OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andrew E,

    I don’t think the reply of his to Damian that prompted Russell’s intervention was over the top.

    No, it wasn't over the top. It was unhelpful and unproductive, and I tried to intervene in the most moderate way I could. Accusations don;t make for good discussion.

    I got tired of trying to discuss Grant Robertson's politics in this thread -- and I was consciously trying to refer to things he'd actually said and done -- because the goalposts kept moving. I'd have been keen for such a discussion to unfold, but it just seemed pointless to continue.

    I'm sure that Gio's "well-adjusted" theme, as advanced on his blog and Twitter, did influence my judgement. Although I regard Gio as a friend, (and he has a standing invitation to contribute here), I just don't think accusatory caricatures make for useful discussion and I find that theme reductive and occasionally insulting.

    I recall finding myself slagged as some middle-class wanker when it was merely mentioned on Reading the Maps, the local Marxist blog, that I'd been at a Bill Direen show along with Graeme Hill. I've known Bill for a lot longer that the people who said that and I'd have been delighted to talk about his work, but the caricature put paid to any potential for that.

    I realise my approach to moderation isn't particularly codified, but I think it works reasonably well. Calling people names, even fancy names, isn't addressing their argument, it's negating their argument. I expect people here to advance positive arguments in response to the arguments of others.

    And to not be a dick about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Emma Hart,

    on ya :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    __I never expected you to subsequently put in the work you did,__

    Yes you did. That’s why you persevered.That is why you defended him against another you have high respect for. Steven Crawford is no better or worse than anyone on here.

    Certainly. But Steven is dyslexic, and he has had experiences – disclosed here – which most of us could not conceive of, and sought to discuss them in a high-performance environment. I genuinely never expected him to do what he did. I am really proud of what he did.

    Also: while I accept they are a healthy thing and do need to occur occasionally, Public Address Discussions About Public Address Discussions totally give me the shits. Because they have no clear answers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to Danielle,

    Because the concept of dickishness is culturally defined and the precept thereby works to silence those who don’t conform to that culture.

    Ah but I embrace it as an ever-evolving means of categorising what, for me, boils down to not that far different from the new testament interpretation of the old testament rules laid down – and conveniently, the same basic precepts that underly most well intentioned religions, as far as I have understood them. Ie, what I’ve figured out for myself over my time on earth about making shit work as well as possible for everyone.

    If you’re making an argument based on personal interpretation invalidating wider intention, we may come to (friendly) blows :)

    ETA: and I don’t think I could be more overt about wanting to discuss that with Gio if he thinks otherwise about it.

    ETA2: after reading Russell's comment - Gio's riff on "Well-adjusted" rates as one of the major things in the last year to make me seriously re-think everything, in a good way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Hey, I totally get that. we all have closets Russell. It comes down to how one deals with it.The more we notice it exists, the easier it is for everyone, hence my view we are all in this together. It's easier that way surely. So in a big fucking circle to, many reasons for difference of approach, different views and opposing ideas, none of which I believe are wrong. Hell I even understand the spitefulness of trolls. They need feeding, sad but true. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    ETA2: after reading Russell’s comment – Gio’s riff on “Well-adjusted” rates as one of the major things in the last year to make me seriously re-think everything, in a good way.

    That too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Sofie, while I appreciate that it wasn't meant that way, 'not of academic calibre' sounds a bit like 'not good enough'. IMHE of such things, the best minds in academia are those who are able to push the envelope on recognising human worth. For example, a lesser person than John Money would never have 'indulged' Janet Frame's apparently eccentric student work.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Yeah nah. Not meant that way but not being that way was possibly my experience.I find the rich tapestry of peoples experience broader for me because that’s what I understand. Yes not meant that way. I meant a certain way. Steven Crawford, I totally relate to, beautiful guy . glad to have met. Glad to have met him here then for real.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Andrew E,

    It seems to me that it is precisely because people get defensively prickly about class labels that any offence which might have been intended or caused has been magnified.

    Yeah, well I sincerely help it’s seen as unhelpfully penile to say I do get seriously pissed off about “middle class” being used as a passive-agressive sneer. Not least because it’s damn insulting to my father who made a lot of sacrifices to make sure I had all the “wanky” shit he didn’t – like an education and opportunities so I have the chance to make a living writing rather than working eighteen hour days as a labourer until the Second World War gave me an opportunity to learn a trade.

    I’ve stayed the hell out of this because, really, I’m damn sick of feeling like I have to apologise for and justify my whole damn life. Over and over again.

