Tagged: law

News media and blogs: where’s the line?

Cameron Slater’s blog Whale Oil has been found to not meet the Evidence Act’s definition of “news medium” – meaning he doesn’t get to claim the right to protect his sources’ identities.

The Evidence Act defines “news medium” as

a medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news

From the Herald report:

Wellington media lawyer Steven Price said the thrust of the Law Commission’s report was that bloggers who were serving the functions of free speech and a free press should be treated as media and be entitled to media privileges.

“Still, it is concerned that the reporting be dispassionate and reliable. It can be argued that Whale Oil doesn’t measure up on that criterion.”

This point really interests me, because I think there’s a big grey area if you look at the whole range of blogs and bloggers in New Zealand.  And what about looking at group blogs as a whole vs. at the work of individual posts or posters?  At any one time on the front page The Standard you could have a serious, info-dumping post from lprent on climate change, full of citations and graphs.  Sure, he’s obviously pushing a certain agenda, but is that enough to rule the post out as “news”?  On the other hand, it could be sitting next to a post from me or Zetetic which is a big opiniony rant.  But if opiniony rants mean The Standard as a whole isn’t media, what about the Herald, which publishes Bob Jones on a regular basis, and daily anonymous editorials?

Do Public Address and Pundit count more as “news media” because their authors are (I believe) all writing under their legal names, and because many of them are often quoted or relied on for comment by traditional media?

If we treat the media-blog divide as a spectrum, where’s the line in the era of Stuff Nation?

Do I think Whale Oil should count as news media?  Probably not.  Neither should Ideologically Impure, for that matter.  Highly partisan and personally abusive?  Fuck yes.  But when Keith Ng breaks a national news story at PA?  I think that’s news.

The irony is that one of the reasons the line is blurred, and one reason Slater may sincerely believe he qualifies as a “journalist” for the purposes of the Evidence Act, is that our undeniably-mainstream media keep using him as a source.  When the Len Brown affair broke on Whale Oil, Stephen Cook was frequently referred to as a “journalist” (which is again confounded by the fact that he has worked as a “proper” journalist) in the media.

I don’t have any answers.  But I think this judgement is going to be an interesting, early data point in what has to be an ongoing discussion about where blogs and media sit in relation to each other.

We don’t get to be surprised

Twitter was aflame over the weekend due to this article, detailing how pregnant, incarcerated, predominantly women of colour in California were coerced into being sterilised – for their own good, of course.  To save them producing any more little brown burdens on the welfare system.  Because they couldn’t be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions.

But amongst the completely understandable outrage, there was another reaction, from the women of colour who I follow:  annoyance that white people got to once again clutch their pearls and decry how terrible racism is.

This is racist, of course, and for far deeper, scary, institutional reasons than just the basic facts – because of poverty, because of a judicial system geared against people of colour.  That’s not the issue.

The issue is why white people like me get away with continually being surprised by this.

Let’s be fucking angry at this abuse.  Let’s be frustrated at how long it’s taken to come to light.  Let’s be utterly contemptuous of medical “professionals” who act like it’s no big thing to coerce vulnerable patients into making socially-acceptable medical decisions.  Let’s be motivated into action.

But let’s not do that whole “OMG! How can this happen in this day and age?” thing.

Because that’s our privilege talking.  Our existence as women-who-will-not-face-this-kind-of-pressure (yes, we’ll face plenty of other pressures, but if you’re a white, middle class, educated cis woman like me it’ll probably go in the complete opposite direction), women who do not deal with this kind of oppression as a fact of our daily lives.

We don’t really have the right to say “how can this happen in the 21st century?” because it’s never stopped for the people who experience it.

The few stories which make it into our awareness aren’t exceptions, except in the fact that they made it into our awareness at all.

Nonsensical Sentencing Trust plays the Obi-Wan card

So, the Nonsensical Sentencing Trust wants to set up an anonymous website criticising the decisions of NZ judges, because any guilty verdict handed down to a poor brown person which doesn’t result in hanging is obviously too lenient.

Naturally, this has caused some consternation among the legal fraternity.

But don’t worry, folks, because the SST has now made it clear:  they do not support vigilantism.

For the sake of your braincells, you may choose to append the famous Jedi maxim, “from a certain point of view” after that sentence.

Because this is the same SST whose leader went on the record to defend a rich white dude who chased down and stabbed to death a 15-year-old for the iniquitous crime of tagging a fence.  What was it you said, Garth?

Emery had to “pay a price for what he did” but the 52-year-old was a “different type of offender”.

