The Dim-Post

February 1, 2015

And all of it will happen again

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 11:34 am

I feel like people are getting a bit too carried away while diagnosing the inner-most soul of New Zealand over this Eleanor Catton thing. There were nation-wide freak-outs in India when Salman Rushdie criticised Indira Gandhi, and in the US – especially the South – when the Dixie Chicks attacked George W Bush (also, as Craig Ranapia pointed out on twitter, the UK melt-down over Hilary Mantel’s comments about our Kate), and it wasn’t because Indians are ‘a passionless people’ or Americans are ‘a nation of fretful sleepers’, or whatever other vague generalisations about New Zealand people are throwing around. It was because powerful people the world over hate being embarrassed on the international stage, and they always have loyal proxies in the media desperate to be outraged and vicious on their master’s behalf. This sort of stuff happens everywhere.

60 Comments »

  1. Since you’ve been referencing Man Alone recently I give you A.R.D Fairburn’s Dominion – a poem of the Depression that fair scorches off the page http://www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz/authors/fairburn/dominionfull.asp Agree with your post – take this overwrought apocalyptic little number https://medium.com/@maetl/land-of-the-wrong-white-clowns-f21b9908b856

    Comment by Marion — February 1, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  2. Honestly I think anybody who comes to the Dimpost comments session and is shocked to see vague yet hysterical generalisations being thrown around is just missing the point. It might have been possible to get that particular toothpaste back in the tube in 2009. At this point I think the best thing to do is roll with it.

    So on that note, the response to Catton’s comments is a clear sign of the irreversible intellectual deep rot of our cultural fabric, and I confidently predict that we will all be reduced to soulless corporate reality-TV drones by Thursday at the latest.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 1, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  3. Anyone else remember the fallout over Paul Theroux’s dissing of Cath Tizard?
    Also it’s around three years since Redbaiter crawled in here to proclaim the socialist apocalypse on the result of the Queensland election.

    Comment by Joe W — February 1, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

  4. But hang on, what she said is hardly of such a calibre as to justify her riding high upon that gelded stallion of ‘intellectualism’. I defend her right to say whatever the hell falls out of her mouth, but to uphold that speech as some kind of intellectual profundity does neither this country, or its so-called intellectual circles, any favours at all. If being egotistical and arrogant are the defining qualities of intellectualism, I’m quite sure we are better off without it.

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

  5. “If being egotistical and arrogant are the defining qualities of intellectualism …”

    I thought they were the defining qualities of our sports stars, who make us PROUD to be Kiwis (copyright TV news, every night).

    Catton’s unremarkable comments really aren’t the story here. The reaction to them from the Entitled – the Plunket Posse – says so much more.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 1, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

  6. When are we going to move to the bit where we describe the whole incident as a clash between Gen X’s Plunket and Gen Y’s Catton? There’s fruitful ground there for reinforcing all sorts of pop culture prejudices.

    Comment by Richard — February 1, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

  7. Had Peter Blake or whoever was our AB captain at the time used an international speech to pan NZ’s leftie govt of the day, I’m sure the response would have been the same, if not even more vehement (in some elements of left-wing media).

    …which I guess supports the point being made by Danyl in the OP…

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

  8. “NZ’s leftie govt of the day” – I meant to indicate during HC’s reign…

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

  9. I don’t think that they would have called a traitor on the equivalent of Radio Live. I can imagine Leighton Smith sighing and saying “Well that’s controversial but a lot of people are agreeing with him.”

    Comment by another kiwi — February 1, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

  10. Had Peter Blake or whoever was our AB captain at the time used an international speech to pan NZ’s leftie govt of the day, I’m sure the response would have been the same

    Yeah, that’s what DPF keeps saying. The difference is that its a writers job to tell us what they think about stuff. All Black captains aren’t really sent out there to give big think-piece speeches. During the Clark govt a few people like David Cohen published columns and features criticising NZ under the Clark government in various international magazines, and no one really cared.

