The Dim-Post

August 23, 2015

The Scarlet Garner

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:42 am

The New Zealand based coverage of the Ashley Madison dumps has focused almost exclusively on the email addresses of public servants and teachers showing up in the data. It’s what Duncan Garner focused on on his radio show, and on Story where they rang up various teachers to tell them they were in the dump, and in his Dom Post column yesterday (Garner now being the much smarter, slightly less narcissistic homologue to Mike Hosking, not quite as conservative and equally ubiquitous across rival media platforms). And ‘Teachers exposed!’ is the lead in the HoS today.

But I downloaded the dump files and took a look at the breakdown of top level addresses. It seems a little unfair that teachers account for about 0.2% of the addresses but close to 100% of the breathless coverage.


Many of the .co addresses are just private email addresses (, so you could claim that the focus is on teachers and public servants because they were stupid enough to use work addresses. But there are also literally thousands of work addresses included in that .co category including, amusingly enough, many from the media companies running these stories about dirty teachers and public servants. If these journos want to know why someone would sign up to one of these sites they should go ask their executives. Why are the teachers ‘exposed’ and not everyone else?

‘Don’t give your details to cheating sites’, is Garner’s big insight from the Ashley Madison dump. I think the implications are bigger than that. Relatively few people sign up to cheating sites but almost everyone who uses the internet relies on its privacy and anonymity in some way. Lots of people look at porn. Lots of people gossip or say things on their private messaging that they wouldn’t want everyone else to know. And any of it could be made public by self-righteous jerks like the Ashley Madison hackers. The sense of privacy could be an illusion that leads us all to exposure.


  1. Story made a strong start but headed straight for the sewer to gain ratings. NZ does not operate a moral police force to humiliate those in embarrassing situations. Just foul.

    Comment by artcroft — August 23, 2015 @ 9:10 am

  2. Anything you send from your computer is like sending a postcard, someone other than the intended recipient might read it
    Always been my motto

    Comment by rayinnz — August 23, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  3. And why not have a go at teachers? What better time to try to poison their well, when the PPTA is currently negotiating the collective agreement?

    Comment by Vagabundo — August 23, 2015 @ 9:16 am

  4. There is also the irony of Duncan Garner moralising on such matters

    Comment by max — August 23, 2015 @ 9:27 am

  5. My goodness, teachers can feel sexual attraction for another adult, and experience curiosity about the kinds of relationships they might wish to engage in.

    I thought that Teacher Training taught them to become sexless automata.

    Shame on them. These deviants should be hounded from their jobs. All 0.2% of them.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 23, 2015 @ 9:30 am

  6. I still don’t understand what the big deal is with chasing down thousands of otherwise-insignificant individuals. Is there evidence of illegal activity? Is there evidence of unusual activity, or activity that’s incompatible with “being a public servant” or “being a teacher” or “being Duncan Garner”? What’s the media justification for pointing fingers and highlighting people’s personal lives in a way that’s just likely to cause stress?

    Comment by izogi — August 23, 2015 @ 10:12 am

  7. Any chance that Fairfax will trawl through looking for NZME details, or vice versa. Now that would be fun.

    Comment by Stephen — August 23, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  8. I remember back in the 90s someone offering the reason that the Australian media were reticent about covering sex scandals was that beating down political bedroom doors was as likely as not to expose copulating journalists.

    Comment by Joe W — August 23, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  9. I don’t get why it’s embarrassing to have an ash mad account but barely even risqué to be on tinder. Generational difference?

    Comment by @simongarlick — August 23, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  10. Max is right. Of all people, the portly pie eater is the very last who should be throwing stones on this issue.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — August 23, 2015 @ 12:14 pm

  11. Danyl, ‘journalists’ or more to the point the Herald front page and now Story don’t like these figures as it makes it difficult to sideline teachers viewpoints. So the beat up on teachers by ‘journalists’ continues. It suits them and MPs. Wonder why they are the least trusted.

    Comment by sheesh — August 23, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  12. I think young Duncan’s parents must have been killed by a marauding gang of a civil servants: he really seems to loathe them. His aversion can’t be intellectual; it’s not like he knows much about the State sector or government administration: his time as ignoramus-in-chief in the press gallery and his aversion to all things policy demonstrates that. He just hates public servants.

    Comment by Son of Dad — August 23, 2015 @ 4:31 pm

  13. Jeremy Wells is way smarter than Mike Hoskings but I doubt that Duncan Garner is

    Comment by Tinakori — August 23, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

  14. To me it makes sense to use a work email address to sign up to a website if your intention is tweeting. Your work email is less likely to be connected to a mobile device or home computer that your spouse can access, so if you think the website is going to send you email, better for it go to work. At least until some hackers steal all of that information.

    Comment by Bertie — August 23, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

  15. *cheating. LOL.

    Comment by Bertie — August 23, 2015 @ 6:38 pm

  16. @Bertie … that’s a good argument to use a *different* private email to enable cheating on your spouse. Not an argument to use a work one.

    Besides, work emails are potentially accessible and readable by many other people — that’s why the “best” politicians don’t use ministerial/governmental email accounts.

    Comment by RJL — August 23, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  17. @simon: Tinder is not explicitly for people who are cheating, even if many cheaters use it.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 23, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

  18. @RJL — sure, I’m not saying it’s the smartest thing to do, I’m just saying it makes a kind of sense.

