This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 4 April 2013.
Bunji at The Standard identifies this – I think super-correctly – as another distraction tactic, from the Minister who continues to have a reputation as a hardline smacker-down of social naughtiness, despite never actually crushing a single car. Idiot/Savant notes the unequal treatment cyber-bullying will be getting under law.
And hell, even the Sensible Sentencing Trust thinks it’s a waste of money.
Personally? I’ve always had issues about the way bullying carried out over
scary new technological platforms gets massively over-hyped as though it’s a completely different beast from vile rumours going around the schoolyard, getting smacked around in a locker room, crank-calls or being worked to breaking point by a sociopathic manager.
I get that Cyber-Bullying (TM) has the added impact of lasting on the internet forever and being accessible by literally anyone, but honestly? I’ve always thought that was just an embarrassment cherry on top of a huge shame-and-ostracisation pie.
What seriously annoys me though is when sentences like this don’t get someone laughed out of Cabinet:
Ms Collins says the proposed new approved agency will help people get the support they need to stop cyber bullying quickly.
It’s like all those Stuff commenters who think we need to issue all beneficiaries with personally-identifiable credit cards which can only be redeemed for state-determined food and services, because they’ve been raised in hermetically-sealed bubbles and don’t understand how administration works, i.e. involves money and people
and functioning IT systems (let’s not even go there).
For an agency to be “quick” to respond to cyber-bullying, it has to be staffed to the gills and overpowered to a despotic extent. Otherwise?
- Fill in the form.
- Wait for it to be assessed.
- Be asked to provide more information.
- Hope no one emails it to another client.
- If bullying is found to be occurring, file papers with the hosting agency or ISP.
- If the bullying’s happening on Facebook and doesn’t involve naked breasts, don’t hold your breath.
- Eventually, the first post might get taken down, after being seen by all the people you care about – i.e. your schoolmates – and probably retweeted and shared and mirrored Gods know where else.
It’s either completely unrealistic or completely terrifying to talk about a government agency which can “quickly” combat anything happening online, where the situation changes by the minute. Where most of the damage – like with most bullying – is done with the first blow, the first post, the first time you realise anyone could have seen it.
For it to work, you’d have to build a secure bunker of nerds empowered to hack into literally every site and domain on the internet and delete stuff at the merest hint of complaint in an email. Which is seriously scary, and also totally unworkable, because who heard about this and didn’t immediately assume there’d be a tsunami of vexatious complaints?
But it fits a really comfy narrative for a media who still buy into the idea that Judith Collins is a powerful decisive getting-things-done politician and who also don’t really understand social media, or – given how many I saw today annoyed / bemused / bolshy / snarky that the State Services Commission dared to declare a press conference Twitter-free – assume that their audience don’t.
And a tiny note to the Labour Party: just let Andrew Little front this issue, okay? I don’t think we really want the risk involved in having Clare Curran talking about cyber-bullying. Clare Curran who allegedly (wouldn’t want to post anything knowingly false, now) petitioned the Labour Party Council to demand the outing and censure of Labour Party members who criticise
her The Party on blogs.
[Trigger warning for partner violence]
As a person currently on the internet, you have almost certainly already heard about what many are insisting on calling “the Nigella incident”.
Charles Saatchi was photographed holding his upset partner by the throat, several times, in a public place, while many observers did sweet fuck all about it.
I’m not going to dwell on the event itself, because many others already have:
- Alecia Simmonds on Why didn’t anyone help Nigella Lawson?
- Anna Maxted in The Telegraph on Nigella Lawson: yes, it can happen to her
- Kate Harding with related reading on why choking is a big flashing warning sign
Now, it is fair to say that we do not know every detail of what happened. And it is fair to say that sometimes even photographs can be misleading. So a lot of people right now may have a small point when they say we mustn’t be quick to judge – on the face of the initial reporting.
Thankfully, Charles Saatchi has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation for us.
Saatchi has gone on the record with the London Evening Standard about what happened, and to call it “enlightening” is a serious understatement.
Charles Saatchi admitted the couple had a row as they sat outside Scott’s in Mayfair but said they had “made up” by the time they got home.
