Sutton and confidentiality

David Farrar asks a reasonably question about breaches of a confidentiality agreement with the Roger Sutton/CERA misconduct issue.

Doesn’t confidentiality apply both ways?

I, along with many others, have been critical of Roger Sutton for breaching the confidentiality around the complaints against him by a CERA staffer. The press conference was a very bad idea, as it allowed him to spin his side of what happened.

But if one is to criticise Sutton for breaching the agreed upon confidentiality, doesn’t that apply both ways? A number of stories make it very clear that either the complainant is anonymously briefing media, or someone is on their behalf.

Now don’t get me wrong – the complainant is the wronged party. But if one is to criticise Sutton for talking publicly, then doesn’t the same apply to the other party?

iMP details a sequence of events.

1. Several female staff had issues with Sutton.
2. One eventually complained, formally, a fairly senior staffer
3. A several weeks investigation ensued.
4. Sutton chose to resign of his own accord.
5. Both parties agreed on confidentiality.
6. Sutton held a press conference, breaching that agreement and painted his victim a certain way.
7. She has little recourse, so friends have expressed views.
8. Then Sutton was further stood down.
9. Then Sutton was replaced, forthwith.

Law professor Andrew Geddis posted:

But if one is to criticise Sutton for breaching the agreed upon confidentiality, doesn’t that apply both ways?

No. No it doesn’t.

If Roger Sutton breached the confidentiality agreement, then that releases the complainant from her obligations under it. In the same way as if you don’t pay me for the car we’ve agreed I’ll sell to you, I don’t have to hand over the keys to you. That’s how contracts work.

Farrar replied:

AG: Good point but if the complainant believes Sutton’s behaviour has released her from her obligations (and if I was her, I’d check her employer’s views on that) I’d rather she gave interviews directly (not suggesting she be named) rather than this ongoing series of indirect attributions.

Kimbo:

She can’t, or else she will be, as you imply, in breach of the agreement. And while on the balance of probabilities she is almost certainly feeding the information either directly or indirectly, neither you, me nor Rennie can prove that for sure. Which is exactly the situation Sutton was faced with.

Piecing together the contradictory self-serving bullshit that has come out of Rennie’s gob, Sutton on the balance of probabilities almost certainly committed acts of serious misconduct, but it was probably too difficult to prove it such that he would lose his job. So instead everyone concerned was offered an adult way out – he resigned.

But that wasn’t good enough for Sutton, his PR flunkie wife, and his flaky sister-in-law. Instead, they had to try and air-brush it and put a favourable spin on a situation where he had one obligation…shut his gob and walk away. And Rennie the incompetent let them do it.

As that act was yet another abuse of his position and power, I say good on whoever is leaking the details. Team Sutton doesn’t like it? Tough! Your guy should never have got himself into a situation when resigning was his only reasonable option, and then breached the agreement that would have let him walk away relatively unharmed – or at least less harmed than what has happened since the manipulation that occurred on Monday.

And sorry, DF, but for all those reasons your expression and wishes of what “I’d rather” the person in question does are about as pious and hand-wringingly ineffectual and worthless as Rennie’s moaning about how legal niceties are no longer being observed as this is now being played out in the public domain.

As you’ve suggested, she is likely NOT released from her legal obligations, and the prospect of a long and expensive battle to prove otherwise means morally she is entitled, even obligated to leak like a sieve…

Kimbo again:

Confidentiality agreement are there precisely to prevent the sort of allegations that were first directed at the complainant in places such as this blog from last Monday on.

They are usually a standard means of damage control, and a reassurance that all parties (including the employer) can emerge from the matter with no chance of come-back. All parties agree to let by-gones be by-gones on the basis of the new circumstances (which included, in this case, Sutton’s resignation).

Which would have been the case if Team Sutton had kept their mouths shut, just as hundreds of others have to do in similar circumstances.

Harsh on Sutton but it looks like fair comment.

Jarrod Gilbert overplays “Dirty Politics’

In an ongoing issue about erroneous gang statistics sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert plays the ‘Dirty Politics’ card, but some of his implications are contradicted by the article he refers to at NZ Herald.

He recently posted Inflated gang figures corrected in Cabinet – but not in public.

The Herald’s David Fisher has today revealed that the grossly inflated gang data used by then Police and Corrections Minister, Anne Tolley,  have now been corrected –  behind closed cabinet doors.

Among a raft of others, the Minister said that 4000 gang members were responsible for 34 percent of all class A and B drug offences, when in reality the figure was 4 percent. The homicide related charges cited by the Minister were 25 percent, itself an inflated figure, but using a consistent data set, that figure was actually zero.

So far fair enough comment. But then he goes ‘Dirty’.

Despite this, the government has not corrected the figures publicly, which they sought to defend pre election via a right wing blogger. 

David Fisher’s work is proof this is not the case. He chipped away until the truth was revealed. It’s his second story on this issue. He first reported the erroneous data and uncovered collusion between the Minister’s office and Right Wing blogger David Farrar, who was then seeking to defend the inflated data. Now Fisher has gained Cabinet papers showing that the numbers have been retracted.

To me it is surprising that more journalists haven’t dug around like this in relation to the issues raised in Dirty Politics, after all there are names to be made. 

Fisher’s article on 25 September showed that police data was not clear.

A police spokesman said in the information supplied to the minister it was not clear that people other than gang members were responsible for the crimes.

He said the crimes were also committed by family of gang members, people charged with crimes which also included gang members and others with an “identified connection” to gang members.

The minister’s office refused comment on whether the figures in the press release were wrong but said police “should have been clearer”.

But also in that article Gilbert was claiming ‘Dirty Politics’.

It’s all Dirty Politics – even after the election.

That’s the verdict of Dr Jarrod Gilbert, who pointed out statistics errors used by the Minister of Police Anne Tolley when launching a new gang policy.

At the time, National Party pollster and Kiwiblog owner David Farrar said he had “seen the actual stats the Minister is referring to” and Dr Gilbert was wrong.

What followed was an online argument which Dr Gilbert says derailed his attempt to point out inaccurate figures. “The Minister was forgotten, I was now the one trying to mislead the people. I was being discredited by mischief and fiction, not by facts and reasoned argument.”

He said it was his own experience of Dirty Politics, pointing to the book which alleged the National Party used bloggers including Farrar to attack those which criticised it.

Farrar blogged several times on this, first in Gangs and crime on 6 August.

