Dumb Kiwis, as perceived by the USA
Of course I can’t post the conﬁdential bits of a team meeting that we had with some of our folks in California, but what was interesting was a discussion on how New Zealand and Helen Clark are perceived there.
If New Zealanders like making fun of “dumb Yanks”, then let us know now that we don’t look too smart to them.
Jon Stewart has (rightly) used the country as comedic fodder in the US now, now that New Zealand has passed some weird rules saying we can’t show MPs in a bad light in Parliament. There were some stringent old rules, too, which were breached regularly, but the new ones are pretty far-reaching for our elected ofﬁcials. As the Press Gazette explained:
… the media often used wider-angled shots or published photographs of MPs napping, reading comics, eating lollies, and in one notable case, giving another MP the ﬁnger.
Occasionally, media organisations were punished for this, but only by the withdrawal, for a set period, of their right to attend the chamber.
The new standing orders make a breach a contempt of Parliament, potentially punishable by imprisonment.
This is a party in power for too long, letting the idea of parliamentary sovereignty get to its head.
Though the government denied it at the time, it is essentially a clamp-down on the freedom of the press. In other words, TV cameras, for example, can’t show a MP ﬂipping the bird, even if it happened, or dozing off.
When I was at law school, we were taught that if a regular Joe Bloggs could see something publicly, then it is probably OK to ﬁlm it, unless it crosses the line of common decency (e.g. inside someone’s house). And since regular people can watch parliamentary debates, then whatever goes on there can be ﬁlmed and shown to us.
I think our government has forgotten that it is here to serve us. That this is a democracy, not some goddamn commie state. (Unless this is some demonstration to Red Chinese politicians that we are taking their orders.)
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, satire is outlawed. (Just like in Red China.)
The fact is, we do have such ill-mannered louts in Parliament. This is the honest-to-God truth. They have passed this law out of their shame. And they should be ashamed for not doing their jobs and representin’. In a company, maybe not one here since ﬁring someone is illegal, but one overseas, they would be sacked.
Hey, morons: if you don’t to be shown in a bad light, then behave yourselves.
Now press freedoms have been curtailed.
And our American readers wonder why some of us are tired of having liberals in ofﬁce.
Even among liberals, there is a lack of support for this move, one that I see as undemocratic. A bit like when this same government passed ex post facto laws (ones that would be illegal under the US Constitution, or, indeed, most fair-minded democracies) about political ﬁnance. Here’s one poll:
The vast majority of people in New Zealand are against a recent rule approved by lawmakers that bans using images captured inside Parliament to satirize, ridicule or denigrate lawmakers on broadcast and print media, according to a poll by TNS released by TV3. 71 per cent of respondents disapprove of this measure.
Someone please tell me why we are even bothering with spending our tax dollars on tourism campaigns to Americans and funding newzealand.com (one of our advertisers) if news of our undemocratic ways is now the stuff of jokes in US television shows. I mean, Americans know more about our weird-ass political follies now than they do about, say, Cuba’s.
My Californian colleague continued along these lines: ‘What has Helen Clark done for New Zealand, apart from being really good at getting photo ops and talking about Lord of the Rings, which she probably hasn’t seen? What is her legacy for New Zealand?
‘We just see her taking every opportunity to talk in tourism brochures and TV shows.’
Remember, folks, this is from a foreigner. And all this is the sum of how New Zealand is being seen.
What this tells me is that we need to pick up our game.
I may be wrong, but from what I know, our MSM seems to have ignored Mr Stewart’s programme’s criticisms, although it was networked here. We in the media should stand up, not bend over.
I imagine that with the farting Phil Goff gag that Mr Stewart showed, our networks can always license footage to the Americans and let them broadcast it instead, to get around the contempt charge. That will do wonders for our foreign relations.
In Mr Stewart’s words:
Fear not, for you may not be able to shit on your politicians, but I can be your anus.
I have always said that people can see through hype, especially in the 21st century. If a marketing campaign lacks transparency and integrity, then it becomes a joke. And we now have that joke.
The only problem remains this: I can’t see too many alternatives to this bunch of shame-driven dorks. Because it seems the Leader of the Opposition is as vision-off as the incumbent. He did, after all, support the move—and one National Party member questions why I think leader John Key will lose them the next General Election.
The only party that didn’t was the Greens, voted down 111 to 6 (I believe our Parliament has 120, so three MPs were either napping, ﬂipping someone off, had their hand in the candy jar or absent on a toilet break).
Vision, transparency, accountability. Not too much to ask of someone who should lead a nation. Might I add dignity? Posted by Jack Yan, 12:20
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# posted by Craig J. Phillips: 7/29/2007 03:15:00 AM
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