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.
TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis confirmed today that Paul Henry will be back on television just as soon as it’s even mildly palatable for the state broadcaster to re-hire him.
“I think New Zealanders have the collective memory of a colony of whelks and we’ll be sneaking Paul back onscreen pretty soon,” Ellis stated.
“Of course anyone who questions this will be implied to not be upholding good white Christian values which will especially stifle those fucking liberals.”
Ellis was clearly traumatised by the outcome of the debacle. “I frankly think none of this needed to go this far, and if those fucking Indians hadn’t decided to take offence at Paul’s blatant racism then he would still be with us today.”
“I mean, have they even watched Breakfast before? He obviously wasn’t there to enlighten people.”
Ellis further praised Paul for his recent gaining of a certificate from AUT in a six-day Advanced Theatre: Fake Remorse workshop and felt that he’d “really put his learnings into practice” in this case.
“Paul’s apology for his behaviour, which was completely in character and completely what he was expected to display on Breakfast, almost managed to sound vaguely like he’d written it himself. I think we need to give him due respect for that.”
TVOne Breakfast cohost Pippa Wetzell resigned today following the resignation of the show’s frontman, Paul Henry.
Henry’s resignation came after he made racist comments on air. Many commentators had noted that these comments were hardly unprecedented and rumours had circulated that this was basically entirely the point of his having the job.
Wetzell, however, seems to have come under fire as well for her lack of role in the incident.
A tearful Wetzell said at a hurried press conference this morning that she felt she had to go.
“My role on Breakfast has always been to sit next to Paul and tut-tut his more offensive comments. TVNZ has relied on me to provide a visible counterpoint to Paul’s bigotry and dog-whistles to redneck New Zealand, and to make people stop short of protesting outside TVNZ offices, by providing a dissenting on-air voice.
“At times I have also been in charge of pressing the little button that sends electric shocks into Paul’s collar when he’s getting a bit too close to stepping over the generous lines drawn for him by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
“By not rolling my eyes obviously enough, and by merely trying to coax Paul into acting like a semi-decent human being – as dictated by my performance review criteria – instead of contradicting him clearly enough to mollify the critics in our audience, I have cost Paul his job and TVNZ a just-palatable-enough-not-to-sack fuckwit host.”
Media pundits have confirmed that Wetzell’s loss will not be a particularly great one to the organisation, as they have for many years been following Fox News’s strategy of growing unthreatening blonde commentators in vats backstage. This appears to be borne out by TVNZ’s brief statement on Wetzell’s resignation which referred to her at various points as “Alison,” “Kaye”, and “Kate”.
[Because some news I just have to come off hiatus for.]
A tad behind the times on this, but there’s been so much idiocy going about these days one has had trouble keeping up – not to mention that The Christmas is fast approaching.
First things first: Long story short, Paul Henry added to his incredibly long list of infractions against basic tact/class/decency/empathy by referring to Susan Boyle as “retarded”.
Second thing second: The bloggers at The Hand Mirror have a post up with some ideas about how to actually do something more than ignore Paul Henry in the vain hope he’ll go away.
Third thing third: I could go on (and on and on and on) about Paul Henry, but that gets a little dull after a while, and why bother when there’s a much higher calibre of stupidity on the menu?
I speak of an instalment of Moata’s Blog Idle on *shudder* Stuff.
Specifically, a post entitled (because she’s so clever!) Let’s get retarded.
I’m sure we’re all breathless with antici…pation to see where she’s going to go with this one, right?
Well, she’s straight into it with an innovative twist on the old “I’m not racist but …”:
Let me just start by stating quite clearly that I am no great fan, or any sized fan, of Paul Henry.
It’s not just that you can see the apologism bearing down on you from miles away, it’s that there’s also something of an attempt to invoke QoT’s Law Of Strange Bedfellows: why, if adorable “thirtysomething”* quirky girl-blogger Moata is actually going to agree with crotchety wankstain Paul Henry, surely there must be something in it, right?
