Archives for posts with tag: media

Spying. Moments of Truth. Snowden, Greenwald, Assange, Amsterdam … No, you’re right, none of them are New Zealanders.

Additional information: they are some of the world’s experts in government surveillance. Yes, world experts travelled to New Zealand (or in the case of fugitives) beamed in via satellite, and your complaint is that they’re not New Zealandy enough.

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Okay, let’s give New Zealand’s global government surveillance experts a run at this then … *Sound of crickets*

Sigh.

People seem to be really focused on Kim Dotcom’s involvement in this. Here’s an idea. Look past that for just a wee second (shouldn’t be too hard cause the Moment of Truth actually hardly talked about his case), and focus your little camera eyes and your little microphone ears on what was said last night.

(In the shock of the week, best local coverage of the Moment of Truth goes to … Stuff. Yes, you read me right. Thanks for taking a look at this, Andrea Vance. She’s outlined the revelations here, quite succinctly. Otherwise, if you’re interested in good coverage, I’d suggest to you that you try the Guardian, The Intercept, CNN, Russia Times, fuck it, anyone but the glove-puppets at the New Zealand Herald.)

So according to some of my sources this comes down to Key’s word against Snowden’s. Let’s assume you’re right for a second then. Let’s play that game! Sounds fun!

Who has the most to lose if they’re wrong or lying — Key or Snowden?

This one’s easy mate. It’s Key, obviously.

Snowden’s pretty much lost everything he can over this. He’s a fugitive in Russia, he cannot return to his home country, or actually many places in the world at all due to extradition treaties (hence Russia). It’s not exactly a holiday camp is it? (To borrow a phrase from our PM.)

What about Key? What’s he got to lose? Oh, um, just about everything? Yep. If people choose to believe the truth in what Greenwald, Snowden et al said last night, then Key has lied to the public over and over again, and is spying on us all, has been for ages, said he wasn’t, said he’d resign if he lied, has been doing the work of NSA “henchman” (to borrow another phrase). It’s not good for him really is it?

Who has the most to gain in this situation?

Um, well, the answer’s a bit of the same really. Snowden doesn’t really benefit from this in any conceivable way. (I’d like to add that at no stage has anyone come close to proving Snowden’s allegations false — if anything they’ve been accepted as truth.)

Obviously Key has quite a lot to gain. The executive power of New Zealand. Another term of … whatever it is that National has planned for another term. Maybe sell some more stuff. Mine some more shit. Disenfranchise some more people. (Maybe tax cuts!) Hmmm.

 
Actually I think that’s all we need to ask. Good game. There’s some orange slices in the clubroom.

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Hi New Zealand,

National cares about you guys like soooooooo much. Not even kidding. I mean, I’m really relaxed about it, but we’ve been working for New Zealand heaps. You’ve seen me on the news working at denying allegations for New Zealand, working at falsifying crime stats, for New Zealand, working on loosening New Zealand’s labour laws for New Zealand, kicking people off benefits for New Zealand, ignoring scandals for New Zealand.

I think New Zealanders know that we really have New Zealand’s best interests in mind. I mean, when Paula Bennett gets the stats put to her about the number of people living in poverty who are also working (40% of those in poverty are working), compared to those on benefits, it drives her to look for ways to make changes, and drive even more people into working poverty. It’s just better that way — poverty we don’t have to pay for.

I think most New Zealanders agree with me when I say poor people should all get jobs. Because you’re 60 times more likely to be a poor if you’re not working. I know, because I am super good at maths, that’s how come I know that trickle down economics is pretty much the best kind of trickle that there is.
 

 

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And rich people are definitely the right people to run economies. No conflicts of interest have arisen at any point, and definitely not in my cabinet. Not at all. If you hear any different then it’s a left-wing smear campaign and it’s all lies and I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m probably still pretty comfortable about it, you know? (Also, maybe tax cuts? Yeah, you like that don’t you, New Zealand?)

Paula knows that the best thing for the poors is work, and that’s why we’re forcing them off benefits and into work. I mean, two or more jobs at unliving wages taxed higher than everyone else with one job is at least 40% better than being a poor on the benefit, that’s just maths and junk.

I mean, at least they get out of the house and away from those hungry children they’ve got.

