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Boiling the frog

Written By: - Date published: 7:07 am, April 15th, 2011 - 62 comments
Categories: human rights, john key, law - Tags:

We all know the old story*. Put a frog in cold water, slowly heat, bring to the boil. The frog never notices and never leaps out, so it gets cooked. It’s a metaphor for our inability to notice significant changes that occur gradually. Well, there are some pretty significant changes to our legal and democratic rights that are going on under this National government. Each on its own might look like a small thing, but collectively they add up to a major erosion of our freedom. Consider…

Gordon Campbell at Scoop gets us started with an excellent summary (from Wednesday):

For a party that made the Nanny State such a big part of its 2008 election campaign, today’s cutbacks to legal aid are merely National’s latest extension of state power.

So far, the Key government has reduced the right to a jury trial, extended the powers of search and surveillance by state agencies, restricted the rights against self incrimination, sought the ability to conduct trials in the absence of the accused, and ended the independence of the agency dispensing legal aid – and that’s even before we got to today’s changes.

Now, Justice Minister Simon Power has confirmed the earlier fears expressed about the vulnerability of the legal aid process to political meddling by
(a) tightening the eligibility to legal aid funding
(b) virtually removing the ability of the accused in legal aid cases to choose their own lawyer and
(c) further fostering the growth of a state monolith called the Public Defence Service that will, over time, eventually conduct the defence of some 50% of cases passing through our justice system.

The common denominator to these changes is that they are all occurring on one side of the scales of justice – they increase the powers of the state, and/or reduce the rights of the accused.

In response, Justiuce Minisater [sic] Simon Power expressed shock that she would even raise the matter for debate. The skewing of the justice system that has occurred under his tenure as Minister is enough to make one yearn for the good old days, when the expression of state power was more about light bulbs and shower fittings.

To this list we can now add deploying the navy to deal with peaceful protesters, and new copyright legislation with the built in assumption of guilt upon accusation. And let’s not forget the large scale assaults on our collective democratic rights: the continual abuse of urgency and other parliamentary mechanisms, the abominable Supercity process, the sacking of the democratically elected ECAN board and the cancellation of a local body election, and the creation of effectively dictatorial powers in the form of the CERRA.

Feeling the heat yet?

While Simon Power must take much of the blame, it is John Key who is setting the tone. He is far too inclined to use government power inappropriately. Here’s Andrew Geddis at Pundit taking Key to task for calling for the navy to deal with the Greenpeace protest:

First up, the politicians should stf up. Or rather, they may by all means purse their lips and tut-tut at the economic recklessness of environmental activists and their foolish notions. But making comments such as “if the protest was happening on dry land, police would be able to do something about it” (John Key) crosses the line. Just in case there’s any doubt about how things stand, let me set it out in bold: The Government cannot tell, and should not be seen to be telling, the police which potential offences they should investigate and which they should leave alone.

Now, I know the “John Key brand” is central to National’s ongoing popularity, and I know Prime Ministers are expected to have an opinion on everything and be seen to be on top of all problems, but someone needs to take John Key aside and give him a good talking to about the concept of operational independence and the associated constitutional restraints on what he ought to speak about. Because this isn’t the first time he’s made this sort of slip, and even his fans think it isn’t wise for him to do so.

So it goes then. Gradually, but continuously, the Nats are chipping away at out rights, both individually and collectively, on a scale that New Zealand has never seen before. They are led and enabled by a PM with no understanding of the appropriate boundaries, and all too ready to deploy the full power of the state. And the braying voices that were so recently ready to cry out “nanny state!” and “democracy under attack!!!” — where are they now? Strangely muted. Effectively complicit. Coming slowly to the boil with the rest of us.

*With apologies to my little green blogging buddy.

62 comments on “Boiling the frog ”

  1. Peter 1

    So the question becomes, how do the opposition parties get your message across to gain votes? National will not care what opinions people hold about their approach unless it results in a loss of votes.

    • Its question  I have been asking for sometime now. The Labour/Green members must co-operate with each other and get out to the people that are inclined to vote Left.they need to get outside WINZ get to the Plunket Rooms , visit the schools and kintergardens ,all the places where the vote is liable to be left. Im not too sure about the Grey Power but I expect it may be worth a few extra votes.