    Comment by danylmc — February 1, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  11. “…Catton’s unremarkable comments really aren’t the story here. The reaction to them from the Entitled – the Plunket Posse – says so much more…”

    This. The massive over-reaction came from the right, not the left. And once it came, it distilled for a lot of arty types the deep loathing they have of the smug Philistinism personified by, well, take your pick from a parade of middle aged over-weight white males.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 1, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

  12. I think it’s interesting that all the ‘hypothetical hypocrite’ arguments use sports people.

    I’ve seen a number of “If an All Black said something like that about a leftie government, the whingers would be whinging a different tune then I can tell you”.

    What’s the assumption there?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 1, 2015 @ 1:57 pm

  13. “…Had Peter Blake…”

    As I recall, every time Blake opened his mouth on politics his brand of simplistic strongman reactionary politics alienated a huge chunk of the audience. In that sense, you could argue he died at his “Kennedy” moment – after becoming famous and achieving a historic national victory, but before upsetting half the country with the reality of his politics.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 1, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

  14. …but to uphold that speech as some kind of intellectual profundity does neither this country, or its so-called intellectual circles, any favours at all.

    How about upholding it as the kind of thing someone might say off the top of their head when asked their opinion in an interview? If you want to know why people regard Catton as an intellectual, try reading her books. Or, for a condensed version, have a look at her response to this bullshit – you couldn’t ask for a better example of how to use superior cognitive capacity and sheer literary skill to deliver a smackdown.

    As to how the nation responds to sports or business types blathering their political views, see Andrew Geddis’ post at Pundit. I don’t recall any great controversy over rugby players promoting National at the last election, and certainly don’t recall any apoplectic radio blowhards calling them ‘traitors’ and ‘ungrateful huas.’

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 1, 2015 @ 2:08 pm

  15. What’s the assumption there?

    A pretty safe one.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 1, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

  16. Nice assumption PM.

    In addition, I’ve also read the interview – and although some are criticising the reporting by saying it is a few lines taken out of context, it is pretty consistent with the whole cliche-ridden, and in places quite contradictory piece. Again, she should be able to say what she likes, and I agree, she shouldn’t be beset upon by a frenzied media of any ‘wing’ for simply having a critical voice, but her comments are pretty vapid – this is someone who spent a day looking on the internet for an aesthetic statement from a New Zealand writer – the internet! As a consumer of NZ literature (rather than an ‘intellectual’), I could provide her with a whole bunch of references much quicker than that.

    She has probably set back the cause of the NZ intellectual (whatever that might be), a good deal within general NZ society for her petty arrogance. I hadn’t read the blogpost, but tbh, that doesn’t change much.

    I didn’t find much to like in the Luminaries, and probably wouldn’t read another of her books (ok, I would – I always try to read local authors – but i wouldn’t expect much from it), but I was happy for her when she won the big award. But the whole NZ Post book award whinge – it was a book award for chrissakes, not a literature award. Does she feel it necessary that international recognition should be the measure of successful for a New Zealand book? Wait, isn’t that cultural cringe? Or just personal arrogance?

    As an intellectual, she will one day look back at this and consider it quite the facepalm moment, I am sure.

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

  17. “How about upholding it as the kind of thing someone might say off the top of their head when asked their opinion in an interview?”

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.😉

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

  18. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

    Or to write comments on a blogpost, to the same end. :->

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 1, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

  19. The difference is that its a writers job to tell us what they think about stuff.

    But also in manner that’s somehow inventive or challenging in a way that doesn’t mimic rants on The Standard. And probably leave out the self pity.

    But it’s become all a bit overblown. Plunket said things that were untrue in an obnoxious manner. One person. That’s not some major crisis in NZ’s intellectual and political soul.

    Comment by NeilM — February 1, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

  20. “Or to write comments on a blogpost, to the same end. :->”

    Naw – that’s what blogpost comment threads were invented for – and we all prove it time and time again…

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 3:32 pm

  21. Had Peter Blake or whoever was our AB captain at the time used an international speech to pan NZ’s leftie govt of the day, I’m sure the response would have been the same

    Three points on this:

    (1) If an AB captain panned the government of any stripe, the biggest response would be from the NZRFU.