(Also, possibly there’ll be tax cuts if we get the benefit claimants right down. Don’t worry about homeless people, they’ll mostly be living in people’s garages where you can’t see them, and your local councils will ban the ones who turn up outside Smith & Caugheys smelling funny and making you feel uneasy and guilty about buying things — you have a right to feel as comfortable as I do about everything.)

And you really shouldn’t worry about poors turning to a life of crime to support themselves and their families. That won’t happen on my watch. And if it does, don’t worry, because I’m tough on crime. And criminals. Little known fact about my government: criminals aren’t allowed to vote anymore! Cool eh? Oh, I mean, it was on the news, but I mean, hardly important if you consider that David Cunliffe might’ve bought a bottle of wine that one time. (No new taxes!)

Yeah, tough on crime! But a sensible level of toughness. I mean, I like to call it tough love, because we’re going to make them work full-time jobs for free because we love money and privatisation, but it’s tough, because we’re making criminals work which is tough for them because they turned to crime because they were lazy and just didn’t want to get one of the many, many jobs available in our rockstar economy! After all, prison isn’t a holiday camp, it’s a business.

Anyway, as I was saying. The other thing that we really know is gonna help people find better jobs is a more competitive market place with greater flexibility. Sounds choice as eh? At the end of the day, New Zealanders just want to drink a beer and watch the All Blacks win the rugby and think about one day maybe being lucky enough to have a selfie with me. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? A Prime Minister who will front up to the hard work of PR?
 

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Hey, did you see me on the cover of Rugby News? I’m pretty much an honorary All Black. It’s thanks to me they won the World Cup. Really, I’m just like Richie MacCaw. Except richer obviously.

Right, like I was saying before I interrupted me, the marketplace needs competition and what better way to add that than by introducing mandatory 40-hour work weeks for prisoners, to compete with the working poor for the absolute cheapest labour possible. I think most New Zealanders agree that everyone should have to work and earn their living here. And actually I think that most prisoners will find that they’re at least 40% better off under this scheme than that other one. And I guess if they’re not then that’s cool too, because it’s not like they can do anything about it in the end. 

Oh hey, did I mention tax cuts? We’re definitely going to give you tax cuts possibly in a few years time if the economy is still rocking like the rockstar it is (and by extension also me) and maybe if Bill English isn’t a meanie. I mean, we might end up increasingly GST, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lied, because we never promised no tax increases, just no new taxes.

Anyway, you better get used to all this, because as my friends in the media like to say, it’s all over bar the shouting (I affectionately like to call them “glove-puppets of Cameron Slater” — it’s kind of an in-joke, don’t feel bad if you don’t get it — most New Zealanders don’t even care about glove-puppets).

We’ve already won. You can tell, because Kate Middleton’s pregnant again, and if that’s not a good omen for me, then I don’t know what is. Have you seen all the pictures of me with Kate and William and stuff when they came last time? We had a barbecue and some beers, right out of the bottle, roughing it, y’know, just two manly men with giant hunks of meat the size of a baby. ‘Cause I’m not sorry to be a man — in fact, if anything I’m not sorry not to be a not-man. I think I’ve made myself clear on this issue and I won’t be taking more questions unless they’re about rugby or royals, or having a beer with me, Honest John Key.

 

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Judith will be back after the election to be tough on crime again, since this has been something she’s allegedly been working on with Serco for ages. I mean, they might have had so many dinners over this plan, you wouldn’t believe how much Serco probably donated to our campaign as a result. But if there’s any unwisdom going on with Judith I will be sure to root it out and be publicly disappointed with it while pretty much doing nothing about it actually, you can count on me!

Don’t listen to what Winston says about Royal Commissions of Inquiry, because there’s nothing behind the curtain! It’s the same thing as a regular old Commission of Inquiry, except who appoints people, which you know, I mean, I think most New Zealanders agree that should be me. If I can’t be trusted to run my own inquiry into my own cabinet’s actions and self-regulate my own cabinet, then what does that say about self-regulation? That it doesn’t work? Another smear!

Winston’s such a liar. He lies all the time. I never lie, and I especially never lie about not lying. It’s all a left-wing smear anyway, they’re just threatened by how great I am.

Threatened by how great New Zealand is under National. I mean, it has been great hasn’t it? We’re all so much better under my fudged crime stats, my fudged employment stats and my glove-puppet media machine that helps expose important, sexy penis-in-vagina corruption like the Len-Brown type, not boring old bureaucratic political corruption like Official-Information-Act-request type. Sex scandals, not paperwork scandals unless they involve eleven-year-old letters! That’s one of National’s primary campaign promises. Also maybe tax cuts.

