Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson was astonished that the word 'allegation' was even contemplated for use in such an article, as the word 'allegation' provides a sense of legitimacy to the claim.
This word is usually used within legal circles, and carries with it the assumption that the 'allegation' is something that is going to be proven (or evidence will be provided to attempt to prove it). Since this website did not provide any such evidence, this was a ridiculous claim.
The use of 'allegation' in more informal settings worries M V Tronson. He wonders how many other situations have been exacerbated by the very use of the word 'allegation', and whether this has created a terrible indictment upon the obviously innocent.
In this instance, the above article could have changed the wording to "shrugged off the claim", or "shrugged off the statement" - anything but the word 'allegation' as it immediately brings with it an unfortunate and unwanted sense of authority and accusation. In the eye of public opinion, the word 'allegation' means there is some smoke about – the accused is already on the back foot.
In swimming too we see that this this terrible word has been utilised with wild abandon. Now, former Australian swimming coach Alan Thompson had to endure a four month investigation which cleared him, after an anonymous letter was received as to inappropriate behaviour. How terrible was this. Where's the writer of that allegation?
What redress is there to all this, and how much damage can it cause?
In another situation, some years ago now, a deleterious letter from a Christian Ministry chairman and administrator to a Government Statuary Authority, which summed up as "it was meant to do harm" by the Reverend John Edmondstone OAM, the then President of Australian Baptist Churches.
M V Tronson says that in case after case, it appears as though it's those people who exercise these types of accusations are cowards and weaklings who cannot find any substantive evidence so they ad-lib with innuendo and the like, in order to to support their case. Going after opponents can be a nasty business.
A whole new vocabulary with a different set of words needs to be found to describe situations for investigation where there is clearly some doubt as to the veracity of the accuser/s, that do not imply any stain on a person's character.
He suggests that it be turned around, with words such as: 'gravely dubious and highly suspect correspondence' ….. where the onus is turned around on those who submit such niceties.