Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Standing with terrorists

The police have asked the attorney general for permission to charge 3 of my friends, 4 acquaintances and 10 (or 9, or 11) others with terrorism.

I haven't really known how to write about these events. Partly this is because I haven't had time. But also because I can't seem to stick to the political point when thinking about these charges - I keep coming back to who the arrested people are. Most of the reasons I think the police charges are ridiculous isn't relevant to wider political debate about the issues. But I can't get my head away from the fact that some of those arrested wouldn't work together to design a poster.

I have a similar reaction to the Scoop profiles of the arrestees (see Omar Hamed and Rongomai Bailey). These profiles do a very good job of portraying the hard work that those accused of terrorism do, but they set my teeth on edge with their worthiness.

My friends who were arrested can be irritable, self-righteous, impulsive, pig-headed, judgemental, and throw about completely unfounded accusations of Stalinism. Yes, they've all done some really awesome political work, but I've been part of demos with all of them which were complete disasters. Once, one of them was on the megaphone at an anti-bypass demo and said "We're here today in solidarity with the people of Iraq. Oh Shit... Oh Well it's all connected."

There is a point in here, I think. I hated in the Ahmed Zaoui campaign that his worthiness was always a matter of debate. That he needed to be portrayed as a deeply spirtual man who wrote poetry in order to earn his freedom. We lose if we debate on those terms, because we make rights things we have to earn with perfection. Even though I know that some of those arrested are pretty fucking awesome, I don't think it's their awesomeness which means that they should be free, it's their humanity.

You'd think being a blogger who knows and loves 3/17ths of the story of the year would give you an inside running, but instead it makes it impossible to see them as the story of the year.

So instead, all I can say is that my solidarity for those arrested is not conditional. I stand with my friends, because I know they're human, not in spite of that. I stand with those I don't know, because I know they will have strengths and weaknesses just like those I love. Those arrested I don't like? I'll demand their release, and continue to dislike them just as before.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Postal addresses

I've been dealing with the prison system for two weeks now. I was saying that trying to support prisoners is like throwing myself against a brick wall, but I've decided that it is throwing myself against a brick wall.

I don't seem to have any surprise or anger left in me. Each difficulty, each frustration, each blockade in getting the prisoners their most basic entitlements. Incompetence or malice, it doesn't even matter any more (although mostly I don't think it's either, it's a systematic lack of concern for either prisoners and those on the outside who love them). The latest, which wouldn't be the top five most frustrating that I've come against today is about trying to write letters.

I want to write letters to my arrested friends so they know that people love them and they are not alone. I want them to know about the solidarity they have received from around the world. I also need to let them know about practical things; in order to visit a prisoner in Auckland you have to write to them so they can book a visit. I've sent three letters to Auckland Central Remand Prison, all to the wrong addresses.

The address for Auckland Central Remand Prison in the Auckland phone book is 1 Lauder Rd, Mt Eden. The address for Auckland Central Remand Prison on the Corrections Website is PO Box 92625, Symonds Street, Auckland.

The actual postal address for Auckland Central Remand Prison is Private Bag 96925, Symonds Street, Auckland.

It should not be a challenge to write to friends and loved ones in prison. It should not require a toll call; postal address are not a state secret. But I'm beyond being angry or shocked - I'm just printing out extra copies of their letters, so I can send them again.

I'm beginning to wonder if there are agent provocoteurs in the police

Last week the police raided a Maori Women's refuge in Taupo looking for pot. They didn't find any but acted after a 'credible tip off'

Clint Rickards is still on the pay-roll and it's less than two weeks since they invaded Ruatoki.

You'd think that at least one police officer in Taupo would have considered the possibility that this wasn't going to help any.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quasi Review: Against Freedom: The war on terrorism in everyday NZ life, by Valerie Morse

I wanted to review Valerie Morse's book Against Freedom: The war on terrorism in everyday NZ life. I'd been meaning to for a while, and the events of the last two weeks made it a pressing need. But I can't quite, everything that's happened is too close and too raw to write about the book in full. I have known Valerie Morse since shortly after the war and Afganistan. We disagree on many things politically, but she is my friend, and I care about her a lot. Instead of a review, here are some notes.

This book is a book that I should have read before now, and a book which predicts what happened. When talking about the terror raids she says:

Of course, the GCSB and the NZSIS are not pursuing every email that mentions the near universal desire to kill George W Bush. Rather, the agencies focus on identifiable and often vulnerable targets such as political dissidents and activists, minorities and migrant communities.
The book reads like, it is a polemic. But it's an important polemic about the costs of being part of 'the war on terror'.

