Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No room for racism but plenty for Rodney

First of all, I'll admit that Your Views hasn't had my full attention lately. So it came as a surprise to me when I browsed the topic "Can Rodney survive this perks scandal?" (which was originally posed as "Are Rodney Hide's travel expenses justified?") and found that I had missed the creation and subsequent closure of a thread concerned with Maori Party MP Hone Harawira's own "perks scandal" and supposedly "racist" comments made in an email to former Waitangi Tribunal director Buddy Mikaere. I'm not sure how long the thread was up, or what the question posed by Your Views was - the only trace of the thread's existence appears in a statement on the naughty Rodney thread:

"The other debate about Hone has now been closed because, regrettably, it degenerated into a racist rant instead of a constructive debate."

This statement reflects that the Your Views editorial team believe that the section encourages users to engage and debate in a constructive fashion, and that in this case, the thread was taken down because it was not representing this kind of engagement. Also, by claiming to remove the thread due to its "degenerat[ion] into a racist rant", they make it seem like they actively seek to stamp out any traces of racism in Your Views. Yeah right!

Argh, I took my eye off the ball for a couple of days, something really interesting happened in Your Views and I missed the lead-up! Ah well, there's still been plenty of intriguing responses to the "Has Rodney really done it this time?" question:

Kingi (Auckland)
Hide is married and not divorced. Taking his girlfriend overseas at taxpayers expense is wrong.

I don't mind politicians spending money frivolously, but by god, could they do it whilst upholding the principles of marriage?

katie k (Auckland)
Rodney doesn't deserve praise for his apology, the only thing he deserves is a good clip around the ears. He is two faced the only thing he is sorry for is that he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar

Strewth, that cheeky chappie Rodney deserves more than just a slap on the hand with a wet bus ticket, we all bust a gut to put food on the table and his actions just take the piss.

This week Your Views also raised the question "Should TVNZ have axed Dancing with the Stars?"; another addition to its list of crucial politically-engaged topics. And as if a whole thread about Rodney wasn't enough to satisfy the Hide-haters of this world, a couple also used this thread to bag the ACT leader, who appeared on the show a few years back:

Pigs snout out (Churton Park)
Yep makes people like Rodney popular. Unless they bring Rodney back and drop him on his head. I'd donate to see that.

Wouldn't we all...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is the humble hooded sweatshirt responsible for NZ's serious crime problem?

Your Views often posits questions related to the findings of one study or another reported on by the Herald, taking advantage of the controversy that certain types of research can incite. “Is it best for fathers to stay away from the delivery room?” made for an amusing debate; with the suggestion of a French obstetrician that a father's presence at their baby's birth could be potentially harmful causing the users of Your Views to react with anger, confusion and as always, hilarity:

Retox (Forrest Hill)
Woman = hospital
Man = Pub
What happened to tradition? I say return to the good ol days. Call me a pig but hey, tradition is a great thing.

Other such research findings-based Your Views threads include “Are you thinking about becoming a vegetarian?” (yes, you guessed it, full of meatheads triumphing meat) and “Does eating too many sweets make kids violent?” (some saying yes, sweets are the partner in crime to the evil media, and some crying out “PC nanny state don’t try and tell me what I can feed my flippin’ kids!”)...

But this morning, waiting with bated breath at the potential dawning of a new Your Views topic, came the question: “Is crime a serious problem in NZ? Is it bad where you live?”, based on findings from a Victoria University study which found that a large number of the participants surveyed felt that crime was an issue in other areas, not their own. What a question! Especially the second half of it, which invites the moaners and groaners of the world to take centre stage...

Rahmat Ali (Manukau Central)
Yes -crime is a serious problem in NZ. Three cars broken into recently- One car door glass broken- after a month another car 3 door glasses broken- After a week another car door lock broken . Police took the complaint, but we have had nothing from them so far- Only report was sent to claim insurance.

I like it how Rahmat considers both questions, but answers the first question, a sociologically complex one at that, directly and succinctly in order to get it out of the way and detail his own experiences. Some of the responses resemble letters to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Mercy (Mt Wellington)
It was a very violent country before the new people started to arrive in 1810 or so. It is a lot less violent now, lets celebrate that and don't expect that New Zealand will ever be like a northern European country with an homongenous culture, they don't even have that distinction any more. The law works even if its slow and the prisons are full. At least the criminals are off the streets for a while.

An opinion that is both misinformed and racist! Top marks Mercy.

Indie Gooch (Newton)
This is a nation founded on the wholesale theft of land by threat of genocide - why would anyone be surprised that crime is a part of NZ's culture?

That’s more like it. I’d love to see Indie Gooch and Mercy battle it out in a game of New Zealand-themed Trivial Pursuit.

