Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Odds and sods

Also on the front page today is an article entitled "Phone giants say call for price rules could backfire". It's a definite area of public interest, although the story template that is "Large, dominant firms argue that regulation is bad" is a bit uninformative.

What I found particularly interesting* was the reporter's use of scare quotes around words that really didn't need them. For example, you probably don't need to call termination rates "termination rates" - that's just what they're called. More to the point, why did she feel the need to put "big two" (of mobile phones, Vodafone and Telecom) and "duopoly" in quotes? Would anyone seriously claim that they don't constitute a duopoly (depending, at least, on how 2 Degrees fare)? Talk of customers being "ripped off" by the "big two" is more of a value judgement, but if you put it on Your Views then I think most people would tend to agree.

*Not that interesting really.


Perhaps someone could submit this article from page A3 to Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington's Monkey News? Or just shoot me in the head:
Minty, the free-roaming capuchin, is on the loose again - but it may not be a case of monkey business on her part this time.

So, you know, hassling Your Views is too easy because anyone can go on and write whatever bigoted, nonsensical stuff they like. Not like the Readers' Forum (the letters page to you and me):
Gays are supposed to have an empathy that Chris Carter clearly lacks. An empathy that might have had more regard for the single-income families with three children whose tax dollars fund his lifestyle. Families that get nothing for nothing from nobody.

Rob Harris, Upper Hutt
I shouldn't really have to do this, but here goes:
  • "Gays"? Really? In 2009?
  • They are supposed to have empathy, are they? Other things that "gays" are supposed to have, according to what I learned from American sitcoms: high-pitched voices; tight pants; good, if flamboyant, fashion sense.
  • The last sentence isn't a sentence, it's a fragment - a fragment containing a triple negative that makes the writer sound like a grumpy six-year-old.
Come on, Herald: I know you're trying to cut staff, but just because the person in charge of selecting the letters for publication is sick doesn't mean that you just get a temp to bung in the first ones out of the mailbag.


  1. I think "Beck Vass" must be Herald-code for "paraphrased entirely from Vodafone and Telecom press releases".

    It might be balanced coverage overall, I haven't been reading the paper a lot lately, but that single article doesn't even try to be objective.

    The best bit is the argument that rates aren't too high because they have gone down. It's good to know I haven't got a drinking problem because I'm only drinking a single bottle of wine each night instead of the usual two!

  2. I was watching a CNN video the other day, which was talking about homosexuality in Asia. Two women were reporting - one in China, the other in India. The first referred to gay men as homosexuals, the second as 'gays', which struck me as odd. Even if it isn't offensive, it sounds like the sort of word an intermediate student would use.

    CNN is infinitely better than the herald. INFINITELY. Think about it.

  3. As far as I know, the only thing "gays" are supposed to have is sex with other "gays", anything above and beyond that is completely at the discretion of the "gay" in question.

    A mesh singlet and a moustache wouldn't be out of place though.

  4. Oh, I just 'got' the title. Long live the pun!

  5. Whats Rob from Upper Hutt doing reading teh Herald? Wellington has a perfectly shit-arse daily that should satisfy his needs for blood-boiling anti-family-liberal-gay-loving-righ-wing-poorly-edited rubbish.

  6. You think this the first thing they see? No, this is the cream of the crop.

  7. 'Gays' sounds as weird and childish as 'Maoris'. Putting aside the fact that 'Maoris' isn't grammatical, these words are adjectives when they're used on people, right?

    I am gay, but you'd never catch me saying I'm 'a gay'. I'm Maori, not 'a Maori'.

    But I guess I need to examine my own behaviour. I mean, I'd call Rob Harris 'an idiot'.

  8. Oh for simpler times when it was gays and coloureds and maaaaaaaries.

  9. So is your issue with the term 'gays' to describe the homosexual community a grammatical one or an offensive one? And if its offensive, why is it so? I didn't realise that the term 'gays' was offensive, or is it just that you find any classification of a subset of society offensive (was is Kiekergard, or Dick van Patten's, who said "you lable me, you negate me")?

  10. Party On Garth?

    I see this week they went for the 'Tough Man' Garth' pic, to back up his pro-war rantings, unlike the 'Professor Garth' that they use when he's trying to be intellectual.

