How right wing or conservative

I’m not much into political labels, but they are often used, sometimes to describe someone’s political alignment, but more often as a form of put-down.

Robert Guyton has labelled me as right wing several times recently but I don’t care much as his credibility is poor – he has often made things up about me, here, and since ceasing commenting in a huff has continued to make digs false assertions at The Standard (he was at it again yesterday). With Robert I don’t know if it is through ignorance, through seeing most people as ‘right wing’ from his fairly far left perspective, or if he is deliberately trying to provoke and smear, as he often does.

But another comment at The Standard was curious:

He is tribal conservative but has reached a position where he thinks the centre provides the best result in a goldilocks sort of way.

That was from mickysavage (Greg Presland) who is fairly straight up and doesn’t join the bash wagon at The Standard, so I take this as his genuine perception of my political leanings. But being described as “tribal conservative” is quite a laugh.

Last century I tended to vote Labour (never National). Early this century I voted Green, and Labour in 2005 to help help Don Brash out of power. I don’t know how tribal conservative this record is.

I approached Labour in 2009 thinking I could contribute to them rebuilding, but didn’t follow through because they (primarily Clare Curran) gave me the impression they wanted workers but not thinkers or contributers.

I have never considered being involved with National or NZ First. I have considered Greens but while I’m in line generally with their environmental ideals am not in favour of their radical social goals – in particular because they are unproven ideals.

I don’t think “the centre provides the best result in a goldilocks sort of way”. I considered myself centre-ish for a while, but my preferences are wider than that, depending on the issue.

I was never a fan of Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, and what I’ve seen of the New Conservative Party leaves me cold, they are not my thing at all.

My political preferences are similar to the more liberal National MPs like Nikki Kay and Chris Bishop and also similar to moderate Labour MPs – certainly not in line with conservative National MPs (including Simon Bridges). I agree in part with others more leftward, like James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter.

I’m sure I have some conservative-ish views, but on social issues I think I am usually not conservative aligned at all.

Homosexual law reform – strongly in favour, the laws up until the 1980s were terrible.

Smacking children – strongly against, except in very mild cases (tap/smack and not whack/smack). I voted against the smacking referendum. I am strongly anti-violence in the home.

Marriage equality – I supported the civil union law reform as adequate, but shifted to supporting full marriage equality after talking with people at a gay group meeting.

Marriage generally – I guess I’m conservative on this to an extent, I value marriage as a way of showing commitment to a partner. However I ‘lived together’ for several years prior to both my marriages – this is commonly accepted practice this century, but was quite a bit more radical first time round in the 1970s and certainly not conservative.

Abortion – I strongly support moves to make our abortion laws line up with our abortion practice, scrapping the ridiculous requirements women have to comply with now, making it women’s choice up until about half term.

Euthanasia – I support euthanasia in principle, and i think i will probably vote for if it goes to a referendum, depending on what we actually get to vote on.

Cannabis law reform – I have strongly support cannabis law reform and have campaigned politically on this. The current drug laws are not working, causing more problems than they solve. I want the legal, medical and social mess cleaned up. I have never used cannabis or any other recreational drug except alcohol.

MMP – I have supported MMP as a better than most of the rest option, albeit flawed. I oppose FPP. I strongly support lowering the MMP threshold, preferably to 2-3% if not scrapped entirely. The priority should be put on making as many votes count as possible. The 5% threshold is a large party imposition to protect their positions by excluding small parties, I think this is appalling and undemocratic.

Tax and benefit reform – I support a major rethink of our tax and benefit system. I’m disappointed by the timidity shown by the current Government with their hobbled tax working group – with the economy currently strong it would be a good time to change things more radically. I’m interested in some sort of universal basic income. I have some reservations, but in a total reform package it should be considered in the mix.

I’m interested to hear why Greg thinks that I was or am ‘tribal conservative’. I really doubt he has any real idea, my views have been generally heavily clobbered and misrepresented at The Standard – since I started commenting there thinking it might be the political blog most in line with my thinking about ten years ago.