      [lprent: I fixed your bold habit with a more appropriate font size and color. 😈 ]

      • Vicky32 1.1.1

        I tried to reply, it just ‘server errored’ at me. I just wanted to say lprent, I wish you hadn’t done that, it rendered his post invisible to me. I had to copy-and-paste it to a word doc to read it, which amounted to censoring him, though you allow horrendous personal abuse from other people. Shame.

        • lprent

          It is the 3rd or 4th time I have had to clean up one of his/her comments that was completely in bold. Normally I’d have just kicked someone off who kept doing the same thing over and over again causing me to exert extra effort in the moderation sweeps – but tpp has been here a while, so I assume that it is just an oversight (that I am trying to bring to their attention). The choice of color was pink because of his/her name.

          Personal abuse isn’t a moderation issue because of the limits in the policy. There are generic abuse items that we will act against like extreme racism, sexism, ageism, etc. But personal abuse comes under the robustness in debate principle. It really only gets stomped on when it is pointless or where the abuse clearly exceeds the argument – both of which are likely to result in flame wars. I will intervene with a warning if I see that a thread or threads are descending into flames, but that pretty much is a warning that I’m likely to ban all participants for a cooling down period. That rather drastic action hasn’t been required for the last year.

          The problem is that it is hard to put a separation that is anything more than subjective between what is ‘debate’, ‘humor’ and what is ‘personal abuse’. What we concentrate on are things that will affect the viability of the site (which we are the only ones qualified to judge as we are the people with the main interest) or are clear violations of policy.

          • Vicky32

            “Personal abuse isn’t a moderation issue because of the limits in the policy. There are generic abuse items that we will act against like extreme racism, sexism, ageism, etc. But personal abuse comes under the robustness in debate principle. It really only gets stomped on when it is pointless or where the abuse clearly exceeds the argument – both of which are likely to result in flame wars. I will intervene with a warning if I see that a thread or threads are descending into flames, but that pretty much is a warning that I’m likely to ban all participants for a cooling down period. That rather drastic action hasn’t been required for the last year. The problem is that it is hard to put a separation that is anything more than subjective between what is ‘debate’, ‘humor’ and what is ‘personal abuse’. What we concentrate on are things that will affect the viability of the site (which we are the only ones qualified to judge as we are the people with the main interest) or are clear violations of policy.

            Oh clearly you don’t get that there’s no ‘humor’ (sic, the New Zealand spelling is supposed to be ‘humour’) in being repeatedly called ‘mental’ and accused of racism, an accusation that, as many have said, there’s no defence against. I am not as insensitive as I ought to be, maybe, but I can’t take this at all lightly, as I was actually a determined Labour supporter – and I am still not a RWNJ… although Felix and QoT may assume that and they probably do..
            But I have as my late father-in-law would have said “Had a gutsful” of the Labour party and its supporters. From now on I am wasting my vote on the Greens – and realistically it is a waste…
            Because there’s nothing remotely funny in personal abuse. I don’t use it myself, or the above-mentioned men would have something to complain of! In fact when I see someone being called a “f**king wanker” etc, I tend to take them more seriously and re-read what they have to say, and give it serious consideration and therefore you actually undermine your own cause!

            • Anne

              @ Vicky 32
              Get off with you. It was funny. lprent meant it to be funny. What’s more, even though he was being reprimanded, pp probably recognised it was funny. Go get yourself a sense of humour.
              As for humor! Who cares if his speller is the American version. Ideas are more important than whether one adopts the English or American spelling.

              • Vicky32

                Yes, it’s hilarious. Off course it is, but I am mental, what would I know?
                PP no doubt did think it was funny. I didn’t, because as I said, I had to go to some trouble to read it… but then people with any kind of disability however mild aren’t part of the inner circle here, m’kay?
                Neither it seems are those who give a toss about language. After all, the last 70 years have been a part of ‘The American century’, and that’s not gonna change any time soon…
                I am more of a New Zealander it seems that anyone here, despite what I legally am!
                Inner circle lady, middle class lady… that’s not abuse is it? No, it’s “humor”.
                Feck me…

