Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Honours

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  • Matthew Poole,

    Yes, awards went to senior desk-jockeys rather than those who actually got injured fighting the coolstore fire.

    This has been a bit of a contentious issue on a volunteer fire fighter mailing list I'm on. The matter of the Queen's Service Medal being for, well, service has been pointed out. The contribution of two of the recipients to the welfare of the injured, in terms of long-term actions, is being recognised, but for the other three it very much looks like getting a medal for doing their job - taking command at a major incident and getting it done. That's what they're paid not-inconsiderable sums of money for, having spend decades working and training to reach those positions. They may well have earned a QSM for their service to the Fire Service, but that's not the same as what they did at Tamahere.

    Graeme's observation about gallantry awards is well-made. The actions of the fire fighters who pulled their injured colleagues from the debris and carried out CPR, sent the priority message to advise of the explosion, and coordinated the emergent response by locals are not service in the sense that a QSM is given. Rather they are the acts of people in the immediate aftermath of a devastating event, and that is the stuff of awards for bravery. Similarly many of those who ran over from the fair and, at risk to their lives, offered aid. If none of those involved in the first minutes after the explosion are honoured, that is a true travesty.

    there are plenty of firefighters, police officers, medical professionals etc. who get injured in the course of their duties who don't get QSMs.

    No, but those involved in deadly incidents where their own lives are placed at risk while preserving the lives of others tend to be recognised. Tamahere was extraordinary, and it is the extraordinary for which bravery awards are given.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Point of information Samuel: those "folk instruments" appear to be part of a musical automaton controlled like a player piano.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    You might be able to hear Harawera's radio station from there, Steve.

    Nah, but I can hear crickets and bees and later I will have to put up with those bloody moreporks and kiwis. Still, better than Harry Harawera or wotever his name is.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    a musical automaton

    Hence Jackson's interest? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    while the other ran a successful billion dollar corporation that profited from people's propensity to drink large quantities of alcohol.

    While like Russell, I'm pretty dubious about Myer's knighthood, I can't buy it as some sort of 'like tobacco', sold alcohol, poisoned our future type angle.

    Tobacco companies knew they were killing millions and people and lied about it to make profit. I don't think there's any great debate about what alcohol does/doesn't do, which the alcohol companies knew the answers to but hid from us. Our modern history of alcohol use and abuse has all been state sanctioned and relatively transparent.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Nah, but I can hear crickets and bees

    I guess those Fern Flat workers in clay must be having a holiday break then.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Our modern history of alcohol use and abuse has all been state sanctioned and relatively transparent.

    It's certainly transparent in the sense that our hopefully 'brightest young stars' can be seen stumbling down drunk into St John's ambulances all over the country during New Year's Eve celebrations. And the scary stat that the majority of heavily intoxicated youth at R&V were young women. Earlier in this blog (or was it elsewhere?) it was mentioned about the ALAC Lisa ad. Are we in a society where the victim is held solely responsible for their actions? That's a bit libertarian for my liking. Surely the Alco-pop industry, their clever marketing strategies, and lobbyists, like Myers, for lowering the drinking age, have some responsibility for it all.

    Personally I think if we all stand back and watch, and that includes the government, we are in some way either condoning, or complicit, in the inevitable outcomes of excessive drinking. And just so it's clear, throwing drunken people in prison for ignoring a liquor ban is not going to fix it.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Personally I think if we all stand back and watch, and that includes the government, we are in some way either condoning, or complicit, in the inevitable outcomes of excessive drinking. And just so it's clear, throwing drunken people in prison for ignoring a liquor ban is not going to fix it.

    Exactly.

    And between that and the fact that alcohol fuelled consequences are very expensive to clean up, it seems a travesty to lump an honour for someone like Doug Myers with an honour for someone who actually deserves it, like for public service - in just about any field - but not for making money at the expense of public health and with clean up put on the public's tab.

    Cost of Alcohol

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Are we in a society where the victim is held solely responsible for their actions?

    In the case of the Lisa ad, the victim was held responsible for *someone else's* actions. (No, I'm totally not still incredibly bitter and ranty about that ad, why do you ask?)

    ETA: Also, I'm quite interested in the ongoing reporting of this 'OMG drunken laydeez' story. I'm sure there were indeed more drunk women out there on NYE, but I have a sensitive wee ear out for the beginnings of a gendered moral panic...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Danielle, if by moral you mean a responsibility to other people in society not to squander precious resources on binge drinking, then yes, moral. And yes, women are much more expensive to clean up after in terms of binge drinking, as they are smaller, metabolise alcohol less well and, well, cost more to clean up after.

    These same women want medical treatment, once they have screwed up their health, but again we are faced with a moral question when we decide who gets resources and who doesn't. Not all resources are purchasable. There are only so many livers available.

    Alcoholics are receiving one in four of all liver transplants in the UK.