Comparing left wing and right wing authoritarianism

Authoritarianism and extreme tactics are not confined to the right or the left of politics.

From the British Journal of Political Science: Similarities and Differences Between Left-Wing and Right-Wing Radicals

Although some scholars have argued that authoritarianism is characteristic only of the right and not of the left, persuasive reasons exist for doubting this claim. Intuitive observation of left-wing and right-wing regimes as well as radical political movements of the left and right reveals striking parallels in their styles of political engagement, their reliance upon force, their disdain for democratic ideals and practices and their violations of civil liberties.

Political activists of any leaning tend to want to achieve their goals, and the more radical the political ideals the more radical the tactics are likely to be.

In the present article, through a series of surveys in which we have tried to idenify, as best we can, supporters of the far left and far right, we have systematically compared the two camps on a variety of political and psychological characteristics.

We find, in keeping with the conventional view, that the far left and the far right stand at opposite end of the familiar left–right continuum on many issues of public policy, political philosophy and personal belief.

They hold sharply contrasting views on questions of law and order, foreign policy, social welfare, economic equality, racial equality, women’s rights, sexual freedom, patriotism, social conventions, religion, family values and orientations towards business, labour and private enterprise.

That’s not surprising at all.

Both view American society as dominated by conspiratorial forces that are working to defeat their respective ideological aims.

Failure to get popular support has to be blamed on something other than themselves.

The degree of their alienation is intensified by the zealous and unyielding manner in which they hold their beliefs. Both camps possess an inflexible psychological and political style characterized by the tendency to view social and political affairs in crude, unambiguous and stereotypical terms.

They see political life as a conflict between ‘us’ and ‘them’, a struggle between good and evil played out on a battleground where compromise amounts to capitulation and the goal is total victory.

We see examples of this lack of compromise in New Zealand, notably with Green supporters (and some MPs), which is quite ironic given their stated democratic ideals.

The far left and the far right also resemble each other in the way they pursue their political goals. Both are disposed to censor their opponents, to deal harshly with enemies, to sacrifice the well-being even of the innocent in order to serve a ‘higher purpose’, and to use cruel tactics if necessary to ‘persuade’ society of the wisdom of their objectives.

Censoring opponents is a topical issue here with the Molyneux/Southern controversy.

Both tend to support (or oppose) civil liberties in a highly partisan and self-serving fashion, supporting freedom for themselves and for the groups and causes they favour while seeking to withhold it from enemies and advocates of causes they dislike.

I’ve seen quite a bit of that here in new Zealand lately.

When the two camps are evaluated on questions of political and psychological style, the treatment of political opponents, and the tactics that they are willing to employ to achieve their ends, the display many parallels that can rightly be labelled authoritarian.

I think that the more left wing, or right wing, a group of political activists is the more likely they are to want to suppress criticism, and more likely to want to impose their ideals on others, even to the extent of ignoring their own ideals (or making excuses for suspending them) to achieve what they think is right.

If these groups get into positions of power then some degree of authoritarianism is likely. We already grapple with it to an extent.

We have groups who want to ban tobacco, van cannabis, ban meat, ban sugar, ban selective religions, ban selective immigration, ban fossil fuels, ban plastic, ban choice on abortion, ban choice on euthanasia, and ban people from speaking who they disagree with.

The source is an extract of an Oxford Press publication in 2009.

Trump’s response to Charlottesville troubles

Donald Trump’s reaction to the problems in Charlottesville has been controversial.

He had tweeted:

We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

But he also spoke (from one of his gold clubs where he is on holiday):

 “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

This was controversial because it didn’t name what the main offenders where.

NBC:  Trump Takes Heat for Blaming Charlottesville Violence on ‘Many Sides’

President Donald Trump sparked a backlash Saturday when he suggested “many sides” were to blame for the deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.

Democrats criticized the president for failing to single out white nationalists, and several Republicans issued statements mentioning white nationalism or white supremacists. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on Twitter: “We should call evil by its name.”

