One thing that always disappoints me in NZ is the complete stupidity of who our local media consider are ‘left’ or ‘labour’ commentators. They are, almost without exception, just outright strange and weird relics of left behind history framing their commentary in terms of long past history of the political left.
For instance Phil Quin has been confidently commenting on NZ politics for many decades from offshore. I only vaguely remember him being involved as a staffer for Phil Goff in my neighbouring electorate of Mt Roskill in the days of the interim government of Jenny Shipley.
As his site bio says
I’m a New Zealander, but spent the past seventeen years between Melbourne, New York and Kigali.
I’ve worked in the field of political communications for a long time, including, most recently, a fascinating three year stint consulting in Rwanda. These days, I’m on an indefinite sabbatical, roaming between Wellington, Vietnam, Europe and the U.S., as I try to write in my own voice for a change.
It is an interesting starting point. But it hardly pertains to politics in NZ. Which is why Phil Quin has always felt to me like a political relic of the past. He seems to still be trying to fight the narrative of a internally disintegrating Labour Party in a new MMP environment.
This is hardly surprising. When he departed our shores is so damn long ago that I now have engineers working with me who would have been entering primary school about the time that he left. He was out of touch with local politics of the left then, and appears to have become more and more politically deranged ever since.
In 1998 when he left, MMP had just had its first run out of the gate, Act with its hard right wing contingent from Labour and National was a prominent part of the political landscape with 7 MPs, the Alliance with its conservative leftish agenda was about the same, and there were a plentitude of small parties all trying grow.
When I was aware of Phil Quin, my opinion was that he was a completely perfect natural for the Act party. He appeared to be one of the manipulative idiots who was more interested in plotting and leverage inside the parliamentary precinct rather than dealing with the obvious issues inside the party. He was engaged in a battle with a rabid female and left enemy that only he seemed to be able to see.
Whenever I think about the toxic Thordon Bubble of left politics, he is the person that I think who epitomises the sheer stupidity of its ego driven ambitions.
In the mid-1990s he was engaged in a persistent verbal war with anything on the left or female or conservation orientated in the Labour Party, including the incumbent leader Helen Clark. As I remember the rumours of the time, he was heavily involved with trying to get her dumped in favour of his Phil Goff. He wrote about it here with some interesting message framing and little
His tactics at the time weren’t those of discussion and consensus. They are those of chaos and disintegration. I have never ever been aware of his to being involved in the process of building anything – the underlying purpose of politics. Instead he is always at the edges trying to destroy social political progress for what? It appears to me to be only for his own advantage.
So why exactly do our media get him to comment on NZ politics?
Well Phil Quin’s only apparent political strength is exactly the same as that of David Farrar who came out of that same 1990s parliamentary hothouse – they are very good at framing dog whistles. Our media are very good at being controlled by dog whistles. It surely beats them having to actually think about anything substantively and keeps that airtime and column inches full.
This latest little effort of Phil Quin on a female green MP shows all of the usual signs of that 1990s bubble misogynist training. It allows the dickheads of our society to indulge in a little slapping down of women in society over a few carefully misinterpreted words. It adds nothing to the political debate apart from massaging their egos. And it is simple bullshit that can be framed in a silly season message for the simple minded.
Perfect for the media, who have been a bit bereft of political column inches recently as the government slowly jells into a working form.
BTW: Andrew Geddis has thoroughly debunked the factual underpinning at Pundit in “Contra Quin: Ghahraman still did nothing wrong”
So I’m really struggling to see what the moral difference is between a paid UN defence representative who has volunteered to be a part of the ICTR process (which Quin says is necessary and legitimate) and someone who gets put on a defence team after winning an official slot on the UN internship programme (which Quin seems to think is somehow being complicit with those who are on trial).
To then thoroughly damn a 25-year-old Ghahraman for helping to write an academic paper, largely because of the findings of a report that came out four years later, seems remarkably churlish. The paper may be bad or ill-founded (although having looked at its subsequent citations, no-one else seems to have had a problem with it before now). But some sort of apology for genocide or giver of comfort to those who committed it? I think not.
The bit that Andrew Geddis seems to miss is, in my opinion, that she is a conservationist woman in a position of power with a philosophy of fixing things. Personally I couldn’t imagine anything that is more threatening to misogynist egomaniac who thrives on chaos.
Note that the topic on this post is Phil Quin and Media. Comments on Ghahraman will result in simple bans. I expect people to read to the end of my posts before comments, so saying you didn’t see this just earns you an ban extension.
And for the benefit of media, this is not an invitation to get me to become a talking head. I have far better things to do – mostly too technical to explain to media airheads.
Besides, I’m way way too right wing to represent much of the left. These days I just help to make sure that all of the views of the left are aired here.
Updated: Worth reading a post by a international criminal law academic Kevin Jon Heller A Vile and Shameless Attack on Golriz Ghahraman in http://opiniojuris.org/. My favourite bit which completely undercuts one of Phil Quin’s li(n)es is:-
Bikindi’s argument, which Golriz helped develop as one of his attorneys, was that he did not conspire to commit genocide, that he did not commit genocide, that he was not complicit in genocide, that he did not incite genocide, that he did not kill as a crime against humanity, and that he did not persecute as a crime against humanity. And guess what? The Trial Chamber unanimously acquitted Bikindi on every charge other than incitement.
Quin conveniently fails to mention that the Trial Chamber agreed with Bikindi that the other charges had no merit. So when he says — with regard to the genocide deniers’ “twisted view of history” — that “[w]ittingly or not, Ghahraman jumped on that bandwagon. As a public figure, she ought to be judged by such choices,” he is indicting the Trial Chamber no less than Golriz.
Golriz is not a genocide denier, of course. Golriz is a lawyer who defended an individual accused of committing horrible crimes, a necessary role for anyone who takes due process and natural justice seriously. Quin might not care about whether ICTR defendants received fair trials, but the Tribunal itself does. As it notes on its website, “[a]s with other tribunals and courts of law, the Defence has been playing a crucial role in ICTR proceedings, upholding the principle of equality of arms and ensuring the fairness of proceedings.”
Quin’s argument, therefore, is not simply factually challenged. It is offensive.
That is the role of the defense, to challenge prosecution case and to make them prove it. In this case that was exactly what was done. It also means that Phil Quin has been talking bullshit.
hattip: Lew on twitter.