The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar is having a connipition at some school principal in Invercargill who, on his Facebook page,  vindicates Godwin's law by comparing Anne Tolley to Hitler. DPF then notes that this is evidence that the campaign against National Standards in schools is becoming "more deranged", before sarcastically declaiming:

Yes having the Ministry of Education call a school up is of course Nazi Germany all over again, and a principal who calls the Minister, Hitler, is exactly the sort of leadership we want in our schools.

You might wonder at whether David Farrar has a bit too much time on his hands if he's scouring Facebook looking for things that annoy him (as well as wondering whether that's not an endless task ... ). But I think we can all agree with him that people who compare their political opponents to evil dictators responsible for the deaths of millions of people are a bit silly and, in John Stewart's words, need to take it down a notch.

Unless, of course, they are your opponents. And they are proposing something you don't like.

In that case, the only reasonable response is to create a series of giant billboards in which some of the worst mass murderers in history - Mao Tse Tung, Kim Jong-Il - praise  your opponent and their policy. Because that's not deranged ... it's merely "a clear statement that we regard [the relevant] legislation as anti-democratic and unconstitutional."

Or, rather, when I do it, it is OK. But when someone else does it, it is not OK.

Comments (23)

by Alec Morgan on November 09, 2010
Alec Morgan

Classic double standard from Herr Farrar. I still recall an image from an EFA rally with someone holding  a Helen Clark placard with a swastika on it.

Years before the internet there was post WWII usage in NZ of the term “little Hitler” that was typically applied to overbearing officious types with the minimising “little” generally negating the inference of actual fascist tendencies. ‘Godwin’s law’ may be internet etiquette but not everyone is aware of this or gives one about it if they are.

A reasonably informed person (talk to a teacher) can understand the frustration of education professionals with the Minister’s “follow orders or else” approach.

by Mr Magoo on November 09, 2010
Mr Magoo

Personally I grow tired of pointing out the hypocrisy and lack of ration thought of the right wing extremists.

It is not even a mental challenge any more...

by Mark Wilson on November 09, 2010
Mark Wilson

Mr Magoo, you do have an eyesight problem if you condemn right wing hypocrisy and do not at the same time condemn the teacher's unions dishonesty and hyper hypocrisy.

As evidence for the prosecution -

- They go to any lenghts to ensure they are never held accountable for their teaching results by getting their subordinate political arm the Labour Party to do away with independently marked exams and thus preventing exposure of bad teachers and bad schools.

- Refuse to even consider merit pay so the system continues to reward incompetence. 

- Refuse to name and shame the criminal element in their ranks so children can be protected from them.

- Exhibit astonishing greed by demanding a 4% raise this year despite 3 consecutive years of similar raises and a once in a 100 year recession.

- Shamelessly harm their pupils futures by striking at a vulnerable time.

- Constantly insult the taxpayers intelligence by claiming that any actions they take or fail to take as above are for the children's sake.

- Dishonestly allow members of the Labour Party hierarchy in their ranks to foment opposition to the government's policies without having them declare their interest.

For sheer dishonesty and hypocrisy there is no group in NZ that can match the teacher unions.

As to "It is not even a mental challenge any more...'

If that is the case then why do the left lose way more than they win? That would clearly demonstrate an even greater lack of rational thought on behalf of the left. And why is it the right has to financially carry the left?

by stuart munro on November 09, 2010
stuart munro

@ Mark,

Merit as defined by whom? Education professionals or treasury goons? Would doctors allow non-professionals to assess their work?

Name & shame criminals? Does any other profession?

4% pay. What did MPs get? What do police get?

Insult tax-payers intelligence :

Oh please - the segment of the right that you represent is better described as tax-evaders.

For sheer hypocrisy no one can match the teacher unions - talkback radio hosts. Teachers aren't even close.

The right does not financially carry the left, in fact the repatriation of unearned increments happens much less than it should in a well-balanced economy. Many corporate actions carry a significant public cost, and few or no corporations are conscientious in seeing the public are repaid.

Right wingers - if you are a good example,  are mere ranters.

 

by Mark Wilson on November 09, 2010
Mark Wilson

Not one rational answer in the lot.

I have paid more tax in my life than all but the top few percent and I have created 100s of jobs and bought in huge amounts of overseas funds. Have you? So yes we do create the wealth.

To suggest the right do not carry the left is just so stupid it doesn't merit a reply.

by william blake on November 09, 2010
william blake

It is really good of you to create all of those jobs Mark; thank you.

by Andrew Geddis on November 09, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Mark,

Let's take what you say as being true. So what?

If you are saying "entrepreneurs have a role in creating capital in a capitalist environment", then that is indisputably true. (Although it also is true that the people in those "100s of jobs" you created enabled that capital accumulation to occur ... but let's put that small matter to one side.)