Obviously, we believe in working for New Zealand (especially if you’re a New Zealander in privatised prison), and trying to scare most New Zealanders about left-wing alliances.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what most New Zealanders want? To be scared and rich, trapped in their heavily defended homes, while those nasty poors get put into privatised slavery one by one? (Oh yeah, we’re increasing military spending too. It’ll be sweet, promise.) I’m pretty sure that’s what most New Zealanders want.

Yours knowingly, confidently and totally comfortable with that,

John Key

 

PS, Here’s a picture of me with a kitten from the Whale Oil website, which you should definitely check out because it’s pretty swell.

 
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PPS, Here’s a picture I drew of my beehive. It’s got an arrow to “my office” so Jason Ede and OIA people can find it. But I think most New Zealanders understand that when I say “my office” it means I’m in Hawai’i.

 
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PPPS, I mentioned tax cuts eh?

 

This election, we have the chance to do something really exciting. We get to vote in an MMP Government.

I know, I know, we’ve had MMP in name since 1996, after not one, but two referenda on the issue. In spite of this, in practise, we’ve pretty much had a mostly-two-party system in the intervening nearly twenty years since then, with alternate National- or Labour-majority coalitions having the controlling voices in parliament.

Wow, twenty years is a long time. I was in Primary School when my parents’ generation campaigned to change our electoral system. I’ve been voting for a decade, and we still haven’t had a really equal coalition government.

But I am grateful to those of my parents’ generation who fought so hard to get us MMP, because it is a great system. We just need to trust in it and really utilise it.

First, I want to point out that National and the hard-right have always disliked MMP and have campaigned heavily in favour of FPP on and off the whole time we’ve had it (and before), through both fair means and foul. Notably, a recent failed campaign, Vote for Change in 2011, detailed in Dirty Politics (chapter: El Rushbo of Aotearoa).

So it should come as no surprise that one of National’s classic electioneering tactics (“You don’t know what government you get with MMP, but you do when you vote for National”) is being used again this election cycle, and discussed in the media with some frequency.

Paula Bennett is very much on message in this debate between her and Jacinda Ardern, where she tells Jacinda that Labour policies are unaffordable when combined with the Green Party’s. Jacinda, with a long history of standing up to PB, rightly points out that they are not part of the Green Party.

Likewise, Metiria Turei and Russel Norman are fielding lots of questions about their policies combined with Labour’s, which they have answered by saying that is a question for post-election discussions. Of course, the larger the slice of vote they get, the more they can push for, and it feels like the Green party is gathering momentum in a big way: they’re experienced, credible, and they have strong policy and a strong support base built up over years in parliament watching and learning.

(A quick note on Winston “King-maker” Peters, New Zealand First and the most recent polling. It is possible that he will end up having a deciding voice in the conclusion of post-election coalition discussions. But let’s remember that while almost every poll in the last election overestimated National’s support by around 5%, and Teflon John seems to be on a downward trajectory, the polling has been all over the place in the last few weeks and will continue to be. It is folly to assume that the kind of results we’re seeing now will hold, or as Russel Norman so very sensibly and truthfully says: “it’s dynamic at the moment”. Honestly, Patrick Gower, don’t you know about counting your polls before the election’s hatched?)

And Internet-Mana, those young upstarts (with Hone Harawera and Laila Harré respectively at the helms, and Dotcom providing the funds) have somehow turned into the rockstars of the election campaign if you listen to people who’ve attended their events. Not that you’d know that if you watched the news, because, you know, the party’s supposedly in chaos. But to my mind, what they’re achieving is pretty amazing — a lot of Internet-Mana supporters are young people whose voice was so conspicuously absent in the last election. If they’re attracted to vote in this election by the enthusiasm of the Internet-Mana message that politics is for everyone to participate in, then we all win. (“Only 5.2 percent of people aged 65 years or over did not vote in the 2011 General Election, compared with 42 percent of people aged 18–24 years” Statistics NZ.)

Chaos, obviously:

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This election is more exciting than we’ve had in years.

It’s not just Internet-Mana and their new take on election billboards.

It’s not just Dirty Politics revealed.

It’s not because we have some minor parties in the pool who are strong, united and credible.

