There’s an acronym, DARVO, used to describe the behaviour of abusers: it stands for Deny, Accuse, Reverse Victim and Offender. And the press does it all the time with bigots, as two of today’s news stories demonstrate.
The first story is that the head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is being investigated by a KC over multiple very serious allegations of bullying and harassment of staff. Over 20 members of staff have been interviewed by Channel 4 News, which is going to screen a report about the allegations.
The Daily Mail put it on its front page as “REVEALED: Plot to drive out equality chief who’s standing up for women”.
The second story is about a teacher, Joshua Sutcliff, who was dismissed by two consecutive schools for very serious professional misconduct. He directed pupils to a video he’d made claiming Muhammad was a “false prophet” and to his website that railed against abortion, homosexuality and Islam. He also committed a clear breach of safeguarding rules by talking about a pupil on national television in a way that made the pupil clearly identifiable. That alone is enough reason to fire him and prevent him from working with children ever again.
The Telegraph has reported this as “Teacher who ‘misgendered’ pupil banned from profession”. The details of what he was actually banned for – multiple cases of unacceptable professional conduct with no remorse or apology – are hidden behind a paywall, so most people won’t see them. As is so often the case with extremist bullies, he is represented by the Christian Legal Centre. [Update, 24 hours later: the teacher is now appearing on TV claiming that “all sin” – adultery, homosexuality etc – “deserves the death penalty.” Nice guy!]
One of the problems with this kind of thing isn’t just that it’s a complete reversal of reality. It’s that so much of the broadcast news agenda is dictated by the press, and in particular by articles like these. So there will be phone-ins about the woke mob coming after the equalities chair, and about a teacher getting the boot for a mere one-off misgendering, when neither of those things are true. But they won’t be corrected, and the broadcasters will spread the DARVO more widely. And so the moral panic continues.