The Culture of Complaint
Complaint culture can damage lives, shatter families and ruin enterprise. However, while complainants can cash in with little risk, it is set to only get worse.
Here's a question for you. If you see something you don't like do you make an official complaint about it?
I expect many of us would say "it depends". It depends on how deep the offence is considered to be and whether you have something better to do with your time than just whinge to some authority.
Many years ago I recall being invited to a constituent's home where I noticed a pad with the phone numbers of all the major television stations. It turned out they were there, always ready, so the couple could make instant calls of complaint.
I thought it odd at the time and still do.
However the culture of complaint is everywhere now. Few would call the media directly but they will fire off all sorts of objections via electronic means.
Some are more organised, orchestrating campaigns to stop the things they don't like by calling for boycotts, divestment or sanctions. These can be just and reasonable but often they are just partisan political operations.
There are even the 'professional' complainers who seem to make a living finding fault. One homosexual activist in NSW has lodged dozens of actions with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal claiming offence taken at the words of others.
One victim, blogger Bernard Gaynor, has been the subject of more than 36 complaints for daring to express a view that doesn't accord with Burns' world view. You can add Israel Folau, Jeff Kennett and a brain-damaged former taxi driver to the targets burned by Burns.
It seems this could be a full time job for one man.
Why would anyone go down this path?
It may well be a matter of principle. Or it could be just malicious and designed to make someone else's life miserable.
Who knows, it could even be about money.
You see, it costs nothing to lodge a complaint of the type mentioned above, nor is there a penalty of costs if the claim is lost. However, if the claim is upheld, the filer can be awarded up to $100,000 in compensation.
For complainants there is no financial downside but the potential for a windfall money judgment. Talk about incentivising the grievance process.
On the other side though, defending the case is expensive. It takes time, legal advice and money to prepare a response to even the most spurious allegation.
It really is a case of the process is the punishment and it can be commenced for even the slightest of slights.
Back in 2018, The Australian newspaper reported on the complaint Burns' filed against entertainer Rob Mills.
Burns had complained about an Instagram image Mills re-posted after the 2014 AFL grand final, of a Hawthorn Hawks figurine standing against a bent-over Sydney Swans character. Burns said that by publishing the “pernicious image”, Mills had “publicly ridiculed homosexual men and portrayed them as being sick, perverted and dirty”.
Mills says he was shocked by the complaint because he is outspoken in championing LGBTI rights and it was a “silly retweet”.
He says the complaint process was “pretty stressful” for a few months, but he resolved it with legal advice from a friend, and by writing a letter of apology to Burns.
What sort of a society have we become when a tweet of footy figurines becomes a rationale for a 'being offended' case. Worse still is the fact that these complaints are taken seriously by government funded bodies.
You may think these battles are just fought by the activists in the culture wars but it is creeping more and more into everyday life.
This week the police were called to a house in Adelaide over a halloween display .
Apparently the ghosts in the display conjured up images of the KKK which was too much for one neighbour who decided to call the police.
It just goes to show offence depends on how you want to look at things. Here's a pic of the offensive Halloween display.
Let me know what you think, but please, don't call the blog police. I've got better things to do....but then again, I am sure you do too.