Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on Internet Mana’s swearing video

August 8th, 2014

Hand on heart time, folks. At any time in the past six years, has the thought “ F+++ John Key” ever crossed your mind? I know it has crossed mine, from time to time. I think it was about the time that he sold down everyone’s shares in our power stations, for no good reason. Though, come to think of it, it might have been when he appointed his chum to be the head of the GCSB, while denying that they were, in fact, chums. Then there was the crony deal with Sky and its gambling operations. I might have said a bad word about that, too. Mind you, my ill will and profane thoughts are not restricted to John Key. I seem to recall that the thought “F+++ David Cunliffe” has also crossed my mind in the last few months. And as for Jamie Whyte? Don’t ask.

This is relevant because… as we have learned over the past 24 hours, the fact that some young people chanted “F+++ John Key” out loud at an Internet Mana political meeting in Christchurch is an awful, awful sign of the depths of depravity into which K. Dotcom Esq has led the impressionable youth of this great nation. Such a concept I’m sure, would never have entered their minds – let alone crossed their innocent, dew-kissed lips – if the heinous German had not led them to use that (Germanic –derived !) swear word, and direct it at our elected leader.

Yet, as RNZ, TVNZ and any number of mainstream media outlets and blog sites aplenty have made clear, swearing at the Prime Minister is supposedly a sign of the quote “ thuggery” unquote, into which Internet Mana has plunged this election campaign which – as we all know – has otherwise been devoted to a serious and thorough comparison of the policy planks of the various contenders for high public office. Unfortunately these days, RNZ’s Morning Report is giving Granny Herald some sound competition in the “Gracious, where are my smelling salts” shocked Granny stakes. In Guyon Espiner’s interview with Internet Party leader Laila Harre on RNZ this morning, his curled lip horror was palpable, culminating in a cry of “Can we expect more of this?” Yes grandma, we can. Be warned. It is an election campaign. Strong feelings may be expressed. Tea cups may be spilled.

Years ago, Tom Wolfe wrote in The Right Stuff about the media’s market-driven readiness to play what he called The Victorian Gentleman i,e, to appoint itself as the custodian of moral values dating from the 19th century. (Values known to be hypocritical, even back then.) So, when Labour’s Chris Hipkins tut- tutted in multiple postings on Twitter today that the Internet Mana video is “ alarming” and that there’s “no place for that kind of thuggery in NZ politics” ….can we please, please get a grip ? Yes, some young people swore at the Prime Minister, who was not present at the time. Is that a big deal? Is it a bigger blasphemy than handing out tax cuts to the rich – and could those two things possibly be related?

Finally, isn’t there a teeny, tiny free speech issue involved here? Last week, the mainstream media went after Internet Mana over the burning and defacing of an Israeli flag at a demonstration not run by them. As I pointed out at the time, burning a flag is a form of symbolic protest explicitly allowed by our Supreme Court, under our Human Rights Act. Swearing at the Prime Minister or at any other politician can be similarly defended – and especially in this case, given that Key wasn’t present. It may come as something of a shock to some in the media, but there are countries overseas where being sworn about is the least of a politician’s problems.

That’s the point. It is the hypocrisy of this exercise – from the media, and from those politicians professing the horror, the horror of it all – that is so striking. Last time I looked, having a media pass did not come with a licence to police the propriety of election discourse. Everyone knows young people – and some adults ! – swear a lot. Especially, at times, about the deeds of politicians. If I was 20, out of work or facing a huge student debt, I might even find it liberating to join with a bunch of other like-situated people in expressing my feelings out loud. It might feel cathartic to do so. It might even help motivate me to get involved and vote – and that I think is what is worrying the Cameron Slaters and David Farrars of this world about this issue.


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    1. 9 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on Internet Mana’s swearing video”

    2. By maetl on Aug 8, 2014 | Reply

      Hip-hop group Homebrew have been getting the crowd to quote ‘Fuck John Key’ at shows for years, as well as recording a track before the previous election where Tourettes says ‘John Key can suck my dick / Hiding in his mansion / While half the population flies across the Tasman’. If previous form is anything to go by, DotCom has blatantly copied Homebrew’s existing chant, rather than instigating it himself. This is nothing new, nothing surprising, and nothing unexpected.

      The coordinated chorus from Hooton-Farrar-Slater and the faux-shocked media outrage says a lot more than the so-called ‘thuggery’.

    3. By JK Effer on Aug 8, 2014 | Reply

      Note to all: They are not using the word f+++ in its literal sense. None of them want to engage in bucking carnal relations with Dear Leader. On the contrary, they mean “Disdain John Key! Make said man irrelevant! Remove from him his influence on society!”

      One might conclude that they are only reflecting what said man has effectively said and done to them, in the figurative sense of course. “The F+++er’s gone and f+++ed us all up, so why not.”

    4. By David on Aug 8, 2014 | Reply

      Point out the hypocracy of the right wing and they won’t bat an eyelid

    5. By David on Aug 8, 2014 | Reply

      Point out the hypocracy of the Right Wing to them and they won’t bat an eyelid

    6. By Kevin McCready on Aug 8, 2014 | Reply

      Jihad Farrar MUST issue a fatwah without delay.

    7. By Di Cleary on Aug 9, 2014 | Reply

      Thank you, Gordon, for reassuring an old granny who uses such profanities regularly. I direct them at politicians, myself, other troublesome animates and inanimates. They can defuse some pretty grim feelings.

      Di Cleary

    8. By roderick paine on Aug 9, 2014 | Reply

      David – hypocrisy is a word to be used AGAINST the opponents of Farra and Slater. It is literally inconceivable that they notice their own. The only other explanation would be that the are actively fomenting hatred – plausible for the Slater, who is stupid enough to think people just gobble what is fed to them, but Farrar is on National Radio!

    9. By Abott on Aug 11, 2014 | Reply

      I’d like to concur with @maetl on the point made about Home Brew and their indirect influence on this incident. Tom Scott has made his disdain for John Key and neo-liberal politics well known and one need attend only one of their gigs to see the influence he has over the young and restless. It was he that made a statement of intent to mobilise the youth vote against Key, conveniently enough for Internet/Mana they were there to fill that void. Give ‘Be Like’ by @peace a peep. That song alone will give you an insight into the political mind and lyrical skill of Tom Scott.

    10. By simon on Aug 11, 2014 | Reply

      For me, the issue was not so much what they’re shouting (I, like you, have thought “ F+++ John Key” from time to time) but the fact that the Internet party were so proud of this that they slapped on the party logo and sent it off into the world, like a choice bit of propaganda featuring a charismatic German man leading a group of young and impressionable people.

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