Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: These things we must now change

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  • Bart Janssen,

    Thanks Russell.

    I think we really need to stop letting our racist uncles speak on the radio.

    Somehow we need to convince our media that just because a racist opinion piece (and writer) generates a lot of clicks doesn't mean it's good for the medium.

    We need to somehow get politicians that resist the easy racist line. Doing anything to get power in Wellington is not what we ask from our politicians.

    And damn but haven't we got such a good example of what we really do want in Ms Ardern.

    All those things will help. But we can't stop the way hatred infects and spreads through the internet. There will always be some who can't resist the easy line of blaming "others" for everything wrong in their lives.

    And because of that we need to stop pretending guns are a normal part of life. We banned tom thumbs (firecrackers for those too young). We can ban rapid fire guns tomorrow and all the accessories that make DIY possible.

    But to be honest I really don't see why we can't get rid of them all. Surely we can use some other technology for pest control or at the very least make their use the exception rather than the rule.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • Katita,

    I got increasingly angry with Paul Buchanan’s reckless commentary on the day of the attack

    Me too. Most of what he said seemed inflammatory and the views of one old white guy. Thankfully other commentators like Robert Patman seemed more balanced.
    What was better, was hearing the voices and seeing the faces of Muslim commentators like Guled Mire. But what struck me most was how we'd never head those voices on mainstream media before.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 67 posts Report

  • Craig Young,

    Russell, thank you for an excellent commentary on the tragedy in Christchurch, but as a former inhabitant of that city, I have to say this. Yes, the city does have a white supremacist and right-wing extremist subculture. There used to be open interconnections between Christian Right pressure groups like the Integrity Centre, Coalition of Concerned Citizens and Concerned Parents Association and the New Zealand League of Rights, and a neofascist bookshop, Western Destiny, in Cathedral Square. It isn’t particularly large, and frankly, these individuals strike me as being from dysfunctional families with personal histories of violent criminality, educational failure, long-term unemployment and substance abuse. Ethnic minority community members and members of the Christchurch Jewish community have been assaulted and have had their shops vandalised for years. Denying that there is a problem is no substitute for what needs to be done now- which is to stamp out these tinpot mussolinis.

    Ian Wishart, the wretched “New Conservative” microparty and the vile conspiracist hacks at Uncensored also deserve to be on your damnation list.

    As for Stephen Berry, Lindsay Perigo and Milo Yiannopoulis, none of these sorry individuals speak for the New Zealand LGBT community. Berry and Perigo are objectivist libertarian dogmatist ideologues and Perigo seems particularly susceptible to fringe facile populist rhetoric without any faculty for critical inquiry and analysis. As for Milo Yiannopoulis, I hope he never sets foot within this country, nor should he ever be allowed to. I am ashamed to share a sexual orientation with them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report

  • simon g,

    Thanks for this, Russell.

    Human nature being what it is, many will not reflect or change. But some might. And at the very least, those in the media who provide a platform for misinformation will either cease doing so or will do their homework to challenge the peddlers of prejudice.

    As for the woefully misguided FSC, let's not forget their role in waving through the bigotry, and feeding the hate. We have 'Sharia Law' in New Zealand, according to the Canadian visitors defended by the 'Free Speech Coalition'. Well, it doesn't look that way today - and it never did.

    Of course, they have the right to spout nonsense, and Don Brash and his pals have the right to remain silent, or to insist they have not bothered to familiarise themselves with those they are defending (as he did, repeatedly), but wouldn't it have helped if Brash & co exercised their free speech - then or now - to repudiate such lies?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • simon g,

    On a more positive note, I do think the the NZ media have done a generally good job in the most challenging of circumstances, in the hours/days after the massacre. There were a few stumbles and premature assumptions, but overall I felt the two main TV networks (1 and 3) plus RNZ, along with Stuff and the Herald deserve credit for keeping us informed and making on-the-spot decisions under pressure. I know it feels ghoulish to offer praise against such a traumatic backdrop, but they had a professional job to do and did it well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Young,

    Denying that there is a problem is no substitute for what needs to be done now- which is to stamp out these tinpot mussolinis.

    I'm not for a moment denying there's a problem. And as you say, it goes way back – and the connections with the Act Party, via the likes of Trevor Loudon and ZAP, are interesting.

