Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: On joining the international troll circuit

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  • mark taslov, in reply to Sacha,


    Patrick Crewdson’s klan facilitating dissemination of the ideology.

    I’d be embarrassed to be most news editors and producers right now.

    I’m embarrassed to be Pākehā right now – more than ever. As I read somewhere:

    "𝕳𝖊’𝖘 𝖆 𝖙𝖞𝖕𝖎𝖈𝖆𝖑 𝖕𝖗𝖔𝖉𝖚𝖈𝖊 𝖔𝖋 𝖍𝖎𝖘 𝖈𝖚𝖑𝖙𝖚𝖗𝖆𝖑 𝖓𝖎𝖈𝖍𝖊, 𝖓𝖔𝖙 𝖆 𝖗𝖆𝖈𝖎𝖘𝖙."


    White men don’t get to decide what racism is, white people don’t get to decide what racism is, they were so bad at judging it every time it happened, they were bad at judging it during slavery, they were bad at judging it during Jim Crow, white people don’t get to play this game, you don’t get to decide what the rules are here.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    remember that absolutely anyone can be nominated NZer of the year, even Don Brash

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to andin,

    You can teach morals all day long, getting people to live up to them is always going to be the hard part

    Yes, indeed, but I think living up to them becomes so much easier when you learn how to reflect on your actions based on understanding the various/different ethical frameworks that make up the body of knowledge on ethics - and the earlier in life we get this kind of knowledge, the better to my mind.

    I wouldn't envisage a NZ curriculum teaching morals _per se_, (i.e., the first-order set of beliefs or practices about how to live a good life) but rather I'd like to see the curriculum teach ethics, the second-order, conscious reflection on the adequacy of our moral beliefs (and hence our actions/decision-making). Thus the intention is not to deny anyone their own beliefs or practices, nor to try to instill certain morals (i.e., indoctrinate).

    Ethics (the philosophy of) provides the justification of our moral positions - and what I've found over time in teaching those basic ethical frameworks (I teach three fundamental ones), is that students begin to understand how others come to have different first-order beliefs and practices (i.e., why other would take a different action or view a problem/solution a different way), and hence students then question/reflect on their own personal morals/solutions/actions against those other ethical frameworks.

    As an anecdotal aside, I have this little exercise which has students pick/discover/get insight into their own ethical framework before such time as I teach them those three basic frameworks. It goes like this - pick one that is the <b>most</b> you:

    1. I never tell a lie because lying is always wrong.
    2. I would tell a lie if it was the best thing to do in the circumstances.
    3. I find it very hard to lie.

    It is by no means scientifically robust, but one has to start the learning/self discovery somewhere.

    I ran this little exercise at a dinner out with friends who had known one another for years and years (i.e., from primary school and they are now in their sixties). One of the guys picked 1. and another who had picked 2. spent a lot of time arguing with the guy who picked 1. that that premise could not be how he really thought/acted.

    It was such an interesting exchange between them - as knowing these two guys myself (but not for nearly as long as they had known one another), I would have picked them as indeed having very different ethical frameworks. No framework is morally right or morally wrong, or superior to another - they are just different ethical bases on which we develop beliefs and practices - and form opinions and take actions.

    That fact that person 2. couldn't accept person 1. had the 'frame' that he had declared for himself, was a perfect example to my mind of the obstacles we need to overcome in order to develop shared meaning. And the real positive/hopeful lesson for me was that these two people were and had been really good friends for years and years, despite their very different ways of looking at things.

    Apologies for the overly long response ... it's one of the hazards of teaching a topic one is so enthusiastic about.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to mark taslov,

    ehara koe i a ia!

    Thank you, lovely thought - beautiful language/meaning - and the same to you! I love this place because I learn so much.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I’ve often pondered the continual failure to include ethics & morality in our educational curricula.

    Um. Using the internet effectively to find answers to questions is also taught in schools these days.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    Not the same as collective brainstorming prompted by a suitable framing of issues, is it? Particularly when you factor in how a teacher can choose to use current controversies to demonstrate relevance (& raise the excitement level).

    I mean, really, you expect students to come to that list of philosophy topic questions and get engaged with it? On what basis? The retard who designed it didn't even think of linking those questions to typical answers (as in a multi-choice format). Duh!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    The Damaging depiction of disability

    History has been witness to how societies killed their differently abled population as they were seen as useless and a burden on society. The Nazi regime eliminated many differently abled people in concentration camps. In ancient Rome, people and even babies born with disabilities were killed, by stoning them to death. Today, many families leave their newborn babies in orphanages if they are born differently abled. There are many who feel ashamed and embarrassed about the existence of differently abled people in their families.

