Trial by media? No, thank you. It's hard to imagine anyone when presented with the option of trial by judge or jury, opting for a third option: "Ah may it please your Honour, I'd like to elect trial by media please."
That nightmare sprang to mind when I read Alison Mau in another newspaper announce they were setting up their own investigative, um… tribunal… to prosecute the #metoo campaign. Already I am at a loss as to how to describe it. A campaign? A witch-hunt? An initiative?
One of the reasons Mau gave for pursuing this idea was the "radio silence" in New Zealand following the Harvey Weinstein allegations. Well, I'm not so sure about that, but you will have to make up your own mind as to whether this issue has been frequently reported and discussed around New Zealand. I believe it has.
Perhaps the "radio silence" really means the absence of a prominent New Zealand Weinstein, hung, drawn and quartered as an example to the rest.
There are two questions to consider. Firstly, whether the #metoo movement needs a headquarters at all. And is a media organisation the right forum through which to investigate and prosecute these issues? To the first question I believe the answer is no. To the second, a resounding NO.
I would have thought the #metoo movement is something that has become part the zeitgeist. It reflects a change in attitude in society's conscience. To the creeps and predators it says, your time is up. And to victims it provides reassurance that they live in a society where their concerns will be taken seriously.
Again, without citing chapter and verse, I think you have been hiding under a rock to be unaware of reports and discussions throughout conventional and social media, to think that this issue isn't prominent in people's minds.
In a recent defence of the campaign Mau made reference to death threats received by an Australian journalist and "toxic" criticism. I am sure opposition to this idea has taken many forms. But not all criticism is toxic. It may just be, well, criticism.
Many are concerned that the campaign may amount to a witch-hunt. Will it be about justice, or revenge? The mere fact that the campaign is backed by a large media organisation does not exactly fill me with confidence, when it comes to balancing the rights and needs of an accuser, against the rights of the accused. Confidentiality is assured for accusers/victims. What about protection for the accused before their names are posted up for a pelting?
Oh, that's right, you have the laws of defamation to protect you. Just mortgage the house for legal fees and you'll be right. We are to be assured that there will be team of lawyers looking over shoulders to ensure Mau and her colleagues get everything right. At risk of pointing out the obvious – they are lawyers, not judges. They are there to provide advice and protection to their clients. Not the other side.
Indeed, much has been made of the size of the organisation behind this. Make no mistake. If you are on the wrong side of this, you are up against a very large organisation which seems to be setting itself up as judge, jury and executioner. Or as my auto-spell correct would have had it, "Judge Judy" and executioner.
And since when did the media or indeed social media demonstrate a sense of proportionality when it comes to meting out punishment. Accusation is led swiftly by condemnation with any defence or mitigation drowning in its wake. Oh yes, let's leave it to Twitter.
None of this is meant to diminish the rights of victims. And I am delighted that the #metoo movement means my daughters will be growing up in a world where they far less likely to have to put up with moronic or predatory behaviour and discrimination.
But if you are victim of a sexual assault – talk to the police. If you are a victim of discrimination or bullying, talk to a lawyer, the union, human resources department, a friend. Maybe even try the Human Rights Commission, but given that the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Jackie Blue, has endorsed the Mau campaign, perhaps she feels they aren't up to it themselves.
And yes, if you want to go public, there is a role for the media as well. Journalists have always been there, reporting stories of injustice. I'm just not convinced that this juggernaut should be your first port of call.
• Tim Beveridge is a host on Newstalk ZB.