Posts by Mark Bennett

  • OnPoint: On Freedom of Speech,

    I'm saying that manifesting that dislike by calling up sponsors telling them you'll boycott their hotel/whatever is bad for free speech, and that Keith's use of the marketplace of ideas to defend that manifestation is misplaced.

    I don't agree. Henry has a platform that magnifies his speech. If he often uses that platform to promote ideas that you find abhorrent, you are justified in hoping that he no longer had that platform. All sorts of 'ideas' are automatically beyond the pale of mainstream TV for this reason. And this is the reason that some might wish that Glen Beck somehow quickly fades from sight.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • OnPoint: On Freedom of Speech,

    Paul Henry and the marketplace of ideas; what a juxtaposition.

    We need to be responsible for our ideas. If I advocate an idea that some people find wrong or reprehensible, I need to accept that people may come to see me as wrong or reprehensible, especially if I hold many other such views.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Speaker: KICK IT! The Highest Mountain,…,

    In soccer, a team's skill and dominance in a game is far less likely to translate into points than in other games, for example, basketball or rugby. This is because it is so much harder to score a goal than to score a point in these other sports. And if the less dominant and skillful team can get a few set piece or 'speculative cross towards the tall timber' chances down the other end, they might just fly in. That's how we almost beat Italy in our previous meeting.

    So I would say that on paper (team ranking, ability) it is like Netherlands v All Blacks, but on the night it is more like Argentina v All Blacks.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • OnPoint: Tax cut zombies,

    um, a little late, but just wanted to comment on the strangely uncharitable interpretation that the first three commentators made of Craig's initial comment. There's nothing wrong in holding people accountable to the values they espouse - in fact, that's a very good thing to do... he was clearly not saying that National's proposals are acceptable because Labour acted on similarly bad principles...

    I get the feeling that if his comment was written by anyone else there would have been a rather different interpretation. we all have prejudices that colour how we interpret what a person says, but they shouldn't allow the twisting of an argument in the way we saw above

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Busytown: A turn-up for the books,

    Fiction writers can't use footnotes? Maybe some fiction would have its flow spoiled by footnotes. Endnotes maybe?

    If historical fiction would be spoiled by that, how about just a bibliography at the end of the book that acknowledges both the works relied on generally and a more detailed section that identifies any passages that would be plagiarism but for that acknowledgment.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Legal Beagle: The Inexorable Advance,

    The idea that students in particular aren't activist anymore isn't new; [...] this might in part be because the big fights that might affect them are over

    Sure, we no longer have conscription, or legal apartheid in South Africa. Not so sure that the lack of student activism is much evidence for the idea that society has reached the final frontier of freedom. It might just mean that there has been a political shift and that our most distasteful transgressions of liberty and freedom (that I mentioned briefly above) don't seem to matter (don't 'affect them') so much to the kinds of people who become university students.

    (ie how many of the kids whose basic needs are now being taken care of (in part) by telethons and food banks go on to become students at our universities... )

    Just because issues are off the 'human rights' agenda doesn't mean they are not important concerns of human freedom.

    Again, trollishly off topic I know, but I was pulled in by the imagery of 'final frontiers', 'last things' and 'small potatoes', which from my perspective paints an inaccurate picture of the state of freedom in this country.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Legal Beagle: The Inexorable Advance,

    Interesting topic - clearly it's a far more difficult question than whether people should be able to opt out of paying their proportionate share of taxes sufficient to finance a proper public health, education, social welfare, etc system (the kind of position that ACT usually supports).

    It's not really relevant to your main arguments, but not so sure about this:

    But that we are fighting over things like this isn't a sad indictment of human rights activism; in New Zealand, it's what's left. The battle for legal equality has been fought and won in this country. Most of the things left to fight over are relatively small, and pretty insignificant. This is just a small next step in the inexorable advance of human liberty.

    Is it only a small or insignificant matter of human liberty that children are born into situations (ie their immediate family's socio-cultural-economic positions and the advantages and disadvantages these cause) that greatly affect their future capabilities and 'freedom'? The recent (70s onwards) shifts of governments away from ensuring true equality of opportunity mark a path towards less liberty and freedom, and reversing their most problematic aspects is of immense importance.

    And that's only the left-liberal critique; try G A Cohen's marxist analysis, eg Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality .

    Of course, this is arguably a different understanding of 'freedom' and 'liberty'. Arguing whose understanding is better is probably best left to another time and place ;)

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Southerly: I Was Dissed By Three Old Ladies,

    Watch out for that 'self-help' approach. When I was in Toronto a cyclist was assaulted for throwing a hamburger back into the vehicle from which it was ejected.

    see here

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Island Life: Hunting Squirrels,

    The Frankfurt School has a lot to answer for.


    Seems to me that you don't have to read Horkheimer or Adorno to make the observation that our media feeds us soundbites and slogans (not to mention editorial pronouncements from on high) that help to shape the way we see our world, and that the media will naturally have its own interests and biases.

    Isn't that observation a staple of leftist thought, and in much more digestible form in the work of others, eg Chomsky?

    Seems to me the Chicago school has a lot more to answer for...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

  • Legal Beagle: It's time for a time for a…,

    Interesting post, Graeme. Here are some brief and tentative thoughts:

    The electoral system should be of the people and it is right that every so often, the people should have their say, alone in the four walls of the voting booth. Three or four times a century - once a generation - doesn't seem too often to obtain anew a public mandate for the way we choose our leaders (we'd be going slightly early this time, but I think it's appropriate given the change to MMP made last time).

    I am not so sure that the argument from democracy can always justify putting things to a popular vote. That presupposes that putting something to a popular vote is the ultimate or an adequate source of legitimacy for our law and government. Many people think that certain institutions and processes far beyond 'mere' majoritarian voting are necessary if law can begin to be regarded as having legitimacy. And some of them think that these procedures do constitute true 'democracy'.

    Given that I don't think that it is right to say that:

    Fear of being in the minority - of democratic loss - is a appalling reason to oppose democratic input. That way lies dictatorship.

    Fear of being in the minority is not necessarily an appalling reason to oppose democratic input, or the first slip down the slope to dictatorship. There are at least arguable reasons against putting certain things to a popular votes:

    (a) If you hold the above view that legitimate government and law, and/or democracy, depends on certain institutions, rights, procedures etc, then it is sensible to oppose the erosion of those elements. And it is sensible to argue that these elements should not be put to a popular vote. Indeed, if you think that these elements are necessary for legitimate government and law, then you will be doubly against putting them to a popular vote, because you deny the legitimacy of that method of decision-making.

    (b) Fundamental human rights and the rights and interests of certain minority groups are arguably not up for grabs in a legitimate legal order.

    Of course, the counter to all of the above is that it presupposes an incorrect account of democracy and/or fundamental rights and/or legitimate government and law.

    There is so much political and constitutional thought about all this that this thread could go on indefinitely.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report

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