Bob Jones on Auckland Council’s cultural impact requirements

September 10th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Sir Bob Jones writes:

Recently, a shop tenancy changed in a modern 17-storey Auckland CBD office building owned by my company. The previous tenant had blocked off some of its window which we now intended putting back to the conventional shop front.

At this stage, sit down with a stiff drink and accept my assurance I’m not making this up.

For we were then informed by a planner my Auckland office uses for council dealings (which can be laborious) that under the new council rules, changes to a building’s appearance require resource consent and we would be subject to penalty if we simply put back the window.

If that’s not outrageously absurd enough, things then became truly Kafkaesque and illustrate why the Government, against ill-considered opposition parties’ objections, wishes to tone down the Resource Management Act.

For we were then told that under the new Draft Unitary Plan, not yet enacted, our building being within 50 metres of a designated Maori heritage site, we needed RMA approval (for a new shop window, for God’s sake), this instantly forthcoming at a cost of $4500 plus the approval of 13 iwi.

$4,500 for a new window!

The council refused to advise the addresses of these iwi outfits, yet added that without their consent, we can’t put back the window.

So the planner located then wrote to the 13 iwi, ranging from Taranaki to Whangarei.

Five replied stating they had no concerns while others said they were considering the matter, presumably calling huis to weigh up this window crisis.

Unbelievable.

One respondent bearing that fine old Maori name of Jeff Lee, representing something called Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, contacted the planner.

Look up their website if you have tolerance for Maori “sacred footstep in the earth” guff, although it’s 100 per cent on the mark with its proclamation: “Our vision is only limited by our imagination.”

I’m sceptical about Mr Lee’s vision but have no doubt about his imagination, for after advising the planners verbally that no Cultural Impact Assessment Report was required for the window, he nevertheless asked them to consider it – brace yourselves – given his ancestors, centuries ago, gathered in the vicinity.

Lee then wrote, outlining his terms for “assessing the window’s cultural impact” which, he said, would take him “a total of six to eight hours”.

For this he sought $90 per hour plus GST and “travel expenses of 0.77c p/km.”

Very reasonable!

The council has designated 61 sites across Auckland and nominated 3600 others “of interest”. Undertake earthworks (swimming pool, building foundations, a shed etc) within 50m of a scheduled site and one must engage (pay) iwi.

None are of Stonehenge moment but instead claptrap such as “our ancestors beached canoes nearby” and the “feather-gathering” ilk.

A candidate for Mayor in 2016 should pledge to get rid of this nonsense, and they’ll win in a landslide. Shane Jones attacked the policy when he was an MP as political correctness gone mad or something like it. It does nothing for actual cultural heritage – it is simply a massive compliance cost.

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Taking offence

August 19th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Beck Eleven writes in The Press:

In his book, author Richard King argues it is all too easy to give offence. Not only that, but we practically leap at the opportunity to take it.

On Offence: The politics of indignation is King’s first book. Using popular culture examples, he explains how the cycle of giving and taking offence works to shut down debate and democracy.

“The determination to give offence matches the determination to take it,” he writes.

I reviewed his book a year or so ago. It is very good.

“Newspapers have less money these days,” King says. “And let’s face it, it’s cheap, easy copy and it’s copy people want to read. Some sections of the media almost drum up offence. You don’t have to pay a reporter to go to the Ukraine, these types of stories keep generating.”

Among other things, the book examines political correctness, an American pastor bent on burning the Quran, the Tea Party, religious and racist battles.

Finding examples for the book were everywhere.

“If you try to keep abreast of them all, you find yourself sinking beneath them. Offence and indignation are fantastically ubiquitous.”

One only need turn to social media or an online news story to find outrage.

“Comments hang on the end of them like seaweed. It doesn’t matter what an article is on, comments turn very abusive. Road rage is gone and internet rage is here.

So true.

As New Zealanders approach the general election, much of what King says about offence shutting down debate will start to ring a bell.

“The taking and giving of offence is a form of political currency. These days somebody only has to say something is offensive and that is deemed to be their whole argument although no real argument has actually been made.

“The way offence and offendedness is whipped up and weaponised strikes me as being almost corrosive of genuine civility.

“It ends up being more like ‘you have been offensive to me, therefore I am going to grant myself leave to something incredibly offensive back’.

“Offence is bad for democracy because it is treated as an argument in itself.”

His key reasoning in the book is that there is no right not to be offended.

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Selfish

June 2nd, 2013 at 7:42 am by David Farrar

Simon Day at Stuff reports:

A father-son bonding session planned by a North Island primary school was cancelled after a single mother demanded to be included.

Two “Band of Brothers” seminars were arranged by Matakana School to help fathers get more involved in their sons’ lives, and as a forum for dads to share their issues. One session was for dads and another was for fathers and sons. A solo mum wanted to attend but was told she couldn’t because her presence would inhibit discussion. She was told a mother and son seminar was planned for later in the year.

“We really just wanted an opportunity for the guys to open up and chat, and they wouldn’t particularly want to do if there were females around – which I think is understandable,” said principal Darrel Goosen.

The woman’s son was welcome at the second seminar and the guest speaker offered a specific session with her and her son but she continued to insist on attending, Goosen said, so the school board decided to cancel the event.

How incredibly selfish.

“In hindsight we realise we may have offended some single parents, for which we apologise, as this was never our intention,” said a school note to families.

It’s not the school that should be apologising.

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Can’t even stop kids fighting?

May 28th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A woman has been banned from a Wellington childcare centre after a Ministry of Education staff member saw her “inappropriately restraining” a child.

