Journalists may be obliged to see her as a Member of Parliament, but that does not mean that it’s open season on her private life or her family. That a story may be coming out anyway does not let anyone off the hook.
It wasn't Metiria the Member of Parliament who was put on trial here, but Metiria the 90s beneficiary. It was Metiria the Maori women who was judged, judged not poor enough to commit benefit fraud, and not sorry enough about her crime.
I have given some thought as to how this could have played out differently. And the story always ends up with Metiria being out of politics. Her story was never going be straight enough because people in her circumstances never have straight stories. People who have straight stories are ones who have never had to make a choice between obeying the law and protecting their child on a daily basis. People with straight stories have families without disfunction.
This isn't just about Metiria, although on a personal level I'm gutted for her. This is about who gets to talk about poverty. And what's been brutally rammed home is that it's only people who have no experience of it that get to talk, that get to participate.
I grew up as a child on the benefit in the 80s and 90s and my first gut level reaction to the news of Metiria resigning was "I don't to want vote anymore". It felt like a kick to the guts and that politics isn't for people like me.
I'm incredibly disappointed by the response journalists to many of the criticisms made. The has been no engagement with any of it. Just "you're not a journalist, what would you know", "just doing my job", "I've done lots of other good reporting that you like" blah fucking blah responses.
I would like to have some of them tell me what journalism is for. Are we better off now that Metiria is gone? What have we learned? What have we lost? Is this holding power to account? It doesn't look like it from where I'm sitting.
Living in America has been quite useful for ironing out my internal “X is religious? But they seemed so *normal*!” response. It hasn’t gone away, exactly, but I’m learning to not assume that being non-religious as the default until told otherwise.
There’s a line in an NZ mental health TV comercial, which I saw a few years back, that has always stuck with me: “and he’s a christian – not that I hold it against him.” (I’ve spent a bit of time on YouTube trying to find it, but can’t seem to track it down.)
I think it says a lot in a few words about NZers somewhat uneasy relationship to people of faith in NZ, myself included.
Some memories of Big Day Out in no particular order (some have alread been mentioned):
The Chilli Peppers getting the crowd to take a single step back in unison due to people getting squashed up front.
The year some sort of weather bomb hit, and the people using planks of plywood to shelter from the rain. They were later used for crowd surfing as a steamy fog settled over the rain-drenched crowd. The whole thing would have been eerie if it weren't for the mosh pit chaos.
Courtney Love giving her guitar away to a girl in the front row and making her give some sort of promise about joining a rock band and taking over the world.
Courtney Love starting a story about a Maori girl she new at a Nelson highschool during her time in NZ. Her mike then made a horrible feedbacky noisey sound -- she lost her train of thought and went on to her next song.
Waiting for over two hours for a drunk friend who promised he would be "right back". He never showed. It turned out he'd got himself arrested for being a drunken dickhead and bumping and falling over people. According to his account he got taken down when he tried to kick one of the police officers who stopped him. His face didn't look to flash when I saw him the next day, but he was fairly philosophical about the whole experience.
Billy Bragg making a joke about baby name statistics with reference to Tory prime ministers -- apparently the popularity of Margaret and John had plummeted during the eighties and nineties respectively.
One of Bic Runga's songs (in my mind it is Sway) floating through the summer heat to me at the back end of the stadium, and me thinking how perfect it sounded.
Oops, sorry Russell. I hadn't intended that to be interpreted as being directed at anyone in particular. I just thought a semi-humorous tale of my big comprehension fail might take a little heat out of the discussion at hand, that and I wanted to acknowledge that I found Steve's comment really helpful -- a point I'd neglected in my first comment.
I understand your position, and if I was you I would be feeling aggrieved too. Feeling aggrieved about a situation that has played out badly, especially one that you think you could have handled better, can rankle for a long time.
I'll bow out of this thread for now, although, I might post something on topic in a couple days if it's still going.
I think you do a fantastic job here, and I think you've created something here that's pretty special. Enjoy tonight.
Thanks for your reply Steve, I think it's time for me to fess up and admit that on my first reading of the Damian vs Gio conversation, Gio looked to be acting in a way that was hopelessly contrarian, and had me grinding my teeth and feeling a strong urge to scream "That's not what Damian means!". Some of Gio comments do have a strange effect on me -- he had me licking utensils in my kitchen not all that long ago.
Your first comment on this issue -- a sort of idiots guide to the conversation -- helped enormously. I saw a consistency in Gio's comments that I had somehow previously missed. Looking back I now wonder how I missed what now seems obvious (sorry Gio) and has given me pause for thought. I really should have mentioned that in my first comment.
I will probably post something more substantive on the areas on which we disagree -- which I think are small -- in the next couple of days. I think I will also say something to Gio -- seems weird talking about him in the third person.
Thank you everyone for your words of welcome. I think I will stick around for a while.
I can't sleep so I thought I'd make my first comment on Public Address:
Steve, I think you're being a bit unfair to Damian there. My take on that comment was that it was about the Left and Right in the parliamentary and electoral context, as framed by the blog post and following discussion. It's possible to have a discussion about media bias within that context without question begging, just as it's possible to talk about the Left/Right positions of Shearer and Cunliffe within the context of the Labour party without question begging.
If, for example, in the middle of a discussion about the relative differences between Shearer and Cunliffe, I was told that there was little to no difference between Shearer and Cunliff, and the reason I believed there was was because I was a middle class professional who would be served quite well by both men, my ire would have been raised. I would also note that in the broader context this is actually true -- the bit about me being quite well served by both men, that is.
I think Russell was refering to Giovanni's comments to Damian later on in the disscussion when referring to baiting. To me at least, Giovanni seemed to be interpreting Damian's comments to mean the opposite of what Damian was trying to say. Though I don't believe it was intentional.
On a more general note, I'm a huge fan of Public Address and have been reading it for years It has had a big affect on how I see New Zealand and the world. The reason why I don't comment is that heated argurments really wind me up! I've lost sleep just reading this one. I can't imagine the affect it would have on me if I was an actual particpant!