This is interesting and a little upsetting. I have just become aware that Gavin Atkins of The ShadowLands blog on the Asian Correspondent news service site posted a blog post containing what, in my relatively educated, but non-‘legal expert’ opinion, is a defamatory imputation that damages the reputation of myself and, what is the most upsetting, my mother. Here is the original blog post:

An article by Ross Gittins suggesting university students are not worthy welfare recipients has predictably not been well received in some quarters.

You might find the first paragraph of this rebuttal somewhat peculiar:

“I was helped out by my folks for the final year and a half of my PhD in a direct way. My mum also used to send me cash every now and then during my candidature so I could buy some broccoli.”

until you look it up.

Here is my response I just posted to the comments:

Hi Gavin,

That is my blog you link to.

My mother actually sent me money to buy vegetables, which she called ‘broccoli money’ as a play on my childhood dislike of broccoli. She did not send me a little cash every now and then so as to buy drugs.

To put it mildly, I don’t really appreciate the imputation of your blog post. Perhaps you should read another blog post of mine to help you understand the possible implications:

I would’ve commented earlier, but my blog software only picked up your trackback now. I understand the cut and thrust of blogging sometimes has untoward effects, so I’d appreciate you keeping this post but appending a comment that clarifies that my mother did not provide me with money to buy drugs. This way those who have already read the post will know you were only joking.


Bloggers or journalists who bridge the gap between new and old media should really become more aware of legislation and common law pertaining to questions of defamation.

EDIT 20/10/09: Looks like the Asian Correspondent is recruiting high class bloggers like JF Beck RWDB who also took a shine to one of my posts.

EDIT 20/10/09: Gavin has apologised, so I am content.

11 replies on “Defamed?”

  1. I was hesitant about clicking through, simply because I didn’t want to add to the traffic, but… What an idiot. I think you’ve been more than restrained in your response, glen.

  2. Right now isn’t a great time for economists to be declaring groups of people unworthy of Government spending, Ross. A sense of irony, please.

    Furthermore, the University of Canberra’s National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling has come under what would be kindly described as questioning for the terms of the study which was selectively drawn from.

  3. As the said mother that sent money to Glen to buy some fresh vegetables, I would like to point out that broccoli is a vegetable that is highly recommended to prevent cancer. As a secondary teacher for 37 years, I find it quite offensive to suggest that I was sending money for Glen to buy drugs. I would often mention an article on Glen’s blog to my students, I bet they would be appalled at the suggestion that I was supplying money for drugs, even though this may have been meant as a tongue in cheek joke!!

  4. I got a lovely link via Jeff Beck – his post linked to one of mine, written when my second child was a month old, and said that mothers who complained should be shot. Nice.

    And yep, they’ve just said your mum sent you money for drugs. Fully sic them.

  5. I agree that the tone of a blog post has to match the tone of the post being commented on. My Gittins blog post was completely serious (as it was when cross-posted to Larvatus Prodeo) as Gittins was talking about something I take seriously. Humour is fine, I am the funniest bastard around, but saying my mum sent me money to buy drugs is not funny.

    It is not my reputation that is at stake here but the reputation of the Asian Correspondent and the type of bloggers they’ve hired.

  6. Gee, JF Beck is charming. You’ve made quite a list of things he doesn’t like–refugees, Palestinians, compassion etc. I’d feel honoured.

    I must be out of touch, as I though the term broccoli meant broccoli, as in the vegetable. But there you go. I used to follow your mum’s postings on another blog site, and I know she’s a really respected teacher here in Perth. I’m sorry you both got caught up in such rubbish.

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