    (2) The choice of analogy proves exactly what Catton is arguing. An AB captain has the role of leading the national team, and so is a “representative” of the country as a whole (have a read of this: http://www.nzru.co.nz/about_us/strategic_framework). Catton specifically is saying that this is not what she is, nor wants to be, and is very uncomfortable that people keep trying to make her into such.

    (3) When Israel Dagg and Jonah Lomu (as well as Eric Murray) tweeted their support for John Key and National on election day, there was precisely zero blowback (apart from the Electoral Commission, of course!) Likewise, when in 2008 Inga Tuigamala and Michael Jones endorsed National, here is DPF’s response: http://www.nzru.co.nz/about_us/strategic_framework. So I’m not exactly sure what basis there is for saying “if an All Black criticised Labour they’d be treated just like Catton”, given how real-world All Black interventions in the political world have been treated.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 1, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

  22. Naw – that’s what blogpost comment threads were invented for …

    And literary festivals were invented to let writers sit on stage and opine in a form of free association about whatever comes into their head on a given subject. It was a lengthy oral answer to a question she probably didn’t know was coming, not a carefully crafted essay on which she’d toiled for weeks. So let’s not be too judgmental?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 1, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

  23. The support for a political party by ABs locally (rather than internationally) is not related to this example, but I’ll accept your second point.

    And I’ll try to not expect intellectually nuanced positions from public intellectuals in the future – after all, I’m just numbered among the dull uniformity of general NZ culture that Catton despises so much…

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

  24. > this overwrought apocalyptic little number

    I find all the comments like this I’m getting today hilarious. Is it somehow unthinkable that someone might deliberately choose to write in a polemical and playful style rather than Graun-influenced pop analysis? No need to get worked up about supposed apocalyptic fantasies. All I’m trying to do is pull the Overton Window a few millimetres wider.

    Comment by Cultural Cosmonaut (@maetl) — February 1, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

  25. I’m sure Key wished she spewed her bile before the election, straight into the same bucket as Hager and Dotcom. Would have given him a couple more percentage points.

    Comment by Grant — February 1, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  26. The support for a political party by ABs locally (rather than internationally) is not related to this example…

    But it’s as close as we’ve got to the “what if..?” situation postulated. And the fact it resulted in precisely zero critical response might make us wonder if the prediction that criticism in front of an international audience would generate the same results as Catton’s isn’t a bit misplaced. Otherwise we’re just trading “I reckons” with no way of assessing who is correct.

    And, yeah – if you’re after carefully nuanced and considered manifestos, Q&A sessions at book festivals probably ain’t the place to look.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 1, 2015 @ 4:37 pm

  27. When Catton voiced her support for the Greens prior to the election there was precisely zero interest. If her latest effort had simply mentioned her on-going support of the Greens there’d still be no interest. It was rather her vauge suggestion that we were somewhat anti-intellectual or something. If an AB suggested the same you’d get the same response.

    Comment by artcroft — February 1, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

  28. Last week I had no idea who Catton was, but then I don’t read a lot of fiction, let alone contemporary fiction. Now I am very aware of who she has, so if her remarks were intended to market herself, she has done admirably. If she wasn’t and was attempting to make an incisive or perceptive comment about our political system, I think her remarks were not particularly inspirational, or even edifying.

    Are we collectively, as a society, suffering from intellectual inflation here? Once it may have required something cutting-edge, like the theory of evolution, or the formation of the Frankfurt School, or a definition of something like discourse or existentialism to qualify one as an intellectual, it seems now, that to be considered an intellectual, the only credentials required appear to not be a ‘neoliberal’.