“About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point.
“There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt.
“We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.”
Let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s believe everything Saatchi says: completely harmless, just a tiff, nothing serious, all forgiven, blown out of proportion. (And that it all depends on what your definition of “grip” is).
Even in that unlikely, bizarro universe, Charles Saatchi is still a man who:
- holds people by the neck to emphasise points (seriously, who does this?)
- can’t acknowledge that Lawson has her own feelings – “Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing”, not “because she was upset about the argument“
- wants us to simultaneously believe it was an upsetting argument and a “playful tiff”
- cannot grant his partner any agency. Check out that little tell at the end. ”I told Nigella to take the kids off.” Not, “We decided it would be best if …” or “Nigella wanted to get the kids out of the limelight.”
“I told Nigella.”
Even with the most charitable of views, in which this is all a hilarious misunderstand and won’t we look back on it and laugh one day, Charles Saatchi’s statements are a little scary.
His decision to make these statements on his own, while Lawson and her agents aren’t making any statements, only adds to the picture of someone who is supremely self-centred.
He has now been cautioned for the assault on Lawson.
The mainstream media trumpeted the findings:
Poll: People want smacking law changed
And three paragraphs in explained:
Respondents were asked whether the anti-smacking law should be changed to state that “parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law”.
Seriously, what the fuck is up with fundy bigots and their perpetual need to lie about things?
Wait, no, it’s not a lie, it’s just a conveniently twisty overcomplicated series of questions which handily paraphrases into what they want it to. So they’re not liars as such, just manipulative scumbags who will say and do whatever it takes to bully society into retrograde attitudes.
They are fully aware that just saying “a smack” would not get the same juicy results as “a smack that is reasonable”. I mean, how do you argue with that, when being prompted for a yes/no answer? They said the smack was reasonable so of course it should’t be illegal! Duh!
Note the same trick in the follow-up question, which is coincidentally not written out in full until the very bottom of the article:
Would you still smack your child to correct behaviour if you thought it was reasonable, despite the current law?
I look forward to Curia’s future work, involving questions like
“Should rollerblading safely at high but reasonable speeds around blind corners be not against the law if you don’t hurt anyone 99 times out of 100?”
“Is wearing white at a wedding okay if the bride isn’t wearing white and you’ve asked permission to wear white and it’s more off an off-white anyway and nobody minds you’re wearing white?”
Maybe he could hook up an awesome tie-in with Westpac, too.
The point is this: if you agreed with Family First’s statement, you are one of two things:
- Confused by stuff explicitly designed to confuse you
- A pro-violence child abuse apologist.
The only practical function of section 59 was to allow people who had hurt their children so badly that it got to court to walk free. Electric jug cords? Riding crops? Please, tell me what’s so fucking “reasonable” about that.
(Note: I’m being a little facetious with that request, because I will in fact delete any pro-smacking bullshit posted here. It’s violence. Against children. If you did it to an animal you’d be arrested. End of.)
Final question: does “Curia” actually stand for Completely Unreliable Results In Abundance?
Police officers who deliberately faked their uniform badge numbers to avoid being identified as they weighed into a violent public protest will keep their jobs and won’t be investigated by the force’s watchdog.
Despite the pre-meditation involved, the Independent Police Conduct Authority decided the three officers’ behaviour was not serious enough to warrant its attention, saying investigators were too busy dealing with cases involving death and bodily harm.
Here’s the big issue (right after “either the IPCA has fuck-all investigators or our Police are physically injuring/killing so many people that a well-staffed IPCA is overrun with cases”): why the fuck are our police officers taking deliberate, explicit steps to hide their identities in the first place?
And why the fuck do we have a Police Commissioner whose response basically reads as “dammit, boys, if you must make us look bad at least do it smartly so you don’t get caught!”:
“I hope it isn’t true, but if such stupidity did occur – give me strength,” Marshall wrote in his blog on the police website. “Talk about scoring an own goal.”
It is true. It wasn’t “stupidity”, it was a deliberate step to avoid identification in a situation where the officers involved felt strangely certain that their behaviour might incite complaints from members of the public.
