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Archive for 5 July 2021

All good things…

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In 2011, in between jobs and the Great Recession still biting our collective arses, I took to trying my hand at building on my letters-to-the-editor experience by taking up blogging. There were already a number of blogs about; Kiwiblog (on the Right); Tumeke (on the Left), Imperator Fish (another on the Left,with a big dollop of satire); No Right Turn (Left, featuring short and concise posts; et al. There was also one named after processed cetacean fat – but let’s not go there (for the moment).

It’s hard to state which was “better” than the other; they each had a unique style of presenting information, views, criticisms. But I quickly learned from each and my first blogpost appeared on 14 July 2011.

It was a supportive piece on the then-proposed Capital Gains Tax. Looking at it now, it was pretty ‘rough’.

My writing increased; improved the formatting; and – who knows – maybe even got better in the process. (Though I still have a problem with brevity…)

Three years later and I received an invitation- from out of the blue – from Martyn Bradbury, inviting me to join The Daily Blog as a regular contributor.

Needless to say, we in our household were stunned. My ego came close to growing to a Jupiter-sized gas giant. The smile on my face must’ve stayed with me even as I slept.

It was – and still is – an honour. I was to join the ranks of writers like Martyn, Leslie Bravery, Chris Trotter, Susan St John, Selwyn Manning, Christine Rose, John Minto, and many others to whom I’ll apologise later at length for omitting their names.

There was no shortage of issues to write about during the Key/English years. They were the political gift that kept giving. Indeed many of their legacies such as the housing crisis remain with us today. (Though John Key’s flag referendum was one we’ll never forget. And New Zealanders learned a new word for a fetish: trichophilia.)

Then covid hit us and my blogging, for a while, became a daily diary. Even as the country ground to a halt, I drove (near-)deserted roads in my job as a Community Worker. It was eerie and unsettling. But keeping busy, I was one of the lucky ones.

I still wonder what it would’ve been like had I been a non-essential worker, expected to stay home to ride out the silent microbial war. Did I have enough paint to do the entire exterior of my house?

But recently, things have taken an unexpected turn.

And this is why this will be my last post for The Daily Blog.

Most of us thought that the struggle of the LGBTQI+ community for equality and inclusion had been laid to rest in 1986 with the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. Though not gay, I was a staunch ally for gay men struggling not to be criminalised for simply fancying another bloke.

It was beyond my comprehension why anyone thought that other’s sexuality was their business. As I am happy to advise chauvinists, the only sexuality you can comment on is your own.

I wore my “HUG” badge with pride, even at work, almost daring my employer to order me to remove it. (He never did. Another ally?)

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I used my letter-writing experience and tackled the homophobes and religious conservatives (often one and the same) in newspapers and magazines. Especially the TV Guide, which, for some inexplicable reason, seemed to attract copious letters from homophobes.

Toward the end, I wrote to the TV  Guide stating that for every homophobic letter published in the editorial pages, I would donate $10 to a gay activist group. (Which I did, by the way.) And every couple of weeks, I’d send in my letter detailing how much I had donated during a certain period.

The homophobes didn’t like that.

My on-going support for the transgender community is an extension of my support for gay rights.

It is inconceivable for me to enjoy my rights; my inclusivity; my privileged existence in society knowing that a minority was still struggling. It is the same reason I support Maori in their struggles; workers in their struggles against Talleys, Ports of Auckland, et al.

As learn more, I believe my stand is right and shared by many others, also allies of trans people. Recently I have learned that two close friends of mine have children, one is transitioning f-t-m, the other is questioning their gender identity. The mothers of both do what mothers do; support and love their children.

Things have come to a head with TERF/GC, Rachel Stewart’s unfortunate ‘tweet’ where she mused/threatened to kill someone;

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It has been said that the threat was made in jest; a joke that people have taken the “wrong way”.

Trying to minimise the tweet as a “joke” is almost as bad as if it had been made in earnest.  As a society, we are supposed to be beyond making jokes about killing people. Or rape jokes. Or jokes about Maori, Pacifica, Muslims, Jewish people, etc.

The phrase – “Hey, lighten up, it was just a joke!” – no longer carries validity. And rightly so.

Remembering that we are only two years from the worst terrorist atrocity in modern New Zealand; considering that Ms Stewart actually had access to firearms – the person at the receiving end of her “joke” would not have been as dismissive as her supporters appear to be.

Those who are prepared to dismiss Ms Stewart’s comment as a “joke” and “not to be taken seriously” might reflect on Al Nisbet’s notorious cartoons in 2013;

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Neither cartoon threatened to kill or physically harm anyone. Yet, Martyn was moved to quite rightly condemn them in no uncertain terms;

“This disgustingly racist, despicable cartoon appeared in the Marlborough Express as a response to the feed the kids bill…

…the grinding poverty that destroys so many of the lives of the 270 000 children crushed by it is not a laughing matter, it is a deep shame this country of plenty should carry and this cartoon by the Marlborough Express manages to offend every sensibility.

For shame that such a racist cartoon can be published in 2013.

For shame that so many NZers seem to think it’s funny.”

Let’s be quite clear in one thing. If we can make a “joke” about humiliating someone and killing them, then we can make a “joke” about anything else; Maori, gays, lesbians, people with disabilities, people of colour, beneficiaries, etc, etc.

The list of minorities we can crack a joke at is pretty long. Time to dust off those old 1970s joke-books from the attic.

It also means other zealots and cranks can threaten people they don’t like – as long as it can be cloaked under the guise of “humour”.

Take Ms Stewart’s tweet for example. Reverse the genders. Read it back to yourself. Is it still a “joke”?

I find nothing funny in death threats, humorous or otherwise. I find nothing humorous about “jokes” that punch down, instead of up.

I have immense respect for Martyn and all he has achieved. I believe his support for his friend, Ms Stewart, is well-intentioned – but mis-guided in this case.

Ms Stewart made a colossal error of judgement with her comment. A true friend would’ve counselled her to look more deeply at her actions and accept her mistake.

We all make mistakes. (My teens and 20s were filled with them.) It’s what we do when a mistake is made that matters.

In trivialising this issue, we have given alt-right trolls, bigots, and other zealots a free pass. This is a low bar that Ms Stewart and Martyn have set, and they will be only too happy to step over it.  (BFD – the successor to “Whaleoil” – is also supporting Rachel Stewart’s “joke”. That Martyn has found himself aligned with something as odious as BFD  should be troubling in itself.)

For the transgender community and their LGBTQI brothers, sisters,non-binaries, this is yet more crap in their lives.

It is with deepest regret that I will no longer contribute to The Daily Blog. TDB has achieved much and can be a vehicle for considerable progressive good. But this is not the right way to go about it.

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References

“Frankly Speaking”: A Capital Gains Tax?

“The Daily Blog”: Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters…

“The Daily Blog”: Twitter Watch – and then they came for Rachel Stewart…

“The Daily Blog”: There is no place in NZ for this kind of disgusting fucking racism – for shame Marlborough Express, for shame!

Twitter: The Aunties – 6 July 2021

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This blogpost was submitted to The Daily Blog two days ago. As as this moment, it remains unpublished..

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