    Vocabulary matters in making or reducing a discourse. There’s a long way to go in how societies treat people with disabilities, and language is one of these important steps.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Paul Campbell,


    ...spontaneously hear the music, wanting to smash the state and tell the boss where to stick his lame arse job

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to mark taslov,

    Vocabulary matters

    And some of us have put quite a bit of effort into that - but without genuine political support and organising, it means very little. A decade of my life I won't get back.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • mark taslov, in reply to Sacha,

    A decade of my life I won’t get back.

    You certainly woke me up. To reiterate what Katharine said:

    I love this place because I learn so much.

    whakawhetai koe mo tou mahi!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I mean, really, you expect students to come to that list of philosophy topic questions and get engaged with it?

    It's the curriculum, not the course materials. For NCEA courses that have credits right through to level 3. You waxed lyrical that you'd often pondered why this doesn't exist. Ponder no more. It does, and has for quite some time. People are interested in these big questions, have been for thousands of years. Experienced teachers teach it using all of the techniques that professionals in education typically bring to classrooms.

    I imagine that it's a difficult subject to do more than scratch the surface of in a high school context, although this is true of almost every subject taught at high school.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to mark taslov,

    thank you

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    Well, that's reassuring. But I did ask a guy in his late twenties or early thirties recently when we got talking at a birthday party, did he get education in life skills at college? He said no, nothing at all. Maybe only some are doing it.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I wouldn’t call the study of ethics and morality “life skills” any more than any other general subject. But it’s a sweeping term anyway, means different things to different people. It’s not like I never used maths, english, knowledge of history, foreign languages, and understanding of healthy exercise ever, in my life.

    People often identify minor shortfalls in their education as major holes in the education system, without really appreciating just how much there is to learn and teach. We make excuses after the fact for things we did not make efforts with at the time, trying to blame teachers and the education system for not forcing the knowledge into our unwilling brains. This goes as much for any attempt to teach “life skills” as any subject. From memory, when I was in high school (the 80s) I took 6 subjects in 5th form and was super stoked to avoid a course that was ostensibly “life skills”, which those doing only 5 were required to do, many of whom considered it a waste of time. Calls for “more practical” education are pretty much as old as education itself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    I probably ought to have explained more. It was a conversation about politics, democracy & the players in the game. Ethics & morality are often the subtext that drives behavioural responses to moves in the game & emerging societal issues that provide new moves in the game.

    I suspect the life skills course you avoided was poorly designed. Any teaching ought to interest kids, not bore them. In terms of career advice, why not have a syllabus that gives students basic info on how govt & business work? The ethics that motivate participation in democracy, the left/right frame with history and exploration of morality that it invokes and applies to participants. Civil rights.

    I just thought it was real dumb not to get citizenship training as a college student in the sixties & see no evidence that younger generations are being briefed adequately. Hence the shambles and distortion we're getting around something as elementary as free speech and the ethics & morality involved with that.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    We make excuses after the fact for things we did not make efforts with at the time, trying to blame teachers and the education system for not forcing the knowledge into our unwilling brains. This goes as much for any attempt to teach “life skills” as any subject. From memory, when I was in high school (the 80s)...

    In the late 80s there was a follow-up program for those diagnosed with cognitive disabilities who'd left school the year before. Former "special class" kids spent two weeks at Carrington Tech learning how to decipher supermarket specials, operate a bank account, and maybe plan towards getting a driver's license.

    A touch of campus life called for a wardrobe upgrade, so it was off to The Warehouse, where the prize score was a sweatshirt proudly emblazoned with UNIVERSITY OF PARIS, SORBONNE. And why the hell not? It's all tertiary education, after all.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I think you'll find the syllabus has changed a lot since the 60s. But my point was that young people are still young, can only learn so much in the time given, have to choose between competing studies, and I personally think they do an amazing job of it. I was recently a returning student at University and I have to say that I came away very much reassured that the world is heading into safer hands. They are woke like we only dreamed of, and our excuse that we didn't have the learning resources they do is fair enough for why we weren't as switched on as they are, but it's not an ongoing excuse for failing to keep up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    And why the hell not? It’s all tertiary education, after all.

