Brian Edwards Media

Archive for March, 2011

The Lone Ranger comes to town – finally! A personal experience of bullying.

When I first saw the story about Casey Heynes, the 16-year-old Sydney schoolboy who’d been bullied for most of his school career and who finally snapped and turned on his tormentor, I was taken back to my own experience 60 years ago at Dunmurry Primary School, just outside Belfast. You’ll need to know that Anderson & McAuley was  the Belfast equivalent of Smith & Caughey or Kirkcaldie & Stains. ‘Cheeser’ was our nickname for the headmaster whose real name was Mr Chesney.  This is the story as I tell it in my memoir Daddy Was A German Spy – And Other Scandals:

 

  Like most schools, Dunmurry Primary had its resident bully. Nelson was an ugly fat boy. These days you would say that Nelson was an unhappy kid with body image issues who needed counselling. But in those days it was OK to say that Nelson was an ugly fat boy. Nelson threw his weight around – literally. He would jump on your back, then punch your lights out when you were on the ground. No one ever fought back and unless one of the teachers was around, no one ever came to the victim’s rescue. Nelson could have starred in a 50’s Western as the really bad dude who terrorises the town. Where was The Lone Ranger when you needed him?

 I was a favourite target for Nelson whose bully radar may have detected a nervous kid with pacifist tendencies. You never saw him coming. Nelson didn’t bother with foreplay. There were no threats or intimidation to warm things up. You suddenly found yourself spread-eagled beneath a mountain of pummelling lard.

 I put up with this for several months. Then, one day, something snapped. Nelson had just had his fill of beating the crap out of me and was wandering off in search of another victim when he got a sudden surprise. The wimp Edwards had appeared from nowhere and was riding on his back, his skinny arms round Nelson’s throat, kicking the living daylights out of the back of Nelson’s knees. A small crowd had gathered.

 ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’     Read the rest of this entry »

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How come it’s OK to call a man ‘a bastard’, but you can’t call a woman ‘a bitch’? Just asking, Dear Heart.

I have been pondering the difference between ‘a bitch’ and ‘a bastard’, and ‘a total bitch’ and ‘a total bastard’. The reason for my pondering is that I’ve observed that while a man may not relish being called ‘a bastard’ or even ‘a total bastard’, he is unlikely to feel that it is the ultimate insult, requiring pistols at dawn. A woman, on the other hand, will react extremely badly to being called ‘a bitch’ and will consider being called ‘a total bitch’ a legitimate defence to a charge of murder.

To resolve this mystery, all you have to do is attempt to soften the impact of each word by attaching a positive epithet to it. For example: a handsome bastard, an attractive bastard, a sexy bastard, a brilliant bastard. Each of these combinations suggests approval or perhaps envy. Even more negative epithets still have this sense of grudging admiration: a ruthless bastard, a devious bastard, a self-serving bastard, a calculating bastard, a cheating bastard, a rich bastard. There’s the envy again. How come he gets away with it when I can’t?

Now try softening the word ‘bitch’: a beautiful bitch, an attractive bitch, a sexy bitch, a brilliant bitch. It doesn’t work. The noun is too powerful for the adjective. It is laden with contempt. The ‘bitch’ might be beautiful, attractive, sexy or brilliant but, spoken by a man, each phrase conveys less admiration or respect that a sense of endangered male status. ‘What she needs…’   Read the rest of this entry »

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Latest! Adolf Hitler predicts rain in Hokitika

Thanks to River Howe for drawing this important news event to my attention.

 

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A new low in the standard of Media Releases

This Media Release from International Ice Hockey was passed on to us by Kerre Woodham.  English as a Second Language?

Press Release Tuesday, March 22, 2011

 

No broken ice for International Ice Hockey

 After the devastating earthquake which shock Christchurch businesses to a holt on 22nd February the future of events in the city looks bleak as many venues have been left in tatters and most events planned for Canterbury have pulled out. But not for the promoters of International Ice Hockey USA vs Canada who vow that the event will go on.