Jona (Katikati)
Yes crime is a big problem. I live in the country and avoid the pitfalls of urban crime, where the 'pond-life' walk around and commit opportunistic theft and vandalism. However there is still a lot of rural thieving in my area, but at least I am spared the 'hoodied up scum' sloping past and eyeballing my property advertising their intentions, as I recall from living in Whakatane. They are so obvious to watch, they can keep their heads straight ahead, but the eyes are swiveled hard to one side of the head. Another giveaway is they walk up and down past the property several times. And what's with the hoodie on in summer? A disguise? You can't disguise their knuckles dragging on the ground!

Wearing a hoodie in summer – that’s the real crime. You can’t disguise fashion crimes!

But seriously, Your Views, if you wanted to construct the perfect set of questions to incite enough rage amongst users to mobilise them to form vigilante crime-fighting communities, then you might just be on the money with this one.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I want Your Views to be better. Do you?

It is not often that the users of Your Views critique the way the section is managed, the design of the questions or the quality of journalism in the related story. So when they do, their posts stand out and help to soften the blow of reading comment after comment full of gripes, groans and gullible geezers.

This very morning Your Views nominated the topic “How has National performed in its first year in office?”. Most of the users commenting feel adequately qualified to evaluate the National Party’s performance in government; being a taxpaying, true blue New Zealander is enough judging entitlement for a lot of these jokers.

However, Peaches points out that the Herald could have provided a few more hard facts in its related story before opening up the field for comments:

Peaches (Wellington City)
Could the NZ Herald please provide a bar graph showing the statistics of our debt levels and productivity levels compared to when National got into power. Also a policy general change list.
From here, I can comment.

As all of the topics or questions nominated in Your Views are linked to a related article or articles, a number of users come to the section after reading the Herald’s coverage of the issue. In saying that, news doesn’t exist in a vacuum, especially online news, so the users of Your Views might well shop around before depositing their opinions. But Peaches’ comment highlights one of the central problems with Your Views: that users are encouraged to respond to topics or questions which are closely linked to how the Herald has chosen to cover the issue concerned. Peaches seems to be critiquing the Herald and Your Views for not presenting factual information but instead privileging opinion.

In terms of criticising the Herald’s reporting and framing of opinion, Julian goes further than Peaches by suggesting the related article suspiciously paints National in a good light:

Julian (Vogeltown, Wellington City)
Did you get the Nats' press secretary to write your article?

The Herald received even more criticism of the quality of its journalism in the Your Views thread “Chris Rattue wants Wales to beat the All Blacks. Do you?”. Now usually I find the threads relating to sport in Your Views a wee bit dry (except when they intersect with something juicy like politics), but this one is off the chain. One of the Herald’s own sports columnists, Chris Rattue, wants the Welsh rugby team to beat the All Blacks, the beloved bastion of all things Kiwi, in order to give the ABs coaching panel a “giant kick up the behind”. What a disgrace!

William R (Piopio)
You are a p**** Rattue, your journalism style is absolute rubbish with your constant sarcasism (it is the lowest form of wit you know). You obviousley have a personal vendetta against Graham Henry and still cannot get over 2007. Grow up. The All Blacks will dominate Wales like they have for the last 40 years and 99.9% of New Zealand will be right behind them. Then hopefully the NZ Herald will finally see the light and get rid of you.

Dales (Sandringham)
Rattue has got to be worst sports journalist on earth. Can someone please sack him. Thanks.

There were many calls for the Herald to sack Rattue. This guy even promises to stage a boycott:

Ryan Pollock (Waitakere City)
I boycott the herald and Chris Rattue

Steady on Ryan, next thing you’ll be fronting up $450,000 for a protest march up Queen Street in the name of democracy.

mick (Kingsland)
The silly thing is, us responding to Rattue's article is exactly what nzherald would want. They want to stimulate conversation, no matter how controversal.

Yo Mick, I really like your point and I'mma let you finish, but you forgot the 'i' in controversial.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DonKey needs to keep Rhort-ney Hide's snout out of the trough

Rodney Hide is being labelled a hypocrite after having his girlfriend accompany him on an overseas tour, all paid for by the Great New Zealand Taxpayer. A number of responses to the Your Views question "Are Rodney Hide's travel expenses justified?" have reacted with shock and disbelief at the suggestion that Rodney has managed to score himself a lady friend. However, overall this thread reflects one thing that Your Views users can always be counted on to do: continually reference politicians or other public figures not by their real names but by some kind of incredibly witty and cutting nickname. Oh and the heavy circulation of the same cynical phrases over and over again (PC gone mad being the most favoured). Okay so this phenomenon is by no means limited to the space of Your Views, as the public, journalists and politicians have been thinking up nasty names to call each other since the year dot. As Matt Southall from spEak You're bRanes notes, speaking about the BBC's Have Your Say section

"Nobody ever writes "New Labour" or "Gordon Brown". These petty internet gnomes proudly write "Nu LiarBore", "Gordon CLOWN" or something similarly inventive and hilarious. You can almost see their smiles of satisfaction as they type it. Funny and subversive. Brilliant."

