Hard News by Russell Brown


A Taxonomy of Poo

David Haywood has kindly directed my attention to Clark Vader and the Helengrad Labour Lesbians, a paper submitted by Lewis Stoddart toward a graduate diploma in political science at Victoria University last year.

The paper does not aim to comprehensively examine the Helengrad phenomenon, although it notes what Stoddart believes to be the first use of some of its key terminology in blogs and comments, but to analyse it as it emerged via Radio Pacific's First Edition breakfast show under first John Banks and then Lindsay Perigo.

I am not qualified to assess its academic merit, but it has an appealing dry humour, and I can recommend the paper for the insight it provides into the intellectual descent of Lindsay Perigo. (And also, at some points, the acquiescence of various conservative politicians to what Stoddart characterises as the "anti-government communist lesbian dictator discourse.")

Everyone knows that Perigo used to be a good interviewer. I can further report that he used to be a good interview subject: I spoke to him at length two or three times in my 95bFM Wire show in the mid-1990s. The result was sufficiently satisfying that Perigo was moved to suggest that perhaps I could join his merry band of libertarian freedom fighters.

I'm not sure what such an interview would draw from Perigo's mind now. Indeed, I'm not sure that Perigo can now be said to have a mind, rather than a space from which various elements of his psyche throw poos at the world.

Perigo's (and to a lesser extent Banks') commentary is explicitly paranoid, not least in its characterisation of all other media, which are in general "craven cowards" and "somewhat to the left of Joseph Stalin"; and specifically "pommie commie" (Press gallery chair Vernon Small); "bastion of Islamofascism" (Morning Report); "racist TV" (Maori Television); "communist tabloid" (The Dominion Post) and "run by National’s biggest enemies" (The New Zealand Herald).

Which makes it all the more surprising that there is only one incidence of the word in the paper, which involves the government allegedly being paranoid. If the discourse isn't exactly expansive (indeed, it is as numbingly repetitive as any Soviet tract), perhaps it is, at least, consistent? Alas, no:

The communist lesbian dictator discourse, like hate discourses in general, was not particularly consistent. Although I have not analysed its inconsistencies in any detail, cracks in the edifice included anti-Islamic speech while criticising the government for being xenophobic toward Dubai [58]; objecting to government participation in markets in almost the same breath as decrying the ‘silent genocide’ of women from breast cancer because the government would not fund drugs [15]; and most egregiously the call for enforced sterilisation for some members of society while explicitly comparing the government to the Nazis, who implemented just such a programme. It was this last example which prompted Matt McCarten to turn the communist lesbian dictator discourse around upon its purveyors, saying with sarcasm, ‘put them into camps’.

Stoddart appends a "symbolic vocabulary" compiled from his monitoring of the show: over three columns and two and a half pages, it explores every reach of hyperbolic invective, from "anilingus" to "banning sex, except between women", "child molesters of the mind", "coven of left-wing witches", "man-hating lesbians", "parasitical ignoramuses", "snivelling, whining socialists", "stench", "stooge", "stranglehold", "strident", "turning hospitals into a gulag", and, finally, sadly, "youth taking over". It is a taxonomy of poo.

Perigo, inevitably, had a hissy fit and left the show (probably blaming his "enemies") and Banks, of course is the Mayor of Auckland. I'm probably less troubled than Stoddart by the feeble nonsense he found. It is, nonetheless, remarkable that it went to air for so long. And, indeed, that something so banal, inconsistent and needy should continue to flourish in the wild.


If you'd like something more grown-up, our Media7 panel -- National's Broadcasting Spokesman Jonathan Coleman, SPP CEO John Barnett and Paul Norris of the Broadcasting School in Christchurch -- discussed broadcasting policy this week. You can see it via TVNZ ondemand, some Windows Media clips, the podcast and just for a change, I've embedded the YouTube version (which contains everything but Newsmash, because people are nervous about copyright issues) on this site in OurTube.

Also, try and make time to read Gordon Campbell on the Immigration Bill (whose "real purpose" is to "is to protect the spies and the bureaucrats from the exposure of their mistakes - and to narrow the channels of justice available to the vulnerable"), and No Right Turn ("no-one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention, and the idea of being able to deport long-term residents, kiwis in every way bar the paperwork, is deeply abhorrent".)

Righto: I'll blog some music tomorrow, and announce the winners of the consumer-generated debate speech competition.

PS: I'm clearing a backlog of good stuff from Public Address Radio in the past two or three weeks. See here for interviews with film-makers Alister Baryy and Florian Habicht, and Science Media Centre founding manager Peter Griffin.

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