An argument over Muslim immigration

There have been a number of arguments about Muslim immigration at Kiwiblog on the Sydney hostage thread. One was made by David Garrett, who championed three strikes but wants to give zero chance of a range of people immigrating to New Zealand.

I have come to this very late…so someone has almost certainly said “Why are we at all surprised?”

It appears to be an invariable rule: Let Muslims get to 2% of the population (2.5% in Australia apparently) and you get problems…let them get to 5% (as in the UK) and ghettoization and atrocities occur…It seems the jihadis in Australia aren’t waiting until they get to 5%…

As for the bullshit that banning further immigration from Islamic countries would mean we had a police state here, what a total and unmitigated load of crap…Very very simple: a change of policy to allow no immigration at all from specified countries…easy peasy…

And…

Shawn: Yes, I think that’s probably right…but why not play safe, and just let no more of them in? I agree with those who say trying to deport those we already have is probably impossible…it is certainly impossible for those born here, and overseas experience shows that they are far riskier than their parents, unfortunately…

As for the clown who asked “which countries”? Are you serious? Any country in the Middle East (even Israel, there are Arabs there too) plus any other country which is officially Islamic – such as Pakistan – and any whose citizens have been involved in terrorism… I don’t give a rats how many countries that is…

Call it racist if you like – I really don’t care – but can anyone really argue that illiterate uneducated Somalis add anything to our society…except risk??

A good response from Scott Hamilton:

According to David Garrett, we should prevent a Muslim demographic bomb from exploding in NZ by banning migration ‘from any country in the Middle East’, plus any other country that is ‘officially Islamic’.

As someone pointed out upthread, though, many of the migrants that have arrived in NZ from Middle Eastern nations are not Muslim. A very significant number of the Iraqi Kiwi population are members of religious minorities – Chaldeans, other Christians, Mendaens. Another big chunk of the Iraqi migrant population is Kurdish.

These communities have arrived here not because they want to import the ideology of ISIS and Al Qaeda, but because they have been displaced from their homes by Bush’s war and the various religious fundamentalists that have taken power in its wake. It’s hard to think of any New Zealanders who would be less inclined to raise the black flag of jihadism.

The example of NZ’s Iraqi community shows why bigoted generalisations shouldn’t be allowed to guide immigration policy.

Fortunately people commenting on blogs tend to have no influence on immigration policy.

First they came for the Muslims…

Actually the Muslims are sixth on this list from a comment at Kiwiblog by ‘waikatosinger’

First they came for the Salfists,
and was happy because I don’t like Salafists.
Then they came for the Shi’ite,
and I did nothing because I am not Shi’ite.
Then they came for the Kurds, the Sunni and Pashtuns,
but I am not any of those.
Then they came after
… all Muslims
… everyone who owns a copy of the Q’oran,
… all people from the Middle East,
… the Baha’i and the Hari Krishnas,
… Masons and Mormons because they sound a bit like Muslims,
… the Jews on general principle,
… women who keep their heads covered,
… Catholics, Buddists, people who mediate,
… vegetarians, veterinarians, veterans
… and now they are coming for me.

That’s not likely to change many minds, the Kiwiblog thread on the Sydney hostage situation ain’t pretty at times.

That was posted in response to this:

Reversing the trend will involve discrimination. Reclassify Islam as a political belief system. Identify the most virulent strain of Islam (as they are not all the same) and revoke the citizenships of members of that group. Pick one group at a time. Work through the process politely and professionally. Review progress. Proceed on to the next group if required. (Of course, such a process can only happen with the support of the New Zealand people.)

Fortunately ‘the New Zealand people’ aren’t well represented by the active commenters at Kiwiblog. Kowtow reacted:

The problem is not that ‘we” are coming for anybody. But they are most dfinitly coming for us and evrything we have.

You can stand idly by, singing Cum By Ya , meanwhile the world is burning.

And..

“Basically a big groundswell of hostility, resolution and restriction will be the only result.”

Hostility is mounting from the general populace. But there’ll be damned little resolution from our politicians and restrictions will largely be on the general popualtion who speak out,we’re racists you see.

There’ll be no change on the treacherous immigration policies that allow these lunatics to come here and flourish.