                • Pascal's bookie

                  I love language. That’s why I don’t think it should be put in a mausoleum.
                  On the PP thing. I didn’t read it. Too hard. I could have done the cut and paste thing, but I figured that if PP really wanted to to have it read, s/he might repost it. I saw it as being just as if a moderator had decided to just delete the comment, or disemvowel it, or do any of the other common moderating tricks that render comments hard or impossible to read.
                  What was done to the comment, was a communication act between the mod and the commenter as part of the moderating process; butting in to say that I find the comment hard to read is a bit rude, I think, in that it is disrespectful of the moderating process.
                  And another wee point, I’m sure of this about felix, and pretty sure about QoT. They vote Green.
                  I’m not saying this to wind you up, I’m just thinking that if you really are going to base your vote on who pissed you off on teh internets, (which I personally think is a spitefully silly thing to do), you should at least get the data right.
                  I’d hate for you to get misled and cast your spiteful vote in error.

                  • Vicky32

                    “I love language. That’s why I don’t think it should be put in a mausoleum”
                    I’m talking about slavishly following all things American, you’re talking about – what? “Get with the program” appears to what you’re saying. “Ya gotta conform to belong!” No thanks. If the next big country to claim NZ as it’s socio-economic posession was to be Indonesia would be all be saying “kelucuan” instead of humour?

                    “I saw it as being just as if a moderator had decided to just delete the comment, or disemvowel it, or do any of the other common moderating tricks that render comments hard or impossible to read”
                    I am glad I don’t know my way around the internets as well as you do, I’ve never come across mods who do such things anywhere else!

                    As for the rest, well that’s me told! I’m not interfering with the inner circle’s reindeer games any more!

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      I’m talking about slavishly following all things American,

                      Choosng to use language that comes from America, or in some cases language that Americans retained while the language in Britain evolved, isn’t ‘slavishly following all things American’. It’s just liking a piece of language and using it.

                      you’re talking about – what? “Get with the program” appears to what you’re saying. “Ya gotta conform to belong!” No thanks.

                      I’m saying that the language is a living thing, It evolves. Words evolve in what they mean, and how they are used, and this is a good and healthy thing for a language. There are no correct dialects. 

                      I’m certainly not saying that you have to ‘conform’. Say what you want, in the way you choose to say it.

                      The thing I’m criticising is your apparent desire that everyone else conform to what you consider to be ‘proper’ English. Fuck that.

                • M

                  Vicky32, I don’t think you’re crazy but I think you’ve had quite a hard row to hoe and may not be as robust as some other commenters or maybe had enough time to put down a few more layers of hide.

                  My son has ADHD and has quite a lot of prejudice directed at him and I do get pissed off on his behalf. I go to bat for him as much as I can but in the final analysis the world doesn’t really care and goes on its indifferent way, so I think the best way to help him is to tell him that his true friends are always there for him and he has a tight-knit family around him. I have also armed him with a few harsh but not obscene ripostes he can use at school to keep some of the arseholes off his back.

                  You seem to have a real problem with Americans, I’ll fess up, I’m one by birth and coming here as a youngster was quite a shock because I experienced NZers parochialism at its finest because of my accent. I made the effort to adopt a NZ accent and now I’m pretty much indistinguishable from my fellow NZers. I am caught out though by people who listen carefully because ‘ear’ does sound like ear and not ‘air’ the way it does with most NZers, well younger ones anyway. Some of my ways of putting things are a hangover of having one American parent and my view is why should I deny one half of my lineage? I took out NZ citizenship in the 80s because although the US is my birthplace NZ is my home and I don’t think I’ll ever want to leave as I think it’s the best place in the world overall but acknowledge that like anywhere there are minuses too. 

                  Having experienced prejudice myself and having had a great-grandfather who was head of his local chapter of the KKK (thank heavens my dad could not be bothered with that crap – a true citizen of the world) I resolved to try never to give into prejudice in any form that hurts a person.

                  The American century I believe is no worse than the British one that had been imposed over forty per cent of the globe in times past and Americans deliberately changed their spelling and pronunciation to distinguish themselves from the British as well as throwing off the last vestiges of British superiority in their country. There is a saying that to get the British out of any place you have to beat them out which the former British subjects certainly did. India I believe gained its freedom without a war because the Brits had been exhausted in every way imaginable by WWII.  