It’s not just because the Smiling Assassin is losing his grip on our fellow countrymen’s hearts and minds and being hounded by media and pressured like never before. (And don’t get me wrong, I love that people are finally seeing a little of the Key I’ve long suspected lurks in the background.)

It’s because we finally have a shot at the government we decided on twenty years ago but have never quite had. We finally have a credible group of political parties, who need each other and have to negotiate like never before. It might be a little slower to make decisions and pass law, but haven’t you heard? Slow and steady wins the race.

Because I want our politicians to have to talk things out and discuss them. I don’t want questionable laws passed under expediency. I don’t want our executive to override parliament. I definitely don’t want laws passed that are in conflict with the rule of law itself. And I don’t want a party in power that doesn’t know how to compromise.

It’s really important that there be active, thorough and rigorous debate around law and policy. A true coalition government could provide that.

A truly multi-party coalition, with a more even balance of power, can work to hold our elected officials to account — to hold each other to account.

And it’s not just debate and argument. For the first time, I think we’ve got a group of parties who actually might have more similarities than differences in their policy issues. They’re on the same page about a lot, never mind that it might be different sentences on that page. This is a good place to start in a negotiation.

Poverty, inequality, the environment, the economy, health and education are all on the table. And those are the key ingredients that make up the essence of the society we live in. Those are good things to discuss!

And that conversation will be an interesting one, not only because each party will need each other, but because they’ve all had a taste of the years of being in opposition together, and they’ve had to figure out how to work with each other with a controlling government who’d rather bully, belittle and avoid than be held to any kind of account or take any responsibility for issues raised. (Seriously, you should watch question time in parliament, if everybody did, I doubt the right honorable John Key would have ever had the nice guy reputation he held until recently; New Zealanders are not fans of arrogance at all.)

Bryan Bruce:
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In National’s latest ad campaign, John Key and the National Party are doing what they’ve always done — using our electoral system to take a jab at the opposition parties. (The boat with the red, green and purple people in life jackets rowing in opposite directions. Yeah, we get it, National, it represents the opposition parties. Haw haw!)

But it goes further than that: it’s a jab at the MMP system that gives more people a voice and enables a diversity of participation that we fought for and we should actually embrace. More people get a chance for their voice to be heard! We get to explore the next phase in our democratic system! That’s awesome! It’s exciting! It’s not a problem; it’s the solution to one.

When National makes fun of MMP by proxy, they are not only making fun of the regular New Zealanders who worked hard in the past to bring us that system, but the inevitable and promising future of our chosen inclusive political system and utilising its best qualities: co-operation, compromise, communication and a shared vision of the future woven together from the many diverse points of view in New Zealand society.

No, it’s not always going to be easy, but maybe making new laws shouldn’t be as easy as it’s been under National for the last six years. I’m not sure how great some of those fast and easy laws are. Probably not that great if the “a body as authoritative and dispassionate as the Law Society feels forced to report to the United Nations that the Government in New Zealand is acting in conflict with the rule of law” (NZHerald).

So what sort of society do we want to be? Compromising and caring, working together to make something more than the sum of its parts?

Or a big group of bullies, who don’t listen, break the law, don’t care about half of us, try to trick us rather than woo us, and think they’re above the rule of law, while they race to the finish line leaving most of us struggling in their wake?

I know what I want.

A positive vote is a vote for any of the parties of the left right now, because they’re going to be part of building a co-operative future in politics, not one of bullying and standover tactics that leaves most of us struggling to keep up.

So, Pam Corkery had a go at Brooke Sabin. And didn’t we all find it amusing? Course we did. It was amusing.

But it was also something else: it was the words that a lot of us have been thinking. “Hand-puppets of Cameron Slater” is such a funny insult because it’s true. And I personally kind of wanted to cheer for Pam (bad judgement on her part aside).

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Pam has illustrated something excellently for me. People are angry right now. And we have every right to feel angry. The media have been complicit in Dirty Politics. They have repeated Whale Oil muck-racking. They have seen the blog as a leaping off point for political “commentary”. They have allowed themselves to be used.

You wouldn’t actually know much about the contents of the book if you hadn’t read it but were getting all of your information from the media. You’d certainly understand the media were angry at what they saw as unfair treatment via issues like OIA requests. And they should be. They were played.

But you know who else has a right be to angry? Every. Damn. New Zealander. Because we were played too. By the media. By their inability to ask the right questions, get the right answers and follow the right story.