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

  • BenWilson,

    I wanted to have this debate some time ago, precipitated by Danyl coming in and being dickish by PAS standards, on the subject of, IIRC, the value of an Arts degree. But I don't think the time was right, or perhaps the precipitate wasn't. Danyl was deliberately stirring, and I don't think he was engaging in good faith in that discussion, although "good faith" is up there with "dickishness", as a criteria that suffers from considerable vagueness. Gio wants this one, and you've all gone and had it behind my back :-)

    As in that debate, I'd invite people to reflect upon times that they have felt unable to say something on PAS that seemed quite reasonable to them, and what that felt like. For myself, the worst case was around the time of the referendum about smacking, in which I suggested that it was a very bad idea to ignore something felt so strongly by the population, even if the population is actually wrong. Essentially, I was placing democracy over my personal morality (which is that smacking is the wrong thing to do). But I felt vilified for saying this, conflated with saying smacking was OK, and generally made to feel like an arsehole. I don't want that debate again, that's not my purpose in saying this. It's just to discuss the effect on participation.

    I disappeared for many months at that point, but felt I was also missing out on an opportunity to learn, and that the community itself was also missing out, if I never came back. So I decided that I could only do so if I actually physically met the community, something I'd been loathe to do until that point, mostly because I genuinely felt that most of you thought I was a dick, and yet in being the dick I wanted to be I was being the most true to myself, and paradoxically, of most value that way.

    So I met the community, and I'm glad I did. It's contextualized everyone far more, added a great deal of richness to my understanding of the commentary. And there's lot of really good people, some good friends made, good times had.

    But the niggle does remain. I still have a great many views that are very hard to express, and if you find that hard to believe, that I'm still capable of thinking dickish things out loud, but have found better ways of saying them, consider that this comes with a massive time commitment. Gio wondered earlier if I think in paragraphs, to explain high output. No. The output is from time spent, much as everyone's is. Inordinate amounts of time spent polishing and rewriting. I delete roughly half of what I write. Which means I have written literally millions of words here, half of which are only in my memory. That has actually interfered quite a lot with my memory of what I have written, so I have to look it up a lot nowadays.

    I think it's a better way of writing, produces much higher quality. But it does also mean that much of what I think does actually go unsaid, and quite often, I've quite deliberately dialed down the passion with which I believe the things I have said. I'm still undecided whether that's better or worse, but I'm content to continue working in this style until I've mastered it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Tamsin talks about how 'munted' reflects class and culture in the Word of the Year discussion.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    I want to be middleclass primarily because the extra $15,000 to $30,000 a year helps with a car, with health, with food, with family. To live outside comfortable weekly allowances means you inevitably see that class as desirable and then when you realise many in that class are either ignorant or downright dismissive of the struggle of life below that class and it can piss one off.

    It's the slow process of giving jobs and money to the underclasses in New Zealand , a process that retreats constantly under the thunderous chorus's of "bloody bludgers" that in a way disgusts me. So a discussion of poverty can't help but get a bit edgy and emotional. For what its worth discussion does get heated here but the topics are generally big troublespots that don't at all worry the minds of our smiley "Key" people.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    If you’re making an argument based on personal interpretation invalidating wider intention, we may come to (friendly) blows :)

    Oh, I was summing up his position, but I disagree with him. Mostly. I think. (My problem: someone expresses something passionately enough and I spend a lot of time going 'hmmm. Is that valid? Perhaps that's valid and I'm full of shit'. It makes for a lot of fence-sitting.)

    Gio's 'well-adjusted'-themed post is actually a prime example of something I think is interesting and provocative and valuable and also? Kinda dickish. Do the first qualities of that post outweigh the latter qualities of the post? Probably. But very few people are actually able to be a *thought-provoking* dick, and therein lies the rub.

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

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to Danielle,

    Yeah, I can see that.

    I guess it doesn’t register on my dickish scale(tm)* because I’m too busy finding reassurance that it’s not just me who thinks the conformity enforced by the modern professional environment is weird. Especially because it’s conformity to a lifestyle I don’t enjoy :P

    Uhunno, I’m struggling to think of something that is both provocative and not slightly dickish. Maybe that’s the definition.

    *guaranteed to classify 15cm as 10 inches, and not even commenting on where the rub is (sorry we can't spend this long talking about dicks without someone visiting the gutter).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I’m at the Tropicana every second Friday.

    Your rendition of 'fools rush in' brings a tear to my eye every time.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to ,

    Now that precisely, is why dyslexic people go to jail.