Gilbert is wrong when he says the specific offences don’t match published data. As an academic, I am surprised he has not discovered the website run by Stats NZ.

He seems to disbelieve that somewhere between 1,620 and 4,000 gang members (some of those in jail will have been out during the year) could commit:

  • 25% of aggravated robberies and robberies
  • 36% of kidnapping and abductions
  • 26% of grievous assaults
  • 34% of class A and B drug offences

UPDATE: I have been sent the actual stats the Minister was relying on, which are for the first quarter of 2014. They are:

  • Class A/B drug offences total 218 out of 649
  • Kidnapping and abduction 16 out of 44
  • Aggravated robbery/robbery 72 out of 284
  • Grievous assault 130 out of 506

I look forward to the Herald covering the Jarrod Gilbert eating his carrots.

Gilbert refers to this as a “Dirty Politics’ attack, but Farrar was using information he believed to be correct and was challenging Gilbert’s claims – hardly a dirty attack.

Farrar followed up two days later with Dr Gilbert now concedes gangs are responsible for the proportions cited.

Now sadly Dr Gilbert won’t accept he was wrong, but is now trying to argue that there is a difference between gang associates and gang members. So he is not at all disputing that are responsible for 25% to 36% of kidnappings, robberies, grievous assaults and serious drug offences. He is now just saying that the crime figures may include associates, not just gang menbers:

I spend a lot of time working in prisons and I spend a lot of time with gangs. The prisons are not so full of gang members and not a single gang I know has anywhere remotely close to half of its members inside.

Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.

What the 28 percent prison number represents is gang members as well as gang associates in prison.

So it is a technical argument over definitions. I don’t care what you call them.

A few years back The Police Association said gangs and associates numbered 60,000.

The Police Association are not an official source. The Police are. They say there are 4,000 gang members. I don’t know if they includes associates in that. I presume Police and Corrections are using the same definition.

This sounds like Farrar is using known information to dispute claims and debate with Gilbert. It turns out some of the information was wrong but Gilbert provides no proof the Government or Farrar knew it was wrong.

On 24 September Farrar concedes Jarrod was right.

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

So Dr Gilbert was quite right that the Minister was not comparing apples and applies, as one figure included associates, and one did not.

UPDATE: of course I apologise for doubting when he says Police and Corrections were using definitions of gang members. They were!

Farrar followed up on 10 October with Is disputing data dirty politics?

is tweeting that he has an OIA showing I asked for information to attack him. This is not true. I asked for information to dispute his data, and he seems unable to see the difference. This is the legacy of the Hager book, that people now call anything they disagree with as Dirty Politics. In fact the record will show I have never attacked Dri Gilbert or called him names, while he in fact has called me a range of names of which quisling is one of the politer.

However I can understand he is upset because at the end of the day he was right in the assertion he was making, and I was wrong to be dismissive of it. I get things wrong sometimes.

In my experience Ministers tend to be pretty careful about using correct figures, and the nature of Dr Gilbert’s promise to eat carrots attracted my attention, so I had a look at the data under dispute.

I should point out that no one suggested to me to write my blog post. I didn’t talk to anyone before I wrote it. I saw Dr Gilbert’s post, and thought that the number of crimes in those categories made it very possible gang members were responsible for the proportions quoted.

He quotes his original blog post claims.

So this was me responding to a post on data, with data. How this is dirty politics I don’t know. After I did the blog post, a staffer from the Minister’s office e-mailed me and said:

Hi David – I have a breakdown which backs up the stats. Let me know if you want them.

Again, nothing extraordinary. In fact sensible pro-active work. I understand the data was also provided to Radio NZ. I did not ask for the data, it was offered to me.

So I made it very clear I had been sent the stats, and implicitly of course from her office.  Nothing secret.

Farrar provides more details and concludes:

While I think my second blog post on the topic was not something I’m proud of, I reject that I was seeking to damage or attack Jarrod. My focus was on the data. It should be apparent from my blog posts that I blog on data all the time. What was meant to be a fairly friendly exchange on offending stats, become more than that. I accept my responsibility for that, but it was never my intent to have Jarrod feel slighted. I would point out again that I have never resorted to name calling, and while I appreciate that some of the comments about Jarrod by some of the commenters here were not pleasant, the same goes for comments on Jarrod’s blog about me.

Again I repeat my apology to Jarrod, but at the same time I reject his assertion that I was conspiring to attack him.My aim was to attack his data and arguments, not him.  Regardless I will in future tread more carefully.

Gilbert will have almost certainly read all of this, but his latest post still tries to claim Ministerial-blogger collusion and ‘Dirty Politics.

Fisher’s latest article Ministers acted on inaccurate gang data repeats that wrong information  was provided.

Cabinet signed off tough new measures to tackle gangs on the basis of inaccurate information which over-estimated the scale of the crime problem.

The briefing paper told ministers 4000 gang members alone were responsible for a huge number of drug and violence crimes, including murders.

The release of the document through the Official Information Act followed the earlier discovery the wrong information had been used in a press release to justify the policy.

Cabinet ministers were also given the wrong information.

The information, which appeared to have been provided by police to the minister’s office, went before Cabinet in June before the August announcement.

He also quotes Gilbert:

Sociologist and gang researcher Dr Jarrod Gilbert outed then Police Minister Anne Tolley over the inaccurate press release and said it was “absurd” the wrong information had also gone to Cabinet. “This was an error of epic proportions. The problem by comparison is almost insignificant.”

Gilbert acknowledges the wrong information had gone to Cabinet and was used in the press release that led to his spat with Farrar.

But he continues to play the ‘Dirty Politics card. He has just posted “which they sought to defend pre election via a right wing blogger”  but provides no facts to back up his accusation and Farrar has strongly denied that’s how it happened.

To me it is surprising that more journalists haven’t dug around like this in relation to the issues raised in Dirty Politics, after all there are names to be made.

Who is doing dirty politics? Gilbert is making assertions with no evidence – in fact the evidence all points to incorrect data being provided and policies and arguments relying on it were made on that.

At the end of his post Gilbert says “Two further questions still remain, though.”

Why is it good enough for the numbers to be corrected behind the private doors of Cabinet but not in public?

Farrar has publicly corrected the numbers. Why is it good enough to claim that a Minister ‘colluded’ with Farrar to promote erroneous data but then ignore his correction?

