Wednesday 27 September 2023

Let's make our-non vote a vote

Previously I  have written about why I don't vote why I dont vote  I'm guessing that this election voter non-turnout will be at an all-time low. The reason: following the Covid fiasco, trust in politicians is diminished (echoing mistrust in all major institutions including The Fourth Estate or public media, education and health)

According to Stats NZ, voter turnout at the 2020 elections was around 80%, down to around 75% for people under 40*. In the USA voter turnout for eligible voters is even lower- 50-60%. Why aren't we counting this as valuable information being presented on a plate which needs attention? That number of people could hold a very substantial power base; if  it were seen as a 'party' in itself, which is something that I do. It is around 500,00 eligible voters!

I am actively promoting the idea of a non-vote being regarded, noted and counted as a vote for no confidence in the political structures or politicians. The main reason given by stats NZ for not voting is 'disengagement', meaning 'this system has nothing to do with me'. The higher your income the more likely you are to turn up and vote. The implication of this is startling: the more I might ostensibly have a reason to vote ie I'm poor, the less I'm likely to vote!  This group do not see voting as a way to influence or change their socio economic position. The ideologues would have us believe, and I have already seen election voting promotions on mainstream media, is that if you want to have your say in how our country runs, then vote. If you don't, shut up. Or you are lazy and don't give a shit. 

The stats reveal for themselves the lie of this propaganda. The reality that I'm thinking exists is one where family's intergenerational poverty has seen governments left, right, and in-between come and go and their fortunes remain the same. And of course, making you responsible for your own demise- the statement I get directed at me-"If you don't vote you cant complain".


Monday 3 July 2023

Deregistering a teacher who didn't go along with a trans student's new identity

 To whom it may concern

I am writing to express outrage at the decision to deregister a teacher
for refusing to call a student by her name which she had changed. This
is not serious misconduct. It may have upset the girl, but it is not
serious misconduct in my view.

I am challenging your organisation to have the moral courage to stand up
against whimsical name/gender changes which everyone must obey, and
which are often, arbitrary or reversible. If I am what I say I am then I
am a rock and I must ask you to refer to me as a rock and my pronouns
are "that" and "It's". Further if you call me she accidentally or
otherwise, go ahead, I wont get too upset.

Sady, serious misconduct is the three fingers pointing back at your
judgement and I judge you guilty. You are also setting a precedent and a
very powerful message out to all the children who are, with their
family, peer and teacher fanbase and support, joining in the fashion to
redesign themselves; namely that students can get teachers sacked if you
dont agree with their fantasy (whatever the fantasy is).

I am asking you to reconsider your position on this teacher. Perhaps a
conversation between  might have been in order rather than using a
slegehammer to kill an ant?

Duncan Hill (That/It's)

and the reply......

Tēnā koe, 

Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I understand this is a difficult subject and the decision to cancel a teacher’s registration is one that is not take lightly. It is important to note that the NZ Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal is a panel of experienced teachers and an experienced lawyer – that is, they are teachers teaching every day, who were peers of this teacher, who made this decision. It is the intention of the Tribunal to always look to find a rehabilitative solution to support teachers to continue to teach. However, in this instance, it was clear to the Tribunal that the teacher was unwilling to learn how to hold strong personal Christian beliefs and work with learners who also might have strong personal beliefs, that are in contradiction to his own. It is possible to be true to your own belief and be a teacher. In fact, it is an everyday situation for all teachers. However, they cannot use their position of power and influence to attempt to enforce their views on their students. Teachers of course can and do have personal beliefs and views on all kinds of potentially divisive subjects including political, ethnical, and religious, and they are entitled to have them. I want to emphasise – the reason for cancellation was not that the teacher had strong personal beliefs, it was that he shared them with the student in an extreme and offensive manner. The Tribunal noted that “Whilst the role of a teacher will from time to time require the application of some paternalism in the lives of their students, this conduct was completely inappropriate and out of line. It risked belittling the student and minimising a huge personal event occurring in his life. It transgressed well outside the boundaries of a teacher’s role.” In fact, the teacher’s actions were explicitly against the Code of Professional Responsibility teachers sign up to. The matter was not as simple as the teacher refusing to use the new name and pronouns of the student – which is detailed in the full decision, which I have linked below for you and encourage you to read. This teacher is not being punished for his beliefs. He can no longer teach, because he would not keep his personal views to himself, even when asked by the student and the principal. You can read the Code of Professional Responsibility below, however, of note is the statement in the Code that says, “I will work in the best interests of learners by being fair and effectively managing my assumptions and personal beliefs.” The Code was published in 2017 and the fact this statement is part of the teachers Code shows that this is a normal everyday part of being a teacher. Further, in the Code are the values, and Manaakitanga is described as the teacher will “treat everyone with dignity and respect.” This is not aspirational; it is fair and reasonable. 2 In this instance the teacher did not meet these expectations. However, the Complaints Assessment Committee called for a rehabilitative penalty of censure, training, and a mentor as you can see in the decision document (para 37). Following the Tribunal Hearing, the most serious penalty of cancellation was deemed appropriate, as it was evident to the Tribunal that this teacher was not willing to learn and would likely cause harm in the future in a similar situation. You might note in the decision the Tribunal says the teacher's defence of the charge was offensive and hysterical. I wanted to take the opportunity to explain this in detail for you, as it was important to me that you understood the basis for the decision and the Tribunal’s practice to only ever cancel Registration in situations where it is absolutely necessary. 
Nāku noa, nā 

Lesley Hoskin Tāhūhū Rangapū | Chief Executive 

and my reply....