I think my main criticism of the book is that it is a little opportunist. For example, she describes Ahmed Zaoui’s detention and the states that he was treated as a ‘common criminal’. ‘Common criminal’ is often synonymous with ‘poor person’. We should not be arguing that Ahmed Zaoui (or those arrested on October 15) should have special treated because they’re not really ‘criminals’ – we should be challenging what actions are designated as ‘criminal’. I’ll tell Val this herself, next time I see her; I’m fairly sure she’d agree with me.

Note for Comments: Comment moderation is still turned on, and I will block any comment that I know breaks suppression orders.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Saturay 27 October - take a stand

Saturday 27 October is a global day of action against the 'anti-terror' raids, and all that has followed. Please publicise these demonstrations.

Auckland: Demonstration Saturday Oct 27th at 12 noon meeting in Aotea Square.

Hamilton: Protest Sat 27th, meet 12 noon @ Garden Place.

Whanganui: Rally and march Saturday October 27th at 12 noon. Meet at the River Traders Market on Moutoa Quay (behind Taupo Quay).

Wellington: Protest Sat 27th, meet 12 noon @ Midland Park. Bring noisemakers and rage.

Christchurch: A solidarity rally and march will be held in Cathedral Square at 12noon on Saturday Oct 27th.

Melbourne, Australia: A solidarity demonstration will be held Saturday 27th in Federation Square, 12noon

Saturday, October 20, 2007

No Bail

I sent the two words in the title in so many different text messages.

I really want to write about what's happened this week. But right now my friends are locked up and I miss and love them so much.

We sang Nga Iwi E as we waited for the prisoners to be taken out of court. Until I find my own words, this song is more than strong enough to stand in their place:

Nga iwi e, Nga iwi e
Kia Kotahi ra, Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa

E Tama Ma, E Tama Ma
Tama Tu, Tama Toa, Tama Ora

Wahine Ma, Wahine Ma
Maranga Mai, Maranga Mai, Kia Kaha

Kia mau ra, kia mau ra
Ki te mana motuhake me te aroha

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Comments have gone on moderation until further notice

I don't have the time or energy to write anything substantive, and I'm not going to let people slag off my friends, and the other prisoners, in the comment section of my blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A long day

I don't think I've had a meal since I heard the news. I've definitely eaten, but I don't have the organisational skills to buy takeaways right now, let alone cook.

I've spent far too much of my life at the house you've seen being broken into time after time. I know some of those arrested. I love and care for some, and actively dislike others.

There's so much I want to write about. I am so angry at the police right now. They set up their check point across the confiscation line and then searched a school bus.

I'm prevented from writing by exhaustion and suppression orders. It has upset me how quick to judge some are, repeating the outright lies of the media (the Slum Post* headline).

So just snippets of what I remember:

We appeared, after seeing it in the media, or getting a text message. By 2pm there were dozens of us waiting at the district court. We listened as names were read out over the indistinct loud-speaker, traded rumours and tried to avoid the media.

When we finally heard the names we were waiting for everyone rushed to get into court. I'd left my bag (with my precious knitting) so was at the end and helped bring the Frog (a baby I know and love) into the court. To encourage him to come I told him we could go see Thomas (a pseudonym for one of the defendants).

It was such a relief to see them all. I listened to hard while I was trying to figure out what was going on.

"Hi, Thomas" - the Frog had chosen a very quiet moment to make himself heard. The judge looked over his glasses, scanning the courtroom, as if it was a very long time since he'd heard a child.

"Remove that child."

Later when we all waved simultaneously as the defendants left, he called what we did an unseemly display and threatened to clear the court.


Someone was reading from Stuff: "Activists from all around the country represented a diverse group of causes, but they were going to co-ordinate one day where they all took action."

"They don't know us very well do they?"


I listened to Checkpoint while driving:

In other news a man has been granted bail after being charged of serially raping prostitutes**********

I sort through a pile of books to take to jail, trying to figure out what to give to who. "Do you think sending a copy of Making Peoples will amuse anyone but me?"


I've just learned that the person in Auckland who had been granted bail had had it revoked. I want them to let my friends go.

* Just writing that makes me sad. The person I know who uses the phrase "slum post" most regularly is in Arohata right now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kia Kaha

It's been a long day.

I have every reason to believe that the police have mis-represented the people arrested and their actions.

But my support of their resistance is not conditional on dividing good activists and bad activists, legitimate and illigetimate protest.

