Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: That Buzzing Sound

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  • Russell Brown,

    I agree. If Rankin hadn't been so opinionated we'd probably all be saying she had lots of useful life experience to offer.

    Indeed, perhaps we would. But in my view it went beyond "opinionated". The For the Sake of Our Children Trust rhetoric was so explicitly censurious, and at recently as last week, Rankin was still telling people whether they were proper families or not. It seriously annoys me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    No, I meant what are you alleging about Helen Clark?

    I wasn't aware that I was "alleging" anything about Helen Clark, as opposed to restating my long held view that her marriage, her private life, is her business. Ian Wishart obviously thinks differently, but the day I agree with that turd on anything will be a black day indeed,

    Not do I see any 'hypocrisy' exception because she was part of a Parliament that, in effect, voted against marriage equality -- an issue I feel extremely strongly about. Clark was publicly stating that she would have chosen to be a CUP-cake if the option was available to her back in '81, but was pushing a 'separate but equal' (which is neither) model to gay and lesbian New Zealanders. I certainly think there's a level of hypocrisy there (or at least the irony that comes from placing political expediency over principle), but not one that voids her and her husband's right to privacy.

    Hope that clears a few things up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Putting on my Community Board Chair sunhat...

    The buzzing will certainly continue at...

    Super-City; a good idea or not?, an event hosted by the Eden Albert Community Board on Tuesday 19th May, 6.30pm at Owairaka District School Hall, 113 Richardson Road.

    It should be interesting given that Rodney Hide is releasing the names of the men appointed to the Transistion Agency.

    Swapping that sunhat for some private citizen sunnies....

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 635 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Not do I see any 'hypocrisy' exception because she was part of a Parliament that, in effect, voted against marriage equality

    Another way of looking at it, is that she was instrumental in promoting a reform that that parliament would pass. Marriage equality would have been ostracised by guess whom? Your party. And she would have been crucified for it - I don't need to tell you that whatever opposition to civil unions there was and still is belongs firmly on your political side.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    On Rankins personal life. She has made it the issues back in 2005.


    Free-range soul searching replacing organised religion in NZ

    "...Christine Rankin, the former senior bureaucrat now running social policy lobby group For the Sake of Our Children, fits the classic "seeker" profile - a middle-aged Pakeha woman who doesn't feel spiritually fulfilled by the mainstream faiths.

    Rankin, the epitome of the secular Western career woman with a skill for waste-trimming public service reform, enthuses about the big change in her life; earlier this year she discovered Soka Gakkai, a Japanese Buddhist tradition which emphasises the power of chanting.

    "It has changed my life, given me a whole new meaning," Rankin says. "I had a Catholic childhood, full of fear about God and what happens when you die - it was not anything joyous.

    "Although I believe I've always been very spiritual, I was adamant for a long time that organised religion was not going to feature in my life. Having had that Catholic experience and being rejected because I'm divorced, I wasn't able to participate when my children had first communion, for example. In that kind of religion, you don't belong unless you toe the line, and let's face it, most of us don't."

    Rankin enjoys the Soka Gakkai emphasis on individuals' strength in dealing with hardship.

    "I feel like I can handle anything that happens to me now." ...
    The article preceeded this with a comment to witches and now goes on to talk of Jedis.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hinduism/news/article.cfm?c_id=500822&objectid=10361977

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And can I say that when it comes to being "inflamatory and divisive", Peter Dunne should STFU. I sure as hell don't feel my family -- gay and childless -- gets any respect from that quarter, and that's before we get into his own failed marriage of inconvenience with the religious right.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    I'ld like to add to my last that I do agree with Rankins critique of Catholicism. I just think there is more good than bad in it and hold faith that it will change for the better at the centre and already has on the edges.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Another way of looking at it, is that she was instrumental in promoting a reform that that parliament would pass. Marriage equality would have been ostracised by guess whom? Your party.

