The head of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, has been declared an enemy by the Abbott government and its diminished and demoralised supporters at News Corp.

This co-ordinated assault on Triggs has one purpose only: to crush critical thinking, truth-telling and dissent, by isolating a prominent figure and applying a force of enormously destructive power to her or him. It works because collectively we can be slow to recognise its occurrence — and for murkier reasons, a sense of relief that someone else is getting it, not us.

This morning, the campaign hit a new low with Piers Akerman’s attack on Triggs for the arrangements she made to care for her severely disabled child — this is not merely an attack on Triggs the public figure, but an attempt to wound her personally.

Well, it cannot be allowed to happen this time.

Triggs has put on the agenda the torture of children by Australian governments of both parties. The Coalition and News Corp want to use Triggs as a case of exemplary punishment, to send the message to public officials across the country that demonisation can and will happen to anyone who does their job in a way that is perceived as threatening to the government.

This campaign of personal vilification of her by the most powerful elements of Australian political culture must be highlighted and defeated, even as the torture, sexual assault and neglect of children in the care of Australia must be addressed.