Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Dana Johannsen: When did free speech become an F-word?


Good taste goes downhill fast when freeski fans let fly.

Photo / AP
Photo / AP

I've recently been told I should "stick to netball, sweetie" when it comes to my columns. I say, f*** that.

Oh, beg your pardon, please excuse my language. You see, I've become a little desensitised to foul language of late. It tends to happen when you're subjected to abuse through email and social media that flooded in after my column last week on the behaviour of some of our athletes at the Winter Olympics.

In the past week I've been called a c***face, a c***bag, a c***whore (who knew the c-word was conjunctive?), a regular whore, a bitch, a f***ing slut - all without the courtesy of asterisks to soften the blow.

I've been told if I ever drive through Ohakune I'll need a police escort, that if I ever show my face on a mountain there'll be people lining up to "slash your face full of ice, bitch". The bitch part was for emphasis, I think. Another suggested that rather than waiting for me to come to him, he should find out where I live as he is going for his gun licence and I would be useful target practice.

To which one of our Kiwi athletes in Sochi responded - "LEGEND!"

Some have suggested my column was a reaction to being sex deprived, while others speculated maybe I was going through a divorce. I've been told I need "a penis in her mouth or a ski pole through her brain".

Another helpfully offered to send me a dildo catalogue. Presumably they think the sex hormones will cloud my brain enough to offer our Winter Olympians my blind, unquestioning support.

But where it gets really confusing for this "silly little girl" is if any of my male colleagues in the media agreed with any of the sentiments expressed in the column or came out in my defence, the conclusion was reached that I must be bonking them. As there have been a fair few of them, that tends to contradict the whole sex-deprived theory, I would have thought.

Then as we've seen in countless instances before this, common sense, or even common decency, is not something that prevails on "social" media. While an extremely democratic forum, social media has also played a part in shutting down free speech because people are increasingly afraid to speak their mind for fear of the inevitable backlash.

But that is enough sermonising from me, instead I'll leave you with an exercise.

Ask yourself this: If you were sitting around with a group of people watching the Blues on Saturday night and someone happened to mention that the team appeared to be playing without passion and energy and you disagreed, in what world would it be okay to respond "f*** off you f***ing c***face"?

Debate on this article is now closed. Readers are reminded to keep their comments to a publishable standard.

- NZ Herald

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Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Dana has more than a decade's experience in sports journalism, joining the Herald in 2007 following stints with TVNZ and RadioSport. Over that time Dana has covered several major events including the 2011 Netball World Cup in Singapore, 2011 Rugby World Cup, 2012-13 Volvo Ocean Race, and the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. A multi-award winning journalist, Dana was named New Zealand Sports Journalist of the Year in 2012 after scooping both the news and feature categories at the TP McLean Awards. The previous year she picked up the prize for best news break. She was also an inaugural recipient of the Sir John Wells scholarship at the 2009 NZSJA awards. Dana also writes a weekly sports column for the NZ Herald.

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