I'm very limited by what I can say, by suppression orders and exhaustions. All I wanted to say was in the title anyway.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Redesign - Help!

When blogger gave me some new knobs to twiddle I had great fun experimenting with you this blog looks. But I've come to the conclusion that it my attempt to design a blog was ugly (this was helped by everyone I knew telling me it was ugly). I decided I wanted my blog just to be black text on a white background with a really simple banner. I made myself the banner (in paint - that was fun). I've put it up the top, but it just kind of sits there, it won't resize itself, I can't seem to centre it in the page - so it's just kind of funny looking. Help advice, or even just telling me to go back to the Minima template (which has always been my favourite but it misformats in a way that really irritates me), would be welcome.

Alec Shaw lost his job! Alec Shaw lost his job!

There's a dance which goes along with the 'Alec Shaw lost his job' song, but you can't see it because blogging is a text medium. You have to trust that I'm doing it.

If you hadn't noticed this was my local body election results. I don't expect it to be particularly in depth, because I've already stated the best news of the election (in case anyone was wondering I did end up voting for Iona Pannett specifically so I could do the Alec Shaw lost his job song).

The Wellington City Council results were predictable, with all existing councillors except Alec Shaw and Jack Ruben keeping their seats. The Wellington Regional Council results were pretty dire, but I'll congratulate Paul Bruce, because I don't think he'd really support water metering (and if he does I'll flag him down and argue with him).

I'd like to congratulate Byron for beating Kyle Chapman - the Nazi candidate.

Looking at the candidate profiles for the Christchurch candidates - I have to say that's an odd group of people there. They seem to have even less grasp on using language to communicate than your average group of mayoral candidates (which is not setting a high standard).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Review: Louise Nicholas My Story

Louise Nicholas: My Story is a very good book. I feel I should start by making that clear, because I would have read it - I would have recommended it - even if it hadn't been very good. The book's strength comes because Louise Nicholas has something to say, and her voice, her experiences, her reality, comes through in every paragraph.

The book is written in alternating sections Louise Nicholas's and Phil Kitchin. Louise Nicholas tells her story, from going up in Murapara to hearing John Dewar's guilty verdict. Phil Kitchin provides all sorts of information about the trials and investigations, but he also tells us how his story intersected with Louise Nicholas's from an anonymous tip-off in the 1990s.

I'm going to concentrate on Louise Nicholas's chapters in this review, but Phil Kitchin's material adds hugely to the book. The two voices only work together because Phil Kitichin doesn't just stick to the facts, but allows himself to come through as a person. We learn about his reactions, we get snippets of his life, and are right there when he gets fired. Because both stories are personal they mesh well together.

Both voices contain a lot of information, that you didn't already know. I learnt a lot about what had happened, and I'd followed the cases obsessively. The book really demonstrates how poor the reporting on the police trials was. Some of those flaws have been apparent for a while - there are people out there who believe Louise Nicholas's flatmate gave evidence. But some flaws I hadn't realised. For the first time I was angry at the jury - the book lays out the crown's case in a way the media of the time didn't* - and the jury had more than enough evidence to convict, on some of the charges.

But the strongest part of the book isn't the information, for all everyone should know it - it's Louise Nicholas's voice which comes through powerfully and beautifully. More than that, her voice comes through because she knows what's important. It is so easy for non-fiction narratives to be lost in a sea of irrelevant statements. Louise Nicholas, and possibly her editors, have done a very good job of selecting the telling details, and leaving out the rest.

I'll give just one example of this sort of selection. I've had a lot of respect for Ross Nicholas for a long time, although I don't think it was based on anything, but a vague optimism. In this book he comes through as a person, and rather an awesome one. When she told him about Phil Kitchin's evidence about John Dewar she writes of him responding:

'I told you, didn't I?' he crowed. 'I said to you lots of times I didn't trust him that bastard! That there was something screwy about him. But would you believe me? Nooooo! Eh missus? So there you go! Once again, I'm right and you were wrong, eh missus?'
That one exchange not just convinced me that I wasn't wrong about Ross Nicholas, but also conveyed so much about his character and their relationship.

The book works best when it's focused on the main narrative, but because we don't live our lives in compartments this story tells us about much more than sexual violence.

The realities of reproduction: pregnancy, breast-feeding and caring for small children, are a constant thread. For those who don't know, or don't think, about the work involved in raising kids, this book is very telling.

We learn, as Grace Paley would say, not just about her blood, but about her money - what provincial working class people need to do to continue existing on this world. People get laid off, they get fired. The dangers of working life in her story outraged, but did not surprise, me.

