Tony Veitch and wider concerns

I have concerns about Tony Veitch being announced as a feature of a new TV show, the way it was announced, and the reactionary campaign to have Veitch dumped. This is part of the wider phenomenon that is prevalent now of  publicly condemning anyone accused of abuse without waiting for proper process or justice.

Veitch was different, he had already been found guilty of serious assault on his partner (in 2008), but no matter what he does he seems to be forever condemned and ostracised.

I have concerns about to what extent someone’s past crimes or alleged crimes should continue to be held against them. I haven’t seen any sign of Veitch offending again – rehabilitation is supposed to be important.

This is complicated. Violence and sexual harassment need to be condemned and strongly discouraged, but a balance of fairness and innocent until found guilty needs to be found.

Colin Peacock (Media Watch):  Outcry foils Tony Veitch’s TV comeback

Tony Veitch’s critics claimed an effort to put him back on TV this week proved that the business doesn’t take domestic violence as seriously as its bottom line. But while many in the media have had his back in the past, it didn’t work this time.

Last Wednesday sportscaster Tony Veitch announced on Facebook he had “decided to get back on TV” as part of a “hard-hitting, opinion-led show that does not shy away from controversy”.

It was a poor choice of words that triggered a controversy and blew his TV comeback within a day.

It was a terrible choice of words. It could easily be construed as Veitch playing on his infamy to get publicity, or of Veitch deliberately trivialising his violent past.

In 2008, Veitch pleaded guilty to a serious assault on his partner which broke her back two years earlier. Citing stress and overwork, he admitted to “a grave misjudgement” and was fined and sentenced to community service.

He had also been charged with six other counts of assault, but pleaded guilty to just one charge in a pre-trial settlement. His police file  – released under the Official Information Act to Mediawatch and other media – detailed alleged abuse over a period of years and evidence of physical violence noticed by other people.

That sounds bad – but it was nine years ago and prior. Particularly given the amount of publicity and condemnation following that it is possible Veitch has reformed.

He was stood down from his jobs as a TVNZ sports news presenter and a radio host at the time, and he hasn’t been back on TV since then.

The plan was for him to appear on on upcoming Sky TV sports chat show.

“I’m so stoked to be back,” he told his Facebook followers on Wednesday.

That just stoked the fires of indignation among his critics whose opinion pieces rapidly hit the news websites – notably, all written by women.

“It’s time to get Tony Veitch off our screens forever and let talented people who aren’t abusers have a chance instead,” wrote Madeleine Holden on The Spinoff.

“As high-profile men accused of assault topple like a series of extremely sleazy dominoes,”  Vice.com’s Tess McClure wrote, with reference to the recent series of Hollywood sex abuse scandals, Tony Veitch would return to the small screen after “a half-apology, a few self-pitying Facebook posts, and a couple of years.”

Stuff.co.nz, columnist Kylie Klein Nixon had a similar riff.

“At a time when the rest of the world is making a big fuss over clearing house and taking names, we’re showing our true colours, sticking to our guns, and moving an offender who tried to hide his crime back into the penthouse where we clearly think he belongs,” she wrote.

They all make fair points – to an extent – but I have concerns about exaggerations and life time sentences.

Of course as a public figure Veitch could have done more to publicly show contrition and to condemn his past behaviour.

The question being asked was why Sky risked its own reputation by giving the divisive figure his own show.

Turns out they hadn’t. For what it’s worth, Tony Veitch was merely a guest lined up for episode one, according to Sky TV.

It seems that either Veitch played up his role, or when the shit hit the media fan Sky played it down.

“Tony has one of the very largest sports audiences in the country. We were looking for the leading sports broadcasters and Tony ticked that box,” said Sky.

He certainly does – and because of that his career has been rehabilitated bit-by-bit til now.

When Tony Veitch went back on air for Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB in 2011, it was controversial – but that passed.

For years now he’s been on air on Radio Sport for twelve hours each weekend without much protest, while also contributing to the New Zealand Herald.

