Posted by BE on March 30th, 2014
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the ongoing Kim Dotcom/Mein Kampf debate is the rank failure of commentators to recognise the sheer irony of their positions.
I’m going to brand as ‘book-burners’ those who have made the leap from Dotcom’s ownership of a signed copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf to his being a Nazi sympathiser. I don’t of course mean that they are actual book-burners, but that they exhibit the mentality of book-burners. They are people who believe that a man’s character may be judged not merely by the contents of his library but, in this particular case, by his ownership of a single book. Their logic, as I argued in my previous post, is that if the contents of a book are evil then the ownership of such a book is itself evidence of evil:
‘Kim Dotcom owns and has read a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitler was the founder of National Socialism and one of history’s most evil men. Ergo: Kim Dotcom must be an evil Nazi.’
The Dotcom/Mein Kampf story was first given national prominence by TV3 journalists Brook Sabin and Patrick Gower who confidently predicted the end of Dotcom’s political aspirations and, one might assume, of his hopes of remaining in this country, as a result of his owning a priceless historical document, signed by Hitler himself and dedicated to his cellmate Hermann Esser.
So the first irony lies in journalists, traditional advocates of free speech, if not actually promoting book-burning, at least fanning the embers.
But then, in the current climate of New Zealand commercial television, sensation mongering is precisely the journalist’s job. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 27th, 2014
What a dreadful fellow this Kim Dotcom is. He owns a signed copy of Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto Mein Kampf. This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the fat German believes in Hitler’s ‘final solution’ to the Jewish problem, that behind that jovial exterior is a closet Nazi. John Key will be wringing his hands in glee. He can tear Dotcom’s credibility to pieces. In the ongoing battle between the two men this revelation will mark the day that Kim Dotcom started to lose and John Key started to win.
We know this is true because it headed last night’s TV3 News. We are indebted to the unctuous Brook Sabin and the occasionally hysterical Patrick Gower for tearing this scab off Dotcom’s reputation.
You can follow the logic, can’t you: If you have bought and have in your possession a book written by an evil person and containing that person’s evil thoughts, then ipso facto you must share that evil person’s evil thoughts and, presumably, be an evil person yourself. Dotcom should count himself lucky that we don’t burn people like him at the stake any more. And the ducking stool has been out of commission for far too long.
There’s a lesson in this for all of us. I can tell you that I’m getting rid of my copies of Mao’s Little Red Book, the collected works of the Marquis De Sade and the Old Testament. I really don’t want people knowing that I’m a Communist pervert willing to gouge out the eyes and (without anaesthetic) pull out the teeth of anyone who crosses me. Half of my library will go out with the next blue bin collection. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 26th, 2014
I’ve taken down the post “The (Kiwi) Wolf of Wall Street Strikes Again” because I was factually wrong in my view that while the Gambling Foundation had been highly critical of the Government’s ‘pokies for convention centre’ deal, the Salvation Army had not. That weakens the argument that the Foundation was being punished for its attacks on the Prime Minister and Government. Having advised clients for years how important it is to admit your mistakes, I’m admitting this one. That said, I withdraw nothing that I said in the previous post: “Why I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him – a response”.
Posted by BE on March 25th, 2014
In my previous post I made the unequivocal statement that “I wouldn’t trust John Key as far as I could throw him.” Several people commented that I really ought to provide some evidence in support of that conclusion. I could perhaps respond that the general theme of the post was that our opinions of other people (and politicians in particular) are often based on feeling or intuition unsupported by demonstrable facts and incapable of empirical proof. Intuition can be a pretty reliable tool for judging others. Nonetheless, I think the question ‘Why would you not trust John Key as far as you could throw him?’ deserves an answer.
You’ll find part of the answer in John Key – ‘There There’ Prime Minister which I posted on March 2. But you have to look to the ‘pokies for payola’ deal which Key negotiated with Sky City to really understand where I’m coming from. What that deal told me was that our Prime Minister is a man devoid of social conscience or a moral compass.
The Hippocratic Oath, sworn by many doctors around the globe, contains the following sentence:
“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone.”
