Press seek to publicly shame doctor. We must push back.


I don’t like to interrupt first thing Monday morning, but we've just become aware of a case where we think immediate and overwhelming attention could help turn the tide. It involves someone I’ve long followed on Twitter with the handle @MomoStJohn.

I followed Momo because of tweets that seemed reassuringly well-informed on issues raised by anti-vaxxers and others suspicious of conventional medicine. There were also many sensible comments and corrections in debates about the collapse of morale and service capacity in our health system. I’ve just learned that she is a senior practitioner and is employed by Te Whatu Ora.

Momo needs your help.

But helping to protect her from media and employer oppression could also help turn the tide in favour of other health sector people who want to be able to tell the truth without fear of cancellation.

For years, Momo has had an anonymous Twitter account where she could express thoughts on issues without causing what employers could claim was embarrassment, and to avoid trouble for colleagues. She needed to keep her identity confidential.  

Over years of seeing her tweets, I remember nothing offensive. Her opinions  seemed informed and interesting. Sometimes they were blunt (i.e expressed crisply) but Twitter is not a medium for pompous euphemisms.

From what we explain below, there may have been support for gender-critical feminism (perhaps the view that “what is a woman” has had a simple answer since forever) and probably some expression of the widespread medical professional revulsion at rationing medical care on the basis of race, instead of clinical need and usefulness. I recall nothing that any rational professional should be ashamed of.  

But last week, someone complained to Te Whatu Ora that Momo was saying things they disagreed with. I saw Momo’s announcement that she was closing her twitter account and then scores of followers tweeting best wishes and regret at the loss.

A journalist at Stuff, Jody O'Callahan 'with a focus on Maori affairs and diversity' found out who Momo was and sent this message: 

'Issues with your social media activity' should read: 'We've found 'wrongthink' on your anonymous account.' Then, two fake questions which are essentially dodgy allegations around statements assuming guilt.

The message is nothing more than 'We are going to publicly denounce you.'

The fake questions are framed to allow the branding of any careful and accurate answer as denialism, or equivocation, in the classic 'have you stopped beating your wife?' genre.

In response, Momo released a statement which read: 

What's the story here? 

If there is any story to follow O’Callaghan’s fake questions, they must depend on one or more of the following:

(1) The idea that it is “unsafe” to allow doctors to practice if they still believe in the science they learned and rely on, which denies that men can become women if they want; or

(2) It may be safe to allow doctors to practice while not believing in the new ruling dogma on gender as long as they never express their doubts about the new faith publicly; or

(3) That someone who believes that racism in rationing healthcare is wrong will be dangerous to patients who would ‘benefit’ from getting a race pass to the front of the queue; or

(4) There is nevertheless some technique or way for a doctor who believes that racism in health care is wrong to “ensure” that their opposition to racism won’t “sway how” [they] treat [their] patients.”

All the likely interpretations of the fake questions make them disgracefully silly for the journalist 'asking' them.

In reality, the story is a story only for those believe it is OK for employers to use their power to stop doctors working if they don’t believe, or at least pretend to believe, in the recently imposed Wellington official faiths in race preferences and non-binary gender. 

This is a very dangerous takeover of state powers. It treats the idea of the tolerant secular state, which drove the NZ Bill of Rights Act protections of freedom of opinion and freedom of speech, as quaint anachronisms – to be ignored. .

Ms Callaghan and her enablers in Stuff need to answer some questions themselves – genuine ones this time.

Are doctors not allowed to have opinions themselves? What opinions are forbidden? What if until recently discrimination was considered wrong? At what stage should people with newly-'sinful' views be considered to have become dangerous? Who will decide? Have you asked the patients – what if they still want doctors who have the courage to resist ideolo]gical bullies? Have you asked if the trans and Maori you pretend to care about should get a choice? As a journalist are you worried if it becomes routine for people to hide their views – because your questions seem to rely on an assumption that things could be fine if the 'sinful' thoughts had been harbored unsaid.”  

There are scores more pertinent questions to put to Ms. Callaghan and Stuff.

Have you another line of views and jobs that can’t be mixed? Where is your evidence that the views you are trying to smoke out, are associated with risks? How will you ensure that your views wont sway and bias the “news” you supply to the people who rely on Stuff to be informed? Are you perpetuating mistrust among those of us who seek objective and factual reporting?"

We just want to give you your opportunity to have a say.”

You will be able to think of many more.

Now is the time to smoke out the journalists who want to doxx doctors who don't share their totalitarian ideological faith. Please send Ms Callaghan and Stuff your questions. We have written directly with some.

Stuff should not be allowed to get away with doxxing medical staff for 'wrongthink'? Our professionally conducted annual survey of academic freedom shows the pervasive fear now in our Universities; that a career-ending mistake could come from incautious expression of doubt in the current Wellington orthodoxy.

Let’s fight this spread into medicine. Actions like this are why Kiwis self-censor and feel unfree to speak (or think) for themselves. We need to stand up for the right of this medical practitioner to hold opinions others don't like, and push back. 

What you can do: 

Contact Jody O'Callaghan at [email protected]. If you're on Twitter, her handle is: @miss_jodyo 

Kamala Hayman is also the editor of The Press, which is the Stuff outlet O'Callaghan works for. You can copy her in too: [email protected]. Her Twitter handle is: @kamala_hayman

Remind them that in a free country people like Momo in the caring professions have every right to hold opinions others disagree with, and to express them publicly. Hit jobs like this are the reason many feel like they need to hide behind anonymous accounts on Twitter to say anything at all. Do we wonder why only 42% of Kiwis trust mainstream media?

The Free Speech Union entirely endorses the crucial role of the 4th Estate and the freedom of the press. Media are supposed to perform a vital function to enable free speech and democracy. Yet, actions like those being attempted by O'Callaghan and Stuff are the opposite of this. They now use this freedom to seek out people with diverse thoughts and target them for not holding the approved line. 

I hope you will join us today in pushing back against this nonsense. 

Stephen Franks

Stephen Franks
Council Member 

Free Speech Union

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    published this page in Blog 2023-10-06 13:05:12 +1300

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