In 2015, a New Zealand Herald campaign on family violence was undermined when the Herald on Sunday published a confessional piece by Tony Veitch headlined: Acceptance, Remorse, Recovery.

How the controversial Tony Veitch article appeared in the herald on Sunday last weekend.

That caused another short-lived controversy

In that Veitch said:

Poor judgment on my behalf changed so much that day and I apologise unreservedly for that.

To think of myself as a component of New Zealand’s horrendous family violence statistics is appalling to me. I have embarrassed my family, my Mum and Dad who taught me right from wrong and who taught me to be a good person.

I have distanced myself from cousins, aunties, uncles and from friends because of the shame I feel. They deserve better. I am not looking for sympathy; I accept what I have done and how wrong it was.

While I can’t change what happened that day, I have learned a huge lesson. I am a completely different person from the one I was that day. I breathe now, I don’t live to work. I have learned to understand my body, my triggers for stress and, most importantly, depression. I am constantly amazed at the number of people I come across, who, like me, suffer the effects of severe anxiety.

Some will say I was a coward for trying to take my life, maybe I was. But I have also learned until you are in that position you shouldn’t judge because no one knows how you feel but you.

In 2009 I pleaded guilty to one singular act which Judge Doogue said was not planned and that I was not a serial offender. I was sentenced to nine months’ supervision, 300 hours of community service and received a fine. Regardless, 10 years on from that misjudgment, I know and accept it will always be part of who I am.

I have never sought pity and I am not looking for it now. I just wanted a second chance. My employer gave me that chance, which I am forever grateful for.

Offenders should be allowed to get on with their jobs and their lives.

Every day what I have done casts a shadow over my future; when I walk into restaurants or my local service station of course I wonder what people are thinking when they look at me.

Perhaps I will never be free from being associated with family violence. I have accepted what I did was wrong and I reiterate there is no excuse for what I did.

Thankfully I am not that person any more and my promise to myself, but most importantly to every one of the people’s lives I changed that day, is that I will never be that person again.

That sounds like a fairly strong acceptance that what he did was wrong, and he sounds like he is taking some responsibility for his actions.

But he was strongly criticised for effectively dismissing allegations of other violence, apologising for just the one assault.

And he has periodically been criticised and ostracised since. Like this week.

Peacock:

Perhaps the most powerful opinion was one that addressed Tony Veitch himself.

“As a father who lost a daughter to violence, what you did to Kristin is horrifying, but even more so I condemn you for not taking the opportunity to set an example to all violent men,” wrote Mark Longley, the managing editor of Newshub digital, whose daughter was murdered by Eliot Turner in a violent rage in England in 2011.

Now that is hard-hitting.

And that was six years ago. I’m not sure what example is being demanded of Veitch.

He seems to have tried to put his past behind him.

But he overplayed his planned return to TV, and had a poor choice of words.

And the perpetual bashing machine hit hard. And succeeded in knocking Veitch down again.

I’m really not sure that this is doing much if anything to address the horrific levels of violence in New Zealand.

It’s easy to leap into print and join the chorus of condemnation every time Veitch does something different or tries to do something different.

It’s a lot harder to deal with the serious and ingrained strains of violence through our society. I doubt that Veitch setting “an example to all violent men” is going to achieve much to deal with that.

As long as Veitch doesn’t propose or excuse violence then perhaps he should be allowed to get on with his life, and those who continue to perpetrate and excuse violence should be the targets of more media attention.

Perhaps hose who continue to condemn Veitch could be setting much better examples themselves.

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13 Comments

  1. Trevors_elbow

     /  November 24, 2017

    Male violence has extreme consequences… we are larger, stronger and more aggressive on average than women. When we hit we cause damage, real damage. So the message is clear don’t do it.

    But, yes a but…… but women have violence issues as well. That is rarely raised. But it’s real. Their violence, both physical and verbal, is real as well. It causes real, lasting damage as well.

