Saturday, 1 November 2008

political suppression in the heartland

yesterday i went to ngaruawahia for a function to support hon nanaia mahuta and jacinda ardern, the labour candidate for the new waikato electorate. i had the chance to hear some young kiwi musicians, one a 6th former who performed his own songs accompanied by guitar and the other a group of 5 from the whairmarama youth complex who also had a couple of original songs. it was wonderful to see this talent from our young people and to see their confidence.

i tend to get sick of the focus on youth as a problem, when i see so many inspirational young people around me. wouldn't it be so nice if we could celebrate them more consistently and vocally, so that they can be raised in a society of loving of support rather than one that points fingers and looks down on them? in today's waikato times, there is a bunch of letters from kids at st andrews middle school, objecting to a previous correspondent who called all children "toe-rags". good on the kids for fighting back.

from there i went to a hallowe'en party at a hamilton west park. there were heaps of people there, and most noticeably, the crowd was mostly brown. lots of maori and pacific islanders, plenty of activities and people having fun. i pretty much agree with anna's views on halloween, in that it's a highly commercialised imported tradition that really doesn't add much to our society. on the other hand, i've never refused to give out sweets when kids come to my door, nor do i stop my kids from going out. i guess i just don't feel strongly enough about it to put my foot down, there being other much bigger battles that i want to save my energy for.

today, i went to a buddhist kathina ceremony, for a short while. it's always nice to get a flavour of different experiences, and watching the colourful monks and the devotion of the crowd was quite interesting. they were a really friendly and welcoming bunch too.

after that, it was back to some old style campaigning. there were still people to put on the roll, and still plenty of undecided voters. hamilton west is looking to be a very close campaign, but i definitely believe it's winnable. there was a fair chunk of labour support out there, and martin gallagher is a great local MP who works hard for his constituents.

an interesting piece appeared in the times today, which i can't find on the stuff website. it's about dairy owners in nelson who have found that business has dropped simply because they have a labour party hoarding out on the roof of their shop:

A Labour-voting dairy owner claims he's the target of a "blinkered and ridiculous" strike against a Labour billboard which graces the roof of his Nelson store.

Ruby Bay Store owner Kester Macfarlane claims National and ACT's "Rogernomic roosters" were those avoiding shopping at the dairy while the billboard featuring a smiling Helen Clark was on its roof.

"I bet your bottom dollar we (Labour supporters) are in a minority here in our Ruby Bay pocket."

Mr Macfarlane and his wife Carol Comie least the store to Neville Nisbett and his wife Ruth, and have decided to take the billboard down so the business would not lose trade.

so much for political freedom. apparently it's ok to punish people financially for their political affiliations. this kind of story is not isolated. i've been hearing of accounts from the campaign trail in some small towns, where people are genuinely afraid to declare they are labour supporters, for fear of repercussions. in a country that prides itself on values of freedom and democracy, this kind of thing is appalling.


Ben R said...

I disagree that young people are demonised. If anything they are placed on a pedestal. Take a look at any tv programme or advertisement, you will struggle to see many grey haired people. Older people are pretty much marginalised by the media as the advertisers realise they are set in their ways so can be ignored. They don't want tv programmes that focus on old people. Everything in our media & western culture makes youthfulness a valuable trait while being old or appearing older is almost a moral failing.

Certainly, political points can be scored by suggesting we can improve or correct the behaviour of young people. So focus goes on addressing juvenille offending, as this is perceived as an area that change can be effected. Statistically, the peak age of criminal offending in most countries is by young males (15-28). Of course people may think that by targetting youth offending or the drinking age they are demonising youth. I don't see it as any different to targetting a domestic violence campaign at men - is that demonising males? There is a risk of representative bias in that people think because only the negative is newsworthy people will attribute that to the entire group, but I think people are more sensible than that.

stargazer said...

beyond tv and advertising, there is a lot of noise blaming all the ills of society on the youth of today, who are apparently unprincipled, badly brought up and simply in need of a good spanking with a strap or a stick. read letters to the editor, listen to talkback radio (not that i do much of that at all), and listen to a lot of the rhetoric from conservative parties (especially small ones). there's a differnce between glamourising youth in terms of physical appearance/beauty, and valuing them as people.

Ben R said...

I don't listen to much talkback radio so must be missing these opinions! I don't think it's unusual though for older generations to be wary about what younger people are up to. I think there's a quote from Aristotle about the youth in his day being troublemakers!