“I didn’t think he should have gone to jail,” said Mr McVicar.

“That young offender [Pihema] had been doing graffiti before and Emery had been becoming extremely frustrated with it.

But of course, let’s be sensible.  Clearly, Bruce Emery, who saw two young men tagging his fence, took out a knife, and chased them 300m down a road to confront and kill one of them was not a vigilante.

You have to be wearing a mask to be a vigilante.

But let’s credit the SST with this:  at least they’re straight-up, ethical types who never try to weasel out of previously-made statements which are now politically inconvenient.

“We have never supported or advocated vigilantism and we never will” said Ruth Money of Sensible Sentencing Trust this morning. “Garth McVicar has never said that, I have never said that, and no person speaking on behalf of Sensible Sentencing – as opposed to their own personal view – has ever said that” Ms Money said.

Oops.

NZ abortion law: more hoops than you could throw a Tux Wonder Dog at

A common refrain whenever the abortion issue gets raised in NZ is “but it’s legal here, and no one seems to be having problems getting it, so what’s the fuss?”

Well, (a)  no it’s not, (b) on that basis, I’ve never known a guy with erectile dysfunction so let’s stop selling Viagra, shall we? and (c) the fuss is, to quote ALRANZ:

“A woman might see up to five doctors before a decision on whether to approve her abortion is taken”. More doctors to actually have the abortion, of course!

And they have a chart helpfully released under the Official Information Act to show why.

Five doctors.  Who are probably pretty busy, who may not even be in the same town or province as you if you’re especially lucky, who all need to be convinced that you fall under the requirements of the law, with whom you have no previous relationship but nevertheless will have to discuss a very personal, possibly traumatic situation with … while time ticks away and your options become increasingly limited to riskier, surgical procedures.  (Still a hell of a lot less risky than carrying a pregnancy to term – hey, I’m just trying to provide full information, here.)

I’d like you all to consider what other procedure you could possibly have to find five doctors to sign off on.  Get a second opinion of your own free will, maybe – consult with a few specialists to get more detailed information, sure – but to be forced to see up to five doctors in order to exercise a basic choice about your own body?

Yeah, nah.  Didn’t think so.

(For the lovely antichoice fuckheads out there:  no, actually, this obstacle course presented to pregnant people has not a fucking thing to do with the magical sanctity of pweshus babby feeeetusses, because if it did, abortion wouldn’t be legal under any circumstances.  It’s simply there to make the process more difficult for pregnant people – predominantly cis women – who were not trusted by our Parliament to make their own fucking choices.  Not my fault your side has a massive lack of internal consistency.  And empathy.  And tragic tendency to be really, seriously obvious about your misogyny.  But I digress.)

Bugger our electoral laws

No blogs I read allowed political comments yesterday, because our electoral law is an outdated piece of crap which probably served us OK in the days when “political statements” were restricted to newspaper editorials and hoardings.

These days?  Sorry, everyone, I think it’s just bloody demeaning to everyone’s intelligence for the Electoral Commission to pretend that if I refrain from saying “VOTE LEFT YOU BASTARDS” on 26 November, you will somehow all not remember all the pro-left posts I have made in the lead-up to this election, or not know who DPF/lprent/Lew/Danyl are hoping will get the victory when they say “get the vote out”.

(They, like me, may very well truly believe that democracy is best served by a high turnout, no matter who that vote supports; but we all still have our obvious biases.)

It’s especially bullshit when our media, who cannot ask political questions of politicians on election day (and those politicians cannot make political statements themselves) still follow John Key to the polling booth (not in his own electorate, of course) asking questions like “what are your dinner plans” …

When everyone, left and right, who comments on politics knows full fucking well that John Key presenting himself as Nice Guy Who Has Pizza And Beer On A Saturday Night is a political statement, and is designed to influence people’s votes, and is probably a lot more effective than the scandalous idea that Phil Goff (special voting in his electorate which he doesn’t live in either) might say “Yeah, I voted Labour today.”

And yes, I very much appreciate the fact that people should be able to go and vote without getting spammed, harassed, having political advertising drilled into their heads.

But making social media users tweeting to their 20 friends “Just voted Mana/ACT/Greens/ALCP! Woo!” criminals while mainstream media with audiences of hundreds of thousands get off scot-free continuing to push political-advertising-via-personality-facades, just because our law wants to treat us like we don’t know when we’re being advertised to, or won’t be affected by an advertisement unless it includes the words “vote”, “choose”, or “tick”, pisses me off.