It seems to me that this principle of never doing harm to anyone can properly apply to any person whose decision-making power can influence the lives of others. Politicians certainly come into that category and none more so than a president or prime minister. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 24th, 2014
The phrase ‘presidential-style election campaign’ is bandied about a lot these days. Its intended meaning is that voters are as much or perhaps more influenced by the personality and media image of party leaders as by their parties’ policies.
This was clearly not, or at least less the case in the pre-television era when party leaders were generally seen in the flesh only at public meetings or very occasionally on cinema newsreels. Parliament was first broadcast in New Zealand on the 25th of March 1936 but offered neither the intimacy nor the capacity for exposure of the television close-up. Radio without pictures is sound without sight. It can be hugely informative but the listener is deprived of a large chunk of helpful non-verbal information.
Keith Holyoake was the first New Zealand Prime Minister of the television age. In 1971 in my book The Public Eye I wrote of his on-screen performances:
‘The studio Holyoake was everything that an interviewee should not be – evasive, pompous, patronising, overbearing, long-winded, repetitious, pretentious, boring.’
The trouble in part was that no-one had dared to tell him just how awful he was. That changed in 1970 when the recently knighted Prime Minister accepted an invitation to be interviewed by me on his life and times on the popular current affairs programme Gallery. Much against the wishes of his press secretary Arthur Manning, Gallery producer Des Monaghan and I sat Sir Keith down and told him the unvarnished truth about how he came across on the box. Though he still sounded as though he had a marble in his mouth, the outcome was a frank and in places quite moving interview. Unbeknownst to me, my career as a media trainer had begun. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 7th, 2014
New Zealand Politics Today
We understand that, following the Shane Taurima embarrassment, Television New Zealand has employed a psychometric testing company to root out staff working in the news and current affairs areas who may be prone to bias towards a particular political party or party leader.
The test is a refinement of a similar procedure used by psychologists to identify paedophiles where electrodes are attached to the offender’s genitals and he (normally it is a ‘he’) is shown photographs of a range of people of both genders and varying ages. Signs of sexual arousal when shown photographs of children allow the testers to gauge the strength and direction of the subject’s inappropriate desires and, it is hoped, to devise aversive therapies to curb those desires.
Current and prospective TVNZ journalists and interviewers will from now on be required to undergo this ‘political arousal test’. Once the electrodes have been attached to their private parts they will be shown a rapid-fire, random series of photographs of John Key, David Cunliffe, Russell Norman, Meteria Turei, Colin Craig, Tariana Turia, Jamie Whyte and Hone Harawira.
It is understood that preliminary results from the programme (or ‘dry runs’, as they are called) have necessitated recalibration of the testing equipment. On being shown photographs of the party leaders, the libidos of all the TVNZ reporters and interviewers fell to such an extent that no reliable data could be extrapolated.
In an attempt to ‘de-inhibit’ the party leaders, the researchers sought their agreement to undertake the test naked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outrageous suggestion was rejected by all but one of the leaders, Mr Craig stating that he had ‘nothing to hide’. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on March 2nd, 2014
I can understand the public love affair with John Key. People comfortable in their own skin are generally comfortable to be around. And that’s how I’ve felt about the Prime Minister on the one or two occasions I’ve met him.
What is less usual is for politicians to be comfortable, to ‘be themselves’ on television. From time to time I’ve quoted my friend Ian Fraser’s dictum that the key to coming across on the box is to be able to ‘act yourself’. Despite Ian’s enormous experience as a broadcaster and media trainer, I’m not sure I still agree with that particular gem. It’s the ‘acting’ bit I have trouble with. Acting and sincerity really don’t go together.
Critics of Labour leader David Cunliffe regularly accuse him of acting, implying lack of sincerity. I rarely hear the same criticism of John Key. So is John Key more sincere than David Cunliffe? No. John Key is a better actor than David Cunliffe. With endless repetition, the role he is playing – amiable, easy-going, in charge but still just one of us – has become second-nature to him and, in the process, less recognisable for what it is. Actor and real person have merged. Read the rest of this entry »