Speaker by Various Artists

The Voicing of Opinion is fraught

by Mark Graham

The curse of public musings is the misperceptions caused by people either misreading the comment or, through poor communication skills on the part of the writer causing confusion on the part of the reader.

Since there were only a few responses critical of my complaint against arrogant pedestrians (arrogant anything for that matter – the flip-side to inconsideration), and in the belief there were more than five people who read my posting, I can only assume it was the misreading thing rather than the confusion thing.

Let me explain.

I do not advocate cars running down pedestrians. Ollie, I do not drive a Remuera Tractor. I ride a Vespa (I would have thought that was reasonably apparent by my earlier postings, which also reinforces my belief you didn’t read it properly).

I am even a pedestrian myself, on regular and frequent occasions.

When I am a pedestrian, I endeavour to hasten across the street when there is traffic approaching – to get out of the way, since roads are for cars and footpaths are for pedestrians.

I would have thought this was somewhat self-evident. But no. Instead I am criticised for complaining about pedestrians who saunter across the road even while cars (NOT driven by me) are bearing down on them. Whatever – I’ll let you pick a fight with a Stagecoach bus; I’ll just hurry off the road.

24 finishes on Thursday night.

The story concerns a US government manipulated and eventually taken over by corrupt businesspeople and politicians hellbent on war in the Middle East to further their oil interests. No doubt the fictional version will pull back from the brink at the last minute and the world will be saved.

However, if the story was fleshed out one would no doubt be able to see harsh, unspecified Middle East regimes terrorising and oppressing their people – a perfect justification for waging military action.

And therein lies the ultimate dilemma for all us pale pink liberals. It is logical to lament the ills of the Hussein totalitarian dictatorship and to celebrate its downfall.

It is beholden on us to do so, even if it was achieved via a US administration perceived by much of the world as Machiavellian and harbouring dubious intentions; as a bully on the world stage and with as much religious-driven self-righteousness as any Islamic fundamentalist terrorist.

So we can celebrate the ends, and even the means, which were much less onerous than anticipated. (The peace is a different issue.)

But it is the intention of the US that is to be questioned.

Whether for oil or to eliminate terrorism, the ‘might=right’ argument (to borrow one of my critics arguments against pedestrians removing themselves swiftly from rapidly approaching large vehicles – not, I presume, scooters) provides a short-term solution and potentially spawns much greater problems in the longer term.

Russell B. has continued to say it better than this, and for longer, but I wanted to get this off my chest, because of a feeling of self-contradiction and hypocrisy in being pleased that Hussein was gone but a gnawing at my bones that it was done the wrong way.

Not to mention the precedent now established of ‘righteously’ attacking a perceived threat in another sovereign state prior to any overt action by that state. Hell – the US has nukes pointed at Russia – does that not now give Russia the justification to launch a pre-emptive strike?

The other concern I have, is with many of the opponents to the war. Not necessarily wishing to side with Christopher Hitchens, nevertheless, his criticism of anti-war liberals seems to me to stem in part from the knee-jerk reaction by either ‘side’ of the Left-Right political debate to any suggestion by the other.

Because an idea comes from a group or individual associated with a particular political philosophy, that idea, per se, is deemed ‘wrong’. This is intellectual laziness at its worst and in part, I believe, at the core of Hitchen’s complaint. (A perfect demonstration of this is from Dennis Dutton’s piece in the Herald. Dutton buys into the US viewpoint completely and conducts an ad hominem (attacking the person) attack on those who disagree with him which only demeans his viewpoint and, as Dutton himself says, “there's an intellectual laziness in this and a lack of moral imagination” - talk about ‘pot calling the kettle…’ and all that).

My experiences with both sides has given me a jaundiced view of politics, even though I am fascinated by it and continue to believe there are good people wishing to do good things caught up in it.

On the one side, there are the politics of selfishness. On the other, the politics of envy. And that’s why people aren’t voting. Or voicing opinions in public.