And after some meandering through the classic Stuff blogger’s “what I ate for breakfast today” opening paragraphs we’re into the meat of it, the delicious steak of oblivious privilege upon which all future paragraphs will be but an array of experience-enhancing sauces:
But let’s have a little discussion about the use of the word “retard”, shall we, since it seems to be very much a topic of conversation at the moment? In the past I’ve been taken to task for my use of this word, and I’ve accepted that it’s not to everyone’s liking but I am relatively unapologetic about it. I’m very much a fan of words and I’m not going to facetiously claim that a word is just a word and it can’t hurt you. Certainly words do have power, but sometimes only as much power as you are willing to give them.
Talking to readers like they’re schoolchildren and having to type out this post is a chore? Check.
Martyr complex because ZOMG someone has previously expressed displeasure at your use of offensive words? Check.
Brash declaration of refusal to give in to The Soldiers of Political Correctness, buttressed with sanctimonious I LOVE LANGUAGE bullshit? Check.
Statement about not downplaying something’s offensiveness immediately succeeded by downplaying its offensiveness? Check.
Smug implication that it’s actually your fault for feeling offended, you hypersensitive snowflake? Check.
With AMAZING BONUS “oh but I said sometimes I didn’t mean you” weasel-clause? Ladies, gentlemen, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, we have a winner!
This is a princely piece of work, this. The word “retarded”, you see, is simply not to everyone’s liking. It’s a matter of personal taste, an aesthetic choice, much like those stimulating “whence” vs. “from whence” debates one might have over a cup of wanker tea. Nothing serious.
Nothing, for example, like a word with strong negative connotations used as a blanket term for both all mental illness and a lack of intellect, forethought, reason, or rational capabilities.
Nothing that could possibly give any kind of message, like “mentally ill people are all stupid”, certainly nothing that could be used to dehumanize an entire group of people, nothing that could be a part of common usage as a putdown because we view people with mental illness as being lesser beings, because we [being of course the neurotypical majority who get to decide these things] consider it a bad, awful, horrible thing to be thought of as a retard.
If you’re having a hard time drawing the comparison, consider “throwing like a girl”, which I’ll come back to in a moment – because first, Moata has to let us know just how unwilling she is to acknowledge reality.
My take on the use of the word “retarded” is that it falls into two distinct categories. You can use it derogatively or jocularly to refer to someone or something that is judged to be stupid or behave stupidly. For instance, “trying to flirt with a woman by telling her you’re going to kidnap her (I overheard a guy yell this at an attractive female as she walked past a couple of weeks ago) is retarded”. This is probably the way that the word is used by most people, most of the time (though not on television).
The second use of the term is to refer to someone who has some kind of deficiency of intellect that can accurately be described as a kind of mental retardation. As best as I can tell this is the origin of the word “retard” which has since acquired a broader usage by being applied to things (or people) who are not, in fact, mentally deficient.
Like an episode of The Simpsons, we’re working on multiple levels here. So, the first “distinct category” – retarded = stupid (oh but remember, it can be used jocularly!).
The second, retarded = mentally deficient.
First, the junior circuit stupid. Moata apparently wants us to believe that when people call someone retarded, we just mean “stupid”. Nothing more. It’s just a synonym, with no implications or assumptions. No one, hearing a person say “That guy is retarded” (jocularly!), could possibly understand it to mean “that person is mentally deficient the way a generic person with mental illness (but let’s face it, probably someone with visible illness/condition/disability, and let’s face it further, almost certainly down’s syndrome) is mentally deficient”.
No no no, they hear “that guy is retarded” and it magically has no associations with the second “distinct category” at all. Fuck me, I think Moata’s a psychic and hasn’t figured out the rest of us aren’t.
