March 31, 2005

How can we parody this?

Mr Neil Falloon simply retypes something a reader emailed us...

At Kiwiblog, David P Farrar
has published his 10 "lessons of life". Lesson number eight is:


Be careful of how you label names in your cellphone: Twice I have rung what I thought was a friend inviting her out, and only after I finished the invite had I realized I had phoned my ex girlfriend of the same first name who now thought I wanted to get back together with her

Let's see if we have got this straight.

David P Farrar (see image) has so many female friends and exes that many of them share the same small pool of names.

Owing to the popularity of certain names, on at least two occasions he goes to call a friend and accidentally calls an ex.

Somehow he doesn't recognize the ex's voice.

Even during the requisite chitchat (asking after her health, etc) he still doesn't recognize her voice.

He asks her out. She presumably accepts.

Then the penny drops!

So he has to cancel.

Is she worried?

No, of course not. She wants to get back together with the man who
works 130-hour weeks and has five hours free for his girlfriend.

Now we understand.

March 30, 2005

Do Not Feed

Olivia Kember proclaims...

I lose pieces of paper, so this seems the safest option: I hereby declare that should I be reduced to a persistent vegetative state I want my feeding tube taken out. Swelpmegod.

March 21, 2005

Good God

Olivia Kember crosses herself and then writes...

Brace yourselves – I’ve decided to get chummy with God. If you’re intentionally reading this – rather than coming to the page by mistake looking for dogs or men or Jim Hopkins - there’s a good chance you’re an urban agnostic who finds serious mention of a deity in rather bad taste. But after watching yet another sideshow from our local greasy televangelist I’m finding the Destiny brand of Christianity worse than tasteless; I think it’s disturbing. A Powerpoint presentation that draws a line from God to Brian Tamaki via Jesus is funny. But 7000 people believing it – that’s dangerous. So I’ve decided not to let God get claimed by the fringes. It’s bad enough that family values, most of which we can all agree on, has become a rallying cry for the bigoted and the fearful. They’re not getting God too.

Even if I don’t believe in him terribly much, I don’t want him on their side. I want him somewhere in the middle, reclining divinely in the middle of the road or hovering above the fence. I want him neutralized.

Some time when I was in school I realized that among my friends the only people who could be safely mocked were fat people and Christians. We weren’t racist, we weren’t really sexist, we were vaguely into Buddhists and Ba’hais and anything exotic, but we found the idea of believing in God - particularly one who required acts of obedience we saw as nothing more than inconvenient - ridiculous. We lumped all shades of Christianity together, demonstrating the same simplistic view that we accused them of. It was of course the 1990s, when ironic self-consciousness was the desired pose, and Christians, with their unfashionable sincerity and humourless principles, seemed as dated as telephones with dials and similarly doomed to the rubbishpile.

Well, we got that one wrong. The Destiny gang are still a small minority, and some of them look as if it’s as much as they can do to walk and chant at the same time. But you have only to look at the United States to see how a fringe movement can take over the mainstream. The religious Right is setting the agenda - from persuading Bush voters that the entire US election was about gay marriage to curricula supporting “intelligent design” instead of evolution. Anyone who disagrees is stigmatized as the “liberal elite”.

If Hillary Clinton now finds it necessary to tell everyone at every opportunity how she is “a praying person” - and the Clintons’ ability to sniff the winds of political change is positively rodentlike – we can safely assume God isn’t getting out of politics any time soon.

Democrats have realized too late that to have any chance of winning in the future they need to close what’s been catchily termed the “God gap”. They need to get onside with Jesus. After all, they’re supposed to be about poor people and so was he. But Jesus was an eloquent iconoclast with humble transport, doubtful company and a message of love – not really ministerial material. Especially when political Christianity equates to little more than simplistic rants about how we’re all going to hell in a handcart.