 International Ice Hockey’s game two is set for Christchurch’s CBS Arena on 30th July and with the venue coming out un‐scaved the event promoters see no reason for Christchurch residents to miss out on the action sport event of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Darren Hughes Resigns

The news is now out that Phil Goff has accepted Darren Hughes’ resignation. That is either an act of extreme self-sacrifice on Hughes’ part or an indication that the findings of the police investigation, even if they fall short of  justifying a prosecution, may make his position untenable. In either case, this is a personal  tragedy for Hughes, a political tragedy for the Labour Party and, in my submission, a matter of deep regret for anyone who has watched this talented and hugely personable MP’s career.

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A Hypothesis: Let’s assume for the moment that Darren Hughes is telling the truth.

Cartoon by Webb

Let’s assume just for the moment that Darren Hughes is telling the truth when he says he did nothing wrong when he took an eighteen-year-old back to his lodgings in the early hours of March 2.

Let’s set the bar even higher and assume that Hughes is not just relying on the letter of the law when he says he did nothing wrong, but  that  nothing of a sexual nature, nothing ‘improper’ in any way  took place. They had a cup of coffee and continued talking politics until the 18-year-old left.
And finally, let’s not worry about the probability or lack of probability of these assumptions or where this leaves the 18-year-old and his complaint to the police.
We’re simply considering a hypothesis: Darren Hughes is completely innocent.
This hypothesis was debated  on last night’s Close Upby three very experienced and very knowledgeable commentators: former Labour Party president, Mike Williams, former Labour MP, John Tamihere and Dr Bryce Edwards, blogger and lecturer in Politics at Otago University.

Asked whether Hughes political  aspirations were dog-tucker even if no prosecution were taken against him – effectively a declaration that he had broken no law – all three agreed that that was indeed the case. One expressed the reservation that if the police dealt with the matter quickly, there was a chance that Hughes might survive – a reasonably unlikely scenario, given the cops’ historic tardiness in dealing with this sort of matter.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Herald offers the inside story on Darren Hughes’ ‘fateful night’. Read it and be there!

 

Andrew Gorrie/Dom Post

Here are the known facts about the Darren Hughes matter:

On March 2, after taking part in a humorous debate, MP and Labour Party Chief Whip, Darren Hughes, went with a dozen or so students to the Matterhorn bar and restaurant in Wellington’s Cuba Street. Mr Hughes was next seen with a group of people at The Establishment in Courtenay Place. The President of the Victoria University Debating Club, who saw him there, described him as ‘just having a chat to people around him, being a good guy. He wasn’t particularly drunk. He seemed fine.’

Mr Hughes left the Establishment Club with an 18-year old male student. The two went to Annette King’s home where Mr Hughes boards. Mrs King was in bed asleep at the time. The student left some time later and is reported to have ‘run into a police car’. He then made a complaint to the police about Mr Hughes. The complaint has been widely reported in the media as being ‘of a sexual nature’.

Police are reported to have  questioned Mr Hughes and to have  visited  Ms King’s house and taken items away. They confirm that they are investigating a complaint against an MP.

Mr Hughes, who yesterday volunteered that he was the MP concerned,  has been given leave by Labour Party Leader Phil Goff and has voluntarily stood down as Chief Whip and Education spokesman.

Mr Hughes is adamant that he has ‘done nothing wrong’.

[That explanation took 231 words.]

The New Zealand Herald devoted the greater part of its front page and all of Page Two  to what it called the ‘LABOUR MP SAGA’.

Its front page headline (and its billboard) read ‘Inside Accused MP’s fateful night’.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Musings on the Ken Ring debate. (Warning – Some real heavy stuff!)

 

Photo: Annette Read, Weatherwatch.co.nz

 

I’ve been musing on the Ken Ring debate and come up with the following observations:

+ The evidence that the moon has some contributory influence on earthquakes seems slight.

- However, it is not impossible that it does.

+ Ken Ring may be a charlatan.

- However, it is possible that he genuinely believes the things he says and is simply misguided.

+ Ring’s  warnings about a major earthquake occurring in Canterbury on March 20 amounted to irresponsible scaremongering.

