Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: It's not OK to just make stuff up

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    As for the credentials bit, since when do columnists need credential? And Ralston didn't exactly fall off a tree, he's been around a few times and has had visible and important roles in the media.

    I don't begrudge him his column at all. I do think that if you're going to write a column and comment for and against relatively specialised things like domestic violence and the effectiveness of campaigns around them, you should have a reasonable idea of what you're talking about.

    If the column was about politics, then often that's just a difference of opinion. However as Russell has proven, this column is just bad. Which makes me wonder if he's at all qualified to write it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Tinshed,

    Sounds like bitch slaps all round. Sigh.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And in all truth people who disagree with the general view do tend to get hammered

    I can't deny that happens. But I like to think they get hammered in a relatively reasonable fashion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    With whisky or suchlike, as they lick their wounds..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Bill Ralston is basically a hadit trying to be - something again. Sad, eh.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But I like to think they get hammered in a relatively reasonable fashion.

    Fun, too: we use those foam, novelty hammers, or the squeaky inflatable ones.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I can't deny that happens. But I like to think they get hammered in a relatively reasonable fashion.

    Hammers, steak knives, ornamental end tables, whatever bones are to hand while we all dance around that big black monolith next to the water hole. Whatever comes to hand...

    I do think that if you're going to write a column and comment for and against relatively specialised things like domestic violence and the effectiveness of campaigns around them, you should have a reasonable idea of what you're talking about.

    Fair enough, but it sounded like you were throwing down for an academic face-off. And without wanting to come across as a recent immigrant from Philistia, appeals to authority have their own risks.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Marian Hobbs,

    Thanks, Russell, for this column. I have always appreciated your informed comment. It is the back up to your argument with references that I have so much appreciated and which is so sadly missing from our columnists and commentators in NZ media. It is almost a belief that to support your assertion with some references and facts is to make you nerdy. When we make celebrities out of the fourth estate we weaken our democracy and the quality of our argument.

    I loved those advertisements. Far from being men hating, they were celebratory of the broad range of men who have recognised the value of working through conflict within families without resorting to might is right.

    I also love the adverts about depression. We have men who are able to lead and speak out. Thank you all.

    Dunedin, New zealand • Since Jan 2009 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    when we make celebrities out of the fourth estate we weaken our democracy and the quality of our argument.

    Nicely put.

    Strikes me that the editor has to bear some responsibility for allowing, or perhaps encouraging any of their writers to concoct such a piece.

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Bill Ralston is basically a hadit trying to be - something again. Sad, eh.

    He does remind me, somewhat eerily, of Richard Prebble - who was appalling as an election-night commentator on RadioNZ. Not because of his politics, but because he had nothing of note to say, and wasn't able to offer anything much by way of comment. On the other side of the political fence, Bob Harvey is another with too much media access and too little to say.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    when we make celebrities out of the fourth estate we weaken our democracy and the quality of our argument.

    Nicely put.

    Strikes me that the editor has to bear some responsibility for allowing, or perhaps encouraging any of their writers to concoct such a piece.

    And while I wish Ms. Hobbs a long and happy post-Parliamentary life, I'll say exactly the same thing I did after reading one of Tony Blair's last speeches as PM. It's all very nice attacking the media -- after all there's so much to criticise. But wouldn't it be nice to hear a politician engage in some honest self-criticism of their own role in creating a deeply cynical and sophisticated culture of "perception management", euphemistic persiflage that would have had Orwell shaking his head in weary recognition, and obsession with style over substance?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Great post, Russell.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Doubtless due to the political correctness of our brainwashed lesbian police force. Wake up man!

    Now, I *would* be willing to concede that domestic violence towards men by women is likely to be underreported to the police, due to social stereotypes about masculinity and getting "beaten up by a girl". And that's a problem worth considering. But, of course, neither of these things was Ralston's point, because it's easier to whine about the scary dyke feminazis and their determination to blame everything on men.

    *sigh*

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Now, I *would* be willing to concede that domestic violence towards men by women is likely to be underreported to the police, due to social stereotypes about masculinity and getting "beaten up by a girl".