But when the Police Commissioner describes it as “an own goal”, as “foolishness”, not “a perversion of the course of justice and a wilful attempt to avoid detection while roughing people up and denying them their democratic rights”, what the hell else do you expect officers will do?
They’ve just been clearly told, “you will not be independently investigated up until the point you actually shoot someone”. They’ve just been given the clear message, “we will cover your shit up, just pretend to be sorry and like it was all a big mistake.”
Cue Greg O’Connor any minute now to tell us how no police should ever have to wear badge numbers because how else are they meant to cow the sheeple into submission?
For some totally-anonymous-yet-still-somehow-authoritative commentary on the matter, check out the Dom Post’s editorial.
A lot of people who have the privilege of writing under their real/legal/given names perennially attack bloggers for posting under pseudonyms. It’s happened to me, but the biggest target in the NZ blogosphere is probably the various pseudonymous posters at The Standard.
The charges are that pseudoynmous blogging (though let’s face it, they always call it “anonymous” blogging either because they don’t know the difference, they don’t like using big scary words, or they know it sounds scarier and more random) is unreliable and not worth reading, because:
- you don’t know who’s writing it, and you can’t judge the words on their own merit without knowing if the author has red hair
- you don’t know if it’s always the same person writing it, because anyone could have the password to that account (in fact I’ve recently seen specific allegations of this directed at a Standard poster: “oh, I know X used to have the password, but then Y had it and now I don’t know.”)
- the writer never has to “back up” their opinions the way Real Writers Using Their Names do
And there are doubtless plenty of other reasons why you should just stop reading this right now because I’m incapable of having anything worth your attention if I haven’t shown you my birth certificate.
And all these arguments could have some validity to them. Certainly when a troll with a rapidly-shifting pseudonym pops up in blog comments we often just say “Ignore them, they’re a troll.” When a person’s writing has a lot of obvious bias in it, you may well find yourself saying “I wonder if there’s an ulterior motive to this.”
But there’s a big problem for me around all this, and that’s the long and honourable history of pseudonyms being used right there in the mainstream media which so often calls pseudoynmous bloggers mean names.
Take the editorial of the NZ Herald. Do you know who writes it? What their allegiances are? Which political party, union or business lobby group they’ve inevitably worked for as a press secretary? Certainly a lot of the more politically-active bloggers and personalities do, and that’s why you’ll see comments saying “Obviously they let [person] write the editorial today.”
But does your average Herald reader (they’ve still got a few, I’m sure) have a sodding clue whose work they’re reading? Are they given any better reason to accept that opinion piece beyond “it’s published under the mighty banner of the Herald so they must be on to something”?
As for ulterior motives, changing identities? Well, I look around at all the known attempts to make products go viral, to spam review pages or to astroturf comments on blogs … and let’s be honest, they’ve all been pretty arse.
If I, for example, am simply the sockpuppet of [pick a political party] designed purely to sway political conversation about [pick an issue] in [pick a direction], fuck me but I’m doing a fantastic job. Four years’ blogging, 500 posts on a wide variety of topics, random periods of activity and down-time which to the untrained eye might look exactly like the work of a person who sometimes has time to blog and sometimes doesn’t?
Whoever’s running Ideologically Impure deserves some kind of political-spin-doctor Pulitzer.
Let’s look at other examples of pseudonyms. In media: were Ann Landers’ words of wisdom less valid, less accepted, because she wrote as Miss Manners? How did anyone know that she had any basis for offering other people advice on etiquette? Because they read her columns and thought “that sounds like good advice” and accepted the pseudonym as a reliable guide.
They could also probably tell she wasn’t multiple people in a dark and smokey room by the way her writing style was consistent and she didn’t go from saying “Wearing white at another person’s wedding is rude because it distracts attention from the bride” one week to “HOOTERS IS A TOTES KEWL VENYOO, YO” another.
So pseudonyms: OK when they’re printed by a respectable source. When they’re just some member of the rabble who’s got a login and a pretty premade theme? Unreliable, useless, shut up shut up shut up, how dare you have opinions not sanctioned by Proper Editorial Authorities.
