Trial By Sophistry: Marilyn Manson Subjected To Opportunistic Sensationalism
A recent column from Scott Rowley of Metal Hammer resorts to sophistry, slander and trolling - dishonestly presented as valid journalism.
In the 10 Questions We Would Like Marilyn Manson To Answer, media troll Scott Rowley presents the public with a number of accusations pretending to be authentic questions about Manson’s past relationships and potential abuse. This is not how journalism is done.
If you suspect an aggression has occurred, as a journalist, it is your job to provide several pieces of convincing evidence against the aggressor, and present them as factual information. This puts the burden of proof on the journalist, just as a prosecutor would have to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, as a standard ethical and legal practice. This is not how Scott Rowley chose to investigate some potentially alarming connections he drew from Manson’s past.
Instead the yellow journalist posed his accusations as questions, without any evidence; which simultaneously placed the idea of Manson as abuser in the mind of his audience while simultaneously being irresistible clickbait. There is absolutely no journalistic integrity, or ethical standard, in conducting yourself this way. Especially not when the topic is a high stakes game with emotionally driven content that can destroy a person’s reputation and opportunities forever.
This was character assassination for the sake of product sales and career advancement, done with nihilistic sophistry of a troll. Even worse, it appropriates the narrative of abuse against women for the benefit of an ambitious male media figure. And an editorial decision to use ‘we’ in the title makes Metal Hammer, and their parent publication Louder, just as culpable in this heinous, opportunistic slander.
I honestly do not know if Manson is guilty of the things these insinuations accuse him of, and I will not speak on behalf of his innocence or guilt. Regardless, if he was abusive towards women, responsible journalists or investigators would need to meet certain standards before presenting their suspicions to the public.
Even more damning is that Scott Rowley is not alone this behavior. It has become a conversational norm in social media, and the modus operandi of unscrupulous media figures who thrive on intentional misinformation. The format of a question does not justify any spurious insinuations, accusations or implications contained within the question. ‘?’ — does not make a statement neutral of judgment or slander. The internet has made us all too used to saying terrible things, hidden in some guise which allows the user to declare themselves innocent-by-indirectness. Indirect statements tend to be just as effective in public forums in influencing audience perception. If you want to say something accusatory or nasty, have the integrity and courage to just say it, but do not pretend there is any way whatsoever you can present those attacks as neutral. Cowardice, denial and self-delusion are neither dignified nor honorable shields from which to launch your weaponized rhetoric.