Undergroundnetwork


Voting for violence by underground

The question on the paper reads “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”. When I received my citizen initiated referendum voting paper I asked myself “What accelerant would best burn my ballot?”.

Nine million dollars wasted during a recession. The question is absolute bullshit. Anyone half literate agrees. It does not ask the Government to do anything. If the referendum was binding, nothing would come of any vote. And fortunately anyway, our Prime Minister has the sense to shut the whole thing down before the vote is out.

No is yes and yes is no. The question requires one to acknowledge that  smacking is “good parental correction”, against the judgement of the social agencies who we trust with our most vulnerable and child experts the world over.

We are taught that violence is never the answer for anything. New Zealanders’ pacifist psyche has surprisingly been discarded on this issue. All of a sudden violence is a reasonable way to deal with a situation you cannot handle. Don’t say it is not violence to smack a child. To use physical force to get someone to do what you want, or to stop them doing something you don’t want them to, is violence. What message does this teach children?

The issue has been distorted. The repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act was to remove the defence of “reasonable force”. The cases where this law was used to keep child abusers from justice have been well documented. Those who have distorted this argument are absolving these child abuses of their actions. How was it the country was so easily deceived by coercive lobby groups? The PM has rightly said he will only look at reversing the amendment if it is shown not to work. The police have come out repeatedly saying there is no sign it isn’t working. Is the country not listening?

Social norms change. A referendum 40 or 50 years ago on something like smoking in restaurants or airplanes, women’s rights to choose, homosexuality, corporate punishment or pay equality would have received different results than now. Things that were once not acceptable are now common place and visa versa. It’s called evolving. Otherwise it would be only wealthy landowners casting their votes  while their slaves sustain their lavish lifestyles. Or life in Iran.

People are already using violence less against their children. In thirty years time smacking will be a dirty word. And the Neanderthal’s children will herald a brighter future where violence is not acceptable. Ever.

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On winners and losers by underground

Like the sadist I am, sometimes I like to watch Fox News, cheerleaders of religious conservatism, where the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity make the most ridiculous assertions. According to Hannity, Obama is a socialist because of the US’s increasing deficit, despite George W Bush’s efforts to plunge the surplus he inherited into the red. Yesterday, I enjoyed Hannity slating the network’s opposition for their criticism of the Fox-endorsed anti-Obama “tea party” protests. While I believe it is part of the media role to often advocate a cause, organising anti-government protests is hardly fair and unbiased. And who are the people protesting? They are not the millions who took to the streets objecting to Bush’s illegal war and the erosion of civil liberties. They are tens of thousands of people who voted for the guy that did not win a democratic election last year. They are the sorest of losers, who supported a failed president for eight years and have written off the guy who inherited his mess; a troubled economy and a fractured nation. They are Hannity and Co.’s rent-a-crowd.

In New Zealand, the Left have had to stomach a National Government for six months and, even more difficult, the realisation that John Key is not as bad as previously believed. Key’s empty rhetoric and lack of substance pre-election concerned many, but his inclusive, measured governance has caused a re-think from many. There are indications unpopular policy may be in the pipeline and their pre-Christmas rush and their 100-day inaction may have given opponents some amnunition, but for the time being it’s plain sailing for the Government. The losers of the last election will need to regroup and consider their moves for the future. Let’s not see the pathetic sore-loser response shown by the tea baggers across the Pacific.



Review: Where underpants come from by underground

Writer Joe Bennett’s energy and enthusiasm is legendary, captured not only in his regular television appearances but also in his newspaper columns. His sentences race wildly like a high speed chase, weaving through ideas, from one thought to the next, ceasing abruptly with a bizarre observation. It is his ability to describe scenes and experiences which I love, as he will use the most inappropriate words to most aptly convey what he means. It is truly a wonder how he does it.

Where underpants come from follows Bennett’s exploration through China, as he searches for the raw materials that constitute his $8.59 underwear  purchased from the Warehouse. The underwear serve as the vehicle for Bennett’s investigation into globalisation and China’s evergrowing role in the world, as well as the country’s social, historical, political, religious and economic makeup.

His energy and enthusiasm are what makes his quest possible, as he convinces firstly the Warehouse, and then their numerous suppliers, to allow him to see how his cotton undies got from the cotton fields of China to the shelves of New Zealand. What to some may sound like a boring story, Bennett ensures is anything but, with typically bright descriptions bringing his observations to life. For example, a maitresse ‘d at a Shanghai restaurant is described as “wearing what looks like the uniform of a London parking warden and her hair is tied back in a manner that the Soviet Union’s champion woman tractor driver of 1956 would have found just a little severe”. From then on she is referred to as the “tractor-driving champ”. Genius.

I’ll be hunting down Bennett’s numerous other books to give me more late night laughs.