    Once to be considered an ‘intellectual’ was to be in a bit of an exclusive club: populated by people like Freud, Marcuse, Chomsky, Marx, Einstein, Orwell, Koestler, Pinkner, Bronte, Graves or Woolstoncraft, Bourdieu, Voltaire, Groucho. – you know, the kinds of lofty thinkers that leave common or garden academics (and authors) for dead… plodding at the back of the field wresting with ideas that are frankly beyond them, even as they seek to claim ownership of the next ‘big idea’.

    Now it only appears to require an off the cuff remark about the prevailing government (if it is a right-wing one), and voila! anyone who disagrees is corralled into the remedial class along with the lumpenproletariat (or is labelled part of a ‘two-track’ conspiracy to crush freedom of expression) on the basis that one (maybe two) detractor(s) used questionable language to criticise.

    Those who defend the speaker, no matter how vapid, or ill-considered the original statement was, get to defend ‘intellectuals’, and perhaps, by basking in the shared (inflated?) glow of their chosen ‘intellectual’, get to infer that they may be ‘intellectuals’ too.

    Perhaps this is just a consequence of confusing ‘cleverness’ with ‘intellectualism’. It’s easily done.

    Comment by Lee Clark — February 1, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

  29. Various commentators here say that there was absolutely no reaction to Jonah Lomu and Israel Dagg tweeting on election day.
    Although they were not in the end prosecuted (after all how could a prosecution possibly be made when Cunliffe had not been prosecuted for exactly the same offence) there was an enormous amount of commentary on the subject in various New Zealand, Australian and UK papers and in the TV news.

    I tried googling “Jonah Lomu election day twitter” and got 418,000 hits.
    This included reports in papers like The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Brisbane Courier Mail, TVNZ and TV3. That was just the first screen of hits.
    All of them were going on about their breaking the law.

    Comment by alwyn — February 1, 2015 @ 5:49 pm

  30. “And, yeah – if you’re after carefully nuanced and considered manifestos, Q&A sessions at book festivals probably ain’t the place to look.”

    Catton’s remark clearly indicate that she conceives of herself as an (hard done-by) ‘intellectual’, and given that Danyl says that “its a writers job to tell us what they think about stuff”, and given that she has been speaking freely to foreign journalists ever since she was first published overseas, and has criticised the Key government, neo-liberal values, and our culture of anti-intellectualism many times – yeah – I would kind of expect a little more ‘intellectualism’ – even at a literary festival.

    Perhaps she should just dramatise The Luminaries, and get her govt handout via NZ on Air, or better still, via big budget movie tax breaks.

    (Don’t worry, I’m just kidding…)

    Is Keri Hulme considered to be an intellectual btw?

    Comment by Michael — February 1, 2015 @ 6:23 pm

  31. Is Keri Hulme considered to be an intellectual btw?

    I guess, if you’re operating a definition for “intellectual” of “has won the Booker Prize” the answer is yes. If you’re not, it’s kind of a silly question.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 1, 2015 @ 8:27 pm

  32. Catton hasn’t given any indication that what she said was ill conceived spur of the moment blabbing to fellow writers. (It must have been so challenging to bad mouth neolibs to such an audience).

    And quite a few are taking what she said very seriously.

    It might be a little judgemental to say maybe it takes a bit more to be a public intellectual but then she was a tad judgemental with the hating the planet stuff.

    I have some considerable respect for a number of politically engaged writers but that’s based on the nature of their political engagement.

    Comment by NeilM — February 1, 2015 @ 9:24 pm

  33. “The difference is that its a writers job to tell us what they think about stuff. All Black captains aren’t really sent out there to give big think-piece speeches.”

    Well, kind of. A writer’s job is to create thought provoking and entertaining written works. That might or might not involve putting their own opinions forward. But a writer who doesn’t use their books to put forward their personal opinions isn’t necessarily a bad writer. Nor is a writer who doesn’t choose to put forward their opinions outside their books.

    Somebody whose key role is to simply display their opinions at every opportunity, regardless of medium, is more of a polemicist than a writer.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 1, 2015 @ 9:26 pm

  34. “But it’s as close as we’ve got to the “what if..?” situation postulated.

