The Dim-Post

April 29, 2015

Raising human rights

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:25 am

Our political leaders are constantly assuring us they’re ‘raising human rights’ with places like Saudi Arabia, or China, or wherever, and I today I find myself wondering how this plays out in reality.

Does the PM actually say to someone like the King of Saudi Arabia, ‘Saudia Arabia should stop torturing and beheading gay people?’ Or do our diplomatic officials tell their officials ‘Prime Minister Key will make a brief statement to your leader about the importance of democracy and equality. He is required to make this for domestic political purposes. No response is necessary.’ And then Key or Clark or whoever reads a bit of rhetoric off a card. ‘Although you have made great progress in this area there is work to be done . . .’

Or is it looser than that? Does our PM just say, ‘Your Ambassador assures me that you are committed to democratic reforms and human rights and we congratulate your Majesty on this and fully support your endeavors,’ and turn around and assure the press that they’ve ‘raised human rights’.

I feel like it’s the last, isn’t it?

77 Comments »

  1. It’s a box-ticking exercise, so wouldn’t surprise me if it was something like “As you know, the people of New Zealand expect me to raise the topic of human rights with you. Now, how is that trade agreement coming along ?”

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — April 29, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  2. What would the Green’s do?

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  3. What would the Green’s do?

    Beats me

    Comment by danylmc — April 29, 2015 @ 10:40 am

  4. Here’s a quick quiz question:

    Which NZ politician railed against the “butchers of Burma” a few years ago, and demanded action?

    It’s obviously somebody who cares about human rights, but who?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — April 29, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  5. Practically speaking, what’s the difference? If Key did take the first option, would it have even a sliver of influence on Saudi policy? Are the Saudis only continuing to torture and behead because they think they have NZ’s approval to do so?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 29, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  6. @ no. 5 – no, I don’t think it would, but the “what we say doesn’t matter because we’re so small” clashes with “we ought be on the Security Council to provide a strong independent voice” (not quotes obviously).

    Comment by nw — April 29, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  7. “”Is there anyone the Prime Minister is ashamed to be associated with?” Green Co-Leader Rod Donald asked.
    “Myanmar is a textbook case of a police state, more closed, more oppressive, and more barbaric than any other country in the Asia-Pacific region. Yet Helen Clark is poised to initiate a free trade agreement that includes the Burmese military dictatorship. Has she no shame?”

    No wonder they dont get invited into government.

    Comment by dukeofurl — April 29, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  8. I saw Trade Minister Lockwood Smith tell off the Indian Trade Minister at a WTO meeting in Geneva in 1998 after the Indians did a nuclear test. Smith was not particularly anti-nuclear (ok, he was pro-nuclear ship visits etc and I doubt he personally gave a fuck about the Indians letting off nukes in their own desert, but the Prime Minister had sent a cable saying he had to do the telling off.) The Indians knew they were going to be told off so they cancelled the formal meeting with NZ. So Smith went over to the Indian’s desk at the WTO conference hall and really did tell them off as if he were some kind of anti-nuclear crusader. The Indian Trade Minister didn’t really seem to care. A cable was sent back to Wellington saying the telling off had happened. Maybe one was also sent back to Delhi saying the same thing. But I was a bit surprised the whole thing was done more seriously than I expected. Later that year, there was a trade mission to India and at each meeting it would be said “while we are strongly opposed to your recent nuclear tests, we are pleased with the new quarantine rules for kiwifruit (or whatever)”.

    Assuming the same type of format and seriousness is still used,I guess Key would say NZ was opposed to the death penalty, believed in equality between the sexes and in one-person-one-vote etc and “we urge you to make further progress on these issues”. And the Saudis might either ignore it, or say all societies are different and develop in different ways and on different timeframes. Or something like that anyway.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — April 29, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  9. I’d say it would be the latter. As depressing as it is, we still live in a world where realist power politics reigns supreme, and I doubt Saudi Arabia would give two hoots about what little ol’ New Zealand thinks about its human rights record (especially after the last couple of weeks) because we have such little power. So why bring it up? I doubt Clark would have either.

    Problem is we can never know since international diplomacy is all still a mystery to the public “for our own good”. If I OIA an MFAT briefing to the PM when he visited Saudi Arabia, all the stuff that might piss the Saudis off (i.e. MFAT telling Key to raise human rights) is redacted. So we have no way of knowing.

    I do think bigger more progressive countries like the EU, or even the US under a Democrat president, would bring up human rights with countries like Saudi Arabia and China. Probably partly out of self interest as well as humanitarian concerns. Democracies tend to be more stable and peaceful.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — April 29, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  10. I imagine the Saudis have an equally impressive message for Western leaders and ambassadors where they ask for greater protection for Muslims in host countries, more Halal certification etc and then assure their people they have raised the issue(s) in a vigourous fashion and with great success.

    JC

    Comment by JC — April 29, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  11. I should say more peaceful towards other democracies…thinking of the US in the 21st century.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — April 29, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  12. Key: “NZ is opposed to the death penalty”.

    Saudi: “Yes, you never stop telling your voters how barbaric it is. What are they called, Sensible Sentencing Trust?”

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — April 29, 2015 @ 11:07 am

  13. I think it goes something like this:

    Key: “Hey, about the flogging and chopping off of heads?”
    King of Saudi Arabia: “Yes, well it’s a time honoured part of our religious beliefs…”
    K: “Look, I’m not dissing it. Wish I could lop a few heads myself, personally”
    KSA: “well all societies are different and develop in different ways and on different timeframes”
    K: “These floggings? Are they like held in secret, or can anyone come along to watch. Cause I’ve always had an interest?”
    KSA: “I don’t think they really like having infidels present, really. One needs to be appropriately dressed”
    K: “Oh, I’ve got my own leather mask and chaps. I could get them whizzed over tomorrow in the diplomatic bag?”
    KSA: “Um, I don’t really think so”
    K: “Also, is cutting off of pony-tails any part of sharia punishment? Because I’m fully into that. You must come to Hawaii and see my collection. Look, I even carry a few with me….”

    Comment by richdrich — April 29, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  14. I don’t think there’s any morally consistent course of action.

    I don’t think our Govt should be in any sort of negotiation with the Assad regime but then he wouldn’t still be around if it wasn’t for support from Russia and Iran and for me it wouldn’t make sense not to have dealings with them.

    Which is a bit of a moral contradiction.

    Labour and National have tended to take a very similar line on this sort of issue but I wonder what effect Foreign Minister Peters in a labour led govt hurling abuse at Muslims might have.

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 11:50 am

  15. Solid gold faucets, diamond encrusted mirrors – John Key who ? Next..

    Comment by Woz — April 29, 2015 @ 11:55 am

  16. Assuming the same type of format and seriousness is still used,I guess Key would say NZ was opposed to the death penalty, believed in equality between the sexes and in one-person-one-vote etc and “we urge you to make further progress on these issues”.

    Or not.

    Mr Key said he was only able to raise wider human rights issues and not women’s rights specifically.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/272305/women's-rights-not-raised-in-saudi-arabia

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 29, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  17. While we get all hand wringing amongst the twittering classes I would suggest most kiwis are just happy they don’t live under that sort of regime but we could do with the export sales and that is that.
    Also Saudi Arabians are exceptionally wealthy and are free to travel or emigrate but seem quite happy where they are living under their version of Islam.
    Our beloved media seem awfully excited over Islamic practices when they can kick Key around but are a bit more reticent when covering terrorist activities done under Islam teachings.

    Comment by David — April 29, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

  18. What would the Green’s do?
    I dunno, maybe say “we won’t enter into trade deals with you until you stop the beheadings, child torture and lashing of rape victims.” ?

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — April 29, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  19. We perform a powhiri in te Reo putting forward our wishes for togetherness and respect. They provide salutations of welcome in high Arabic directing towards the righteous path.

    Comment by unaha-closp — April 29, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

  20. @Mikaere

    Do the Greens have a list of countries they would stop NZ trading with?

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 12:33 pm

  21. Rather do the Greens have a list we could trade with ( being shorter it would be more sustainable)

    Comment by rayinnz — April 29, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

  22. @NeilM,

    Do the Greens have a list of countries they would stop NZ trading with?

