Hard News by Russell Brown


Moron y Moron

Fortunately, I was out when Close Up's researcher called on Thursday to ask whether I, as one of the faces of the current family violence campaign, would care to haul my ass into the studio to pontificate on the implications for the campaign of Trevor Mallard's scrap with Tau Henare in Parliament's lobby.

The details ought to be familiar enough by now: Tau Henare goads Mallard in the House about his marriage breakup, using the name of his new partner, follows him out into the lobby and, in the course of the subsequent slanging match, grabs the minister's tie. Mallard responds by hitting him and the two men have to be separated by grown-ups.

Two men, behaving like idiots, with the one who threw a punch unquestionably the greater idiot, on account of having thrown the punch, and of holding a position where the expectations of him ought to be higher.

Does this really, as a number of commentators have been keen to suggest, undermine the key messages of the campaign? Does it actually change any of the grim facts about family violence; most notably the stark statistics that show the association between child deaths and violence in the home generally? Are we really about to trivialise these things because it makes a good political headline?

The idea that the government will never be able to speak credibly about violence again is a media creation. The campaign was not actually created by the government, but by the Families Commission, a taxpayer-funded agency itself created at the behest of Peter Dunne. The scripts were written and produced by an advertising agency, in consultation with relevant experts in the field.

Look: Mallard punched someone, under provocation: he has suffered widespread humiliation, been publicly criticised by his boss, made an abject apology to the public and to Henare and had his personal life discussed all over the place. He will be very publicly demoted this week. This, coming on top of his father's very recent death, and a dimwitted Sunday gossip columnist running an item associating him with a woman he's never met. Isn't all that enough to emphasise that it's not okay?

Meanwhile, people you wish would STFU for a bit. The Maori Party, which emerged from its AGM with a statement that seems to allege that the present police operation is a conscious act by the "Labour Minority Government" against all Maori:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms, the recent actions of the Labour Minority Government against the Tuhoe Nation and the Ruatoki community in particular and against tangata whenua in general … We call on the Labour Minority Government to suspend all broad-ranging actions against communities forthwith

We should have no doubt that the Maori Party feels strongly about the police's conduct of the operation -- perhaps with good reason -- but this is either hysteria or cynical politicking.

And then, elsewhere in the sandpit, Winston Peters pops up with that old favourite: linking the mere existence of the Maori Party to apartheid, and decrying the "militant racists" who protested the police action. Politicking is hardly the word.

And finally, Sunday's interview with Tuhoe historian Tamati Kruger. Kruger did not, anywhere in the interview as it screened, explain what he believed Tuhoe wanted (and neither, it must be said, did Ian Sinclair bother to ask him), but that did not stop him intoning on what might happen if Tuhoe didn't get it:

"There are many, many Tuhoe women, children and men that would rise up very quickly to defend their culture, their beliefs, their ideology and their philosophies …"

Sinclair: So you would turn to arms if necessary?

"Well, that's an open question. Let me put it this way. I believe that it is the duty of every patriot to defend their beliefs and defend their culture. It is the duty of the oppressed to rise up and break the chains of distress and despair."

He went on to invoke Northern Ireland, and say that violence "can never be discounted by us", then said that Tuhoe did not want that, but that there was a risk that it could be "the only thing left".

It was romanticising tosh; as one of our readers put it, either vaguely threatening or threateningly vague. And more than a little disappointing from a man who has regularly lectured on anti-violence.

I'd much rather look to Tuhoe.com, an initiative of the Tuhoe Education Authority that, with the help of a $500,000 government grant, has brought broadband into the mist. The focus is on e-learning and the hope is to change the situation where nine of 10 people in the area do not have jobs. And there's another aim: next month, Tuhoe.com will occupy a prime slot at the Digital Summit, to talk about preserving heritage, history and culture by taking command of digital tools.

Anyway, a little geekery: MacOS X 10.5 Leopard is out, and I'll certainly have a piece of it, once I've created a full bootable backup in case anything goes wrong (it seems not everyone's who's come a cropper is an idiot trying to upgrade over dodgy low-level system hacks), and, probably, migrated to Mail. Rod Drury got himself a link on Macintouch with this little bit of amusement.

And, finally, thanks to everyone who offered to help with the 1983 John Cale Gluepot recording (and especially to Chris Knox, who digitised his cassette and packaged up the CD quite beautifully). Turns out, it's available here, at Kiwi Concerts, a fan recordings MP3 blog that has some remarkable stuff. The Wiz, who runs the site, has been collecting live bootlegs for nearly 30 years. Led Zep at Western Springs in 1972, anyone?

PS: Apologies for the lack of service on Friday. I was out at The Checks the night before. They were great -- and I actually think Sven is one of the better guitarists I've ever heard. Unfortunately, our little gang's festivities didn't stop after the encore, and as a consequence I was not capable or motivated in the morning.

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