Oh, well he’s funny, that makes up for sexually abusing a four-year-old

The sentence is in on the anon Kiwi comedian accused of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter.

Oh, did I say sentence?  Because there isn’t one, because he’s just suffered so much already and we all need more laughter in our lives.

Basically, FUCK YOU, JUDGE CUNNINGHAM.  Officially Scum, that’s what you are.  You’ve even made me fucking agree with Garth McVicar and there’s no going back from that shit.

LudditeJourno has more.  Big trigger warning for child sexual abuse and abuse apologism.

Bonus fuck-you: to whatever tragic sick fuck at stuff.co.nz entitled the article “Talent helps comedian get off sex act charge”.  I realise y’all at Stuff are scum-sucking bottom-feeders desperate for pageviews, but you’re seriously going to Hell for that one.

Saying don’t make it so: Right to Foetal Control edition

You have to give this to Right to Zygote Life, they are persistent little misogynists.  And now they’re taking their case, with the sole purpose of making it harder for women to freely choose the fate of their own damn bodies, to the Supreme Court – but, thank Satan and all his little wizards, will not be allowed to argue the interminable fucking point about biologically-dependent cell clumps’ “right” to some poorly-defined notion of “life”.

In a classic madlibbed press release, Right to Fuck Over Women proclaim this a total injustice, because it takes away their ability to confuse pretty clear issues of legislation and medical authority with emotive bullshit ignores the hugest most awful abuse of human rights eveeeeeeeer!!!!

Cue the usual spiel:

The humanity of the unborn child is an inconvenient truth, for acceptance of the humanity of the unborn child would be an impediment to the killing of innocent human beings.

Nup.  I will continue to say this as long as I have breath:  no airy-fairy “humanity of the undead unborn” notion would, in fact, stand in the way of abortion.  Bear with me for the next bit because it’s part of the same bollocks:

The High Court found that “The rule according human rights only at birth is founded on convenience rather than medical or moral grounds.” “A legal right to life would be incongruous in such a law, for it would treat the unborn child as a separate legal person, possessing a status fundamentally incompatible with induced abortion, far from modifying the born alive rule. The abortion law rests on it.”

You know why it’s “convenient”, guys?  Hint:  it’s not because evil slutty women just want to be able to kill babies for the glory of the Dark Lord.  It’s because once you get your way, and get some vague notion of “life” as it pertains to individual human beings’ existences set into law … you still don’t get to ban abortion.

Because then you get to have the really inconvenient argument which will, happily for us sluts, reveal your basic anti-uterus-havers (“women” to you small-minded binary-lovers) stance.  And yes, I’m disagreeing with the High Court here:  recognising the foetus as a separate legal person would not, in fact, be “incompatible” with induced abortion.

Because no born human being’s “right to life “allows them to unilaterally seize control of someone else’s body.

No born human being gets to subpoena another’s kidneys.

No born human being gets to demand to be hooked up to another’s lungs and force the other to breathe for them.

Not even if you’re dying.  Not even if you’re dying and the person whose kidney could save you is the person who stabbed you in the kidney.  Not even if you’re in a coma unable to breathe on your own accord.

The “right to life”, as you pretend it to be, doesn’t even apply now to supposedly-endowed-with-it born people.  Why the fuck do you assume it would apply to da widdle feeeetuses?

And every single time a prochoicer raises this argument, the response (if they bother to engage) comes straight out of the “but you had sex and are therefore a filthy whore who must suffer for it”* playbook.

And that’s a bit inconvenient.

Antichoicers probably don’t actually comprehend this, though.  Because when your argument is basically entirely derived from a worldview which treats women/uterus-havers as walking incubators whose life is only really necessary to produce the next divinely-mandated generation, it’s probably pretty easy to forget that they’re human beings too, and they have a right to life too. Which, as shown above, doesn’t cover being forced to loan their organs to someone else.

And while your softly-softly societally-acceptable sex-shaming and irresponsible-teen-slut-fear-mongering and Aren’t We Reasonable approach might help get moderate types, people who never have to think about this kind of stuff, people who just “feel” that abortion is “icky” on your side … I have this feeling it’s going to be a lot harder to convince them that they also believe that other human beings have the right to take over their bodies and fuck up their health and irrevocably alter their lives for the sake of consistency.

The idea that “life begins at birth”,** at least with regards to abortion, isn’t convenient for our sakes, Right to Steal People’s Autonomy.  It’s convenient for yours.  My prochoice views remain entirely consistent whether I acknowledge conception*** as some momentous event in the course of human life.  My belief in people’s bodily autonomy is not threatened by the idea of ensoulment or a heartbeat or widdle fingers and toesies.