Her story has depth, because she includes the things that matter and talks about them in her own voice.

I do have two criticisms of the book, one is that I think the design does the book a disservice. While I think Random House did a fantastic job of the editing (according to Louise Nicholas it was Random House that choose how the two parts of the story would intersect), the design crew were not so skilled. Phil's and Louise's sections are in different fonts, which is understandable, but both fonts are hard to read (and I'm not normally someone who notices that sort of thing). More importantly the cover makes it look like a standard biography of a celebrity, rather than a well-written book with something to say.

The other is some of Phil Kitichin's sections. Evelyn Waugh criticised Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death by saying that she lacked a clearly stated attitude towards death (to which she replied "Do tell him I'm against it"). I feel that Phil Kitichin lacks a clearly stated attitude towards consent. Particularly when talking about raping with a police baton, he falls back on the idea that the act itself is depraved, and therefore no-one would consent to it. I think that is a very weak position to be arguing from. Indeed it enables people like Kathryn Ryan to ask Louise Nicholas, 'other women consented to these acts, can you see why that makes people doubt your story?'. Phil Kitchin also discusses Louise Nicholas's sexual history completely unnecessarily.

I as able to over-look Phil Kitchin's statements, because the book is so good. But it is not an easy book to read.

The hardest section to read is her description of what happened at Corbett St. For four vivid pages she takes us inside her head while those men raped her. It's the worst, but it's certainly not the only; I decided I needed to steel myself for the worst parts so I read forward from the trial, before I read the earlier chapters. But the book is full of horrific details, as other women tell their stories. Rape is horrific and they don't step back from that.

Not everyone will be able to read this book. Although I think it should be compulsory for anyone who doesn't believe her, and any man who doesn't know that all the sex he's had is consensual. But I think if you can you should try and read it. Because for all it's sad and horrifying its not a book about despair, it's a book about hope.

There's hope in her survival.

There's the very personal hope of a family that believed her and stood by her. Her eldest daughter was 13 when Phil Kitichin's story came out, the same age Louise Nicholas had been when she was raped by police in Murapara. And her reaction is particularly powerful

There's hope because she was believed by so many people.

There's hope because by standing up she has given strength to other women. An 86 year old woman told Louise Nicholas that she had been raped when she was 16, and never told anyone, but after she heard Louise Nicholas's story she told her family for the first time.

There's hope because she has already made a difference, and if we stand together we can do so much more.

Please read this book. Please take it as a call to arms.

* There were suppression orders in place which stopped the media reporting a lot of the most important evidence for the crown. But what is so frustrating is that they didn't let people know that the holes existed. They could have made it clear that they were painting a fragmented picture and they didn't.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Which of these is more important?

Because the media and the NZRFU appear to have made their decision.

Start them young, confuse them muchly

Thomas, a 7 year old child I look after, is holding my inflatable globe. "I'm going to find England, where J K Rowling lives."

A few minutes later he's back, he can't find England. "There it is," I point to the pink splodge and get back to getting afternoon tea together.

"But it doesn't say England." The inflatable globe isn't proving as distracting as I'd like.

"They've called it the UK, rather than England."


"The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales"


"Well - " I put afternoon tea on the table. "A long time ago England and Wales had a war and England beat Wales. Then England and Scotland had a war and England beat Scotland. Then England and Ireland had a war and England beat Ireland. Ireland fought back, so part of Ireland got to be free from England, but not all of it." I have relatives who would not appreciate the implication that Wales didn't fight back - but I don't want to complicate things.

"England also beat Samoa" Where did he learn that from?

"Yes England beat Samoa, but that wasn't till much later. Before England could go around beating countries on the other side of the world, it had to take over the countries closer to home." It's never to young to start on some basic education about colonialism. "England beat lots of places and took their land, like New Zealand, Australia and Zimbabwe."

"South Africa beat England." Oh.

"Yes, South Africa did beat England in the Rugby World Cup. We use lots of the same words to describe war as we do to describe sport." Not quite where I expected to end up, but I guess it's a start.

Definately half empty

From stuff:

A Wellington District Court jury today found a taxi driver guilty of raping a young woman after picking her up in his cab early one morning in September last year.

Abdirazak Yussuf Mussa, 55, from Miramar, pleaded not guilty before Judge Susan Thomas to two counts of rape and one of abduction with intent to sexually violate.