So don’t be too shocked if a lot of people sympathise with Pam Corkery’s words. Because we have a right to be angry. But, unlike members of the media, we don’t get a lot of chances to express it.

And while I think it’s a shame the coverage became all about Pam Corkery and not about Internet-Mana policy (a zero-unemployment aim, free tertiary education and no to the TPPA), I personally want to thank Pam for what she said, because she voiced the exact thing I’ve been thinking since this Dirty Politics furore started. The media has some explaining to do over this, and their focus on OIAs (and hackers) is distracting and confusing for people who don’t have the bigger picture.

And here is the bigger picture: National and Key were able to use Cameron Slater to set the tone of “debate” in media political discussions. They were only able to do this because members of the media let them do it, by repeating ad nauseum the same limited and one-sided views that pretty much came straight from Slater’s proxy lips, right to your doorstep via lazy reporting. Some journalists clearly forgot that the media is supposed to be a public service.

Now they are focusing coverage of Dirty Politics on the areas that interest them in the story, like how it wasn’t fair that some members of the media got OIAs first. Sure, this matters. News organisations and reporters have every right to be angry with the National Government about their actions. And we have every right to feel angry at the media for theirs.

They were complicit in repeating Whale Oil stories without criticism or thought.

Cameron Slater, with much distain, refers to reporters as ‘repeaters’. Perhaps his distain is justified. Perhaps it’s a distain we should all share.

Thank you Pam Corkery for saying what I have been thinking.

Now here’s our challenge: regrouping and making this into something positive come election time.

I just finished reading Dirty Politics. What can you say?

Oh dear.

Regardless of the outcome of this situation, I personally feel somewhat relieved and grateful that Nicky Hagar has uncovered the answers to a few questions, even if while doing so he has shone a light on a lot more questions.

On p.119 of Dirty Politics Hagar writes:

Many ordinary people began to feel that something was not right, that a dirty kind of politics was at work.

He’s right.

My own growing concern over the oddly intimate relationship the Key National Government has had with much of New Zealand media was sparked several months ago. It is clear now that the driving force behind this was the manipulation by the Party via proxy attack-dogs Whale Oil and Kiwiblog, alongside other organisations. It also eventuates that their influence on the mainstream media was hotly contested in under-staffed newsrooms and based on a not insignificant amount of fear.

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The media’s (then) strange complicity in selling the National message was clear even when covering Key’s blunders. In many instances, the framing of a story alone made it borderline propaganda. Other times, journalists failed to press the Prime Minister, and allowed him to repeat pre-written party-political broadcasts — failing to confront the issue that he doesn’t answer questions. (Although there have been a few noteworthy exceptions to that, which are somewhat illuminating if you are media-savvy.) Other times, the story is dropped altogether, worn-out by the Prime Minister’s tired repetitions.

Or instead — BANG! — a sudden scandal involving the left, seemingly out of no-where (not actually no-where though! From Slater&Collins&Farrar&Key): a misrepresented letter; an Official Information Act request of little relevance but ingenious timing; who visited Dotcom how many times when; whether someone has a copy of Mein Kampf … But never a story about anything that seems to matter, and never in any great depth — just more one-liners and tired, tired, oh-so-tired accusations of corruption that never quite add up to anything but providing ample ammunition for accusations of untrustworthiness for politicians and partisan political commentators alike. (And fun-time accusations that “the left doesn’t want to talk policy”, which the media reinforces by failing to report policy! )

And oh! the talking heads do talk, don’t they? Cameron Slater and David Farrar are one thing, but don’t forget Key’s other partners in the embarrassing politics-blogosphere-media three-way handshake! Our long-time friends, the World-Infamous-in-New-Zealand Paul Henry and our “impartial” upcoming moderator of the Leader’s debate, Mike Hosking — with his NewstalkZB radio show where he chums it up with the PM about anything but politics. (But the Left don’t want to talk politics!)

They talk a lot, don’t they? But do they ever say anything worth listening to? Do they ever listen to themselves talk? Do they listen to the answers to their questions or are they just waiting until it’s their turn to talk again?

Coverage of recent politics have made it hard to figure out what’s going on in New Zealand politics. There’s so much blame and accusation, you’re hardly to be blamed if you were put off.

