Thu 17 Jan 2013
Über cyber bully Jane-Anne Hobbs could not have foreseen how her abusive bully and blackmail Tweet about us relative to Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Skye Grove, Abigail Donnelly, and Michael Olivier would boomerang so badly against the very Tweeters she wanted to protect! More than 2500 persons have read our blogpost to date.
Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly has kept a low profile throughout the Hobbs Twitter abuse campaign, which included a threat issued by Hobbs that she would unfollow anyone who was seen to interact with us on Twitter. Mrs Donnelly clearly did not think that all her sins of restaurant judging bias would be divulged once again, and must have been very annoyed with Hobbs for having them dished up again. Cape Town Tourism CEO Mrs Helmbold has also been low key, in showing little reaction to the furore the Tweet caused, focusing on her Mommy Tweeting instead! Michael Olivier took serious offence to our job description of his supermarket wine promotion. Perhaps he would prefer to be called a Social Media Smous, hounding wine estates for a package which includes Tweets and blog write ups by him as well as some radio mentions, in return for a hefty fee!
The surprise is the reaction by Cape Town Tourism PR and Communications Manager Skye Grove, who used the Cape Town Tourism legal firm Webber Wentzel to send us a letter about our blogpost about the Hobbs Twitter abuse, about what is essentially a personal issue about Ms Grove’s partner preference. In the blogpost we highlighted that Ms Grove pushes the pink agenda on Cape Town Tourism’s website and in her Tweets on behalf of the company, but it was carefully worded as ‘personal gender preference Tweets’. Despite Ms Grove regularly Tweeting about her personal partner preference, we have never referred to it directly or given her a label relating to it. She must be so sensitive to it that she read much more into it than was intended. It must have been a comment by a Maria to the blogpost that really made Ms Grove see pink!
Cape Town Tourism’s lawyers must have been poorly briefed, in their poor wording about blogging in their letter, clearly having no understanding of Social Media. They disparagingly allege that some comments could be written by ourselves using ‘pseudonym/s’, obviously the absurd perception of Ms Grove. If we can write what we like in the front end of our blogpost on the blog, why on earth would we want to create different personas in the Comments section to say even more. We have been known to be honest and direct in what we write, and do not need to hide behind false names. The lawyers claim that we have ‘addressed or alluded to the apparent sexual orientation of Ms Grove’. As stated above, we have never declared nor hinted at Ms Grove’s partner gender preference on this blog. Pink tourism is an important part of the marketing of Cape Town, but Cape Town Tourism should not push one agenda more than another. Even if the reader may have read a partner gender preference into any of our words, there was no disparagement communicated nor should this have been hurtful to Ms Grove, given her open admission on Twitter of her partner gender preference, which is her right to do. The letter states that alleging that Ms Grove has pushed the pink agenda ‘is damaging to her good name and reputation’!
We question why Ms Grove has sought legal support from Cape Town Tourism’s lawyers, a letter costing in the order of R20000, and which the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism members, and its ratepayers are funding, when it is a personal matter. This must have received the blessing of her CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, a surprise given how short of budget Cape Town Tourism is, as the City of Cape Town removed a few million Rand from their budget, and which may lead to staff retrenchments! Two years ago Ms Grove (with Olivier) tried to close down our blog via our then website hosting company Hetzner, but we moved the website to an American hosting company to prevent this. Ms Grove has not held back at opportunities to disparage us on Social Media platforms in the past!
The lawyers have demanded that we delete the ‘insulting, offensive, demeaning and defamatory’ entries on our blog which refer to Ms Grove’s personal gender preference, but as there are none, there is nothing to remove. They have demanded a written undertaking that we will desist from publishing further comments about Ms Grove’s partner preferences in future, to which we reply via this blogpost. We have also been instructed to action their demands ‘without any editorial comment on your part or any reference to this letter or any other correspondence’. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right, and therefore we have written this blogpost, also to prove how Cape Town Tourism mismanages its City funds for personal agendas! The threat of not adhering to Ms Grove’s demands is to ‘consider instituting urgent interdictory proceedings for the necessary relief’, and to make us liable for ‘additional damages’! Furthermore Ms Grove ‘reserves her right to pursue civil and/or criminal action against you and “Maria’ should you fail to comply with her above demands’. One wonders if Ms Grove can afford the threatened legal action, or whether the Cape Town ratepayers and members of Cape Town Tourism will have to fund it too!
NOTE: We will not allow any Comments which are abusive to Ms Grove or ourselves in reaction to this blogpost.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio : www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage