One with a gun or twenty with clubs

Would you prefer to have twenty people bash you to death with clubs, or one shoot you until you died? Either way you’re still hurting and dying. This principle is why I really don’t get people who say it’s okay to take away people’s rights so long as we do it by referendum- whether it’s the Māori seats, a child’s right not to be hit in an abusive manner under a defense of correction, the right of any two people to marry regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation- whatever.

The point is there is no difference between a totalitarian regime imposing a specific injustice because of the word of Dear Leader, and 50+% of us deciding to rob some portion of the rest of human rights. In matters of protections from abuse or entitlements to civil rights, the people who will actually be affected should also agree they aren’t needed before we start talking about a referendum at all.

And, to the current specific case before us with the upcoming referendum: seeing we don’t enfranchise kids, perhaps we should be even more careful about taking away their legal protections over some populist whip-up with no real weight of argument behind it. Let’s be neither the twenty with clubs nor the one with the gun, when we could instead so easily be a society of parents and other caregivers who realise that “corrective” violence, even when it starts off not hurting, just isn’t worth it. 🙂

(Cross-posted from G.Blog)

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18 Responses

  1. Well said!

  2. Are you a racist? No? Then surely you would agree to do away with the race-based seats? Even if the race in favour is not the dominant one, it is still a form of racism because it denies proprtionality. Do minority races get a fair – and proportionate – say today? Under MMP – which I voted in favour of back in 1996 – says yes, and this was one of the reasons I voted as such. Would be interested to hear you views on this (sorry it is a bit off-topic but you did touch on it ,-) ).

  3. Are you a racist? No? Then surely you would agree to do away with the race-based seats?

    I believe in the principle of representation, which means that if the proportion of Maori on a legislative body is close to the proportion of Maori that comprises the relevant area that body represents, fairer decisions are more likely to be made.

    One can believe in the principle of representation without being in any way discriminatory, especially for groups that do not have equal opportunity to the rest of society. Generally speaking positive discrimination in favour of such groups (which is not necessarily what guaranteed seats are) is accepted as not only not undesirable, but actually consistent with laws such as the Bill of Rights and other rights-based frameworks.

    Even if the race in favour is not the dominant one, it is still a form of racism because it denies proprtionality.

    Nice thrust- but would you also agree that a list that isn’t roughly half-full of women is sexist on the same grounds? 😉

    Proportionality is important, I agree, but I’d like to get it in a way that doesn’t involve disenfranchising Maori.

    Do minority races get a fair – and proportionate – say today? Under MMP – which I voted in favour of back in 1996 – says yes, and this was one of the reasons I voted as such. Would be interested to hear you views on this (sorry it is a bit off-topic but you did touch on it ,-) ).

    No, this is sufficiently related to the topic.

    MMP has made things better. That doesn’t mean that representation of every demographic is perfect. Maori have done best, probably because they have a separate electoral role and electorates. Women are doing okay on the left, but not so great in the National Party. GLBTQI New Zealanders are dramatically under-represented. Asian New Zealanders are also under-represented.

    One way to make this better would be to force parties to open up their lists to vote by their members- this would probably make parliament overall better, although it might risk making lists of parties with very monotonous constituencies (like ACT, who at least have a highly-ranked woman on their list) worse.

    No electoral system can be perfect- I suppose some of them can perfectly fulfill one goal, perhaps, but that may be at the risk of other desirable traits. I like MMP because I think it’s the most representative system we’re likely to get, and if we could force list-voting and a .83% threshold on top of it, it would be very good.

    But tweaking the electoral system is not an answer to inequality. A better electoral system enhances freedom for everyone. It’s policy and social action that address inequality- good electoral systems merely keep it from getting worse. And even that power is limited, as the Foreshore and Seabed Act so richly demonstrated.

  4. So do you agree then that the Maori seats are racist or not?

    From my point of view it is irrelevant whether or not genders, sexual preferences, races, religions etc are represented according to population proportion or not (because quite frankly to get it perfect is impossible if not a contradiction due to the overlaps), but what IS IMPORTANT is that every group of any ilk has the opportunity for fair representation. Under MMP I feel that this is met. Therefore, as it follows, the Maori seats are racist and unrepresentative. Will you have the guts to stand up for this, or will you whither amongst the verbiage as the left often do. You know, it is possible to be non-racist and democratic. Maybe you will put 2 and 2 together here.

  5. So do you agree then that the Maori seats are racist or not?

    No, I don’t agree. I said above I don’t think that trying to represent groups more effectively is racist. You might have a case if they were using this extra representation to disenfranchise Pakeha, but they clearly are not aiming for any sort of conflict over racial rights- just claiming things they feel they have some legal and moral justification for.

    From my point of view it is irrelevant whether or not genders, sexual preferences, races, religions etc are represented according to population proportion or not (because quite frankly to get it perfect is impossible if not a contradiction due to the overlaps),

    I think it’s relevant because you tend to get better and more well-rounded policy under more representative parliaments.

    but what IS IMPORTANT is that every group of any ilk has the opportunity for fair representation. Under MMP I feel that this is met. Therefore, as it follows, the Maori seats are racist and unrepresentative.

    Define what you mean by “opportunity”. I’m of the view that something that never happens in practice is not an opportunity. I don’t demand we always have a parliament that exactly matches the demographics of our country. I do demand that we have a MORE representative parliament, that generally approximates our country. I don’t think we always need a 50/50 gender balance, but being satisfied with 70/30 or 60/40 for all of time isn’t great either. Does that answer your question?

    Will you have the guts to stand up for this, or will you whither amongst the verbiage as the left often do. You know, it is possible to be non-racist and democratic. Maybe you will put 2 and 2 together here.

    I’m not trying to be evasive, but I refuse to over-simplify the way discrimination works so that I can use it against the very people whose opportunities are reduced in our society.

    I do not consider seats that are determined by the population on the Maori roll to be racist, as they can never exceed the demographic reach of the Maori population. And even if I found them uncomfortable, I’d want any removal of the seats to be instigated by a majority of Maori.

  6. You said earlier “that if the proportion of Maori on a legislative body is close to the proportion of Maori that comprises the relevant area that body represents, fairer decisions are more likely to be made.
    – why limit to the pigeon-hole of “Maori”? That is why you are being racist. Replace “Maori” with “white”…does it sound more racist to you now?

    You also said “but they clearly are not aiming for any sort of conflict over racial rights- just claiming things they feel they have some legal and moral justification for.” – but this is what normal representation is for. Extra, additional, representation is an imbalance, and – since this one is based on race – is therefore racist.

    You said “I think it’s relevant because you tend to get better and more well-rounded policy under more representative parliaments.” – dubious to assume ‘better and more well-rounded’ but anyway creating an imbalance is not better representation, quite the contrary, it is not equal representation, it is not fair representation. Additional representation, is undemocratic, becuase is is not representative.

    You asked “Define what you mean by “opportunity”.” – one person, one vote (and all in the same pool).

    “I’m of the view that something that never happens in practice is not an opportunity.” – what never happens? We have a pretty good spread thanks to MMP. So what’s to whinge about?

    You want a more representative parliament, but you advocate an less representative one by giving minorities additional privileges. Not sure how you see this as more representaive.

    “all time” includes the past, which is irrelevant to today.

    I am satisfied with just the best people getting into parliament regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality (or whatever genre). The important thing is that individuals from all those demographics have the same voting rights in order that parliament is of the choosing of the people. Seems you want to skew this.

    …which is evidenced by the fact that you advocate that only a special group can remove their undemocratic special privileges. Equality has gone out the window.

    Look, maybe the WASP had it better than others in the past, I don’t deny this. But righting past wrongs by creating new wrongs is self-defeating and counter-productive. We just need to get it right, and soon.

  7. – why limit to the pigeon-hole of “Maori”? That is why you are being racist. Replace “Maori” with “white”…does it sound more racist to you now?

    You don’t seem to get that the two aren’t analogous. Right now most seats are de facto “white seats”. Even with the Maori seats we get terrible electoral calculations like the Foreshore and Seabed Act, because Labour was scared that National was going to use racist attack lines to win the government benches after their second term.

    I have no problem with “white” people like myself* having effective representation. I do have a problem with us having more effective representation than everybody else.

    *I prefer Pakeha. Saying “white” feels like I’m talking about America.

    – but this is what normal representation is for. Extra, additional, representation is an imbalance, and – since this one is based on race – is therefore racist.

    We’re coming from fundamentally different assumptions, I think. You’re acting like racism is over because, apart from that one time Labour did it, your property and rights aren’t likely to get stolen because you’re Maori.

    I however, look at the unbalanced health statistics, the learning gap in schools still dominated by Pakeha values and culture, the fact that Maori can’t even get a single representative on councils in areas they dominate, the fact that Maori are considered innately more suspicious by the police, the fact that it’s harder to get the same job in some places because of your skin colour… Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things that need fixing, and they need fixing faster than the slow march of progress that our electoral system would give when there is no special effort to fairly enfranchise Maori.

    The reason we don’t have our own electoral role is because we don’t need one. (or alternatively, because we already dominate the general role beyond proportionality, which I claim is MORE unfair than the Maori seats, and more than justifies their existence)

    dubious to assume ‘better and more well-rounded’ but anyway creating an imbalance is not better representation, quite the contrary, it is not equal representation, it is not fair representation. Additional representation, is undemocratic, becuase is is not representative.

    one person, one vote (and all in the same pool).

    You want a more representative parliament, but you advocate an less representative one by giving minorities additional privileges. Not sure how you see this as more representaive.

    No, it’s really not undemocratic to have Maori seats. (which are “additional” in the same sense as any other electorate, given their basis on population. Unless you’re talking about the overhang, which I agree is a problem, but not so much of one as you seem to think.) There have been good studies that show that arbitrary rules made are more likely to be fair to everyone when the people making the rules are a mixture of the available demographics. This works just as well with laws.

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means:

    9. exemplifying a group or kind; typical: a representative selection of Elizabethan plays.

    Even if we choose representatives who are uniformly say, straight Pakeha males, that does not make parliament representative of the New Zealand population. I don’t think we should overwrite any votes cast, but allowing people to form cultural constituencies is just as valid as allowing geographical ones.

    Do you support abolishing electorates altogether? Because I do, as soon as there’s a practical chance of getting it done. And they are most certainly special categories.

    What I am saying though, is that still respecting the principle of one person one vote, we can still make the existing imbalances in the system work to help speed up equality of opportunity for Maori, we can still pressure parties to rank their lists on more representative principles, and we can still pressure them to select more representative candidates to place on those lists or in electorate contests. And there are enough talented people to easily keep up the current level of political debate while doing so. In fact, it might improve, as we’d have less incentive to rag on someone like Nick Smith about taking his pills, if for example, Labour ran some candidates who had openly struggled with mental illness in the past.

    The important thing is that individuals from all those demographics have the same voting rights in order that parliament is of the choosing of the people. Seems you want to skew this.

    No, I want to unskew it. The current system is skewed by social norms where being Pakeha is privileged, (ie. where people think we’re just naturally “better” than everyone else- due more to unconscious bias than intentional racism in most cases, I hope) and elects Pakeha well out of proportion with what New Zealand actually looks like. While I think some Pakeha do well on race issues, that’s not the same as actually coming from that background and “getting it” directly.

    …which is evidenced by the fact that you advocate that only a special group can remove their undemocratic special privileges. Equality has gone out the window.

    Look, maybe the WASP had it better than others in the past, I don’t deny this. But righting past wrongs by creating new wrongs is self-defeating and counter-productive. We just need to get it right, and soon.

    You are simply wrong if you think things are right now. The evidence is all around you if you open your eyes. If you think men and women are equal, why the prevalence of assault and rape against women? (pro tip: answering that men are more violent implies inequality too.)

    If you think gay and straight people are equal, explain the prevalence of youth homelessness among the gay community. Or poverty and education gap among Maori. Or education gay among boys. Or the fledgling acceptance and huge danger of transgenderism.

    Even if none of that is enough for you, the bottom line is that you’re not the right person to judge whether someone suffers inequality. Their own communities are. (ie. the community of women, of Maori, of gays and lesbians and bisexuals and the questioning, of transgender and intersex, etc…)

    We are not past the point where we’ve made up for the fact that other people have less opportunity than we do.

  8. “Right now most seats are de facto “white seats”.” – that is a completely ignorant statement. This is 2009, not 1909. Are you not aware of the ethnic mix that makes up NZ today?

    “because Labour was scared that National was going to use racist attack lines to win the government benches after their second term.” – spare me the partisan bullshit.

    In fact white/Pakeha is also incorrect when referring to general seats. We should be saying non-Maori specific seats. I don’t need to spell out the current state of multi-culturism in NZ. You may feel comfortable with having effective representation, but are you comfortable with Maori have more, unequal, representation? Not sure how you see the current situation as Maori having less representation when in reality they have more than everyone else!

    “You’re acting like racism is over” – no, no. Did you not read my previous comments? It is alive an well with the 7 Maori seats (let alone several local bodies to boot).

    You said “unbalanced health statistics, the learning gap in schools still dominated by Pakeha values and culture” (and lets add unbalanced prison statistics while you’re at it). So your solution is extra parliamentary representation for Maori? Bah. the Maori Party have this correct, you have it wrong. The Maori Party will tell you that problems form within need to be solved by looking within. Blaming barely relevant eternal parties has proved fruitless for over 100 years. When there is a problem, one must start by looking at oneself.

    I wonder what you must think of National and ACT of all parties having a coalition deal with the Maori Party. Labour and Greens couldn’t achieve this. Just doesn’t fit does it? Boo hoo… If you stopped playing the blame game to make you feel better, and actually sought out solutions, you might do better next time.

    And lets not forget that the Maori seats have been in place since the 19th century. Wow a lot of good this has done considering your assessment of affairs today. Did it ever occur to you that your answer of extra representation for Maori is a flawed theory, to say the least!

    “The reason we don’t have our own electoral role is because we don’t need one”. As obviously implied, Pakeha shouldn’t have their own electoral role. The electorate must be representative of the people, not pre-defined on racial groupings.

    “No, it’s really not undemocratic to have Maori seats.” – ah, yes it is. Refer previous comments.

    “I don’t think that word means what you think it means:” – sorry, where did I stuff up grammatically.? Not sure which word you mean.

    Your egregious example is technically fine by mean as long as every gay Uzbeki Buddhist had their vote and cast it accordingly. Like I said, it is about everyone having a fair vote, to choose who they want, for a parliament of a making that was representative of the people. Currently we don’t have this.

    “but allowing people to form cultural constituencies is just as valid as allowing geographical ones.” – The general election is based on one geographical region (NZ) and so too it should be based on one people (NZers of all ethnic groups).

    MMP corrected the past geographical imbalances that FPP created. Old news.

    Like I said already extra seats for Maori doesn’t necessarily equate to “speed up equality of opportunity for Maori,”. How long are you willing to wait for this one?

    “If for example, Labour ran some candidates who had openly struggled with mental illness in the past.”. Heh, maybe you are not as partisan as I thought (well…). I think of the John Kirwan ads from that comment, then I think of Trevor Mallard (as the complete opposite to what you might want in this situation). He should be ejected from Labour because he is doing them more harm than good (esp in relations with the Maori party). Oh wait, no, that is probably a good thing as it helps to keep Labour in the opposition benches….heh. (sorry, I digressed)

    “No, I want to unskew it. “ – no you do want to skew because you want to give one group additional representation. As previously explained.

    “The current system is skewed by social norms” – then why not fix this rather than throw additional parliamentary seats to Maori? Maybe this is a token gesture to keep them quiet. Maybe you are even more racist than I thought.

    “and elects Pakeha well out of proportion with what New Zealand actually looks like.” – you would do well to look up prominent Maori politicians before making this comment. (like the former member for Tauranga who has held several deputy PM roles, can’t bring myself to say his name!!). Furthermore Obama got voted in as President without special electoral privileges for his race.

    “You are simply wrong if you think things are right now” – you should reread my comment. I said: “We just need to get it right, and soon.”. How you read that to meaning I think things are right now is beyond me. So it follows that your subsequent paragraphs full of tangents on pet topics are deemed irrelevant. Maybe we can discuss them another day, in a specific post.

  9. that is a completely ignorant statement. This is 2009, not 1909. Are you not aware of the ethnic mix that makes up NZ today?

    I fail to see how this statistic makes electorate seats any more representative or fair. Usually said ethnic mix is distributed across the country in such a way that many more electorates are predominately Pakeha than just looking at nationwide demographics would suggest. Electorates are inherently unfair. If we’re going to hang onto them, why not at least use the broken mechanic to balance out the inequality a little?

    I’m not a Labour partisan. I’m actually a Green member, and I think the Government then made the stupid call- but they made it between a rock and a hard place.

    no, no. Did you not read my previous comments? It is alive an well with the 7 Maori seats (let alone several local bodies to boot).

    Racism is the systematic attempt to advance one race over another. The Maori seats may be racially distinguished, but, and this is important, they aren’t racist until they’re used as an agent of Maori supremacy or to passively continue the existence of a racial supremacy, (which is, essentially, the situation where we don’t have independent and effective Maori representation) rather than as part of an effort to gain Maori more equal opportunities in our society. I’m going to credit you with being able to notice the self-evident fact that Maori do not have the same opportunities in our country right now that Pakeha do. While I’d love to be able to rectify that speedily without positive discrimination, I prefer positive discrimination that speeds up addressing inequality to a balanced system that locks in Pakeha privilege. Does that clarify anything, or is this just too incompatible with your philosophy?

    then why not fix this rather than throw additional parliamentary seats to Maori? Maybe this is a token gesture to keep them quiet. Maybe you are even more racist than I thought.

    Because the best people to identify what needs to be fixed are Maori, so we should select more Maori MPs to help us address race relations. Making our Pakeha representatives work more closely with Maori colleges is actually the best way to disrupt the colonial norms of an environment like Parliament.

    And my call for more Maori representation is apolitical- there are no “wrong Maori”. Even Winston flaming Peters helps this equation, as people get to see that hey, even Maori/Asian ideologues can be bigots too. 😉 And Maori seats help us to do that. It’s sort of a chicken-and-the-egg situation. I agree with you that in and of itself, disproportionality is bad. I just think the results in this case are good enough that we should swallow our principle in the name of improving society. I buy into the principle that a completely fair electoral system is no good if we run it in a manifestly unfair wider society, and that it’s no good to advance the freedom of the society as a whole if it involves leaving certain groups behind. Rising tide lifts all boats again, I’m afraid, but this time for social issues rather than economic ones.

    you would do well to look up prominent Maori politicians before making this comment. (like the former member for Tauranga who has held several deputy PM roles, can’t bring myself to say his name!!). Furthermore Obama got voted in as President without special electoral privileges for his race.

    The existence of prominent individuals from a group does not mean that group is fairly represented. Did Margaret Thatcher being PM mean that half of the MPs were women? Representativeness is about equality of outcomes, which makes it a bit of an anathema to the right sometimes, but it’s important because it helps ensure equality of opportunity in wider society. Having a prominent female/black/Maori/etc… leader does not fill in the same gap, especially as it’s partially a symbolic victory and not a practical one. It’s about more than one person.

    How you read that to meaning I think things are right now is beyond me. So it follows that your subsequent paragraphs full of tangents on pet topics are deemed irrelevant. Maybe we can discuss them another day, in a specific post.

    I read your post as implying those positions because of the way you used the word “racist”. It appears that to you this word is seperable from the wider context, and that Maori seats are racist purely because there’s racial selection being involved. To me, Maori seats aren’t racist because given the wider social context- which I set out- racial inequality excuses effective and reasonably fair positive discrimination. Given that going over to the Maori roll removes you from the general roll, it qualifies as “reasonably fair.” The seats become racist when they are used for racist actions. Do you really believe that a separate, mutually-exclusive electoral roll means that even filling the seats makes them racist? Because that’s a view I find very extreme indeed.

  10. My clear point that not all non-Maori is white. You are aware of the sizeable Indian, Samoan, Chinese and Tongan communities, aren’t you? Let alone the rest. Plus MMP destroys your electorate argument. Some changes never make people happy, they still cling to old ideas.

    I know you are Green, but that is not mutually exclusive from being Labour partisan. Sorry, don’t mean to be nasty but we all know the Greens view themselves as bridesmaids to Labour (though will never admit it) and behave in such a way. Maybe the new leadership of Norman/Turei will change that, only time will tell. Plus we always see the Green and Labour banners out together in force at rallies so so bother trying to differentiate the two – you will be wasting your time.

    “Racism is the systematic attempt to advance one race over another.” – partially yes, but there is more. Note from dictionary.com:
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

    Point 1 can be used for both your argument and mine, but IMHO your argument points to the past, mine to the present (moreso to the first part of point 1). Point 2 is exactly what I am referring to. Point 3 is the classical sense which is not so relevant in our debate here (I don’t for a minute assume the seats are based on hatred or intolerance).

    ” the situation where we don’t have independent and effective Maori representation” – see this is where we disagree. Why have independent Maori representation when we are all citizens of the same country? As for effective representation, already referred to current situation and MMP.

    “you with being able to notice the self-evident fact that Maori do not have the same opportunities in our country right now that Pakeha do.” Sorry if I misled you. Not sure I said Maori have less opportunity though I agree that are disproportionately representated in negative statistics. So various aspects are not equal but I believe opportunities are. I think I said the answers are from within, not just blaming the white man, a strategy that hasn’t worked to date. I am not sure you realise how condescending you sound when you speak of positive discrimination. Sorry, but need to call a spade a spade.

    “Because the best people to identify what needs to be fixed are Maori, …” – and why do you assume to have all the answers then?

    “…so we should select more Maori MPs to help us address race relations” – which has achieved little to date, so what do you have to go on that even more will make a difference??? And is it race relations the issue here? I think it is more the day-to.day aspects people are interested in, not a low level ministry.

    “should swallow our principle in the name of improving society.” – you have the right intention, man, but practice says otherwise. The Maori seats have traditionally always been Labour patsy seats. Many Maori in the past 15 years have voted to show their disgust with being taken for granted. This shows to me that the seats themselves have achieved little. Plus their existence potentially brews resentment amongst all non-Maori due to the special treatment. And many Maori prefer to advance themselves socially, culturally and politically without special treatment so that they can be regarded – rightly – as equals..

    “I buy into the principle that a completely fair electoral system is no good if we run it in a manifestly unfair wider society,” – So if it is a manifestly unfair wider system why are you trying to adjust the already “completely fair electoral system”!!!