- On the other hand, if he did genuinely believe there would be a major earthquake on March 20, those warnings could be considered highly responsible.

+ No-one in Canterbury was killed or injured by an earthquake on March 20. Nor was there any significant damage to buildings or infrastructure. Ring’s prediction was wrong.

- However, a 5.1 earthquake, the largest since the devastating 6.3 tremor of February 22, did occur on March 20. So Ring’s prediction was right.

+ At noon on  March 20 members of the Skeptics Society, accompanied by Nick Smith, the Minister responsible for ACC, had lunch at the Sign of the Kiwi, one of Christchurch’s highest and oldest stone buildings in the Port Hills. This was to show their contempt for Ring’s prediction and their confidence that he was wrong. Their good sense is to be congratulated.

- Alternatively, since the Society’s spokesperson, Vicki Hyde, had said she wouldn’t be surprised if a shake happened during the lunch, their actions  might be seen as foolhardy and stupid. Unless, of course, the location wasn’t particularly hazardous, in which case the demonstration would lack credibility. As a correspondent to the Dominion Post noted, ‘If the Skeptics really wanted to make a point, they could try the roof of the Grand Chancellor Hotel.’

+ Since no-one in Canterbury was killed or injured by an earthquake on March 20 and there was no significant damage to buildings or infrastructure, the Skeptics were right.

-  However, since a 5.1 earthquake, the largest since the devastating 6.3 tremor of February 22, did occur on March 20, the Skeptics were wrong.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael Laws writes to Brian Edwards Media and I respond.

Earlier this evening (Friday), Michael Laws sent three comments to this site. Two were about what other people have said. The third was a direct reply to the two posts I have written about Michael’s column in last week’s Sunday Star Times, A Black Eye for Liberal Bleaters. What follows is Michael’s unedited comment and my response:

 

Dear Brian

I’m very pleased that you have been prodded out of your liberal senility to mount ceaseless ad hominem attacks upon my person … you join Russell Brown as another who can’t debate issues but must insult first, second and third.

I wrote a perfectly rational column as to why Asperger’s Syndrome is not an excuse for criminality. A point that Arie Smith’s family agree with: their issue was having him denied bail because of his special condition.

You may bleat on all you like AND I note the irony of having your correspondents demand violence against me. I’d say “bring it on” but you would only complain that I was inciting you …

As for the person ‘Dab’ from TV3 Nws … he did lie – my reply to the McLachlan lady was directed at saying she felt the perceived slight, not her son. The hyper sensitivity of such parents to Arie Smith being arrested … is ludicrous.

One other matter: the other central point of my column was that unsubstantiated allegations had been directed against the Police alleging brutality. They remain unsubstantiated. But that’s the liberal mantra, I guess. The Police are always wrong.

Cheers, sport.

Thank you, Michael. I appreciate your having responded to the two posts.

‘Ceaseless ad hominem attacks’ are not really my style. My first post was essentially a deconstruction of your column with a brief critique at the end. I agree that the comments from followers of this site were considerably less restrained and I would personally not have enjoyed being the object of such a barrage of, yes, often ad hominem criticism. But you are surely not so obtuse as to fail to recognise that both the content and the manner of expression of your column about this young man were a provocation and an invitation to precisely the response which it has received from the vast majority of readers of this blog and of many other blogs. If you insist on using terminology like ‘rats, rodents, ferals prepared to feed on the misery of others’ to describe a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome; if you feel the need to write: ‘In fact, the published photos accentuated such feral features – an unusual angularity offset by a blackened eye and the demeanour of one who spends much of his life in the darkness’; and if you recommend that the same (or worse) violence meted out to Smith should be meted out to all looters – then you can scarcely expect to receive a measured response. Your columns make people very angry. It surely cannot be a mystery to you why this is.

I don’t resile from anything I wrote in either post. There is a suggestion in your response to me and to others that we have misunderstood or misconstrued what you were trying to say. That, it seems to me, begs the question: is our understanding flawed or is what you write ambiguous or unclear?