    And the kind of fucked-up pseudo-chivalry that women just don't do "that kind of thing". I don't think you've got to throw around stupid, and frankly offensive, homophobic and/or misogynistic rhetorical poo to make a case that there are plenty of women out there quite happy to play it up when convenient.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • chris esther,

    I'm reminded of Stephen Fry's comments on columns & columnists in his PODGRAM

    http://www.stephenfry.com/media/audio/11/series-2-episode-1--stephenfry-com-2-0/

    Well worth a listen.

    Since Apr 2008 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • RiverHowe,

    Two old sayings spring to mind:-
    'It takes two to tango' and 'There's always two sides to every story."
    I have sat in many men's support groups where men have poured out their feelings of utter frustration and helplessness at the behaviour of their partner goading them towards violence. These, of course, are the fortunate few who end up seeking help to stop their violence or tendency towards violence. It does not surprise me that many men 'crack' in these situations. I hasten to add that I don't agree with any form of physical violence by anyone in any circumstance ( except possibly defence, but even that is debatable!)
    And here's a interesting variance on all of this - I once knew a woman who became fed up with relationships with men who eventually turned violent so she started a relationship with a woman. This woman turned out to be even more violent than any of the men! She realised that she was the common factor in all of this and was sorting out her own 'stuff' to see why she brought violence into her own life.
    So lets not get bogged down in statistics and the basic act of violence. Look at the broader picture before condemning.

    Golden Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Mellopuffy,

    Does anyone else spot the obvious incongruity between Ralston's pronouncements and his own past resort(s) to violence?
    What I would really like to see is the Herald picking up and publishing Russell's response to Ralston's column ("...yeah right")

    Dunedin, NZ • Since Feb 2007 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    We busy packing up the kids and the car to drive from New Plymouth to Auckland in order to catch a flight back to Adelaide early tomorrow, so I don't really have time to make a nuanced comment, nor will I have internet access again until tomorrow evening (oh noes) so I can't stick around to keep on discussing this

    BUT

    Yes, I agree that female-on-male domestic violence is just as unacceptable as male-on-female domestic vilnce. However it's worth remembering that it's not just about relationships between individuals, but that it occurs in a social context too, and that the social context in which we live is one where by and large, men have more power than women, as a result of the myriad tiny interactions we all enage in, and the history we all share. Male-on-female domestic violence occurs in that context of gendered power relations. And perhaps that's why until recently (say 30 years ago?), police really did buy into the idea that it was just a domestic, and so not a problem that they needed to address. It was also why neighbours wouldn't report doemstic violence, wouldn't get involved - it was a private matter between a man and his wife. That's one hell of a history to learn to break away from.

    Having said that, we do still seem to accept female-on-male domestic violence, and wonder why he doesn't just get out. But I wonder if the social context is different i.e. it's not tied into society-wide power structures, and female-on-male domestic violence is still seen as a matter for individuals to sort out. Hence our reluctance to even acknowledge the problem, maybe.

    I think, 'tho I'm not sure, that studies and statistics show that male-on-female violence results in more physical damage to the victim than female-on-male violence - does someone know more about this? Of course, that's just a brute fact of nature - on average, men are physically stronger than women, so you would expect a greater degree of physical harm.

    And that's without getting into same-sex relationships. For reasons to do with the work I was doing this year, I spent quite a bit of time talking about domestic violence with my hairdresser, a very smart and able young man who had himself been involved in a violent relationship, which eventually, his parents had dragged him out of, pleading with him not to go back to his abusive boyfriend. Again, there seemed to be a huge power dynamic issue involved in it, or so he told me.

    So there you are - some vague hand-waving thoughts from me, and I'm sorry that they are not more coherent. In summary, I'm suggesting that male-on-female violence is more closely tied to societal power structures than female-on-male violence. That is, there is a huge gender dimension to this issue. But I'm offering this as a point for discussion, not a finished thesis. And again, sorry for not sticking around to talk some more.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Thanks, Russell, for this column

    Welcome to the discussion, Marian.

    For all my despair at the November election, I do admire Paula Bennett for her intervention into the fracas outside a Henderson shopping mall at the weekend (reported in today's Herald). It is a brave thing to do. I still have a ropey thumb from intervening in a street brawl in Wellington years ago, which makes me reluctant to do it again.