    I've had some (sadly off the record) conversations that it wouldn't have been that simple. All I will say is thank God that Fran Wilde had the ovarian fortitude not to withdraw the Homosexual Law Reform Bill when members of her own party begged her to, because it would throw the '87 election to the Tories. (Which didn't happen, but never mind...)

    Since Peter Dunne -- the family friend -- was yelping about the Civil Union Bill being "gay marriage in drag", it might have been a more productive use of nervous energy if we'd been arguing about the real thing not the relationship equivalent of Coke Zero. N'est-ce pas?

    What I do know is that you can't win the battle if you're not even going to start to fight. But I guess you've got a point: I should be thankful gays in New Zealand get to sit at the back of the bus, rather than the status quo in the US where you get thrown under the wheels and are expected to be grateful. There's honest and honourable people (including Russell, DPF and Idiot/Savant), who'd argue that marriage equality is going to happen, and I shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I hope they're right, and I'm wrong. But I've just heard too many people heave a sigh of relief that "gay marriage" is off the political agenda for good to be complacent.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I don't need to tell you that whatever opposition to civil unions there was and still is belongs firmly on your political side

    Curse my even-handedness, but I have to say this isn't entirely true. There are plenty of people on an older Christian working-class Left who are opposed to civil unions. And legalised prostitution, and the "smacking ban", and young people in general...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I'm actually feeling sorry for Paula Bennett. Tracey Watkins today on Bennett:

    As some of her more senior colleagues rush to distance themselves from the appointment, she is copping some of the blame for apparently failing to brief them that there were issues in Ms Rankin's life that were likely to blow up if she joined the Families Commission. She failed the basic political test of keeping friends close and enemies closer, meanwhile; despite an early heads-up that UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne was against Ms Rankin, she failed to keep him in the loop, which only stoked the row. He wasted no time wading into the appointment as divisive and controversial.

    Umm, why Russell? Bennett's a new and junior Minister. She should either take modest and sensible decisions or thoroughly and complete research and plan ahead of making bold ones. I've no sympathy for her, particularly since she's been absent in the last few days. That Key's stepped in and not her tells me she's not up to this - or possibly that Rankin was forced on her?

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    There's honest and honourable people (including Russell, DPF and Idiot/Savant), who'd argue that marriage equality is going to happen, and I shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I hope they're right, and I'm wrong. But I've just heard too many people heave a sigh of relief that "gay marriage" is off the political agenda for good to be complacent.

    This is pre-empting my this-week's column, you know.

    The Daily Show was brilliant on Dan Choi. Where I'm inarticulately furious, he... well, has a team of writers, but it was brilliant anyway.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Curse my even-handedness, but I have to say this isn't entirely true.

    Certainly not, and one thing you've just got to give Clark credit for is that managed to pull together a party that resembled a sack full of feral cats on crystal meth. Sorry for the parlour psych, but I don't think she was the only person pretty deeply scarred by the civil wars of the 80's, and was determined it wasn't going to happen on her watch. Your mileage may vary on whether that's a sign of wise leadership or being so risk-averse you couldn't put a fag paper between National and Labour.

    I don't believe she would have been willing to die in a ditch over same-sex marriage -- or risk a shit fight inside the party -- but I just wish she'd tried.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But I've just heard too many people heave a sigh of relief that "gay marriage" is off the political agenda for good to be complacent.

    I come from a country where civil unions are currently out of reach (leavnig aside for the moment the fact that many gay activists there actually prefer them to marriage equality) and I have every hope that it won't be the case forever. The issue seems to be so entrenched in the demographic, that it might simply be a matter of waiting for the actuarial tables to do our bidding. Nate Silver did some neat calculations re: the situation in the US, forecasting when marriage equality will pass in each state - worth a gander.

    Which is not to say that I don't understand your frustration, but I think the claim that a vote for civil unions was a vote against marriage equality is a tad unfair on the politicians and the campaigners who worked to bring about the positive change that they thought was achievable at that historical point in time. And especially unfair coming from a Tory, if you don't mind me saying so. No small part of the wave for change that swept the current lot into parliament has to do with the social engineering charge. Whatever political cost civil unions and the repeal of s59 involved, it was entirely borne by the government of the day, in spite of the reasonable degree of cross-parliamentary support.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    - the relationship equivalent of Coke Zero
    - pull together a party that resembled a sack full of feral cats on crystal meth.

