Same sex marriage has come up as an issue in the Kiwi politisphere. It should be no surprise at all where I fall on this, so allow me to steal the words of others:
The state has no business in our bedrooms, or in dictating to us the sorts of relationships we should pursue. If the parties involved are consenting adults, then it is none of the state’s business what they do. And this is exactly why I support same-sex marriage: because it puts all relationships on an equal footing, and gets the government out of people’s bedrooms.
What I want to address is this old canard, most recently elaborated by Bob McCoskrie and his Amazing Talking Boner (who also like to use “gays” as a noun).
The state – which did not invent marriage – has no authority to re-invent it.
Bob is correct, to the best of my knowledge. The patriarchal claiming of women as the property of individual men in order to ensure property passed to one’s genetic offspring probably long predates the concept of “state”.
Bob is also, still, entirely full of shit.
You know, I have no problem with particular churches or groups wearing their bigotry on their sleeves by choosing, individually, not to perform ceremonies uniting and recognising the relationships of same-sex people.
But all marriage equality/gay marriage/civil unions do is extend the state’s recognition of those relationships.
And that ain’t just about a pretty piece of paper.
There are clear societal and economic benefits to getting married in the eyes of the state (whether your ceremony is in a church, on a beach, in the back of a car).
In the US (damn the lack of good easily-found lists like this for NZ), there are one thousand, one hundred and thirty-eight federal benefits, rights and responsibilities which are contingent on being part of a legally-recognised marriage.
In NZ, off the top of my head, there’s property rights, superannuation rates (admittedly, a disincentive to be old and married if there ever were one), and if Peter Dunne gets his way, income-splitting – which, oops, Bob and his pretend fanclub completely support.
So the state does have a “definition” of “marriage” which it has created to suit its purposes.
And which it has changed to suit its purposes.
Sorry, Bob: people don’t get married as much any more. It might have something to do with us all being godless heathens, or it might be something to do with organised religion’s strangehold on society lessening, which means a whole bunch of us figured out that for us, personally, it wasn’t necessary to get an old white dude to say magic words for our relationships to have meaning.
(Well, it’s probably both.)
But the fact is that as societal attitudes to marriage has changed, so has the law. Which is why we have legal definitions of de facto relationships, to wit:
In deciding whether two people live together as a couple, the Court will consider all the relevant circumstances, including:
- How long the relationship has lasted;
- The extent to which the couple share a home;
- Whether they have a sexual relationship;
- Their financial and property arrangements and interdependence;
- Their ownership, use and acquisition of property;
- Their degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
- Their care and support of children;
- Who does the housework and other household duties;
- The reputation and public aspects of the relationship (e.g. whether the partners are known to family and friends as “a couple”).
These factors are only a guide. The presence or absence of any one of them will not necessarily determine whether there is a de facto relationship.
Emphasis mine. And it ain’t all about length, either:
If your relationship has lasted for less than three years, you may still be covered by the Act if there is a child, or if you have made a substantial contribution to the de facto relationship.
No magic words in a pretty stone building required.
My point, if I’m ever going to get to one, is that sure, whatever, Marriage Predates The State And So On. But the state has its own definition of marriage, a definition which has changed and will continue to change, and its definition applies to everyone, not just those who believe in one god or the other (though presumably Bob doesn’t give a toss about other people’s faiths or beliefs or heathen ceremonies).
Bob is perfectly happy for the state to “define” marriage when it means those families wealthy enough to live on one income can lower their tax burden. Tough shit on him if the state decides its own definition is up for debate.
In the meantime, our PM has declared that there isn’t a “clamour” for marriage equality, ergo he doesn’t care (and by whatever gods there may be I bet that line is pissing off the pro-smacking lobby). Why not send him a wee line to let him know his cowardice is unappreciated?