    Comment by Bertie — August 23, 2015 @ 10:11 pm

  19. No one is asking the really important question; how many of the email addresses sounded Chinese?

    Comment by rsmsingers — August 24, 2015 @ 12:39 am

  20. It depends what kind of experience they are seeking, I guess.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 24, 2015 @ 6:23 am

  21. A person signing up to AdMad doesn’t mean that person has cheated. It just means they’re curious at that point in time. I’ve signed up for a lot of things that once I have looked around, I haven’t gone back to or bought from – book depository, webkinz, language sites etc.

    Comment by mjpledger — August 24, 2015 @ 8:40 am

  22. A person signing up to AshMad doesn’t mean that person has cheated.

    Roughly 95% of AshMad’s members are men, so even if they are interested in cheating, it’s overwhelmingly likely they haven’t actually done so (at least, not directly via AshMad).

    Comment by Phil — August 24, 2015 @ 10:08 am

  23. Looks to me like most of these teachers were “signed-up” by pupils as a prank!

    Comment by Shug — August 24, 2015 @ 10:54 am

  24. @mjpledger “It just means they’re curious at that point in time.

    There’s a big difference in being curious about book depository and being curious about cheating on your spouse. If in doubt, ask your spouse for clarification of the difference.

    Comment by RJL — August 24, 2015 @ 10:59 am

  25. Assuming someone’s even curious about cheating even seems very borderline to me, though. I can easily imagine people signing up out of curiosity of what happens on the site, without any intent to use it for its main marketed purpose. Looking at AM, you can’t exactly see or do much on it without creating an account, even if it’s fairly dim to use a work email.

    Presuming “bad” actions, or even intent, just because someone has an account seems a lot like accusing people of thought crime, except that it’s not actually a crime. Maybe it’s of interest for spouses to follow up if they see someone they recognise in the leaked emails, but media? Where’s the justification of public interest?

    Comment by izogi — August 24, 2015 @ 11:17 am

  26. @ izgoi ” I can easily imagine people signing up out of curiosity of what happens on the site…”

    Soon to be seen on a Tui billboard near you.

    “Maybe it’s of interest for spouses to follow up if they see someone they recognise in the leaked emails”

    Distrusting your spouse enough to look for them in a list of cheating spouses? Ask your spouse if that’s a good idea…

    “Where’s the justification of public interest?”

    The public interest is that this demonstrates that everything you do online is recorded and potentially usable against you in the future. Additionally, the organisations that are supposed to protect us from such hazards (the GCSB et al), in fact do nothing of the sort, and indeed possibly already had everything in the AM dump archived for their own future use.

    Comment by RJL — August 24, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

  27. Well, yes. I can see there’s public interest in telling the world that Ashley Madison’s been hacked and many email addresses released. But what’s the justification for the Herald making a huge deal about teachers forming a portion of them? Or for Garner’s comment about how public servants must be having a nervous week.

    Unless it’s demonstrably something other than an average cross-section of society, or there’s clear evidence that having signed into this website with a work address somehow means people’s jobs are being significantly affected, why are the alleged personal lives of all these people, based on flaky and unconfirmed evidence at best, so relevant for media attention and scrutiny?

    Comment by izogi — August 24, 2015 @ 12:30 pm

  28. Because contemporary NZ ‘journalism’ in many cases is just a fancy term for ‘tittle-tattle’?

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 24, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

  29. But what’s the justification for the Herald making a huge deal about teachers forming a portion of them?

    It wasn’t so long ago that it was socially-acceptable for schools to provide teachers with rules or standards for a personal code of conduct. For better or worse, there is an unspoken social contract that teachers are beholden to; they are the soil from which the fertile minds of our children grow, and we expect them (teachers) to be role models of moral conduct.

    Comment by Phil — August 24, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

  30. It was that long ago that it was socially acceptable to beat your wife or child with a rod no thicker than your thumb.
    What’s your point, Phil?

    Also, “role models of moral conduct”? Please.
    In ones professional life, sure, be upstanding.
    But who you bang and under what conditions (presuming no law is broken or unsavoury power dynamics are involved) is entirely your own business.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 24, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

  31. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I agree with you – if the Math teacher of my (imaginary and made-up solely for this discussion) pre-teen is rooting someone other than who they’re married to, that’s their own business.

    But… there is still a very strong, latent, perception in society that teachers do operate on a higher social standard, specifically because they’re the guardians of our children for so much of their formative years. I have no doubt the Herald deliberately tapping into this perception.

    Comment by Phil — August 24, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

  32. So, a year 5-13 student punking your school email address hasn’t been factored in?

    Comment by Stephen — August 24, 2015 @ 7:05 pm

  33. Math teacher? This needs debate.

    Comment by Knob Endt — August 24, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  34. they are the soil from which the fertile minds of our children grow, and we expect them (teachers) to be role models of moral conduact

    To be fair, sex education is an important part of the school curriculum. Teachers are merely practicing what they preach. 🙂

    Comment by Ross — August 25, 2015 @ 6:44 am

  35. Knob Endt – I don’t think maths debating is appropriate. Think of the children.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 25, 2015 @ 6:51 am

  36. And here was I, secretly relieved that for once this was a teacher-sex-meme in which it could be safely assumed that no one was thinking about children.

    Or the Chinese.

    Comment by Lee Clark — August 25, 2015 @ 7:33 pm

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