Obamania: Sickness or cure? by underground

I was bored today. That is the only way I can explain me watching Entertainment Tonight’s inauguration special. I now know what Barack, Michelle and the girls were wearing, who performed live, who thought what, when, why and how. Thousands of people were in the streets, celebrating as though World War Two had just been declared over. Everyone was so excited, every superlative exhausted, every glowing face crying tears of liquid patriotism. It was beautiful. It was history. It was mindnumbing crap.

On a level with perhaps only JFK, Obama is as much a politician as he is a celebrity. What he wears and who he is seen with is as important as what he says and what he does. For all some people seem to care, he could be a chart topping rapper. His number one single is “Yes we can” and his Gold selling album is “Change we can believe in”. People are going crazy over a politician. A politician!  Is this a good thing?

Is this a case of style over substance? Surely it is great people are inspired and interested in politics and ideals, but is Obama much more than slogans and great oratary skills? During the campaign he initially impressed me, particular during the Democratic Primaries, but gradually he has appeared to me as less of a deviation from the status quo as his slogans declare him to be. I was excited as anyone when he won the election, as excited as a non-American could (should) be, but I believe the hype is going over board. Is this man really the messiah? I’m not writing him off, I know he will be an improvement on his predecessor, but considering the mammoth tasks ahead of him I’m keeping my expectations low!

The question I am pondering, is will Obama get people who previously didn’t care about politics, society or the world to follow important issues with interest and participate actively in democracy, or is he simply a cult of personality, divorced from any substance, popular for who he isn’t, worshipped like a teen heart-throb?

I suppose I’ll know in four years time.



Slaying Springboks – on and off the field by underground

I enjoying the sight of a deflated Springbok, defeated by a superior All Black team, especially if I’ve woken up at three in the morning to witness it. But I don’t like the thought that there may no longer be a Springbok team for my boys to beat. The recent announcement that the South African Rugby Union has decided to abandon the famous emblem of the country’s world champion rugby side for a less controversial symbol will end a 102 year tradition. But this is just another episode in the politics v sports saga.

The small gold antelope leaping on the left chest is apparently to some, like street names, place names and other emblems, a reminder of South Africa’s painful history. The Springbok side was once whites only, barring even non-whites from touring. Even a former rugby board once said blacks would never be allowed to wear the emblem because they have their own symbols. Butana Komphela, chairman of parliament’s Sports Portfolio Committee, has insisted the change be made to the Protea, which is the emblem for all other South African sports.

“The Springbok divides us,” he said. “We have a responsibility to unite our country on one national emblem.” Continue reading



Sore losers or bad winners? by underground

Elections are always going to leave one section of voters elated and the other disappointed. The victors and their supporters will seek to quickly bring up the changes they’ve desired throughout the campaign. There will be some soul searching and some hard questions asked, but eventually those defeated and their supporters will move on and live to fight another day. There will be some venting, comments posted on message boards and blogs. There will be some sour grapes, but there will also be some insightful analysis and considered commentary. However many on the right slate those on the left as being sore losers for whatever comment they make on the election result on Nov 8. People have rightly said that National does not have the mandate to, along with Act, steer the country hard to the right. The election result was not a sign that New Zealand has shifted to the right, because National has gone to great lengths to adopt much of Labour’s policies and shift itself far further to the left then it was under Don Brash. National are going to find it difficult to govern this term, economic crisis aside, as the government formed comprises of many conflicting ideologies. National may have won the election my a large margin, but Labour did not lose because voters rejected the party, they merely support change. To point this out to people is not sour grapes or being a sore loser, it is merely stating fact. However rather than argue these assertions made often by those on left, many choose to brag “we won, you lost”, stoked that “Helengrad’s dykocracy” has ceased to be. Just like prior to the election many National supporters could not articulate why they supported the party apart from saying “it is time for change” and “Labour’s fucked up the country”, they can also not engage in debate or conversation following the election. Morons will only make eventual Labour victory all the more sweeter for supporters, but I encourage them to be more humble than their unintelligent counterparts.

Just as many on the left sometimes disown some of their comrades for ill thought out comments, well done those on the right capable of doing the same, and engaging in civilised discussion with opponents. Debate should not be silenced by personal attacks and slogans, although we can all be guilty at times.



Anti-Flag postponed? How will I vent my post election blues? by underground
November 16, 2008, 8:44 am
Filed under: Music, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pittsburgh’s Anti-Flag were to offer New Zealanders an avenue to let off some energy and some political rage on December 3, but according to their website they will be postponing their Australian and New Zealand tour “until further notice” due to “circumstances beyond our control”, whatever that means. Looking at the upcoming overseas schedule they won’t be returning until at least the middle of next year. Holders of tickets are advised to return to place of purchase and get a refund.

I was looking forward to this show like nothing else. Not just because the two previous times I have seen them were for pathetically short slots at festivals, and not just because even during these short shows they totally kicked arse, but because I was looking forward to running around in a sweaty mosh pit full of like minded individuals singing political slogans at the top of my lungs. How better to get over being sold out by your countrymen and women? Man I love this band!

Oh well, I suppose I’ll be waiting for Rise Against on March 31 then.