    The big, and very obvious difference is that the aforementioned All Blacks were endorsing National, not slagging off Labour or the Greens.

    When Catton endorsed the Greens, there was no blow-back. Nor was there when All Black Jerome Kaino endorsed Labour in 2011. People don’t mind celebrities endorsing politicians that much. It’s getting negative and bagging the other side that people don’t like.

    “But it’s as close as we’ve got to the “what if..?” situation postulated.”

    Not so – remember when Neil Finn took a swipe at Helen Clark back ’07 – he got roundly bollocked by all and sundry for that.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — February 1, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

  35. Assorted loudmouths / scribblers have revealed themselves as authoritarian arse lickers.
    They do this to attract attention to themselves in order to sell advertising.
    \They are advertising touts and pimps.
    They call themselves “journalists”, “presenters”, “commentators” etc etc.

    Just like every other beggar/busker on the street they will say and do anything attract money/advertising.

    They always rely on “freedom of speech” as a defence (as well as a suspect “public interest” line).

    Catton speaks her mind publicly and is vilified for exercising free speech?

    Every other country in the world would love a servile arsehole licking media like ours, Putin, china etc etc etc etc…..

    Hide behind the defence of free speech and the attack messenger Catton?

    Bullies are always insecure gutless cowards.and hide behind authority figures and always attack those they see cannot fight back. If it attracts ratings? GOODY!

    Comment by peterlepaysan — February 1, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

  36. I might have been the first to draw comparisons with the Dixie Chicks’ “Shut Up and Sing” experience on Twitter… and managed to draw a couple of John’s Mob out of the woodwork.

    I’ve also drawn comparison with Germaine Greer’s “cultural wasteland” remarks about her native Australia in 2004.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 1, 2015 @ 11:57 pm

  37. remember when Neil Finn took a swipe at Helen Clark back ’07

    I didn’t remember this, but it did happen! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10437739

    I feel like (a) it was okay for Finn to say this and (b) other musicians to step up and disagree with him. It seems a lot less nasty than the response to Catton from National proxies like Plunket and the Taxpayers’ Union.

    Comment by danylmc — February 2, 2015 @ 6:20 am

  38. It is impossible to disagree with you there, dmc.

    l also think that evaluating Plunkett’s motivations as relevant as it is, if we are considering a general societal attitude towards ‘intellectuals’ , has evaded a wider issue about how many who were similarly inflamed, because they consider ‘intellectual’ to equates to ‘high pay, taxpayer funding, expensive hotels and lots of paid-for foreign travel’.

    Is it political, sure. Is it an organised vrwc … perhaps. But reducing the defence of every statement, no matter how inane to being a defense of ‘free speech’ is over-egging the pudding, I’d suggest.

    The nastiness imo, has arisen out of plain old fashioned pecuniary jealousy, people who hate the idea of hoity-toity types biting the hand etc. In a way, it’s a democratic response to a perceived oligarchy. Not a pleasant one, but not so different from some of the comments you’d see at The Standard, or Kiwiblog, (even here, sometimes) I’d suggest.

    Comment by Lee Clark — February 2, 2015 @ 7:34 am

  39. It seems a lot less nasty than the response to Catton from National proxies like Plunket and the Taxpayers’ Union.

    Check out Russell Brown’s “Finn has a point, but he’s being unfair” post (http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/the-peoples-choice/). If that’s the counter-example to the response to Catton’s words, then point proved!

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 2, 2015 @ 7:46 am

  40. The difference is that its a writers job to tell us what they think about stuff.

    Well, some writers do. But that doesn’t mean to say we should bow and scrape and doff our caps at them.🙂 Their comments are surely not immune from criticism.

    Comment by Ross — February 2, 2015 @ 9:48 am

  41. I don’t recall any great controversy over rugby players promoting National at the last election

    Other than the police investigating the comments, and the Electoral Commission insinuating that the comments were dumb..

