first time by New Zealand media (that I can think of). The Australian media – and maybe others – have been a bit hysterical about Vegan traitors, treasonists, and terrorists for a while now, but the New Zealand media hadn’t gone there – until now.
Well done Newshub for being pioneering dicks.
Technically, an opinion piece isn’t reporting, but whatever publication it’s in is responsible for it. With that in mind, I have written the below letter of complaint to Newshub about publishing a piece that incites hate towards Vegans. This, I think, is the crux of the matter, and we shouldn’t stay silent about it, regardless of what some may think of Vegan activists bringing this on. Whatever they are, Vegan activists are NOT traitors, treasonists, nor terrorists – that is purely hate-mongering by the media.
This is my complaint to Newhub – from whom I expect to get a resounding ………er, not much. However, we shouldn’t stay silent about these types of dangerous slurs and incitement against Vegans, regardless.
Formal Complaint. Not for Publication.
I wish to make a formal complaint about the opinion piece by Ryan Bridge, “Kiwi vegan loonies are treasonous”, which was published by Newshub on 29th October 2019 (https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2019/10/ryan-bridge-kiwi-vegan-loonies-are-treasonous.html).
The headline of this piece contained the words ‘vegan’ and ‘treasonous’ in the same sentence, thereby encouraging the reader to associate these two things in conjunction with each other.
Further down in the piece, Ryan Bridge also referred to Vegans as “traitors”.
This is a deliberate hate-inciting piece against Vegans, and I would go so far as to say it is bordering on domestic stochastic terrorism (via media) – the public demonisation of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/stochastic-terrorism). Stochastic terrorism is a popular online tool used by known hate and terrorist groups. If Vegans had a fixed gathering or meeting place, they could well be in danger of violence from those who were incited by pieces like this.
Ryan Bridge avoids using the word ‘terrorists’ in association with Vegans in his opinion piece, perhaps because of what happened in Christchurch on 15th March this year. Otherwise, I’m sure he would have irresponsibly thrown that word in there, too.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and can express that opinion strongly if they choose, but not in a way that incites hate and/or violence. Vegans are not the only social justice group in the world that upsets some people, however, they are just about the last group left whereby public vilification, often incited by irresponsible media publications about them, remains unfettered and uncontrolled. Whatever a person may think of Vegans, publicly inciting hatred is not acceptable.
Although this opinion piece is rubbish in many other ways, too, spouting rubbish is not a crime. However, inciting hate and stochastic terrorism are.
I would like a public apology from Newshub and Ryan Bridge for allowing the words ‘treasonous’ and ‘traitors’ to be associated with Vegans, and a commitment to not directly incite hate against Vegans in this way again.
NB #1: here is a little more explanation about stochastic terrorism
NB #2: Lynley Tulloch has written a good actual rebuttal of Ryan Bridge’s opinion piece here-