    Veitch was a nasty piece of work. He did what he did. It was unwarranted regardless of any provacation or circumstance. He paid. But obviously for some not enough. I’m unsure if the case was properly handled at the time… but it was dealt with by the justice system and he paid the price society set as his punishment. The ongoing campaign feels a little like bullying… which I thought we as a society didn’t condone?

    My advice to all males is just walk away. Leave. When you feel your self control ebbing leave. If you women pushes your buttons, leave and figure out how to remain in control. Manage yourself, because you can’t and shouldn’t manage her actions….. just leave.

    But, yes a but……but don’t accept physical abuse or verbal violence from the women in your life. If she won’t face her problems as you are prepared to face yours and grow together… then leave and don’t go back… leave… and.don’t.go.back.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  November 24, 2017

      good advice Trevor.Veitch still has a career,he should be thankful for that.I guess he will never live it down,unless he engages in some meaningful show of regret.He handled the situation in a very selfish…manner.

      Reply
  2. phantom snowflake

     /  November 24, 2017

    There’s so much more to Tony Veitch than the vicious, misogynistic thug he has been portrayed as. There’s this rather revealing comment about Serena Williams: “Do you know where the apes come from? She is a reminder.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10344087

    Reply
    • Precisely. Those in AKL who know him, either of his subsequent wives and or their families ( now estranged) agree with you. Simply put – there would not have been such an outcry and reaction was his bashing, kicking and back breaking incident genuinely seen as some sort of one-off incident rather than indicative of the character of a person.

      Smoke and fire are always together.

      Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  November 24, 2017

        Indeed. No sign of any genuine change of heart. His public statements are self-serving and come close to casting him as the victim. The narcissism is strong in this one…

        Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  November 24, 2017

        I certainly believe there are paths to redemption for those (men and women) who perpetrate domestic abuse, but through my telescope I don’t see Tony Veitch walking any of them.

        Reply
  3. Chuck Bird

     /  November 24, 2017

    There seems to be quite double standard when it comes female violence. I heard the [deleted] Ali on RadioLive accepting the killers story. Larry Wilson did more homework and checked the CoA view.

    The of course we have Gaye Oakes who murdered Doug Gardner. It was easy for her to make all sort of claims when her victim is dead.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-21/calls-for-woman-who-killed-abusive-partner-to-stay-in-australia/9134728

    Reply
    • Different issues but I can see your point.

      I always found Gay Oakes’ victim’s name a tad appropriate when you consider how and where the poor sod ( ahem) ended up

      Reply
  4. patupaiarehe

     /  November 24, 2017

    So here’s the thing… Keeping in mind the HDCA, if Tony were to be overwhelmed by the recent negative opinions voiced against him, and harmed himself because of them, wouldn’t several individuals be guilty under that act?

    Reply
  5. Bill Brown

     /  November 25, 2017

    Sadly for Tony he will be dogged by this for the remainder of his days

    I look at his actions and whilst he was charged , paid money and was convicted he at times still seems a bit of a guy who can’t quite grasp the reality of what’s gone on

    On the otherside what about Ms Dunne Powell? She struggles to hold jobs because of her actions – they are nothing to do with Tony, but all about her behaviour – perhaps if that’s reported it might at least show the type of gal she really is.

    There was a reason she left Vodafone and it was nothing to do with this

    Tony’s biggest regret will always be never going to trial – but it’s the biggest saviour for a few others with family

    Reply
  6. Liberty4NZ

     /  November 27, 2017

    As a domestic violence survivor, I find Veitch’s consequent marriages being of short duration, very telling. My ex had a long history of violence towards his significant others, – the things you find out later.

    Reply
  7. High Flying Duck

     /  November 27, 2017

    I had some sympathy for Tony Veitch being able to get on with his life after 10 years, but the article by Mark Longley was very persuasive.

    I wasn’t going to post it, but Bill’s comment above changed my mind.