                  Like you I’m something of an English pedant but when I come to blog I figure it’s like parking up with some friends on a Friday night and chilling out for a bit. I do notice all sorts of horrors: missed apostrophes, apostrophes where none are required and spelling/syntax errors but really unless it’s a title is it worth spilling blood over (metaphorically of course)? This is hopefully a mostly cordial if somewhat salty/earthy site (I blame my Celtic roots for my contributions in that vein) but I would rather have someone be straight with me than pretend – if a person is really offensive they’d better be ready to be treated the same way.

                  People have their own passions and because of that there will always be conflict of some kind but I’ve found as I’ve got older that as long as I’m happy with what I think if someone gets the hump then good luck to them.

                  And yes, I do love reading well written, perfectly punctuated comments.

                  • Vicky32

                    Vicky32, I don’t think you’re crazy but I think you’ve had quite a hard row to hoe and may not be as robust as some other commenters or maybe had enough time to put down a few more layers of hide. You seem to have a real problem with Americans, I’ll fess up, I’m one by birth and coming here as a youngster was quite a shock because I experienced NZers parochialism at its finest because of my accent. I made the effort to adopt a NZ accent and now I’m pretty much indistinguishable from my fellow NZers. I am caught out though by people who listen carefully because ‘ear’ does sound like ear and not ‘air’ the way it does with most NZers, well younger ones anyway. Some of my ways of putting things are a hangover of having one American parent and my view is why should I deny one half of my lineage?
                    People have their own passions and because of that there will always be conflict of some kind but I’ve found as I’ve got older that as long as I’m happy with what I think if someone gets the hump then good luck to them.
                    And yes, I do love reading well written, perfectly punctuated comments.

                    OK, yes, I have a problem with two American things – their foreign policy and their cultural hegemony.
                    BTW, thanks a bunch for your comments about the British. I’ve only had that kind of nastiness since I was born to an Englishman and a Scotswoman… With “eff off back to where ya came from Pommy bitch” being my introduction to my primary school…
                    Too damn  right I didn’t grow a thick hide, why should I?
                    I teach English to overseas students. They come here because they want to learn English. If they wanted to learn American they could stay in Japan or Thailand or Korea.
                    They come here and hear some dimwit TV reporter say ‘gess stations’ while standing in front of a petrol pump. A pneumatic bimbo on TV 3 last night said about fillet steak “we call it tenderloin in New Zealand”. Er – since when?
                    But all this is off topic. I’ve been around the interwebs for a few years now, and I am not used to either the effing and blinding, the judgemental and spiteful attitudes and the sheer level of nastiness I’ve encountered here!
                    “Yea though I walk through the valley etc/I shall fear no evil/Cos I’m the meanest SOB here”…
                    It’s really obviously not for me! Neurotypical or not (and I am not) aside from my sight issues, this place ought to have, and will if I have anything to say about it a warning saying , a “not disability friendly – oh and BTW not politeness and courtesy friendly either”
                    (Pink that, prent!)


                    • M

                      Vicky32, I had an English grandparent and I was married to a guy who was English so I don’t think I hold any hatred towards the English/Britons. There was no nastiness intended re comments regarding former British hegemony and even my ex could see the parallels with American hegemony. Despite things not working out he doesn’t hold any ill feeling towards Americans and similarly I don’t hold a grudge against Britons but can acknowledge both British and American failings in cultural, military and dreams of empire – one would be remiss not to see them. Heck, my all-time favourite boss was a Yorkshireman and we had similar interests in the use of language/poetry etc and if I could work with him again I would in a heartbeat even though it’s been 20 years since we we worked together. We had a good working relationship and he would rib me about things American and I would respond with things like “Still haven’t got over 1776, have we?” and he would say “You’ll keep.” My dad’s family originally came from the Scottish lowlands and went to Northern Ireland in the seventeenth century to displace the Irish, probably some of my mother’s ancestors, so eventually there must have been some forgiveness on both sides or I wouldn’t be here.

                      People do have the right to use terms that are interchangeable and I think this is acceptable as long as they are able to make themselves understood and only serves to enrich and enhance the English language which when looked at clinically is a really bastardised language because it has begged, borrowed and stolen from everywhere. With roots in Latin and German overlaid with French, Norse and Celtic words it’s its very adaptability which has ensured its survival and now dominance around the globe in all its forms: British, Scots, Irish, Canadian, American, Indian, Australian, Aotearoan and some quite interesting forms in the Caribbean. I revel in and relish the endless richness and adaptability of English because no other language on earth can do this, particularly with all the scientific and technological terms that have no equivalents in other languages.