The final charge I want to deal to is the idea that we pseudonymous types are cowards for sticking behind pseudonyms. In a country the size of NZ, where everyone knows everyone, where our media and our political press departments overlap hugely, where a Cabinet Minister is more than happy to release the private financial details of people who cross her and literally doesn’t care when the Human Rights Commission says she did anything wrong …
You people who have the honour of being paid for your opinions really want to question why I’m sitting here behind a pseudonym?
Well fuck you, that’s why.
None of this even addresses the “side” issue, for me specifically, of blogging as a ranty feminist. Kate Harding covered it very well many years ago.
[Trigger warning: sexual assault of a child]
That’d be the headline if Stuff had a single ounce of integrity. Instead, they’ve published an article which boils down to “oh noes, the poor man is left uncertain of his fate for a whole seven days, look at his fee-fees.”
The fate of his victim isn’t mentioned until you’re sixteen paragraphs in. But don’t worry, because in paragraph five, my new Official Scum member Judge Mark Perkins has already downplayed her trauma:
“There is an argument that the [psychological] effect on the child of the offending is a result not of the offending itself but the actual breakup of the family.”
Yeah. The breakup of her family because she was sexually assaulted by her mother’s partner. (It remains unclear to me if the victim is his biological daughter, signs point to no.)
You’ll remember the case from this post of September 2011. That’s where Judge Philippa “I like a good laugh” Cunningham refused to impose a sentence on him because he’s such an inspiration, and it was so tragic the way that his sexual assault of a child may have affected his career.
Sexually assaulting a kid SHOULD FUCKING WELL AFFECT YOUR CAREER. And you should also face some kind of actual punishment, you know. It’s not like any judge is going to let Mark Hotchin walk off just because “being publicly mocked by Hell Pizza is punishment enough.”
But no, after we’ve found one good judge (on ya, Judge Murray Gilbert) who can actually comprehend that
the consequences of a conviction did not outweigh the offending, … the judge did not take into account that the guilty plea meant the man had admitted he intended to carry out an indecent act on his daughter, and … the fact the man was drunk should not have been a factor in the original decision.
Now it’s back in the hands of someone who’s quite willing to think that maybe we should treat the obvious consequences of the offence as being the real problem.
There’s one chance for Judge Mark Perkins: it’s entirely plausible that Stuff have lifted their quote out of context, that it was part of a wider discussion, that it was followed with the phrase “but that argument is, in the opinion of the court, utter cack.”
I guess we’ll have to wait and see if some actual justice prevails.
A Rolling Stone article from February has been doing the rounds – and should carry many big, clear trigger warnings for suicide, self-harm, homophobia, and hate speech (reported). This post on its contents likewise.
It’s entitled “One Town’s War on Gay Teens“, and it was a bit of an eye-opener to me.
It certainly wasn’t a revelation to me that there are truly hateful people in this world, that bullies get away with horrific abuse, that people are honestly so afraid of pointing out that there are a lot of self-proclaimed Christians in this world whom Jesus would absolutely tear strips off that they let them get away with encoding prejudice and bigotry into our society and schools and communities.
The revelation was this: I really haven’t taken my gloves off with these people, and I need to.
Despite being a shrieking swearing ranty bitchy PMS-ing monster truck of feminist blogging, I do moderate myself (you may pause to snort, if you will.) I do refrain from Jesus-would-slap-the-shit-out-of-you comments like the above. I do have this niggling little part of my brain that says there’s a line I shouldn’t cross, a line about faith and how people define their own, a line between pointing out the hypocrisy and horrific consequences without pointing too hard at the person behind them. Just as I’ve always objected to cheap shots about Gerry Brownlee’s weight or Cameron Slater’s mental health, I’ve felt that telling a person that it’s not their belief system that’s evil, it’s actually them, was … cheap. Dirty. Unbecoming. Something like that.