By the way, a Google search of “Destiny Church” and “poverty” (which I admit has all the scientific value of the Stuff poll) produces a cassette tape called “Poverty a satanic viper” (lack of punctuation theirs), available at www.destinychurch.org.nz for $NZ7 alongside similar items with titles like “Exposing the spirit of whoredom” and “Identifying demons”. The only times “Brian Tamaki” appears anywhere near “poor” are in descriptions of people getting rich through “the Tithe principle”.

If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. And if people are so ready to believe they’ll turn to Brian, or Kabbalah, or Scientology, I say, bugger the Enlightenment. Reason is so last century. If you really want to make your point, if you are that keen to win followers and influence people, either get God or start your own religion.


March 16, 2005

Wedge Politics

Ben Thomas writes…

Below is a piece written for Craccum, the University of Auckland student magazine, about the Tim Selwyn sedition case.

It is reprinted here for two reasons: at the bottom were contact details if you wish to become involved, handing out the disputed “seditious” material at the District Court in Auckland at midday tomorrow (Thursday 17 March), to protest the charges under such an archaic law. If anyone wants to be involved, or if any media types would like a seditious soundbite, email dogbitingmen@gmail.com for contact details.

Secondly, according to one source, a man protesting at Prince Charles’ visit in Auckland last week was arrested on suspicion of, that’s right, sedition (just as the Monarchist League suggested). Which means that we have gone from no arrests for sedition in 80 years, to two arrests in 80-years-and-three-months. Thin end of the edge, anyone?

(It’s not clear whether the charges were dropped after the guy was released from holding cells, but in any case this demonstrates the following article's eery Cassandra-like prescience in warning of such vaguely defined laws being used to “harass political opponents or nuisances”).

Acknowledgements to No Right Turn for the exhaustive and excellent research.

Ben Thomas wrote…

On 18 November an axe was lodged in the window of Prime Minister Helen Clark’s Sandringham Road electorate office. After an anonymous tip-off to a radio station, flyers were found on the corner of Ponsonby Road which purported to explain the attack. The flyers said the axe was a protest against “the Government's attempts to steal, by confiscation, Maori land in the form of the Seabed and Foreshore Bill”. A group of “concerned Pakeha” claimed responsibility, and called on “like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action of their own”.

In December, Auckland man Tim Selwyn was arrested and later charged with making a seditious statement, seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

Whatever one thinks of Selwyn (a student media and C4 enfant terrible), or the axe through Clark’s window, or any possible connection between the two, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned that Police have resurrected the long-dormant offence of sedition.

Although media interest has focused on the literal hatchet job in November, the more sinister sounding charges of sedition actually relate to the leaflets Selwyn is alleged to have authored. Writing political flyers may land Selwyn, who appears in Court to plead this Thursday, a two year prison term.

A seditious intention is defined in section 81 of the Crimes Act as intending:

- To “bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against, Her Majesty, or the Government of New Zealand, or the administration of justice”;
- To “incite the public or any persons or class of persons to attempt” to change the laws of the country by unlawful means;
- To “incite, procure or encourage violence, lawlessness or disorder.”
- To “excite such hostility” between “different classes of persons as may endanger the public safety”.
- To “incite, procure or encourage the commission of any offence that is prejudicial to the public safety or to the maintenance of public order.”

On the face of it, these seem like reasonable prohibitions. Nobody likes “hatred or contempt”, particularly the Queen, who is even quite bothered by “impoliteness” (not yet a criminal offence).

But the seditious offences don’t prohibit otherwise lawless behaviour. The reason certain actions are lawless, after all, is because there are already laws forbidding them. See: assault; see: murder; see: throwing axes through windows. Each of these is a crime in and of itself.

Sedition, on the other hand, outlaws the idea of these offences, and outlaws ideas which may be uncomfortable to the government of the day. The seditious intentions are framed in language sufficiently broad that in fact what is prosecuted as seditious can be anything that the authorities (in this case police and courts) do not approve of.

It is not treason. Treason is a separate, very serious, offence under the Crimes Act, which involves taking concrete steps to overthrow the government by force.