    Yes I could go there too. I have huge understanding of how jail ticks. I’ve probably visited most of them and to people I still believe shouldn’t have been there still. I’m happy to try reason with Police because I feel they are very black and white with their approach.It never wins me popularity contests I can tell you that for nothing. Steven C.
    I used “academic calibre” only in the sense that I experience, in that I have none, but am not bothered by it.I only ever went to Uni to drink and watch bands at Shadows, or pop into BFM. That is my only experience, but I knew a lot of people at Shadows :) If a thread opens up here that I have no experience with , I wont contribute. Books are big one for me because my memory span is now shortened and I can’t remember each chapter. It’s really frustrating but I just see it as something I have now. I call it “no time for books”

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Public Address Discussions About Public Address Discussions totally give me the shits. Because they have no clear answers.

    Discuss.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    people get defensively prickly about class labels

    People sometimes get defensive because of tone rather than content. Especially if their own resilience is low for whatever reason.

    What I hear in my head when I read what you write is hardly ever what you heard in your head as you put fingers to keyboard.

    At the pub you read someone's face and body and tone and still get it wrong sometimes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Discuss.

    Haven't got all day, y'know ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Jeremy Eade,

    To live outside comfortable weekly allowances means you inevitably see that class as desirable and then when you realise many in that class are either ignorant or downright dismissive of the struggle of life below that class and it can piss one off.

    It’s the slow process of giving jobs and money to the underclasses in New Zealand , a process that retreats constantly under the thunderous chorus’s of “bloody bludgers” that in a way disgusts me. So a discussion of poverty can’t help but get a bit edgy and emotional. For what its worth discussion does get heated here but the topics are generally big troublespots that don’t at all worry the minds of our smiley “Key” people.

    Incomes aren't the burning issue, but rather, quality of life versus materialism. As Robert Reich demonstrated in his "Truth About the Economy" video, the systemic weakening of American middle class foundations has caused it to go Peoples' Front of Judea.

    The Wall Street 1% has managed to hire half the working and middle classes to kick the shit out of the other half, and it's the same here.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Because they have no clear answers.

    Facts and clearly right answers are useful but sometimes boring ... discussing how we discuss is actually interesting because it exposes assumptions people have about conversation and communication. Or at least I find it interesting :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    We are indeed a classless nation – that is, in the institutionalised British sense. What’s emerged instead is a de facto caste system as seen in America, where celebrities and executives have effectively become lords and barons by another name. It’s all the more so with unskilled hands being made obsolete by machines and industrial globalisation.

    True. And that means the language of class comes across as dubious to people, because it's not a perfect fit. It's easier to rail against the idle rich if they all have funny accents and wear top hats and monocles. Harder to get a good hate on if you can't dehumanise them because they talk the way you do and wear the same kinds of clothes only newer.

    Which comes back to (my interpretation of) Gio's point: "identity politics" has a lot to teach people about communication. In particular, I think one of the most important concepts the world could use right now is that acknowledging privilege is different from wallowing in guilt.

    I believe that lasting social change occurs when groups who have privilege give it up voluntarily. If they have it taken from them, they'll only try to get it back.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    FWIW, I don't consider myself a moderator in this thread. Does it say somewhere that I am when I post? I haven't seen it, but I guess it's fair for others to assume - just saying that I don't really consider it that way - unless it's a thread off one of my own posts.

    @Andrew E - I've said it before, the 'middle class' comment itself wasn't what pissed me off, it was just the general tone leading up to that. And I don't see what Russell said as throwing his weight around - there was no talk of any intervention, he was just pointing out what he thought about the comment, just as Mr Crawford did with my 'snarky prick spectrum' comment.

    At the risk of venturing into shark-infested waters - what is 'middle-class' in New Zealand anyway? Other than a pretty clear idea that we have a poverty stricken 'underclass' in NZ, I've never really thought about NZ in class terms. Is that incredibly middle-class of me? And is it directly linked to income? When I went from minimum wage student media wages, to a half-decent TV salary, did I jump a class, or was I always middle class? Is there an upper class? How do I know when I've got there, and how embarrassed should I be when I do?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to ,

    As opposed to sexual orientation, class position can shift.

    Yes, true, and that's another reason why it's a thorny area to discuss. Being born rich or poor doesn't mean you have to stay that way, but it sure is easier to be rich if you were born rich.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Damian Christie,

    At the risk of venturing into shark-infested waters – what is ‘middle-class’ in New Zealand anyway?

    Someone (I'm going to say George Bernard Shaw, because it doesn't sound like Dorothy Parker, Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde) once said that what most defines the classes is what each thinks defines the classes. Working class people believe it's all about money, middle class people believe it's education, and the gentry believe it's down to breeding.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

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