    Can you PLEASE write my obituary when the time comes?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1712 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And especially unfair coming from a Tory, if you don't mind me saying so.

    I do, but since when did that ever stop you? :) Might also be worth reminding folks that the Human Rights Amendment Bill that banned discrimination in employment etc. on the basis of sexual orientation was in the name of Katherine O'Regan, and was passed by an overwhelming non-partisan majority under a National Government.

    In the end, I'm seriously pissed off with the whole Parliament -- because wherever you stood on the Civil Unions Bill IMO you still said that I'm not fit to have my fourteen year old partnership recognised by the state because my partner has the wrong genitals. If marriage equality ever does get on the electoral agenda, you bet your arse I'm going to be lobbying "my party" and making the conservative case for marriage equality wherever, and to whoever, wants to listen. And I'm certainly not going to go in with the knee-jerk assumption that everyone on the right is a drooling homophobe and everyone on the left is enlightened, because my experience doesn't play out that way.

    Can't promise any more than that, can I?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Hi Dyan

    The risks that are posed by the introduction of species that have entirely new gene sequences - and the implications of that vertical transmission - are not yet understood by anyone Bart, certainly not by those who work in the sole field of biotechnology.

    Ok I don't want to dismiss this because it is a very real concern for many folks.

    If I can be forgiven for simplifying what you are saying is,
    We don't know what we don't know.

    And from that you are saying it may be dangerous so we shouldn't do it.

    There is no question that we don't know what we don't know and there is also stuff we know we don't know.

    BUT I've said this before and I don't mean it to be insulting, but just because you don't know that we collaborate across many many disciplines and you don't know how genes interact in genomes doesn't mean that knowledge isn't out there.

    In fact we know a hell of lot about what happens when you move genes around in genomes. It isn't the mystery that it is sometimes portrayed as. We also regularly combine groups of scientists from different disciplines.

    But you are right in the sense that the unexpected does happen.

    But that is a reason to test and study and monitor. But it isn't a reason to stop doing experiments and it isn't a reason to prevent crops that have passed those tests from becoming part of our agriculture.

    There are very real benefits from this technology and to pretend that those benefits are not real is as bad as pretending there is no risk.

    In the end it comes down to risk versus benefit. The sky has not fallen, many of the risks first stated have not proven to be real.

    Also understand for the scientists doing the work it really is not a profit driven job, none of us want to harm the planet and we really believe based on all we know that GE will help.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    And I'm certainly not going to go in with the knee-jerk assumption that everyone on the right is a drooling homophobe and everyone on the left is enlightened, because my experience doesn't play out that way.

    Certainly not, but shall we ask somebody to poll attitudes towards homosexuality by party affiliation? I'm not sure you'd be overjoyed with the result.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Certainly not, but shall we ask somebody to poll attitudes towards homosexuality by party affiliation? I'm not sure you'd be overjoyed with the result.

    Considering I never got any (overt) stick for being an out gay man in the National Party, but got plenty of 'House Nigger/Uncle Tom/morally equivalent to a Jewish Nazi' crap from teh rainbow gayz, nothing would shock me. Would be nice if prickish arseholism was easily isolated, but I'd also like Chris Pine to blow me and that's not going down in this lifetime either.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Certainly not, but shall we ask somebody to poll attitudes towards homosexuality by party affiliation? I'm not sure you'd be overjoyed with the result.

    Gio, after over twenty years of various levels of association with various permutations of "the left" I think the result would surprise you as well. The Net Left is NOT representative of the Left as a whole - there's a Chris Trotter for every Public Address and it gets worse from there. Come down, I'll treat you to a night at the Richmond Working Men's Club (though I can't promise Alan Bollard will put in an appearance).