    There’s a world of difference between saying “we won’t enter into trade deals with you” and “NZ companies/individuals are forbidden from trading with you”. But you knew that, of course.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 29, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

  23. Putting one’s money where one’s mouth is has long been admirable, but the practical value — and hence importance — of linking money and morals is growing rapidly. I am thinking of the growing use of international economic sanctions. (Noneed to go to our Greens for a list of who not to trade with. See the US State Department and US Treasury lists: http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/ and http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Pages/default.aspx.) Similar, the growing areas of ethical investment, the divestment movements against fossil fuels, the divestment & boycott movements against Israel. Also the growing ethical trade movements — fair trade and eco certification programmes.
    So it’s topical and timely. If pony tail pulling can make the US primetime TV, maybe NZ can make it into some globally influential in-trays with a refreshing story of wee David making trade deals with Goliath contingent on progress in human rights. A little guy like us is perfectly suited to push that envelope to show the big fellers how far THEY could go in a similar direction.

    Comment by duncanm37 — April 29, 2015 @ 1:24 pm

  24. You know, this tedious greenie-leftie bashing would be just a bit more credible if Tories didn’t keep boasting of their achievements … after they’ve been safely won by other people’s efforts, of course.

    Stock PM speech by Key, as and when required: “In New Zealand we are proud of being nuclear-free and anti-death penalty and upholding rights for women and minorities and our indigenous culture and our beautiful environment, it’s what makes us proud to be Kiwis, blah blah independent foreign policy blah blah commitment to human rights blah blah stood up to apartheid blah blah …”

    Johnny-come-lately is welcome, but still … maybe lend a hand in making it happen next time, eh?

    PS The answer to my question @4 is Murray McCully. In opposition, of course.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — April 29, 2015 @ 1:24 pm

  25. Another similar growing practical link between money-and-morals: the Investor-State Dispute provisions in TPP make progress in civil institutions and citizen rights contingent on preserving private markets. What about some policy push-back, making fostering of private markets contingent on progress in civil institutions and citizen rights?

    Comment by duncanm37 — April 29, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

  26. What would the Green’s do?

    For the type of arguments you are looking for from the greens, you’re probably going to have to trawl through select committee and bill reading transcripts from the China free trade deal looking for their opposing opinion text.

    It does seem a bit quiet from the Greens though. Especially given the party’s sympathy to linking trade favourability with human rights.

    A trade agreement with Saudi Arabia should be of interest to at least 4 Green MP’s:
    – Kennedy Graham – Spokesperson for Global Affairs, Climate Change, Trade & Foreign Investment
    – Jan Logie – Spokesperson for Women, Human Rights, Overseas Development Aid
    – Russel Norman – Spokesperson for Economics & Finance.
    – James Shaw – Contact for Trade and Foreign Investment Policy

    Comment by Naturesong — April 29, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

  27. Also Saudi Arabians are exceptionally wealthy and are free to travel or emigrate but seem quite happy where they are living under their version of Islam.

    @ David – actually, only a very small minority of Saudis are exceptionally wealthy. Per capita income has consistently decreased since the 70s as a result of massive birth rates and chronic unemployment.
    Also, about half the population – the female ones – cannot easily travel freely or emigrate.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 29, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

  28. Use a long spoon.

    Comment by Knob Endt — April 29, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

  29. @unaha closp

    Would any women be allowed to sit in he front at the Saudi powhiri?

    Comment by insider — April 29, 2015 @ 2:09 pm

  30. @Lashing Light

    Trade deals are aimed at increasing trade so I’m not sure there’s a great moral distinction between the two.

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

  31. Oops, Flashing

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

  32. Trade deals are aimed at increasing trade so I’m not sure there’s a great moral distinction between the two.

    @NeilM – there is quite a big and obvious moral difference.

    “We won’t enter into trade deals with you” is an acceptance of the status quo, in that the State will not go out of it’s way to promote further trade, but accepts that its citizens and corporation are free agents, capable of making their own moral judgements.

    “NZ companies/individuals are forbidden from trading with you” is the creation of an embargo, superseding the moral judgements of citizens or corporations, and generally enforcing it via legislation.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 29, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

  33. It does seem a bit quiet from the Greens though. Especially given the party’s sympathy to linking trade favourability with human rights.

    Well, you could have a quick look on Scoop.

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — April 29, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

  34. @insider

    If they are menstruating they have to sit at the back.

    Comment by unaha-closp — April 29, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

  35. The Saudi Crown was set up by the British and MI5 in the 1030’s- around the same time they signed Palestine over to the Rothschilds. They have helped them build Mecca in the meantime- and install Sharia Law. Thats all even on the CIA run Wikipedia. Bcos its fact. Why? Because the Crown Inc is a privately owned corporation owned by the Vatican and they own the entire ‘Royal’ franchise. So Saudi Arabia is just another Vatican run mafia operation- much like all of their monotheistic religions. So, they get their Mini-Star in NZ to go over and offer lamb and free trade. Our own PM meets the Saudi ‘leader’ and they both pretend to be ‘leaders’ – in fact they are both just Vatican puppets- doing as they are told. Any more questions?

    Comment by RealNewsNZ — April 29, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  36. correction- 1930’s (typo)

    Comment by RealNewsNZ — April 29, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

  37. I think we should take our cues from the UN re interacting with Saudi A. They are on the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Women Executive Board.

    JC

    Comment by JC — April 29, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

  38. The UN is another Vatican owned and run company. They have to make comments like that so people will believe them. In reality, the UN trafficks drugs- and children. Just ask Helen Clark the heroin trafficker (google it)

    Comment by RealNewsNZ — April 29, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

  39. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood the Green Party position – is it that trade shouldn’t be linked to human rights but trade deals should?

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

  40. @NeilM

    Trade is conducted between individual “merchants”. Trade deals are negotiated between states.

    It is fine for individual NZers to conduct legal trade with individuals (apart from the executioners and enabling government officials) within states that execute.

    The terms of that trade might well be better if there was a trade deal. That’s the problem of the individual merchants. Either don’t conduct the trade if it is not favourable or agitate for the death state to cease executions (and torture, etc).

    Comment by RJL — April 29, 2015 @ 4:40 pm

  41. >I feel like it’s the last, isn’t it?

    I feel like it’s even looser than that. I’d go so far as to say it might not even happen at all. They just say they did it afterwards. Does Key and/or the King of Saudi even dirty their hands talking about business? Key’s not good at cutting deals anyway. You have to remember the details and all that boring stuff that’s not interesting to people worth hundreds of millions with palatial mansions to show off to each other. Trade negotiators are much better at holding people like Key to their word than our media.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 29, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

  42. Most international trade is done within an internationally negotiated regulatory framework of some sort. The WTO etc.

    It’s hardly what a liberaterian would consuder to be free trade.

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 5:08 pm

  43. If the argument is that trade agreements somehow imply an acquiescence to human rights violations or an encouragement of or a diminished ability to criticise then I don’t see how that can’t be said about any form of trade.

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

  44. 2.What would the Green’s do?

    The Greens aren’t massively keen on free trade, so on a free trade agreement they are highly likely to object on the basis of human rights.

    Likewise, ACT will likely object to any climate change agreements with repressive regimes on the basis of human rights.

    Comment by unaha-closp — April 29, 2015 @ 5:50 pm

  45. The other common criticism of Key has been ISIS behead people so there’s a double standard.

    Free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia but troops to help fight ISIS.

    Would one really want our govt to treat SA and ISIS in the same way? And why is it that there’s this particular comparison – because they’re all the same? Muslims, Arabs.

    Add in Indonedia. It’s not beheading but being shot doesn’t appear to be any less brutal and is most often less quick. We treat Indonesia, SA and ISIS the same?

    Comment by NeilM — April 29, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

  46. @6: “I don’t think it would, but the “what we say doesn’t matter because we’re so small” clashes with “we ought be on the Security Council to provide a strong independent voice” (not quotes obviously).”

    The counter-argument would presumably be that the Security Council, and the UN generally, is a very different forum to a one-on-one bilateral meeting. The latter is one where small states, absent some particular leverage (which doesn’t exist in the NZ-Saudi relationship), will tend to have difficulty exerting themselves. The former is one where small states can perform more effectively, especially if they can successfully build coalitions.

    I think if NZ were to put their foot down re: Saudi human rights, the real benefit would be not so much in the effect it would have on Saudi human rights policy, which we all seem to agree is likely to be nil, but in the positive image it would create towards NZ in other democracies for “standing up to the Saudis”.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 29, 2015 @ 7:18 pm

  47. What would the Green’s do?

    Distract. Divert. Obfuscate. Oh, wait! That’s your job….

    Comment by McNulty — April 29, 2015 @ 8:02 pm

  48. Key would have dealt for years with Saudi money, trades, deals, etc…. So just biz as usual……. Beheadings are inconvenient and irrelevant to him.
    He’s just head money changer, breaking up and selling the NZ assets (he’s just about completed his NZ deconstruction contract….. The ttp is the last deal to tick off his list) …. He simply doesn’t give a shit.

    Comment by Nick — April 29, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

  49. KEY: “Now, your Highness, a series of rather disturbing allegations have recently been brought to my attention regarding your Country’s behaviour…Your Mother informs me that you’ve been facilitating torture, beheadings, beatings, secret trials without juries, oppression of women, capital punishment for homosexuals…Now, King Salman, you surely know that this is unacceptable behaviour. Let me make it quite clear that I certainly won’t be tolerating it and I know your Mother’s less than happy. You’ve let US all down, but, more importantly – and I want you to reflect seriously on this – you’ve let YOURSELF down, haven’t you ?

    KING SALMAN of Saudi Arabia: “I beg of you, Prime Minister, please accept our sincerest apologies. We are deeply shamed. Our behaviour certainly hasn’t reached the threshold that I, myself, would have wished for. Please believe me when I tell you we will take on board your criticisms and endeavour to improve our future behaviour forthwith.”

    KEY: “Well, see that you do and be quick about it !!!…I really don’t want to have to have this conversation with you again, allright ? Don’t make me have to come back next year for another word.”

    Comment by swordfish — April 29, 2015 @ 10:41 pm

  50. Didn’t the Greenses’s’s’ get an over-the-threshold poll bump after their opposition to the Black Caps’ Zimbabwe tour in 2005, or is that just fanciful post-hoc reckoning? Anyway, aside from the fact the this post was *clearly* a (successful!) attempt to get Hooton to publicly spill insider knowledge, I think it’s nicely dovetailed with other issues: 1) The down-the-rabbit-hole response of a Tory Australian government re Indonesia (death penally OMG, nevermind West Papua/Nauru/PNG, etc); 2) As Seb referred to upthread, Realeconomik is über alles, notice how Burma is now “improving” thanks to economic liberalisation, whilst Argentina and Greece are pariahs & 3) I’m glad that O’Sullivan has taken her own advice and shifted from being a no context cheerleader for the TPPA to starting to explain WHY it’s “correct” and this presents an argument why lefties should support the agreement (still not convinced tho).

    Comment by hydey — April 30, 2015 @ 1:34 am

  51. The real irony in the Greens’ stance (presuming that Mikaere has represented it accurately) is that it treats trade agreements as a privilege to be earned by good behaviour, in the presumed hope that being denied the benefits of a trade agreement will exert some small pressure on authoritarian states. The Greens’ rhetoric and policies regarding international trade seems to imply the exact opposite about the virtues of trade agreements. Perhaps a more accurate summary would be “The Greens won’t sign trade agreements with authoritarian governments because authoritarian governments are bad, and they won’t sign trade agreements with democratic governments because trade agreements are bad”.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 30, 2015 @ 3:28 am

  52. https://home.greens.org.nz/policy/summary/trade

    Comment by framu — April 30, 2015 @ 7:54 am

  53. 2.What would the Green’s do?

    Well they wouldn’t use inappropriate apostrophes.

    Comment by rickrowling — April 30, 2015 @ 8:48 am

  54. @swordfish — April 29, 2015 @ 10:41 pm – A variation on this approach to foreign potentates and human rights was (the later) Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, a Royal Navy captain in the 1870s in the Mediterranean who upon hearing the local Moslem tribesmen had taken to killing local christians had himself rowed ashore from his ship fully replendent in his full dress uniform and accompanied only by a petrified midshipman and a terrified local interpreter. Walking into the middle of the mob of cursing Turkish tribesmen who were brandising their scimitars and uttering curses, he held up his hand for silence, then said “Now look here you ugly bastards, I’ll have no more of this beastly business”.

    And they obeyed. Thus was the power of Queen Victoria’s empire at it’s height.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 30, 2015 @ 9:16 am

  55. And they obeyed. Thus was the power of Queen Victoria’s empire at it’s height.

    I suspect it was more of shock and awe rather than the influence of the Queen.They probably thought he was mad.

    Ottoman culture had a degree of healthy respect for those they judged man either seeing them as semi-holy (mecnun) or in the tribal areas, more likely possessed by djinn.
    In this case the latter was probably assumed given that only a mad-dog or and Englishmen would go out in the midday sun (particularly in full dress).

    Comment by Gregor W — April 30, 2015 @ 10:00 am

  56. Nah, the tribesman had just seen this movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anEuw8F8cpE

    Comment by richdrich — April 30, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  57. Walking into the middle of the mob of cursing Turkish tribesmen who were brandising their scimitars and uttering curses, he held up his hand for silence…

    “Name of a dog! Name of a dog!”
    “Er…Fido, old chap?”

    Comment by Joe W — April 30, 2015 @ 11:43 am

  58. @RealnewsNZ Also, Woolworths and the Warehouse are run by a secret cabal of lizards. Putting anything from those stores in our near your body allows them to control your mind waves through implanted radiation devices. Google it.

    Comment by richdrich — April 30, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

  59. Mr Key said he was only able to raise wider human rights issues and not women’s rights specifically.

    Well, yes – he’s rather undermined his ability to speak to other countries’ leaders about women’s rights.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 30, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  60. Oh pull the other one psycho.

    Comment by Neil Miller — April 30, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

  61. We need to address Saudi Arabia’s human rights concerns and have every kiwi woman put on a burqa to protect their modesty and their hair.

    Comment by unaha-closp — April 30, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

  62. Distract. Divert. Obfuscate. Oh, wait! That’s your job….

    Not really, I’m the resident Cassandra.

    Comment by NeilM — April 30, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

  63. Oh pull the other one psycho.

    Why, does it have bells on? People in other cultures are generally doing the right thing by their own belief systems, and GCC countries are no exception. They don’t sit around rubbing their hands and going “Bwahahah, how can we oppress women this week?”, they see themselves as upholding the moral standards of their communities. The leaders Key’s been meeting with this week might be running countries that are atrocious abusers of women’s rights by our standards, but by theirs, getting caught publicly touching a non-related woman who didn’t want you touching her is way beyond the pale. It would be entirely reasonable for them to laugh in his face if he raised women’s rights. They’re probably wondering how he can possibly be still in his job, and how much he had to pay the woman’s relatives to avoid a court case.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 30, 2015 @ 7:07 pm

  64. getting caught publicly touching a non-related woman who didn’t want you touching her is way beyond the pale. It would be entirely reasonable for them to laugh in his face if he raised women’s rights. They’re probably wondering how he can possibly be still in his job, and how much he had to pay the woman’s relatives to avoid a court case.
    Uncovered meat. Those infidels sure are peculiar.

    Comment by Joe W — April 30, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

  65. I’m the resident Cassandra.
    Yes there are two possible explanations for the curse of never being believed. One has to do with the consequences of refusing sex to Apollo and the other emanates from the fact that you’re just full of shit.

    Comment by McNulty — April 30, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

  66. Those infidels sure are peculiar.

    How hard is it to grasp that the misogynist patriarchs of the GCC don’t see themselves as the evil, oppressive, irrationalist motherfuckers we do, and that they might find being lectured by a waitress-molester ridiculous?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 30, 2015 @ 9:10 pm

  67. @Psycho: I seriously doubt that the whole waitress-molesting scandal is going to have much effect on Saudi perceptions. Or to put it another way, being lectured by a non-waitress molester is going to seem equally ridiculous to them.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 30, 2015 @ 9:47 pm

  68. Yes there are two possible explanations…

    Maybe I was referencing James Baldwin.