Diane Revoluta has a great post up about, to apply my own interpretation, the clear slippage of John Key’s facade since the last election:
Did John Key sit up and take notice? No. In fact, John Key’s response to thousands of New Zealanders spending their lunch break protesting on the streets (and thousands more supporting them from around the country on Twitter, Facebook and other online forums) was this:
“How many people did they have? Ok, where was it? [laughs] Well, OK, no I wasn’t aware of it.”
That link doesn’t take you to, say, a post on the Standard quoting a report from some regional newspaper no one cares about – that’s TVNbloodyZ reporting this stuff.
The bit which I think needs to be reprinted on t-shirts, posters and billboards overlooking every major motorway in New Zealand is this:
Last night, Key appeared on Campbell Live for perhaps one of his longest and most pressing interviews in some time. For this, people congratulated him. They said that John Key had ‘fronted up’ and YOU GO JOHN KEY, YOU GO for doing so. John Key deserves no praise for finally agreeing to an interview with a reputable journalist.
We deserve better. We should expect more. I’m just depressed at the notion of trying to get a nation where the Woman’s Weekly boasts a readership of 771,000 to give a crap about their glorious smiling-and-waving leader having all the integrity of a cornflake. Who cares as long as we know where he and Bronagh plan to spend the long weekend, right?
The police have decided not to charge freelance journalist Bradley Ambrose over the “teapot tape”. Despite that, they’re still claiming that his actions were unlawful. Which raises the questions: if his actions were so unlawful, why have they decided not to charge him?
I think the cops are on a hiding to nothing, here. I mean, we’re all well aware that if there were any solid evidence against Ambrose, they would’ve gathered it illegally and then just got Parliament to retrospectively make it OK, right?
In all seriousness, this photo at The Standard sums up my feelings on this whole scandal from day one. Who the fuck seriously buys that this was a “private conversation”? How utterly disingenuous do you have to be to cry when you stage the most openly calculating of public conversations and get recorded? And the eternally-unanswered question, how little political nous (and/or arrogance) do you have to have to do that and then discuss anything besides the lovely weather we’ve been having lately and aren’t those Warriors doing well?
So, David Shearer and John Key made some speeches today. In the interests of even-handedness and refuting the obvious “splitter, y u hate Labour” response I get every time I dare question that sweet fuck-all has changed in Labour since they lost in 2008 … my response applies to both.
What a gigantic load of “meh”.
I’m not even talking about the policy points, nor the somewhat pained metaphors (apparently “not knowing how to use Excalibur” is some kind of cultural touchstone, despite not appearing anywhere on TV Tropes). I’m not even hugely bothered by the big announcements (National are restructuring the public service based on the back-in-vogue notion that big, generalised ministries = more efficient; the smart money says when they’re in power in the 2020s it’ll be back to small, specialised ministries = more focused and cost-effective / Labour are probably standing by more policies they nicked from the Green Party and like
Elizabeth Hurley lambs.)
I’m bothered by the utter, utter shittiness of modern speechwriting.
Great speeches are stirring and powerful and they have a sodding point, which they make clearly and strongly in a whole series of interconnected sentences. Maybe they use repetition for effect (dream/fight them on the beaches etc) and maybe they start off with a cute little anecdote … but fuck, they’ve got to have soul.
When written out, I like to assume they have more than one sentence per paragraph, on average. They could even make good blog posts, albeit lacking whatever awesome quality or memorableness a good orator’s voice adds (other things great speeches need? To be read by good orators).
Neither Key’s nor Shearer’s speeches are even in the same room as great speeches. They’re fucking boring, they’re mechanical, their writers think adding a pregnant pause at the end of each sentence makes them sound meaningful. Those sentences apparently don’t need to actually connect together, except in some weird, stream-of-consciousness way.
Let’s just try a simple compare-and-contrast, first off with one of the great speeches of the 21st century so far (pity the dude in question has turned out to be kinda rubbish):
We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame and start putting them on a pathway to success. We can stop talking about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness. We can do this with our new majority.
We can harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists; citizens and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil and save our planet from a point of no return.