    The only party I would expect to come out of such a poll well is the party I support mostly on the basis of their 'social legislation' votes, and I believe the only party that voted entirely for civil unions: the Greens. They also managed to be perfectly clear about the fact that they DO support full gay marriage.

    So do I, and I have absolutely no interest in alienating any "Tories" who believe the same.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Actually, why be vague? Labour voted in favour to the tune of 45-6. Greens 8-0. Dunne 0-8. National 3-24. You're not going to tell me that those 24 Nat MPs against were holding out for marriage equality, are you? Given those results, I really don't see how you could argue that the battle fought was anything but realistic in that parliament.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Simulposted, guys, but I think the parliament breakdown speaks by itself, and I'd be surprised if the numbers were substantially different in the electorate they represent. Which is of course not to say that bigotry is entirely on one side - who'd be so stupid as to think that? Or that the good fight doesn't need to be fought on the Left. I do occasionally remind myself that Pier Paolo Pasolini was expelled by the communist party for being gay, and it wasn't all that long ago.

    At any rate, painting Clark as the enemy of equal marriage for passing progressive legislation in this area remains bullshit, from a real-world perspective. Bullshit I accept more readily from a Green at 8-0 than from a Nat at 3-24.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Actually, why be vague? Labour voted in favour to the tune of 45-6. Greens 8-0. Dunne 0-8. National 3-24. You're not going to tell me that those 24 Nat MPs against were holding out for marriage equality, are you?

    Giovanni: Let's look at it another way: Votes For Genuine Marriage Equality - Nil. My Gratitude For Being Allowed To Sit At The Back of The Bus (While Acknowledging Honest And Honourable People Think Differently, But I'm Not Getting Any Younger) -- Nil.

    How Much I Heart Emma At This Precise Moment -- Infinity + One.

    Look, Gio, I'm not pretending there's not a lot of stinky shit on my side of the aisle. Alll I'm saying is that I'm going to be working in good faith to muster all the support possible, and like Emma I don't actually see the point of alienating actual or potential supporters because they're not ideologically correct. As I said, you can't win a battle if you're not even going to start fighting. And if you're going to write write people off because they're outside your political comfort zone, don't be surprised when they repay the discourtesy.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'ld like to add to my last that I do agree with Rankins critique of Catholicism

    Yeah, but then a few months later, the organisation she headed flew in Theodore Daylrymple to hold forth on how the plebs shouldn't be allowed to divorce.

    Even now, the information page of the trust's website consists largely of citations of cherry-picked studies on the "ugly" nature of "cohabiting" and single-parent families and the superiority of "two-genetic-parent" households.

    The only influence on child welfare it canvasses is marital status. It is brutally excluding and it unabashedly demonises non-standard families.

    And the person who was until very recently its CEO complained about being excluded as a divorcee?

    It drives me nuts .

    But I'll shut up now ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    As I said, you can't win a battle if you're not even going to start fighting.

    I'll be marching alongside you when the day comes, don't worry about that. I just happen to think that demonising the left is a bit weird in the circumstance. Not all gay people regard civil unions as the back of the bus, either, and it should be acknowledged.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I'd be surprised if the numbers were substantially different in the electorate they represent

    I'd be very surprised if the National-Labour numbers weren't slightly skewed by the obstacle of 'crossing the floor' - a pressure which is present even on a conscience vote. Labour had an abstention too - Ashraf Choudhary. I remember because I emailed him and thanked him for doing so. Sound weird? I felt it was the right thing to do.

    My earliest encounters with Craig were of someone who was repeatedly lambasted for Voting National While Gay, as if someone's sexual orientation should entirely determine their political opinions, and not, say, your views on economics. It's reductive and insulting and oddly never happens to straight people. It shouldn't happen to anyone, regardless of their political orientation.

    I dunno, maybe it's because Craig and I have both been inside parties and realised that, hey, sometimes you can fight really hard and still lose, and people are going to assume that you support all your party's policies, which is just never going to happen in a world where we don't all have our very own individual political parties. But a lot of the time I find it easier to identify with where he's coming from than I do the more hectoring Left.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

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