    “it’s no good to advance the freedom of the society as a whole if it involves leaving certain groups behind.” – Noone is leaving groups behind unless that group is doing it to themselves. Opportunities abound for everyone.

    “The existence of prominent individuals” – true but my point is that the opportunity exists. And taken up time and time again.

    “I read your post as implying those positions because of the way you used the word “racist”.” – you should not assume, especially on barely related topics. There is a word for that – stereotyping. I explain better the meaning of ‘racist’ above – hope that clears it up.

    “To me, Maori seats aren’t racist because given the wider social context” – and yet another generalisation.

    “racial inequality excuses effective and reasonably fair positive discrimination. “ – have you ever heard of the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right”? Your reactive wrong has no evidence of progress. That is why it is a wrong. You may have the right intent, and we share this I believe, but you are misguided in your solution – and this is where we differ. Reverse racism does not fix past racism – it’s as simple as that.

  11. My clear point that not all non-Maori is white. You are aware of the sizeable Indian, Samoan, Chinese and Tongan communities, aren’t you? Let alone the rest. Plus MMP destroys your electorate argument. Some changes never make people happy, they still cling to old ideas.

    I agree with you that Asian and Pacific Island communities are important parts of our ethnic makeup. I think Maori merit the brunt of our attention for a few reasons:

    1) Unlike the Asian community, the discrimination against Maori has severely damaged their economic status, and it is only now beginning to be repaired.
    2) Unlike the Pacific Island community, Maori are the indigenous community of New Zealand and there are issues of unlawful conduct around many Pakeha dealings with Maori.

    I certainly think that hearing more from our other ethnic communities would be a good thing- but Maori issues are the only racial issues I have any degree of “fluency” in, so I focus on them. This is one of those “only so many hours in the day” things. 😦

    Sorry, don’t mean to be nasty but we all know the Greens view themselves as bridesmaids to Labour (though will never admit it) and behave in such a way.

    I think there are certainly some Green voters who feel that way. I’m not one of them, and I’m siding very clearly with the Party leadership on that front. I’m about as far from being a Labour partisan as you can get without completely losing touch with the political centre. Sorry. 🙂

    And yeah, I still think the Greens should be co-operating with Labour- because they’re not as bad as National, not because I really like them much. The only other party I have a significant affinity with is the Maori Party, to be honest, and I’d love to see a lot more active co-operation between the two of us.

    Point 1 can be used for both your argument and mine, but IMHO your argument points to the past, mine to the present (moreso to the first part of point 1). Point 2 is exactly what I am referring to. Point 3 is the classical sense which is not so relevant in our debate here (I don’t for a minute assume the seats are based on hatred or intolerance).

    Racism comes in different forms, to be sure. I actually think the definition you have there is lacking slightly. I accept that (3) and (is the worst type of racism and what many people object to when they are called “a racist”. I think that kind of label needs to be reserved for people like the National Front.

    I think (1) and (2) are a bit unclear, and that there’s a real difference between some of the remaining types of racial discrimination. I think directly below (3), we have a weaker type of racism (which I’m going to call (2) from now on) which is acting to obtain or retain an absolute advantage over other races. That doesn’t make any assumption of superiority- it’s “doing something racist”, rather than “being racist”.

    Below that there is making a decision based on race at all, which I’ll call (1) from now on. I believe our point of difference is that you feel that (1) and (2) are equivalent, and I don’t. It makes a difference because Pakeha have exploited and denied Maori of their legal rights to achieve their current racial advantage in society. Society maturing and saying that this advantage should be redistributed to increase the opportunity for Maori to succeed as well isn’t racist- it’s slowing down the growth of Pakeha to give Maori a chance to catch up.

    You can disagree with me if you like, but I have real problems with you saying that such a view is “racist”. I think we both agree that every race should have equal opportunities to succeed. That means neither of us are racists. I think you probably also agree with me that if Pakeha get better opportunities purely by virtue of being Pakeha, then we need policies that catch up opportunity for other races- that is, you don’t want to “do something racist”, either. I think the problem here is that you feel you can’t take any action that’s racially based to address the very real advantages that being Pakeha confers in New Zealand, and to me that’s like saying you can’t cut out a cancer because it’s part of your body.

    I’ll address the rest of your post in my next post. 🙂

  12. see this is where we disagree. Why have independent Maori representation when we are all citizens of the same country? As for effective representation, already referred to current situation and MMP.

    Because independent Maori representation can’t be repressed by crude partisan pressure, like what happened with the foreshore and seabed act. I agree that we have effective representation under the current MMP regime with the current players. I just disagree that it should be taken away.

    So various aspects are not equal but I believe opportunities are. I think I said the answers are from within, not just blaming the white man, a strategy that hasn’t worked to date. I am not sure you realise how condescending you sound when you speak of positive discrimination. Sorry, but need to call a spade a spade.

    Positive discrimination is an academic term to describe discrimation-based policies that attempt to right a broader injustice. I think any positive discrimination needs support from the community it’s supposed to benefit at the very least. It’s certainly not meant as a condescending term.

    I don’t blame white people for having an advantage. I blame us when we feel privileged because of that advantage- that it’s a natural part of being Pakeha that we go to university, or are considered smart, or emotionally balanced, or that we’ve earned our wealth. I think it’s a bit difficult to talk about disliking this privilege without being read as disliking the fact that Pakeha are successful. There are lots of successes in the Pakeha community that aren’t sullied in the least by racism, and I love that. I just want the same for everyone else, too. I want a world where if we see a Maori guy driving an Audi, we say “nice car” instead of wondering if it is stolen. Get my drift?

    and why do you assume to have all the answers then?

    I don’t. I know what will make things worse, and thus what we shouldn’t do. I leave the question of what we should do about race to the various leaders of the Maori community, and I’m open to listening to people whose lives have been significantly effected to race on what needs to be done- because the only effect of race on my life has been privileges that I’m not entitled to.