And his own version:

First they came for the girls in the parks and beaches
Then the off duty soldiers
Then the on duty policmen
Then the people in the cafes
The night clubs and pubs
The buses,the trains and planes.

And still the left spoke out
Let more of them in.
When enough of them were in
And they became the majority
They came for the Left who had spoken out for them.

And the only sound in the Land was

Allahu Akbar.

And then:

Sydney Syndrome.

Muslim takes hostages in Sydney and cultural marxists on kiwiblog want to increase the danger in New Zealand by continuing to allow more Muslims to immigrate.

And:

“The very notion of laws intended to alter, via the force of the state, the religious make-up of a population is anathema to democratic values and liberty in general.”

By allowing Muslim immigration then democratic values and liberty are endangered.Not today or next year but eventually. Europe is already fracturing into unprecedented little Muslim enclaves .Tower hamlets is a good example where the Queens Writ no longer runs. Plenty of parisian suburbs too,and there’ll be many more.

massive and uncontrolled Muslim immigration is the cause.

We have neither massive nor uncontrolled immigration of Muslims.

Kowtow’s leaning on this is not isolated there.

Whale Oil and Kiwblog bad, all other blogs good?

Anthony Robins throws down the blogger gauntlet at The Standard on media and blogs.

I want to pick up on the last point in particular. Permeating this report, and the coverage of it (e.g. RNZ quoted above) is the assumption that all blogs are equal – a blog is a blog is a blog. This is a version of the Nats’ dirty politics spin that “everyone does it” and “Labour has attack blogs” and “The Standard is written by Labour staffers” and so on – these are all distractions, deflections, and lies lies lies.

So it is disappointing to see this report accepting (apart from one quick comment by Russell Brown) the assumption that all blogs are created equal, and that all are tarnished by dirty politics. Bollocks. It makes no more sense than saying that all TV is game shows, that all radio is talkback, or that all websites are porn. Blogs span a rich and interesting spectrum, and the only ones tarnished by dirty politics are the ones that were actively involved – Whale Oil, Kiwiblog, and the (deleted in shame) Asian Invasion.

So – media – how about a little bit more honesty in the coverage of bloggers and blogs eh? And with all due respect to the JMAD team, for your next report, why not get out and talk to some bloggers, find out a bit about what is really going on (and not going on), instead of repeating the media lines that you are supposed to be critiquing?

(As a last point for a lazy Saturday, quoted above “blogs have started to fill the gap in public interest journalism left by the commercially operated media corporates”. Discuss!)

Whale Oil and Kiwiblog bad, all other blogs good?

November’s top 4 blog rankings

Whale Oil seems to be a bit slower than usual to promote the latest Open Parachute blog stats.

Whale Oil Beef Hooked

  • September: visits 3,716,364 page views 5,309,045
  • October: visits 2,008,487 page views 3,275,031
  • November: visits 1,776,421, page views 2,981,810

It doesn’t look like Whale Oil have posted on this yet which suggests they don’t think there slide is good to publicise.

Kiwiblog

  • September: visits 695,190 page views 1,093,806
  • October: visits 373,637 (53.7%), page views 604,405 (55.3%)
  • November: visits 301,11 page views 522,519

.David Farrar was on holiday for much of the month and his posting was substantially reduced.

The Standard

  • September: visits 429,438 page views 868,342
  • October: visits 255,449 page views 561,703
  • November: visits 194,646 page views 431,100

That’s a bit of a surpise, I though Labour’s leadership contest would keep them up.

The Daily Blog

  • September: visits 504,304 page views 813,779
  • October: visits 210,877 page views 347,647
  • November: visits 160,716 page views 259,736

Having pipped The Standard in election month The Daily Blog is slumping. It looks like Martyn Bradbury’s failure to come close to reality in his election picks has knocked the stuffing out of him and the blog.

Bradbury’s post today – So what does Cameron Slater have over John Key?  – has 7 votes and 3 comments, a very flat response.

Not all blogs supply Open Parachute with site statistics, notably Public Address.

Here the visits are down a bit but page views are up over 25% reflecting much more activity here – thanks for your support.

Open Parachute September and October and November Sitemeter rankings.

Summary of the Glyn report

I haven’t read the Gwyn report, I haven’t had the time. However ‘georgebolwing’ has read it and posted a summary at Kiwiblog.