                      I don’t think the PB was having a swear fest beauase I would regard a swear fest as it being virtually every second word. Swearing for me is like salting a dish – too much and it’s spoiled but judiciously used can have great effect if only to shock some people out of their complacency and there’s a time and place for most things so I wouldn’t cuss in front of someone’s parents, in a business situation or someone who appeared to be delicate in the extreme. Case in point, I was once given a right mouthful by some young louts but when I responded in kind it knocked them off balance and they didn’t come back for more.

                      I had hoped you wouldn’t take umbrage at my reply because I was trying to be cordial and to give my take from a non-British side but it looks as though I’ve been unsuccessful. To be be perfectly honest if I’d wanted to be nasty you really wouldn’t like it – I tend to save that for the school board when I feel they’re targeting my eldest unfairly because he’s mostly a good kid, and because of the ADHD and the impulsivity he finds it hard to control his language around teachers who goad him but if treated kindly the teachers have loads of vegetables delivered to them at school from his garden and he will do anything for them.

                    • lprent

                      Ummm thinking about the disability friendly side comment after I went to sleep (these things tend to churn). There is probably a solution to that – that doesn’t involve me having to maintain too many versions of the theme.

                      The iPad version should actually be quite friendly to a number of disabilities. I will have a hunt around to see if I can make it an option to display the iPad version on other platforms.

                  • Vicky32

                    No reply button under PB’s latest swear fest. So I’ll just say “you keep on being the same charming guy. Don’t ever change!

                    • Vicky32

                      M, I am sorry that you decided I was being unpleasant in my reply to you. I wasn’t – and if I was you’d have known all about it! I am so not into being unpleasant – in person or online.
                      I don’t need to to be taught  anything about the development of the English language. I have papers in linguistics from 2 separate tertiary institutions.
                      My point was about cultural hegemony, which is a whole ‘nother matter.
                      Effing and blinding makes me feel almost physically ill (reminds me of an abusive ex, frankly). To me, one swear word is one too many. I could let rip, (I know the words) but I never would – not in public, ever, and I regard this as “in public”. To me, it would be like screaming the ‘f’ word as my mother used to call it, in a shopping centre!
                      I want out of this discussion, because it’s turned into being about my short-comings, rather than whatever the topic was supposed to be. The final thing I want to say is: “Please, don’t be patronising. I am not your son”.

            • lprent

              Vicky, I am a programmer. All of the programming interfaces I write in use americian spellings – including those written by the English, the Germans, the Finns, the brazilians, the russians, the philipinos, and in fact everyone writing in a Latin character based character set.

              Programmers all use color rather than colour and the same for virually every other noun, verb, or adjective because americian spelling is the defacto spelling for human readable symbols in programming. Unlike writers writing for humans, when we start using alternate spellings for programming interfaces, we have compilers that are incredibly pedantic and outright persistent in saying that they have no idea what I was thinking – and refuse to generate working code.

              Since I spend at least ten times more time writing code in quite a number of languges and dialects than I spend writing English, all of my symbol systems including my mental dictionaries are set to americian spellings. It is a precondition for one culture that I spend an awful amount of time in.

              Similarly net cultures also start from different basic precepts to many of those in real life. These range from the commonness of psuedonymous and anonymous identities that is unparalleled outside of the 17th and 18th century european broadsheets, to the ease with which people can jump between quite differing ‘cultures’. This one is broadly based on a common (and venerable one for the net) cultural pattern – that of a moderated usenet group where quite broad limits are set as being tolerable and enforcement is both draconian and in most ways quite disinterested in the actual discussion.

              There are many possible patterns around the net other than the one we use. Even just amongst the left blogs around NZ, you can move from the no comments of NRT to the stiffness of kiwipolitico to the chaos of the short-lived ultra activist blogs like robinods was. You adapt to the site you are on rather than the other way around, or you find one more to your liking, or work on composite between different content providers using rss or a social media, or you just start your own.