And, given Cabinet documents reveal that the incorrect data were not just used to justify the government’s policy but were the very basis for creating it, should the policy be reevaluated now the problem is so vastly different to what the government was originally led to believe? 

That is a very good question. Unfortunately it is tacked on to the end of an attack post and could easily be ignored.

It turns out that Gilbert was right about the wrong data.

But his continued attacks on ‘Right Wing blogger David Farrar’ and his claims of being a victim of ‘Dirty Politics’ substantially muddies the important parts of this issue.

Climate change at Kiwiblog

An unusual ‘request’ or challenge to post on Climate change from Lyn Prentice at The Standard.

I can think of that happening several times in the past, and not just in the climate ‘skeptics’ area. There is one ‘fact’ driven ‘political’ site that appears to specialise in it. Now if we could just persuade PG to write a post on climate change maybe these idiots could find a hero to follow…..

I wonder how I could do that :)

I suspect Lyn is making assumptions again and has no idea what my views are on climate change, despite me having debated climate change for years at Kiwiblog – often as a lone voice against the entrenched “nothing’s wrong, do nothing” hard core there.

But the vocal few are not the Kiwiblog opinion.

David Farrar occasionally posts on climate change. His last is Fisking deaths from climate change in which he concludes:

As to the facts:

Professor David Spiegelhalter has already savaged this one elegantly on his blog.  All the projected increase in temperature-related deaths in the UK is due to the increase in the number of elderly people.

If you compare people of the same age, the projections say cold-related deaths will fall by about twice as much as heat-related deaths rise, as his graph of the numbers from the paper shows.  That is, the paper actually predicts that global warming will reduce the number of temperature-related deaths in the UK.

Will Stuff run the truth as prominently as the original story.

Finally a point worth noting:

In the USA or Australia, let alone Africa, India, and other less-wealthy tropical places, there is going to be a real problem with temperature-related deaths from global warming.  In many more parts of the world, there’s a potential for weather-related deaths from drought, flood, storm, and ‘tropical’ disease.

Heat waves in the UK are not in the top ten list of things to worry about from global warming. Pretending they are is likely to be counterproductive.

Indeed.

Previous to that he posted a Climate change update quoting a new report from the Office of Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee is on . He concludes

The key projected changes for NZ are:

  • Ocean acidification: pH changes are greater in cooler waters
  • Temperature: The midrange of projections is an average temperature increase of 0.9°C by 2040, 2.1°C by 2090
  • Wind: Increase in strongest winter winds by 2100
  • Precipitation: Little change for the overall mean, but large geographical variation
  • Extreme weather: Heavier and more frequent extreme rainfalls, but also more droughts. On average, 2 or more extra weeks of drought annually by mid-century for much of North Island and eastern South Island.

In terms of the recent temperature trends, the report notes:

  • Over short time periods, natural variability has a significant impact on the global warming trend
  • Short periods of no change or even slight cooling are to be expected, despite a continued long-term warming trend; 
  • At times natural variability may even amplify warming;
  • Global surface temperatures are only part of the picture, the ocean is a much larger heat sink than the atmosphere;
  • The reported recent ‘hiatus’ in the rate of rise of temperature does not signal that climate change has ‘stopped’ or is no longer a concern

The report is around 20 pages long, and for my 2c is very well done. I suggest people actually read it, rather than jump to conclusions about what it does and does not say.

This is similar to my approach on climate change – concerns but with some cautions about overstating and over-dramatising potential problems.

In contrast some of the Kiwiblog regulars react to this last post. Andrei:

The report is around 20 pages long, and for my 2c is very well done.

I haven’t read it but will though my prediction. from your extracts, is that it will be twenty pages of gobbly gook and double talk trying to paper over the well proven fact that political airheads have been sucked in by charlatans, willingly in many cases since they have used crap science to justify new taxes and what politician can ever resist a chance to implement a new tax?

Manolo:

Wind: Increase in strongest winter winds by 2100

Cannot see a year ahead, let alone ninety! Laughable, fucking laughable.
Let’s tax stupid NZers now is what this Labour Lite government is saying.

I dabbled in that debate but didn’t get too involved, I’ve learnt the futility of trying to argue with entrenched denial. Debating with the likes of Andrei and Manolo is like whispering in a Dunedin southerly blast.

Both those comments had 31 likes, and they had 7 and 8 dislikes. That’s probably fairly indicative of the active opinion on climate change at Kiwiblog.

Comments along the lines of “it’s cold today, what happened to global warming” are common. There was such a dig in the snow yesterday by Kea:

Yet another frigid winter in the Northern Hemisphere. I just heard, on the radio, some cities have vastly increased their coal supplies to deal with the cold.

“Waves of Cold, Snow to Invade Midwest and East Into Next Week

After a weekend with record cold and snow, more waves of cold air and snow are on the way through the middle of November from the Midwest to the East.

A storm last weekend produced the earliest snowfall on record in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday. Freezing temperatures settled over much of the South and, when combined with the snow in the southern Appalachians, allowed some ski resorts to open early.

Snow buried part of New England later in the weekend, as the same storm pushed off the coast, turned northward and ramped up.”

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/cold-shots-snow-midwest-east/36784624

Nasska obliged with a response:

They must have got it wrong Kea. Just the other day, on these very forums, someone reckoned that the temperatures have been soaring & that it’s probably too late to save the planet.

Can you check that link….it could be one of those sceptic sites.

…”The freezing snow and ice is on the ground”….

Quick! Carbon taxes must increase….only they can save the planet.

Griff does most of the counter debate at Kiwiblog these days:

Yet another frigid winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Nope yet another cold blast in the north eastern usa The south western usa and Alaska is still baking
From the site you linked to.

A powerful storm is slated to move over the Bering Sea this weekend, possibly becoming one of the most intense storms to ever impact the region.According to Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, “In brief, when a typhoon curves away from Asia it causes the jet stream [steering winds] farther to the east across the Pacific and into North America to buckle and amplify days later.”This is the case for the remnants of Super Typhoon Nuri as it has already curved away from Asia and tracking northward toward Alaska.As a result, arctic air is expected to invade the Plains, Midwest and Northeast next week.

Dry conditions will persist over the Southwest well beyond the upcoming weekend, as the drought intensifies and fire danger continues.

http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/winter-weather
The usa is experiencing climate change. Stronger storms. More extremes in precipitation. More drought in dry areas.

That will fall on deaf ears despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that the world has a potentially very serious problem with climate change.