    All my opinions on “what to do about race” revolve around increasing the opportunities for the other communities of New Zealand to sort it out themselves. 🙂

    which has achieved little to date, so what do you have to go on that even more will make a difference??? And is it race relations the issue here? I think it is more the day-to.day aspects people are interested in, not a low level ministry.

    Little has been achieved because National and Labour have got in the way in the past. With National banking left to make Labour look bad for pandering to the racists and the privileged, we now have a real opportunity to start having constructive dialogues about race in this country. Assuming we don’t get too side-tracked with flags 😉

    Part of the equation is not just getting Maori MPs elected, but also convincing Pakeha MPs to shut up and listen to them for five minutes. (And you can imagine how difficult that is) We’re a lot closer on this front, but for it to make any difference we need to keep the crude bludgeons like the Maori roll around in order to have Pakeha take race relations seriously.

    The Maori seats have traditionally always been Labour patsy seats. Many Maori in the past 15 years have voted to show their disgust with being taken for granted. This shows to me that the seats themselves have achieved little. Plus their existence potentially brews resentment amongst all non-Maori due to the special treatment. And many Maori prefer to advance themselves socially, culturally and politically without special treatment so that they can be regarded – rightly – as equals..

    I agree that the seats were pretty useless when they were subsumed into Labour and New Zealand First party blocs. It’s a good thing we now have an independent party that is winning many of them.

    So if it is a manifestly unfair wider system why are you trying to adjust the already “completely fair electoral system”!!!

    I was talking in generalities. MMP is not completely fair, and there are further improvements to be had going forward. You’re also ignoring the fact that the government we elect effects the social system we live in. So it’s part of the equation of social change. If we live in a racially unfair society, tilted the electoral system can be positive discrimination. (sorry if I’m condescending somehow saying that. 🙂 )

    Noone is leaving groups behind unless that group is doing it to themselves. Opportunities abound for everyone.

    true but my point is that the opportunity exists. And taken up time and time again.

    I don’t want some opportunity for people who aren’t Pakeha. I want to get very, very close to equal opportunity. I don’t think you can take the existence of a few success stories and say that the rest of the population is just not good enough. These are the extraordinary people who, generally, have defied the odds to get where they are. There are probably more people who could be politicians, or business leaders, or cultural paragons, or whatever- Maori are an incredibly skilled and versatile bunch, and should be succeeding far more frequently than they currently are if opportunities were really equal. I agree that this sort of thing isn’t entirely a zero-sum game- in fact I think we probably extend the welfare of society as a whole by making opportunity more equal- but we do have to give up some excesses to do that first. Short-term sacrifice, short-term positive discrimination, for long-term gain gain, and substantial long-term equality, rather than the precarious balance we have now.

    you should not assume, especially on barely related topics. There is a word for that – stereotyping. I explain better the meaning of ‘racist’ above – hope that clears it up.

    I wasn’t assuming anything- I read the words differently than you obviously intended them based on subsequent posts. This is one of the difficulties of dialogue between the left and the right- we have very different political lexicons. 🙂

    have you ever heard of the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right”? Your reactive wrong has no evidence of progress. That is why it is a wrong. You may have the right intent, and we share this I believe, but you are misguided in your solution – and this is where we differ. Reverse racism does not fix past racism – it’s as simple as that.

    If I climb up a tree on someone else’s shoulders, is pulling them up after me instead of climbing up further somehow unfair? In a sense you can imply that I’ve climbed up myself, but that’s ignoring the person who helped me up and the historical context of my actions.

    I don’t want to imply we’re to blame because our ancestors decided to go for a racial advantage, but we can’t act as if we’ve earned that advantage fairly until we enhance opportunities for the rest of New Zealand.

    We can’t “fix” historical racism, and we shouldn’t try. But we can repudiate it, condemn it, and make sure we don’t lock in the disadvantages it has inflicted on communities like Maori New Zealanders.

  13. Re 1) Explain the discrimination again Maori. After all they have had their own seats for over 100 years so since this has clearly – in your mind – not stopped discrimination, why would MORE seats improve this situation. This is my point, your thinking is flawed by your own definition.

    Re 2) you need to be more specific here. If you are talking about the 19th century then that is a different argument (and one we may have shared views over). But we are talking about today so in that case I need you to be more explicit about the “unlawful conduct”.

    “I’m not one of them,” – well I will believe you then but my comment on the Green Party in general stands. They always let themselves down come election time, hanging off the coattails of a corrupt Labour party. Like I said already, maybe the new leadership will change that behaviour. Much as I disagree with Norman politically, he has shown some signs/occasions of being a reasonable individual. Potentially it augurs well….

    “I still think the Greens should be co-operating with Labour- because they’re not as bad as National” – hmm maybe you are not as much as in tune with the new GP leadership as I thought. Labour should be put aside for now because of their corruptibility, and efforts made with the parties with influence (you do want to make a difference don’t you?). When Labour gets their house in order, including some integrity, then maybe you could rebuild that relationship. Until that happens, I would stay well away from the cancer.

    “I’d love to see a lot more active co-operation between the two of us.” – Maori Party and Green Party I assume? Maybe it’s your fawning to the bigger and more cancerous Labour Party that results in the Maori party keeping their distance from you (the infected?). There’s also that thing about socialism vs getting out of a rut based upon making one’s own decisions – but maybe an argument for another day.

    Re the 1,2,3 blurb, yes you have done well to cloud the issue to suit your argument but my original point still stands.

    You said “I think you probably also agree with me that if Pakeha get better opportunities purely by virtue of being Pakeha, then we need policies that catch up opportunity for other races-“ – well maybe, but let’s start with you naming and explaining such policies…?