He added that hate and division in the country must stop, but that it is not linked to his presidency because it has “been going on for a long, long time.”

“No matter our color, creed, religion, our political party, we are all Americans first,” he said, adding that he’d like for his administration to “study” why such violence is occurring. He didn’t take questions from reporters.

Asked for clarification, a White House official later said: “The President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

And his very temporary ex-communications director:

Al this reaction seemed to lead to a more specific condemnation.

Fox News: Trump condemns ‘white supremacists,’ other extremists behind deadly Virginia rallies

President Trump specifically condemns “white supremacists” and other extremist groups as forces behind the deadly protests and counter-protests this weekend in Virginia, a White House spokesperson said Sunday.

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” the spokesperson said from Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Right wing protesters were reported as saluting while chanting ‘Heil Trump’.

Trump will perhaps learn from this that what a president says can matter. He can’t be blamed for individual acts of violence and terrorism, but inflammatory rhetoric, both past and recent, can have an influence on public discourse and behaviour.

Dirty politics?

Anne at The Standard:

I hear tell Cameron Slater and co. are advertising through the appropriate channels for prospective right wing trolls to attend an urgently arranged training session. It has yet to be confirmed whether a payment for their services will be made, but assurances (in writing) to the successful candidates that they will receive preferential treatment by the parental political body is definitely forthcoming. (satire)

Who is playing dirty here?

Right wing apologist

Gotta laugh when you find things like this, from a Caption Contest at The Standard:

john-key-and-david-cameron-2

Ecosse Maidy submitted more then twenty captions, most fairly lame, including this one:

JK: Well I dint invite him!
DC: I dint invite him either!:
JK: Well we will just have to stay here till he stops talking cak and leaves
DC: That could be a while, its freezing out here:

JK: I wonder how the hell that right wing apologist Pete George got his hands on an invite?

I don’t recall having much if anything to do with Ecosse Maidy and it’s yonks since I’ve commented at TS so it’s a bit weird to see this, but quite hilarious.

Of course 90% of people seem right wing to most of the Standard regulars.

David Farrar posted this alignment chart at Kiwiblog:

party-lr-560x366

I think I’m generally fairly average middle-ish but move around a bit, having voted from Green to National this century. But that may seem like far right to Ecosse Maidy.

My style is quite different but my political preferences probably aren’t that far from either lprent or Farrar in man respects. But I’ve never been anywhere near Downing Street.

Right wing wishes and fantasies

A Whale Oil posts asks What is one thing about New Zealand you would love to fix, if you had the power to?

Featured Comment (‘steve and monique’):

Remove the treaty, and its collective trough industry.

LM Bach:

We could start with that traitor Finlayson, then turf out the rest of that ‘tribunal’ and see if they get jobs in the real world. What a scam!

Tom:

Put all beneficiaries on contraception and drug test them weekly. Any drugs, no benefit.

You do realise maoris are not indigenous.

Amanda Atkinson

… also remove rednecks, [ MOD – redacted. please read our commenting rules or risk having your comments removed or account blocked. ] Get rid of Treaty Troughers, yes agreed. The treaty is not the problem. Whinging Maori AND rednecks are the problem. Most Maori, just want what was stolen to be given back, but do not use it an excuse to be destructive or useless citizens. Most Pakeha, want the the Treaty settled, so long as the money is going to filter down (again, yes get rid of the Treaty Gravy train and its troughers). Rednecks are no better than those whinging Maori who blame the white man for everything. Both are minorities. Both are part of the problem, and not not part of the solution. Both are given far too much air time.

[MOD – redacted personal attack ]

A discussion continues on treaty/Maori issues. Plus:

Dave:

NZ, get shot of the treaty NOW, zero entitlements, nothing, no special funding for anything maori, just one set of rules, one equal set of Kiwi’s and all living together in a special corner of the world.