Climate is very complex but local signs and global science suggest it is changing and it’s very likely humans are partly responsible.

The main questions for me are on the degree and the severity of the changes, no one can be sure about that (the IPCC quote confidence levels of varying possibilities), and whether we can do anything effective about it.

A blog post on CBC News an hour ago:

Urgent IPCC climate change warning demands action: Bob McDonald

IPCC report is that doing nothing will cost much more than taking action now

By Bob McDonald, CBC News

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the loudest shout to come from the scientific community about the urgency to do something about global warming. Yet less than a week later, it’s barely talked about.

The 116-page report is a synthesis of the last four reports – intended to act as a summary of where we are – leading up to the next big UN climate summit in Paris next year. Normally, the wording of these reports has been somewhat cautionary, using phrases such as, “very likely,” or “strong evidence,” when referring to changes taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  

Not this time.

The message from the scientists is now clear. Fossil fuels must be gone by 2100 or we will pass a tipping point into a future calamity.  

While this message from scientists has been growing more urgent since the first report in 1990,  the response from politicians has been slow. Global carbon emissions continue to rise, along with rising temperatures in the air and the oceans.

I’ll post that on Kiwiblog this morning. The response there will be more predictable than the weather, but that won’t change to facts and the need for action world wide.

Bob McDonald concludes:

The most important part of the message from this IPCC report is that doing nothing will cost much more than taking action now. That’s an economic argument.

Let common sense prevail.

Common sense is unlikely to prevail at Kiwiblog on this topic but at least both sides of the arguments are allowed and debated there.

“Farrar, Slater and George form the dark-triad of NZ blogging”

When you become known around political blogs some weird stuff pops up, but this would have to be one of the more bizarre  comments at The Standard from RedLogix:

Farrar, Slater and George form the dark-triad of NZ blogging.

Every interaction I’ve had with them confirms that essentially we are dealing with very real and harmful personality disorders.

Having lived with one for many years I can testify how very baffling, manipulative and damaging these people are. Normally over time they simply burn off so many people that their reputation is tattered and they are ‘ring-barked’. Isolated so as to cause the least harm, to others and ultimately themselves.

But to make matters much worse there are other people willing to use these damaged individuals for their own ends, which has only amplified and exacerbated matters. This story will not have a happy ending.

I’m puzzled about which people he thinks might try and use me for their own ends.

From the ‘dark triad’ link:

The dark triad is a group of three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. The use of the term “dark” means evil and reflects the perception that these traits have interpersonally aversive qualities:

  • Narcissism is characterised by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy.
  • Machiavellianism is characterised by manipulation and exploitation of others; a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and deception.
  • Psychopathy is characterised by enduring antisocial behaviour, impulsivity, selfishness, callousness, and remorselessness.

All three traits have been associated with a callous-manipulative interpersonal style. A factor analysis carried out at the Glasgow Caledonian University found that among the big five personality traits, the trait of agreeableness is strongly absent in regards to the dark triad, while other traits such as neuroticism and a lack of conscientiousness were associated with some.

“Every interaction I’ve had with them” – I’ve had very occasional interactions with RedLogix online as far as I’m aware, and I doubt he has ever met me in person.

I find this blog diagnosis both amusing and puzzling. I won’t try to diagnose RedLogix but it makes one wonder where the heck  this bizarre post came from.

When blogging produces comments like this it’s just as well most of the public have no idea what goes on in the dark depths of political discourse. It’s often got little to do with democracy.

And here I am thinking all I am doing in my own small way is contributing to better political discussion and doing politics better.

PS: and being associated with Slater and Farrar like this is weird, I’m on a different blogging planet to them, my politics is quite different to Slater’s in particular, and I have strongly opposed Slater’s dirty approach to doing politics.

Prentice “lies” again

Lyn Prentice has posted an attack on Cameron Slater at The Standard – The bad blogger, which is in response to a Whale Oil post I’m alive and have something to share.

He makes some fair points, Slater does seem to be playing the sympathy card in a legal defence fundraising drive.

But there’s dark irony as well.

He has been willing to lie and walk over the legal bounds that govern everyone in this society in the process. That isn’t the actions of a responsible blogger or “journalist”. It is the behaviour of someone that I don’t want besmirching the reputation of blogging.

Prentice is not the best example of blogger reputation himself. Like Slater he often brags about being nasty, and he abuses and bullies and fosters a bullying and abusive environment at The Standard (while Slater has actually clamped down on abuse at Whale Oil).

And Prentice appears willing to lie, or at least repeat claims that have been frequently refuted and for which he has provided no evidence.

He is quoted in a Stuff article Should Left-wing bloggers just shut up?

“Unlike Slater’s or Farrar’s professional efforts on behalf of National, we don’t get paid either directly or indirectly for our volunteering to work for politicians or writing blogs and never have,” Prentice says.

“We” presumably meaning all the Standard authors. There have been claims, including by John Key and Labour member Josie Pagani, that Labour staff have had posts at The Standard. In fact the other Standard trustee (prentice is one of two) was employed in the Labour leader’s office as recently as last year.

Slater has responded to this accusation, repeating denials that Whale Oil is funded by National.

Nice of Lynn Prentice to defame me again, this time in a major publication. I have not ever, nor will I never take money from the National party. There is not a professional relationship with them, their never has been.

But that just suits Prentice’s narrative. Unfortunately for him I will start telling the truth about him as frequently as he tells lies about me. The “World’s Greatest Sys-Op” isn’t so clean either. Prentice himself wouldn’t know the first thing about serving an audience, he allows defamations to stand, if it is against an enemy, he allows hate and loathing to cloud his better judgement and he is precisely what he accuses me of being. He really should look in the mirror.

David Farrar has also denied any party funding of Kiwiblog. He provides a detailed disclosure statement (unlike Prentice or any Standard author).

Prentice will be well aware of previous denials but continues to make the assertions. Dirty is as dirty does.

Having just written that last senence I thought I’d research it – and coincidentally found a post heading that on Whale Oil.

Dirty is as dirty does

Nicky Hager reckons I play politics dirty.

He is right, I do….So what?

Slater has often bragged about doing politics dirty. While he claims to be clean in some ways Prentice is no better.

The difficulties of cleaning up Kiwiblog

David Farrar has a major challenge trying to clean up Kiwiblog, as comments on his latest post on proposals to clamp down on abuse demonstrate.

Abusers want to be able to continue to have an unfettered forum to abuse and bully.