    But talking to people there, people like Gerard Smyth, it does seem things have changed a bit – apart from anything else, it's a far more diverse place than the one I grew up in, especially since the earthquakes. And it clearly does not have these issues to itself. But I saw too many people on social media blaming Christchurch and apparently forgetting in their rage that it was Christchurch that was attacked.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • steve black,

    Shortly after the event I was disturbed to receive this from somebody in the USA on a forum I moderate.

    Want to extend my sympathies to your country, you and yours... I know what's going on in this world. As always a Good guy -with a gun- prevented more carnage;

    Multiple mosques were targeted during attacks in New Zealand on Friday, and an armed man reportedly fired back at the shooters in the Linwood area of Christchurch.

    The New Zealand Herald reports that the local man with the gun fired on the shooters after they unleashed “multiple gunshots” on the mosque in Linwood. The armed man ran after the shooters, firing two shots at them with “a rifle or shotgun” as they undertook their escape. That's never covered with the same intensity in the media

    It took me a few minutes via Google to see that it was Breitbart, InfoWars, et al. at work. They turned this into a "pro gun" headline which would bring tears of joy to the NRA.

    The Breitbart story has a link to the Herald, but I don't see anything about a "good guy with a gun shooting at the shooter".

    I would like any avid Herald readers to let me know what the Herald thinks about being claimed as the basis for this anti gun control meme. I don't generally see the Herald, so I don't know what their initial coverage was, how this relates to to Breitbart claims, and what if anything the NZ Herald has done about that. Did the story get changed? Or did Breitbart just make up their own embellishments? Never let the facts get in the way of a good meme.

    Since then I've heard from another friend (in Christchurch) that Rush Limbaugh is already claiming "false flag" and that the shooter was really a lefty who posted the manifesto to smear conservatives. I would have thought that was more an InfoWars thing, but maybe Rush got their faster.

    sunny mt albert • Since Jan 2007 • 116 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    What happened in CHC is unprecedented in NZ for all the wrong reasons. It's NZ's worst ever mass shooting, political murder, and global terror incident all in one.

    As for the memory-holing by ZB & NZNP, are they genuinely apologetic or are they too embarrassed to confront the issues? What needs to happen next are for:

    *FB & Google to expand their anti-ISIL algorithms to include neo-Fascist hatemongers, or face monopoly-busting if they don't
    * the authorities to finally take neo-Fascism seriously
    *NewsCorp, Koch Industries et al to be decartellised or otherwise taken to the World Court
    * the 1986 Royal Commission on Broadcasting to be dusted off & modernised for the social media age.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    it does seem things have changed a bit

    That is what migration specialist Prof Paul Spoonley told RNZ, yes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • tussock,

    And yet, none of this is directly linked to the Christchurch atrocity. The killer's hate culture, as expressed in his pretentious manifesto (always, these people purport to be cleverer than they are, with their pseudoscience and idiot history) is an online one: it crosses national borders; it's everywhere and nowhere.

    All of this is directly linked to the murders of minority men, women, and children in Christchurch, and elsewhere around the world.

    Do not fucking underestimate how dangerous this guy still is. Do not imagine that the feckless inanity surrounding it is anything other than extremely carefully crafted recruitment material for much more of the same. None of this is a joke, none of this is done loosely or in error. Do not pretend he is stupid, this was heavily trained and practised, it wasn't a fucking accident that he was arrested, this is part of the plan. He's planned this for years, a hundred and fifty thousand uploads supporting the spread of his livestream strongly suggests an extensive international support network with significant funding sources.

    This is not a guy trying to kill 50 people. This is an attempt at genocide, and they're just getting started. It's not just one guy, 4chan is fucking huge, and they all think this is funny.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    That Canadian pair who made a visit here weren’t promoting ‘free’ speech; you were expected to pay to hear their bile and hatred?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    You were expected to pay in order to receive their endorsement of your own precious freeze peach. And if you're that way inclined, their endorsement is meaningful - because it makes you part of this great movement that is reasserting all that was great and good (sic) about the world when it was racially pure, religiously compliant, politically unaware, and educationally limited.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 325 posts Report

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And it clearly does not have these issues to itself. But I saw too many people on social media blaming Christchurch and apparently forgetting in their rage that it was Christchurch that was attacked.

    Yeah, I mean, look, we KNOW we're not the ones who were attacked, we're not the ones in the centre circle of the grief chart.