And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan; we will care for our veterans; we will restore our moral standing in the world; and we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, because it is not a tactic to win an election, it is a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
All of the candidates in this race share these goals. All have good ideas. And all are patriots who serve this country honorably.
But the reason our campaign has always been different is because it’s not just about what I will do as President, it’s also about what you, the people who love this country, can do to change it.
That’s why tonight belongs to you. It belongs to the organizers and the volunteers and the staff who believed in our improbable journey and rallied so many others to join.
Thank the Gods Obama didn’t have either of our major parties’ speechwriters to hand, because it would probably have turned out more like:
School is important because it helps kids succeed.
We need to help kids succeed because kids are important.
But teachers are like Excalibur, they need someone to kick the tyres and pull them out of the stone of failure.
And farmers are like Narsil, and scientists are like Krod Mandoon’s Flaming Sword of Fire, and we need them to succeed, too.
We need our thinking people to think for us to develop a knowledge wave.
That’s how we’re going to succeed.
And [when I am Prime Minister / as Prime Minister] we will do things to make this success happen.
But this isn’t just about me.
This is about you.
And you are like our Excalibur, and when we know how to use you no more children will be abused.
No one wants children to be abused.
We want to change things and you are the wind beneath our wings.
Let’s succeed together.
Just because I know you’re salivating for some Labour-hating, go reread this post, pretend I say “David” instead of “Annette” and focus especially on the points about cliches, using the language of the enemy, and still being boringly vague while promising that honestly, the concrete policies you’re desperate for are [still] in development!
Horrifying afterthought: is Shelley Bridgeman writing both Key and Shearer’s speeches?
In rough order from “somewhat probable” to “QoT’s wishful thinking”:
- Key muddles along until 2013, then bows out claiming his work is done to allow someone (fuck knows who) to lead National into the 2014 election.
- ACT gets absorbed into National, if only in a Jim Anderton-esque way, until Banks retires.
- Whatever NZ First does, it’s entertaining. Fully undecided on whether Winston accepted some baubles of office or is enough of a grumpy old man that he’ll truly be content to sit on the backbenches sniping at everyone.
- Conservatives, whose momentum largely derives from Colin Craig’s pockets, stick around and become the new rightwing alternative (now with bonus fundies)
- Greens form an MOU with NACT, get a few strong policies in, stick around the 10-12% mark as Labour hopefully figures out how to get votes back off National instead of whiteanting them*
- Labour frontbench bloodbath. Please. Unfortunately Damien O’Connor’s victory in West Coast-Tasman will probably convince plenty that pandering to Chris Trotter’s fantasy Waitakere Man is still a winning strategy.
Remaining thoughts on election night: TVNZ’s graphics sucked (and the graphic designer at our party agreed); Goff’s speech was really good; Peters remains a suave, suave dude. Happy the Greens picked up a record vote, boo hiss bloody Epsom and bloody David Parker.
Otherwise, same old same old, innit?
*Yep, I went there.
In the mall, Mr Key gets a mixed reaction. The usual adoring punters, especially women, are photographed with him and often get a rub on the back in return as they pose for the camera.
I can’t pinpoint why this is setting off my vom reflex. The awkward/inappropriate touching angle? The fact it’s spun as positive? The extra-rich saroma of Eau de Smile&Wave?
There isn’t just one hard truth to NZ politics at the moment. The second is equally unpopular with people, but if it doesn’t offer a clear way forward it at least suggests a fixable problem. At the same time, it’s not the kind of thing Labour/the Left want to have bandied about too publicly in an election year.
Everything Labour does is waffle.
No, seriously, everything.
Where my previous post argued that NACT are motivated by a clear and demonstrated drive to financially benefit themselves and their class and keep the true “middle New Zealand” distracted by shiny, often illusory toys (beneficiary bashing, north-of-$50 tax cuts), this one poses more of a question I wish I didn’t suspect the answer to:
What the fuck is Labour doing except waffling?