Kiwiblog stands out as a major blog with very little restrictions on who can say what. Farrar has been a strong supporter of free and open debate, but this ideal has it’s down sides due to rampant abuses.

Farrar was noticeably reality checked by claims in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’. He hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as Cameron Slater but has been an integral part of the ‘dirty politics’ way of life.

One of his initial reactions was to seriously consider walking away from Kiwiblog. Since then he has posted several times on cleaning up his blog. This is on two levels:

  • his own use of Kiwiblog as a political tool
  • the frequently awful and abusive behaviour displayed in the comments sections of his blog (Farrar rarely participates there but also rarely intervenes).

The latest stage of an attempt to reform Kiwiblog was posted yesterday: Proposed Comments Policy where Farrar asked for input into his proposals.

Some of the reaction was positive and supportive, but it didn’t take long for the thread to be taken over by the same old barrow pushing and abuse. An eventual comment:

Kiwiblog does not need any change. If people cannot handle vigorous debate let them leave. DPF is possibly being far too sensitive.

DPF has been saying that he wants some change. He isn’t trying to quash “vigorous debate”, he’s made that clear.

…on most topics, you should be able to reasonably and robustly disagree.

He made it clear what he’s trying to target:

Generally they are not a huge change from the status quo except in the area of personal abuse. I want more people to feel safe to post on Kiwiblog, without being abused for their views. Their views can be attacked, but not them.

I could imagine him being a bit disappointed by some of the comments on this thread. It’s hard to know whether ignoring DPF and using the thread to defend abusive behaviour and display some of the things DPF says he is trying to clean up is through ignorance or blatant defiance.

Wanting to reduce personal attacks, abusiveness and bullying has nothing to do with ‘PC’, it’s an attempt at moving towards basic decency in a democratic and civil society.

That some seem to claim a ‘right’ to freely be abusive arses on a blog who’s owner clearly wants to clean it up, and that they ignore requests by displaying behaviours that the blogger is specifically saying they want to clamp down on, is a pretty sad reflection on what the Kiwiblog community has to an extent become.

I think if the obvious abuses of a small but vocal minority are reasonably limited then many more people are likely to be willing to contribute here.

An unfettered forum for a few arses? Or a decent debate blog? Obviously it’s up to DPF but I thought he has made his preference quite clear.

“I want more people to feel safe to post on Kiwiblog, without being abused for their views.”

That people are arguing (and acting) against that on the thread is remarkable to me.

Cleaning up Kiwiblog will be a big challenge for Farrar. It will be difficult overcoming entrenched habits of abuse and repeated hijacking, as the comments on his post demonstrate.

His attempts look like being strongly challenged by those who want to keep abusing his forum by continuing to use it to bully and abuse others and drive away decent debate.

Kiwiblog is far from the only blog with similar problems but at least Farrar acknowledges the problem and is trying to address it.

Farrar versus Gilbert and ‘dirty politics’

A spat between David Farrar (DPF) of Kiwiblog and Dr Jarrod Gilbert continues, with connections being made to ‘dirty politics. Gilbert posted on Wednesday:

Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my own experience of Dirty Politics

In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a lot. And I mean a lot. I couldn’t prove it at the time (I can now) but because they were so obviously nonsense I called her out and said I would eat a suitcase full of carrots if she was correct.

Carrots proved to be the least of my problems. My problem proved to be the dishonest Right Wing blogger David Farrar. I initially took Farrar’s challenge in good humour thinking it would be a healthy tussle to seek the truth. It wasn’t. As we know now, he and Cameron Slater are birds of a feather, but where Slater is dim-witted Farrar is marginally smarter and this makes him more insidious.

Farrar quickly leapt to the Minister’s Defence. He was able to gain the figures – presumably from the Minister’s office – and with them he attempted to ‘prove’ that I was wrong and discredit me. Sound familiar? It was my own little experience of Dirty Politics.

Farrar responded with an apology:

Jarrod was right

September 24th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by David Farrar

May have some carrots to eat.

I had an exchange with in August about the proportion of crimes caused by gang members, in reference to his disputing a statement by Anne Tolley.

I blogged:

Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

So Dr Gilbert was quite right that the Minister was not comparing apples and applies, as one figure included associates, and one did not.

UPDATE: of course I apologise for doubting when he says Police and Corrections were using definitions of gang members. They were!

Graeme Edgeler took him to task

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

You were told that at the time. In fact, you quoted Dr Gilbert and responded as follows:

What the 28 percent prison number represents is gang members as well as gang associates in prison.

So it is a technical argument over definitions. I don’t care what you call them.

What’s changed? You agreed it was an argument of definitions then, but didn’t think it mattered.

David Fisher at NZ Herald:

Minister used wrong figures on gangs

Figures used by Police Minister Anne Tolley to justify a new law tackling gangs were wrong, police admitted last night.

The error was picked up by police shortly after Ms Tolley announced the policy in the run-up to the election but it has yet to be publicly corrected.

“Our intention is to shortly publish the relevant Cabinet Paper and clarification online,” a spokesman said last night.

Ms Tolley launched the policy as a “whole of government” approach to gangs which included drug dogs at domestic transit points – airports and ferries – and a new gang intelligence centre.

Launching the policy, she issued a press release saying 4000 gang members were responsible for a crime wave, including a quarter of murders last year.

She said that during the first three months of this year those 4000 gang members commited 34 per cent of serious drug offences, 36 per cent of kidnapping and abductions, 25 per cent of robbery offences and 26 per cent of grievous assault offences.

University of Canterbury sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert, who challenged the figures at the time of the policy launch, was yesterday citing proof the press release was wrong.

And Gilbert countered Farrar yesterday:

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the government isn’t playing dirty.

Ten minutes or so before I posted my blog yesterday proving the Police and Corrections Minister had used dodgy gang numbers, David Farrar wrote something akin to an apology on Kiwiblog for attacking me for exposing the truth. He was getting the jump on criticism coming his way.

Was this a coincidence? Of course not. He was tipped off by the Minister’s office following an inquiry by the the Herald’s ever diligent David Fisher just an hour or so before Farrar posted. Tolley’s press secretary is a man named Gillon Carruthers. Leaked emails used in Dirty Politics show that Carruthers has been providing material to Farrar’s offside Cameron Slater since 2011. Old habits obviously die hard.

