A dominant theme will run through all the obituaries and tributes to Parekura Horomia – that he was a lovely man. It will be unnecessary to remind anyone who knew him of the injunction not to speak ill of the dead. The thought will simply not occur. He was a lovely man and little more needs to be said.
From time to time the lovely man was delivered by ‘the boss’ into Brian and Judy’s tender care for ‘media training’. Parekura was ‘expansive’ when he spoke to journalists or in the House. His expansiveness sometimes got him into trouble and our brief was to encourage him in the view that where journalists and the Opposition were concerned, less really was more.
We decided that our client needed to learn the dark art of starving his questioners of material to use against him by answering as many questions as possible with an undecorated ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. This did not come easily to Parekura who may well have thought it abrupt or rude and whose natural instinct was to convert a word into a sentence, the sentence into a paragraph and the paragraph into a full page. Where answering questions was concerned he was generous to a fault. Read the rest of this entry »
Question: Could a reasonable person or a decent human being have voted against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill?
Tom Scott’s cartoon would seem to suggest that only dinosaurs – ancient, stupid and rather ugly creatures – could have charged mindlessly in where angels feared to tread.
The cartoon interested me because it reflected the Janus-like quality of so much liberal thinking: permissive of almost everything except contrary points of view.
So let’s look as some specific areas.
The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, as its title so unambiguously stated, was a bill to change the legal definition of marriage. Could a reasonable person, a decent human being find cause to object to that?
I would have thought so. Changing the legal definitions of words is always a serious business and no more serious than when those definitions refer to longstanding human institutions and are enshrined in a multitude of laws, contracts and traditions.
You don’t have to be a dinosaur to say, ‘When you change the meaning of a word, you simultaneously change the reality to which that word refers, a reality which in this particular case has existed for thousands of years in myriad cultures.’
You’ll note that I’m not saying that opposition to the legislation is right. What I’m saying is that it expresses the natural discomfort that an entirely reasonable person, a decent human being, could be expected to feel when they are required to redefine not merely a common word but their lifelong and previously unambiguous understanding of the meaning of that word. I’m saying that it is understandable. Read the rest of this entry »
Referring to John Key’s current dissatisfaction with the ‘knuckleheads’ of the Fourth Estate, a prominent journalist, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, observed to me recently, ‘No Prime Minister who ever attacked the media got re-elected.’ He was evidently out of the country during both Rob Muldoon’s and Helen Clark’s three terms, but his remark was less than flattering to the members of his own profession. Journalists, it seems, will revenge themselves on politicians who criticise them, in the process abandoning their duty to report objectively and dispassionately.
Key’s response to media attacks on his credibility, and to the Press Gallery’s dealings with him during ‘stand-ups’ in the corridors of Parliament, has been to suggest that he’ll either abandon the stand-ups altogether or at least greatly reduce the number of questions he will take.
I would suggest the former. It makes absolutely no sense to throw yourself into a pit of hungry bears who have been practising tag-team mauling while they waited for your arrival. It would be hard to think of a more uncontrolled, uncontrollable or dangerous arena. Read the rest of this entry »
[Update: Susan Wood was admirably restrained in her interviews on Q & A a week after this post appeared.]
In the check-out line at Victoria Park New World this morning I bumped into my regular co-panellist on the media review segment of TV3’s The Nation, Bill Ralston. After comparing notes about why men enjoy supermarket shopping and women generally don’t, Bill asked me if I’d watched Q & A which follows the Sunday edition of The Nation on TV1 and is, I suppose, our competitor. No, I hadn’t watched it, but I’d be looking at it later on MySky. Bill thought I shouldn’t miss it. Susan Wood was ‘terrific’, she’d demolished David Shearer and given much the same treatment to National’s Nikki Kaye.
By coincidence, Bill and I had earlier been talking on The Nation to freelance journalist Karl Du Fresne who’d penned an article entitled ‘RNZ must right its lean to the left.’ Karl’s position was that there was strong evidence of endemic left wing bias by Radio New Zealand interviewers and he cited Kim Hill, Kathryn Ryan and Mary Wilson as examples.
I don’t agree with Karl’s thesis any more than I agreed with those who claimed right-wing bias on the part of the media when Helen Clark was running the country. Journalists have, in my view, an obligation to call to account whichever political party or coalition holds the reins of power, to be, if you like, an informal opposition.
Anyway, when I got home, I watched Susan Wood interviewing David Shearer and Nikki Kaye.