Finally, Michael, accusing others of ad hominem attacks is rich when it is part of your own stock in trade. You have perhaps forgotten that when one woman wrote to you to draw your attention to my first post and to seek an explanation of what you had written in your column, you replied, ‘Brian edwards is a sad old man who teaches people to lie … and gets paid for it.’ That is of course not merely untrue, it is precisely the opposite of everything we believe in and teach. It is also of course highly defamatory.

In some ways I’m sorry that it has come to this. You have in the past written favourably about me; and I have on this site written approvingly about you. But so many of your recent columns have been so angry, so hate-filled and so cruel that it is just not possible to ignore them or to regard them as a temporary aberration.

Brian

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And Now For Something Completely Different!

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More Vileness from Michael Laws

This is really not a new post. It is a follow-up to the previous post. It consists of a piece written by Marilynn McLachlan, a blogger and the mother of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome,  in response to Laws’ column,  A Black Eye for Liberal Bleaters, in last week’s Sunday Star Times.

Marilynn emailed the post to Laws, who responded by email. I really can’t recall reading anything as contemptible, as lacking in human charity or understanding,  as that response.

You can read Marilynn’s post, Laws’ response and Marilynn’s further reply at http://www.mumsontop.com/2011/03/michael-laws-really-is-a-special-little-man/  It’s important that you do. If you ever had doubts about the odious nature not only of much of Laws’ writing, but of the man himself. those doubts will be soon erased.

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A Line-By-Line Commentary on Michael Laws’ Column on Asperger’s ‘Looter’ Arie Smith in today’s Sunday Star Times

Today Michael Laws’ Sunday Star Times Column was headed ‘A Black Eye for Liberal Bleaters’. What follows is a (lengthy) line-by-line commentary on that column. To be fair to Laws you should perhaps read the column in its entirety before reading my commentary.

***

“In all disasters, the rubble attracts rats. Whether it is physical and fatal, like the Christchurch earthquake, or metaphysical and mystical, like the Paul Henry affair, there are always ferals prepared to feed on the misery of others.

“When these rodents are eventually apprehended and exposed to the light, we are always amazed by how nondescript and petty they seem. As was the case with Arie Smith – Cornelis Arie Smith-Voorkamp to give him his full title – the 25-year-old arrested for looting a damaged house days after the Canterbury tragedy. “

Commentary:

I have no idea what the reference to Paul Henry means.

Laws includes Smith, a 25-year-old who has Asperger’s Syndrome, among the rats, rodents and  ‘ferals, prepared to feed on the misery of others’.

His reference to ‘Arie Smith  -  Cornelis Arie Smith-Voorkamp to give him his full title’ seems gratuitous, particularly the surely inappropriate use of the word ‘title’. What point is he making? That the name is pretentious or that it sounds South African?

 “In fact, the published photos accentuated such feral features – an unusual angularity offset by a blackened eye and the demeanour of one who spends much of his life in the darkness. Overnight, Arie Smith became the face of looting, and a figure of public contempt.”

Commentary:

According to Laws, Mr Smith has ‘feral’ features. These include ‘an unusual angularity… and the demeanour of one who spends much of his life in the darkness.’ The comment is worthy of Joseph Mengele. There is no evidence of any sort to support the suggestion that Mr Smith ‘spends much of his life in the darkness.’ ‘Feral’ is among Mr Laws’ favourite words to describe his fellow man. It means: ‘Of, pertaining to, or resembling a wild animal, savage, fierce, brutal; untamed, uncultivated; ultimately descended from individuals which escaped from captivity or domestication; born of such an animal in the wild.’  Read the rest of this entry »

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Reverse psychology and the art of stopping your children giving your grandchildren truly ghastly names.

 

‘So have you thought of a name yet?’

‘Not yet, Mum.’

‘Really? No ideas at all?’

‘Well, one or two.’

‘That’s nice, dear. Anything in particular?’

‘Well, Len rather likes Demelza.’

‘Demelza?’

‘Yes. Well, Demelza Angharad actually.’

‘Unusual, dear.’

‘Well yes. Len’s favourite TV programme when he was a kid was Poldark, and he was apparently besotted with the character of Demelza, who was played by an actress called Angharad something-or-other.’