The jury took three hours to deliberate before returning with the three guilty verdicts.
I think I'd feel happier that this woman was believed, if I thought the verdict would have been returned so quickly had the rapist been white.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Louise Nicholas is My Hero

For more than eighteen months I've had a patch that says "Louise Nicholas is My Hero" on my bag. 'I believe Louise Nicholas', or 'We believe Louise Nicholas', or 'Louise Nicholas We Believe You' have been on badges, leaflets, stickers, and banners carried by me, and the people I know.

I was worried that with our statement of belief in her we were turning her into a NZ feminist version of that photo of Che Guevara, while she was still alive. Or more, what if by doing this we were taking something away from her? That there was going to be less of her left afterwards. Or that we'd invented a version of her from the photos, interviews and newspaper articles - turned her into a cardboard cut-out version.

I saw Louise Nicholas speak tonight, and I don't think we're taking anything from her.

It was a strange evening - I wish I could have gone to the Auckland event, which was less glitzy and had people from rape crisis. The Wellington event was held at the Intercontinental - the most upmarket hotel in Wellington and cost $20. We sat in a wood-paneled conference room, more usually used for discussions on sales targets and surpluses.

Louise Nicholas was introduced by Tim Pankhurst who edits the Dominion Post, the whole event was a bit of a self-congratulation to the Dominion Post. Phil Kitchin broke the story in the Dominion Post and on TV1, and has returned to work at the Dominion Post (after he was made redundant from TV1, because apparently a news show has no need for investigative journalists). I think I'd normally have a problem with the self-congratulation - not being a huge fan of the Dominion Post. But when he was introducing Louise Nicholas, Tim Pankhurst appeared to be defaming Clint Rickards, and I'll like almost anyone for an hour or so if they do that.

Louise Nicholas was so staunch. I've thought of many different ways to describe her, but that's the one I keep coming back to. She was really powerful when she spoke, giving each word its due. She talked about her experiences, about being raped, but mostly about fighting back. When she was talking I thought she seemed so natural and strong. But just after she finished (the audience gave her a standing ovation) there was this look of relief on her face, which showed that however uncomfortable I was in this atmosphere, she was far more uncomfortable.

The crowd was mostly women, which didn't surprise me. I think there were about 15 men in a crowd of 100. I should be too old to be surprised about this, but I was increasingly astonished when the first four people to ask questions were all men. In total 11 people asked questions and six of them were men. They weren't even good questions. Most of them were completely obvious to anyone who had followed the case - and certainly to anyone who read the book.

I was really nervous about going up to get my book signed. On my way down I'd unpicked my "Louise Nicholas is My Hero" patch, and I wanted to give it to her. Only I was shy, and didn't want to impose. I was a little bit relieved when I saw that everyone was talking to her and saying thank you.

When I talked to her, I knew I hadn't turned her into a symbol, that we hadn't needed to people are more powerful and symbols. This is true of anyone that our contradictions and complications make us more real and relevant to this messy world than anything as simple as a symbol. But it's particularly true of Louise Nicholas. I do believe her, she is my hero, but because she's a person, not in spite of it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Who I'm voting for: Health Board

When voting for the health board I'm faced with a very different set of problems than when choosing between the rotary club candidates of regional health board. The health board candidates all seem like such nice people - more than half support collective action in the health sector.

I'm aware that the power of the health board is extremely limited. They are constrained by government policy and funding on one side and the governance/management split on the other. I've sat in on enough university council meetings to see how easily people are fobbed, or bought, off, whether or not they're well meaning. I don't think that makes people any less responsible for their actions,* I'm just entering into voting with few illusions. But, sometimes, the board won't just be under pressure from the government policy and funding they'll be under pressure from the workers. I don't vote for the, very nice seeming, health board candidates in the belief that they can bring about the health system I want, but that they're less likely to actively stand in the way of people who might try and bring about the health system I want.

One of my main tools when deciding who to vote for was the NZNO survey (thanks I/S)

Who I'm ranking

1 Jim Delahunty: I'm going to vote for the old leftie above everyone else, even though he won't get on, I'm sentimental like that.

2 Adrian Webster: I wasn't sure about him - the union background is a good thing, but the PSA is less so. But the PSA wasn't always up the bosses ass the way it was now, so I'll assume that Adrian Webster represents the more militant, better PSA of the past.

3. Petra Van Der Munckhoff: I'll tick her even though she is on the labour party ticket. She's worked for Evolve and Newtown Union Health and seems to know her stuff.

4. Peter Roberts: He's been the president of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, and the coalition for public health. See what I mean about all the candidates meaning well and having good credentials?