Hiawatha (Auckland Central)
Rhort-ney Hide, you deserve to be fired. What a sad hypocrite you are.

I'm sure Hiawatha is pleased with her shot at Rodney Hide. Yeah, make a funny word play on his name, that'll learn him! As we saw in a previous post about John Key's American adventure, to hilariously refer to John Key you say 'DonKey', for Helen Clark it's 'Auntie Helen' or 'Head Girl Helen'.

Certain phrases get circulated again and again, each time getting more and more frustrating to read and yet, gathering more momentum as they go...

wellwisher (Penrose)
Just another pig at the trough.

Shane (Grey Lynn)
Rodney Hide should first pay back his partners expenses then he should resign. He has no creditabilty and is just another pig with his face in the trough.

Huia Gold Coast (Queensland)
Hide is a pompous hypocrite who has shown that he is just another right wing reptile with his snout in the trough?
Yes, yes, we get it. Politicians are pigs with snouts or faces in the trough. Very creative! 10 out of 10 for all of you.

Margot Campbell (Napier)
The lefties will jump all over this. Rodney is the only one with steel balls in our parliament. Good that he brings a girl rather than a boy.
Don't look for the splinter on some someone else. Look for the log on yourself.

And if you weren't outraged by that, here's some more Margot for ya! From the thread "Would you trade your regular breaks for time off later?":

Margot Campbell (Napier)
Who cares about this? The only people who take 'smoko' are the bottom of th bell curve who put lids on yoghurt. They vote red anyway.

The more I read Your Views, the more Margot Campbell's posts stick out and the more convinced I am that she must be a fake whose posts are designed to piss off the "PC brigade". She is also the bright spark who inspired the 'Ratbags suckling at the public teat' label in the tag cloud. Interesting that the moderation lets through some appalling homophobic remarks too, especially as they promise to weed out any posts that could be "considered discriminatory on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual preference, nationality, age, disability, etc." Letting Margot's post go through just adds more weight to my theory that she is part of a Your Views forum conspiracy, dreamed up to incite maximum levels of offense and controversy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How bizarre, how bizarre

New Zealanders love a good protest march. Out on the streets, banner in hand, chanting this, that and the other. Alright - so maybe we don't all get out and march, but we all enjoy a wee nostalgia trip down Memory Lane. But now the 87.6% of New Zealanders who voted in the smacking referendum are being called on to show their anger and frustration at the total disregard for democracy in this country. Some businessman is fronting up $450,000 for the march, which is a lot of money to spend on banners and refreshments for the troops. I bet around half of that covers Simon Barnett's appearance fee.

But anyway, it's about democracy! The people want to be heard! They want action! They want to be able to smack their kids if they damn well want to! But will the users of Your Views march? Will you march to support action on the smacking referendum?

Yelspal (Epsom)
Does anybody else see irony in the half-wits announcing a march for the right to beat children on the same day some of Nia Glassie's murderers launch an appeal against their sentences?

Yes, I see the irony. But ouch, comparing child murderers with middle New Zealand? Dodgy territory...

Bonny Le Grice (Papatoetoe)
How bizarre that people want to march for the right to hit other people.

Followed by...

JC (Avonhead)
How bizzare that some people living in a so-called democratic country advocate not listening to the voice of 87% of the population.

(How bizarre, how bizarre! Another nostalgic reminisce!)
Technically JC, it wasn't the 'voice' of 87% of the population. Only 1,682,717 votes were cast, so it's actually only 87.6% of that. Estimates of NZ's current population lie around 4,315,800. You do the math!

Doc (Riccarton)
Wish I was there to march on two counts. To protest against politicians interfering in my family's business and also for ignoring the very substantial vote.
Blathering on about petition wording is a red herring. People knew full well what they were voting on. Don't insult us.
As for the stupid comment about smacking being violence - its crappy thinking like that that creates little monsters who have no respect, no manners, no idea of right and wrong and that do not understand that bad behaviour has consequences for themeslves and others. Smacking leads to better citizens and less violence.

Gosh, how could anyone confuse smacking and violence? They're clearly two different things. Doc has outlined it explicitly for us. Smack your kids and they'll be better for it. Harden up New Zealand!

But in all seriousness, anyone want to organise a counter-march? We don't need $450,000, my Mum's got a couple of tins of red paint and we'll just need to get hold of some old bedsheets.