On Monday the Sydney Morning Herald published a highly dubious piece on its opinion pages by its highly dubious columnist Paul Sheehan: The horrifying untold story of Louise. It was the story of an alleged 2002 rape/ bashing, by alleged Arabs (behind Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral of all places), of an alleged nurse known only as 'Louise'. Louise's 'experience', as related by Sheehan, was so horrific that it was reminiscent of a wartime enemy atrocity story.
Red flags, bells, and whistles abounded, unheard by Sheehan. Among them (in order of appearance):
1) Louise, having just completed back-to-back shifts at St. Vincent's Hospital, was too tired to drive home, and so decided to park her car in a secluded lane behind SMC, as you would, and sleep in it - without, unbelievably, locking the doors. Sheehan didn't ask about this elementary precaution.
2) The gang who dragged her from her car spoke "Arabic." Sheehan didn't ask how Louise knew it was Arabic.
3) One of the gang allegedly sodomised Louise whilst simultaneously cutting her throat with a knife. Sheehan didn't question either the Herculean strength or the - ahem - multi-tasking needed to accomplish this incredible feat.
4) Of the next lurid detail I will say only that while I've heard of synchronised swimming, I've never heard of synchronised, pinpoint urination.
5) "It was August 2002." I see. How convenient that the alleged atrocity should fit neatly within the 2001-06 timeframe of Sheehan's book 'Girls Like You.'
6) Sheehan writes that: "After I gave a speech at a gathering at NSW Parliament, I was approached by someone who told me that hers [Louise's] was a story that had never been told, given that I had written Girls Like You..." Sheehan doesn't tell us what this gathering was about or who had convened it, although it should be pointed out that Fred Nile's Christian Democrats call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. Details of this meeting have been ommitted. Why?
Louise: A couple of homeless guys had seen it... One of them told me later, 'I'll never forget what happened when the MERCS got you. We thought you were dead.'
Louise: It had been going on for years and was so frequent it had a name: MERCs. Middle Eastern raping c__...
So frequent were these MERC atrocities, apparently, that until Louise had told him about them, Sheehan, who had written an entire book on the subject of rape by men of 'Middle Eastern appearance', knew nothing of them. Right...
Today, we get this apology from Sheehan:
"At 6pm on Monday I had a heart-sinking conversation with Louise... In my third conversation with her that afternoon, as I was saying she needed to talk to the police... she told me I was 'oppressing' her. Then she said: 'I don't want to continue this conversation,' and hung up. She has remained incommunicado ever since. This led quickly to 3 realisations. First, I was countenancing the near certainty that in the areas of her story where I had given her the benefit of the doubt, I had been wrong to do so. Second, I had not considered the possibility that her story had been carefully constructed on a foundation of embellishments, false memories and fabrications. Third, I owed an apology to the NSW Police... After publication I learnt that a woman had made very similar claims of rape during two rallies last year organised by Reclaim Australia... In the story recounted to me by Louise, she made insulting references to rapes committed by Middle Eastern men. I had wrongly amplified this insult by including her words in the column. Had I known on Sunday what I knew by Wednesday, the column would not have been written..." (The story of Louise: police have no case to answer, but I do)
Sheehan certainly does have a case to answer: for years of Islamophobic, Arabophobic and Zionist columns carefully constructed on a foundation of embellishments and fabrications. Simply scan my Sheehan posts and you'll see why he fell for Louise's story - it fitted so well with his prejudices. The opinion editor and those higher up the Fairfax food chain also have a case to answer: for enabling him all these years.
Frankly, it's time for Sheehan to go, time for the Herald to publicly apologise for his nastiness over the years, and time for its management to get down on its knees, and beg Mike Carlton to come back in Sheehan's place.