But you don't just seem to be saying that. You seem to be saying "entrepreneurs create everything, so everyone else should do what they want". Which no more logically follows than does the claim "everyone else uses what entrepreneurs create, so entrepeneurs should do what they want."

Point being, you need to move beyond simply stating as a "fact" that there are weath creators and wealth consumers and tell us what you think this means in concrete policy terms. Otherwise you're just spinning the same slogans over and over again, which commits the worst sin of all ... it's plain boring

by peasantpete on November 09, 2010
peasantpete

Mark, is there any chance of anyone objecting to anything a National Party led government did without you being offended?

National Party led governments are above criticism?

Time you grew up, little boy.

by stuart munro on November 09, 2010
stuart munro

You would think the pawns of a failing ideology like neoliberalism would be grateful for a few hints as to why their policies now have NZ per capita earnings 45% below Australia. But no.

An ill-conceived and ideologically repellent education reform to be foisted on a group of professionals without significant consultation, and you're shocked -shocked! at a little venting on Facebook.

More damaging than the right left divide is the autocratic arrogance of NZ governments. They don't bother to examine facts, or analyse practice, but dive straight in with 'solutions' unworthy of broadly based public support.

This dispute is typical, but the practice goes back to Muldoon at least - the most tyrannical democrat NZ ever spawned.

If we are ever to get the country on the road to recovery it will be a uniting constructive vision that does it. Not demonising any sector that fails to grovel to whatever flotsam has ended up as minister.

by Ian MacKay on November 09, 2010
Ian MacKay

David:"- They go to any lenghts to ensure they are never held accountable for their teaching results by getting their subordinate political arm the Labour Party to do away with independently marked exams and thus preventing exposure of bad teachers and bad schools."

Look. I reread your words and I am baffled. It has nothing to do with the topic. There are no exams in Primary Schools. So there are no independently marked exams. And no way to prevent exposure of bad teachers. Perhaps you are on the wrong blog?

by Graeme Edgeler on November 10, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

4% pay. What did MPs get?

Nothing. They passed the Remuneration Authority Amendment Act 2009 to allow the Remuneration Authority to take account of the recession in setting pay.

by stuart munro on November 10, 2010
stuart munro

@Graeme -  was there not a little shuffling of allowances that created the effect of a pay rise, to $130kpa or so? I imagine teachers would be more than satisfied with the same figure.

by Mr Magoo on November 10, 2010
Mr Magoo

Thanks Mark for the great example. I really have to take my hat off.

You save me paragraphs.

Like I said I tire of pointing out the hypocrisy. Add to that the lack of academic/scientific rigour and the mentioned repetition of right wing "truisms"  without much thought. (thought as far as to weakly and disingenuously tie said truism to the story of the day)

Meh. How bout them all blacks?

by Lew on November 10, 2010
Lew
Good post, Andrew. It's the yawning gulf between DPF's attitude toward the EFA (on the one hand) and CERRA all over again. L
by Mark Wilson on November 10, 2010
Mark Wilson

The personal abuse is great because it at least proves that some on the left are at least technically intellectually alive (if childishly emotionally fragile) but where are the response to the ideas and actual argument used for heaven's sake?

Ian - I was justifyingly abusing teachers for hypocrisy not just the current brawl. No one here has been able to  dispute the dishonesty of the teachers union because it cannot be defended in any honest way.. So it was very much on topic.

Stuart - No answer to the use by the teacher's unions of Labour hierarchy to attack the government and the dishonesty of not declaring that this is a political dispute, as well as their distaste of the accountability that the new system involves. Of course primary school results will identify bad schools and bad teachers.

As to the comparison to OZ - their Labour government has just introduced merit pay and teacher accountability so as you use them as the yardstick then you should support introducing that here.

Peasant pete - nowhere have I defended the national government - stay on topic man! Politicians of all stripes are usually earning way more than they could in real life. Unless they are taking a pay cut like Key then they are just doing it for the money and their delusion that they have any power and are just as dishonest as the teachers with their "we only want more money for the children's (voters) benefit".   

Not one person tried to support or argue for the teachers strategies or hypocrisy - just accuse me of things that I never said or abuse. I don't expect the left to face up to hard facts but you can all do better than this childish showing!!!!!!!

by nommopilot on November 10, 2010
nommopilot

"No one here has been able to  dispute the dishonesty of the teachers union"

I'm happy to dispute it.  I think they have been quite up front with their concerns and are understandably frustrated by the minister's utter refusal to engage constructively in discussion about it.

"Of course primary school results will identify bad schools and bad teachers"

this shows you have no appreciation for the complexity of the issues at play here.  every single school is unique in terms of it's demographic situation and in terms of the hundreds of individuals forming it's community.  To say that teachers alone can be measured by some kind of yardstick without consideration of these differences is either naiively simplistic or deliberately obtuse.  I don't know or care what business you're in but if your employer wanted to introduce "performance based pay" which included significantly large variables outside of your control wouldn't you find it a little bit frustrating?