    Comment by Ross — February 2, 2015 @ 9:52 am

  42. I’m not exactly sure what basis there is for saying “if an All Black criticised Labour they’d be treated just like Catton”, given how real-world All Black interventions in the political world have been treated.

    I wasn’t aware that an All Black had said: “At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (is dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture…They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want. I feel very angry with my government.” But if and when that happens, I bet they will get the same treatment as Catton and a good dose of STFU.

    Comment by Ross — February 2, 2015 @ 9:58 am

  43. It seems a lot less nasty than the response to Catton from National proxies like Plunket and the Taxpayers’ Union.

    This is true, Sir Howard Morrison did manage to refrain from Calling Neil Finn a traitorous whore but he was pretty harsh by basically accusing Neil Finn of doing nothing for NZ, which is ridiculous. And while there may not have been the sort of board-line insane media comment a la Plunket, there was plenty of the ” Fuck Neil Finn, he’s a has-been, done nothing since Crowded House, his new stuff sux!” variety from the general public.

    What’s more, if he had been dumb enough to claim that the only reason his album hadn’t cleaned up at the NZ music awards because everyone is just jealous of his international success – which is pretty much what Catton did – then he would have got a whole lot worse.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — February 2, 2015 @ 10:47 am

  44. What’s more, if he had been dumb enough to claim that the only reason his album hadn’t cleaned up at the NZ music awards because everyone is just jealous of his international success – which is pretty much what Catton did – then he would have got a whole lot worse.

    I think if you read back over the whole reportage of Catton’s remarks, the first wave of (nastiest) criticism was for the fact that she had said rude things about the Government to an overseas audience, with the whole NZ Book Awards remarks picked up on thereafter.

    As for the general public’s response “Fuck Neil Finn, he’s a has-been, done nothing since Crowded House, his new stuff sux!”, are we saying that they were wrong in this assessment?

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 2, 2015 @ 10:57 am

  45. Well that’s always going to be subjective isn’t it? The point is that this was said only after he dared to criticize Helen Clark when the the rest of the NZ music scene where throwing themselves at her feet.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — February 2, 2015 @ 11:08 am

  46. Other than the police investigating the comments, and the Electoral Commission insinuating that the comments were dumb..

    That’s a standard and unremarkable response to a breach of our electoral laws, not a “controversy.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 2, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

  47. “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.” – Aristotle

    Comment by Simon — February 2, 2015 @ 12:33 pm

  48. I think also that what Neil Finn said didn’t exactly set Planet Talkback on fire, so the controversy seemed to be a flash in the pan.

    Lee Clark: the nastiness you describe could be compressed into two words: “champagne socialist”. That term is used by those who think only people who went to the School of Hard Knocks (a la John Banks or John Key), or otherwise have Ayn Rand or Maggie Thatcher on their favourite reading list, are allowed to have fat wallets. The likes of the Koch Bros, the Walton family and Gina Rinehart – far more dangerous than any “champagne socialist” – don’t seem to get the kind of hate reserved for Catton et al despite receiving lots more in corporate welfare in comparison.

    I think also that the term “champagne socialist” has a whiff of “Cultural Marxist” about it – the latter term has its origins in Elders of Zion paranoia, given that the Frankfurt School was heavily represented by Jewish intellectuals.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — February 2, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

  49. One fundamental difference is that sports people often ARE expressly representing New Zealand – in the national team, at the Olympics etc. So they have certain contractual obligations.

    If the day ever comes when musicians and novelists are expected to stick to writing the Great Patriotic Song / Novel, and keep their opinions to themselves, because they “represent New Zealand”, then we’ve got real problems.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 2, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

  50. You have to wonder though if we have been lead up the garden path by this talented young lady, (or was it woman’s intuition), was this just another story she wrote, had she foreseen the outcome/ending before she opened her mouth.

    The reaction by some on the right couldn’t have been more predictable, (I hope the politicians on the left, have taken note on how easy it was to lead our PM and others up the garden path).

    The so called New Zealand Tax Payers Union (NZTPU) came out with some truly laughable comments.