Having read Cheryl Gwyn’s report, my take on what happened is as follows (sorry, this is very long, but complex issues will cause that):

a) On Monday 14 March 2011, the Director of the SIS met with Leader of the Opposition; the SIS’s Security Intelligence Report (SIR) on Israeli issue was included in Director’s agenda for that meeting (we’ll get to whether this constitutes a “briefing” later);

b) on 21 July 2011, in response to the question “If the SIS is still investigating this matter, would you as Leader of the Opposition and being on the committee that oversees the SIS expect to be told?”, Phil Goff said : “I would, actually. I get briefed, regularly, by the Security Intelligence Service and sit on the Committee that oversees the Security Intelligence Service. … This hasn’t come before the select committee. It’s not been part of any briefing to me.”. (Emphasis added).

c) knowing that he had received a briefing on the matter, and suspecting that the Leader of the Opposition had too, the PM had his office check with the NZSIS whether there had been a briefing. The Director of the SIS told the PM, over the phone, that Goff had “received the same briefing” as the PM.

d) Mr Phil de Joux, the PM’s deputy Chief of Staff, with the PM’s authority, also spoke to the NZSIS at this time to confirm that The Leader of the Opposition had received a briefing. He was given a description of the briefing documents and the date of those documents, by the the Deputy Director of the NZSIS on 22 July.

e) it transpires that the way the PM was routinely briefed by the Director and the way the Leader of the Opposition are briefed was materially different. With the PM, the Director ticks off each item on the agenda, and the PM, at the end of the meeting, signs the agenda, signifying that he has, indeed, been “briefed” on each item. With the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader never gets to see the agenda, doesn’t counter-signed it and the director makes a note, that he keeps on file and never gives to the Leader, of anything that needs to be recorded.

f) thinking that when the Director said that Goff had “received the same briefing as the PM”, the Director meant “received the same type of briefing, with the ticking off the agenda items and counter-signing”, the Pm decided that he had a “gotcha” and went on the attack. In a television interview broadcast on 24 July 2011, the Prime Minister said that the Director had told him the Leader of the Opposition had received the same briefing that he, the Prime Minister, had received.

g) faced with this statement from the PM, Goff sought a meting with the Director, which took place on 25 July. At that meeting, the Leader and the Director discussed the briefing. Phil Goff made notes, which said “Mr T Recollected – flicked thru a number of issues which included looking at Israelis in Chch at time of EQ but not dwelt on it. Mr Tucker said he had a report on the Israelis but having now looked at it I am certain I had never read it. It was an initial report dated 8 March which was inconclusive about the activities at that stage of the investigation. I have not seen nor been offered the subsequent reports on the matter.” The director was given a copy and wrote on the top of it “Note made by Mr Goff during our meeting on 25 July 11. This is our agreed position. WT 25 July.( Emphasis added. “WT” means Warren Tucker. Ed.).”

h) On the same day, Phil de Joux, told Jason Eade of the PM’s office of the nature of the briefing given to Phil Goff and the dates. He suggested to Eade ion that it might prompt an OIA request for those documents. Mr Ede then provided that information to Mr Slater, discussed the terms of the OIA request with Mr Slater and provided Mr Slater with draft blog posts concerning the issue.

i) in subsequent press comments, Phil Goff started to used the “position” he thought he had agreed with the Director: that they had “flicked through” a number of issues, but Goff had never read the document.

j) Tucker thought that in doing so, Goff was attacking his integrity. He wanted to put the record straight.

k) the NZSIS received three requests for material about the briefing given to Goff, one from Cameron Slater (expressed as an OIA) and two from news media, in the form of requests for comment. All three requests went to the same general inquiries e-mail address.

l) the two requests from the news media were sent to NZSIS press officers, and were declined, as part of normal NZSIS practice not to comment on operational matters;

m) Slater’s request went to the NZSIS’s OIA officer, who assembled most of the relevant papers (not the hand written note from Phil Goff — this becomes key later) and recommended that they not be released on national security grounds.

n) the Director told his staff that he was inclined to release the documents, with significant withholding, and work was put in train by the NZSIS’s general counsel to redact the documents, to remove material not covered by the request and material covered that was to be released.

o) without going into detail, the documents released were inaccurate, incomplete and misleading (Gwyn’s words).

p) when informed by the Director of the impending released, Goff is angry and asks to see the material to be released. Tucker refuses, so Goff has to put in his own OIA to get copies.

q) Shit hits fan. Cameron Slater, armed with inaccurate, incomplete and misleading information, makes inaccurate, incomplete and misleading comments, which are picked up by others.