Senior stupid: if we look very closely in the thick undergrowth of the bloggy rainforest, we may be able to make out some fan-fucking-tastic normative language.
some kind of deficiency of intellect
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The way Moata, and a lot of her readers, and certainly all the other people who hit on this particular defence of the word, make nice big bold statements about how there’s obviously a normal level of intellect, and some people just don’t have it, and so they’re deficient. Not like us normal people who have normal intellects.
And it’s obviously totes cool to refer to these deficient people as retards, because they’re backwards. You know, like referring to indigenous peoples as primitive or barbaric because they haven’t discovered the joys of urban disease and nuclear warfare. I mean, it’s a thoroughly objective thing to do, because we’re normal. Right? I mean, we must be, because everyone knows that not being normal would be a terrible thing.
But don’t let me get carried away. Moata continues to impress by finding new and astounding ways to make my jaw drop:
So the irony with regards to the current Paul Henry debacle (there’ll be another one next week) is that he’s got himself into trouble for using the word, not in the derogatory way that it is often used by people like me, but by actually applying it to someone who apparently is a little retarded.
Now, the fact that “Paul smooth-as-a-gravy-sandwich Henry” took a gleeful delight in reading about Susan Boyle’s misfortune in life is an entirely different issue. He could have used any word to describe her mental condition; what’s really upsetting is the silly, schoolboy laughter that accompanied it.
I mean, shit on a brick. The irony is that Paul Henry was actually calling a person retarded who IS retarded! Isn’t life funny that way? I mean, obviously he went too far with the laughing, the implication in his laughter that being retarded is a bad thing. Because we all know that it can just be an accurate term for someone who’s mentally deficient. Right?
And Susan Boyle obviously is retarded, I mean, Moata’s a physician psychic so she knows, it’s not like she, just like Paul Henry, is making assumptions about people based on their appearances or lives or attitudes or anything.
It’s certainly not like she, like Paul Henry, like many other people, feel quite comfortable saying “this woman looks a bit dim and is single and old and sings songs from Les Mis so she must have been brain damaged because no normal person could be dim/single/old/a Les Mis fan”. It’s not like the continuing casual use of the word retard in any way supports these assumptions. That would be wrong.
It’s par for the course that, naturally, Moata doesn’t really take these ideas any further. That would involve her having ideas. Instead, it’s back to the Stuff blogger’s grab-bag of tricks and making it all about her:
Personally, I’m going to continue to call myself or my nearest and dearest “retarded” when I or they do something stupid. I’m going to continue to prefer the original version of the Black Eyed Peas song otherwise sanitised-for-our-safety as “Let’s get it started”. I’m going to continue to think Paul Henry’s a dick, because he kind of is one. What I’m not going to do is taunt someone with an intellectual handicap with the word “retard” or laugh at their misfortune because the thing that I am most grateful for in life is my good mind.
LOOK OUT, WORLD! We’re dealing with a FREE SPIRIT here who will NOT BE DENIED her right to be a fucking insensitive douchebag of the highest order.
Christ, Moata. Just tattoo “I don’t know anybody with visible disability and I lack the capacity for basic empathy unless something personally affects me” on your forehead while you’re at it. They can take your original-edit Black Eyed Peas from your cold, dead hands, right? Because the word “retarded” is just so essential to the subtext of that song, it loses its meaning without it.
And oh good Lords and Ladies, that last sentence. Let’s see it again for the audience at home:
What I’m not going to do is taunt someone with an intellectual handicap with the word “retard” or laugh at their misfortune because the thing that I am most grateful for in life is my good mind.
So apparently, even though “retarded” is a totally appropriate word to use (jocularly!) to describe people who are “mentally deficient”, Moata … has reservations about using it to a person’s mentally-deficient face. I guess that’s back to not to everyone’s liking, or maybe it’s just taunting people with it. Context, tone, these things are all so important when you’re not just taking half a fucking neuron to not be an offensive wanker.