Your arguments, on the other hand, being entirely pulled out of your asses to justify imposing/maintaining a world in which women are lesser, in which women have no agency, in which uterus-havers must all be women because uterus = incubator = tool to propagate society aka “woman”, would find it daaaaaamn inconvenient to have an actual discussion about a world which recognises the “right to life” you pretend to give a shit about.

But please.  Take your arguments to Parliament.  Force our MPs to actually confront the reality of abortion laws in NZ and the hateful controlling world you want to bring about.  I assure you, I am the very opposite of afraid.

~

*And if you want to come and argue that being forced to gestate a pregnancy which is unwanted isn’t suffering, you are invited to sit down for an Alien marathon and come back to me when you’ve figured out why it’s relevant.

**Specifically, first breath.  References?  Oh, only the Bible.

***Insert traditional “which makes God the world’s biggest abortionist” statement here.

Proper mothers only vote for political parties the Establishment likes

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party reports some slightly worrying comments from Judge David Burns:

“If Ms X attends and supports the Legalise Cannabis Party the likely influence is that she supports consumption of that substance … That is in direct contradiction to her obligations as a parent because it affects her reliability as a mother,” David Burns said.

First up, no, dude.  The “likely influence” is that she supports legalising consumption of “that substance” (the clue is the big L in the name.)*

Secondly?  Go.  Fuck.  Yourself.  It is fucking ridiculous to act as though your own political views, and your own perception of what is and isn’t mainstream, allows you to make any fucking comment on a person’s ability to responsibly parent their child.

This is an issue whether you agree with legalising marijuana or not.  It would be an issue if a judge said “Parent X supports Act, which wants to fuck our tertiary education system so that’s in direct contradiction to hir obligations as a parent.”  It would be an issue if a judge sid “Parent X supports the Greens, who put the welfare of the planet before our god-mandated duty to procreate, so that’s in direct contradiction to hir obligations as a parent.”

When Ms X is openly dealing pot on the streets and advocating hotboxing your maternity ward during pregnancy,then maybe we can talk about parental obligations.

Supporting a political party which advocates changing our current law and therefore theoretically supports the future legal performance of a currently illegal action?  Kinda what political supporters do, Your Fuckface Honour.

~

*She may well smoke pot too, but that may have more to do with … being a New Zealander.  There’s a reason Tool albums sell really well here.

FUCK YEAH COURT OF APPEAL

H/T Octavia:

The Court of Appeal (Chambers, Arnold and Stevens JJ) has allowed the [Abortion Supervisory] Committee’s appeal and dismissed [Right to Life's] cross-appeal.  The Court unanimously held that the law does not recognise or confer a right to life on the unborn child.  Nor had Miller J erred in finding the Committee had properly discharged its function with respect to counselling services

The decisions of certifying consultants involved medical judgment alone.

… The majority quashed Justice Miller’s findings about the lawfulness of abortions.

Fuck.  Yes.

Recommended reading: men talking good shit edition

A trifecta of good stuff for you this evening.

Craig Ranapia on Greg “if everyone would just be good little proles then the cops wouldn’t have to beat you” O’Connor and Tiki “brown man with completely inexplicable dislike of agents of repressive state apparatus” Taane:

But the one thing O’Connor and his ilk can’t do – and even worse, don’t believe they have to seriously try – is back up their assertion that words and music they don’t like lead to real world crime.

Gordon Campbell on both legal aid/the anti-nanny-state Government’s strange nanny-state-esque behaviour:

So far, the Key government has reduced the right to a jury trial, extended the powers of search and surveillance by state agencies, restricted the rights against self incrimination, sought the ability to conduct trials in the absence of the accused, and ended the independence of the agency dispensing legal aid – and that’s even before we got to today’s changes.

As Scoop consistently argued, the dispute was always about getting Warners more money, and the union dispute was being used as a diversion to that end. Simultaneously, the climate of anti-union hysteria did no harm to the ability of the government to get its rewrite of some key elements in our industrial legislation framework through Parliament.

Rob Salmond on the Labour list what-about-the-menz whining (h/t NRT):

What the graphs show is that Labour’s caucus will look broadly similar to New Zealand, but will continue to moderately underrepresent women, Maori, and New Zealanders of Asian descent. The Rainbow community is either marginally overrepresented (by about one MP) or represented proportionally, depending on which population estimate you prefer. And Pasifika peoples are overrepresented in Labour’s caucus by 1-2 MPs.