    But also, there've been two large-scale losses of life in NZ in most of our lifetimes, and both of them were in Christchurch. The kids locked in their high schools on Friday pretty much have the quakes as their first memories. I won't be the only person here feeling ill every time they hear another helicopter fly over. We are suffering in a different way, we are retraumatised, many of us have untreated mental health problems, and we will need help.

    Watching people dancing on pinheads debating whether grieving people are using quite the right words to express their grief is a whole pile of not-helping.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    The Canadian evil twins who visited earlier this year weren’t providing ‘free’ speech; you were expected to fork out money to hear their bile.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Christchurch folk might be interested in going along to a public meeting Better Public Media this Sunday (March 24) 1-3.30pm in Undercroft 101 (under the main Library) at the University of Canterbury.
    In these days, it is timely to talk about the role of the media in drawing us together, or rendering us apart. There will be a panel with people such as Ali Jones and Julian Wilcox to address such questions.
    We did have the Minister Kris Faafoi lined to open up proceedings, with the 2019 David Beaston Memorial address, but he has had to drop out and we are looking for someone of similar stature,
    You don’t need go stay the whole time, unless you want to become involved with BPM, at the AGM which will wrap up the meeting,

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Apologies. I appear to have repeated myself🙄

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Craig Young, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was two Christchurch mosques that were attacked, Russell. We don't know whether there was any assistance from neofascist elements in the city itself. It would seem not, but was he in contact with any on 4chan, 8chan, "Kiwi Farms" and any of the other hatenet sites he frequented? That question remains to be answered.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The road from there to here…
    After Simon Bridges woeful performance on Morning Report today, and his inability to explain why then Police Minister (now deputy leader) Paula Bennett only adopted 7 of 20 recommended changes to gun control and access when she had the chance.

    I believe it is worth noting that Paula Bennett mere days later opened the controversial shooting range in a once peaceful rural valley back in 2017 – the valley has housed a Vipassana meditation retreat for years.
    Nat MP Mark Mitchell was unable to attend due to flight problems, but he wanted to be there…
    it should not have been allowed to be built in the first place and intends to expand.

    Bennett also joyfully tweeted;

    "Great to open Auckland Shooting Club this morning. Another business off the ground – 300 members already!"


    she’s not a deep thinker it seems our Paula…

    Spinoff looked into it as well:

    and Newsroom:

    Here is the list of what Bennett passed on:

    I’ll also just post this here without comment:
    and this:
    (but dammit they used the lobbying system!)

    I think this all speaks for itself -
    and how we find ourselves where we are today

    Actions (and inactions) create consequences!

    …and didn’t Kim Hill do an excellent job this morning
    - truth to power at its finest – aside from Mr Bridges inability to join the rest of the vertebrates.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • WaterDragon,

    I agree with Craig's comment about ChCh having quite a long history of white supremacist groups (It's also had quite a history of left-wing activism). ChCh has been stultifyingly, righteously white and up itself, though I don't feel much need to declare my "ChCh cred" to be able to comment. But Emma Hart's point all of that word-nitpicking's less relevant than the actual situation for the people there is on the money IMO.

    Behind you • Since Jul 2011 • 79 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank,

    Aberrant individuals are a consequence, seems to me. Paranoia about immigration is a consequence too - of excessive immigration produced by govts of both left & right.

    Populists understand this as a betrayal of democracy by the political establishment, I suspect, due to the lack of electoral mandate. You could disprove this thesis by citing evidence that some parties have campaigned to increase immigration in some western countries - all I'm saying is that I'm not aware of any such evidence.

    Consequently, public opinion became a fertile ground for conspiracy theorising. Forced immigration, imposed as part of the neoliberal prescription by elites such as Bilderbergers & UN. David Parker told us that the guy who gave James Shaw a black eye was yelling about the United Nations. Commentators speculated on the Standard that the UN Migration Pact was his grievance, but just as likely he was following Trump's advice that the UN is using climate change to bring in global governance (Shaw is the minister of cc).

    In this global context, focus on hate speech risks becoming a distraction - it looks more like a symptom than a cause. Public policy ought to be solutions-focused, and to solve a problem you have to figure it out. Social problems usually get solved via correct diagnosis. I'm not convinced that the cause and effect relation between hate speech and violence has been established. Failure to prosecute on the basis of our hate-speech law seems evidence that this is so.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Neil,

    One of the problems with even identifying a likely far-right terrorist is simply picking out his hate rhetoric from the background din of bigotry. They can, to some extent, hide in plain sight

    Possibly what complicates things is the different forms of terrorist organisation. ISIS had an active program of on line recruitment with an organisation that was hierarchical. People with vulnerabilities were radicalised by others.