    Comment by NeilM — April 30, 2015 @ 10:48 pm

  69. I agree with Psycho they might feel it ridiculous to be lectured about women’s rights by a waitress-molester.
    But women also have the right not to be objectified. One way not to do this is to guard how we describe others. Routinely using terms like c**t and mother f**ker as terms of abuse, I’d argue, (although not up there with stoning adulteress women to death), endorses similarly ‘veiled’ aggression,and deserves to be highlighted and challenged.

    If officially challenged, in the form of a complaint, it similarly can’t be argued away by the claim, “Oh come on, it was just ‘banter'”. It could invite a charge of harassment if the hearer chooses to consider it so. In workplace situation, one might receive a letter of warning, or other disciplinary redress which would be recorded. In the worst case, one might even lose one’s job, and the resulting shame of having jeopardised one’s career because you were suspected of sexual harassment would stay with you and your whanau for ever.

    Some might come here and crow about how you ‘deserved it’.

    I would like it on record that I have never molested any member of the hospitality trade, nor have I called him or her rude names. I have been in the hospitality trade and have been molested and called rude names, but I’m over it now.

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 1, 2015 @ 6:55 am

  70. Maybe I was referencing James Baldwin.

    Would that be the same James Baldwin who said “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do”?

    Comment by Flashing Light — May 1, 2015 @ 7:09 am

  71. How hard is it to grasp that the misogynist patriarchs of the GCC don’t see themselves as the evil, oppressive, irrationalist motherfuckers we do, and that they might find being lectured by a waitress-molester ridiculous?

    Those who get to deal with our pony-tail pulling elite probably have plenty of common ground. There seem to be no lack of British public school-educated Saudis who can prattle happily about cricket etc should the occasion warrant, while holding antediluvian attitudes to women. Even the Egyptian Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, who delivered the famous “uncovered meat” sermon in his capacity as Grand Mufti of Australia, came across as perfectly charming and ever so enlightened in an ABC Radio appearance a few years earlier. Appearing on a late 90s interfaith-themed event, he chose John Lennon’s War is Over (If You Want It) as his theme song. However the general touchy-feely atmosphere of happy co-existence faded when, asked for his vision of a future Australia, he expressed a hope for an eventual Muslim majority and the introduction of sharia law.

    Comment by Joe W — May 1, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  72. I’m just guiessing, but the Greens probably wouldn’t grovel for a trade agreement with beheaders and woman-haters. Wheras National (and labour) tend to put the money first and the people second…..though to be fair labour’s record is a bit better. At least they didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 to get a better trade deal…..as National would have (as they made clear at the time)

    Comment by truthseekernz — May 1, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

  73. As long as the Greens aren’t in govt they’ll be shielded from the taint of compromise.

    The notion that there are no complex issues but rather just good and bad people is easy to maintain when there’s no real world consequence.

    Comment by NeilM — May 1, 2015 @ 11:56 pm

  74. I hang awake in my cell at night dreaming of being ‘shielded from the taint of compromise’. Neil.

    Do you know the kinds of angst that accompanies having to leave the bathroom light on all night because my children claim to be ‘scared of the dark’? I’m thinking it’s probably even worse for my wife – she votes Green. But funnily the thought doesn’t appear to occur to her. In general, (I haven’t asked her) I’d suppose she is opposed to beheadings, but she also gets like a ferret up a drainpipe when she notices one of the multinationals have lowered the price of petrol. Such is the ‘taint of compromise’, I suppose, it gets us all one way or another.

    Sorry, paritutu, I just needed to vent…

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 2, 2015 @ 8:15 am

  75. @ 73 You mean a “real world consequence” such as the sanctions on apartheid SA or those currently in place upon Russia? At some point principles trump profits as far as most of us are concerned, no matter how “complex” the “real” world situation might be. Of course, that complexity means that mostly the actions taken reflect the hegemonic biases of the time.

    No worries, Lee, venting is what bathrooms are for.

    Comment by paritutu — May 2, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  76. I also find it an excellent place to blog, notwithstanding.

    Comment by Lee Clark — May 3, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  77. I dunno, maybe say “we won’t enter into trade deals with you until you stop the beheadings, child torture and lashing of rape victims.”’

    Comment by mido — May 9, 2015 @ 8:13 am


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