What did she do? Did she put him in a head lock? Tackle him to the ground? Sit on him?

The child was not hit or hurt

Yet she got banned?

The daughter of the centre’s supervisor had been on the floor with the children and was seen “stopping” a 4-year-old boy from hitting another child by putting her hand on his arm, she said.

How terrible. She must be kept away from children in case she stops other children from hitting each other.

The centre had a no-hitting policy, but staff usually told children verbally to stop if they were found to be “rough-playing”.

And if they don’t, we send them a stern note asking them to stop.

UPDATE: A friend who owns and operates an ECE says that the issue is likely to have been the fact the woman was not a parent or teacher at all, yet able to have contact with the kids – rather than the actual action of stopping one kid hitting another.

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The flapjack police

March 28th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The BBC reports:

A school’s decision to ban triangular flapjacks after a pupil was hurt has been labelled “half-baked” by the Health and Safety Executive.

It follows an incident at Castle View School in Canvey Island, Essex, when a boy was hit in the face by a flapjack.

Catering staff at the school have been told only to serve square or rectangular flapjacks.

The school said the “isolated accident” had led to a review of “the texture and shape of the flapjacks” provided.

Words fail me.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said: “We often come across half-baked decisions taken in the name of health and safety, but this one takes the biscuit.

“The real issue isn’t what shape the flapjacks are, but the fact that pupils are throwing them at each other – and that’s a matter of discipline, and has got nothing to do with health and safety as we know it.

“We’re happy to make clear that flapjacks of all shapes and sizes continue to have our full backing.”

Good that in this case the regulator is the one with common sense, and it is the school that is over-reacting.

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Green List Quotas

March 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Green Party already have the most prescriptive set of rules for their list ranking. It runs to 44 pages!

As you all know their rules already require one of their co-leaders to have a penis, and one not to have a penis.

With list ranking they already have quotas for everything – at least 40% must be female, at least 10% must be Maori, at least 20% from the Mainland and at least 10% must be under 35.

However this quota purity does not go enough for some Green Party members. Whale has leaked e-mails with a remit calling for:

The Party List at each election shall comprise all odd ranked places filled by one gender, and even numbered places filled by the other gender.

The gender filling odd numbered places at any one election shall fill even numbered places at the following election.  The gender filling odd numbered places at the first election after this remit is adopted shall be determined by a coin toss.”  

Total gender equality. And you work out who is ranked number one by a coin toss so the patriarchy can’t keep oppressing. Just delightful. It seems the motivation is that some activists are upset that Russel Norman keeps getting ranked No 1 and Metiria Turei No 2, despite being nominally equal co-leaders.

Now with the Green Party love for quotas, I’ve decided to help them out. I’ve calculated in Excel the idea demographic composition for each list position for them.

Green List Quotas

 

So their No 1 list place must be a straight female European with black hair. No 2 must be a straight male European with brown hair.

No 4 has to be a straight male Maori with black hair. No 5 a gay female European with black hair.

At No 15, you have a bisexual European female with brown hair. And you even have a ginga quota with No 12 being a straight male European with red hair.

This tables makes it very easy for the Greens with all their quotas. They don’t have to worry about competence, experience, skills. Or they need to do is recruit someone for each list place that meets their demographic quotas. People could apply for a specific list place, such as “I’m a straight blonde female European and would like to be considered for List spot No 9″.

Now you could argue having hair colour as a demographic quota is over the top, but look at the discrimination gingas suffer and the jokes blondes suffer from. Also you could complain people can change their hair colour. Now you could insist on a do the drapes match the curtains test, but in the end it is a human right to be whatever hair colour you feel you are. So if people wish to change hair colour to get a higher list ranking, who are we to doubt the validity of their personal choices?

Now I have not added in the age quota and regional quota their rules also insist on. I may do that in a further version.

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Politically correct Auckland Transport

March 22nd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Mao in Wellington

 

These advertisements have been banned by Auckland Transport from their bus shelters. The Herald reports:

The ad, for online electricity store Powershop, shows the Chinese former dictator surrounded by Chinese people and soldiers with guns, and carries the slogan ‘Same Power Different Attitude’.

It has been banned from bus shelters by Auckland Council-owned Auckland Transport over fears it could offend some members of the Chinese community.

Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s not even a denigrating portrayal, but a humourous one.  I hate this sort of self-censorship.

And while we are at it, Mao managed to kill tens of millions of Chinese through his policies. Would Auckland Transport refuse an ad with Stalin in it, in case some Russians were offended?

We live in New Zealand, not China. Local Government officials should not be censoring ads because they may offend some people. On that basis every advertisement could be banned.

Pleased to see Wellington transport officials are not so politically correct.

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BBC censors Fawlty Towers

January 26th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Political Correctness strikes again. Stuff reports:

In the annals of comedy history, Fawlty Towers is considered one of the greatest television programs ever produced. And from among its episodes, The Germans, in which hotelier Basil Fawlty clashes with visiting German tourists, is one of its most-loved.

And yet in an act which many will see as political correctness gone mad, if not actual cultural vandalism, the venerable BBC has censored a scene in which racist language is used.

In the scene, a hotel regular, the elderly Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley), relates a conversation in which he corrected someone for using a particular racist slur, by suggesting they use another, equally racist, slur.

In the context of the episode, the line is clearly intended to mock the old-school British upper class for their inherent racism. In that sense, the joke is on Major Gowen, as it were, and not aimed at racial minorities.

I detest this sort of rewriting of episodes. People are mature enough to judge old comedy shows in the context they were made – and as reported the show is actually lampooning the Major.

The actual lines that are now censored are:

He kept referring to the Indians as niggers. No, no, no, no I said niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs.

I guess Archie Bunker will be banned at some stage also!

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More PC gone mad

May 15th, 2012 at 7:30 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A petition has been launched over an adoption joke in the newAvengers movie that organisers have slammed as “insulting”.

The petition, which has 247 signatures, is over a line muttered by Chris Hemsworth’s character Thor, after Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow tells him his brother Loki – a villain – has killed “80 people in two days”.

Thor replies: “He’s adopted.”

Petition organiser Jamie Berke said scriptwriter Joss Whedon should have thought about how the line would impact on viewers who were adopted themselves.

“According to your scriptwriter, the fact (Loki) was adopted is the reason he is a bad guy,” Berke said.

Mr Berke is a moron. The media are also stupid for giving publicity to a moron with a global petion petition that has only 247 signatures. How is this newsworthy? Is every idiot with no sense of humour now international news.

I happen to to know a bit about Thor. I’ve read well pretty much all 700 issues of the Marvel Comic the film is based on. I also have studied the original Norse mythology.

Even if the film was suggesting Loki is bad because he is adopted, Mr Berke should lighten up.  It is a film. But what Berke fails to know is that Loki is not the child of other gods, adopted by Odin. He is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey. Fárbauti (or Laufey in the comics) is a frost giant – one of those evil creatures that generally kill men (and gods). So the adoption reference is actually a reference to Loki being half-giant.

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The Language of Political Correctness

March 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A further article from the CIS paper – You Can’t Say That! Freedom of Speech and the Invisible Muzzle.

This one is by Brendon O’Neill, editor of Spiked Online, a humanist/libertarian magazine. It editoralised against the post 9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

My favourite example of political correctness involves the American Navy. In October 2001, after America had invaded Afghanistan, some of its navy personnel were preparing missiles to be fired at Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds. One of the personnel decided to write a message on the side of his missile. A message to express his anger about 9/11. So in reference to the 9/11 hijacking, he wrote the following message on his missile: ‘Hijack this, you faggots.’

Little did he know that even though the American military had rather a lot on its mind at that time, his message would still cause a massive controversy. The upper echelons of the navy were outraged when they heard about this transgression. They expressed official disapproval of this homophobic message and issued a warning that military personnel should more closely edit their spontaneous acts of penmanship. They even issued some unofficial guidelines covering what could and could not be written on the side of post 9/11 missiles. Nothing offensive, the guidelines said. So it was ok to say ‘I love New York’ but not to use words like faggot.

That is my favourite story about political correctness for two reasons. First, it sums up how psychotically obsessed the PC lobby is with language. It is ok to kill people but not to offend them. It is ok to drop a missile on someone’s house or cave as long as that missile doesn’t have anything inappropriate written on its side. Heaven forbid that the last thing a Talib should see before having his head blown off is a word reminding him of the existence of homosexuality. This really captures the warped morality inherent in political correctness—where one becomes so myopically focused on speech and representation that everything else, including matters of life and death, becomes subordinate to that.

The second reason it is my favourite example of political correctness is because it captures a truth about political correctness that is far too often overlooked: Political correctness is not actually the handiwork of small groups of cultural Marxists or liberal malcontents. The rise of political correctness is simply down to the activism and agitation of unrepresented sections of the chattering classes who detest vulgar language and what they consider to be offensive ideas. Otherwise, how can we explain the actions of the American Navy? Why would one of the most powerful, well-armed institutions on Earth buckle under pressure from the PC police, from people who read The Guardian and The Age?

No. Political correctness represents something far more profound. The victory of political correctness is built upon the demise and decay of traditional forms of authority and morality. It is parasitical on the crisis of conservative thought. In fact, I would argue that the power of political correctness is directly proportionate to the weakness of the old, ‘taken for granted’ forms of morality. It is tempting to see political correctness as the imposition of a framework by small groups of illiberal liberals. To see it as a conscious project pushed through by these rather irritating sections of society. Two striking aspects of political correctness seem to bolster this view—the creation of a cabal of grumpy, misanthropic feminists and environmentalists.

First, political correctness came to the fore at a time when conservative governments enjoyed strong electoral support in the West. It really exploded in America and Britain in the 1980s when Reagan and Thatcher were in power. So the masses were largely supportive of conservative regimes. But political correctness was born at the same time and became more and more widespread, boosting the idea that the cultural elite sat down one day and drew up some rules for everyday life.

And second, political correctness does tend to be most vociferously promoted by the media and sections of academia, by those rather rarefied, aloof institutions with more than their fair share of worldly people. But to look at PC in that way only, to see it as a kind of conscious project of illiberal liberals with its list of 13 rules, as Thilo Sarrazin mentioned, is to miss the foundation stone of political correctness. The ground upon which political correctness is built is the inability of the traditional moralists to justify themselves and to defend their way of life and their moral system. That inability creates a moral vacuum, which gets rather feverishly filled up by new forms of intolerant morality. Because when you have a profound crisis of traditional and conservative morality that had governed society for so long, previously normal and unquestioned ways of behaviour are called into question. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore. From everyday speech to interpersonal relations, even nursery rhymes and fairy tales, all that was a given in the past 200 to 300 years falls apart. And political correctness fills that hole. It’s a tentative takeover by a new kind of modern day moralist. The result is undoubtedly tyrannical and profoundly illiberal and antagonistic to individual autonomy.

To see how political correctness has its origins in the demise of traditionalism, it’s instructive to look at the example of the girl guides. For a hundred years or so, Girlguiding UK was a fairly straightforward organisation. It was designed to instil girls with imperial pride. The girl guides had a simple slogan and swore an oath of loyalty to God, Queen and Country. About 15 years ago, Girlguiding UK rewrote their constitution and brought out a new mission statement. They turned one page into about 20 pages. There was no more duty to God; instead, there was a promise to love ‘my God’ in recognition of the many Gods today and that there is not one true God or one true religion. The girls were no longer required to swear loyalty to the Queen or country, only serve them. And they were encouraged to feel sympathy for the Queen because it cannot be easy for her to be photographed everywhere she goes.

The key here is that nobody invaded the girl guides’ headquarters and forced them to rewrite their constitution at gunpoint. They did it themselves because those three institutions—God, Queen and Country—are no longer real sources of authority. All three—religion, monarchy and nationalism—have suffered a profound crisis of legitimacy. And it was the girl guides instinctive recognition of that which led them to voluntarily rewrite their own rules and their own outlook.

So, political correctness is not about cultural Marxists storming the citadel and forcing us to obey them. In fact, the citadel has collapsed, and they are in the rubble trying to fashion a new kind of social morality. And that is why political correctness is so hysterical, so shrill, and so intolerant. Not because it is strong but because it is weak and isolated. It has no real roots in society, and it has no real roots in history. It has no popular legitimacy, and it has no public support. It is better seen as a knee-jerk instinctive imposition of a new morality designed to replace the old. So everything must be controlled, no one can be trusted, and no one anymore knows what is right and wrong. It is the moral hole of the heart of society that gives rise to this insatiable desire to implement all kinds of new rules and regulations.

So even nursery rhymes are being rewritten. In Britain, we’ve recently rewritten ‘What should we do with the drunken sailor?’ The drunken sailor has been replaced with a grumpy pirate because we don’t want children to know about alcohol. The old rhyme used to say, ‘stick him in a bag and beat him senseless’; the new one says ‘tickle him until he starts to giggle.’ This is PC gone mad—crazy feminists in dungarees rewriting nursery rhymes and forcing them on schools. But a more important question to ask is what kind of crazy unhinged society rewrites rhymes that children sing, rhymes that have been around for generations. Only a society that has entirely lost its moral bearing and can no longer take the most basic things for granted would do such a ridiculous, Orwellian thing.

The hysteria of political correctness really speaks to its opportunistic, parasitical nature. A more confident moral system would be able to tolerate deviance. An unconfident and accidental moral system like political correctness can tolerate no deviance at all because it continually fears for its own continued survival. And it’s important to bear that in mind because sometimes the critics of political correctness are too quick to play the victim card. Janet described very well, and very accurately, the way in which politically correct people play the victim card—but sometimes so do un-PC people. Too many right-wing thinkers claim that a conspiratorial cabal of PC lunatics are ruining our lives, which conveniently absolves these right-wing conservative thinkers of having to work out whatever happened to their morality and to their traditions. Where did they go? It is easier to claim that society has been taken over by crazy, lentil-eating, sandal-wearing feminists and annoying greens; it is far harder to account for the demise of a way of life that had existed for hundreds of years. Which is why we should get to grip with these two facts.

First, political correctness is built on the decay of traditional morality. Second, it is weak, it is fragile, and it is probably quite easy to demolish. If we bear that in mind, then we can more successfully fight against this profoundly censorious and suspicious and irrational moral system. And if you feel that you are being treated like a heretic, then you should behave like a heretic. And you should pull up your socks and get your guns out.

The final article I will blog on Friday.

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It’s a Free/Unfree Thing

March 12th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A further article from the CIS paper – You Can’t Say That! Freedom of Speech and the Invisible Muzzle.

This one is by Janet Albrechtsen, a columnist with the Australian.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

— Mark Twain

It’s tempting to assume that the PC-crowd is having us on. How else can we explain the Seattle school’s decision last year to rename Easter eggs as ‘Spring spheres,’ worrying that a chocolate egg might remind, or even worse, offend kids by alluding to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sesame Street has been sanitised too: episodes made between 1969 and 1974 are screened with an adults-only warning. Enid Blyton has not been spared either. To appease the ‘don’t smack children’ lobby, Dame Slap is now Dame Snap. Feminists have been accommodated: Julian and Dick are now required to share household chores with the female characters. The gay lobby has not been forgotten either: the word ‘gay’ has been replaced with ‘happy.’ Bessie has been renamed Beth to avoid any connotations to slavery. Blyton’s golliwogs have been banished. And The Lion King has been decreed full of racist and homophobic messages. According to Carolyn Newberger of Harvard University, those good-for-nothing hyenas are urban blacks who speak in gay clichés.

Surely, they’re having us on with this PC stuff.

But, of course, we know they are not having us on. And they are not imbeciles. They are smart people who really mean it. Smart because the PC virus has infected so much of what we do, what we read, how we live, how we think.

It’s the thinking part that should trouble us the most.

Earlier this year, Alan Gribben, an English professor at Auburn University in Alabama, published a new edition of Mark Twain’s classics, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The word ‘nigger,’ which appears more than 200 times in the book, has been replaced with ‘slave.’ The professor worried that the word would offend too many students and turn them off from reading the book.

What the good professor doesn’t seem to know is that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn satirises Southern prejudices of the time. It is an anti-racist book. If you mess with the power of Twain’s words, you mess with the power of Twain’s message. If school children are to really think about American history and the Deep South, they need to read about ‘niggers.’ The history and the language are confronting.

Great literature unsettles us. It forces us to think about our reactions. If we’re offended, we think about why we’re offended.

By denying us the ability to think, political correctness is a heresy for those who are truly committed to liberalism. Political correctness tells people what to think. And it seeps into society, so often without us even paying attention to the subliminal message.

Because the purveyors of PC are not imbeciles but smart people armed with clever tricks, we need to pay attention.

The Left in Australia are claiming that those who raise questions about multiculturalism, immigration and the relationship between Islam and modernity have blood on our hands. I say ‘our hands’ because I have been named as someone who bears some responsibility for what happened in Oslo. Others complicit in the mass murder include Keith Windschuttle, Andrew Bolt, and Geoffrey Blainey.

Here, murder is used as a muzzle to close down free speech. And this is just the latest addition to what is a growing list of tactics to curb free speech, and even worse, to stifle genuine enquiry and independent thinking.

Here are some of their tricks.

The emotional hoax

The Left are armed with a range of emotionally charged tools to immediately close down discussion about immigration or border control. Call your opponents racists and point to xenophobia in the community. Opponents are not just wrong, they’re evil. Their views should not be aired in a civilised society.

John Howard copped this for years. When the Prime Minister Gillard called for an open debate about these issues last year, she was accused of whipping up the racists within Australia.

But remember this: the stifling political correctness that rejected an open debate about immigration in the early 1990s fuelled the emergence and popularity of Pauline Hanson.

 The victim game

The victim game has been fuelled by two recent developments. We now live in an age when ‘feelings’ are treated as a measurement of moral values, so you measure your feelings against the feelings of others to determine morality. Hence, we live in what author Monica Ali calls ‘the marketplace of outrage,’ where groups vie for victimhood status, each claiming their feelings have been hurt more than others.

Secondly, the focus on vulnerability is used to justify curbing Enlightenment values such as freedom of expression. The minority simply have to utter the word ‘phobia’ to silence all debate.

Over the last few years, we have witnessed a familiar opera of Muslim oppression.

Act I starts with something simple. Perhaps it’s a book called The Satanic Verses. Or a silly Danish cartoon. Or a film called Submission. Or a cheeky episode of South Park stating that Mohammad is the only guy free from ridicule.

Then the libretto comes: Muslims scream about hurt feelings. The drama builds in Act II: death threats are issued, flags and effigies are burnt, maybe even a few boycotts are imposed, and then we hear that great aria of all accusations—Islamophobia.

Act III is the most depressing. The West capitulates, preferring the path of least resistance to launching a staunch defence of freedom of expression.

Hence then US President George H. Bush declared both Salman Rushdie’s book and the fatwa against Rushdie as equally offensive.

Hence, 20 years later, newspapers across the globe chose not to publish the Danish cartoons and Western politicians muttered about protecting hurt feelings.

Hence, last year, Comedy Central, the channel that broadcasts South Park, inserted audio bleeps and large blocks of black that read CENSORED at the very mention or image of Mohammad to prevent more hurt feelings.

And as the clever guys at South Park lamented, ‘like, we lost.’

And we, too, may lose. If we don’t even recognise the tactics, let alone the consequences, we are left with a new norm of anticipatory surrender and self-censorship.

The legal route

The victim game works so well because it is augmented by laws: the apparatus of the state is used to censor free speech.

The prosecutions are mounting: politician Geert Wilders in Holland, writers Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant in Canada. And in Australia, Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt is defending a claim by a group of Aborigines that he ‘offended, insulted and humiliated’ them in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The PC crowd is clever and they’re not having us on. They know that there are no useful legal tests about hurt feelings and inciting hate. They enact nice-sounding laws, build bureaucracies, and wait for them to blossom and bludgeon free speech. They have effectively co-opted Islamic style oppression to prohibit debate, be it about Islam or anything else they wish to fence off from free speech.

Death by silence

The other trick is to quietly exclude certain people from the national discourse. It is best summed up by the German word totschweigtaktik.

To be ‘totsched’ is to be subjected to death by silence—books, ideas, people that challenge the status quo are simply ignored.

Shelly Gare wrote about it in Quadrant last year. Those who are totsched find ‘their efforts left to expire soundlessly like a butterfly in a jar.’

It happened to Orwell when he wrote his 1938 classic Homage to Catalonia, which addressed Stalinist Russia’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War. The left-wing literati simply ignored it. By the time Orwell died in 1950, barely 1,500 copies had been sold.

The same death by silence was used to ignore Australian writers such as Chris Kenny, who challenged the secret women’s business behind the Hindmarsh Island affair. It was used when author Kate Jennings aimed her fire at the sisterhood, post-modernism, and women’s studies.

It’s used by those who tell us that climate change will destroy us all if we do not act immediately. The sceptics are being totsched. Opposing views? What opposing views?

 The bipartisanship racket

Governments have their own tactics. In recent times in Australia, those with poor ideas and even worse policies have resorted to what is best described as the bipartisanship racket to fence themselves off from criticism on a range of topics.

The former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called for bipartisanship on Indigenous policies. It soon became clear that what he meant was supine obedience to his agenda. There could be no disagreement with the roll-back of the NT intervention. If you dared to disagree, you were immediately charged with politicising the issue. Imagine if these kinds of calls from those defending the status quo had managed to shut out the ideas of people like Noel Pearson.

The Rudd government tried the bipartisanship scam again with climate change and immigration. Each time the aim was the same: to place limits on free debate, to get opponents to rubber-stamp rather than question government policy.

No, the very last thing we want is bipartisanship when it is used so blatantly to stifle dissent and vest moral authority in one voice.

Consensus con

Another trick emerged from Canberra last year from the cloistered offices of the federal Treasury. Treasury boss Ken Henry demanded a supporting consensus from academic economists on major policy issues such as the emissions trading system and the equally ill-fated super profits tax on mining companies.

In one breath, Henry said that he supported the ‘contest of ideas’ and that there were ‘occasions on which economists might, at least for a period, put down their weapons and join a consensus.’

It sends shudders up your spine. A senior bureaucrat—who crafts a policy that, according to many, threatened to undermine Australia’s economy—demands obedience from economists. Henry lost that debate. And that’s the point of free debate. Ideas are not finessed through consensus or bipartisanship. Debate is the single most effective mechanism for disposing of bad ideas.

 Why vigilance?

The aim of political correctness is to tell people what to think and stop them from thinking for themselves. If we are serious about defending free speech, vigilance demands that we look out for the tricks and test the trickery against first principles. The alternative means more moral disorientation and a death wish for the West.

The principles are clear enough: free speech is not a Left/Right thing, as Mark Steyn said. It’s a free/unfree thing. You don’t get to cry in favour of free speech just to defend those with whom you agree. And free speech must include the right to offend. If we prosecute offensive opinions, we encourage ever more ridiculous claims to protection. We fuel that marketplace of outrage. And we end up shutting down the true genius of modern Western civilisation—the contest of ideas.

But, of course, free speech and the real value of debate depend on one more important principle: people genuinely listening to each other.

There are two more articles to come.

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Sarah Mosley on politicial corectness

July 30th, 2011 at 11:03 am by David Farrar

The ODT ran this column from Year 13 student Sarah Mosley:

Political correctness. Is it a well-meaning initiative, or an attempt to undermine our laid-back way of life?

No more can we have policemen and firemen. We must be non-gender specific, and don’t even think about mentioning religion or race. The world is going into PC overdrive. …

Political correctness in New Zealand is on a smaller scale compared to the madness in the United Kingdom. A chief constable refused to release pictures of two escaped murderers because it might breach their privacy. What about the victim?

New Zealand hasn’t completely escaped though. The PC fog is sneaking down the country.

Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital has removed the crucifix from the hospital’s chapel, oh, sorry, I mean the spiritual centre. How much comfort will patients or visitors find in an empty room, devoid of any of the religious symbols that they have come to expect? …

The Eskimo lolly is one of our country’s favourites. Last year, there was a lot of publicity about them. The large majority of us have all eaten at least one, if not 50. Apparently that makes us cannibalistic, Inuit-hating people. Get real. Most of the time they’re processed so badly that you can’t tell what they are anyway.  …

Political correctness is a crazy plan to stop human beings doing what we were designed to do – think for ourselves.

To stop this dangerous trend we need to stand up for what we believe in and think for ourselves. Keep a sense of humour and stop small-minded people ruining our lives.

These PC trends are sneaking in all over the world. Society is at risk of being destroyed. We need to unite, burn those risk management plans, buy a big bag of Eskimos, and take responsibility for our own actions.

Hear hear. Well said Sarah.

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Digger v Nigger

June 14th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Tom Cardy at Stuff reports:

One of the big questions hanging over Sir Peter Jackson’s Dambusters film has finally been answered – the dog Nigger will be renamed Digger as it might offend Americans.

The film’s script writer Stephen Fry revealed the change in an interview with the BBC.

In the original 1955 film the name of pilot Guy Gibson’s black Labrador is spoken 12 times as a code word to report successful dam breaches to the RAF’s bomber command, it was reported.

Fry said: “there is no question in America that you could ever have a dog called the N-word. It’s no good saying that it is the Latin word for black or that it didn’t have the meaning that it does now – you just can’t go back, which is unfortunate…Digger seems OK, I reckon”.

They were probably going to be damned, no matter what they decided. Fry makes a good point about how unacceptable that word would be playing to US audiences. However I don’t like rewriting history. Shakespeare has a bit of anti-semitism in The Merchant of Venice, but God forbid if someone ever tries to rewrite it, because it is not acceptable today.

Generally audiences can appreciate that in our past, attitudes and names were very different to today.

What I would have preferred is that they kept the original name, but maybe had a brief message at the begining of the film explaining the use of the name.

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Why not just shoot the Taniwha?

June 9th, 2011 at 1:44 pm by David Farrar

Wayne Thompson at the Herald reports:

Plans for an Auckland city rail link tunnel could be spiked by a taniwha – a spiritual creature that Maori say is in the way of the project.

The Auckland Council’s Maori Statutory Board has warned transport planners of the taniwha, who lived in an ancient creek running past the Town Hall and down Queen St.

Board member Glen Wilcox has asked Auckland’s transport committee to give consideration to the taniwha – which the Ngati Whatua iwi call Horotiu – as it plans the $2.6 billion tunnel project.

“What’s being done about the taniwha Horotiu who lives just outside here, and that tunnel will be going through his rohe [area]?” asked Mr Wilcox.

Poor Horotiu. I imagine that the only thing which could make him feel better is a huge amount of koha. Maybe once the tunnel is built, they could do a side tunnel for him, so he can play safely away from the trains.

This does remind me of the last time a Taniwha held up a project. Someone wrote a letter to the editor saying they had solved the problem, as they shot the Taniwha at the weekend!

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Political Correctness strikes again

November 2nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Lincoln Tan in the Herald reports:

A government office promoting ethnic diversity has pulled support from a multi-ethnic carnival over pictures it deemed offensive to Muslims – without apparently consulting Islamic groups.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs said “highly inappropriate” pictures on the website of the Auckland International Carnival, including scantily clad Cook Islands and Brazilian dancers, would upset Muslims and called for the office’s logo to be removed from promotional material.

What is interesting is how the PC bureaucrats in Wellington have decided that the sensitivities of one religion out strip the cultural traditions of all other cultures, and even worse make this decision without even consulting anyone.

The Islamic federation said the office had appeared to reach its decision without consultation.

Javed Khan, the federation’s senior vice-president, said such pictures might be viewed as inappropriate but many Muslims also would respect that the way the dancers were dressed “was part of their culture”.

“We have not made any complaints, and I am not aware of any Muslim groups who did,” Mr Khan said.

Bravo to Javed Khan. I have said many times that I think we are fortunate in NZ that the senior leadership of the Islamic community is moderate and they are good ambassadors for their community.

A director of the company behind the festival, Patrick Iwobi, said the organisers were deeply disappointed “that officials at a Government agency, meant to support ethnic people in New Zealand, is hell-bent on destroying the reputation of those who are trying to put together an ethnic event”.

Carnival organiser Jocelyn Sasa says dealing with the Office of Ethnic Affairs had been “a nightmare”, but there was no plan to remove its logo.

“It will cost us $20,000 to replace all the promotional materials. We just don’t have that kind of money and the OEA says they will not pay the cost, so their logo stays.”

Can I suggest that Minister Pansy needs to bash some heads together in the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

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A new low for political correctness

February 1st, 2010 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Nicole Mamo, 48, wanted to post an advert for a £5.80-an-hour domestic cleaner on her local Jobcentre Plus website.

The text of the advert ended by stating that any applicants for the post ”must be very reliable and hard-working”.

But when Ms Mamo called the Jobcentre Plus in Thetford, Norfolk, the following day she was told that her advert would not be displayed instore.

A Jobcentre Plus worker claimed that the word ”reliable” meant they could be sued for discriminating against unreliable workers.

I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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The Labour Conference

September 13th, 2009 at 2:53 pm by David Farrar

I have to give lots of kudos to Red Alert for their coverage of the Labour Conference. Overall I think it has been a positive event for them. Here’s how I see the good and the bad.

Good

  1. Goff’s Speech. Very well crafted, and got the tone right. If Goff makes more speeches like this, he will start to go up in the polls.
  2. Mike Rann’s speech. The fact the SA Premier went to uni with Goff makes his endorsement more meaningful. Incidentally please note no-one in National complaining about Rann speaking at a Labour conference – quite unlike Clark’s conduct over Downer speaking to a Nats conference.
  3. Anderton’s presence. It was a symbolic healing of past wounds.
  4. Having Federated Farmers address the conference. Very smart and bold.

Not Good

  1. Goff on the motorcycle. Yes I know he used to have one 20 years ago, but it looks just a bit try hard.
  2. The condoms story. For all their words about focused on the issues that matter to most people, this story will leave people wondering if anything is changing.
  3. Lianne Dalziel’s mooting of a (get this) Commissioner for Social Inclusion. No I am not making this up. The only comment on Red Alert is a trackback ping from the Dim-Post where Danyl can’t believe his luck at being given such material. No else has managed to find the strength to comment on the idea, because there is probably no way to do so politely. Danyl comments that “Dalziel is like a convicted killer who shows up to her parole board hearing with a hockey mask and chainsaw”.

Overall a good performance from Goff, but he needs to get a tighter rein on some of his colleagues. He should have stopped Dyson from sounding so eager about the free condoms idea, and there should be a general ban on any Labour MP promoting anything that sounds even more useless than the Families Commission.

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MacDoctor on discipline

April 6th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Read this post from MacDoctor and weep:

I initially thought that this article was some sort of satire, until, with mounting horror, I decide the perpetrators were not only deadly serious, but certifiably insane. Apparently, not only are teachers not able to use any form of physical discipline, they are not supposed to be using any discipline at all! This is the gist of the argument:

I had a similar reaction to the article.

The article said:

Pauline Bishop, a Unitec lecturer with 20 years experience in early childhood education, this week told the Early Intervention Association conference in Auckland that Supernanny techniques were unprofessional for teachers.

“What you’re really doing is you’re punishing the child for doing something that is not appropriate, instead of teaching them, which is our mandate,” Bishop said.

“It could be quite traumatic for children they might have hit somebody because they didn’t understand or they couldn’t communicate so they lashed out.

“Instead of teaching them a way of communicating, we’re punishing them by putting them on a naughty chair and giving them time out.”

MacDoctor continues:

One wonders if “20 years of experience” actually included children, or was this all academic “experience”? This is early childhood education we are talking about – toddlers and preschoolers. These are kids in their formative years, who need to know where the boundaries of good and bad behaviour lie. They are not having problems in”communication”, they are having problems with group dynamics and interactions. If they are not told what is and is not acceptable behavior, they will have to learn this the hard way with damaged relationships, social ineptitude and even criminal activity and prison. It is vital that kids learn boundaries.

Ms. Bishop’s bizarre approach is a direct result of not considering any behaviour right or wrong. Wrong behaviour is “naughty” and requires punishment in a right/wrong model. In Ms. Bishop’s world, undesirable behaviour is not wrong but “miscommunicated”. The child does not require punishment but counseling. Misbehaviour is a learning experience for everyone.

And we see the effects of such thinking in the article I posted yesterday where a 17 year old defends the murderer of Augustine Borrell as being just as much a victim. No clear understanding of right and wrong.

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Medical Ethics

March 4th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An article full of revelations appeared on Monday by Shaun Holt on medical ethics in NZ. He explains:

As an experienced medical researcher and an ex-member of an ethics committee, I am likely to know about the ethical requirements of medical research. Last year I submitted an application for a simple study to see if honey could help treat a common skin infection in children that is otherwise very difficult to treat. Only 15 children were required for the study, and all the caregivers had to do was to apply the honey, cover with a dressing and see if it seemed to help.

Sounds about as simple as you can get. It is 1,000 miles away from let’s not treat this women for cervical cancer so we can see how effective the treatment is.

In order to apply to the ethics committee, I had to consult a Maori health provider to make sure there were no cultural issues if any Maori children took part and see a justice of the peace to sign a statutory declaration.

The application itself needed around 9000 words to complete and over 350 pages had to be submitted. For a study which could not be any simpler and had almost no chance of causing any harm, the application process took longer than doing the study would have.

This is the first stage of distress. Consulting a Maori health provider should not be mandatory – common sense should apply. And God forbid how you need 350 pages for such a simple study. Think of not only the cost to the healthcare system, but also the research that never happens due to such bureaucracy.

The study was rejected by the committee and around 40 points were raised, most of which were either wrong or not relevant to the ethics of the study. For example, I was told to consult at least two more Maori health providers and to have systems in place for interpreters, even though the study was to be undertaken by a few GPs who would ask their own patients with this condition if they wanted to take part.

Almost enough to make you weep.

It is no surprise he writes:

Medical researchers are hugely frustrated by the quality of the ethical reviews of their proposals, the work required for an application and the time taken for the responses and approvals. One of our leading orthopaedic surgeons has said the greatest impediment to medical research here is the growth of the ethics committee process.

We owe Dr Holt our thanks for speaking up. Hopefully the powers that be  will take note.

Hat Tip: MacDoctor

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Blog Bits

June 16th, 2008 at 5:41 pm by David Farrar

Barnsley Bill blogs on the 35 kg stone which was flown first class to China as it was culturally insensitive to have it in the hold.

Frog Blog has a look at parties on Facebook. Frog has even found a Winston for PM group – but with slightly less members than the Bring back the Good Night Kiwi group.

American Thinker mentions NZ’s Trevor Loudon, and his work on Obama’s past.

Dim-Post looks at the options for Labour with the ETS:

  1. Rush the hastily amended, highly complex legislation into law by buying off the Greens and Winston Peters, paying a high political price now and ensuring at least six months of dire headlines as horrible mistakes and unintended consequences in the law are bought to light repeatedly embarrassing the government right in the middle of an election campaign they’re already losing.
  2. Admit the bill is dead and face a couple of days bad news focusing on the failure (which you can mostly blame on National).

And his prediction:

Scenarios like this are when Clark’s ultra-competitive personality undermine her own self-interest and that of her party – she’ll press for a parliamentary victory even if it is spectacularly pyrrhic one.

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Dom Post on Race Relations Commissioner

May 28th, 2008 at 7:59 am by David Farrar

The Dominion Post is not impressed with that the Race Relations Commissioner is launching a a review into the research done by Massey academic Greg Clydesdale into Pacific Island immigration.

Interviewed this week, Mr de Bres seemed as irritated by the fact that the research was done at all and that a media outlet had the temerity to report it as with any “issues” that the study might have raised. The commissioner seems unhappy that the paper gained access to Dr Clydesdale’s research and to believe – erroneously – that those who disagreed with it had no chance to comment.

He needs to reread the article. Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban was quoted as seriously rejecting Dr Clydesdale’s findings, which may well be flawed. So was Samoan Advisory Council spokesman Tino Pereira.

Mr de Bres seems in danger of forgetting this is a democracy, in which academics have the freedom their institutions allow them to comment and critique society and newspapers have the right not only to report such comment and criticism but also to decide what prominence to give what is, by any definition, news. …

Mr de Bres is entitled to his review. But if it does not find that it is totally legitimate for an academic to research immigration policy and for the media to report it, then the review will be flawed. Society is benefited in no way by political correctness taken to extremes.

It does all seem an extreme reaction to one academic study. The more worrying reaction is the reported comments by Labour Minister Shane Jones who allegedly said on Newstalk ZB that he had called Steve Maharey about the author.

The Association of University Staff should be very concerned about this, if correct. To have a Cabinet Minister contact the Vice-Chancellor (and a former colleague) because he disagrees with the research of an academic is obviously inappropriate and intimidating. Let alone boasting about it on radio and suggesting the academic should be teaching primary school children only.

So maybe the AUS could take a break from complaining about Massey students winning beauty contests and say something about Massey academics having academic freedom.

This is not to suggest that academic freedom means you can not criticise academics. Far from it. But to personally contact the Vice-Chancellor and advocate he should not be teaching at a tertiary level is very different from merely criticising.

Perhaps Mr Maharey (who seems to think being Vice-Chancellor is a part time job as he is still an MP) could reveal what he said back to Mr Jones.

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Basil Brush is a racist!

March 18th, 2008 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

Boom Boom.

Gypsies have complained that Basil Brush is racist because his show showed a gypsy woman trying to sell the puppet fox wooden pegs and a bunch of heather.

Bad Basil.

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