Things you never expect to happen by underground

Garth George’s columns often get me fired up, and not in a good way. To put it simply, almost everything he has to say runs completely contrary to my own view. Often I find myself wondering why the Herald would even print his rants, as I find them either misinformed or needlessly offensive. It seems to me many commentators revel in causing offense, as if to them it is confirmation they are telling the cold hard truth. Garth and I likely sit on the poles of most issues, from religion to politics. If he were to read my blog I assume he may feel similar to the way I feel about his column, although he may note I do try not to cause offense.

So imagine my initial shock when I read a column that I actually agreed with.

I have cast Garth’s columns aside as an conservative conspiracy theorist harping on about non-existent threats from Islamo-fascist and environmentalists, and placing the blame for all of society’s ills on the right’s favourite scape goat “political correctness“. I am inclined to discard the thoughts of any who equate morality only with Christianity and believe the decline of religion to be related to any perceived decline in a society’s ethics.

In today’s Herald (Thursday June 5), Garth wrote about the Green Party’s role in parliament. In what he described as an “epiphany”, he read through Green Party policy to find it much more reasonable than he would have imagined. After reading his column I must concede to now have a new found respect for him as a columnist, as his piece on the Greens was well considered and thoughtful.

Although I encourage you to read it yourself, I will sum up the piece roughly here. Upon reading through Greens policy, Garth reached a “inescapable, albeit somewhat uncomfortable, conclusion: that the Greens do have a vital part to play in Parliament, and that part is to be its political, economic, social and environmental conscience”. Garth acknolwedges that although the Greens hold ideals that may not be everyones cup of tea, the party does care about the environment, which every New Zealander should be able to relate to. Maybe it is the Greens’ criticism of Labour which has appealed to Garth, but that is not a bad thing. In my view the only competent opposition party we have had to Labour is the Greens Party, and perhaps Garth has recognised this too.

His closing parargraphs are particularly good:

“Sure, the Greens are idealists and a lot of them are eccentrics. But in a nation desperately short of idealism and eccentricity that’s no bad thing.

It doesn’t matter a damn which major party they attach themselves to because the major players are, as Dr Norman says, as much alike as Coke and Pepsi, and whichever one wins the most seats will need the sort of passionate, principled input only the Greens can provide. Just so long as there aren’t too many of them.”

Congratulations Garth on an intelligent article. Unfortunately, although Garth may have seen the light, quite a few Herald online readers are still in the dark, possibly in a cave somewhere. In the Herald’s “your views” section several readers show their preference not for representative democracy, but for some sort of authoritarian dictatorship. Let me highlight a few of the more ridiculous remarks.

Glenthekiwi would like to live in a dictatorship:

MMP is undemocratic. How can a party with 3% of the countries support have more influence than the opposition party, with 33% of the votes? I can’t wait for National to win convincingly and get rid of MMP and focusing on running the country, rather than trying to make up the numbers to form a government, like some amateur game of footy on a Saturday morning. Bye bye Greens.”

RandyAndy thinks buses are environmentally a bad idea, although I would love to know why! I would love to know what RandyAndy thinks “respectable environmentalism” is:

Contrasting, the Greens erode respectable environmentalism by jumping on populist promoted issues to win votes. They push for ‘eco’ rubbish like public transport investment and “Smart growth” which are extremely poor or even negative environmental initiates (relative to the cost). The Greens pervert real environmentalism – not advance it. And that is why, as a true environmentalist (I like to believe, at least), I can’t stand them. I believe that they are part of the “environmental movement” hijacked by socialists who have learnt to use eco fears/ideas to advance a communist style of socialism.”

And JPS seems to think that the Greens are not allowed to have policies that are not to do with the environment. They seem to particular hate the fact the Greens attempt to look after not just the environment, but people too:

I admire genuine environmentalism (which I define as direct intervention to preserve threatened native species and habitats) but the Greens seem more concerned with loopy social policy like “restorative justice” and pandering to the unproductive underclass and idiots in hoodies. Along with the Maori Party, their social policy is so out of touch that any deal with them by a major party will mean a guaranteed single term in office.”

And there are more where those came from!

So many voters would prefer the votes of their fellow New Zealanders not to be counted. I also liked how some anti-Greens comments contradicted others, for examples, how can the Greens be both “populist” and out of touch with reality. And the end of the day, somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 New Zealanders support this party, which is more than any one electorate politician. And as Garth rightly points out, the government is better for their involvement, just as we are better off with other “fringe” parties, whether they be ACT, the Maori party, New Zealand First or the Green Party.

For me, the comment page reinforced many of the ideas I have shared on other posts, whether it be the virtues of democracy or the need to have an informed public for intelligent debate. The ignorance on the “your views” page is incredible, and it is no surprise to see the conclusions many of them reach, when their thought process is based on flawed logic and false information.

I actually found other articles from Garth George that I did not find altogether disagreeable. Perhaps I misjudged him. It seemed like every time I read his column I was repulsed. Have I somehow missed his more reasonable articles? Have I gravitated towards his hysterical rants?

At the end of the day, democracy works best when all opinions are represented, whether in government, or in the media. Even Glenthekiwi should have their voice heard… as long as I have the right to ridicule anything absurd they say! That my friends, is how democracy works.


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