Protesters hand over Laws petition
Members from GetUp! and Destroy the Joint waited outside the 2SM office to hand to John Laws 38,000 signatures from people asking him to be educated on sexual abuse.PT2M38S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2hb73 620 349 April 5, 2013
Tens of thousands of people are petitioning to have 2SM radio host John Laws educated on how to speak with sexual abuse victims on air.
Campaign representatives from GetUp! and Destroy the Joint presented 2SM with a petition on Friday bearing more than 38,000 signatures from people concerned that Laws had asked on-air if a woman had been "provocative" when she was sexually abused as a child.
During Laws' interview the woman said her mother believed the abuse was her fault and Laws subsequently asked: "Was it in any way your fault? ... you weren't provocative?"
Radio host John Laws. Photo: Kate Geraghty
More than a dozen protesters and one police officer waited outside the 2SM offices on Friday morning during Mr Laws’ show, before an employee identifying herself by saying, “I work for John Laws,” accepted the petition.
She said she was “fine” with the petition's request to have Mr Laws educated on-air about why his remarks about sexual abuse were damaging, but told protesters they would have to apply for an interview formally via the 2SM website.
John Laws acknowledged the protesters outside the 2SM offices on Friday's show.
"So why are there protesters outside the building?" he asked.
"Well, because you've got a few self-appointed moral arbiters like GetUp! - which ought be called 'shut up' - and Destroy the Joint. Charming. Aren't they clever little groups. They operate within the shadows of the internet. They're constantly searching for reasons to be offended."
Mr Laws reiterated that the woman had told him she was not offended by his line of questioning during the interview on March 19.
"If anybody took offence at the way I framed the questions, then of course I'm sorry, and I've already said I'm sorry," he said.
Mr Laws also said the reaction to the interview "defies belief".
GetUp! campaign director Erin McCallum said "people like John Laws are perpetuating the culture of victim-blaming that's really damaging to the millions of Australians who have survived sexual assault and rape".
"We're giving Mr Laws a chance to redeem himself."
The petition is asking Mr Laws to apologise for perpetuating victim-blaming and requests that he and other 2SM staff be educated by speaking on-air with Dr Cathy Kezelman, a sexual abuse victim and president of the group Adults Surviving Child Abuse.
"It's not just about educating Mr Laws, but also other people who have these attitudes," Dr Kezelman said.
"It's not OK to blame victims for their own assaults. Perpetrators are responsible and need to be brought to justice."
The interview, which aired on March 19, ignited fierce debate, with many people offended by Mr Laws' questioning.
More than 10,000 members of GetUp! and Destroy the Joint have written to 2SM with their complaints, while the Morning Show's Facebook page has received more than 700 comments about the interview.
At the time, Mr Laws stood by his comments and said the woman was not offended by the interview.
However, three days after the segment, the woman posted a comment on the radio station's Facebook page saying that while "the conversation did not offend me, I would hope you word your questioning more carefully in the future when speaking with victims of child abuse … You were lucky it was me you said those unfair comments to and it was not someone more fragile."
Mr Laws has been contacted for comment.