John Laws, please stop bullying sexual assault victims

Dear John,

I get it. You’re a talkback host.

It’s your job to create conflict, feed on fear and value the visceral.

This seems to have served you well for some sixty years.


But now – in your golden age, at your golden microphone – you choose to bully an elderly man who was sexually assaulted as a child.

From the start of yesterday’s interview on Radio 2SM, you can tell Brian’s nervous.

There’s something child-like about his confession, as if it’s been bottled up.

He’s fit to burst.

“I rang you up about being sexually assaulted when I was a kid,” he says.

“How old are you now?” you ask.

“80 years of age,” he replies.

“Took you a little while to get around to talk about it!” you laugh.

Yes, laugh. I find it challenging to comprehend these words, even as I type them.

Brian bites back, explaining his desperate attempts to tell police in the 1960s, then ’70s, what had happened to him at 11 and 14-years-old: “No one would do anything about it”.

He turns to you, a trusted voice on radio, for comfort, succour and support.

Instead, you kick him while he’s down: “I don’t quite understand why you didn’t lash out. You would have been a fairly big boy by that time!”

And, “Why didn’t you go to the police earlier?”

We know from the child sex abuse royal commission that this issue wasn’t taken seriously in the past.

One former headmaster at Knox Grammar – your alma mater – implied one victim wasn’t believed because “he was a drama boy”.

These attitudes are of an era.

But that’s no excuse for blaming the victim, for a full 14 minutes, live on air.

At precisely six minutes, Brian breaks down in tears, telling you he’s never found love in his life.

After a modicum of compassion, you try to claim credit.

“Maybe you feel a bit better having talked about it?” you ask.

“Not really,” Brian replies.

“Well, we’ve wasted each other’s time,” you respond, churlishly, before calling him a “wet blanket”.

In other words, “harden the fuck up”.

To top it off, you suggest he talks to someone at the Salvation Army. Because, really, the organisation has such a stellar history in this area.

Of course, this is not the first time you’ve belittled a victim of sexual assault.

In 2013, a vulnerable woman asked how she could “keep the dream alive”, despite being abused by five family members for almost 10 years from the age of six.

You joked about the offenders having “a good time with you”, before asking “Was it in any way your fault?”

“You weren’t provocative?” you continued. “Are you unattractive?”

When you give up radio – which I hope happens soon – you could have a second career as a psychologist. Your emotional intelligence is, well, uncanny.

I can’t wait to hear your opinion on the murder of Masa Vukotic, the 17-year-old school student stabbed to death in a Melbourne reserve, just before 7pm on Tuesday night.

Presumably, she was asking for it.

I’m sure you’re delighted by all of this attention, as you view the world through your crystal tumbler.

But it will take some time to clean up this toxic spill. (“Valvoline. Know what I mean?”)

Even your legendary golden tonsils can’t fight off this latest infection.

Because, guess what? It’s 2015. You can’t just lumber around, gnashing your teeth, like a demented dinosaur.

Your opinions will soon be extinct.

Yours sincerely,