    This form of white supremist terrorism is more self radicalisation within a peer to peer audience structure that feeds the narcissism. That may be harder to spot.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

  • Matthew Hooton,

    Great piece that canvases a huge amount of territory.

    One point of long-standing interest to me:

    Our very awkward conversation ended with Peters flashing that big smile, as if it might all have been a joke..

    That smile has a lot to answer for. We wouldn’t have tolerated his 25 years of hate and other ethical lapses without it. On the other hand I suppose we are lucky that our xenophobic political figure has never really meant it, and can be bought off by some cash for Baby Boomers and a few decent overseas trips. Imagine if Bolger, Clark and the Prime Minister had had to give him what he says he wants to hold power? But then back to the original hand - and in conflict with the “words matter” argument - that’s also meant his words haven’t been taken seriously , at least since Bolger went down to the floor of Parliament and compared his rhetoric to Hitler’s. That made me so proud as a young staffer in the Bolger Government. Of course, it turned out to be shortly before Bolger and Clark began desperately negotiating with him in 1996 and my party became the first to form a coalition with him.

    Also, on your point about people like the terrorist writing these pretentious manifestos and thinking they are cleverer than they are: it reminded me how Don Brash’s Orewa speech was footnoted as if it somehow added legitimacy to select a handful of references that supported a predetermined position.

    Also your point about the pride immigrants take in New Zealand: it reminded me of the times I have seen and heard people with heavy South Asian or Middle Eastern accents celebrating a RWC, Black Caps or America’s Cup win with an enthusiasm that more reserved or cynical locally born kiwis often don’t manage.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 195 posts Report

  • simon g,

    As soon as news broke on Friday, Stuff.co.nz was providing good coverage of a rapidly changing tragedy. For 3 days their team, presumably working hours overtime, did a fine job.

    They (editors?) also decided to switch off comments, on almost every piece published, for those 3 days. Now they are back, and guess what? The sewer, shut down for that interval of decency, is back and nothing has changed.

    So here is what I wrote on a Stuff comments thread, before it was closed (and so this was not published):

    I would like to know what action Stuff will be taking to clean up your own comments section. Will moderators follow the clearly stated rules? They are broken all the time, and so Stuff has become a magnet for bigotry. It is now the go-to site in the NZ media for those who want to spread nasty abuse in the comments. If that is NOT what you want, the remedy is in your own hands. Simply follow your own moderation rules, as set out for every article.

    Since Friday afternoon nearly all of Stuff's coverage has been closed for comments. I totally agree with that decision, but you should ask yourselves why you even needed to do that?

    Because you know who you attract. Now is the time to ask why, and whether that is who you want to be. Thank you.

    I will e-mail them with similar sentiments. I don't think the usual advice of "never read the comments" will stack up any more. I never read 4chan or Kiwiblog either, but that doesn't make their poison go away.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Moz,

    It's been really good to see mainstream media giving voice to people who normally struggle to get published, and specifically articles that amount to mea culpa's from that media - talking about the racism and hate those media orgs normally publish. Hopefully there will be some actual change.

    I'm still bemused that antifa have such bad press, and are so widely denigrated not just by the far right, but by mainstream politicians and media. They are the white people you're most likely to see fighting racism and fascism on the ground, and some of the people I saw outside the mosque when I rode past on Friday. But they're also the focus of sustained police suppression and harassment.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • Neil,

    And yet, none of this is directly linked to the Christchurch atrocity. The killer’s hate culture, as expressed in his pretentious manifesto (always, these people purport to be cleverer than they are, with their pseudoscience and idiot history) is an online one: it crosses national borders; it’s everywhere and nowhere.

    I’m skeptical about the link. The actions of Peters and others are reprehensible in themselves and may well promote an environment where the less lethal forms of racism can occur but events like this appear to the product of a deeply insular world impervious to the outside. It prides itself on its outsider heroic martyrdom act.

    That’s possibly more scarey as there’s less options to deal it.

    I wonder if the chilling irony of that world is partly a result of a Red Queen race to avoid the moderator algorithms.

    Since Nov 2016 • 382 posts Report

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