Waffling, swaying, flip-flopping, whatever today’s pop-propaganda term is, from one statement to the next, one lukewarm denunciation to the next, since the 2008 defeat Labour has basically been a yacht captained by people who figured hey, it was their turn so they might as well have a go, desperately seeking the right current to sail them into Getting Elected Harbour and getting caught on the treacherous reefs of No1curr and Fuck You’re Uninspiring every single time.
Everything is waffle. Waffle doesn’t win elections.
A first pre-emptive rebuttal: Key/National did not waffle their way into victory in 2008. They made explicit, just-qualified-enough statements which set them firmly and believably (to the middle-voting public) in the role of Just Like Labour Only Without The Sense You’re Being Put On The Naughty Spot.
But what the fuck does Labour stand for at this point?
Waffle. Whatever the headless chickens and soccer-fan octopi in the strategy team think is a winner this week.
What month is it? Are we panicking about the loss of the “centre” vote and rehashing really obviously-going-to-backfire Brash/Orewa dogwhistles? Hmm, fuck, that didn’t go so well (hint for Labour strategists: when Idiot/Savant is telling you you’re fucking hypocrites, be worried). Best throw some “I can’t believe it’s not a real leftwing policy” bones to the fanbase! A fanbase who, possibly in serious need of some reassurance that the Apocalypse had not in fact left them in a better-treed version of Transmetropolitan, thought “fuck yes! A real turnaround!”
‘Cause you see, “the many, not the few” involves such fantastically leftwing setpieces as “listen to the stories about gang members ripping off WINZ, those fucking bludgers!” and “young offenders need intervention and literacy skills AND a kick in the pants, am I right, holla at your boy Garth McVicar!”
But some celebrated nevertheless, right until the rightwing research unit bots said “Oy, bitches, how’s 1985 treatin’ ya?” and silence descended, because not all the pretty speeches in the world from Goff count for shit until he utterly disowns that Rogernomics crap. Prediction: never going to happen.*
January 2011. Election year, baby. And someone gets it through HQ’s hivemind that maybe being a bit fucking bold could be a good idea! Let’s do it! Let’s face down those NACT bastards with their relentless “the left doesn’t understand how the economy works” meme and release completely uncosted tax policy! How could this go wrong???
Oops, even one of the staunchest left bloggers in the country came to the conclusion: waffle.
Which is not to mention that whole not condemning Paul Henry’s vile fucking racism thing – can’t upset the white underclass since we’ve thrown those nasty identity politics types under the bus (oh wait, but the Big Gay Out’s on this weekend!). Or the neverending quest to try to turn a stern, serious, career politician into his affable, smarmy, shallow opponent (because of course the only way to defeat an opponent is to become him … wait, what?). And let’s not forget that this isn’t just a Goff problem when suddenly Annette King tooooootally wants to help out those poor people who incidentally Labour royally fucked by defending a discriminatory policy tooth and nail.
Not just waffle. PowerWaffle.
To put it bluntly, fellow lefties: we are in an election year with a main-left-party leader who thinks the appropriate response to “I told my mate Tony Veitch that Liz Hurley’s a hottie” is “I think she’s hot too butIlovemywifebecauseI’mabetterfamilymanthanyou.”
You thought we were fucked before?
We are so fucking fucked.
*I’m like Ken Ring, only I admit I make shit up off the top of my head and act smug when I’m correct anyway.
Let it stand in history that it was the NACT government who chose to exploit the Canterbury earthquake for political gain.
Gordon Campbell: On Bill English…
The Standard: The Shock Doctrine
No Right Turn: Key commits to WFF cuts.
We. Are. So. Fucked.
[Please note: your humble author has been pretty fucking harsh on WFF in the past, especially on the basis of its discrimination against beneficiaries. The idea that children should be left in fucking poverty to “incentivise” their parents to find mythical jobs is one reason your humble author doesn’t party vote Labour. But as NRT covers, cuts to WFF will screw a lot of people. Not cool.]
