Blog Bits

September 6th, 2008 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

has the full range of “If leaders were cars“.

Karl du Fresne blogs on a forum on reporting of challenging stories such as the N&S Asian Angst, the Clydesdale research on Pacific immigration and the Danish cartoons. Karl makes many excellent points including:

I also expressed my firm belief that in a liberal democracy, the right to freedom of expression is far more precious than the right of a minority – in this case the Muslim community – not to be offended.

I’m not even sure there is a right not to be offended. I can maybe accept a right not to be vilified, but that is a very different thing. And Karl nails it again:

The greatest threat to the healthy process of disclosure and debate that followed the Clydesdale story is the belief that the state must protect us from harmful ideas because we’re not mature and intelligent enough to deal with them. Underlying this is a fundamental distrust of democracy.

Trevor at New Zeal profiles the Trotskyist background of , the Labour/Green appointed Chair of the electoral reform expert panel. Andrew is an expert in the area of political financing, and very respected. But when appointments are made without bipartisan consultation, then the background of appointees come under great scrutiny. All Labour had to do was ask National and other parties if they agreed with the proposed appointees, or have any names of their own they wished to propose.

Stephen Franks blogs on how spin should not save crap managers, applying it to the party that has managed NZ’s military, SOEs, and hspitals for the last nine years. A good read.

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8 Responses to “Blog Bits”

  1. radvad (767 comments) says:

    “I’m not even sure there is a right not to be offended”

    The taking of offence is a personal choice. We have a right to choose to be offended but this must never trump the right of others to say things that someone might choose to be offended by.

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  2. Bryce Edwards (248 comments) says:

    In terms of the New Zeal profile on Andrew Geddis, I think this sort of thing can be quite useful. I’ve always thought the *concept* of Trevor Louden researching what he regards as his “political opponents” is probably a fair thing. And the left should carry out a similar project. But in practice a lot of what Louden writes isn’t necessarily very accurate….

    The profiles tend to concentrate on obscure and irrelevant parts of people’s personal histories. And while he probably doesn’t claim that his profiles are objective or neutral historical accounts, often they would benefit from at least an attempt to be balanced.

    In terms of Andrew Geddis chairing the Electoral experts panel, the most relevant thing to be looked at is Andrew’s vast amount of articles and statements on the topic. There should be no doubt that he is incredibly qualified for this role. He is definitely New Zealand’s expert in this area, and therefore it’d be shocking if he wasn’t involved in such a panel. And if you read his articles on the political finance and electoral law, you’ll see that he doesn’t exactly hold revolutionary opinions on the matters at hand. So I think Louden is either being paranoid or disingenuous about Geddis.

    Bryce
    http://www.liberation.org.nz

    [DPF: I've been careful not to say that Geddis should not be involved. His work in this area speaks for himself. My bone is both the partisan method of the appointments but also the potential lack of balance. I don't see anyone on the panel who is deeply sceptical of the merits of state funding, who will fight to ensure the most robust arguments against state funding are included along with the robust arguments in favour of it]

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  3. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..I can maybe accept a right not to be vilified..”

    can i advise/recommend not commenting on kiwiblog..with other than extreme rightwing views..?

    ..if ‘vilification’ is not your wont/curls your toes..?

    ..phil(whoar.co.nz)

    [DPF: I have never noticed Toad or many others on the left get villified. Same for Tane W. You get attacked because of how you conduct yourself not because you are on the left]

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  4. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    I also expressed my firm belief that in a liberal democracy, the right to freedom of expression is far more precious than the right of a minority – in this case the Muslim community – not to be offended.

    I totally agree. But the likes of Coddington and Clydesdale don’t have some right the chuck a pissy fit when their work is critically examined and even found wanting. Free speech does work both ways, and sometimes I wonder if folks like Karl (who I have a lot of respect for) really get it. Journalists and academics are not some secular priesthood who are beyond criticism.

