With ‘friends’ like these…..

By   /   November 21, 2013  /   3 Comments

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As I followed the online chatter (Twitter and blogs) about the tragic affair of the ‘Roastbusters’ I became increasingly disturbed by the descent into personal attacks and character assassinations, and that’s just from the ‘left.’

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The emotion flowing around (as opposed to shit being flung around) in the online world over the last week or so over the ‘Roastbusters’ affair led me to contemplating writing a related posting. That is, until I read a couple of other blogs on Tuesday, when I dropped the idea. Now I’ve decided to press on regardless, somewhat riskily, seeing this is the first time I’ve ventured away from safety of education (an area that I profess to know something about) into the ‘big’ world where I don’t know anything…  I’ll probably get my head knocked off…  which may prove the points I’m about to make….

As I followed the online chatter (Twitter and blogs) about the tragic affair of the ‘Roastbusters’ I became increasingly disturbed by the descent into personal attacks and character assassinations, and that’s just from the ‘left.’  (I refuse to pollute my brain anymore with the vitriol masquerading as ‘comments’ on the two main ‘right wing’ blogs).

Stepping outside the various arguments about the “Roastbusters” and the resulting fallout, I believe that the personality attacks necessitate a discussion of an issue of vital significance.

Hey people on the left, we’re on the same side….. the real ‘enemy’ is over there….. We’re all heading in the same general direction, even if we do chose to take different routes to get there.

What is the most important task in front of us? Scoring doctrinal points and venting feelings against our compatriots, or ensuring that we only have another 12 months of the Key led government to endure, and working towards a much better society for all?

Putting this in a soccer context, this equates to members of the All Whites squabbling over who will kick off after the next goal, while the opposing team runs around them to score goals.

By all means, engage in rational and vigorous debate. That’s healthy. Sure there are many issues on which we will disagree, as we bump into each other on our journeys to the same destination. That’s productive as new ideas grow in the friction zones between beliefs.

But this is not what I’ve been seeing, especially on Twitter. Commentators and disaffected bloggers, who to me should have known better, have been quite liberal with conversations discussing personal attributes of other commentators.  What’s this meant to achieve? How will this help address the ills of our current society?

What personality attributes had to do with written statements and views was beyond me. I didn’t agree with substantial sections of many articles either, and could have, if I’d felt the need, outlined my thoughts in the comments section, or written an objective article detailing my concerns. Why can’t we agree to disagree, to accept that there will be variations of opinions on significant issues? Why is the holding of a moderate and slightly different opinion seen as almost a capital crime?

I could understand a heated response to anyone who chose to support the ‘Roastbusters’ but this wasn’t the case. Even then, attacking the author’s personal attributes wouldn’t add weight to validity of the response. As I used to say to miscreant kids who appeared in my office, back in my school principal days, feelings are one thing, but its what you do with them that’s important. What you feel doesn’t excuse your actions.

Resorting to personality issues is the lowest form of argument (Ad hominem). Watch politicians at work, and you’ll see this in action – Key is a master of personal attacks on opposition MPs.

The personal qualities of individuals have no relation to the validity of their arguments. If the reverse was the case, then we’d be in a world where ‘breeding’, wealth, social status, physical attributes, and so on, would be prerequisite attributes for quality of arguments. Is this a desirable mindset?

Extending this further: there is much about the present government, ministers, and supporters, that I find despicable and which needs to be strenuously rejected. However using personal characteristics such as weight, family background, use of botox, hair styles, clothing, speaking voice, mental health issues, etc, to denigrate ministers and their supporters should be beyond us.  Hold people accountable for their statements, policies and actions, through logic, objectivity, and well reasoned dialogue, rather than attack them through their personal attributes. Ad hominem once again…

Leave that kind of muckraking to the right and put all our energies into rational debate and activism to bring about the necessary changes to make this country a better place for all. Otherwise we could be leaving the door open for a National led government to win the 2014 election and we will be much worse off.

The goal in front of us is very simple – we must ensure a win for the centre left, in whatever format the electorate decides. All other issues are secondary and must be objectively debated to develop quality policies to restore this country to ‘Godzone.’

You pays your money and takes your choice.

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3 Comments

  1. northshoreguynz says:

    Thank you Allan, some reason at last.

  2. Jenny says:

    “Stepping outside the various arguments about the “Roastbusters” and the resulting fallout, I believe that the personality attacks necessitate a discussion of an issue of vital significance.

