Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Too many casualties

Since I last wrote .

Roger Fox, a long time left-wing fighter, died the week before last. I knew him, of course I did, the New Zealand left is small. Anything I could write would reveal more about both me and him than I feel comfortable with. So I will just say that he was a dedicated comrade and freedom fighter. He deserves a much fuller tribute than that and I can't even remember when I last saw him. I was in Auckland last year and it goes without saying that he supported those arrested on October 15, but so much of that time is a stress induced blur. Instead I'll direct you to the beautiful posts on Reading the Maps and the post on indymedia. There are also some tributes in the latest issue of Communist Worker.

I was, I am still, shocked and upset by his death. But there were many people who loved him and have suffered a great loss. My love and solidarity goes out to them.


I wanted to write about Roger Fox last week. But I didn't even have time for a short message like the one above, because there were more arrests.

At this late date anything I write about these new arrests fades into irrelevance. Maybe the police thought that if they arrested small numbers of Maori who lived somewhere in the middle there would be less outrage than if they also arrested Pakeha activists who lived in Wellington and Auckland. So I will state that these arrestees have my unconditional solidarity, as do the 17 arrested on October 15. If you want to read about the protests that have taken place against this latest round of arrests read indymedia.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I don't just hate MPs

I also hate judges.*

I plan to write something about people I like (Joss Whedon and other striking writers), but I need to get some bile out first. It may be a while.

*I'm not quoting, or even commenting, because there's a whole set of issues I need to write about when it comes to rape, prison and the justice system. I figure I will hate judges, wherever I end up standing on the other issues.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friday Electoral Politics - Winston Peters hatred edition

Winston Peters in parliament yesterday:

What sort of message is sent to victims in this country when a political leader is happily hongi-ing with someone who is a beneficiary of the Bail Act in that he is out on bail although he faces very serious charges?

Tame Iti is not a beneficiary of the Bail Act. Valerie Morse, Emily Bailey, Omar Hamed and the 23 year-old Swiss musician, who were all released on bail from the same court-room, are not beneficiaries of the bail act. The other eleven people who were arrested on October 15, and are facing charges under the Arms Act were not beneficiaries of the Bail Act.

I lived, worked and worried through the 25 days from October 15 till November 8, when the police said they would no longer oppose bail. Bail is not too easy to get.

This is how Rick Barker replied:
The Rt Hon Winston Peters pointed out very clearly the contradiction of someone saying that he was going to be tough on crime, then being very familiar—hongi-ing—with someone who was out on bail. I think the public will make their own decisions about that. I just advise the member of what my grandmother said: “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.”
As someone who is friends with people who are out on bail 'although they face very serious charges' - I'm going to judge Rick Barker pretty harshly. I am proud of who my friends are, and who I am.


This seems to be as good a time as any to announce my voting rationale in the up-coming election. I will not vote for any of the parties currently in parliament (most will be self-explanatory - this is the reason I'm not voting Green - although I could pile on many more). I could not vote, but I kind of like it and I love ridiculously complex voting rationales. I also like people losing their jobs.

So my main aim for voting this year will be to try and contribute to Winston Peters losing his job. I will do this by making sure I vote in the party vote. The higher the total number of party votes, the higher the number that NZ First needs reach the threshold. Since Winston Peters lost Tauranga NZ First needs 5% to get into parliament.

I won't know which small party to vote for, until the party lists are announced. My preference would be something like the McGilligudy Serious Party, or even Natural Law. The problem of voting for anyone who I even vaguely agree with is that it might encourage them, and I think running for elections is a waste of time. So I'm hoping that a small third party with completely random policies that I don't find offensive, but I don't agree with enough to think that standing for election is a waste.

It may be a tall order.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two Things

The first is at Pandagon, where Amanda wrote about Huckabee:

McCain has the Republican nomination, but Huckabee’s continuing ability to win certain states is still a major story. Now that he can’t get the nomination and the schadenfreude pleasure is over, it’s time for us to very carefully examine why an out-and-out ayatollah is so fucking popular in this great, modern nation.
That's saying, pretty explicitly, this Christian is so misogynist he's a misogynist as a Muslim.

The other is at The F-Word, a British site. This one probably needs some background. A while back The Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Church of England, the official religion of Britain) gave a speech where he discussed the role that Sharia law could take within civil law in the British legal system. If you're interested in what he said I'm guess it's a good idea to read it, rather than a summary, because to say the British Press frothed at the mouth in response to what he said is a vast understatement.* I was shocked at the response on the F-Word. The author of the post said that she wasn't going to comment, because she didn't know much about Sharia law, and then said that she thought this anecdote was relevant:
A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a woman who works in an advocacy role for Muslim women in an area that, quite independently of the Bishop of Rochester, she described as a ‘no-go area’ for non-Muslims. Her clients were women in the process of being sectioned into mental health units in the NHS. This woman, who for obvious reasons begged not to be identified, told me: ‘The men get tired of their wives. Or bored. Or maybe the wife objects to her daughter being forced into a marriage she doesn’t want. Or maybe she starts wearing western clothes.There can be many reasons. The women are sent for asssessment to a hospital. The GP referring them is Muslim. The psychiatrist assessing them is Muslim and male. I have sat in these assessments where the psychiatrist will not look the woman patient in the eye because she is a woman. Can you imagine! A psychiatrist refusing to look his patient in the eye? The woman speaks little or no English. She is sectioned. She is divorced. There are lots of these women in there, locked up in these hospitals. Why don’t you people write about this?’
Posting that story, in the context that she did, implies that the central fact here, is the religion of those involved. It treats these sorts of events as a horror which only occur in another culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. Families with connections to the medical establishment have been able to do all sorts of things to women by claiming they're mad(a famous example is Rosemary Kennedy, but it's not as if she's alone). Why didn't the f-word present this story in that context?