    This is compulsory reading (posted in full):

    Opinion: My advice to Tony Veitch
    23/11/2017
    Mark Longley

    OPINION: Tony Veitch, back in the spotlight again – not for what he would have hoped for, but because of what he did to Kristin Dunne.

    The sports commentator, stupidly in my opinion, let it be known he is returning to TV on a Sky Sports show. You would have thought Sky has enough troubles without employing Veitch, who brings with him an avalanche of social media abuse every time he makes announcements like these. It looks like Sky has now come to its senses with the announcement it is “working on a new line-up”.

    Veitch, in his own words, has suffered since that night some 11 years ago when he kicked his partner Kristin Dunne so hard in the back it fractured. That is no mean feat, the force needed to crack a bone is substantial and not done easily.

    Veitch, who publicly said his actions shamed his family, must be wondering if New Zealand will ever move on from the horrific abuse he subjected Kristin to and let him get on with his career.

    Well we will Tony, and that time is when you stand up and take responsibility for what you did to Kristin. Apologise to her for the damage you caused both her and her family’s life. I know Kristin, not well, but our paths have crossed and she is a remarkable woman who has moved on from this. It’s you who seems unable to progress through it.

    What you did, according to her statement to police, was kick in her in the back so hard you fractured it. Then you denied responsibility, allegedly claiming she fell down the stairs. You then paid her off to keep quiet and, although your career was hit, you basically got away with it.

    A couple of years ago, when the Herald ran a series about domestic violence called We’re Better Than This, you issued a clumsy apology for what you did, which again set off an avalanche of abuse on social media.

    The problem was it was an apology, just not to Kristin and her family, but to your family and the people in your life who had been affected.

    You opened the statement by saying you were a man you could not control. You made a huge mistake, a grave misjudgement and you were truly sorry.

    Here is the issue Tony, and let me preface this by why I have some opinion on the matter. Six years ago the partner of my daughter Emily Longley went one step further than you and murdered her.

    He was in a rage and told the trial when he was convicted, she had driven him to it. She had made him angry and he had reacted. That he too had made a grave error of judgement.
    His name is Elliot Turner and even his mother Anita, in the stand, blamed my daughter for what had happened. Her murder came after a short, but sustained period of verbal, then violent abuse for which Turner never once accepted responsibility. It was, according to him, all Emily’s fault.

    I am sure Elliot Turner, as he lies in a cell contemplating what happened to him, still believes he has been hard done by and that Emily was to blame. I am not holding out much hope for an apology.

    One of the most common reasons a violent partner or parent gives is “they made me do it.” “If she hadn’t of made me so angry I wouldn’t have lost my temper.”

    The blame is put fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the victim, the woman, who is by now probably beaten into submission and believes it is her fault.

    This is an attitude in New Zealand – with our appalling family violence statistics – that needs to change. Losing your temper and being violent is a choice, not an excuse.

    It is not an excuse to hit a woman, child or anyone. Neither is being stressed or overworked as you alluded to.

    Don’t blame circumstances and don’t paint the assault as a one-off event, own up to the fact you, like many men in New Zealand, had a problem.

    That is what is needed Tony, a full and frank confession and evidence you are truly sorry for what you did to Kristin and her family.

    I am involved with an organisation called White Ribbon now and part of our message is to get men to take accountability for their actions, get help and change their behaviour. Part of that process is owning up to the fact they have a problem and seeking redemption from those they have been violent to. I am going to repeat that point because it is important, it is about owning up to the fact they have a problem, not the woman, not the child, but the man.

    You want redemption, you want to be able to rebuild your career and you want people to move on, well then atone for what you did.

    As a father who lost a daughter to violence, what you did to Kristin is horrifying, but even more so I condemn you for not taking the opportunity to set an example to all violent men. Own up to what you really did and ask for the forgiveness of Kristin and her family, not the people of New Zealand.

    Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub digital and a trustee of White Ribbon.

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/11/opinion-my-advice-to-tony-veitch.html

    Reply

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