Rural Tolerance

January 23rd, 2009 at 4:48 pm by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne blogs:

IN A PROGRAMME recently replayed on Radio New Zealand as part of the “best of” Kim Hill from 2008, Hill interviewed Mani Bruce Mitchell about the challenges of being an intersex person – one born with genetic and physical variations that mean they are neither wholly male nor female.

One point in particular struck me. Mani Mitchell told how she was born to parents in a small country community and at first was treated as a boy. But she had a uterus and at the age of one she had an operation and became Margaret.

The community held a meeting in the local hall to discuss how it should deal with this unusual situation. Mani Mitchell described this as an example of a rural community functioning as it its absolute best.

Hill seemed momentarily taken aback by this and asked if her guest was being sarcastic, to which Mani Mitchell assured her she wasn’t. The community agreed at that meeting to close the door on her past life as a boy and from that time on she was accepted as Margaret.

What was interesting was Hill’s initial reaction. It seemed that, for a moment at least, she had difficulty accepting that a community in rural New Zealand in the conservative 1950s could have reacted to this predicament in a compassionate, positive way, rather than demanding that this freakish child be cast out.

No surprise to me. Typical rural practicality.

It’s common among sophisticated urban types to equate rural communities with bigotry and ignorance, but history shows country people are a lot more liberal and tolerant than urban stereotypes give them credit for.

It was a supposedly conservative rural electorate that elected feminist MP Marilyn Waring and kept returning her to Parliament even after Truth newspaper outed her as a lesbian. And it was a supposedly conservative rural electorate that voted for the world’s first transsexual MP, Georgina Beyer.

Not just a transsexual, but also former drug user and prostitute. But Wairarapa deemed her achievements as Mayor of Carterton as more important than what she did 20 years ago.

The liberal farmer politician – of whom Tom Shand, Minister of Labour in the Holyoake government of the 1960s, is often held up as an example – is a recurring figure in New Zealand politics. Holyoake himself was from that mould and so too was Jim Bolger, who threw his weight behind the Treaty settlements of the 1990s.

Sure, you find rednecks and Philistines in the country, just as you do in the cities, but not all country people have hair on the palms of their hands and eyes in the middle of the their foreheads.

Indeed. That’s only in North Canterbury :-)

Tags:

17 Responses to “Rural Tolerance”

  1. Chris S (111 comments) says:

    “And it was a supposedly conservative rural electorate that voted for the world’s first transsexual MP, Georgina Beyer. Not just a transsexual, but also former drug user and prostitute.”

    Well, when the alternative was Paul Henry…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. peterquixote (231 comments) says:

    spose so like gosh

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. GN (18 comments) says:

    It doesnt surprise me- as a “rural dweller” I find urban liberals the most bigoted bunch of all.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    What exactly where Georgina Beyer’s achievements that so impressed the people of Wairarapa? Other than a relentless talent for self promotion?

    That whole election always seemed fishy to me, but the election of Beyer was among the fishiest.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Stephen Franks (54 comments) says:

    I meant to link to this insightful piece by Karl when it first appeared in the DomPost.

    As an MP I found farming people to be better informed and less biased by supercilious prejudice, on average, than city folk. They were also much better on both measures than they thought they were. They tended to express hesitation about their knowledge, and to pre-emptively acknowledge “where they were coming from” not recognising that they were often more open-minded and generous spirited than equivalent urban people.

    I think some of it can be attributed to radio. Many farming people work alone, and listen all day. So they are genuinely well informed, and do not realise that most office workers hear little of what they hear.

    .

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. coge (190 comments) says:

    Hill’s attitude perfectly encapsulates the deeply ingrained dated predjudices of the leftist media. It appears if they can’t reinvent themselves quicksmart, they will be left behind in the twentieth century. I won’t hold my breath, as they seem blind to this fault.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Quite right Stephen

    Too many of those smooth city lawyers and MPs are blind to the good old fashioned home truths to be found on Talkback Radio.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. bobux (349 comments) says:

    Keep clinging to those stereotypes, pushme. I am sure it is well known in your circles that talkback radio is exclusively broadcast into rural areas.