I think it's offensive when white feminists create an 'other', which is the . I think it is a vile misuse of feminism when the other they chose serves imperialist goals, as islamophobia so clearly does.

But I also find it mystifying. Feminist bloggers stare down the vile misogyny of the culture that we live in everyday. I don't understand why any feminist blogger would need to invent an 'other', or how she could escape from the fact that her culture hates her.

* I'm personally too lazy to read what he said. I can see the arguments in favour in allowing people to pick the framework they use to decide civil matters. But I think limiting those choices to frameworks based on different religions prioritises religion in a way that I believe is totally unacceptable. In Britain, (or the US, or NZ) it would also leave all those without religion still suck with a framework that is based on Christianity. I don't think the solution to a legal framework based on one religion is to say 'we'll let other religions have an influence in some parts of that framework'. Although I'm willing to be convinced if people want to argue about that issue in the comments.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Now you've come to the hardest time

I've loved Joss Whedon for going on ten years now. Sometimes my fangirl moments can be fickle and short lived, but my love for Joss Whedon has remained constant.

It's helped that every so often Joss will surprise me by being far more awesome than I ever imagined (have you ever listened to the Innocence commentary? There's a lot of awesome there). The first I remember was from the Onion AV Club, way back when I didn't know that much about his politics:

don't want it to have my name on it if it doesn't reflect what I want to say. Because once you get to the position of actually getting to say something, which is a level most writers never even get to, and is a great blessing, you then have to worry about what it is you're actually saying. I don't want some crappy reactionary show under the Buffy name. If my name's going to be on it, it should be mine. Now, the books I have nothing to do with, and I've never read them. They could be, "Buffy realized that abortion was wrong!" and I would have no idea. So, after my big, heartfelt, teary speech, I realize that I was once again lying. But I sort of drew the line. I was like, "I can't possibly read these books!"
Joss has often suggested collective action as the solution for the big problems and recently that's got a lot more overt (I'm thinking the Buffy series finale, and 'The Chain' comic)

But I still didn't expect him to become a militant union activist. He's just posted on United Hollywood. He said
Our negotiators have the specific task of forgetting the past and dealing only with the numbers before them. Their ability to do that impresses me greatly, but I maintain that it's their job to treat the studios like business partners and it's our job to remember who they really are. The studios are inefficient, power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before they would think about the concept of fair compensation. I maintain that they have never revealed their true agenda in the causing and handling of this strike, and to expect them to now is cock-eyed optimism of the most dangerous kind.
This is not over. Nor is it close. Until the moment it is over, it can never be close. Because if we see the finish line we will flag and they are absolutely counting on us to do that. In the room, reason. On the streets, on the net, I say reason is for the 'moderates'. Remember what they've done. Remember what they're trying to take from us. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.

I have been mugged an embarrassing number of times, even for a New Yorker. I've been yelled at and chased, beaten down and kicked, threatened with a gun and the only mugger who still hurts my gut is the one who made me shake his hand. Until there is a deal – the right deal, not the DGA deal – held out, let's keep our hands in our pockets or on our signs. Let's not be victims. Let's never.
He also did a radio show on the strike, which is of similar stuff.

What's deadlier than spraypaint? Electoral Politics Friday

I've been missing my electoral politics Fridays

But I have been meaning to say how incensed I was that John Key & Helen Clark both went ahead with their speeches of the dangers of young people, when an old businessman had just murdered a young tagger.

You would think, from the way the media reacted, that possibly it was the other way round. 20/20 has advertisement for a segment they're doing where they say to a woman "Your oldest son is a [dramatic pause] tagger" with all the seriousness as if if the oldest son in question had been a rapist.*

The murderer had decided that his property was worth more than that boy's life. Right now by joining in the tut-tuting about tagging and youth crime a lot of people are indicating that they agree with him

*Actually far more seriousness, unfortunately.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Flying the Flag

I had such good intentions. Te Ata Tino Toa called for 5 days of Tino and invited people to fly flags from 1-5 February. I was going to fly the flag on this blog, by writing a post for each day. I even knew what some of those posts were going to be about. Well, obviously I failed.

So I'm just going to talk about the Tino Rangatiratanga flags I saw flying today. None of them were this big, but I saw flags on flagpoles, flying out of cars, and down in Waitangi park.

A group of us walked from Waitangi Park to the Mt Cook Police Barracks and we were carrying flags. What surprised me, and it shouldn't have, was how much tooting there was. Buckle st is busy (thanks to the by-pass), and heaps of the cars going past were tooting - supporting the flags we were flying.

To be surprised, I must have bought into the media's idea about the level of hostility to Tino Rangatiratanga. But, by standing by that flag I realised I was wrong.

It was a small action, and not much more would have come of it than the fact that people saw our flags and tooted. To me, that shows the importance of what Te Ata Tino Toa were calling for. By rallying to the standard of the Tino Rangatiratanga, we discover that there were more with us than we thought.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Before I write about anything else

Dear New Zealand Police

Could you please stop:

Alternatively, since these actions do appear to be a necessary side-product of the power that you have in society, you could stop existing.