              We happen to follow our model for our own reasons to do with getting a high diversity of people on here. By the very nature of that quest for diversity, there will be personal conflicts. As I said before, we don’t try to quell those unless they start to interfere with the operation of the site. People come here specifically to be able to argue robustly with that diversity of opinion.

              In your case I have seen you tangle with people with political opinions well left of Labour, with people who probably lean to the Green’s, with 3rd gen feminists (if I understand Lyn’s definition), as well as those of the right. I can’t recall too many clashes with many of the actual supporters of Labour – but I may have just missed those – there are a lot of arguments going on here all of the time between people. But as a moderator on this site, it isn’t in my purview to interfere until I see something that will affect our operations or someone requests my opinion/judgement.

              It isn’t a culture that is likely to change. After all the resulting demand for a place to argue robustly is the reason that I have to spend a large part of this weekend coping with the demand on the site by configuring a new server.

              • Jim Nald

                Hey, you were up till the early hours of the morn!
                Make sure you get some rest and an early night tonight. Doctor’s orders. And mine 😉
                I did my wee bit for The Standard’s operation yesterday (check the bank account).  Keep up the good work.

                • lprent

                  Drove down to Rotorua last night to see the folks. Wasn’t feeling sleepy lying in bed in the parents bus (Lyn was well asleep), so out came the iPad and a check on TS followed by some reading on recent ice sheet drilling in Antarctica … Eventually it put me to sleep.

                  Donation went through OK so we know that route works… Thanx

  2. vto 2

    How is it that the free market is best at providing services so the public service is cut back and contracts contracted out, YET when it comes to legal aid, the public service is best at providing services so the free market is cut back?

    National party hypocrisy again.

    And also, I have heard not one mention of the complete imbalance between a defender and the prosecution when it comes to lawyers. I thought equality of arms was a central tenet of our system.

    How much do the average crown solicitors get paid compared to the defence solicitors? No equality there.

    How much experience do the average crown solicitors have compared to the defence solicitors? No equality there.

    Personally my contempt for these goons in office has turned to hatred. Seriously.

    • Carol 2.1

      With you on the hatred, vto, or is it anger?  Late last night I certainly was feeling a lot of it against the arrogant, hypocritical & smug bully boys Brownlee & Hide, the slippery deceptocon Key & arch stats manipulator, & broken record English (“after 9 years of Labour & the mess they created”).  I still can’t fathom why many people like John Key.  From the time he started getting media attention, he always seemed like a slippery, untrustworthy, second hand car salesman to me.

      • RobM 2.1.1

        Carol I suspect there is something in the kiwi psyche that gravitates towards the bullyboys and the slippery, untrustworthy, second hand car salesman types.
        Take a look at the finance company shysters.

        Even when they’re caught out there’s a grudging admiration –  “Look at that clever prick, how’d he get away with it.”  If they had the balls, chutzpah and connections they would be out there ripping it too.

      • Anne 2.1.2

        Thank-you Carol. My sentiments too. Btw, it’s anger and hatred. Add to that mix a feeling of frustration that the opposition parties seem unable or unwilling to stand up and fight these bully boys and girls – and their lackeys. Instead it is coming from individuals who may then find themselves vulnerable to intimidation – and the like – further down the track. Yes… I’ve been there in the past, so know that it happens.

        • outofbed

          a feeling of frustration that the opposition parties seem unable or unwilling to stand up and fight these bully boys and girls
          I hope you do not include the Greens in that statement

          • Anne

            In part oob, yes I do. I know the Greens have voted against the CERA bill, and I know they have voted against other noxious pieces of legislation – and good on them for doing so. But you have to concede that is a luxury smaller parties can enjoy with minimal adverse effects. What does disappoint me is: there seems to be insufficient co-operation and support between Labour and the Greens. 

            There are areas where a joint strategy between the two would enable the Left to be a far more powerful and effective Opposition. Surely, the situation with this government has now become so serious that perhaps internal differences between the two parties should be temporarily set aside for the greater need to get rid of the NAct government.


      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.3

        I still can’t fathom why many people like John Key.

        Considering that he was a proven liar before the election I wonder to.

  3. vto 3

    The laws operating in Canterbury today the 15th of April 2011 are equal to those operating under Hitler in Nazi Germany in 1933.


    • higherstandard 3.1

      Nah godwin excelsior is not the way to try and make a point, it just makes you look silly.