My conclusions are as follows:

a) Goff was caught out making a statement that was inaccurate;

b) the PM and his office thought they had a “gotcha” and facilitated released of documents to embarrass Goff;

c) the Director and Goff disagree on some aspects of what transpired and their is no way of reconciling that;

d) the Director released information that was inaccurate, incomplete and misleading, and in doing so was probably in breach of a very special statutory obligation that he (and few other public servants have), which is that he “must take all reasonable steps to ensure that … the Security Intelligence Service does not take any action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party”.

From what I know about it that seems a reasonable summary. And ‘mikenmild’, who stands out from the right-leaners at Kiwiblog, says “I agree with george’s analysis”.

I remember that Goff publicly attacked Warren Tucker, presumably presuming that Tucker had no right of reply,

But Tucker gave himself a right of reply via the OIA request, providing Slater with “inaccurate, incomplete and misleading” information that was used to publicly attack Goff. Tucker claims he was “between a rock and a hard place”.

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.

Dotcom response and legal speculation

There’s been a lot of discussion and speculation about the reasons behind Kim Dotcom losing his lawyers and soon after having his bail conditions tightened significantly pending a hearing next week that could put him back in prison.

NZ Herald reported in Court places tough limits on Dotcom’s movements:

The new conditions are in place only until next Monday, when Dotcom will appear for a bail hearing in the Auckland District Court.

Before the issue of bail, Judge Dawson gave Dotcom’s former lawyers – Queen’s Counsel Paul Davison and firm Simpson Grierson – leave to withdraw from the case.

The restrictions follow Crown lawyer Christine Gordon yesterday making an allegation that the Herald is not permitted to publish.

Dotcom has tweeted:

I have never breached my bail conditions & my compliance is exemplary. But without lawyers representing me the Govt just couldn’t resist.

He plays the “Government is against me” card, but there could be reasons other than complying with his bail conditions.

David Farrar implies a possible connection in The Dotcom legal team:

We also might get a decision at some stage soon in the John Banks appeal, where allegedly new witnesses have contradicted the evidence given by Dotcom.

A number of lawyers regularly contribute to discussions at Kiwiblog and they and others speculate in response.

David Garrett:

This truly is fascinating (and I have no inside knowledge). The most common reason for lawyers to get leave to withdraw is when the client is refusing – or is unable – to pay his bills. All the more interesting because Davison has no necessary connection with Simpson Grierson – like me Davison is a barrister who must have an instructing solicitor (Simpson Grierson in this case), but that instructing solicitor can be anyone…literally a sole practitioner from West Auckland could instruct Davison – so long as Davison is prepared to act for the client.

I somehow doubt Dotcom is unable to pay…another reason lawyers withdraw is when they find they have unintentionally misled the court because they have been told porkies by the client…as I say, I have no inside knowledge, but the fact that BOTH the instructing solicitors – to whom Dotcom will have paid hundreds of thousands in fees – AND the barrister have withdrawn smells very strongly of rat…even more so if SG have removed all reference to their former client…like any other big firm, Simply Gruesome are usually quite happy to be identified with a high profile (civil) client whose case presents novel and difficult issues…

Dotcom’s is the biggest copyright case this country has ever seen, or probably is ever likely to see…All very odd…

NB: Nothing in my comment should be construed as an allegation of wrongdoing by Dotcom, Simpson Grierson, its partners and staff, or Paul Davison QC

And…

I think the Herald website refers to “an allegation which cannot be published”…as someone above me said, curiouser and curiouser…Lawyers withdraw from cases all the time, but it is very rare for both the barrister and the instructing solicitors to withdraw at the same time…

Logic would suggest that this withdrawal is somehow connected to the tightening of Dotcom’s bail conditions…but as you say, that is just speculation…

Nookin:

One possibility is that the lawyers’ obligations to the court have been severely compromised by some inappropriate or improper action on the part of the client such that it is no longer tenable for them to continue acting. Curious that the issue arose contemporaneously with circumstances necessitating tightening up the bail conditions.