    Not much to write about I guess, just another one of his rambling love letters about men with guns.

  11. "So is your issue with the term 'gays' to describe the homosexual community a grammatical one or an offensive one? And if its offensive, why is it so?"

    Although I would defer to someone who actually is GLBT, I imagine some may find it offensive because it turns a quality that may be part of someone's identity into a totalising label that hides all other aspects of the individual, as you suggest. Even "gay people" is just as effective a classification as "gays", and it sounds considerably less weird and awkward.

    Of course some people adopt certain labels as self-affirmation or as an act of defiance to The Mainstream, but now you're getting into really complicated territory about power and identity.

    I'd just stick with this: in my opinion, talking about "gays" sounds rather odd and dated, and it suggests to me that the speaker has little contact with or up-to-date knowledge of the community they're discussing. This usage also has a certain depersonalised vagueness, which has lent it in the past to the use of people who are ignorant or fearful of homosexuality and wish to spread those attitudes amongst others. In short, there are better ways to put the point across.

    Just my two cents.

  12. yeah man, or woman, or she-thing. what was the question again?

    "it suggests to me that the speaker has little ... up-to-date knowledge of the community they're discussing"

    wtf is a 'community' in this sense and how does it 'update'?

    I belong to the 'call them gays' community. Don't judge me.

  13. I hate to be pedantic but The New Zealand Herald as a proper noun carries the definite article, and should be capped up in your masthead.

  14. "I belong to the 'call them gays' community. Don't judge me."

    Oh no, I would hate to stop you publicly expressing your views and standing up for what you believe in, "Anonymous".

  15. Blog! Blog! Blog!

  16. you just have no idea about the anonymous community, man.

  17. I'm obviously further right than the majority of this blog's commentors, but have not problem being lumped into the 'call the gays' community. And its not just the gays, its the maoris, the PI's, the south africans, the your views contributors- lables and stereotypes exist for a reason, and generally speaking, those lables and stereotypes are accurate. Not every gay man wears sequined shirts, listens to lady gaga, and is waifishly thin. But if you see a waifishly thin man humming along to 'paparazzi' while shopping for a sequined shirt, you can bet the house that he is into dudes.

    I think the main thing that Rob has wrong here is that he used an incorrect stereotype. I dont expect gays to be more empathetic to single income families. In fact, if I were a gay man, and both me and my partner were honest, tax paying citizens, I would be annoyed that my family unit contributed twice the tax burden compared to the single income familie, yet only used two people's worth of taxpayer resources compared to five people by the SI family. The SI family may not get cash handouts, but a significant amount of their day to day lives are subsidised by that gay couple's taxes, including governance, healthcare, use of public assets, schooling. I applaud the gays for their contributions to society, and not just in music, entertainment and the liberal arts. Your taxes are keeping this country afloat.

    Now where was I- oh yes, Jimmy, when will you comment on the media cirque that started last saturday on your alma mater's no. 1 field?

  18. Having agreed to disagree, and been schooled regarding the "anonymous" community (desu?) - there doesn't appear to be a Garth George piece today!

    Anyone else feeling like writing to the Herald and requesting that this be made permanent?

  19. James, I don't think anyone would mind if you put an ad or two on your blog - if it meant you make a few pingerlings and feel like posting more often..

  20. Just to mark time before James gets back, here's Jim Hopkins Garthing it up in his own inane style:

    And was I the only one who was surprised to hear the Rodney Hide/Auckland supercity ructions on the radio last night, and then to spot an enormous "IT'S NOT FAIR" headline on the paper attached to a story about ... school rugby?

    I mean, I know it's Friday but good grief.

  21. Teh Ur Vues have emailed me 12 times to tell me they have posted my comments and haven't actually updated the content online. The perfect double whammy. Harass you for two hours with an email every ten minutes:

    Hi from,

    Just to let you know that we have published your comment. You and your friends can read it here;

    Thanks for contributing. We look forward to your next contribution.



    Thanks for teh NZ Harassment...

  22. but where would the herald be without GG? rudderless, lacking insight, culturally myopic - he sums up all that the paper stands for.

    har har.