Voter disengagement and political fatalism is exactly what they want:

‘There are a few basic propositions with negative campaigning that are worth knowing about. It lowers turnout, favours right more than left as the right continue to turn out, and drives away the independents.’ In short, many people simply stop participating in politics. If politicians cannot be trusted, if politics looks like a petty or ugly game and if no one seems to be talking about the things that matter, then what’s the point of bothering to participate? Just leave them to it. There are innovations in US Republican Party thinking on this point: election tactics do not have to be just about winning votes; they can be equally effective if groups of people in society just stop voting altogether. We should not assume that everyone thinks low voter turnout is a bad idea. (p.132, Dirty Politics)

Please don’t let them put you off. A healthy democracy is dependent upon participation from the people. That’s you. Our politicians need you. And not just every three years when an election’s on. All the time.

Politicians need you to question them.

Need you to critique them.

Need you to keep them honest.

Push them for the answers and don’t let them put you off with trivia or spin.

Make them talk about the things that matter. Like policy, which I’ll spend a little time on, because I’m not trying to avoid it.

All of the political parties are trying to get their message out right now, but you might not get at it yourself if you don’t do a little digging around. Check out political websites and social media. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how we communicated these things in the past, but in this pocket of time, the internet’s always going to be your best bet.

What’s their plan on child poverty? What do they plan to do about environmental issues? What about climate change? Do they even believe in climate change? What about public transport? Health? Education? Tax? What do they plan to do about NZ’s growing inequality? Welfare? Employment relations? International relations issues and agreements like the TPPA? Government transparency and accountability? Do they even mention some of these issues or brush them aside?

Think carefully about who you vote for in the upcoming election. This is our chance to evaluate our politicians, and for me at least, one section on John Key (Prime Minister)’s report card is headed “Ethics and conduct”.

You make your own evaluation of course. I’d recommend you take into account all the current available evidence, personally. I think you should know what kind of politics our government is engaged in.

The fallout from the book, and National and Key’s fates, are still undecided at present. This is worthy of note, because there are some in the media who are saying the decision is already made.

But unfortunately for National, I do not think these allegations are “dissolving”, “what ifs” or “a screaming left-wing conspiracy theory”. And I do not think people will be pleased with what they read in Dirty Politics.

And the decision about this is not made by talking heads in the media. It’s made by us.

The media will have some very different decisions to make.

 

My proposed new voiceover for this video:

As one of France’s largest supermarket chains, averaging around 40 billion euros a year in profits, we’re really struggling to find new and innovative ways to increase our market share in a saturated market place with many established players offering the same tired products.

Luckily for us, after years of our adopted aesthetic values driving down the value of ‘ugly’ produce to zero, we realised we had inadvertently created a money-making opportunity for ourselves!

It was unintentional initially, but there’s no law against us benefitting financially from a problem we helped create through decades-old business practises, right?

So we convinced the growers to sell us this ‘unsellable’ (ha!) produce at a bargain basement price (I mean, they were throwing it away before, so anything they get for it is better than nothing) and then we sold it to consumers (at a tidy profit) by telling them it was less wasteful, even though WE were the ones who created that waste in the first place!

But here’s the kicker! Then we made a self-congratulatory web video about our cool new revenue stream but made it SEEM like it was about waste. And the best part? Because people love feeling like they are doing something positive, they all shared our video on social media and our video went viral.

And because journalists are fucking lazy and pretty much just repeat whatever we tell them to, it got in all the traditional and print media too! Which is exactly what we were hoping would happen. Taking advantage of people’s natural goodwill and laziness is so easy! VOILA, the perfect PR rort.

If you follow the news at all lately, you’ve probably heard about Cunliffe’s apology for “being a man”. You might’ve heard that John Key thinks it’s silly. You might’ve seen Judith Collins referring to it in her ironically-wonderful twitter titbits.

You might not’ve heard the context though, and as we all know, context matters. David Cunliffe was addressing a women’s violence conference. He also affixed a qualifier to his statement — he said “I’m sorry for being a man right now” (emphasis mine) and then went on to explain his statement; “because family and sexual violence are perpetrated overwhelmingly by men”.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. This statement is borne out by statistics. We don’t need to discuss whether or not Cunliffe’s statement was “insulting” or not, John Key. It’s factually accurate. And that’s what the media should be focusing on.

But no. Instead of discussing the facts, we are discussing politician’s opinions in a media-manufactured gender war.

Let’s talk about how this apology has been received not just by its detractors, but also its supporters.