    Hey people on the left, we’re on the same side….. the real ‘enemy’ is over there….. We’re all heading in the same general direction, even if we do chose to take different routes to get there.

    What is the most important task in front of us? Scoring doctrinal points and venting feelings against our compatriots, or ensuring that we only have another 12 months of the Key led government to endure, and working towards a much better society for all?…..

    Resorting to personality issues is the lowest form of argument (Ad hominem)…..

    Hold people accountable for their statements, policies and actions, through logic, objectivity, and well reasoned dialogue, rather than attack them through their personal attributes. Ad hominem once again…”

    Allan Alach

    So true, thanks for this Allan. I think the problem is, that those who resort to such tactics probably think, the end justifies the means.

    When you are in a debate with someone, and you know your argument doesn’t stack up, or is even untrue, but to admit it would be inimical to the furtherance of the interests of the particular Left sect of your choice, it is tempting to, rather than address the substantive issues raised, resort instead to bullying tactics like veiled death threats, like character assassination, like insinuating that your opponent is a police spy, like comparing them to Joseph Goebbels, but this is OK, because in your mind, “the ends justifies the means”.

    I would like to say with out mentioning names, that those who resort to such tactics might like to consider that, ‘rotten means, usually mean rotten ends’.

    And play the ball, and not the person.

    For example it is blatantly untrue that the Green Party and the Labour Party have the same views on Deep Sea Oil, or New Coal Mines.

    “No New Coal Mines” is Green Party official policy.[i]

    Whereas the Labour Party support a new, (and the largest ever in New Zealand’s history), coal mine on the Denniston Plateau.[ii]

    The same with Deep Sea Oil. The Greens (and Mana), openly oppose it.[iii] Labour (quietly), supports it.[iv]

    How does this square with Lynn Prentice conflating this into “Labour and the Greens views are remarkably the same”?
    It doesn’t. Hence the need to resort to false accusations, character assassination, and ultimately censorship.

    Lynn tries to make out that the Green and Labour’s policies are ‘remarkably the same’ because he doesn’t want people to know that Labour’s real practical reaction to climate change is more ‘remarkably the same as National’s’*. Lynn knows he can’t defend this. Lynn probably also knows that this stance is unpopular with the majority of the voting public. So best to silence any debate.

    *(However in late news. Labour’s Moana MacKay seems to breaking away from the party line on climate change, at least on deep sea oil drilling.[v] (And she is not the only one.)[vi] This is to be encouraged and applauded. I imagine this took a lot of courage.)

    [i] http://www.tv3.co.nz/3RD-DEGREE-The-Vote-Wednesday-November-6-2013/tabid/3692/articleID/96249/MCat/3304/Default.aspx
    “When it comes to coal mining, our policy is no new mines because clearly from a climate point of view it is completely unsustainable.” Russell Norman, The Vote at 23:30 minutes.

    [ii] Though they won’t say it openly. However I defy anyone to say that Labour don’t support the newest and biggest coal mine in New Zealand’s history. In fact I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

    [iii] http://aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/the-speeches-of-catherine-delahuny-and-hone-harawira/

    [iv] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11144470
    Labour’s energy and resources spokesperson, David Shearer, said his party did not rule out deep-sea drilling but expected that any companies making applications would have to be “world class” and demonstrate they had robust safeguards in place.

    [v] https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/11/20/ok-lets-make-offshore-oil-and-gas-exploration-about-the-science-and-not-emotion/
    “…..a true commitment to evidence based policy making means not being scared to have a robust public debate.” Moana MacKey

    [vi] Maryann Street, only mildly, and so far only ( when overseas) has also begun to break the party line. Maryann Street speaking on Australian radio, said; “On a scale of One to Ten, public concern about climate change, has risen from three and four amongst New Zealanders, to currently tracking around seven or eight.”

  3. DOUGAL says:

    ‘rotten means, usually mean rotten ends’ True. I am always sadly disappointed when the Left self destructs, arguing against each other over minor differences. I sincerely hope though the entire left recognises the danger of global warming, and that the elected representatives intend to do something about it.

    May I make a comment about those pathetic little wimps the ‘Roastbusters’.
    When I was a young adult any bloke who started to boast about his success with a girl the night before was greeted with grins and “Oh yes…” knowing he was just trying to boost his ego after his failure to have his way. but what is really disgusting that those little creeps not hiding in shame but boasting about their disgusting behaviour. No man can regard them as anything but pathetic little creeps, and surely they have ostracised them selves from decent society.


 
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