    You said “I think the problem here is that you feel you can’t take any action that’s racially based to address the very real advantages that being Pakeha confers in New Zealand,” – you see that’s where I think you haven’t been listening to me. The opportunities for Maori are there. So there is no need for racist policies. Somehow you think there are, no?

    “representation can’t be repressed by crude partisan pressure,” – so who is represented fairly by “crude partisan pressure” – sorry, but you are running on empty here.

    “It’s certainly not meant as a condescending term.” – but in actuality it is, and by definition is racist, despite the best, yet misguided, intentions.

    “blame us when we feel privileged because of that advantage” – speak for yourself white boy! 😉

    “I want a world where if we see a Maori guy driving an Audi,…” – classic champagne socialist!! Steered by materialism! “…we say “nice car” instead of wondering if it is stolen.” –again, speak for yourself since you are so keen on being condescending and old-school.. I don’t think like this, but clearly you do.

    “I leave the question of what we should do about race to the various leaders of the Maori community” – seems a bit one-sided don’t you think, maybe even racist?

    “All my opinions on “what to do about race” revolve around increasing the opportunities” – but equal opportunities already exist. If a year 13 Maori pupil passes UE, then he/she can go to Uni. He/she is not hindered because of his/her race. Please be explicit on your perceived inequalities. Do NOT resort to meaningless statistics, but now demonstrate to me a clear inequality w.r.t. opportunity.

    “Part of the equation is not just getting Maori MPs elected,” – A-ha!!! So you admit now that more Maori political representation is not the answer. My, my! Say it isn’t so!

    “I was talking in generalities. MMP is not completely fair,..blah, blah” – yeah, yeah, that why you sit comfortably on the sidelines complaining, not actually adding anything to any given issue. Oh well, you are Green Party after all. – condemned to the fringe, but only due to fringe views (now I get the points for being condescending ;-)). Maybe Norman can change that and add some influence, unlike the lackeys….

    When I speak of opportunities for everyone, I mean everyone. Please don’t assume I am referring to a select few cases as models. Maori have the opportunity now more than ever, it is up to them to take it up, as so many have already. It would be wrong for me to assume they haven’t for racial reasons…but the ‘left’ do…go figure! Now you know why I initially called you Albi.

    PS I don’t know if all my tags are going to work out…I really wish you’d add a “preview” function.

  14. Explain the discrimination again Maori. After all they have had their own seats for over 100 years so since this has clearly – in your mind – not stopped discrimination, why would MORE seats improve this situation. This is my point, your thinking is flawed by your own definition.

    The Maori seats being an effective vehicle for Maori representation is a post-MMP phenomenon. (perhaps even post-Maori Party) Originally Maori seats were effectively a ghetto that stopped Maori from representing a majority of the government. Now they’re directly proportional to the number of people on the Maori roll- and given that the Maori roll is optional, it can be viewed as a rolling referendum among Maori on the idea of seperate Maori representation.

    I don’t see how the current Maori seats we have now are disproven to be helpful because the previous Maori seats we had were motivated by settler-based dismissal of indigenous rights.

    you need to be more specific here. If you are talking about the 19th century then that is a different argument (and one we may have shared views over). But we are talking about today so in that case I need you to be more explicit about the “unlawful conduct”.

    I think the only recent event that could be described that way is the foreshore and seabed act, which I would have considered unconstitutional.

    They always let themselves down come election time, hanging off the coattails of a corrupt Labour party. Like I said already, maybe the new leadership will change that behaviour. Much as I disagree with Norman politically, he has shown some signs/occasions of being a reasonable individual. Potentially it augurs well….

    I think the Greens have given as much leeway to National as they’ve earned. They need to move a bit closer to the centre and commit to making real environmental progress if they want the Greens to support them ahead of Labour for the government benches. I’m not dismissing the possibility, but they’d need to be a lot less socially harmful, and they’d probably need to offer stronger environmental concessions than Labour chose to.

    Maori Party and Green Party I assume? Maybe it’s your fawning to the bigger and more cancerous Labour Party that results in the Maori party keeping their distance from you (the infected?). There’s also that thing about socialism vs getting out of a rut based upon making one’s own decisions – but maybe an argument for another day.

    There’s already quite a bit of co-operation and the Maori Party voted with the Greens the most of any party in Parliament last term. (I expect that will change this time around given that they’re bound to give confidence and supply and the Greens aren’t)

    Re the 1,2,3 blurb, yes you have done well to cloud the issue to suit your argument but my original point still stands.

    I wasn’t trying to cloud anything and I think that’s pretty uncharitable of you to say so. 😉

    you see that’s where I think you haven’t been listening to me. The opportunities for Maori are there. So there is no need for racist policies. Somehow you think there are, no?

    I don’t think they’re racist and you’ve not convinced me in the slightest that they are. Some opportunities are there. Exceptional people can and do succeed or even excel. That does not mean we aren’t letting down young kids who need an education that engages them. That doesn’t mean that Maori always get a fair shake from employers. (although that particular issue has made progress a bit faster than education or health disparities)

    If you’re telling me that even the obvious education and health disparities don’t need addressing, then I’m not sure how we can find any common ground here.

    so who is represented fairly by “crude partisan pressure” – sorry, but you are running on empty here.

    You don’t seem to be understanding what I was trying to say. There were Maori seats, but whenever a Maori representative tried to stand up on an issue that might actually effect Maori, they got shut down by their wider party. While this does happen on other bases, it seemed to happen to Maori a lot more- possibly because of the very real resentment caused by the perception that positive discrimination makes thing easier for Maori than for other New Zealanders, when it does no such thing.

    – classic champagne socialist!! Steered by materialism!

    –again, speak for yourself since you are so keen on being condescending and old-school.. I don’t think like this, but clearly you do.

