(Partly inspired by Mandy’s call to Andrew Little to “get angry”.)
It’s funny (or depending on your point of view, completely predictable) how often feminist analysis and leftwing analysis overlap.
There’s a term: “tone argument”. It refers to the regular pleas directed at feminists, anti-racism activists, indigenous rights activists, trans activists, etc to stop being so aggressive and ask nicely for fundamental human rights and dignity instead of shouting so much. It’s a derailment, a troll move, a way to undermine and ignore the actual arguments being made. As summed up by the Geek Feminism wiki:
The tone argument is a form of derailment, or a red herring, because the tone of a statement is independent of the content of the statement in question, and calling attention to it distracts from the issue at hand. Drawing attention to the tone rather than content of a statement can allow other parties to avoid engaging with sound arguments presented in that statement, thus undermining the original party’s attempt to communicate and effectively shutting them down.
The irony is that these voices are already marginalized. Shouting is often the only way to get heard.
But it occurs in “normal” politics too. The idea that rational, reasonable, calmly-delivered arguments are inherently superior to loud, assertive, passionate – emotional – arguments is strongly ingrained.
And thus Cameron Slater and his little helpers jumped to label Andrew Little as “Angry Andy” from the moment it looked like he was going to put his name forward for the party leadership. Look, he’s so shouty, the meme goes. Voters don’t like shouty people. Shouting must mean you’re not very sensible.
We’re not mean to get angry, you know. But why wouldn’t we be?
We have a government which has shrugged its shoulders while families have been forced to live in cars and chronically-ill people have been driven off benefits. A government which has sat back and let the people of Christchurch wait five years – and longer – to get their homes repaired to liveable standards.
A government which removed the right to regular rest breaks at work and refuses to take a strong stand on health and safety. A government literally making it up as it goes along on dealing with the Auckland housing crisis – a crisis it barely acknowledges exists.
A government which refuses to properly fund sexual violence services and has done the absolute minimum to ensure the clients of Relationships Aotearoa are being properly cared for as they transition to new counsellors. Which let a diplomat accused of sexual assault flit off to his home country and bad-mouthed his victim for her political beliefs.
A government which is selling us down the river on the TPPA, paying off Saudi millionaires for vague promises of free trade, and sending Kiwi soldiers into harm’s way in Iraq to please our (former?) colonial masters.
We have a government which has consistently eroded our democracy, our work rights, our public services, and our social safety net – and expects us to go along with it for the promise of an illusory Budget surplus and maybe some small tax cuts after the next election.
A government which has cemented its power with a dirty tricks campaign run out of the 9th floor of the Beehive and paid for with your tax dollars.
If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.
And when you’re angry, you can change the world. That’s why anger scares them so much.
(Note: Video NSFW, sweary awesomeness)