    According to The Daily Mirror, the number of transplants being awarded to alcoholics has risen by 60% in the last 10 years

    And the demand may be up 60% over all, but it's up 90% in the last decade for binge drinking induced liver failure in women. Yes, there is a moral element to this. Is it just to deny these women liver transplants? Is it just morally right that they get liver transplants and people who have other liver diseases become much, much, less likely to get them? No budget increase will solve this one. Some moral responsibility has to be put somewhere, though there are whole branches of ethics in philosophy devoted to deciding that exactly.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    but I have a sensitive wee ear out for the beginnings of a gendered moral panic...

    Quite right, too. That can lead to comments like 'they should have known better', and other such helpful genderalisations.

    Some moral responsibility has to be put somewhere, though there are whole branches of ethics in philosophy devoted to deciding that exactly.

    PS. Damn, too quick. How do I agree with both of you, and still be credible?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    And the scary stat that the majority of heavily intoxicated youth at R&V were young women.

    You think thats scary, you want to see what a bunch of heavily drunken men looks like:)

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    That can lead to comments like 'they should have known better', and other such helpful genderalisations.

    Which raises the question: Why didn't they know better? young people sometimes die of alcohol poisoning.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    You think that's scary, you want to see what a bunch of heavily drunken men looks like:)

    Seen it. Suppose that might be part of Danielle's point. The fact that this is 'old news' makes as less shocked by it, but in fact it is no less shocking.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    if by moral you mean a responsibility to other people in society not to squander precious resources on binge drinking, then yes, moral

    Yeah, I'm sure you're right about all that, but I'm not talking about the actual costs of female drinking to the health system. I'm using the term 'moral panic' to describe the ways in which this story might continue to be reported in various media. Like I said, we're only at the beginning of the discussion and it might all peter out, but I have this condition called Extra-Sensitive Ear...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Moral panics are in essence controversies that involve arguments and social tension and in which disagreement is difficult because the matter at its center is taboo.

    This is the bit that really gets on my tits...

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • pollywog,

    You think thats scary, you want to see what a bunch of heavily drunken men looks like:)

    but at least for women, a quick trip to the bathroom and a subtle application of 'thin lizzy' means they can once again get amongst it with little or no sideways glances...

    ...i got so horribly pissed one time i had to take out the louvres in the toilet window, climb out and stagger home rather than face the judging crowd

    somewhere else • Since Dec 2009 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    And the scary stat that the majority of heavily intoxicated youth at R&V were young women.

    Actually, while that was clearly the inference being drawn, it wasn't actually the stat. The stat was that women heavily outnumbered men in the detox tents.

    The missing piece of information in between those two statements is are heavily intoxicated women more likely to be taken to the detox tents (as opposed to laughed at by their friends and left in a paddock) than men are?

    And Danielle, I don't think you're being over-sensitive. They actually had a guy there saying, and I admit I'm paraphrasing for angry, "Remember the good old days when drunk women were seen as sad and desperate?" Yes, because nice women were at home, taking care of the drunk men's children.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Like I said, we're only at the beginning of the discussion and it might all peter out, but I have this condition called Extra-Sensitive Ear...

    I heard that too. Does that mean I have Girl's Ears?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Danielle, if by moral you mean a responsibility to other people in society not to squander precious resources on binge drinking, then yes, moral.

    Woah, Dyan. Would you deliver the same sermon to, say, HIV victims? They cost heaps. Fact is, people don't always make good choices.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • pollywog,

    because nice women were at home, taking care of the drunk men's children.

    which begs the question ? who's looking after the drunk peoples kids now ?

    ...reminds me of the joke about the social worker who comes across little jimmy sitting in the gutter quaffing a bottle of jim beam and saying "you're too young to be drinking and shouldn't you be in school ?"

    to which jimmy replies"nah fuck off, i'm only four"

    ...i dont think it'd have quite the same imapct if it were young jenny sitting in the gutter but times thay are a changin'

    somewhere else • Since Dec 2009 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    but at least for women, a quick trip to the bathroom and a subtle application of 'thin lizzy' means they can once again get amongst it with little or no sideways glances...

    Like that charming young man who did the 'thin lizzy' for the cameras at Camp Matai on the news, a safe haven for binge drinkers, where the 'Camp Mother' promised to look after the little urchins and make everything turn out swimmingly.

    Fact is, people don't always make good choices.

    No they don't. But lets think about the 'It's not Ok!' campaign and the anti-smacking legislation. Do we agree that they had a positive impact? Sometimes people do actually have to be told, quiet loudly, not to make bad choices. I'm not sure that's so much a moral debate as a common sense one.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Does that mean I have Girl's Ears?

    It's all that Avril Lavigne :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    No they don't. But lets think about the 'It's not Ok!' campaign and the anti-smacking legislation. Do we agree that they had a positive impact? Sometimes people do actually have to be told, quiet loudly, not to make bad choices.

    I really don't think that's an equivalent position. It's possible to drink heavily without actually hurting other people. It's not really possible to smack your wife round without hurting her.

    Dyan then moves from criticising female binge drinkers to talking about alcoholics. Alcoholism is a physical addiction with a genetic component - I think calling it a 'bad choice' is a bit... I was going to say 'simplistic', but I think the word I want is 'unfair'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

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