And then I read that Rolling Stone article. And while yes, like I’ve said, it wasn’t a surprise to me that fundy wankers have attempted to eradicate the existence of homosexuality from their communities (perhaps I should say, the communities burdened with their residence) and it wasn’t a surprise to me that this had caused some kids to take their own lives, something broke in my brain. Something clicked together. Something aligned, possibly the stars, and I realised in that moment a sad, terrible, huge, but ultimately truthy truth:
You fuckers are just, simply, fucking evil and if there is a Hell it will be too fucking good for you.
You shat on these kids.
You didn’t even tell them they, personally, were evil – you didn’t have to. You just removed any option they had of figuring out the world for themselves, because in your heads “choice” is just fine and dandy as long as the choices presented are all fundy-Christian-approved ones.
You let them get beaten up and harassed, and you threatened the adults in the best position to protect them with the loss of their job, maybe their career, if they dared to stop it.
You demonised the people who actually understand what compassion means and could have saved these kids.
In the wake of the suicides, the fundy asshats blame gay rights groups for the suicides. Because apparently telling kids that their feelings were valid “locked them” into a “lifestyle” etc etc.
Not, “telling kids their feelings were invalid and letting bullies attack them at their most vulnerable with no reprieve or protection from authority figures.” Not, “denying children even the acknowledgement of homosexuality by letting them know there was a policy outlawing acknowledgement of homosexuality.”
You trapped teenagers in a world where they could not even examine their feelings, much less acknowledge them, much less talk about them with anyone because you created a culture which made saying “I think I like people of my own gender” basically the equivalent of “I come from Mars and have acid for blood” and you fucking dare to say that homosexuality gave them no fucking options?
You actually think bullying is okay.
Michele Bachmann has a great point when she says bullying is wrong.
It’s only slightly ruined by the fact she said it to cover her ass after arguing that shutting down bullying was basically the end of free speech (ironic!) and would inevitably lead to “boys [being] girls”.
Because bullying isn’t wrong, apparently. Well, it is, it’s just that beating up a small, quiet guy for not being sufficiently manly isn’t really bullying, and constantly harassing a girl for wearing baggy sweatshirts isn’t either. They’re just basic social correction, bringing the deviants back into line so nothing threatens the established hetero social order. And those schoolyard bullies learnt it from you.
Let me tell you, people: Jesus was all about eliminating people’s differences and trampling on their individuality. Fo sho.
You are utter fucking hypocrites.
For people who think sex is a robotic process which married hetero cis couples should only ever engage in for the purposes of bring more little schoolyard thugs into the world, you are seriously fucking obsessed with sex, and “deviant” forms of it in particular.
Labelling Gay Straight Alliance clubs as “sex clubs”? I’d say “are you fucking high” but let’s remember: you’re not honest people. You’re not sincere. You’re half-driven to distraction by a lifetime of denying basic sexual urges, half-making shit up to scare the people who aren’t as evil as you but also aren’t particularly political, particularly engaged with broader social issues, who are susceptible to the bullshit you spin because you’re a Pillar of the Community.
You are, in fact, fucking evil.
You are entirely willing to destroy people’s lives if it maintains the dominance of your belief system. You will do whatever it takes to keep other people, other ideas, other ways of living in the shadows and bullying teens to the point of suicide is pretty much just hunky-fucking dory to you.
I do not believe that fundy shitstains actually think gayness is a choice. I do not believe they think it’s a genetic mutation. I think they do not care. It’s a threat to their natural order, so say and do whatever it takes to get rid of it, right?
Demonise teenagers. Pretend to be acting in their best interests when you say “oh, but they’re so confused at that age” with one Jesus-shaped sock puppet but scream “they’re evil and trying to destroy us!” with the other. Play on your fucked-up narrow-minded cultural paranoia, primed through decades of Yellow Peril and Red Peril and War on Terror, and turn it against your children because you’d actually prefer to see them dead than gay and at peace with themselves.
Fuck drawing lines in the sand with you cretins. There is blood on your hands. Your “faith” and behaviour bears absolutely zero relationship to the shit Jesus actually preached (gayness and abortion: not actually his favourite topics.)