And:

When I wrote in my blog that I used somebody else to send in the Official Information request because I was concerned the fact I was doing so would be leaked to Farrar or others (to whatever end), I thought I might be seen as paranoid. To be honest, I thought I might have been too. Unfortunately it appears not.

It is already quite clear that numerous people have been attacked by Slater, Farrar, often at the behest of government ministers or those working for them. This is not a small matter, it is about how we want our democracy to operate.

After the revelations of Dirty Politics, it might have been assumed these practices were halted. It seems that they haven’t been. Cameron Slater said to me last week on Twitter ‘wait until you see Dirtier Politics’. The worst, it would seem, is yet to come.

Slater has sounded unrepentant about playing dirty in between claiming to be a victim.

Farrar has pledged to clean up Kiwiblog and be more vigilant about disclosure of sources but he’s also been taken to task about this by Edgeler:

“if any content substantially comes from a parliamentary … source, I will state so when using it.” cf.

I haven’t seen a response to this from Farrar.

Some of this has been highlighted in a post at The Standard. Anthony Robins concludes:

Business as usual then (what a surprise). Expect dirty politics, and personal attacks on critics of the government, to escalate even further over the next three years.

A bit ironic considering the levels of personal attacks on critics at The Standard but fair enough holding Kiwiblog to account.

Dirty politics and personal attacks won’t stop overnight, they are ingrained practices across the political spectrum and across blogs.

Steve R also commented at Kiwiblog:

You need to do more to make up for how poorly you treated Dr Gilbert who I note you now refer to simply as “Jarrod”.

You misrepresented his position and allowed ignorant vitriol to be published whilst at the same time you suppressed counter arguments in support of his position. For instance, I wrote the post below and then watched and waited, and waited, and waited for it to be made public and funnily enough you only released it to the public well after activity on the thread had died off. If you’re going to manage your blog with such little integrity and courage then why don’t you openly label it for what it is – a gathering place for those of the right with feeble minds that cannot cope with a dissenting opinion.

My earlier post: “The one thing that Dr Gilbert has got wrong is that you deserve a reputation for honesty. You are being quite dishonest to suggest that Dr Gilbert has conceded the point, he absolutely has not. And it is utter nonsense to suggest he is wrong by simply standing by the initial apparently flawed data.

Furthermore, your refusal to accept there is a significant difference between gang members and associates betrays nothing but sheer ignorance. Having worked with gangs as a police officer (including time undercover in their midst) I can assure you that there are numerous people who are recorded as “gang associates” that have no association with “the gang” although they might have a completely non-gang related association with an individual “gang member”.

For instance, consider the co-worker who has his name taken when he gets pulled over in the company of a gang member; the person whose cousin or brother in law is a gang member (such people include policemen, lawyers and even a Judge); the tradesman who does work for a gang member etc etc. All can be recorded as “gang associates” and in the event that they commit an offence it is recorded as having been committed by a “gang associate” notwithstanding the fact there is no “gang” connection to the offence. Thus, the definitions used do matter because if the “gang problem” is wildly overstated because of a flawed nexus between offences and “gangs” then policy decisions and resource allocations are potentially misguided.”

Holding prominent political blogs and bloggers to account has become an important aspect of New Zealand politics.

It will be interesting to see how Farrar and Kiwiblog responds to what will no doubt be ongoing pressure to clean up.

The Standard versus David Farrar and Dirty Politics

David Farrar was implicated in Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics” book. He remains a friend of Cameron Slater and appears to have worked in tandem with the Whale Oil blog via his own Kiwiblog. His disclosure statement is here.

His latest post at Kiwiblog is Issues that matter – the Economy where he says:

I think the economy matters and should be a much bigger issue in this election so I’ve put together almost a dozen graphs showing the difference between National and Labour’s record on 11 important economic indicators. These are issues that matter to families and businesses

He details eleven graphs with comment and concludes:

Government do not directly control many of these economic measures. But they can and do impact them with their economic policies. The difference between where we are today and where we were in the mid to late 2000s is stark.

The Standard has posted Dirty Politics Watch I with an image extract from Dirty Politics:

Standard Dirty Politics Watch IThe post then links to Farrar’s post and states:

It’s like deja vu all over again.

The ‘author’ is listed as By: – in other words, no name, no disclosure about their identity or their political links.

‘Gosman’ asks:

Ummm… what exactly is his ‘crime’ meant to be here?

‘Puddlegum’ responds:

As I understand it, the implication is that Farrar has been making use of the National Party Research Unit and posting it as his own work again (or the National Party Research Unit has been making use of Farrar, again).

Not a crime, but, if correct, a post by Farrar that misleads his readers about the providence of its content. A potential fact that might influence how it is read and interpreted.

That’s the implication I understood.

‘Lanthanide:

A pure example of two-track politics as advanced by Hager.

Instead of the National Party themselves posting these 11 graphs (or National giving this to the MSM themselves) to show the differences between National and Labour, they outsource it to their blogs so as to maintain distance and plausible deniability.

Pretty obvious I should have thought.

The insinuation was pretty obvious.

There is no proof or indication that the post is anything but Farrar’s own work.

Farrar has responded on Facebook:

Some anonymous poster at The Standard thinks that me spending five or six hours compiling data to produce some economic graphs for my blog, is an example of dirty politics!!!

Instead it was an example of common tactics used in dirty politics.

The poster was of course anonymous, as most of them posters are.

But what I love is how they label as dirty politics basically anything that doesn’t worship David Cunliffe and Labour.

I guess it is easier for them to anonymously smear me, rather than actually do what I did, and spend a few hours going through the Stats NZ database compiling information.

The Standard, as I showed in “Vote Positive” and The Standard, seems to have given up on praising Cunliffe and Labour, almost all their posts are negative attacks on John Key, National, Slater and Farrar.

Farrar is right, the economy is a critical election issue and deserves critical examination. His post is predictably pro-National and also deserves critical examination, but instead an unknown person with unknown political connections tries to go dirty instead.

Ignoring the issue and trying to discredit the messenger is a standard dirty political tactic.

The first comment, by long time Labour activist ‘Anne':

David Farrar is as guilty as sin when it comes to Dirty Politics.

His whining and moaning over the supposed hacking of his computer following the launch of the book “Dirty Politics” was nothing but a cover-up job to try and claim victim status and distract from his involvement in the rotten game.

