Fair’s fair: The Standard is Attacking my Liveliood

This is a matter I very much wanted resolve in private.

Some time ago, the Standard, a left wing NZ blog, published a post attacking me. This was not the first time, although it was the only occasion I bothered to read one. The only reason I did so was because I had received four messages from potential clients from whom I was seeking minor writing gigs. Each of these clients is based in North America. They alerted me to the post for one reason: it accuses me of misogyny. Other claims in the post, including that I an Australian, that I never worked on Labour campaigns, that I am a dog whistler for the National Party, and that I deliberately place Lego pieces under the bare feet of my toddlers, are grist to the mill. (Only the last point was in jest). 

I am not, and have never been, concerned about the attacks on me from the Standard or any other left or right-wing blog that takes issue with my political views or the admittedly forceful way by which I tend to express them. I can throw a punch, but I can certainly take one.

The four US clients were concerned enough about the misogyny accusation that they concluded it was better to hire somebody else that the work, despite me having produced a high quality of output for them in the past. In the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, enlisting a contracter subject to accusations of misogyny is a reputational risk these companies justifiably choose not to take. I understand and support their decision to protect their reputations.

It irks me beyond words that I even need to make the following point, but here it is.

I am as far from a misogynist as you could find in a Caucasian male of my age. I am gay and, like many gay men, most, if not all, of my closest and dearest friends are women. The smartest and best colleagues and supervisors during my career have been women, all of whom I managed a congenial and warm relationship. This even includes Heather Simpson, who was an avowed factional enemy of mine in the late 1990s, fired me once and vetoed me twice for jobs.  I would guarantee she should laugh if you asked if she thought me a hater of women. 

I have never written a word that can be characterised as misogynistic in any way. Nor have I made a public statement of that kind, and in private my relationships with women are respectful and warm. The writers at the Standard, if they were interested in making verified claims instead of baseless slurs, are welcome to search high and low for a woman with whom I have had any interaction who would agree even one iota with their claim. 

Because the Standard post has gradually risen in the Google algorithm, it often appears in the first handful of results when prospective employers conduct due diligence. None of them read the blog per se, but the term misogyny features in the Google summary line. As you can imagine, this is an egregious and baseless insult that is having a severe detrimental impact on my to earn a paltry income as well as damaging my reputation on baseless grounds.

I have reached out to Greg Presland, whom is the only blog-linked person I know, to spell out the above. I explained to Greg that I was happy for that post, as well as well as other hatchet jobs directed at me, to stay unedited on the site. I have no worries about such political attacks and most of the personal insults that come with it. Politics is not tiddlywinks after all.

The extent of my request to Greg was that he remove the term misogynist with reference to me. It is a false and the falsifiable claim with real world harmful financial consequences. Unless it is removed, the nature of the Internet as such that it is likely to continue to have a detrimental effect on me both personally and professionally for the indefinite future.

I say to the Standard this: by all means, if you can identify a single woman whom I have met who agrees with they website’s characterisation of me, leave the post as it is. I make this offer in full confidence that a nationwide search would fail to uncover one such woman.

Greg Priestland has ignored my requests and has now blocked me from sending him direct messages on Twitter. The very fact I chose DM as the medium was to reflect my desire to keep this discussion cordial and private. But his unwillingness to engage with my respectful and reasonable request has forced me to publicise this  conduct in the hope it changes their mind.

But mine is a forlorn hope. By their actions, they demonstrate no compunction about conducting vicious attacks grounded in no basis of fact even if the consequences to the target of their hatred suffers grave personal and professional consequences. This, I am afraid, is all we need to know about these people and their website. 

It also raises to me serious questions about how reckless bloggers can willfully defame others only to see their dishonesty rewarded by the Google algorithm. The long term reputational consequences of this state of affairs strikes me as severe.  

For what it’s worth, I am in fact a misandrist, which makes the Standard’s claims not just wrong but the polar opposite of the truth.

In any event, my hope is that Presland can reconsider and correct the record, if the modus operandi at the Standard even permits such reasonableness.