If this has happened and publication might prejudice the outcome of the extradition proceedings, it is appropriately suppressed. I can only surmise here, bearing in mind the fact that the extradition proceedings will be heard by a judge alone. I can understand suppression on these grounds of their was a jury but this is clearly not the case.

alex Masterly:

Nookin, I think that your first sentence is pretty much bang on target.

For the sake of completeness I note the CCC rules at clause 4.2.1 define good cause for termination of a retainer as including
– instructions requiring a lawyer to breach a professional obligation,
– inability of a client to pay a fee
– the client misleading the lawyer in a material respect,
– the client failing to provide instructions in a timely way.

David Garrett:

The rules are pretty clear: lawyers must not mislead the court, and cannot allow a client to do so. …which is one of the reasons lawyers usually never ask “Did you do it?” Because if the answer is “Yes, but my defence is I didn’t”, that limits the options for counsel…for example you cannot then put the client in the witness box knowing he would lie under cross examination.

If the lawyers became aware that a client was about to commit a crime then they are obliged – I think – (cant be bothered looking up the rules) to both withdraw and inform the police..

As I say, to have BOTH the instructing solicitors and the barrister withdrawing is most unusual…A colleague has suggested to me that one reason may be they think his case is hopeless, but I don’t believe that would be a valid reason to withdraw…it will come out…

Certainly some information has been put before the court which led to his bail conditions being considerably tightened…and as I have said, it would seem to be more than a coincidence that at the same time his lawyers both withdraw…

If he has a big enough speedboat he could get to Australia…or even further if he refuelled on some Pacific Island…

Scott1:

What sorts of things are included in “misleading in a material respect”?

David Garrett:

Scott: Oh: Things like “My total net worth is USD10 million” when in fact it’s double that; Claiming “I don’t have an account in Leichenstein” when in fact he does, and it’s got a shit load in it; claiming he wasn’t present at a crucial meeting where an illegal plan was discussed, and then a tape of the meeting comes to light establishing he was there; claiming a document is genuine when in fact it is a forgery…stuff like that.

Chris Diack:

Mr Dotcom is probably not paying his legal bills (and probably not paying many of his other bills either) That will be why SG want out. They continue to pay Paul Davidson QC and do legal work yet have probably received no payment recently. PD will stuggle to find an instructing solicitor that can back him like SG and of course they may well not get paid (so who would do it).

I doubt they were consulted over Mr Dotcom’s political donations ($4million) and so read about it in the newspapers. Would be galling if you are not being paid and being advised by the Client the money is short. More so now that it is clear that the strategy to get Parliamentary leverage did not work and has actually been detrimental to your clients interests. I suspect had SG been asked they probably would have advised against making such donations as counterproductive.

I doubt the Crown wanting to tighten the bail conditions has much to do with SG wanting out. Probably he has been breaking existing bail conditions (like using a copter). The allegation mentioned in the report is probably that the Crown has some evidence (maybe someone Mr Dotcom has spoken to or as a result of warranted surveillance) that he is considering doing a Smith. Wouldn’t be surprised if they produce a affidavit to that effect. That establishes the flight risk.

David Garrett:

Chris D: You reckon SG has been paying Davison’s bills with their own money?! I must say I find that hard to believe…but as instructing solicitors they have the responsibility of seeing that he is paid, so I suppose you might be right…

I am told Davison charges $1000 an hour for cases that he WANTS to do…if it’s something that doesn’t tickle his fancy I believe it is double that…Again, I have no inside knowledge…just scuttlebutt around the robing rooms…

Interesting fellow Davison…

We will find out more about this next Monday.

Whale Oil: And yet another medical use for cannabis

The momentum world-wide for allowing legal use of cannabis for medical use keeps building – but not in New Zealand. Whale Oil posts:

And yet another medical use for cannabis

I wonder when politicians will start to realise that they are on the wrong side of the debate when it comes to legalising cannabis.

More and more studies are proving that the plant has more benefits than issues.

This is an issue that I think can and should be be campaigned on across the political spectrum, in social media at least. Whale Oil, Kiwiblog, The Standard, The Daily Blog and Public Address are all sympathetic to relaxing use of cannabis for medical use at least.