Sedition is a thought crime. Criminal sentences of up to two years in prison attach to not only anyone who makes a seditious statement, but anyone who publishes the statement, or even reproduces it in print (like a newspaper, or, er, website).

The left wing website No Right Turn has compiled examples of previous prosecutions under the sedition laws in New Zealand:

- In 1921, a 19 year old University student, for possessing a Communist newspaper (she was also known to associate with “anti-militarists and revolutionaries”).
- Tuhoe prophet Rua Kenana, who allegedly said in 1916 he had influenced 1,400 of his tribe not to enlist, and that “This country belongs to us the Maoris.”
- Bishop James Liston who, during an address in Auckland on St Patrick’s Day 1922 about Irish independence, made the mistake of detailing the numbers of his countrymen killed by the English (and New Zealand) Crown.
- Future Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser, for calling for an end to conscription in 1916, and saying “For the past two years and a half we have been looking at the ruling classes of Europe spreading woe, want and murder over the Continent, and it is time that the working classes of the different nations were rising up in protest against them.”
- Harry Holland, President of the Labour Party between 1919 and 1933, was convicted in 1913 for leading a strike and encouraging employees to down their tools.

The salient feature of this potted history is that none occurred in what could fairly be described as recent times. Charges under sedition laws, as Selwyn pointed out to TV3 News, are a feature of wartime governments. They have also, ironically, been leveled mainly at Labour movement leaders (Helen Clark has often described Peter Fraser as the politician she most admires). And, less ironically, Maori rights activists.

Come back fashions, such as new wave 80s music and police-state style oppression, catch on fast. The Monarchist League recently issued a press release suggesting that anyone who advocates republicanism (that is, excites disaffection against Her Majesty) may be guilty of sedition. And technically they are right.

South Island bar owners who called upon other publicans to ignore the smoking ban are potentially guilty, as are Maori independence supporters, and countless talkback callers, and letters to the editor writers who venture an opinion inconsistent with the political status quo.

Many political texts, for example the Communist Manifesto (required reading for Politics 109), contain seditious statements (Marx believed bloodless revolution was impossible). Prosecution against Karl Marx is obviously impracticable, but prosecution against UBS, which sells copies for $8.95, would be entirely consistent with the charges that have been laid against Selwyn.

While this may seem laughable, six months ago it would have seemed laughable to suggest that archaic laws would be revived to punish leaflets opposing an unpopular government bill and calling for peaceful civil disobedience.

Ideally, the Court will throw out the charges, on the grounds that political expression under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1986 cannot be seditious (as when, last year, a school teacher was found not guilty of “disrespecting the flag” when he burned one during an anti-war march in Wellington).

So long as the law remains, the problem is not solved. Even a prosecution doomed to failure can be used to harass political opponents or nuisances – Tim Selwyn’s bail conditions constitute a semi-house arrest, with no hope of a substantive trial for months.

The only solution is for the sedition laws to be repealed. A protest is planned outside the District Court on Albert Street this Thursday, handing out its own seditious leaflets to the public to expose the hypocrisy of what is an outmoded, unjust and unevenly applied law. For more information email dogbitingmen@gmail.com
.
The text of Selwyn’s leaflet:

Confiscation Day

This morning concerned Pakeha vented their anger and disgust at the Government’s attempts to steal, by confiscation, Maori land in the form of the Seabed and Foreshore Bill that is currently being disgracefully rammed through Parliament as part of a desperate back-room deal.

By attacking the electorate office of the chief instigator, the Prime Minister – who is due to abandon the mess she created by fleeing the country today – we signal that a threshold has been crossed.

The broken glass symbolises the broken faith, broken trust and shattered justice, our axe symbolises the steadfastness of our determination.

The ruthless Prime Minister will leave behind a vindictive law that will haunt this nation should the M.Ps be mad enough to pass it. Maori M.Ps complicit in this farce will never live down their betrayal.

If this is destined to be Confiscation Day, then we have marked it.

