Trouble in Babylon

I have held off writing about the incident in Australia’s Parliament House involving two staffers Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann that became public in 2021. As I have repeatedly stated in other posts, I don’t follow mainstream news so this is yet another example of something I only hear about piecemeal. Despite this, being familiar enough with how those in the media, government and indeed the legal profession operate, it is not hard to read between the lines and understand something of what has actually happened.

One might expect me to come down on one of the sides involved but that is not my intention in writing about this. the most interesting and important aspect of this public drama is that it has shown the Australian people the ugly face of the ruling class as well as their wretched, self-serving behaviour. I am confident that almost everyone involved in this scandal has been dishonest, cowardly or malevolent in some way. I would like to leave out the security guards but even they might have dirty hands given the interests at stake.

So as this scandal now seems to be coming to a close, I want to share some thoughts on it. 

The first take away which I am now too late to share with Lehrmann, is that it is likely always a bad idea to bring a defamation case against any organisation that both thrives and profits on that very thing. Namely, the news media. Much like high stakes poker, you need to have a lot of money you’re prepared to lose or what looks like an unbeatable hand, to even consider it. And even with the latter, you’re still betting on the judge. Sometimes, the media do go so far as to leave themselves wide open but I expect that in most of these cases, the organisations settle on the condition of mutually zipped lips and I’ve even privately heard about such sunny eventualities. The courts then, are generally not a place to go with a grievance if you don’t have the money to burn. Outside of an appeal for a minor traffic offence as a teenager, I’ve mostly avoided them and I plan to continue this trend to my dying days.

The second take away is that I can understand why the late Cardinal George Pell didn’t pursue any defamation despite winning a 7-0 smackdown in the High Court of Australia. I still recall all the libellous tweets that followed this decision as well as the media’s disgracefully slanted coverage throughout the whole ordeal. Nobody responsible for any of this has yet suffered any consequences and even when they did in a separate case, the Australian taxpayer had to foot the bill. I assumed Pell had decided to turn the other cheek but he may just have concluded that further involvement with the courts would only bring further trouble. Perhaps a bit of both. In any case, Pell has now undergone divine judgment for whatever sins he has committed and I pray for God’s mercy as much for him as I do for myself when I come before Him.

I don’t claim to understand the legal system or have full knowledge of all the happenings but then, neither do most people offering an opinion on this and a great many other cases. The ones that do are almost certainly covering themselves in some way by omission, lies or both. The details we know for sure are that both Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann were in Parliament House at the same time late Friday the 22nd into the early hours of Saturday the 23rd of March, 2019. The former was later found at least partially undressed and inebriated by security. She claims she was raped by him and he claims he didn’t rape her. He says, she says. Choose one to believe.

There was a trial which was abandoned after an academic paper that could be considered to compromise the jurors was discovered and the case was later dropped. Trying to keep track of all these happenings is rather confusing but it seems that had the trial gone through, that Lehrmann would not have been convicted. And as far as the law is concerned, he should be considered an innocent man. I say “should” of course because this doesn’t matter any more for him than Pell’s exoneration in the High Court mattered. The damage is done and people have taken sides.

Although a “not guilty” verdict would not have mattered, the ambiguity and confusion of all of this actually works in favour of all the politicians and media figures who joined the premature chorus denouncing him. Ambiguity is very useful for dishonest people and being able to imply that he was guilty and only “got away with it” because of an unusual incident with a juror is a lot more convenient than a “not guilty” verdict would have been. Nonetheless, that he is innocent in the eyes of the law should matter for something.

This might all sound like I’m on Lehrmann’s side but I’m really not. I just don’t think he is guilty of raping Higgins and as another trial didn’t follow the bungled first, I assume that people better informed than me know that he wouldn’t have been convicted if one had. This doesn’t mean I think he’s a hero or even a good person. Frankly, even if only some of what has come out about him is true, he doesn’t seem like someone I would like. And he was a public servant in Canberra before any of this and that alone speaks to my prejudices without knowing anything else.

From here, I will be getting into what is only speculation on my part. I know actual criminals aren’t known for their intelligence but Lehrmann seems smart enough to know raping a woman in a place where you could not possibly have an alibi would be a bad idea. This of course assumes he did what everyone immediately thinks when we use the word “rape” and that is forced sexual intercourse with a woman. The word is synonymous with violence and highly emotive in almost any context it is used. Although this is what comes to everybody’s mind, it is not always what a woman making such an accusation means. 

We have to remember that merely feeling regret or used after a sexual encounter has led more than one woman to accuse the man she was intimate with of that. I don’t think it is wrong to feel bad or used after fornicating either: you should. This is a problem as far as the word “rape” is concerned because there is now no consistent definition. There are radical feminists for example, that think any time a man penetrates a woman it is rape. These people are no longer on the fringes of society. There are also no shortage of people in prominent public positions who accept the assertion “believe all women” or “believe victims”. This at the very least muddies the waters and at worst, makes justice in such cases an impossibility. This would be the so even if we had video footage of both parties willingly engaging in fornication. What we actually have as mentioned above, is a “he says, she says” scenario and to the best of my knowledge: nothing more.

So my position is that both Higgins and Lehrmann are guilty. Of fornication. I hope I won’t be sued for defamation for making such a claim in this day and age but that’s what I think. Perhaps I should put an “allegedly” in somewhere? Further, I think they both regretted it though Lerhmann probably didn’t until he lost his job a few days later. And he probably really regrets it now.

As mentioned, raping someone in one of the most highly secured buildings in Australia, where your identity is logged and there are security guards and cameras — is not a good idea. What is also not a good idea, is being found in such a building, in compromising circumstances and without a good reason. If you don’t have one; there remains an understandable temptation to find one. Both parties certainly should not have been where they were, when they were and I don’t think this is doubted by anybody. This was the main reason we’re told Lehrmann was sacked a few days after the incident. Higgins wasn’t. 

It doesn’t require much cognition to work out that in such a situation, one would require a compelling excuse for an action that would result in being terminated from a very comfortable (and usually lucrative) job. I can’t speak for myself, but it is not unheard of for people to be willing to say or do things that are wrong in order to gain or even maintain a beneficial position. Politicians certainly know what I’m talking about. 

As for the supporting characters in the media and politics, they all had various reasons for either involving or protecting themselves. The media loves parliamentary sex scandals and this one turned out to be especially lucrative even with the legal rumblings. As the said scandal happened in the office of a member of the then incumbent government, it was irresistibly exploitable for the opposition party of the time too. This does seem to have at least had some part in Labor’s election win the following year too.

With all of this, the scandal also seems to have got a little more out of control than the architects expected and even as I write, we’re not quite at the end of the affair. Higgins and her husband (who is worth a post on his own), have almost certainly stepped on some toes that they shouldn’t have. Lisa Wilkinson, the most notorious media personality in all of this, also did to much adlibbing in her role and though she has come out of it for now; she did get a fright.

The person in this case with the least capacity to cause trouble by being disgraced was Lerhmann. So that’s ultimately why he was. He may not yet see it but this may end up being better for him than any of the others involved though it certainly won’t seem so for the moment. This is especially so if this leads to his repentance and conversion. For everybody else, they will continue alongside the Dark Rider for now. But they can never know when they will cease to be useful to him.

That this may only have been a story about two public servants fornicating in a Federal building and turned into what it has, shows how far things have fallen in this country. Get married. Don’t fornicate. Have children. And stay as far away from the beast system, its lairs and minions as you possibly can. 

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