    Hah. No, I’m not really very materialist at all. I gave that example because there is a very real problem that it is assumed that wealthy Maori do not exist. I’m glad you don’t consciously think that way- I’d be careful about ruling out your unconscious automatically, but of course I’m not assuming anything there. 🙂

    but in actuality it is, and by definition is racist, despite the best, yet misguided, intentions.

    Have you actually asked someone who’s Maori how they feel about that sort of thing and whether they think it’s racist? Because I’ve yet to hear anyone say they thought it was easier to be Maori because of attempts at positive discrimination.

    I also think you’ve got a troubling definition of racism that you can ignore the wider context an action takes place in.

    but equal opportunities already exist. If a year 13 Maori pupil passes UE, then he/she can go to Uni. He/she is not hindered because of his/her race. Please be explicit on your perceived inequalities. Do NOT resort to meaningless statistics, but now demonstrate to me a clear inequality w.r.t. opportunity.

    But a 13-year old Maori pupil is much less likely to even keep up with an equivalent Pakeha pupil, and are much less likely to live in a home with the supporting material- such as books, a family that values learning, access to the internet, etc… All those factors make it very likely that if we had two otherwise identical 13-yearolds, both capable of going to university, one Maori and one Asian, that the young Maori pupil would be able to reach their potential. These are subtle disadvantages that we can’t immediately chip away at just because there are now some more well-off families in the Maori community. It takes more than that.

    The statistics may be relevant because they tell us a problem exists, but they’re not what actually causes the problem. I’ve given you some of the most likely factors for educational under-achievement, but keep in mind there are similar factors for health, for leaving school early, for career paths, etc…

    I agree with you that it’s a sign of progress that there’s no arbitrary barriers to studying based on race, but that’s not the same thing as there being a completely equal opportunity for everyone to study.

    A-ha!!! So you admit now that more Maori political representation is not the answer. My, my! Say it isn’t so!

    It’s not the only answer. I said “not just.” 🙂 It’s still important because it builds up the effectiveness of the other solutions, and fosters engagement with Pakeha leaders.

    When I speak of opportunities for everyone, I mean everyone. Please don’t assume I am referring to a select few cases as models. Maori have the opportunity now more than ever, it is up to them to take it up, as so many have already. It would be wrong for me to assume they haven’t for racial reasons…but the ‘left’ do…go figure! Now you know why I initially called you Albi.

    It’s good to hear you agree in principle. However the way you’re arguing is certainly ignoring the fact that many Maori do not have anything close to an equal opportunity in our society, even if that isn’t due to someone directly taking it away from them.

    The point-scoring isn’t exactly welcome and I think it’s a bit worse than saying “positive discrimination” 😉

  15. On the preview front, it appears wordpress.com hasn’t implemented that yet. ><

  16. Let’s stop the violence

  17. So, I’ve been annoying my brother recently by challenging his usage of the word “slut”. (And no, that doesn’t mean I think my brother’s sexist, hold on for a second!)
    Interesting, he’s actually using the word in a gender-neutral way, (ie. he’s also calling men sluts, and applying it to other habits than sexuality) which almost makes it seem okay to me. I’ve thought about this a bit since I last discussed it with him and I think I’ve hit on what’s bothering me, despite the obvious reaction of “calling men names is not the way to fix the fact that women are called names.”
    The problem is that when we use the word “slut” to describe men, even if we’re using it as a term meaning they’re not appropriately careful with who they do the deed with, we’re still not using it consistently with how the word is used in regards to women.
    When we “reclaim”1 the word slut to use it against men, it tends to get used to criticise a habit. But when we use the word slut to describe a woman, it’s almost always understood as a dismissal of what she’s saying, what she’s doing, or even of her worth to the speaker as a person. There is no such undertone for men- if men have “bad” sexual habits, that’s mostly viewed as some private failing. (Unless you’re a politician and you get caught at it)
    When women have “bad” sexual habits, (much like when they have “bad” appearances) it becomes a standard by which we can judge their entire character and use to denigrate or dismiss them as we wish. The problem is not so much the word as the power we as a society have granted to the idea behind it- and this is something I’ll discuss more as we go along- that it carries with it the connotation that all women are either virgins or whores2, and as a slut, you fall into the latter category, and can thus be mistreated.
    1 Really, I don’t think turning around a sexist insult counts as reclaiming a word, so much as turning the patriarchy back on itself. While perhaps useful as an object lesson for men particularly hypocritical about their own sexual habits, I don’t really want to see this happening on a wider scale.
    2 This is why “Your mother” jokes are so powerful- motherhood is a positive female image, (thus making us view our mothers as if they’re virgins) but it clashes with our view of women who have sex* as whores- creating cognitive dissonance and challenging our expectations about society. Yeah, humour can be deep sometimes.
    * Yeah, okay, I know it’s possible to be a mother without having had sex- but it’s vanishingly unlikely, as most mothers who are artificially inseminated, or who are do-it-yourself-non-sexually-impregnated are still likely to have had sex beforehand, whether with a man or a woman. The point is that motherhood, one of the coolest things in our society, is a result of women who have sex. Therefore, women having sex can be a positive and beautiful thing beyond just the self-gratification involved.
    Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

  18. Okay now your old brother and I am NEW…..
    No this ain’t no weak chick….and I ain’t two steping to any of you!!!!.
    I am the REAL shit and so you need to work for you and yours!!!!
    I am so special and I am tired of playing nickels for dimes!

    So ReWIND…..or go SLOW
    Me and my FAMILY is staying LOW-LOW
    I can RISE hella high if I CHOSE to!!!!
    It’s called stocks and BONDS!!!!
    I need a new House with a fence and a yard!
    So i know I am HARD!!!!!
    Not a weakling BABY
    and this little birdie will never SING!!!!
    All the HOES have already SUNG….
    ” DUM, DUM,DUM!”

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