Anyone who has ever been the victim of a dirty smear campaign – more often than not involving unlawful conduct similar to Slater’s – will know that the perpetrator (or perpetrators) always use this tactic to cover for their own behaviour. The sad part is they invariably get away with it because the ‘powers that be’ (read establishment) let them get away with it. You have to ask yourself… why?

Some irony there with “dirty smear campaign” and “always use this tactic“.

‘Nadis’ comments:

I don’t get the problem? Some benign (but obviously cherry picked) partisan data gets published. I cant see why the source matters, if it in fact is not Farrar.

Now I’d get the point if it were an allegation of wifebeating or corruption etc, but some economic charts? How does it matter whether the source is David Farrar, a top secret black ops team, or my grandma?

I think for dirty tricks, you actually have to be doing something dirty. Otherwise the bleating just comes across as tinfoil hat conspiracy theory. And yes I have read Dirty Politics.

That addresses the non-problem of Farrar’s post, it questions the insinuation “if it in fact is not Farrar” and calls it ‘bleating’. Fair call.

But it doesn’t address the hypocrisy of The Standard alleging dirty politics while playing dirty politics.

Standard sysop and trustee Lynn Prentice often complains about ‘The Standard’ being referred to as an entity, claiming it is just  ‘a machine’. He recently posted in Meet The Standard:

So now when you see me saying that you can’t treat The Standard as a person with opinions because it is a machine. You’ll now know what I’m talking about….

But the reality is that this is just the hardware. The Standard is the sum of the loosely cooperative authors and their mixture of different viewpoints, and the commenters who have fun analyzing everything to death.

No attempt at analysis by ‘Notices and features”, just doing dirty to death.

An insinuating post with no evidence sounds like someone is hiding behind the machine. A dirty machine.

Excuses and ethics for Hager don’t stack up

There have been very polarised views on Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, from lauding him for exposing some of the dirtiest politics being practiced (including me with some reservations) to condemning him for playing as dirty as those he exposes using illegally obtained information (including me to an  extent).

Some have strongly defended and praised Hager, like Sacha at Public Address, endorsed by Sofie Bribiesca :

…an internationally-respected investigative journalist who has never had a single fact in any of his books successfully challenged.

Hager may be internationally respected as a journalist in some circles but this book was very shoddy journalism at best.

It was pointed out be me and others that Dirty Politics was also factually shoddy – there were few facts, it comprised mostly of a selected collection of online conversations.

A number of errors or contestable claims were cited. This resulted in what is common on blogs, they gave up their argument and turned to attacking the messenger. Dirty politics, albeirt on a different scale to Whale Oil but also clearly intended to intimidate, bully and shut up.

Sacha also said in the same comment quoted above:

Why else do you think people like the PM go straight to personal attacks on Hager (which when repeated often enough may result in people who do not do their homework forming an impression of a ‘controversial reputation’, exactly as intended)?

That’s rather ironic. Sacha was one of the ones who joined in the personal attacks.

One of the main criticisms of Hager’s book is his non-journalistic method of stitching together conversations to make damaging insinuations – David Farrar points out one example in How Hager got it wrong on The Princess Party and concludes:

If Mr Hager is doing reprints of his book, I would appreciate it if he could make the appropriate corrections.

And perhaps this is a lesson to everyone out there, not to take everything in the book at face value. If he has got this wrong, what else has he got wrong? Again this is what happens when you don’t verify anything or give people a chance to respond.

‘Toad’ commented on that:

If Hager had interviewed anybody, word would have got around and he would have been injuncted to prevent publication.

Yes, that may cause some inferences to be drawn from the emails that are based on hearsay and therefore not entirely accurate.

Real journalists make sure they have investigated properly and checked both sides of their stories so injunctions won’t be  unnecessary.’Nookin’ responded to toad.

Hager is on record as saying that journalists have a non-negotiable obligation to be accurate and fair and to protect their sources. See the link to his article on the thread about Goff. Are you saying that non-negotiable must be read “subject to the proviso that timing is everything and accuracy and fairness must succumb to the over-riding goal of kicking National in the slats”?

The link is to “Where are you, ethically?” A speech to the to the Records Management Association of Australasia conference, 10 September 2007 on Hager’s website. In this he says:

I was given the speech topic “Where are you, ethically?” and asked to challenge all of you to think about the ethical issues involved in your work. It feels presumptuous to launch into challenging other people about their ethics, so I thought it might be good to start off as an example by talking about the kinds of ethical issues and decisions that come up in my work. I will be trying to show the way that we all face ethical decisions in our work.

My work involves researching difficult subjects such as military operations, intelligence agencies, PR companies and the less open sides of politics. My research involves writing freedom of information requests, conducting fieldwork, reading archives, locating specialist or lateral sources of public information and interviewing people. For subjects that are very secret, I sometimes have to seek people inside organisations who will talk to me unofficially and sometimes leak information to me. There are lots of challenging ethical issues involved in this.

On privacy:

There are lots of interesting ethical issues involved that are at the heart of understanding which records the public has a legitimate right to see and which it does not.

The first issue is about privacy. I am well known for being an advocate for people’s rights to privacy. My first book revolved around those issues. So what am I doing publishing someone’s private communications? Where am I, ethically?

The answer lies in the meaning of ‘privacy’. ‘Private e-mails’ can mean two very different things. ‘Private’, in the sense of personal privacy, refers to people’s families, personal relationships, health information and so on. I believe there has to be a very, very strong reason before anyone has a right to intrude on other people’s privacy and accordingly I included no such information in my book on the National Party. There were no private e-mails in that sense.

I hope you agree that respecting and protecting people’s privacy is a fundamental ethical and professional issue for anyone in your profession. I think some organisations are too blase or careless about the protection of the personal private information that they hold.

However the other meaning of private e-mails is completely different. This is ‘private’ in the sense of something being kept confidential, as in ‘private ministerial meeting’ or ‘private diplomatic talks’. It is secrecy, not privacy. I regularly obtain and use private documents in this sense of the word. I couldn’t do my job properly if I didn’t. The National Party book contained hundreds and hundreds of this sort of private document.

This is interesting, because the email and Facebook conversations used by Hager in Dirty Politics were private, they were not ‘secret’ or confidential ministerial or Government records. They were from private individuals.

Some people would say, ‘if it’s a good story, just publish it’. Publish and be damned. But I believe that wherever our action or decision — or inaction or avoidance of a decision — might affect other people, we have a responsibility to think carefully and do what we think is best.

