An offensive joke about domestic violence has been pulled from a regional Queensland news website and the publisher has issued an unreserved apology.
- The newspaper’s editor issued a statement, later deleted, saying he reused a joke from a 2007 edition while working early in the morning.
- The apologetic editor said the editor was “advised” on the matter
- A domestic violence activist said the media was setting the tone for “what is normal” in society, while State Deputy Deb Frecklington called the joke “very offensive”.
In its August edition, South Burnett’s Murgon Moments newspaper, available digitally and in print, ran a joke implying that a woman who kept quiet would not become a victim of domestic violence.
The digital edition has since been republished without the joke after an outcry from readers and Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman.
“It’s not a joke,” she said.
“It’s a stark reminder of how far we still have to go.
“Already this month there have been reports of several women losing their lives to domestic and family violence in Queensland alone.”
The newspaper is published by the Murgon Business and Development Association, which posted an apology on the website.
“The Murgon Business and Development Association Incorporated finds the joke of the month unacceptable, inappropriate and offensive,” the association wrote.
“On behalf of the Murgon business community, we offer our unreserved apologies.
“The publisher has been advised and the current edition of Murgon Moments has been withdrawn.”
Domestic Violence Action Center executive director Amy Carrington said the joke normalized criminal behavior and sought to justify a man’s decision to physically assault a woman.
“Given the real severity of domestic and sexual violence in our communities, this is no joke,” she said.
Editor response removed
Editor Leo Geraghty briefly posted a statement in response on the newspaper’s website, but it was later deleted.
“To my dear readers, I’m sorry you found this offensive,” the statement read.
“Perhaps it would be best to remove all snippets that were once classified as jokes from Murgon Moments, which I have voluntarily done for the past 190 issues.
“Perhaps doing the copy for print at one o’clock in the morning, I should have been more careful about what I included instead of including jokes from the 2007 edition.”
Mr Geraghty has been contacted by the ABC for comment.
Councilor Kathy Duff defended Mr Geraghty.
“Leo is an absolute community champion,” she said.
“He’s been doing the Murgon Moments for as long as I can remember.
“I know there was absolutely no intention and it was just an oversight.
“He would be devastated to think someone took it the wrong way – it was an absolute oversight and not a bad intention.”
‘Adjust what is normal’
Ms Carrington said the incident was an important reminder that domestic abuse was a serious issue.
“It’s really important that our media understand that what they publish defines what is normal in our society and what is acceptable,” she said.
“If we’re going to change the landscape to end gender-based violence in a generation, the media is key to helping change that story.”
Nanango State Member Deb Frecklington said she was appalled by the comments.
“It’s very offensive, inappropriate and there is absolutely no place in our society for this kind of commentary on women,” she said.
Ms Frecklington said she had been made aware of the incident by concerned community members and had been in contact with the publisher.
Ms Frecklington advertises with the publication and said she would continue to support local regional media.