    It may be just force of habit, but Radio New Zealand appeared to be the default setting in the cowsheds and smoko rooms I used to spend my days in.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. radvad (765 comments) says:

    What GN said.

    For example, the Kim Hill types are big on wishy washy liberal mantras like “freedom to choose”. However if anyone exercises that freedom by making a different choice to them, they will pour scorn on them. They are the real bigots.

    A truly classical liberal, not only believes in the freedom to choose, but will also respect the person who makes a choice different to the one they would make. That sums up the pragmatic and truly tolerant rural people I was brought up amongst and choose to associate with.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    The point of intrasexuals is also that, unlike homosexuality where it may be debated whether it is a choice or not, being intrasexual is 100% something that people are born with – it’s an observed fact.

    Most farmers see stock that is deformed when born all the time. They’d understand better than most that nature sometimes throws curve balls.

    They had an interesting interview the other day with a guy who wrote poems using only one vowel – took him 7 years. Then they had a sad case who was still litigating over Bush’s 2004 re-election, spouting conspiracy theories that were swallowed hole. Bit of a mixed bag really!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    Kim Hill … how that cackle of a laugh gets fair up my goat (figuratively of course).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    It’s common among sophisticated urban types to equate rural communities with bigotry and ignorance, but history shows country people are a lot more liberal and tolerant than urban stereotypes give them credit for.

    No. No no no no no.

    Lets not make believe there is a rural community. Or an Urban community. That’s the problem. Many who have grown up in country towns know about the brutal reality of that life. You cannot take one example and… whoopee!.. it’s a new truth because it is different to the common stereotype.

    The people who work the farms didn’t create the stereotype. So who do you think did. And now the people who were at that meeting didn’t create that stereotype either.

    All that happened was that a group of people got together and made a decision for their comminty. It won’t stop them tying a boy to a wharf post next week. Neither is there a gaurantee that will happen again.

    There are only people, working on farms who know other farmers. People working near concrete buildings who know other people who work in concrete buildings. These people possess the same ability for understanding or brutality and it is the opportunites within their environments that change how those abilities are expressed.

    Leave the stereotypes alone. Their is no competition in life for being the most tolerant, politically correct or progressive. You will die one day, regardless. If you want to see the truth, just record what happened, don’t make conclusions and don’t try to say it’s a new rule.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Hilarious – a bunch of posters getting all indignant over perceived stereotyping of the rural community…and then proceeding to stereotype all urban liberals to the same degree. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    There are decent rural folk. Shocker! There are decent urban folk. Get out of here! Bunch of fools in both places as well. My mind boggles!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. MT_Tinman (3,188 comments) says:

    Indeed. That’s only in North Canterbury :-)

    And if we could stop bloody Wellington wankers immigrating down this way there’d be none here either.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Rural New Zealand could not only get by without urban New Zealand but it most likely be better off that way. Urban New Zealand has about 5 days before it goes belly up with rural NZ.

    Yet hard core liberal bigots like Kimbo just can’t help themselves in the assumption that they are somehow naturally superior in some way.

    To be fair many of her type assume that about everyone else. Why actually produce or do something productive when you can get paid for just talking about how useless everyone is.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Scrubone is right, farmers are used to dealing with hemaphrodite stock and know this is a genuine physical problem. There is a big difference between someone who is born with a physical abnormality and someone who is born one sex and chooses themselves to live as the other, and you may find the same people had a completely different attitude if that were the case. This case has little bearing on how you can expect country folk to treat transexuals, gays or any other alternative lifestyle.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    There’s a superb 1970s film series available on DVD called Alistair Cooke’s America. The series is all about his experience as a young English journalist going to the USA to live. He has a whole episode devoted to his “revelatory” discovery that the country really isn’t some hillbilly intellectual desert at all!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote