The only thing more feral than a lioness defending its cubs is the Parliamentary Press Gallery united to defend a “right”. The last mass uprising was in the 1990s when Ruth Richardson wanted to charge then rent for their free office space. This was the end of democracy we were told.
Now I admire the excellence of the Press Gallery campaign – it has been hilarious, defiant and effective. And the MPs who did put together the new guidelines for photography did so in a very clumsy and idiotic way by making it look like they are trying to ban satire.
Defending the intent of the MPs is probably the most unpopular position one can take, but I will do so (to some degree). People need to remember that Parliament is more than the one hour a day of the noisy intense question time. It sits until 10 pm some nights on very boring legislation, and MPs rostered on have to be there. Now it is one thing to have cameras on you for an hour a day, but how many people think they could spend around seven hours a house day being filmed and not during that time yawn, blow your nose, scratch your balls, text message etc etc. One would have to be inhuman not to.
What the MPs (very clumsily) are trying to do is say hey don’t take out of context images which show these things as if that is representative of all we do. MPs deliberately provide enough material for satire that one doesn’t need to take say an MP yawning out of context to ridicule them.
But the MPs are onto a hiding to nothing (despite the fact in some areas they have liberalised the rules). Look at the stories.
Dom Post: MPs claim they need protection
Dom Post: This picture is banned.
Dom Post: Shortsighted MPs harm themselves
So that is three stories plus a picture in just one day from one newspaper. I mean you would think this is the biggest issue facing the country.
Colin Espiner has a blog entry on the issue. Now I agree that the satire rule should go out. It is a red rag to a bull. And it was ridiculous that TV3 got bagged for showing Ron Mark doing the fingers, rather than Mark himself. But this isn’t quite the Kremlin cracking down on dissent and the media should consider how impartial they are reporting on themselves.
To some degree it will be be immaterial once Parliament is broadcast live over the Internet. I imagine many bloggers will be keeping copies and doing their own satire and lampooning. So the genie will be out of the bottle.