      But not as silly as this noob.


      • Olwyn 3.1.1

        While I agree that argumentum ad Hitlerum tends to be fallacious, Tariq Ali when he was here said that it was worth gaining a proper understanding of the preconditions of Nazism. Also, if you read Zygmunt Bauman’s excellent book “Modernity and the Holocaust” you can see very clearly how the frog-boiling analogy applies. The erosion of rights and freedoms initially seemed either prudent or negligible to many people, especially to those who did not see themselves as likely to be personally affected. Evil does not usually announce itself as such, it creeps up on you. Nor does it even see itself as evil; given a context in which it can flourish, it tends to place the emphasis on prudence, dismissing moral questions as naive and childish.

    • PeteG 3.2

      Another fact – the situation in Canterbury now is far different, and the way the laws (or lack of) are used will be far different. You are resorting to the untrusty old Nazi overkill, that tends to provoke rolling of eyes rather than nodding inunison.
      Having said that I do have a problem with what seems to be a growing arrogance of power with National, I don’t believe it’s all due to piss poor legislative organisation.

    • g_man 3.3

      “The laws operating in Canterbury today the 15th of April 2011 are equal to those operating under Hitler in Nazi Germany in 1933.”


      Okay, I’ll buy this. Which particular laws operating in Nazi Germany in 1933 are you talking about, vto? Enlighten us all …

      • Puddleglum 3.3.1

        vto may be alluding to this act.

        • Jum

          If that’s the case, then look out women’s rights.  This plays well with Key’s treatment of women both in rights and in employment – getting rid of part timers to raise the national average wage in a lying, manipulative manner and in rights, the pay equity and illegal wage difference between women and men in WINZ, when Ryall, now in charge of our SOEs, knocked back pay equity.

  4. frog 4

    Thank’s for the apology, and agree with everything in your post, r0b – except right at the start: “The frog never notices…”.

    This frog does. 

  5. Andy-Roo 5

    The hollow men are definitely out in force.
    When we elected these tossers to government, I promised myself that I would try not to care about my country and the people in it for the next three years.
    Just to preserve my sanity.
    But here we are in election year, and despite the fact that we have seen consistent assaults on basic democratic process (I am a resident of CHCH!), a vast transfer of wealth from rich to poor and from young to old, the Nats are still polling around 45%.
    BTW add to your list above supinely selling our democratic rights to multinational corporate monsters.
    I hate these bastards

    • marsman 5.1

      Andy-Roo do you mean’ transfer of wealth from poor to rich’? Feel much the same as you do! John Key and his bully boys are pissing on the people of NZ.

  6. M 6

    Maybe all the nanny state NACT rhetoric should be met with Big Brother ripostes from the left.

    I don’t like the thought of Keyster’s image anywhere near me but I could be persuaded to wear a T shirt with his physog and Big Brother printed in nice bold capitals.

  7. Bored 7

    I am beginning to wonder how long it will be (if ever) that members of the National Party caucus will stop Key and Powers abuse of democratic principles and process, particularly with regard to the rights of the individual. When will they cross the floor? Is being right wing in the 2010s synonymous with radical abuse of individual rights?

  8. Bored 8

    Remember also that labour were no angels here either. Think of the anti terrorism legislation they allowed, I am not sure the left is entirely without its own anti human rights elements.

  9. Andy-Roo 9

    Damned straight.

    It just does my head in. I cannot believe that all the National Party MPs are happy with the current situation. There must be some of them who respect the democratic process and haven’t been caught up in the current macho bullshit.

    Time for them to pony up in my opinion.

  10. ianmac 10

    On the comments section of the Herald yesterday, on the subject of Urgency, I did write asking why there wasn’t a big newspaper which would take up the challenge against this abuse of our democracy.
    Mind you I was surprised that the majority of the comments were against the misuse of urgency by this Government. On the Herald?

    • Tigger 10.1

      The Attack on Democracy banner can only run when a left leaning party is in power.  it’s in the Herald’s constitution…

  11. ChrisH 11

    I think what it is, is that the NACT brigade are used to working in dodgy financial corporations when the Boss says jump, you ask how high, and the workers are expected not to ask questions (so as to be told no lies). They think all of society can be run the same way.
    As for the incrementalism which is the core argument of this blog my favourite quote goes as follows:
    “As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” (US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, 1898-1980)
    Time to turn on the streetlights IMHO. Now, that might actually be a good name for some kind of democracy / civil liberties campaign or coalition, i.e. “Streetlights,” with Douglas’s quote on the masthead. What do others think?