Sailor Sam:

Get rid of the “maori” seats in parliament, dismantle the “treaty” gravy train.
Any of the “part” maori who do not like this, go home to Hawaiiki.

More responses:

conwaycaptain:

Send KDC home and stop Muslim immigration

Albert Lane:

Make the drinking age 20.

Re-instate the offence of drunkenness in a public place.

Institute severe penalties for assaulting police officers and for verbally abusing police officers in the course of their duty.

Odd Ball:

Sort out Auckland’s council structure & powers, in order to clip the wings of any present & future mayor,

kiwiinasia:

I would like NZ to revoke the right for women to vote.
Its been down hill ever since they started.

If you get all emotional it scares you.
But if you think logically it makes sense.
It did for a few thousand years until the late 19th century and we never had a world war, let alone two of them

ozbob68:

I would like people to have to sit an exam before they can vote. I sat the British Citizenship Exam and voted in the last election there. I want to see those that are level-headed and motivated deciding who runs our country, not the agenda-driven or conspiracy-driven.

One New Zealand, No Dickheads.

unitedtribes:

Ditch MMP

Yeahright

RMA, then a radical change in function. At the moment it is just a revenue gatherer and just stifles progress. protection to the environment is needed but the RMA in its current form just kills progress. Plus its used as a weapon by the greenies for their extreme agenda’s, eg, Miss C.Brown C/- Wellington Council

eiselmann:

 ….the police almost certainly know who belongs to the gangs locally , so declare them criminal organisations , make it a crime to be in a gang , arrest them , get them off the streets and send them to White Island with no food and water…where they can happily ignore our societies laws and values all they like.

Hans:

I would like to get rid of the central banksters, I’m sure the Fed in the USA has some influence on them. Not sure why we need a central bank run by crooks.

Disinfectant:

Reform the Local Government Act to stop councils running commercial businesses.GoingRight:

GoingRight:

I would like to see the unions disappear.

Wallace Westland:

I’d like to see the end of the Super city..

Sandalwood789:

Legally define Islam as an ideology of hate and then use that law to ban Muslim immigration. 
Use the law again to close mosques and Islamic schools and ban proselytising by Muslims.

No more Treaty payments and that includes the top-up rort that at least one iwi wangled out of the Crown.

Go back to a FPP electoral system.

Set up a “wasteful spending office” (since Audit NZ don’t seem to be monitoring that) and take the chainsaw to government and local government spending.

Ali Gates:

Introduce after 6 months of unemployment benefits work for the dole and ensure equal student benefits not getting paid a student allowance because you have a rich mommy or daddy is unfair

Huia (last one but a biggie):