By and large, those who live in feminist/women’s rights/rape crisis circles have been supportive and positive. Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Heather Henare said it was “gutsy” (a statement I might not have agreed with had it not become clear just how negatively the media perceived the event).

But here’s the thing guys — the people who support his statements are actually just pleased the Leader of the Opposition considers these issues at all. Because it doesn’t really feel like our incumbent government cares about issues like domestic violence and rape. It’s not hard to see why.

It seems like the detractors of Cunliffe’s speech want to focus on the apology part of his statement more than the explanation bit (“family and sexual violence are perpetrated overwhelmingly by men”), which is the part that describes the world supporters of Cunliffe’s apology actually live in.

The part of Cunliffe’s speech that matters is that he understands himself as part of that world too.

And all this talk about whether or not Cunliffe’s comments were insulting is missing the point. The point we’re all ignoring when we’re forced to engage in this media-created, two-sides-to-the-coin, knee-jerk reaction “debate” about Cunliffe’s words. Here’s the facts, not the opinions: Family and sexual violence are perpetrated overwhelmingly by men.

If Labour ends up gaining votes over this issue, it won’t be because Cunliffe said “he’s sorry to be a man”, it will be, in part, because National are making it so easy to feel sorry if you’re a woman.

But it will mostly be because Cunliffe did something simple that these voters want; something our Prime Minister and our media seemingly cannot: he recognised that we have a problem and saw himself and his country in that context.

Because you said that it was “a distraction”, implying it was unimportant that children had been raped, and that you were looking forward to us getting away from this “distracting” commentary about rape culture and back to more important things.

Because you claimed that people couldn’t pay attention to two things at once: both this rape scandal and other events that were happening in the news.

Because you didn’t even try to understand that for people who couldn’t pay attention to this gang rape and other events in the media, it was because they too were survivors of rape.

Because the story of rape survivors and the all-too-common victim-blaming they receive at the hands of the police in New Zealand being front and centre in the news doesn’t happen often here and when it does, it recalls upsetting life-changing experiences.

Because you didn’t understand that one of the things that often made these experiences all-the-more upsetting was the experience of not being believed, or being denied for political reasons or reasons of nepotism and impartiality.

Because your personal denial was both political and a failure to recognise potential nepotism or impartiality.

Because you had an unnamed “source” who was a friend of the perpetrators of the crime, who said that the “sex was consensual” and you thought that that wasn’t rape denial.

Because a discussion about rape culture is only a distraction if you don’t understand how truly endemic this problem is, and that every woman lives with the spectre in their lives in one form or another.

Because you were blasé when reminded that one in four women are sexually assaulted and failed to recognise the possible repercussions for them in your words.

Because you spread misinformation.

Because you never once gave a trigger warning.

Because your statements were a trigger.

Because you told me to look at the context, when the only context that matters is that sexual assault happens to one in four women, and is minimised, denied and blamed on the victims by our law enforcers, our judicial system, our politicians and our culture.

Because the context is not my ignorance, but yours.

Because you were unable to understand the concept that people say all sorts of things to defend people they love … sometimes even when they know, or suspect that the person they are defending may in fact be guilty.

Because you deliberately chose to say you were “playing devil’s advocate”, not seeming to realise that meant you were siding with rapists or that maybe we shouldn’t play devil’s advocate with sexual assault.

Because you thought that the young men’s statements about women were “teenage bluster”, and you failed to identify a much larger problem with your “boys will be boys” acceptance of their statements.

Because you thought that your statements were totally okay as long as you bracketed your main argument of disbelief and denial with messages saying rape was abhorrent. All while you denied the experiences of thirteen-year-old victims, by saying that it was consensual. Despite having no credible evidence.

Because you said it was consensual sex, even though the victims were children, and they had not consented, nor could they legally consent to sex.

Because you did not listen when female friends tried to tell you that some of your statements were victim-denying or rape apology.

Because you wondered what a “radical” feminist would think, and then ignored the very vocal feminists who were telling you your words were a problem.

Because you only listen to arguments that back up what you think in the first place.

Because in all your talk about helping children, you somehow failed to realise these rape victims are children, and you did not stand up for their needs, which are to be believed and to be helped.

Because you said most people weren’t critical thinkers like you, all the while failing to think at all critically.

Because this is not a media distraction, this is reality intruding.

Because rape culture does have serious long term ramifications for our country.

Because you denied it was rape.

Because you denied.

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