Monday, November 16, 2009

March against democracy

Sir Winston Churchill, whose bust had pride of place in George W. Bush's Oval Office, famously said this about democracy:
Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Of course, Churchill also said "'Keep England White' is a good slogan," got hammered every night, never got up before midday and was keen on gassing Arab villages, so perhaps we should take his ideas with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, in this instance I think he was more or less right: as flawed as democracy is, the other options are all worse. And I say this as a person who has read a lot of Your Views.

As always, there's a qualification. The ancient Greeks supposedly recognised three 'pure' forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. They also recognised that, without vigilance, all three could easily be corrupted - monarchy could become autocracy, aristocracy could turn into oligarchy, and democracy could become anarchy. Back in the old days anarchy didn't (just) mean throwing a brick through a McDonald's shopfront; there was no leader, but also no leadership structure, and decisions would be made based on the passions of the populace (except the women and slaves, of course).

In other words, it would be kind of like a world of binding referenda:
Organisers of past referenda ignored by governments have lent their weight to Saturday's march over the anti-smacking referendum, billed as "the biggest march in New Zealand's history".
Well of course they are upset if they think they've been ignored, but the reality is totally different. The governments didn't ignore their referenda; they looked at them, read them, considered them and, in full possession of the facts, decided they were ridiculous.

Also, I think you'll find that it was not an anti-smacking referendum - it was a pro-smacking referendum. Just thought I would clear that up.

Organisers from past referendums - including Garth McVicar who led the referendum on Law and order, Margaret Robertson who campaigned for 99 MPs and the organiser of the last anti-smacking referendum Sheryl Savill - appeared at a media conference this morning.

March organiser Colin Craig called past referendum organisers "true New Zealand heroes".

How can Garth McVicar claim that his referendum was ignored? If it's the one I vaguely remember about tougher sentences for violent offenders, then he must surely be delighted with the results - our prisons are literally overflowing with people!

Mr Craig said he hoped the march would focus attention on past referenda that have been ignored by governments going back to the 1990s.

"I think the people will win out."

I wouldn't be so sure. The Destiny march got more than 10,000 people chanting 'Enough is Enough', yet immorality is still rampant: topless prostitutes wander the streets, and homosexuals openly fornicate with single mothers in parks and town squares. Writing a passionate comment on Your Views is one thing; getting up on a Saturday morning and marching up Queen St to defend 'democracy' is quite another.

Yet that is exactly what I am suggesting you - we - do. Democracy's greatest heroes, from Thomas Jefferson to Tony Blair, appeared to me in a dream and showed me a glorious vision: a vision of sensible people, people like you and me, joining the march and showing it to be ridiculous. I am inviting you to come to the march! (You may already be going, in which case this is a bit awkward.)

At the moment it's a bit difficult to tell what the emphasis of the march is: mob rule or hitting children. The organisers are emphasising the former, but in a country where most people's closest experience with democracy is voting for Dancing with the Stars I can't see many people getting out of bed for that. Surely almost all the opposition today to the s59 amendment is simply petulance - petulance that would, ironically, normally see a child smacked.

Given that police on site will probably frown on people marching with pitchforks and flaming torches, we may have to do with banners. Should none of the banners from the March for Democracy website suit, here are a few suggestions:
  • Do what the mob says!
  • Down with Auntie Helen!
  • Start talking smack!
  • Nannies have no place in raising our children!
  • Down with this sort of thing!
Let your imaginations run wild. Anyway, I anticipate a fun and unusual day out, and would encourage you to find some like-minded people, tell them to come along, and then beat them until they agree. I'll post more details this week, but the details of the March itself are:
1.30pm, Saturday 21 November (this Saturday)
Corner of Fort St and Queen St in the Auckland CBD
That's just outside the QF Tavern, which would be a good place for a pre-march beer.


  1. Then there's the classic banner "My Arms Are Tired"

    Why do they have to march UP Queen St? Couldn't they walk down it instead? It'd be much less tiring that way. Maybe a sign reading "My Feet Are Tired" would be more appropriate?

  2. Ooh, ooh! How about "Bring Back Dancing With The Stars"

  3. Or, from The Simpsons: "We've Given the Word Mob a Bad Name"

    Or you could just take a pitchfork and a flaming torch.