I also would like to see an end to the Treaty issues, they have gone a long way in addressing most of them, but there are still a few to go. Get it over and done with, then NZ can move forward instead of dwelling continually in the past. Of course there are always those who will dwell in the past so the issues will never ever be totally resolved. The costs have cost us all dearly, this country is suffering because of something that happened mostly well before our time through trying to do the right thing.
I would like to see a halt on immigration for a few years, tighter border controls in place, if you cant abide by our laws then you are gone….no 5th and 6th chances, you have done it in your own nest and your citizenship has been revoked.
I would like to see beneficiaries made to earn their way in those jobs that migrants are being bought in for, the work is here, if they wont work…no benefit. If you have a second child whilst on a benefit then you are earning too much on that benefit if you can afford to breed.
I would like to see people being made responsible for their own children instead of the PC brigade stepping in and taking over the parents responsibility. How will these people get it through their heads that children are their responsibility if a do gooder is waiting in the wings to earn their place in heaven. Tough love…you are responsible for your own actions. That is how you learn. We live in a great place where the opportunity to eat very well is here, we can grow pretty much anything and can eat very healthy. There is no excuse not to, so the answer is laziness and the knowledge that someone else will put it right for you. Get off your bum and work.
I would like to see tougher sentencing where life meant life and you pay dearly for the crime you have committed, especially against children. I never want to see another murder trial controlled, manipulated and played out in the media by the likes of team Bain. The Bain trial was a complete travesty of justice and should never be allowed to happen like that again. Facts are facts, innuendo, gossip and hearsay have no place in a court room and should never have been allowed to be presented as facts…totally screwed the trial and cost the taxpayer dearly. The Justice system really does need an overhaul, especially when you get a lying, cheating, German criminal tie up the courts with his antics,(the cost is enormous), then to get an MP released from his position on a criminal’s and his paid retainer’s word alone…something very wrong there.
I am really tired of the left and media banging on so negatively when we live in such a great place, so would love to see them actually be positive, show some guts and get out from under the union umbrella, this would probably earn them more votes from everyone for a start. For God’s sake stop being so dammed negative, its draining on the mind.
I would definitely like to see MMP gone and the time wasting in Parliament reduced.
I am not happy with the movement onto the gravy train of local councils by the left wing, they are anti progress, negative, ineffective and not in the least business minded, so how can they run a council?….they cant ! as we have seen by Auckland’s pathetic example. These people cannot run business’s, so councils please stop dabbling in the business world, concentrate on running the council and only the councils, if you want to dabble in business then save up and purchase your own and stop misusing the ratepayers hard earned money.
I would like to see our defense force increased to cover the air again, and given the balls to act like they should act in defending our country, its waters and our laws. Again if you cant abide by our laws then you are gone, fair means or foul. We really need to take stock about this and recognize where the world is going at the moment, there is a move afoot which will hurt all of us, therefore we need some protection and the confidence our shores will be taken care of.
I think we need to stop importing useless crap from China, a stupid $1.50 toy which breaks as soon as you get it home leaves a huge carbon footprint, surely we can do better than this. Why this desperation for garbage?
Id like to see our education system improved, teachers paid what they are truly worth. Not all teachers…just the good ones doing a good job, which means we need to screen teachers and make sure they are well educated, dedicated enough to really want to teach our children, and not just fall into the job because it seems to be the easiest one around. Id like to see children’s education taking in the movement of money (international and domestic), in depth budgeting, property purchasing. Sex education hasn’t worked as the kids are still getting pregnant only in bigger numbers. They are active earlier too which is a worry. I think the schools should concentrate on sending better balanced, better educated in the ways of the world kid’s out into the world. No pregnant and illiterate as so many of them are now.
I would also like to see the sale of massive tracts of land in NZ to people living overseas be stopped. No good for us and no good for anyone except the overseas owner. The Chinese are buying up large land tracts in the food baskets of the world, do you think they will share with us if things get tight? I don’t have that confidence. You go to their country, try to buy a large tract of land, it wont happen. I believe we need to hang on to our land. Large tracts can surely be broken up into smaller tracts and farmed successfully for kiwi’s by kiwi’s.
Will get off the soap box now but thanks for the vent.

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.

Hooton extends procrastination through summer

Matthew Hooton is less decisive on setting up a party than Colin Craig was on walking on the moon or chemtrails.

After “I’m going to announce something about Act on Friday” to “no I’m not” to “I’m definitely announcing something today” and now he says “A summer of reflection is needed” on prospects of a new economic & socially liberal party (NBR behind paywall).

Looking at his reflection in a shiny stainless steel BBQ hood?

Update: another quote:

“People shouldn’t be saying what they plan to do, people should meet one another and see the different perspectives of the very many people who do feel there’s room for a new party to the right of John Key.”

Will he heed his own advice?

How right wing am I?

It has been implied that I’m a right wing blogger going by this The Daily Blog headline:

Pete George – an example of right wing blogging falsehoods

That’s a post by Lynn Prentice but he may not have written the headline, as he reveals in a comment at Public Address:

The Daily Blog? So I sent it to them since they were starting the next day.  Looks like they toned down my title, corrected some grammar and typos and put it up.

It would be interesting to see what his choice of title was.

I have often been called right wing  – on left wing blogs.

And I have been called left wing on right wing blogs.