    • Jim Nald 11.1

      Hmm, it’s fine and well for the dodgy financial corps to say jump when they take us to the edge of the cliff.
      Looking forward to more bailouts courtesy of grateful taxpayers and more tax cuts.

  12. randal 12

    democracy? whats that.
    parliamanent in new zealand has entered its post modern phase.
    hekia parata is now glad she has a job in the public service.
    john key wont answer questions in the house and don petersen of federated farmers complains about this and that in the regulatory environment but they never send any one to the parlaimentary select committees.
    its becoming more and more like and indian test cricket match every day.
    i.e. just billowing choking smoke for the masses and to hell with everyone else.

  13. ianmac 13

    I’ve been thinking. (I tremble when my wife says that!) This morning on Morning Report Key said repeatedly that the SCF propositions never made it to Cabinet. So that lets the Govt off the hook. Right.
    But wait there’s more. The discussions about the propositions were between Treasury and John Key! So it was John Key (on behalf of Cabinet and NZ?) who blocked the propsitions!!!????
    I don’t really understand the complexities of the SCF but the email suggests to me that John Key blocked proposition for SCF as a personal favour from Key to Hubbard. What the …….?

    • Jim Nald 13.1

      Something doesn’t smell right.
      [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20110415-0638-PM_defends_Englishs_role_in_South_Canterbury_Finance-048.mp3" /]

      • higherstandard 13.1.1

        Please don’t get my hopes up for something interesting when it’s just the same old shit I’ve heard a hundred times before.

  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    And the braying voices that were so recently ready to cry out “nanny state!” and “democracy under attack!!!” — where are they now? Strangely muted. Effectively complicit. Coming slowly to the boil with the rest of us.

    The really loud ones will be trying to position themselves so as to be in positions of power so that they’re the ones in command.

  15. randal 15

    I think key has had his TURN.

  16. Steve Withers 16

    The biggest hit of all is National’s referendum to get rid of MMP and fair elections.  

    It’s all softly, softly now….but in the final days before this year’s election their buddies at Fairfax and APN will be pulling out all the stops to get the pro-MMP vote below 50%.

    If anyone is in any doubt that the National Party today is the biggest threat to freedom and democracy in NZ it can only be because they are ignorant of the long history of struggle that resulted in the protections against abuse of state power that National is now dismantling or ignoring. 

    But under it all……they want to take away the only vote that most of us have – including Labour and National voters – that actually elects anyone: Your MMP party vote.

    People in Egypt and elsewhere have been dying to get a vote that counts…and the sheeple in NZ may well vote to strip themselves of one…..probably thinking they are punishing their neighbour, who they never agreed with anyway.

  17. Jum 17

    Remember the foreshore and seabed bill when ministers Finlayson sent out a wee note to interested people on his trip around the countryside; ‘getting the balance right in the common marine and coastal area.’
    Near the bottom he said “The 2004 Act also had unintended consequences.  Vital infrastructure, such as port companies, could no longer obtain title to reclamations necessary for future growth and investment.  At best they could seek temporary leases from the new owner, the Crown – an issue for businesses looking for certainty and investment.”
    Is that NAct’s promise of selling off the Ports of Auckland now that the 2002 Act safeguarding it has gone?  I know they have no interest in Maori, only an interest in making money and grabbing land and assets for themselves and their backers.  Had the foreshore and seabed bill stopped both this government and maori getting their hands on our country’s assets?  We know Maori want privatisation to make money out of.

  18. Andrew P Nichols 18

    My wife and I have given up on it all – shifted to Brisbane. Political envt is just as toxic (ie Slimey Gillard and Abbott, and a timid Greens leader who cant stand up for what he knows is right and support one of his MPs when they support the campaign for disinvestment in Israel) but at least there’s no more earthquakes (we didnt feel the one in Townsville) and the weather is wayyy warmer.

  19. Mike1765 19

    The government administration select committee has also recently given it’s approval for the identity information confirmation bill, very soon to become an enacted statute.

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