Being an entrepreneur, success and failure are nice, simple concepts which are easily measured as a bottom line.  For a teacher things are not so easily quantified.

by The Falcon on November 10, 2010
The Falcon

Andrew, I can think of 2 differences between the EFA bilboards and the teachers calling Tolley Hitler.

1) The billboards were humourous while containing a serious message, e.g. Frank Bainimarama saying "the EFA is a real coup".

2) The EFA was a genuinely terrible piece of legislation that attracted widespread condemnation from people on both sides of the political spectrum. You could say the dictator comparisons were at least partially deserved. Whereas National Standards just aren't that big a deal to anyone other than teachers who don't want to be accountable.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Falcon,

1) So if the Principal had been making jokes about Anne Tolley being Hitler, we'd all be smiling and saying "very clever"? Funny Hitler comparisons good; po-faced ones bad? "How many Anne Tolley's does it take to change a lightbulb? None - she's actually Hitler." Boom-boom.

2) I agree the EF Bill was a pretty crappy legislative proposal that was too restrictive of free speech rights. The EF Act arguably also over-regulated the issue (but note, the final enactment was different to the first draft that the Free Speech Coalition were complaining about). So insofar as the legislation went too far in limiting the amount that people may spend on expressing their viewpoints at election time, and Bainimarama, Mao and Kim Jong-Il also suppress democratic rights by murdering those who oppose them, there is a connection between the billboards and the policy at hand. But ... really?

Note also that the Principal was complaining about the "dictatorial" way she thinks Anne Tolley is "forcing" a policy upon the education sector, just like Hitler invaded most of Europe and imposed Nazi rule. Silly, yes ... but really that much less silly than DPF's claims?

Alternatively, we might say something like "if you resort to comparing your political opponents to an undisputed face of evil, then that's a pretty good indication that you have lost a certain degree of perspective on the issue and are just engaging in ideological hyperventilation."

by nommopilot on November 10, 2010
nommopilot

"You could say the dictator comparisons were at least partially deserved. Whereas National Standards just aren't that big a deal to anyone other than teachers who don't want to be accountable."

Other than teachers, oh and dpf who has time to spend lurking around facebook looking for postings about it?  There is no justification for the billboards that cannot be equally applied to the Tolley/Hitler comparison except that they apply to ministers of different political colours and that one party was willing to spend thousands of dollars showering us with their "wit" on huge billboards, while the other was a flippant status posting on facebook (theoretically visible to anyone but pretty inconsequential in the scheme of interwebz communication)

 

by The Falcon on November 10, 2010
The Falcon

Note also that the Principal was complaining about the "dictatorial" way she thinks Anne Tolley is "forcing" a policy upon the education sector.

It's amazing that the leaders of the whinging "teachers", who are long-time left-wing activists, are actually opposed to government regulation in this case. I guess regulation that creates inefficiency and red tape = good, but regulation that creates some miniscule accountability is bad. Being public sector employees they can't really complain if the government forces regulation on them anyway.

But with regards to the hitler joke, you yourself were up in arms about violent criminals losing the right to vote, surely the EFA, which affected the entire country, was worth getting 10 times as riled up about?

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

But with regards to the hitler joke, you yourself were up in arms about violent criminals losing the right to vote, surely the EFA, which affected the entire country, was worth getting 10 times as riled up about?

Oh, I got riled about prisoner voting, sure ... didn't call anyone Hitler, though. Not even Sandra Goudie. Just "dumb" and "stupid" ... with some justification, I would suggest.

As for the EFA, I made my views on the EFB clear to the J&E C'tee (how many acronyms can you get in one sentence?) which, to its credit, changed the worst bits of the original proposal. I've also made critical comments about the final legislation in a number of published pieces. Pundit is, believe it or not, not the main way I do my job.

Finally, is it really worse to limit the whole country to spending "just" $120,000 on overt electoral advertising than it is to entirely remove the right to vote from some 2-3 thousand people? How many people really were touched by the EFA?

by stuart munro on November 11, 2010
stuart munro

How many people really were touched by the EFA?

All 4 and a bit million of us. The right to spend unlimited amounts on propaganda effectively reduces the political influence of groups without that level of financial resources. It also extends the influence of corporations, who, by design, are not part of the democratic process.

 

by Mr Magoo on November 12, 2010
Mr Magoo

"It also extends the influence of corporations, who, by design, are not part of the democratic process"

I think you mean "should not be part of the democratic process"

I think the recent hobbitgate (or is that gates of mordor?) proves that even corporations from other countries are part of the democratic process. (e.g. getting laws changed)

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