Accusing someone of being of the other wing is a common attempt at abuse, but can also just be through ignorance, as I suspect could be the case here.

It’s common to see people at leftie blogs like The Standard labeling everything they don’t agree with as right wing. David Shearer is accused of being right wing, as is the Labour caucus.

It’s also common to see people at rightie blogs like Kiwiblog labeling everything they don’t agree with as left wing. John Key and National are sometimes described as left wing. Some extreme commenters accuse everyone else at Kiwiblog of being socialists.

How right wing am I?

I don’t do wings.

I have a left arm and a right arm, a left leg and a right leg, a left eye and a right eye, a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere.

I speak from the centre. My heart is slightly to the left.

More seriously, I don’t buy into this political polarity painting, I don’t see things as a left/right divide. Most things are degrees in between.

I look at each issue and judge it on it’s merits. Like most people I see a need for some state assistance and regulation, but see the benefits in private enterprise.

I see the need for both personal responsibility and community responsibilities.

A right wing blogger?

Many participants in the blogosphere find a left orientated or right orientated favourite place. The seem to view other blog places as enemy territory.

But I’ve been a cross-blogger, participating in a wide variety of online forums. The reason why I am more active on right wing blogs is because I’ve been banned or blocked from some of the most prominent left wing blogs – they seem to have less tolerance for alternative views and approaches to blogging.

Here I look to sources from both the left and the right, attempting to get a variety and balance of views.

If I appear to be harder on Labour that’s because I think they deserve it, I have serious concerns about the lack of quality in alternatives to National.

If I appear to be harder on The Standard that’s becasue I think they deserve it – and also because I can challenge people at Kiwiblog and Whale Oil directly and on an even playing field, including Cam and DPF, but I’m banned from The Standard so can’t address general issues and personal attacks there.

I seek and publish views from MPs from across the spectrum.

I’m not left or right, I have cross-party interests.

I’m not a right wing blogger, or a left wing blogger. My niche is as a cross-blogger  – but I don’t very often get cross!

Our political and social revile

The horrible acts of terrorism in Norway have stirred up political emotions in New Zealand. That has highlighted some things that are common here, especially noticeable on blogs – the degree of violence and vitriol in posts and comments. Norway was an extreme example, but the political discourse in New Zealand is often terrible.

Extreme blogs and extreme comments on blogs are far more prevalent in right wing forums, there’s no doubt about that. This includes proposals of violence, some of it extreme violence, and also abusive and intimidating language. When it occurs it should be confronted and questioned – this is not trying to shut down free speech as some people claim, those who confront violence speech have as much right to speak as the abusers.

Violent speech is one symptom of our often abrasive and divisive political landscape, where the normal reaction is far too often to oppose, shout down  and to try and marginalise any comments deemed to be critical or at odds with one’s own ideology.

The left don’t use obvious violence anywhere near as much – but they can be just as divisive and antagonistic in their own more subtle ways. They are fooling themselves if they think it is a right wing problem – one of the left’s biggest faults is to blame everything on the right and to deny their own faults.

Blaming “the right” for political violence is as bad as blaming “the Muslims” for world terrorism. Blanket smears will do nothing to resolve problems, it’s lazy politics at best, and often deliberately provocative.

Violence in politics is part of our far too violent society in New Zealand. And violence is not a right wing problem.

Maori are over represented in our violence statistics. Maori are not considered to be “right wing”.

Violence is prevalent on TV and movies. The media and Hollywood are not considered to be “right wing”.

Most violence is not political, it’s just bad behaviour from people who don’t know how to resolve problems and frustrations any other way – and despite the Hollywood message violence is most often a very poor way of resolving anything.

Violent, antagonistic, inflammatory, divisive  speech and behaviour is prevalent across the political spectrum in New Zealand. If we learnt to behave better towards each other then we are more likely to work better with each other to make New Zealand a better and less violent place to live.

Rather than revile we should learn to reconcile. We are much more alike than different, we should act that way.