‘And you agree?’

‘Not entirely. I rather favour Incontinentia Buttocks. From The Life of Brian, Mum. Wonderfully funny film. And unforgettable name.’

‘You don’t think… ? Oh never mind.’   Read the rest of this entry »

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Call Centre Blues – I make new overseas contacts thanks to Nokia and Hewlett Packard.

I am the owner of a Nokia 3710 flip-top phone. Unpretentious little thing: black -which I’m told is the  new black; no fancy bells and whistles; no touch-sensitive displays; tastefully plain and easy to operate. Exactly what I want.

Like most mobile phones these days, the Nokia 3710 has a radio function and I thought this would be great for tuning into the only two stations I listen to – the Concert Programme and Radio Hauraki. (Surprising, isn’t it?)

No problemo – grab one of the multitude of headphone/earphone sets around the house and Bob’s your uncle. Sadly, Bob was not my uncle, because the standard size 3.5mm plug on all my headphones/earphones was too big for the miniscule 2.5mm socket on the phone. Nokia, you see, want me to spend another 20 bucks buying their headset. Heigh ho!

Now here’s where this story really begins. I find the number for Nokia’s ‘sales and support  centre’  in the White Pages. I ring the 0800 number. I listen to the plethora of recorded options and, in less than a week, come across an option telling me the opening hours of the Nokia sales and support centre in Auckland. Less than a week later, I’ve found an option which will allow me to speak to a human being.  Read the rest of this entry »

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“God is weeping with those who weep” – Peter Beck. I beg to differ.

 

I know Peter Beck, the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, reasonably well. We’ve had a few decent atheist/believer donnybrooks in the past and I admire and like him. His great sadness at what has happened to the Cathedral and the people of Christchurch could not be more patent or moving. So I write this with a degree of trepidation for two reasons: first, because the timing isn’t great; and second, because I have no interest in denying anyone the comfort which religion brings them at times like this.

But what I have to say arises directly from my enormous admiration for the generosity, bravery and self sacrifice of the people of Christchurch and of the hundreds of others, from all parts of the world, who came to their aid.

Answering the question ‘Where is God?’ Peter recently replied as follows:

‘God is in all these people. God is in the midst of all this. God is weeping with those who weep. God is alongside those who are finding the energy to just keep going. God is in the people who are reaching out and seeking to sustain one another. God is about building community, about empowering people.’

He was then asked:

‘Yes, but where was God was when offices pancaked and burned and hundreds died?’

He replied:

‘Well, we live on a dynamic, creating planet that’s doing its thing. For whatever reason, our forebears chose to build this city on this place. They didn’t know we were on this faultline. God doesn’t make bad things happen to good people. We make our own choices about what we do.’   Read the rest of this entry »

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2am: Letter from Christchurch

 Peter Hyde writes  for the ABC.   

  Here’s a powerful piece from the stricken suburbs of Christchurch:   his tale of three cities:

     http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/44696.html?WT.mc_id=newsmail

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Christopher Hitchens’ New Ten Commandments

My good friend Max Cryer drew this to my attention. I thought you might like it too. And, by the way, if you want to spend an interesting, entertaining and infuriating hour or so, check out Hitchens’ confrontations with that bullying moron from Fox News, Sean Hannity.

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Liquifaction: See how it happens

Sand and water rising out of hard ground – it seems so bizarre.  Why and how?  Here’s a little demonstration:

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A Gracious Apology from John Campbell

stuff.co.nz

At the top of his programme tonight, John Campbell made a gracious, fulsome and patently sincere apology for the tenor of his interview with Ken Ring last night. I am very aware that such apologies are not easy for broadcasters and I congratulate John for making it. He made a mistake that almost certainly reflected his experiences over the last week of the suffering of the people of Christchurch and his concern that they should not be subjected to further and possibly unnecessary anxiety.

For my part, I believe that my critique of his performance on this occasion was justified, but the manner in which it was expressed may not have been. Like John himself, I was angry.

This matter should now, I believe, be put to rest. Accordingly Judy and I have closed off comments on the original post. Lessons have been learned on both sides.

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