The Bester Interview

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Nina Funnell maliciously edited and circulated a video Bettina had made with a Tasmanian teacher, Nicolaas Bester, who had been imprisoned for having sex with a student, Grace Tame.

Bettina made that video after Bester was released from prison and a local judge spoke out condemning the vigilante campaign being conducted by local feminists trying to stop him completing a PhD at the University of Hobart – a campaign prompted by Funnell’s group End Rape on Campus.

It was this group’s vigilante campaign against Bester that led Bettina to decide to do the interview because she agreed with the judge that Bester had a right to resume his normal life after completing his prison sentence.

Bettina made it very clear in that interview that she condemned Bester’s behaviour and got him to agree he deserved to be sent to prison. The interview then discussed the facts of the case. See here the relevant section of the judgement.

Funnell’s malicious use of that interview

Nina Funnell edited the YouTube video Bettina made with Bester, distorting what was said to present her in the most damaging way. That maliciously edited video has been shown dozens of times on mainstream media, accompanying article written by Funnell attacking Bettina.

Here is the full interview with Bester.

Here is one of the many articles written by Funnell, where she presents cherry-picked sections of the interview to wrongly label Bettina being sympathetic to a rapist.

Ms Funnell selectively edited the video and quoted Bettina out of context to ignore her condemnation of Bester’s actions and show her in the worst possible light:

  • Funnell states, ‘Ms Arndt accused the girl of engaging in “sexually provocative behaviour”’. In fact, Bettina made no direct accusation, but rather stated, “Here we have an example where evidence of the girl’s sexually provocative behaviour was presented to the judge”.

The misleading, edited video clip implies Bettina is talking about this specific case at that point because it then cuts straight to her saying, “The question that remains for me is whether there is any room in this conversation for talking to young people – particularly young girls – about behaving sensibly and not exploiting their seductive power to ruin the lives of men”, leaving out her comments before that (13’39” into the full video), namely:

  • “Over the years I’ve spoken to many male teachers about sexually provocative behaviour from female students. Sensible teachers of course run a mile from these girls but the teachers are still really vulnerable because they can be easily subject to false accusations if they reject or offend the young woman in question.
  • Now I’m not saying this for one minute absolves Niccolaas of total responsibility for what he did. He deserved to be punished. We must have laws preventing children and young people from sexual exploitation by people in positions of authority.”
  • Funnell’s writing goes on to further misrepresent Bettina with the following:
    • ‘and she laughed while discussing Bester’s second conviction for producing child exploitation material,saying, “I can imagine how easily this happens” (Bester used Facebook to describe Ms Tame’s behaviour, which the courts ultimately found constituted production of child exploitation material)’.
    • What Bettina actually said was, “You did something else pretty stupid, and I can imagine how easily this happens”, when Bester explained he posted this material on Facebook  when he was drunk and provoked by “trolls” (refer video at 5’15”). Bettina was of course laughing about how easy it is in general to post something stupid on social-media when one is drunk and provoked, rather than laughing about what Bester specifically did.

See further evidence on Funnell’s campaign against Bettina, compiled for the Press Council after complaints were made about Funnell’s unethical journalism.

Funnell orchestrates campaign to rescind Bettina’s Honour

When Bettina received her honours award on Australia Day 2020, Funnell immediately started circulating her damaging material to discredit Bettina, recruiting high profile people to come on board.

One of the people demanding the award be rescinded was Grace Tame, Bester’s victim. Funnell had been responsible for organising a successful campaign to allow Tame to speak publicly as a sex victim (removing a law introduced by feminists some 40 years earlier to protect the identity of sex victims).

When Tame was allowed to speak out, she joined Funnell in presenting misinformation about Bettina’s video with Bester, circulating Funnell’s heavily edited version of that interview.

As soon as Grace Tame became Australian of the Year she continued to attack Bettina, most recently as part of a concerted campaign to damage the Coalition government.

Another key aspect of Ms Funnell’s campaign against me relates to a legal case of the statutory rape of then 15-year old Ms Grace Tame (aka “Jane Doe”) by then 58-year old Mr Nicolaas Bester, whom I interviewed in a video published in 2019, in response to a judge speaking out about “vigilante justice” that Bester was being subjected to after serving his time in jail (see here).  This reason for my interview was acknowledged in the New Matilda article of 28/1/2020 (for which she was only a co-author) but omitted in her similar attacks on me in news.com.au articles of 22/8/19 (see here) and 27/1/2020, where she cherry-picked sections of the interview to wrongly label me as being sympathetic to Bester as a rapist (see below).

In her attacks on me for my interview with Mr Bester, Ms Funnell selectively edited the video and quoted me out of context to ignore my condemnation of Bester’s actions and show me in the worst possible light:

  • Both the New Matilda and news.com.au articles say, ‘Ms Arndt accused the girl of engaging in “sexually provocative behaviour” ’. In fact I made no direct accusation, but rather stated the fact of, “Here we have an example where evidence of the girl’s sexually provocative behaviour was presented to the judge” (although having seen court evidence I can say this is indeed fact.The distinction is important when my subsequent commentary was actually about such situations in general, rather than this specific case.

But the misleading, edited video clip implies I am talking about this specific case as it then cuts straight to me saying, “The question that remains for me is whether there is any room in this conversation for talking to young people – particularly young girls – about behaving sensibly and not exploiting their seductive power to ruin the lives of men”, leaving out my comments before that (13’39” into the full video), being:

  • “Over the years I’ve spoken to many male teachers about sexually provocative behaviour from female students. Sensible teachers of course run a mile from these girls but the teachers are still really vulnerable because they can be easily subject to false accusations if they reject or offend the young woman in question.
  • Now I’m not saying this for one minute absolves Niccolaas of total responsibility for what he did. He deserved to be punished. We must have laws preventing children and young people from sexual exploitation by people in positions of authority.
  • New Matilda goes on to further misrepresent me with the following:
    • ‘and she laughed while discussing Bester’s second conviction for producing child exploitation material,saying, “I can imagine how easily this happens” (Bester used Facebook to describe Ms Tame’s behaviour, which the courts ultimately found constituted production of child exploitation material)’.
    • This fails to disclose that when I laughed I said, “You did something else pretty stupid, and I can imagine how easily this happens”, when Bester explained he posted this material on Facebook  when he was drunk and provoked by “trolls” (refer video at 5’15”).I was of course laughing about how easy it is in general to post something stupid on social-media when one is drunk and provoked, rather than laughing about what Bester specifically did.