And remember, kiddies, Moata’s most important message: even though there are no bad connotations to a neurotypical person being called a “retard”, because it’s fucking jocular, we should still be mindful of the MISFORTUNES of people with intellectual disabilities. THOSE POOR FUCKING SOULS, DON’T WE JUST WEEP FOR THEM, THEY’RE LIKE PINOCCHIO ONLY RETARDS INSTEAD OF PUPPETS. Fucking misfortune, Moata? You’re going to play the “words only have the power you give them” AND the “it’s technically accurate” cards and then you are going to fucking pity people who have mental disabilities or illness.
Good thing you’ve got a “good mind”, Moata. That should make up for your complete lack of basic fucking soul.
*Personal gripe: OWN YOUR FUCKING AGE, WOMAN.
Too damn cold to get a good rage up, so some good posts by others:
Your boobs are someone else’s intellectual property at The Hand Mirror.
Tony Veitch police file released – because, you know, he just snapped and it was totally a one-off mistake and abuse isn’t escalating and long term and isn’t the Granny Herald glad now it ran that bullshit story about “ZOMG they’re charging Our Hero with throwing a glass of water, how TRIVIAL”?
Robbing public transport to pay for roads by Russel Norman over at frogblog. Because Steven Joyce is too stupid to understand that the reason Aucklanders poll in favour of public transport but still use cars is because current Auckland public transport is shit and maybe they’d use it if it got some actual investment oh no there I go being logical again.
And Eddie at The Standard basically sums up my feelings on “Punch in the face” dad guilty. Don’t even get me started on the idiot “commentator” on Sunrise this morning who, in response to Ella Henry’s comments about previous horsewhip/electric cord cases said obliviously, “But they got convicted, didn’t they?” NO YOU MORON, THAT’S WHY THE LAW HAD TO BE CHANGED, FUCKING HELL. I would lament that someone that uninformed is being paid to “comment” on issues of the day, but it’s probably part of some masterful Sunrise plan to plumb Henry-esque depths of stupid in an attempt to steal Breakfast viewers.
I don’t want to get into Paul Henry’s predictably obnoxious comments about Stephanie Mills of Greenpeace and her physical appearance. Gina has a [guest] post at The Hand Mirror about it, as does Tane at The Standard.
What I do want to point out, though, is how utterly oblivious some of the comments on that Standard post are (The Hand Mirror draws fewer Fungi from Yuggoth, but they’re there too).
If she knew she was going on TV, then why didn’t she shave first?
[Same commenter further down] Facial hair can be sorted out in about two seconds.
MIlls DOES have a moustache, it DOES look ridiculous, and of course all Henry did was read out emails.
And there’s bingo-triggering concern troll Madeleine:
I felt for the woman as having a problem like that is embarassing and having it all over TV is not nice but its like any personal problem that is visible, if you are about to go on TV you pop that pimple, you wipe that snot, you clean your face, you do your hair, you put on makeup and tidy clothes, you wax/shave your mo.
And I have just one very simple question:
Why the FUCK does Stephanie Mills owe you wankers a hair-free upper lip?
Oh, that’s right. She’s an independent, autonomous human being who can set her own priorities and make her own decisions and look however the fuck she wants to look. And especially when your fucking ilk are complaining over at THM that no one “has the right NOT to be offended”? It’s supreme fucking hypocrisy to simultaneously whine that you’ve been exposed to someone who clearly hasn’t had your specific aesthetic pleasure foremost in her mind.
I’m sorry to break it to you, guys, but societal beauty standards? Not actually laws. And while I’m sure you’re fucking thrilled that across the country hundreds of thousands of women are stressing the fuck out over invisible blemishes they’ve been assured are there by cosmetics ads, you know what? Some women don’t have the time, or the money, or the inclination (or they’re tweezing and curling and grooming according to their own damn aesthetics). And those women do not fucking owe you an existence without seeing a non-airbrushed human form.
Stephanie Mills can do whatever the fuck she likes with her appearance. At the end of the day, she’ll still be a fucktonne more dignified than you.
PS. GREENPEACE IS ONE FUCKING WORD YOU FUCKING IDIOTS.