Charlotte Dawson Speaks Out Shaken – Media Reporting Should Also Examine The National Vilification Of Tanya Heti
Charlotte Dawson denies bullying on 60 Minutes tonight as she discussed the dreadful twitter troll attack that ended up with an ambulance and police being called to her apartment early last Thursday morning. She ended up being hospitalised.
A Twitter follower says she alerted Lifeline who then alerted the Police after she saw Ms Dawson tweet a picture of a hand full of pills and a tweet which indicated she may take her own life.
Ms Dawson said in the interview she was very drunk and the next thing she remembers is the police and ambulance were there. However this since-deleted tweet would suggest she was suicidal. Ms Dawson is receiving medical care.
No one wants to see anyone in such mental anguish.
What has been met with cynicism were reports she had given an interview with 60 Minutes within hours of pleading for privacy and on the day she had been admitted to psychiatric care. The interview was paid for. It was a very strange PR decision indeed.
However Ms Dawson did look shaken in the interview where she talked about the effects the troll attack had on her.
Charlotte Dawson is a polarising personality, something that I don’t think is a negative thing, she has many fans, but also many people that are not so enamoured by her.
There has been a lot of compassion, support and concern for Ms Dawson from media commentators and her fans. Though since this incident there has also been a lot of comments on blog posts and forums about how some of her behaviour online is inappropriate. It should be noted Charlotte is an ambassador for Community Brave an organisation whose aim is to combat cyberbullying.
Here is a snapshot of that behaviour in a blog post I wrote last Tuesday querying whether Charlotte Dawson was the best person to be a spokesperson on cyberspace etiquette.
The cyber attack on Ms Dawson occurred Wednesday after she had been in the media talking about how she outed a “twitter troll” to her employer as well as discussing her new book. Because of this media coverage this woman has now been suspended with pay.
I would like to take the time to reflect on the other woman involved in this matter, Tanya Heti. Is she deserving of this excoriation by the national media or is she collateral damage in this sad saga?
There has been little concern about the mental state of this person who has been publicly humiliated and embarrassed nationally on radio, TV and print for the past five days. She is now infamous.
There is no doubt the tweet made nearly a month ago was unsavoury. I can’t find the original one but here is one that and shows she was trying to create mischief.
After Ms Dawson retweeted a tweet of Ms Heti’s a fan of hers was deeply offended as her fiance had hung himself. Once this was raised Tanya Heti retorted back that she were her fiance would hang herself too. Not very classy behaviour by Tanya.
However on the night in question it appears she did end up apologising.
Ms Heti has not been on Twitter since shortly after that incident nearly a month ago. Ms Dawson possibly thinking the apology was insufficient tracked down where Ms Heti worked contacted her and then reported the incident to her employer at Monash University. After the media onslaught of last week Monash have suspended her with pay whilst they investigate the incident and Ms Dawson has been praised in the media for her handling of this issue.
It is up to the individual to decide whether Charlotte’s crusade was appropriate however most of the mainstream media last Wednesday appeared to think so. Others may think after the apology was given to the offended party that it should have been done and dusted and the fracas left on Twitter. It is no surprise there is differing viewpoints on this.
It should be noted Charlotte’s actions did not merit the trolling attack on her last Wednesday night. However I am not sure Tanya should be smeared with the same brush as the Twitter trolls of last Wednesday night, however others might.
This case is very much in the public interest to be debated by the community and the media as politicians are now discussing whether legislation needs to be enacted and if this is the case the whole scenario needs to be closely examined.
However what was interesting that 60 Minutes did another interview over the weekend with Charlotte asking about her online behaviour. Was this second interview the result of 60 Minutes finding out about the wave of online criticism questioning Charlotte’s cyber history?
In response to the question “So you have never been abusive and you have never bullied?” Charlotte responded:
“I don’t think so. I think people diminish what bullying is. Bullying is this extremely threatening behaviour and it is constant and it makes people feel threatened and terrified and I can’t think of anyone I have done that to.”
Unfortunately for Charlotte a lot of people would disagree with that statement and since she is a high profile Ambassador spokesperson for an anti-bullying organisation she is under scrutiny on this issue.
A person who said he was scared by her “can someone please kill Bryan Boy” tweet was Bryan Boy. The America’s Next Top Model judge tweeted he was scared and it was reported he contacted Police. She retweeted this tweet and he was mocked because of it.
I hope Charlotte recovers from this and gets back to her sparky best, however since she is a high profile role model on this issue maybe once well she may wish to reflect on her own online behaviour, acknowledge this, and then she would make a great anti-cyberbullying ambassador for Community Brave.
In the meantime let us hope Tanya Heti is being supported by her friends and family as well as even though she is no cleanskin herself there is no doubt the last week would have placed her under extreme stress.