We call upon all like-minded New Zealanders to take similar action of their own to send a clear message that such a gross, blatantly racist injustice to the Maori people will never be accepted.

Ake! Ake! Ake!

March 07, 2005

A New (Stolen) Feature

Neil Falloon writes nice things about everyone…

A while ago, David Priapus Farrar promised a new feature on his weblog, Kiwibog: I am going to blog party by party what I like or admire about each MP in that party. It does not mean I endorse them, or that I ignore their misdeeds, but that most MPs are decent people doing the best job they can, and have some good qualities about them.

Sadly, since that wild, love-filled promise DPF has run out of time and energy. Also, the party pills have worn off and he has realised that nobody has anything at all to say about the United Future, Labour and New Zealand First backbenches, let alone anything nice.

To adopt a Kiwibogism, David P Farrar is a "very, very good friend of mine". I'd like to help him out. But I don't do nice. And if you think I’m going to waste a day writing pap about Craig McNair and Dave Hereora, you haven’t been paying attention.

At heart, MPs are almost all identical. There is no point going on about them. It is the ordinary party members that tell you far more about each party.

So here’s the only realistic Guide to the Political Party Membership you’ll see this election year. It's based on real-life people. (My other very, very good friend Damian Christie said he would be delighted to name names when he appears at the Public Address/Nescafe Big Blend 2):

ACT: The archetypal ACT supporter is much like the archetypal NZ First supporter except that, what the latter blames on foreigners, beneficiaries and homosexuals, the ACT supporter blames on the government. (Which, he will confide, is a well-organised network of homosexuals working to further the interests of beneficiaries and immigrants.)

National: The classic National Party member is almost thirty, white and “comes from good stock”. His (fellow National Party) mates complain that he is “pussy-whipped” by his wife - he rarely goes out. Sometimes he yearns for the Tui-fuelled days when he obtained a Bachelor of Arts, the beginnings of a beer gut, and joined the Young Nats. He and his wife are planning their first child. Before he married, the conservative National Party member once got drunk and told me his biggest fantasy: "Getting f***** up the a*** by my girlfriend with a strap-on". Now that is National Party, through and through.

New Zealand First: The archetypal New Zealand First voters are the grandparents of the young man who wants to get rogered by his missus. They don't mind Indians so long as they are taxi drivers, and don't mind Asians so long as they stay in Asia. Granny has been known to linger over a photograph of that young, handsome Winston Peters in a similar way to weblog readers linger over photographs of Olivia Kember.

United Future: The classic United Future voters didn’t actually join United Future until just after the last election. They are a politically naive Christian couple, distinguished from Destiny Churchgoers by having gay friends, or at least a loving lesbian aunt. Swayed by the worm just before the last election, they can't remember what Peter Dunne said or stands for but liked his manner and cheeky bow tie collection. Have since let their membership lapse.

Labour: The archetypal Labour Party member is an early twenty-something homosexual man or heterosexual woman (it would be rude to ask). He or she is not Maori, but this is not through lack of trying. Unlike most people the same age, the Labour party member spends their youthful passion and fiery intensity doing everything they can to defend the status quo and justify the actions of the powerful. But like others of their age, they too are faced with uncertainty and a lack of direction – not knowing what the future holds or, at the very least, how to kill the five years between finishing an MA in politics and standing as a Labour MP in a safe seat. Like most before, s/he will settle on teaching.

Progressive: The archetypal (and lonely) Progressive Party supporter’s name is Matt Robson.

Maori: See Green

Green: Wears a large bone carving pendant and a Tino Rangatiratanga tee-shirt. (Distinguishable from Maori Party supporters because Maori Party supporters are actually Maori.) The archetypal Green Party supporter’s pastimes include saving Tibet, whales, the sanctity of the uterus, native bush, and anything threatened by the hegemony of any group big enough to have hegemony. The archetypal Greenie has no coherent policies to improve either the education or health systems, but is convinced that capitalism has ruined both. Likes to f*** some s*** up.


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