Thursday, 14 May 2009

products of our environment

i'm sitting here watching the debate in the house, and the opposition valiantly trying to delay the supercouncil bill for as long as they can. of course it will pass in the end, but at least the delaying tactics highlight just what a nasty piece of legislation this is.

the media have been pretty full of melissa lee today, as have most of the blogs. i must say that i almost felt sorry for her during paul henry's badgering on close-up - even the other candidates were clearly uncomfortable with his behaviour. but really, it's the underlying thinking behind the remark that's the most concerning. as a commentor on AEN pointed out today:

One of the quotes I've used in my PhD ... is by Patti Lather (1991, page 1), who says: "...all researchers construct their object of inquiry out of the materials that their culture provides, and values play a central role in this linguistically, ideologically, and historically embedded project that we call science."

Applying the quote to this context I think we are products of our environments and the discourses that are available to us. What makes me most sad, is that what Melissa said and the values underlying it are much much more pervasive and deeply embedded in this society..that's what is really scary.

i've heard similar attitudes as displayed by ms lee by other members of minority communities in nz. it seems that minority status and the experiences that come with it don't always confer greater understanding of the suffering of others. in fact, it can lead to a higher degree of intolerance, particularly if the person has achieved some degree of success.

that intolerance tends to be centred around class, which can be often represented by race. it's not a coincidence that poverty and race are intermingled, as exclusion on the basis of race is a cause of poverty. as is exclusion on the basis of disability, gender, marital status etc. there are individuals who are able to succeed despite that exclusion, but most will not be able to do so. and it is common to blame those who are excluded for the effects of their exclusion.

whether or not ms lee learns from this experience - and i mean learns to respect and empathise with others, rather than just learning to keep her opinions to herself in future - is entirely up to her.


Anonymous said...

I agree.

But I would go further and say that while she's in the process of learning, I'm not sure Parliament is the right place for her.

stargazer said...

she's certainly showing the stress at the moment. while she has certainly made blunders, i think much of the blame has to go on the party who haven't given her the support and information she needs. for her personal well-being, it would be best for her to withdraw from the campaign, but i guess that's just not politically possible.

Anonymous said...

I dunno Stargazer. The main reason to put people in Parliament is not to allow them to better themselves as individuals, it's to make decisions for the good of the whole country. If Lee isn't there yet - and I think we can agree that she isn't - I don't really think there's a place for her in Parliament. Maybe she can have another go at standing for election later on.

Not that I think for a moment it's at all realistic that she will stand down. I'm being idealistic here.