    Perhaps we need more instances of cabinet ministers applying their portfolios in the 'real' world eg Ann Tolley could spend a week or two in a NZ classroom; Rodney Hide could dig a few ditches or catch a few stray dogs!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    men have poured out their feelings of utter frustration and helplessness at the behaviour of their partner goading them towards violence

    The thread only hit page three before getting one of these posts? Yeesh.

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

  • Michael Stevens,

    Any form of domestic abuse is wrong, no matter what genders are involved. Although it's not my area of research I am pretty sure that male-on-female domestic violence is of higher prevalence, though I can't chapter and verse it all right now. Campaigns are typically targetted at the groupswhere most benefit will arise.That's why we don't see much in the way of , for example, HIV prevention campiagns targetted for straight men - they are such a low prevalence group in NZ that it is not a good use of resources. While women certainly are aggressors in domestic violence, it is nothing like the same extent as male on female violence.


    Part of what pisses me off about ralston's HoS columns is that they seem so sloppy - as if he's written them in 5 minutes with no checking anything - brain farts really. He can (and has) written far better than that.

    And Mora's afternoon show is just so boring in every way I never listen to it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    There's something a bit intimidating about clicking on Russell's blog in the morning and finding your own paper, written long ago in a pre-retirement era, highlighted, and then seeing that there are three pages of comments to read as well.

    I was the lead author on the paper Russell quoted, so a couple of brief comments on the paper and general topic. That data was asking adults to look back on their childhood and report what they remembered about violence in their parent's relationship. As such, there is plenty of room for mistakes in remembering, and choices in reporting, but also a focus on what they think was important in retrospect. So this is just one angle in domestic violence research, one important piece of the jigsaw, that goes along with the CTS and other self report measures, and the emergency room reports, and the refuge and police figures. I would hate to have it held up as the last word in the argument.

    I agree simultaneously with both Russell and Deborah, that the main burden of DV is a male responsibility, and with Emma and Craig early on in the comments, that ultimately the gender of perpetrator and victim isn't the main consideration.

    We didn't have the power to do complicated stats about the long term impact of the violence - that's done much better in the fantastic "nurture beats nature" papers by Caspi et al - but we had a simple subjective measure of how upsetting they found the violence. This found clearly that frequency was the only predictor of upset - not whether it was mother, or father, or both who were violent, whether it was a physical blow or a threat of it, but the pervasiveness through time of living in that atmosphere of conflict and fear. This, to me, was the most important finding of the research.

    Thanks for your comment everyone, especially Russell and Graeme. They don't give you much room in the NZMJ, but I'm glad there was enough data presented to let you get the information they wanted.

    PS I seem to remember there was a bit of a fuss when the "it's not OK" ads first came out that they were too male centred so they inserted the statistics for male victims as well, and improved them as a result, I think.

    PS2 The DMHDS has done research using the CTS as well. Google Moffitt and Caspi, CTS Dunedin. Same results as CTS gets everywhere else.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Er... I'm sorry, I've missed something here.

    <paraphrase>It's not okay to hit your partner or your kids (for whateverjustification youe care to raise) but it is okay to ask for help</paraphrase>: What part of this message is gender specific and prevents the other gender from watching, listening and acting?

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    I read the first paragraph of Ralston's column in the paper, and it was quickly passed over with the usual 'Whaaa? Pfffft...' that seems to greet most of his op-eds...

    It's a shame, really, because sometimes he does have genuinely insightful/thoughtful pieces, but most of the time (especially lately) his various media outpourings strike me as being rushed 5th form-level essays scribbled down at the end of an exam.

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • WS,

    ralston in his early days was pretty compelling, but that was before he was raking in the big bikkies , now he's gone soft and flabby and , like many journos, he's gone to the dark side now he's a big earner.
    I dunno how many times I've seen it here in NZ .... journo starts out hungry, keen to take on the big boys, not afraid to speak out, then...the dosh starts to roll in, they attend a few too many cocktail parties with the hoi polloi and whan bam, suddenly they're one of THEM

    Christchurch • Since May 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

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