Originally posted at The Standard.
There’s a hard truth to NZ politics at the moment. It’s not one people like to think about, it’s not one people readily accept, and it’s not one that gives Labour/the Left any actual tools to dismantle the shitty state we’re in. But it helps to be reminded every now and then:
Everything NACT does is a lie.
No, seriously, everything.
The topical example of the day is the Welfare Working Group report, with its vicious, predictable, you-could’ve-paid-Danyl-Mclauchlan-a-lot-less-to-write-it-as-satire recommendations, including forcing some women to look for work when their youngest child is 14 weeks old.
This is bullshit, the blogs cry. The Smiler is quick at hand to (predictably) rule out the most extreme measures. But even the more moderate measures won’t work! We complain. This is no way to get people off benefits! You need job creation, not forcing drug addicts to starve, that’s only going to make things worse!
We are too charitable.
We assume, as does the media (even the good ones) and as do the general public, that the leaders of the Left and Right in this country are just approaching the same issues from different perspectives. They just have different ideas, different theories about human nature and economics, but they’re still looking at the same situation and aiming for the same results.
NACT are not aiming for the same results. Everything is a lie.
I hear the objections already. I just want you to think: which is the more likely scenario, Occam’s Razor-styles?
That our Government is run by people who cannot see that tax cuts don’t stimulate the economy, who do not understand that there are no jobs, who will not acknowledge that being “tough on crime” and simultaneously starving/victimizing the most deprived people in the country are not going to make our society safer …
Or that they just don’t care, and everything is a lie.
Thus we see the entire existence of the Welfare Working Group is a lie. It’s not about people, or liveable incomes, or hope, or dependency, or jobs. It’s all a sideshow, because to people like Key and English and Brownlee and Hide it doesn’t matter what they implement, how or if it’s going to work. The goal is power, the goal is scapegoating beneficiaries (for now), the goal is getting you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain while he’s stripping your assets for lolly money.
This is the NACT modus operandi: do the bare minimum to keep the economy going. Throw out Crosby/Textor lines to persuade the voting public – a public sadly not entirely made up of people with enough time/energy/interest to argue this shit on blogs – that Scapegoat of The Day is the source of all their problems (beneficiaries, Maori, Greens) without actually doing anything. Pillage everything in sight. Once unelected or bored of juvenile tussles in the House, fuck off in your spaceship to Hawaii and let everything end in fire.
And we are fucked. Because if the comments on this post don’t contain at least one person accusing me of jealousy, of tall poppy syndrome, of conspiracy or paranoia … well, I’ll wonder where all the good trolls have gone. But that is exactly the argument that will be made, and when the kinds of people the Left has to convince in 2011 are exactly those people most susceptible to C/T spin and cheerful Smiler soundbites, and when the truth you’re trying to convince them of is really fucking unpalatable … proper fucked.
So for your warm-up dose of headdesk, John Key thinks Liz Hurley would be “thrilled” by being on his fucklist “the endorsement”.
Oops, someone didn’t run that line through the “even vaguely believable” and “not phrased like marketing wank” filters.
But it gets better, because “managing director of Mango Communications” Claudia MacDonald would like us all to know:
his comments were “refreshing” to hear from a Prime Minister.
“The days of tightly buttoned-up politicians with carefully managed facades are waning,” she said.
Yes, Ms MacDonald. John Key appearing on a sporty-bloke radio show to wax lyrical about “dream dates” with three very-mainstream, very-recognisable, basically ubiquitously-agreed-as-conventionally-attractive women who all happen to have the same colour hair as his wife* has absolutely nothing to do with maintaining a carefully-managed facade which hides the fact he’s a boring old financier who un-ironically uses awkward, dated phrases like “party central” when he goes off-script.
I can only hope Mango Communications’ clients are as woefully oblivious as you or business could be in for a rough patch …
*Couldn’t risk a “John Key prefers blondes, Bronagh in tears” women’s mag backlash.