5. Coltyn Shaw: Another unionist, and the only Maori candidate. Possibly a little odd, but that is almost a requirement for local government.

6. Felicity McLennan: She worked for family planning. My fear is that I'm going to accidentally vote for someone who hates women and doesn't want us to receive health care. I almost went to a meeting of health board candidates just so I'd know where they stood on abortion, but working for family planning is a pretty good indicator.

7. Margaret Faulkner: Here I go again voting for a Labour party candidates, it's like a kind of disease. If only they'd stop saying and doing the right things.

8. Judith Aitken: As I said for regional council - I like everything I know about Judith Aitken, but suspect the stuff I don't know is less to my taste.

9. Helene Ritchie: I've heard she doesn't play well with others, but I'd still have her than some of the business lackies on the list.

10. Karen Coutts: Now I'm ranking Labour party candidates who didn't even bother filling in the NZNO survey - STV is obviously a gateway drug.

Who I'm Not Ranking

Michael Appleby - as I said I wouldn't vote for him for a primary school gala committee.

Clark Kent - That's how his name appears on the ballot paper (but it is actually Kent Clark). I would vote for him because he says all the right things. But he stood for a United Future of Future NZ, or one of the incarnations where a Christian party tried to sound less terrifying. I wouldn't vote for him unless I knew he supported Level J (the abortion clinic).

Donald Urquhart-Hay - I don't think I could ever vote for someone called Urquhart; I watched House of Cards at a far too impressionable age. Luckily in this case my prejudice is well-founded as he supports contracting out and is a doctor for ACC and WINZ - so he probably hates health care workers and sick people.

Hayley Wain - Even if she filled in the nurses survey I wouldn't have voted for her.

Trisha Inglis - I was very glad when she didn't respond to the NZNO survey, because I already hate her. From her blurb:

Statistics which say, “low income equals bad health” can be changed by education. As people learn to understand their bodies needs for nutrition and how environmental factors destroy their health, there will be less demand for hospital treatment.
See the reason that poor people live less long is because they're not educated enough to make smart decisions like rich people do. Like the decision to have the money to go to the doctor.

Virginia Hope - It's particularly bad that a doctor didn't fill in the NZNO survey - doctors who don't appreciate nurses are bad people.

Ruth Gotleib - Apparently she has a principle not to fill in surveys. What kind of a principle is it to ask people to vote for you and not say what you stand for?

John Cook - Not only am I unimpressed with his history as a capitalist - he didn't fill in the Nurses survey.

Gordon Strachan - Gets points for filling in the survey, but loses it with his worry that collective bargaining might lead to disrupted services. It's employers' shitty offers that leads to a disruption of services.

David Chamberlain - Should have run for Regional council - he'd fit in there. Snubs the nurses and is oh so proud of his business computer.

Sandra Patton - She doesn't support collective action which disrupts patients, which ignores the fact that it's not up to her to decide what collective actions unions will take.

* I'm looking at you staff-reps on the university council, who consistently vote for fee increases with the hope that some of the money might go to staff pay rises rather than try and build staff student solidarity.

Review: Sugarshock

Sugarshock is Joss Whedon's free on-line comic. If you haven't read it yet you should: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

It's an, extremely silly, story about a band called Sugarshock. Made up of Dandelion who hates vikings and is authorised to use deadly force by the secret government agency that she works for, Wade, who likes groupies,Robot Phil, who is a robot and L'Lihdra, who seems rather robotic until her absolute awesomeness is made clearr. Their music is fantastic (well we only get the lyrics to one song, but they're hilarious - and I really want to hear 'God bites Man' even if Dandelion is off key). After an emissary from another planet falls on their car they enter the international battle of the bands it just gets stranger and there are stoves, squirrels, and lathes in places you'd least expect them.

I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon; I can (and sometimes do) go on at great length about the metaphors, characters, and meaning of his work. Sugarshock isn't one of those moments, this is more like Doppelgangland - he's having heaps of fun, throwing in more and more silliness, and it's joyful.

If that wasn't enough the art doesn't suck. There's a woman in it whose body looks like it might actually move if you touched her. I didn't even know that was possible in comic book form.

So go read it - it's free and it'll make your day better.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Take it like a man

John Dewar was sentenced to four and a half years in jail, which means he won't be eligible for home detention. I invite all readers, particularly those who don't believe in jail, to take a moment to celebrate.

But the real reason I'm posting is because Paul Mabey told the court that John Dewar maintained his innocence - but would take his sentence like a man.