    “We say again, if Ms Catton isn’t thankful for the support by the New Zealand Government while she wrote The Luminaries, maybe she should use some of the substantial royalties to pay the money back.”

    They, the NZTPU seem to forget Ms Catton will be paying ‘Tax’ on the substantial royalties she receives, so shouldn’t they instead be defending her right as a Taxpayer to speck up, and then be able to express her opinions freely without being bullied into silence, but as we all know the NZTPU are nothing but another Tui billboard. New Zealand Tax Payers Union, Yeah Right!

    Comment by MrSmith — February 2, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

  51. @ Comment by Lee Clark — February 1, 2015 @ 5:31 pm
    This, despite the typos, is the best comment I’ve seen on this tired subject. It neatly sums up how the ‘left’ have instantly enshrined the whole episode as some kind of ‘Sermon on the Mount’. When really, it represents simply the rather predicable spouting of somebody who seems to be developing somewhat of a track record for graceless and naive public comment. Plunket’s comments were equally vulgar, but that doesn’t give Catton’s comments validity, or signal the nebulous outline of a vast right wing conspiracy to crush intellectuals.

    Comment by Craig — February 2, 2015 @ 6:34 pm

  52. @Kumara Republic: There’s a catch-22 to the whole ‘champagne socialist’ thing. If a comfortable or even wealthy person expresses left wing views, they’re a champagne socialist. But if a poor person does it, they’re just envious of the successful.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 2, 2015 @ 7:39 pm

  53. Key will have his fingers crossed that Catton and Hager will team-up just before the next election.

    I don’t really know why but he does well out of this sort of thing. And will no doubt do well over the current round of liar liar over Sabin.

    It happened to Clark and she lasted three terms.

    But maybe now it’s so much more amplified by Twitter and the blogosphere that a lot of people just get turned off by the nastiness if it all.

    Comment by NeilM — February 2, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

  54. “Plunket’s comments were equally vulgar … ”

    Our old friend ‘false equivalence’ strikes again. They weren’t equal, in any reasoned analysis. They were clearly different, in content, and intent.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 2, 2015 @ 8:29 pm

  55. Kalvarnsen: the ‘poor person’ you describe isn’t always from the ‘exploited proletariat’ as John Steinbeck put it; he/she can also be a ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaire’ who can think the Two Johns are perfectly self-made while also thinking Eleanor Catton is a champagne socialist. False consciousness is shooting fish in a barrel. Like him or hate him, Russell Brand did point out the following:

    “Some people say I’m a hypocrite because I’ve got money now. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.”

    Comment by Kumara Republic — February 3, 2015 @ 12:38 am

  56. @Kumara: I’m aware that not all poor people express or hold left-wing views.

    As an aside, ‘exploited proletariat’ comes from Marx, not Steinbeck.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 3, 2015 @ 12:54 am

  57. @ sammy 3.0: The ‘false equivalence’ really depends on your point of view, both sets of comments seem like generalized, ideology-driven ‘Tilting at windmills’ to me. But that’s just me…

    Comment by Craig — February 3, 2015 @ 7:02 am

  58. Craig, it’s not just you.

    Comment by Maureen — February 3, 2015 @ 9:49 am

  59. The ‘false equivalence’ really depends on your point of view, both sets of comments seem like generalized, ideology-driven ‘Tilting at windmills’ to me. But that’s just me…

    False equivalence doesn’t really depend on POV, unless you don’t understand the logical fallacy.

    In this instance it’s pretty clear that Catton made comments as a private citizen about how she feels about the government whereas Plunket made a personal attack against Catton as a paid commentator.
    The reduction of situation to “she said so then he said” – with the ingrained assumption both actor’s action were equally wrong and that their effects are broadly similar – doesn’t hold, hence the false equivalence.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 4, 2015 @ 5:05 pm

  60. …unless you don’t understand the logical fallacy.

    I think you’ve put your finger on the problem.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 4, 2015 @ 6:57 pm


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