But do you even have the faith you claim? I’m in serious doubt here. If you’d been born in any other country or time, would you just be the same hateful, demonic little fucks, waving whatever religion of convenience, whatever writings of whatever prophet, you could find to justify your self-centred bigotry?
You are fucking evil. And I’m pretty much decided right here right now that it is my life’s goal to fucking destroy you.
~A note to you other fuckers out there~
If you have read that Rolling Stone article, and you side with those people, and it offends you that I feel entirely justified in labelling those “Christians” as absolutely unmitigatedly evil people? You can go fuck yourself, because kids are dead and your buddies over there caused it.
[TW for bullying and abuse apologism by authority figures]
Ian McKinnon, principal of Pukekohe High School, has a bit of an integrity problem.*
See, several of his students attacked another of his students, possibly in a sexual manner.
And Ian McKinnon seems to think that there’s a magical line between assault-which-is-just-boys-being-boys and assault-which-is-actually-something-he-actually-has-to-give-a-fuck-about.
“The incident involved a male student who was held by others and who was then assaulted.
“Whilst what took place may well have started out as a joke among a group who knew each other, its outcome was far from that. It was very upsetting for the victim and for a number of students in the area, many of them friends of the victim.”**
Here’s your problem, Ian: you think just ganging up on a guy and pinning him to the ground for the purpose of giving him shit for transferring schools is just a joke amongst a group who knew each other***.
Presumably once possible sexual assault with a weapon is involved, it’s “gone too far”.
And here’s the thing: Ian McKinnon thinks he’s showing no tolerance for this shit. I mean, the boys involved have been excluded, parents have been informed, what else has a guy got to do?
“Nobody condones this sort of behaviour or any type of physical assaults and it’s hugely upsetting when people have to witness it, and they were upset about it.
“Kids just don’t know when to stop with some of their behaviours.”
Oh, that’s right. We could take one fucking minute to wonder why some kids “just don’t know when to stop”. Or, hang on, we could look at the fact that their principal is explicitly saying that the beginning of this assault was just a joke, that the problem was that things like cornering another kid behind the gym and pinning him to the ground went too far.
And then we could pinpoint pretty clearly that the problem is that Ian McKinnon, right there, shows he condone bullying and violence against other students. Until the police get involved, and then it’s totes bad, mmkay.
*The Granny Herald also has an integrity problem for giving that article a headline analogous to “Bluebeard’s wife killed for being a nosy bitch”
**Bonus dickpoints for focusing on how upsetting it is for the witnesses, not the victim, Ian.
***Of course they fucking know each other, Ian, they go to school together.
[Trigger warning: violence against children, murder]
From a Conservative Party leaflet rife with other goodies like “changes to alliances … should only be done after careful consideration” and “It’s fact that quality time, baby with mother (or sometimes dad), in the early years is enormously significant …” the winning sentence has to be:
It’s time to get back to common sense and acknowledge that reasonable force is necessary and sometimes beneficial for some children.
Mr Q and I were watching an episode of Forensic Files or some other generic crime show. Two teenaged boys murdered their parents, and threw a party with their parents’ bodies wrapped up in plastic in the basement. Yet all the members of the community who were interviewed were just shocked and puzzled, just couldn’t think of a reason why these kids would do this. The parents were good parents, you know, brought those boys up right, it was all just a huge mystery.
When the kids talked about the murder, one of the things they said was that they waited for their mother to leave the house, then turned on the stereo. Because they knew the very first thing their mother would do on entering the house would be walk over to the stereo, turn it off, and yell at them.
You can either take from this that maybe our society can have a slightly fucked up idea of what “good parenting” constitutes, and maybe we have a tendency to label some kids as “bad kids” [before they murder their parents] and thus justify parents being “harder” or “stricter” because “the kids need discipline”, so maybe take a slightly dim view of the idea that two teenagers just magically became homicidal against their saintly caregivers …
… or, you know, you can believe that from the moment they are born, some kids are just so inherently evil they need to be struck by their parents.
I normally don’t like to make these calls, but I’m pretty sure I can assume which side of that argument Jesus would have been on.