OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Danielle, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    Maybe on BBB?

    Ah, but he's been hating on 'don't be a dick'. Because the concept of dickishness is culturally defined and the precept thereby works to silence those who don't conform to that culture.

    (See, Gio, when you flounce, people speak for you. Flouncing: it's dangerous.)

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

  • Andrew E,

    Without wishing to get too drawn into this too much further, I will (again) state my support for Giovanni. I don't think the reply of his to Damian that prompted Russell's intervention was over the top. 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. He's right too, when he suggests that it's not being a dick to find it helpful to define our terms. The wooliness of too much of language around politics has come from politicians bending things out of shape for too long, to enable their desire to sell you a chimera of 'fairness', 'community', 'justice', 'sustainability', etc.. If we are not clear about what we mean by these terms, and do not demand clarity of meaning from politicians when they wield them, then we all do ourselves a disservice. Which, coming full circle, is precisely what I thought a blog like Keith's was dedicated to doing, and why I - and Giovanni - found this particular post to be a disappointment. It purported to demand something of politicians, but in fact was engaging in a hoary old vaudeville trick of misdirection: look over here at this shining principle we can all agree on, and while you're looking over there, I'll stick this knife in over here.

    So, in the interest of attempting to be constructive, perhaps I could propose something a little less ad hoc in terms of topics for blogs for a while. Instead, why not have more structured series of posts on which the intelligent, articulate, crowd that populates PAS can get stuck in. What do we consider to be important principles, and useful actions, to tackle poverty, improve education, ensure adequate provision of healthcare, conserve our environment, build our cities and transport networks? What has attracted me to Public Address has been the debate, but it many ways it reacts to events too much. If the new Labour leadership wants to hear from people, then this as good a locus for constructive, proactive, discussion as anywhere. The work that was done around 'Open Labour' was a useful start, but if politics that is remotely left of centre is to be reinvigorated in this country, that kind of openness needs to continue, and not just take place in spaces owned and defined by one political party.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andrew E,

    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.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to steven crawford,

    As opposed to sexual orientation, class position can shift. Thats my experience. I was once illegible to the literate class, which did lead to times of poverty. Try getting employment that doesn’t involve reading and particularly writing skills. Then you will understand the qualification of my anecdote.

    You know this, Steven, but it's worth saying again. Your trajectory is among the elements of PAS of which I am most proud. You came in and got intro trouble talking to people with a far more natural command of language than you, and I pissed a few people off (there were fairly frank email discussions with Tze Ming) by wading in in your defence. But I could see what you were trying to say.

    I never expected you to subsequently put in the work you did, or to attain the level of literacy that you did. I know that you spent hours on the kind of thing that takes me minutes, and I'm still amazed by that. Quite honestly, I feel pleased whenever you pop back. Cheers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Andrew E,

    Instead, why not have more structured series of posts on which the intelligent, articulate, crowd that populates PAS can get stuck in.

    I know someone who would agree with that ,sort of, but I would prefer that we don't need to be told off like children who know no better and are confined to the naughty step.. It honestly is reminding me of the old adage "children should be seen and not heard. I mean you got 3 moderators here up against Giovanni for nothing more than a passionate view that incites a bit of anger from one moderator. Damian was okay to point out his discontent with that ,at the same time, spray (cat analogy in keeping with his theme)) and walk away. Russell will try to smooth the way because that's what he does. Emma will come in because Gio paid a compliment of which she didn't appreciate and thus Gio is gone a bit flabbergasted but gladly still persevering, because I agree with him too, just like Andrew E. I don't disagree with Damian, he has his view. I don't disagree with Russell. he has a Blog to appease all sorts. Emma will automatically defend herself if she disagrees. But I don't disagree with Gio. I felt I understood his view. I felt he was making his point. I should stop now. I read Gio and I hear Italian, (and that in my book is a compliment) Jus' sayin'.

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

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Emma will automatically defend herself if she disagrees.

    Actually, I do, and I won't.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    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. Ability to express or not. He may not be of academic calibre but soo many of us are in that boat. We are all so different .It's the rules that keep getting in the way. Jus' sayin'

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

  • 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 • 22843 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 • 22843 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 • 22843 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

  • steven crawford, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    “He may not be of academic calibre” Now that precisely, is why dyslexic people go to jail.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    My earlier comment was intended to illustrate ideas about class positions and relative poverty, not my sexual orientation.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

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

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 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 steven crawford,

    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

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