all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

14 June, 2013

Onus Probendi

At The Drum, in “Toxic week a taste of the election to come”, the irredeemably partisan Barrie Cassidy, in yet another assuete example of special pleading, writes of “a disgustingly sexist and offensive mock menu related to a Liberal Party fund-raising dinner”:
The Coalition released an email from the author of the menu, the owner of the restaurant, who argued he had produced it as a joke, “never for public distribution.”  The email took the heat off Mal Brough, and by extension, Tony Abbott.
The explanation however, raised several points.  Firstly, why then did Mal Brough personally apologise for something that he now says, didn’t happen. That is, the menu was not circulated.  Secondly, why did it take so long for the explanation to emerge?  And finally how plausible is it anyway, that somebody would go to so much trouble producing such elaborate material just for the amusement of a few kitchen hands?
I companionably provided some likely explanations for Mr. Cassidy’s three points in a comment below his article:
1.  It was the decent and honourable thing to do.  Mr Brough, after his being presented with what he was told was a menu from his dinner (though he had not seen it), recognising that it had offended people, rightly apologised in the same way that Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard* apologised for actions by previous governments though they bore no direct responsibility.
2.  The man responsible for the fake menu was unaware, perhaps, of the whole kerfuffle for much of the day.  Would a quicker response be more credible?  I suspect you’d find a swift response even more suss.  Of course, if journalists had investigated the matter thoroughly before testifying to the credibility of the fake menu, no explanation at all would have been required to redress errors.
3.  How plausible is it that people will go to such trouble?  Very plausible.  We have marvellous modern gadgetry which makes that sort of drollery quite easy.  People sometimes spend many hours on an edited graphic, say, or an entire day just creating a fake Facebook group, merely for the amusement of themselves and, perhaps, a few strangers.
Another reader, AT, responded to my comment:
Okay, Deado, but using your own methodology for sussing things out, you'd have to concede you could just as easily construct an equally plausible scenario reaching the opposite conclusions;
1.  Brough didn’t apologise until it became an issue.  A decent man would’ve immediately issued an apology and distanced himself from the whole affair.
2.  The man responsible for the fake menu must’ve been aware his handiwork, his restaurant and his Liberal party fund-raising event was the biggest story of the day.  If his apology was sincere, he would have issued that apology immediately to staunch the damage his party is now experiencing.
3.  It’s totally implausible to believe a successful restaurateur hosting a high-profile fund-raiser for his political party would take time out from preparations to produce a joke-menu for the sole amusement of kitchen staff, none of whom have come forward to corroborate his story.
Whaddaya think?
The Drum has prevented the posting of further comments but, had I been free to supply a response, I should have written something like this:
1.  This point is a lie, based on accepting partisan and probably mischievously erroneous accounts.  Mr Brough did apologise at the first opportunity.  The burden of proof lies on those who doubt this to prove otherwise.
2.  This point makes an unproven assumption:  where is the evidence that Mr Richards, the restaurateur, “must have known”, and where is the evidence that he cared about damage to “his party”?  The burden of proof lies on those who doubt Mr Richards’ account to prove otherwise.
3.  This point is predicated on a baseless assumption that the fake menu was concocted during the preparations of the dinner. The burden of proof lies on those who assert this to prove it.
AT argues, in bad faith it seems, on the basis that Mr Brough has an obligation to provide a account which his enemies will consider plausible; that’s wrong.  The relevant legal maxim here is semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit—“the necessity of proving always lies on him who lays the charges”.  T
he PM and her minions and all others who doubt Mr Brough must either provide sound evidence that his account is false or accept his explanation.
For further information on the strange case of the non-existent but extremely offensive menu, see Paul Murray on Menugate”, Menugate – a story in tweets” and ABC still pushing menugateat Catallaxy Files.

*  as I wrote elsewhere, why did Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard personally apologise for the pain and suffering caused by previous governments’ policies?  Were they somehow involved in, say, stealing babies from single mothers, perhaps.

UPDATE Isee also SCOOP: ALP Menu Worse than LNP” and “Why Is Main-Stream Media Not on the Menu?” by W. Dallas Brooks:
When journalists lie, what hope have we got?  This past week has been a low point in five years of an ever descending waterline on conduct.  As the ALP and their main-stream media advocates drool, hiss and spit about a menu from a private Liberal Party function that was not even seen by Liberal Party MPs, they now refuse even to acknowledge the existence of a very real, and very offensive menu from a Labor function hosted in May.
UPDATE II:  despite the clear evidence that the supposedly offensive menu was fake, the PM’s feigned outrage and the partisan propaganda seems to be working; for example, see “A little spotted dick, anyone?”: 
That menu didn’t just insult Julia Gillard, it insulted every female in this country.  While I was facing indecision about where to cast my vote, after today I’m DAMN sure I know where I am NOT casting my vote.
UPDATE III (June 15)see “Chooks on the menu”, by Roger Franklin, at Quadrant Online:
On Tuesday night, a Brisbane chef re-tweeted the alleged menu from a Mal Brough fund-raiser held 10 weeks earlier.  We all know what happened next:  a document of dubious provenance, distributed by a nobody who had earlier said he would prefer to be “raped by an AIDS-infected pit bull” than see Abbott in The Lodge, and whose Facebook page reflects an enthusiasm for centrefold lesbianism,  was hailed as a champion of truth and women’s rights.  Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and Sinclair Davidson have all done forensic analyses of the so-called Menugate “scandal” and its timeline, and those who need a further reminder of why election reporting by Fairfax and the ABC must be taken with a truckload of salt should visit their posts for a refresher course.

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