I think that's been the problem.

John Dewar protected his mates like a man.

John Dewar treated women as objects like a man.

It's not the penises that's the problem, it's the power.

Louise Nicholas wrote a victim impact statement, but was not allowed to read it out because the judge decided it went beyond the bounds of what was permissible. I think beyond the bounds of what is permissible is exactly where we need to be.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Clint Rickards law

I have been developing a new law of New Zealand politics it goes something like this:

Any statement of principle can be read as if it explicitly states an exception for Clint Rickards (and his associates, and his associates' associates)
This enables me to say such things as:

"Peter McNamara got denied bail - Awesome!"

"Why haven't they fired him yet?"*

"Stupid prison guards stopping people from beating up Brad Shipton."

"You're from Pahiatua he's from Pahiatua, can't you do something about Paul Mabey?"

This new law is slightly more than a joke. I think it's really easy to talk about the (in)justice system as a set of abstract principle. But these abstract principles interact with our unjust world in very specific, and not complicated ways. It'll always be the rich and powerful who get the reasonable doubt, and the poor and powerless who won't.

I thought I'd post this today because John Dewar is up for sentencing tomorrow and if he gets over two years he's not eligible for home detention.

I don't believe in jail.

* This doesn't really count because he's management and I have no problem firing management

Indymedia: for heterosexual men's gratification

I've never believed the hype about indymedia (for good reason). I think that if you take a space and make it equally open to all then you don't get utopia; you get a replication of all the existing power imbalances in society (although in this particular case there are more chickens).

But even with this analysis I was shocked to see this article on the newswire. Well not the article itself - that's a standard rant about how drug prohibition is bad, but the image that accompanied it was astonishingly awful. It was a stereotypically sexy white woman, wearing a bikini and the tagline was "Marijuana: No Hangover, No Violence, No Carbs" I'm not even going to comment on the image itself - I'm sure anyone who reads this blog can guess my reaction, what I want to talk about in this post is what happened next.

So this sexist, objectifying image is posted to the indymedia news wire, and a whole lot of women (and a man) speak up and say "please take this down it's sexist and objectifying". The indymedia collective responds:

the ed collective is discussing this. if you want to email the editorial collective: imc-aotearoa-ed(at)lists.indymedia.org

Call me easily pissed off, but how can the editorial collective sign off 'solidarity' when they won't show any solidarity? Solidarity would mean taking that picture down, or taking it off the news-wire, or giving a fuck about the way women are treated as objects.

What is indymedia about, what is it trying to build, if an image whose only meaning is to make women feel shitty about themselves is acceptable? You can't change society for the better without women, but apparently Aotearoa indymedia has other priorities.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Believing Louise Nicholas

I've decided I'm going to write a review of Louise Nicholas's book, and then. But before I do that I want to comment on Louise Nicholas's interview on Nine to Noon on Monday (available by download here)
I usually like Kathryn Ryan, but I thought she did a really awful, and somewhat inexplicable, job.

The fundamental problem was the position Kathryn Ryan took, which was that she was giving Louise Nicholas the opportunity to explain herself to this huge mass of public who didn't understand, or believe her.

Do those people exist? I'm not talking about raging misogynists, or members of the rapists' immediate family. I mean otherwise decent people who say things like "I don't understand how that could happen." Kathryn Ryan was talking as if there were vast numbers of people who thought like that out there.

I don't think that's true. I think most people believe Louise Nicholas and know exactly how it happened. I've been paying attention, in all sorts of ways to the discussion around this issue. People know that I care, so they tell me what their parents say, how it gets discussed at work, or what they overhear at the pub. I know that support for Louise Nicholas extends well outside my own social circle. In my experience anyone who has a smidgeon feminist analysis, or any experience of being powerless knows exactly what happened.

But worse than that was Kathryn Ryan's tone near the end of the interview - where she implied that Louise Nicholas should at some stage put this behind her. That what she was doing at the moment wasn't putting it behind her, and therefore a problem.

The strongest, most generous, thing any of us an do with our pain, oppression, and trauma, is what Louise Nicholas has done. She has fought so hard for the women coming next. She can't change what happened to her, but she can fight to make today's thirteen year old girls safer than she was. To look away, to try and avoid, is understandable, but it's also leaving generations of girls on their own.

