Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why I wouldn't vote for Russel Norman

I decided in 2007 that I would not vote for for the Greens while Russel Norman is on the list.* With Russel Norman running in Mt Albert, I wanted to outline why

In March 2007, the jury in the second rape trial of Clint Rickards, Bob Schollum, and Brad Shipton came back with a not guilty verdict. I had been following the case - well obsessively is probably an understatement (I wrote about it a lot). Less than a week after the verdict, Russel Norman wrote a post about the cases on frogblog. The whole post is trivialising, and completely misses the important issues involved (power, consent and abuse). But what angered me most is his claim that Louise Nicholas had consensual sex with Clint Rickards:

I don’t see that being involved in consenting group sex is any reason for him not to go back to work. And people use sex aids so using a police baton in a consenting situation doesn’t seem grounds for refusing him his job back.
Now I understand that Russel Norman would have faced consequences if he'd said "Clint Rickards is a rapist." Although, for the record, Clint Rickards is a rapist. But just because you can't call Clint Rickards a rapist, is no reason to describe sex as consensual, when the women involved have stated repeatedly and clearly that it was not.

Most people that I've talked to about this acknowledge that the post was stupid, and wrong, but many don't understand why I care so much. I've been told "wow it doesn't take much to lose your vote" when I explain my decision not to vote for the Greens. Partly I think this is because rape is not seen as political, I don't think the people who saw this is a small thing would have taken the same position of Russel Norman had, say, criticised striking workers.

The kindest interpretation of what Russel Norman said was that he believes that the police rape cases were a relatively trivial matter, so the implications of his words don't matter. The alternative is that he believes that Louise Nicholas is lying when she says that Clint Rickards raped her. Either show that he doesn't take rape seriously as a political issue.

I do take rape seriously as a political issue, and I don't think that's a trivial difference.

My original post is here.

* I've no idea if I would have voted for the Greens in the last election if Russel Norman wasn't on their list. I got to the voting booth and discovered that I had absolutely no desire to vote for them. So I probably wouldn't have voted for them, even without the resolution not to vote for them 18 months earlier. But my life was extremely chaotic when the election was held, and so to second guess what my state of mind would have been is a challenge.

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