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Feedback: Ashraf, Civilisation And Penguins

In This Edition: Sludge #153 - Was Ashraf Pushed Or Did He Fall - Sludge the Fudge - "The Real Clash Of Civilizations: Liberals Versus The Crypto-Nazis" - Futile Antarctica Welcomes Recognition Of Same-Sex Parenting

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Feedback: Sludge #153 - Was Ashraf Pushed Or Did He Fall

Sludge is grasping at straws by suggesting that Helen Clark may be guilty of contempt of Parliament if she lobbied MPs on a conscience vote. I think this is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what a "conscience vote" is all about.

A conscience vote is one where a party declines to enforce the whip, and leaves its MPs to make up their own minds rather than voting as a bloc. It doesn't have any formal constitutional standing AFAIK, and is simply a matter for the parties concerned. In the case of prostitution reform, some parties (Labour, National) treated it as a conscience vote while others (United Future, the Greens) didn't.

(Cynics might also add that a conscience vote is one on an issue that a party is too cowardly to take a stand on, and wants plausible deniability for regardless of the outcome. "Moral issues" are precisely this sort of hot potato...)

The important point is this: simply because the whip is not used does not mean that the dirty business of politics takes a holiday. It does not mean that everybody flips their ambition-switches to the "off" position. It does not mean that they ignore the views of the segments of the electorate they are trying to appeal to, and it does not mean they ignore the views of their fellow MPs. Most importantly, it does not mean they don't think of their future, and how they can get that higher list placing or cabinet spot by voting with the ruling clique. Anyone who thinks it does mean those things is a fool.

This is how the game is played. Laws, like sausages, are something you don't really want to see being made, no matter how much you like them.



Sludge the Fudge,

Oh Dear! Sludge's slip is showing.

We can't have grown up people talking to each other in case they change their minds. Really. As if the anti-Bill forces were not lobbied vociferously by all sorts of pro-family, pro-religion and pro-tradition groups. Ashraf says he could not vote FOR the Bill because of his religion AND because of his constituency, yet there were elements of the Bill that would reduce harm for prostitutes.

That's a reasonable account of his conscience to me. The other conscience that came across in the 3rd reading debate as her own, was that of Georgina Beyer. No-one could doubt that her position was genuinely held and based on her own experience. I think the passage of the Bill marked a coming of age in Aotearoa. Basic humanity was embraced by a transexual, a Muslim and a Christian Pacific person together. They made the twisted logic of those who turned their back on reality for the sake of some moralistic dogma look cheap and nasty.

Dave Bedggood


"The Real Clash Of Civilizations: Liberals Versus The Crypto-Nazis"

To Whom it May Concern,

I just read John Chuckman's commentary, "The Real Clash Of Civilizations: Liberals Versus The Crypto-Nazis", and am terribly underwhelmed. It's not that I disagree with the gist of his comments, rather that his shoddy treatment of history and the facts severely undermines his point. For instance, he states:

"The Nazis encouraged the development of gigantic corporate entities. Small business was actually held in contempt by Hitler, hence his famous derisive comment about the British being a nation of shopkeepers. To support the Nazis' worship of military strength, only vast enterprises would do."

Ridiculous. If Hitler ever made such a statement, the incident is lost to history. Napoleon I famously stated that England was a "nation of shopkeepers", but in point of fact, he apparently lifted the idea from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Chuckman goes on to treat Jefferson and early American history in a similarly cavalier fashion:

"During the early Federalist period, Jefferson was ready to have Virginia secede - more than half a century before the rise of the Confederacy - over the issue of the Supreme Court's authority. Why? Because he understood the intrinsic conflict between a Bill of Rights and a society of aristocratic slaveholders, a democratic-sounding Constitution and a Virginia where about one percent of people could vote, and he was, despite all his high-sounding language, quite comfortable being an aristocratic slaveholder. The Bill of Rights sounded fine, but just don't set up anyone to interpret and enforce it."

This is a remarkable distortion of the truth, one which in all honesty leaves me somewhat speechless. Madison wrote the "Virginia Resolution" of 1798, not Vice President Thomas Jefferson. It neither threatened secesion nor in fact went as far as Jefferson's "Kentucky Resolution", in which it was asserted that a state had the right to nullify Federal law if it conflicted with that state's interpretation of the US Constitution. The law in question was the recently adopted "Alien and Sedition Acts", the 1798 precursor of today's "Patriot Act". The text of all these documents are available online, so a little research on your part could clarify the issues considerably.

The "Alien and Sedition Acts" were a clear and unquestionable breech of habeus corpus and the citizen's right to free speech. What Chuckman is essentially arguing - out of abject ignorance of history, the facts, and an apparent desperate need for "political correctness" - is that Jefferson opposed silencing criticism of the Federalist President and Congress in the press, and was wrong in doing so, because he was a slave-owning racist: a non sequitor if ever there was. It's like saying anyone who criticizes US Attorney General John Ashcroft, and his draconian legal measures, is obviously a terrorist and an enemy of freedom. The irony of Chuckman's choice of examples is immense.

I realize you folks pride yourself in the "rawness" of what you choose to distribute, but I think there may be editorial limits, whether you've realized this or not. The deliberate or ignorant distortion of fact does not serve the public, and presumably your own publication's goals.


Michael McKinney


Futile Antarctica Welcomes Recognition Of Same-Sex Parenting

Letter to the Editor 123A Scotts Respite Ross Dependency Antarctica


"The Nationill Party and ARF are casting aspersions on same-sex parents. Well, as a penguin, I know several species who provide foster care for hatchlings whose parents have been gobbled by an unpleasant orca or aesthetically challenged elephant seal. Gotto, Humboldt and King (or should that be Queen?) Penguins do it. For some reason, Adelie Penguins tend to produce gayboy pengqueens, and not lesbipengs, but that's Mother Nature for you."

"Futile Antarctica welcomes the government's Care of Children Bill, even if DOC will probably end up doing the honours in our case."

Contact Ms Tripitaka Adelie-Penguin MP Ross Dependency Futile Antarctica Party: "Fast Food is Fatal!"

Yours faithfully

Tripitaka Adelie-Penguin


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