    Oh to be a Letterman...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • andin,

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Moz, in reply to Ian Dalziel,


    If you graduate from Darwin University is that a pass or a fail?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • mark taslov,


    Perhaps we could throw it in the hat

    I see Dr Bryce Edwards has penned a piece for Newsroom which largely pulls the same neo-colonial stops already covered in this thread i.e. misrepresentation of terms like “banned”, “free speech” etc.

    There’s some interesting elements to this, none less so than the fact that an article ostensibly written about issues related to S&M and Dr Brash only makes reference to Māori – once, in an individual capacity, and without the macron – this likewise occurred in the earlier ’pro’ publication.

    This colourblind erasure of Māori concerns is an overriding theme for the piece as he speaks of clampdowns on political freedoms:

    Of course, historically, it’s been the political left and marginalised groups that have suffered the most from clampdowns on political freedoms. Socialists, unionists, and other groups fighting for liberation and equality have had their speech suppressed by the state or the media.

    With no acknowledgement whatsoever of the greatest suppression of free speech Aotearoa (across the political spectrum) has had to overcome:

    The Māori language was suppressed in schools, either formally or informally, to ensure that Māori youngsters assimilated with the wider community. Some older Māori still recall being punished for speaking their language. In the mid-1980s Sir James Henare recalled being sent into the bush to cut a piece of pirita (supplejack vine) with which he was struck for speaking te reo in the school grounds. One teacher told him that ‘if you want to earn your bread and butter you must speak English.’

    In light of the cancellation of Hone Harawira, there is rather a sense of putting the cart before the horse in the way he formulates his points:

    Those calling for restrictions seem to forget that they won’t always be in power, and the climate of suppression they create encourages an opponent to use the same tactics against you.

    What struck me most about the piece is how tone-deaf it feels when analysed in contemporary context. As Dr Edwards throws around his strawman, vaguely along the lines of: "the left who supported Thomas’s decision to cancel a talk by Dr Brash in a heated political climate are vying for free speech to be widely suppressed" he seems unwilling or unable to contend with the advent of the internet and digital communication.

    As he types:

    Whether it’s the civil rights movement in the US, gay rights movements everywhere, or the anti-Springbok Tour movement in 1981, they’ve all been helped by the ability to organise freely and speak freely.

    He comes across as awkwardly misrepresentive of the way political organisation has evolved since the 50s

    This was most obvious during the 1951 watersiders lockout, when it was illegal to distribute pro-union pamphlets.

    Disregarding key issues such as the fact that the state lacks teeth to suppress speech in the 21st century – yes violations can be prosecuted but that in itself is insufficient to keep the cat in the bag, this has been common knowledge for years (I was able to access this musician’s name within about 5 minutes from an offshore site) – obfuscates the way the state has evolved to thwart free organisation of political activism; i.e. not by suppressing speech but by eaves-dropping on communications etc.

    The temptation for the left to support the state, or even businesses, in suppressing the activities of right wing or reactionary activists or speakers, on the basis of their awful politics should be avoided, if for no other reason than it is likely to produce a climate or rules in which the left and marginalised groups are further marginalised.

    In writing this paragraph my sense was that there is a failure to fully account for the way in which marginalised groups are already "further marginalised", which brings into question what “free speech” means in this catatonic context.

    Dr Edwards first came to my attention on Twitter when I noticed he’d faved a transphobic joke by Damian Grant about “__bruce__ Jenner” winning woman of the year (subsequently deleted). I’ve observed him platforming anti-trans activists with an uncomfortable regularity – (he originally RTd this innocuous tweet – later tweeting under his own name), the point being that he’s not precious about not boosting the profile of anti-trans voices to his 11.6k audience – to the extent that he’s comfortable endorsing the kinds of "I identify as an attack helicopter" type tweets which marginalise and harm trans people – particularly youth.

    Sure folks like this always have a pro-trans tweet on the ledger – in case pressed – the “some of my best friends are…” for the digital age. Folks like this are everywhere and minority concerns around marginalisation are largely erm marginalised – so it’s of no great concern to most people let alone well-regarded, well-funded, well-platformed servants of the hegemony. As they attempt to minimise Dr Brash’s campaign against the public use of Te Reo to being part of a dispute on "property rights", as they lighten the tone with jokey asides about gender and sexual minorities "burning up the letters of the alphabet"

    Which I’ll just assume is hilarious when you’re not in the firing line.

