Speaker by Various Artists

Judge Orders Quotation Marks for NZCPD

by David Haywood

NZPA-Reuters: A High Court judge in Wellington has ordered Dr Muriel Newman to place quotation marks around the word 'think' on any written material referring to the New Zealand Centre for Political Debate (NZCPD).

The NZCPD is a one-woman organization that was set up by Dr Newman -- a former member of parliament in the ACT party -- following her defeat in last year's general election. On the NZCPD letterhead and website, the organization is described as a "conservative think tank".

In a 72-page report, Judge Carl Crowley found strong objections to the word 'think' being used in reference to the NZCPD. He described it as a clear breach of the Fair Trading Act 1986. His most damning criticisms were directed at Dr Newman's claims that the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) is the cause of child abuse. Judge Crowley described this as: "one of the stupidest things I've ever heard -- and I say this as a man who was once stuck in a lift with John Banks". In his report, he writes that: "Dr Newman's crazed conspiracy theories remind me of the Aztec belief that the sun wouldn't rise unless a human sacrifice was offered up. She concocts a completely imaginary link between supposed cause and effect."

The judgement had originally required Dr Newman to replace the word 'think' with the word 'moron'. Dr Newman's lawyer suggested placing the word 'think' in quotation marks, in order to indicate that the word was being used in an ironic sense. Judge Crowley accepted that this would be a satisfactory and "more grammatical" compromise.

Sources close to Dr Newman report that she has been under considerable stress since losing her seat in the election, and having to find a real job. "She has well and truly flipped out," says an ACT member of parliament, who did not wish to be named. "If she doesn't end up in a psychiatric care within the next few months, then I'm not a 220-kg bald man from Rangiora."

The judgement has angered some commentators, such as National Party Spokesman for the Eradication of Political Correctness, Dr Wayne Mapp. "This judgement completely misses the whole point of the NZCPD," says Dr Mapp. "People call me stupid, but even I can see that Muriel isn't serious about the stuff on her website. The whole thing is just a brilliant piece of satire. Muriel should be hailed as one of New Zealand great comic geniuses -- not dragged through the legal system. In my opinion, the only thing that this court case proves is that our judiciary -- like all politically correct institutions -- has no sense of humour."

As a result of the court case, Dr Newman says she will be taking a break from the NZCPD to concentrate on her new self-help book for beneficiaries. "I'm calling the book 'Three Things You Can Do With Water'," says Dr Newman. "It's written specifically for solo mothers on the DPB, and gives detailed descriptions of how you can use water as a drink, or as a 'cleansing agent' to wash yourself, or your illegitimate children. Women on the DPB are very stupid and usually don't know how to use water. In fact, most of them have never even learned to recognize letters, colours, numbers, or shapes -- and quite a few of them hardly know how to speak."

When asked if the intended audience would be able to read her book -- given their alleged literacy problems -- Dr Newman replied: "Oh -- I hadn't thought of that."