Sunday, 12 February 2012


i don't get the sunday start times, for good reason. i refused to take it even when i was offered a three-month free subscription. my main reason at the time was that i refused to boost their coffers, even via increased advertising garnered because of the resulting higher circulation, while they continued to publish michael lhaws.

well, they've outdone themselves again today. apparently (i get a lot of my news via facebook these days) they had a front page story about the aspirations of ethnic minorities in regards the current constitutional review. it comes complete with gratuitous photo of woman in burqa, though there is no mention of burqas in the story. there is mention of sharia law, which can apparently be represented only by burqas. because that's all that sharia law involves.

the whole tone of the article presents as scary the notion that ethnic minority groups might have something to say about the way the nz constitution is developed. and they might actually want some recognition by way of a policy of multi-culturalism or at least some recognition of multi-culturalism via any constitution that might be adopted in this country.

apparently that notion in itself was not scary enough. it needed to be made more scary by invoking sharia law, because don't you know that the scary muslims all want to take over this country and get special treatment to carry on their evil ways. and the scariness is further invoked by reference to polygamy, and oh goodness, what if the law started recognising more than one spouse.

regardless of the fact that multiple marriages are already happening in this country. it's just that they aren't recognised by law. which means that only the partner with the legal marriage document has any legal rights, particularly on break-up of the relationship when it comes to relationship property. and guess what, it isn't just us scary muslims who have multiple relationships. it used to common amongt europeans for a man to have a mistress as well as a wife. and the same problem existed - not only did the unmarried partner have no legal rights, neither did any children that resulted from the relationship. would it be such a terrible thing for the second partner to have all the legal rights of the first? or should she (and it's usually a she) and her children be punished for daring to enter into that relationship with someone already married, while the married person faces no negative consequences whatsover?

no, it would be a terrible thing to recognise such relationships apparently, and we must reinforce that point with the picture of the burqa-wearing woman. there is no doubt that this whole article paints muslims as the scary other of whom we must all beware. it's a bigoted, hate-filled piece and i don't know why but i'm really disappointed that it's been written by michael field. possibly because he's the pacific correspondent for radio nz, and as such, i would think he would have a good understanding of how different cultures can be deliberatedly misunderstood and misrepresented.

the gross misrepresentation here is that no-one, officially at least, is asking for sharia law to be implemented in this country. the office of ethnic affairs has no evidence of such, nor is there any statement from any muslim organisation giving any kind of statement of that nature. this is a pure beat-up, but to what end i'm not sure. what is the news value of this item? what is the point they are trying to get across? that we shouldn't allow any minority groups input into the constitutional review? or that any input they might give will lead to terrible results, even though they are minorities and have no way to force the majority to adopt their views?

it's an extremely cr*ppy piece of reporting, topped off with the ACT party "one-law-for-all" trope, most favoured by don brash as a way of denying the maori community access to justice or to any kind of action that might see them become equal to other nz'ers (eg equal in life expectancy, infant mortality, incarceration rates, and any other number of stats that show that equality has not been achieved in nz, not by a long shot). it's a way of denying that different people have different needs, that different solutions might work better for different groups, and does it really matter if the outcome is a healthier, wealthier society - one where the wealth is more evenly shared?

just a couple of links to finish off with: there's this piece by professor sherman jackson in the huffington post (via here). and on a different, but possibly related topic, this is an excellent piece from reading the maps regarding one mr holmes deciding he hates waitangi day. for a maori perspective, i'd recommend this from the maui street blog. i don't understand why our media is filled with hate all of a sudden - the cynical part of me would say it's a diversion so we won't pay so much attention to our assets being sold, the pathetically low rise in the minimum wage, the attempt to erode workers rights at ports of auckland, the abysmal failures in christchurch, the excessive salaries of chief executives, and a number of other issues. if we're too busy hating each other, we won't pay attention to the actual things that are causing us to be worse off as a society.

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