There’s justifiable claims that Hager just published this – perhaps under too much time pressure. David Fisher writes in Tidal wave of dirt that could swamp election:

“I heard a rumour about someone who had some stuff,” says Hager, whose books on spies have generated contacts in IT circles. “He already had a plan in his mind to set up a Twitter account and splash it all out there.”

Hager says he spent weeks talking the person into letting him see the material and use it to build the narrative which became Dirty Politics.

The hacker, says Hager, gave him everything. “I’ve seen everything. I’m 100 per cent sure.” The hacker then expressed a desire to keep back some material for himself. “We kind of negotiated how much,” he says. “I said ‘can I have all the political stuff’.” Hager got what he asked for and so, the book was written.

So Hager published his book ‘ethically’ removing personal details – even that’s debatable, he revealed identities and made damaging insinuations that were far from a journalistic standard – knowing full well that the whole contents would be revealed soon afterwards anyway.

Hager knew that his book was just a part of a greater degree of private revelations, but he chose to take part anyway.

Not only do the excuses for Hager not stack up, Hager’s own ethics are severely challenged by his involvement in this.

“Not as bad as Whale Oil”

Since the release of Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ there has been much discussion and condemnation of what has been revealed – even though much of the dirtiness of Cameron Slater was already well known. He has boasted about his political uncleanliness.

Last year after the Len Brown revelations just after the local body elections Slater said on The Nation:

Mr Slater argued that Auckland politics was “a dirty disgusting despicable game”.

“It involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels,” he said.

“And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.”

(Frontpage)

He repeated this on his Whale Oil blog recently. He often quotes ” Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it”, along others from his list of ‘rules’.

Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

2. Utu is good, even necessary

3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too

4. Always know where the bodies are buried

5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels

6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate

7. Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer

9. Speak plain, Speak Simple

10. Remember, I’m telling this story

11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2

12. Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name

There might be a lot of people, especially politicians, giving serious consideration to rule 3 right now.

Slater’s personal attacks and vindictiveness are well known. There’s no one who comes close to his media prominence and dirtiness in New Zealand politics.

So all other bloggers can comfortably claim they are “not as bad as Whale Oil”. But that sets the bar very low and should not excuse lesser levels of dirtiness.

One of the more long serving and respected bloggers Russell Brown posted  We can do better than this at Public Address and concluded:

In one of the early reports that annoyed me, Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards, talked about smears being unleashed to “blogs” and “the blogosphere”.

Actually, we’re not all like that. The multitude of bloggers, political bloggers included, have no part in this. And while the cynical side of politics is not new, I do believe that the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can, all of us, do better than this.

Russell is right, we’re “not all like that”. No one else is as bad as Whale Oil. I agree that “the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented” – although it shouldn’t really have been a surprise to Russell if he was aware of what Whale Oil has been doing for years.

But in comments Russell seems to think that the ‘all of us” in “We can, all of us, do better than this” doesn’t apply equally to all of us.

It’s over to you, Pete, to identify a left-leaning blogger with even a tenth of the venality and vindictiveness of WhaleOil.

I feel kind of icky agreeing with Pete (sorry, Mr. George) but if our baseline is “not as bad as Whaleoil” that’s a depressingly low bar you can clear without lifting your feet.

Which is really just a morally elevated way of saying “everyone does it”. It’s simply not true. What has happened in and around Whaleoil these past few years is actually of a different nature.

He seems to be claiming it’s not true that everyone doesn’t do it, despite calling for “all od us” to do better.

Some of what Whale Oil has done has been of a different nature” and of a more extreme nature, but there are many examples of dirt mongering across the blogosphere. Russell moderates Public Address fairly well but even his own blog shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. There’s dirt at different levels but there’s dirt – there were even mild attempts to attack me personally to divert from the issues being discussed on that thread (eg ScottY and Kracklite).

Public Address is relatively mild but still allows personal political attacks and dirty comments. The other major left wing blogs The Standard and The Daily Blog allow and promote a lot of abuse and attempts to emulate some of Whale Oil’s “success”.

Lynn Prentice (lprent) at The Standard often boasts about his nastiness:

That is because in my sysop role I’m deliberately a nasty vindictive mean old man with abuse of power issues, whose only redeeming quality is that he is too lazy to be bothered exercising those traits, but who often and almost randomly goes totally over the top when roused.

And as chief moderator that sets the tone for blog with support of a one sided attack culture.

And Martyn Bradbury is well know for over the top rants and abuse, as well as doing party promotional blog posting without revealing he is being paid by or seeking payment for his work, one of the things Slater is correctly criticised for.

Josie Pagan is very familiar with how nasty the left wing blogs can get, they have blasted her a number of times. She recently posted The politics of vilification.

Nicky Hager’s book exposes both the politics of demonisation and the National Government’s role in facilitating it. The right wing blogs have been more extreme, more violent and more coordinated with the parliamentary party and so the book is their comeuppance. 

I agree with that. Whale Oil is obviously the main culprit but Kiwiblog can be very nasty in it’s comments and I think the generally and widely respected David Farrar would admit to overstepping lines of decency at times (as most if not all bloggers do to varying degrees).

But imagine how much harder would it be for the government to deflect some of the disgusting stuff they’ve been involved in if some on the left blogs had not spent so much energy vilifying and demonising people they disagree with.

I’ve been suggesting to left wing blogs for a long time thatthey would be fdar more credible and effective if they cut down on the crap – I’ve been banned from The Standard for giving them advice along those lines.

At least Farrar recognises problems and has pledged ttake measures to try to improve Kiwiblog – Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Josie concluded:

But there is also a wider lesson to everyone about the way politics is conducted. 

As I wrote back in December, “The fundamental principle of the left is our compassion…. Ours is the politics of redemption, forgiveness and humanity.” 

Or, as Nicky Hager elegantly stated on The Nation this morning, “if anyone is doing it, they should stop.

It’s hard to see Whale Oil changing it’s degree of nastiness but if we are to improve political discourse in New Zealand it’s up to all of the rest of us to do what we can to improve – bloggers and politicians.

Directing all the blame at the other lot and demanding action from them ignores those shitting in our own nests.

Yes Russell, we can, all of us, do better than this. ‘All of us’ means not opting out because we’re are not as bad as Whale Oil.

UPDATE: Russell has responded via Twitter:

Thanks for another droning restatement of what you’ve already said. I’m at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it.

I replied: Try using your stature showing some leadership in the blogosphere in raising standards perhaps?

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