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  5. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    In my view there is a right to be offended. Indeed, it is a fundamental part of free speech. Offense is an opinion and as such any person or body should be entitled to express their offence at the actions of another. Free speech is a two way street. Take the Catholic Church for example (upon whom open season seems to have been implicitly declared – and as a grumpy aside the same standards do not appear to be accepted/imposed when it comes to Islam) which regularly expresses its view on matters that they find offensive. For a start they do not burn embassies but rather they rely on their right to freedom of speech. At times my opinion is that they are overly precious and even counter productive (South Park) but on other occasions I cannot help but feel they have been aggrieved in the name of free speech. The Virgin in a Condom to my mind was something that was simply unncessary. Yes the “artist” had a right to do the “art” and even have it displayed as the Church (and others) had a fundamental right to point out that it was crass, tacky and offensive.

    To my mind free speech is a privilege. An important privilege, indeed one that we would regard as a right. Whatever the definition those who seek to exercise it should be encouraged to do so with respect. Enforcing such “respect” would be close to impossible but those who feel maligned should have the right to point out their point of view.

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  6. Stephen Franks (54 comments) says:

    DPF the right to vilify is the essential element of free speech, because vilification is simply the term used by those who “vilify” offending speech. Any speech that offends them, or ofends any object of effective satire or polemic or destructive criticism will be recast as vilification. The law can develop no robust boundary between offensive speech and vilification, without handing to those who hate free speech the tool to kill it. To work, offensive speech must vilify on occasion, most importantly when the object of the criticism is vile.

    That is because politics is about transfers of power, and it does not happen unless those who hold it (office holders and the groups who support them) come to have less clout than those who would replace them. In democracies, that clout must be reputational. To be effective in political action terms, to build and pull apart reputational authority we hope that in the market of ideas, dialectic will expose the weakness of those who use or depend on spin, lies, superstition or credulity, and discredit the powerful traditions that sustain them.

    That is often hurtful to the sincere folk who’ve inherited beliefs in them, and do not want their beliefs eroded. Think of the numbers who would sincerely like Winston to have had the power to suppress those who have mocked and “vilified” him over the last few weeks.

    His abuses of defamation law have been bad enough, permitted to do so by limp-wristed judging that has made defamation law a strategic tool for liars rather than a sword to defend the public good of honesty in free speech. Defamation law should be the tool for eliminating counterfeit currency in our market of ideas. The basic rules are OK, but the judges have allowed cost and delay to work to allow cheats and liars to defend reputations they should not have.

    Our current freedoms would never have been secured without so-called “vilification” of priests, princes, and villains, and the creeds and classes and groups (including ethnic and religious groups) who held and used the coercive powers of the state to kill, exile, imprison, impoverish or ostracise those who threatened their privileges and the philosophies and theologies that sustained them.

    In summary, do not assume that appealing rhetorical distinctions can correspond with meaningful distinctions in a law.

    [DPF: Excellent points]

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  7. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..[DPF: I have never noticed Toad or many others on the left get villified. Same for Tane W. You get attacked because of how you conduct yourself not because you are on the left]..”

    are you seriously trying to claim that..?..

    getoutthere..!

    (i mean..aside from toad being on the far right of the green party..and on a (surprising to many) toadying expedition to the right..

    ..and that tane is an active military commander..(so..hardly ‘lefties’..)

    ..anyone who appears here citing even mild demurs to the far-right message..

    ..receives the redbaiter/big bro/murray etc etc howls of ‘vilification’/ad hominems..

    (where being called’ vile’ is merely the entree..eh..?..)

    ..this is as it has always been..

    how can you be trying to claim any different..?

    ..that suddenly it’s all down to me..

    ….and cos’ of my ‘bad attitude’..?

    (cheers for the chuckles..eh..?..)

    no..dpf..the reason i get the ‘vilification’..is cos’ i’m sorta adequate at countering/’calling’ all the rightwing bullshit/spin to be found here..

    eh..?

    ..it’s as simple as that..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  8. Ferdinand (93 comments) says:

    This is the second post you’ve made in two days that undermines Geddis. But he is New Zealand’s most qualified academic in the field of electoral funding. What interest do you have in undermining him?

    Your comment to Bryce that you’ve “been careful not to say that Geddis should not be involved.” is telling. Why have you been “careful” not to say this?

    [DPF: Because I respect Andrew's professional endeavours in this area. My issue is with how the appointments were done without consultation. Personally I would have a significantly larger panel (which includes Geddis) so there is a diversity of views. I am not sure I see a diversity of views on this panel]

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