Time to start a proper discourse, the only problem is finding a politician with some courage.

Time to put political differences aside and working cross-blog on this? It is difficult finding an MP or a party willing to address this, but a joint effort by blogs could build pressure on them to do the decent thing on this.

Not a right wing blog

This isn’t a right wing blog. Nor is it a left wing blog. It’s an open blog where I can post what interests me, promote what is important to me, and encourage wide ranging discussion – which happens to be one of my interests. A lot of our political discussion seems to be silo-ed into left or right but I think it’s important to debate across the political divide.

On some things I lean right – we need free enterprise and free trade. On some things I lean left – we need social welfare. One of the challenges of politics is getting a good balance. If we have more successful business and more and better paying jobs that reduces the need for welfare – but means we can afford to help those who genuinely need state assistance more.

My first interest in blogs was participation for several years at Aardvark - I just checked, Bruce is still sort of keeping things going there having just revived forums.

Then I found Kiwiblog and jumped in there. I was painted as a leftie but found the challenge there a lot of fun. I’ve been quite prolific in comments there but that has reduced substantially over the last year or two.

After a while I looked around and found The Standard. I was recognised as being “from Kiwiblog” so was immediately painted as a rightie. That made it even more challenging there and it has continued like that, they tend shun anyone deemed to be not one of them, regardless of what you say.

I’ve also dabbled on a number of other blogs including Whale Oil, Public Address, The Daily Blog, red Alert, and have been banned from all of them (and a number of times from The Standard). Criticisms have ranged from being to bland and boring (I’m sure I have been at times) and being to provocative and contrary – DPF’s “fomenting happy mischief” is a practice I sometimes enjoy.

I have generally enjoyed debates on the right more, because people on the right seem more inclined to argue the issues one to one on their merits. Sure it can get very robust, but that’s healthy in debate, especially in politics.

The political left seems more abusive, exclusive and pack orientated, where “if you’re not with us you’re against us” seems a common mentality – but the right isn’t immune from that as Whale Oil is currently demonstrating.

The “Dirty Politics” attempt to swing the election has become a one-sided “right bad, left perfect” campaign.

I have experienced bad abuse from the right, and there’s a few dishonest regulars at Kiwiblog who lie and abuse to try and discredit, with little or no attempt to debate.

But abuse and harassment has been worse from the left, for me at least. They may not be as extreme and direct as Cameron Slater but the intent and the practices are just as dirty in their own way – they also try to discredit and drive away alternate opinions.

And until Whale Oil’s clampdown on dissent and alternative views the left was clearly the worst for censorship.

So I’m sort of in the middle politically but swing either way depending on what makes sense to me. I’ve voted both ways over the years – I think governing competence is more important than election campaign inspired policies.

And this isn’t a left wing or a right wing (or a centrist) blog.

It aims to offer something a bit different – open debate across the spectrum, with an emphasis on robust but respectful debate backed by as many facts as possible (one thing that seems to get up the noses of some blogs is arguing against them with facts).

Many in political blogging want to impose their opinions, their ideals, their favoured parties and politicians. And in doing that they often try to exclude alternate views, frequently through name calling, abusing and making false accusations.

Your NZ is for something different – debate from all sides is welcome and encouraged. We can learn a lot by exploring issues with the other side of the argument.

It’s a well used phrase but right or wrong versus right or left.

And accepting that right or wrong is often not simple or binary. Sometimes it’s looking for the least bad alternative, as in dealing with the ongoing problems in the Middle East.

This is not a right wing blog, but people who consider themselves right wing, or left wing, are welcome to contribute.

Bad language on blogs

Much has been made of a clamp down on bad language being behind the clampdown on comments and commenters at Whale Oil. In his announcement of Travis qutiting Whale Oil yesterday Pete Belt later conceded he over emphasised it. He initially said:

There has been a shift in culture, where we’ve changed a bunch of foul mouthed blokey commenters for (what they see) a knitting circle.

It all comes down to the ability for people to swear in the comments, and old commenters that could not change being resentful that they’ve lost “the only place on the Internet” where they felt at home.

