It makes sense that journalists and editors give big stories a name. It makes headlines easier and means they can be referred to easily. Children overboard. Iguanagate. Nipplegate. But when the name is wrong – as it is in the Matthew Johns case – it affects how people understand the story.
Having spent yesterday checking out reader comments on news websites, about 80 per cent of them are along the lines of “she consented, group sex isn’t illegal, what’s the problem?” followed by many nasty names for the woman who appeared on Four Corners. (Reading the transcript, it’s appalling that the coach of the Newcastle Knights is using the term “risk taker” to justify bad behaviour off the field. Get a grip man.)
Calling it the “Matthew Johns group sex scandal” implies that the scandal is that he had group sex. It should be called the “Matthew Johns group sex consent scandal” – because the issue here is over consent, and both sides disagreeing over consent, and that if you consent to sex with one or two people, it doesn’t mean you’ve consented to sex with the ten big rugby league players who climbed in through the bathroom window to rub their penises in your face and jack off while waiting their turn.
The other thing is Johns’ repeated comment that at no time did she say no. At a guess, I’d say at no time did any of these 12 blokes ask if it was ok.