If Louise Nicholas had 'put it behind her', Clint Rickards would still be Assistant Commissioner of police, Brad Shipton would still be a Tauranga city councillor, Brad Shipton would be free and raping still more women, there would have been no commission of inquiry and there would have been much less discussion about the meaning of consent around the country these last few years. Every woman, every person, in this country has reason to be grateful that she didn't run from what had happened to her, but fought for us instead.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Something to go to almost everywhere

Louise Nicholas: My Story, by Louise Nicholas and Phil Kitchen, was released yesterday. I'll try and write a review later in the week, and there's certainly some parts of the book that I want to write about. But in the meantime I thought I'd let people know that she's doing a book tour. I think everyone should read her book, and hear what she has to say.

So you should go along:

Date: Saturday 6 October, 11am-1pm
Venue: McLeod’s Booksellers, 1269 Tutanekai St, Rotorua
Format: talk and signing
Contact: McLeod’s Booksellers; t: 07 348 5388
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Tuesday 9 October, 5.30-7.00pm
Venue: Hedleys, 150 Queen Street, Masterton
Format: talk and signing
Contact: David Hedley; t: 06 378 2875
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Wednesday 10 October, 6-7.30pm
Venue: The Intercontinental, Wellington
Format: talk and signing
Ticket details tbc

Date: Thursday 11 October, 7.30-9.00pm
Venue: Hutt City Library, Wobourn Rd & Queens Dr, Wellington
Format: talk and signing
Contact: Paper Plus Lower Hutt
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Tuesday 16 October,6.30-8.00pm
Venue: Napier Boys High School, Chambers Street, Napier
Format: talk and signing
Contact: Jeff; t: 06 834 4020
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Wednesday 17 October, 7-8.30pm
Venue: Muirs Bookshop, 62 Gladstone Road, Gisborne
Format: talk and signing
Contact: Anne Muir; t: 06 869 0651
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Thursday 18 October, 6-7.30pm
Venue: Books A Plenty, 28 Grey Street, Tauranga
Format: talk and signing
Contact: Warren; t: 07 578 6607
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Tuesday 23 October, 6-7.30pm
Venue: Alma Turner Library, Nelson
Format: talk and signing
Contact: Susie; t: 03 548 9992
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Wednesday 24 October, 7-8.30pm
Venue: tbc, Christchurch
Format: talk and signing
Ticket details tbc

Date: Tuesday 30 October, PM
Venue: Carsons, 600 Pollen Street, Thames
Format: talk and signing
Contact: Pat; t: 07 868 6301
Free event, no ticket required

Date: Tuesday 13 November
Venue: Heritage Room, Wanganui Library, Wanganui
Format: talk and signing
Contact: April (Wanganui Library) - 06 349 1015
Free event, no ticket required

There are also book signings in several towns, so if you live somewhere there's going to be a talk, there might be a signing. For more information check here.

Down to the picket line

I'd like to encourage all Auckland readers to head down to the port sometime in the next day or two, to support the striking port workers.

Check out the MUNZ website for more info.

Jesus Fucking Christ

I have many things I want to write about. I haven't talked about who I'm voting for DHB, or why Tasers are not the answer.* Plus I read Louise Nicholas's book last night - and I have a few things to say.

But since I also post on Alas an American blog, I had to take a moment to write about this:

School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up.

The incident occurred last week at Knight High School in Palmdale and was caught on a cell phone camera by another pupil who was then also assaulted by the security guards.

The girl was black (in case anyone didn't know that already).

The students are organising (possibly have organised, I'm a little confused about dates and times) a walk-out. Check out Oh No a WoC PhD for more information about what you can do.

I think what's really important about this incident, is that while it is a horrific example it is also the inevitable result of a culture of security in schools . Yes be outraged that a girl's wrist was broken for not being able to clean up the cake she dropped, but it would have been just as outrageous if she'd responded to the request to clean up the cake by saying 'fuck you' and walking off and the same thing had happened. It's not enough just to object to the extremes of a system that attempts to controls students for every minute they're at school, we have to object to the whole system. As brownfemipower said:
Grace Lee Boggs argues that youths of color are “opting out” rather than “dropping out” of school–that is, rather than mindlessly dropping out of school to engage in a life of debauchery and sin–they are making a conscious choice to leave a violent and prison like atmosphere that labels them as “problems” from the moment they enter into the system.

Why would anybody want to go to school in a place like this? And who the hell are *we* to honestly believe that the “war” taking place in our schools today (schools are war zones, after all), is not a war between administration/security gaurds and the students?

I read about this at brownfemipower, feministing and Lenin's Tomb (and my reaction was very similar to Lenin's).

* Unless the question is "what do we not want the police to carry?"