Celebrity Supression Scandal

December 31st, 2010 by Dylan Leave a reply »

This morning’s NZ Herald seems to have mistaken itself for it’s Sunday brother with this insane headline: Top secret: Celebrity arrested in central city

The article goes on to breathlessly explain that a “household name” was arrested for (shock!) BAD BEHAVIOR in Auckland city. This star was then granted name supression when charged with Disorderly Behavior! Of course it was made clear this was a case of one law for us and another one for “them”.

The Herald article then went on to briefly recap the cases of two name-supressed celebrities – the comedian charged in relation to a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old and the musician convicted of performing an indecent act on a “young girl”.

The inclusion of this totally unrelated case however has caused confusion, with people mixing up the three cases, and assuming the recently-arrested celebrity was in fact arrested for something sexual. The facts (which are obviously lacking) seem to suggest a much less scandalous event – drunken behaviour or similar.

My attention was first drawn to the story by my good friend Gianpaolo who tweeted about it, seeming to have confused the current (46-year-old celebrity charged with disorderly behaviour) case with the much older (but still before the courts) comedian case.

I very highly doubt that Gianpaolo was the only person confused by the story. On my first reading I was slightly confused by the nature of the offending.

If anything, this story seems to serve as a good argument in favour of interim name supression for high-profile people. No other indiviual charged with “disorderly behavior” would find themselves the subject of front-page coverage in the nation’s largest newspaper.

Similarly take the case of the comedian. For a “Joe Bloggs” person that story would probably never have made the papers. In the comedian’s case if his name had been in the stories then he’d be a paedophile in the nation’s minds, regardless of what comes of his court case (his story is essentially that it was a drunken mistake – wrong, but somewhat different).

People making the argument that non-celebrities wouldn’t be granted supression in the same circumstances never consider the other side of that – they also would never be subject to the same publicity. Even if their case were reported on, we’d read their name on Monday and have forgotten it by Wednesday. With a celebrity we simple associate the “facts” we read with what we already know about that person – no need to remember a new person, we’re already aware of them.