    Dr Edwards knows he can broadcast as many transphobic jokes as he likes with absolute impunity. I presume that my understanding of what free speech should be is far removed from someone who uses their platforms to amplify the mocking and marginalisation of minorities. That this power imbalance is not accounted for in his analysis highlights the limitations he faces in attempting to present issues of this nature beyond the scope of his own bias and erasive framing. Yes minorities may point out the erasure in his reporting but without the visibility and platform, information is suppressed.

    So on the one hand, while he makes compelling arguments for his audience – he largely falls into the type of trap outlined by Cornel West in his recent bFM interview of not being accountable for his free speech, assuming – as far as I can ascertain – that everyone else enjoys the same well-platformed privileges and/or is equally comfortable antagonising minorities.

    accountability takes a lot of different forms, there’s legal accountability, there’s political accountability, there’s intellectual accountability and that’s what democracy is about, it’s the accountability, especially the powerful using arbitrary power to dominate, express and exploit and degrade everyday people, working people, poor people; women, black folk, brown folk, indigenous people, gay and lesbians, trans and so forth


    Circling back to what’s already been discussed in this thread one point which remains evident to me at least is that regardless of how much civics, ethics etc one is exposed to, without an awareness and preparedness to address our history, then it remains largely academic.

    Dr Brash doesn’t thrive on our lack of ethic and civic responsibility as much as he thrives on our lack of understanding of our own history. Māori history is largely ignored say our top historians, New Zealand Land Wars should be taught in high school, says Waikato history teacher, it’s *that* bad that I learned considerably more about Te Tiriti o Waitangi from this Fairfax(who now uses macrons) series than i learnt right the way through the NZ education system to tertiary level.

    Furthermore on the note of education, beyond left-right framing, the distance ably highlighted in this thread between various academics is huge – while one lecturer might be enviably competent in providing a nuanced and wider historical context another might brush cultural and political context aside entirely, as Dr Edwards is doing.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    Incidentally it's Day of Silence.

    “Discrimination towards rainbow communities is still hugely prevalent in Aotearoa and more needs to be done to address it. The Day of Silence campaign is about raising awareness and asking New Zealanders to consider what part they play in ending homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in our country.”

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    And finally (apologies for the multi-posts), as more well-platformed journalists and the like step up to nail their colours to the mast in spite of the above and other material conditions, Moana Jackson has done a wonderful job of weaving these many threads of the kaitaka huaki together, expressing so much in this beautiful piece Rethinking free speech:

    Any freedom should enhance the mana of the individual and the collective rather than diminish it

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to mark taslov,

    Thanks Mark – lots to ponder on this.
    I find myself broadly agreeing about the distinction between ‘de-platforming’ and denying free speech. Especially when people go on all sorts of media whining freely about this, as if a radio programme or a rally venue were theirs as of right. Hey, most of us never get close to having such a platform.
    But … there has to be a point where the distinction disappears. If we stopped (in the old days!) a group from meeting anywhere or banned their publications – that would surely qualify as restricting their speech. Without getting onto a slippery slope, I’m not sure exactly where the line is drawn – or quite how it should be.
    Especially in today’s internetofeverything. Which we need to talk about, because it seems to have changed both freedom (you can pretty much say anything, at least in the right forum …) and speech (sadly, people do say just about anything. It’s fascinating to watch the 1080 “debate” – intensely polarising, and exchanges can very quickly turn to slanging matches.)
    Watching Goff denying the canadians the use of council facilities, I was struck by the resonance with some of the things Josh at TPM has been saying about how private companies (notably facebook) have taken over the ‘public square’ – the place where issues are talked and argued – and how they impose their own ‘regulations’ on speech. (Cant’ seem to google the latest – but he’s had a lot of insight into google and facebook’s influence on publishing generally.)
    While to some degree facebook’s ‘mores’ are designed by the public (unwittingly, maybe, by how we click) for the comfort of the public, they are essentially unrelated to any principles of freedom of speech, and highly related to algorithms of profitability and advertiser preference. Our angry outbursts and public posturings are (it seems weird to even say it) being sold to advertisers. (Or putting a different spin on it, advertisers are paying for the space we conduct our public debates.)
    Where Goff has to face the public; facebook is accountable mostly to accountants.
    At any event, some of our fundamental ideas about freedom of speech may need overhauling. Hard to do while we’re all shouting at each other.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to mark taslov,

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

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