Many pointed out that the issues were far wider and deeper than “the ability for people to swear” so later Pete conceded:

Travis has alluded to it – I deliberately oversimplified things. It isn’t just about swearing.

I’m puzzled by the over-emphasis on swearing.It seems to have been a simplistic approach that ignores a much bigger problem – abuse.

Note: I infrequently swear on blogs but was banned from WO for, apparently, using the phrase ‘man crap’. The word crap is used so obviously allowed on NZ Herald and Stuff online.

Attitudes to swearing have changed markedly in my lifetime. When i grew up swearing at school was severely punished and you just didn’t swear in front of adults. Print media, radio, movies and TV were very particular about what language must be excluded. That has relaxed a bit in print media and radio, and substantially in movies and in TV programs where nearly anything goes at times. It reflects real life.

Younger people in particular swear far more openly than they would have last century.

While I don’t swear much I usually don’t have a problem when people swear, I’m now used to it being common, including on blogs.

I don’t recall much if any criticism of Whale Oil for the swearing. There was a far bigger problem with personal attacks, regardless of whether swearing was involved. Non swear words are commonly used to viciously attack people.

One of Cameron Slater’s biggest moments of infamy was not for swearing – he was quoted without censorship for language in the Greymouth Star:

Blogger puts the boot in

Provocative right-wing internet blogger Cameron Slater was today standing by a headline that described Greymouth car crash victim Judd Hall as “feral”.

Mr Hall, a 26-year-old from Runanga, died when a car in which he was a backseat passenger left the road and crashed into a house about 11 o’clock on Friday night.

At 7.21am on Saturday, Mr Slater’s Whale Oil blog site carried a brief story on the crash under the heading, ‘Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour’.

When contacted by the Greymouth Star today, Mr Slater accepted that he did not know Mr Hall or his family, but justified the “feral” description by saying: “It is Greymouth, isn’t it? Didn’t Helen Clark say that you are all feral?”

He said anybody travelling at 140kph in a car in a 50kph area was ‘feral’, whether on the West Coast or in south Auckland.

He did not regret the headline and would not be apologising for it.

Mr Hall wasn’t even responsible for the crash. Many may consider calling the driver a fucking idiot far more appropriate than the language Slater used.

Excessive swearing can detract from blogs, as it can detract from conversations, depending on the context and the company you are in.

But I think are worse than swearing on blogs are abuse, personal attacks, harassment and stalking.  And message control censorship.

Whale Oil didn’t have a bad reputation for swearing, it had a bad reputation for attacking people, sometimes viciously. Slater led by example.

The Standard has a bad reputation for one sided abuse and attacks, protected and even promoted by the site moderation, with lprent leading the way.

Kiwiblog doesn’t have a bad reputation for swearing, it has a bad reputation for personal attacks. David Farrar isn’t criticised for his occasional swearing, he’s criticised for allowing too much free speech – and his recent moderation improvements have clamped down on abuse, not swearing.

There’s probably more annoyance expressed and complaints on blogs about bad grammar than swearing. I saw someone complaining yesterday about mixing brought with bought. For some people the misuse of apostrophe’s seems to be a major offence (and I deliberately misused one there).

So what’s more important on blogs, having swearing police or grammar police?

I’d prefer that people were allowed to freely express their opinions and feelings, as long as it’s not done to attack and abuse.

I’d prefer less religious or Bain argument on Kiwiblog than less swearing.

I’d prefer an even playing field on The Standard to less swearing.

I’d prefer less silent censorship on The Daily Blog than less swearing.

I’d prefer more honesty on Whale Oil than using swearing as an excuse to ban people to sanitise and propagandise  the comments.

Each blog to their own. Cameron got around his own swearing ban yesterday by using an acronym – FIFO. That means fit in or fuck off. I don’t think it’s the swear word that is cringe in that, it’s the intent. If you’re careful not to speak contrary to the Whale Oil authors or sponsors and you’re lucky not to strike Pete Belt on a bad day (which seem to be frequent) then you can keep commenting there.

Fuck, I’d rather promote free and robust (with respect) expression than be mob controlled with crap like that.

The most damaging language in society and on blogs is not swear words. Bad language isn’t controlled by using banned word filters.

I’d prefer no censorship and more relaxed language dictates – and as I have my own blog I’m free to have that.

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