  4. I would personnally like to march on the moral decline of the elderly. Women getting their hair done blue and men doing hte gardening topless... its disgusting and highly anti social. We wont carry on like that in our day

  5. We are the Majority and we want our Tyranny back

    Down with the Govt telling you what to do!
    Up with the Mob telling you what to do!

    "Should NZ advocate a Regional Value Content or Change in Tariff Classification basis for Rules of Origin issues in Free Trade Agreements as part of good Trade policy in NZ?"

    John Key said our question was "ridiculous". But I ask you, do we look ridiculous???!?

    Today, legalise smacking
    Tomorrow, burn the Treaty and ban gay marriage

    As Churchill also said, "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

  6. Or, from The Simpsons: "We've Given the Word Mob a Bad Name"

    Hey everyone! Let's go sing at the hospital!

  7. We could make a killing selling Angry Mob Supplies.

    "These Pitchforks signify displeasure."

  8. The Mob Rules. You should know that. Dio said it.

  9. Here's something for the crowd to shout while rampaging up Queens St: (actually used by some friends who got caught up in a smacking parade.)

    "Our country's in the skids, let us beat our kids!"

  10. We're here, we're queer, we don't want any more bears!

  11. I've been toying with
    "Crucifixtion was good enough for Jesus Christ and it's good enough for my kids."

    Too much?

  12. How does a march cost $254,000 ? Do they have to register all the marchers as motor vehicles to go up Queen Street?

  13. Hit my baby one more time

  14. the website's "vote with your feet" is a crack up. As opposed to one's head I suppose?

  15. It is outrageous that I cannot spank my kids after years of practising on my monkey.

  16. Too long for a chant?

    `Speak roughly to your little boy,
    And beat him when he sneezes:
    He only does it to annoy,
    Because he knows it teases.'

    (In which the cook and the baby joined):--
    `Wow! wow! wow!'

    While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:--
    `I speak severely to my boy,
    I beat him when he sneezes;
    For he can thoroughly enjoy
    The pepper when he pleases!'
    `Wow! wow! wow!'

  17. "Hit my baby one more time"
    Ha, likes.

    - Won't someone not think of the children?
    - You don't make friends with salad
    - Or almost anything from here:

  18. We're not playing tiddlewinks here.
    - Tana Umanga

  19. the website's "vote with your feet" is a crack up. As opposed to one's head I suppose?

    Vote with your spleen?

  20. I recommend looking at the facebook group's wall.
    It's mostly the organiser, with some nutter talking about climate change and a bunch of people telling them it's bollocks.

  21. I liked the one from the "Tea Party" *ugh* protests *double ugh* in the States:
    "Fed up with not being heard? Join the Lemon Party! Go to!"

    For those of you unfamilar with said website, I wouldn't recommend visiting it at work...

  22. I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore.

  23. How about "I want to hit children please"?

    Simple and to the point.

  24. "where my bitches at?" - simple but effective. Sorta.

  25. The ad hominem attack on Winston Churchill is unfair.

    So what if he had other opinions that you disagree with? Why does that invalidate other the other ideas that he proposed?

    Also, the vision you're describing is more commonly called faux-testing.

  26. It's more the point that everyone quotes him as gospel. "Oh, but Winston Churchill said this..."

    But no one ever says:

    "How should we deal with the problems in the Middle East?"

    "Well Winston Churchill says we should gas them."

  27. Tickered comments from the March for Democracy website:

    "John Key is being a dictator and ignoring the majority of Kiwis. He should be sacked." -Stew Best

    "We are one with you in spirit.God blessJosephine" -Josephine Victorino

    "The anti smaking legislation should be appealed - the referendung must be upheld - what is the point of having a referendum if it is ignored??" -Helmut Peters

    "Mr Key Listen to the people who voted for you not the Bureaucrats how want you gone!" -Martin Candir

    "may common sense prevail and Gods edicts be carried out in our fair country" -blanche guernier

    "I support the march for democracy. My Grandfather fought for freedom and democratic rights, he would be shocked at govt today." -Anne McVicar