Thanks for your reply

You dont refer to my letter so I can only assume that your reply is a mass sendout-possibly due to the inundation you received as a result of your actions.

I dont consider tthe teacher's action was extreme or offensive. I also note that a teacher has been struck off, the Teaching Council citing similar serious misconduct-in this case the grooming and sexual abuse of a 16 year old. I agree. this is serious. To compare this to the teacher who failed to agree with a 'transgender boy/girl's' pronouns and name is mind numbing.

As I said in my letter, while it may be not overly respectful for the child to have his or her new monica reflected back, I don't think this is serious and offensive, given the context of the renaming/regendering cult-ure that it arises out of. If you are interested in keeping up with the contextual trends of this phenomena, and the reasons why it has risen now, I suggest you read an outstanding book on this topic called the Myth of Gender by Deborah Soh, a sexology professor turned journalist.

You stated that the teacher shared his views:  "it was that he shared them with the student in an extreme and offensive manner" So if I say something someone does not like, then that is extreme and offensive? Take a hyperbolic analagous situation where a student declares themselves the new Messiah. If I, as a teacher challenge that, and further, refuse to address him/her as my Saviour or some other title Im presuming, to follow consistently your reasoning, that I have expressed my views in an "extreme and offensive manner". Any other fancy of the imagination could be considered likewise, agreed?.

When does managing my assumptions and personal beliefs  as stated in the code, become I will not state them?  I was at a farewell for a teacher who cited the Virgin Mary as a helper available for everyone in times of need and to ask her for help. Nothing happenned here in terms of action against him. A breach? And even if he/she does, does that mean that the sledgehammer arrives?

Your interpretation of manaakitanga to suit your argument is flimsy in my opinion. It is possible that not succumbing to the whims of youth who are empowered by eager and zealous government departments, (but I do acknowledge without malice and with good intention)  is the act of ultimate respect and it is also my (informed) 'take' on manaakitanga.

Oh by the way, Im familiar with the code-I was a trained secondary school teacher. It is sad and angering to me that you have just added your nail to the teaching crisis coffin. Who would line up teacher training knowing that this kind of treatment is a possibility? But in another way I'm quite happy, as the demise of the education 'system' has been something I've observed and actively lobbied/acted for it's replacement for over 25 years. So when this system collapses, and you are bewildered and out of a job, I hope you re-read this letter.

Kind regards

Duncan Hill (that/it's) 

Monday 1 May 2023

Yip, yip that's what it is


Fake Mink Rug is a weekly cartoon 'clog' by Duncan Hill It is funded entirely by donation. No donation is too small or large. Or its free if you are too broke at the moment. To get some more of these click on this link - its mega-easy to sign up

 For other stuff like essays and poems go to Kindness is the new Way blog: kindness is the new way 

Why we don't trust mainstream media and governments

I really cant stand billboards adorning school frontages these days -you know, the ones that say things like We Stand for Respect, Striving, Perseverance etc. It must be what Winston Peters calls virtue signalling, as I don't believe it is advertising the school. It reminds me of the symbolic memes of trees with a trunk and a round top like an ice cream which is standard issue in schools classroom wall art. Nothing original or necessarily representative; just a meme. In the same way I am suddenly reminded of mainstream/legacy media forever trumpeting their values of fairness and balance and representing minority views, when none of them have been there in many years, especially in the last three years.

Last week the media itself was asking (me? the public?) why they aren't trusted anymore; why their position as trustworthy news sources is being eroded. In the recent spate of articles, and in the one linked above, many answers are put forward. Much of them second guesses. Greg Treadwell and Mertja Millilahti from AUT Centre for Journalism and Democracy offered some research, and some best guesses. 

What surprises me is that nowhere does anyone ask "Well, are the media worthy of trust?" and if not, how could they become, to quote the Journalist's code of ethics, more fair and balanced and telling the other side of a story? The focus seems to be on the listeners/consumers as if they just need to see that the media is trustworthy. My answer to the question is no, they are not trustworthy. Reason? They became, wittingly or unwittingly, the hosts of viral one-sided biased information about  what are called vaccines (but aren't even vaccines, they don't work like vaccines-more sloppy journalism?). They forgot who they were, and took up a cause. Many people I know were well aware of media's bias decades before our recent Covid conflict. Jim Lyons, a Catholic priest, showed it to me in a workshop in 1986. Everyone has a 'bias'-you can't not. To suggest neutrality and objectivity is, you could say, spreading misinformation. 

But what we are talking about here is something else. I believe the (mainstream media) is purposefully biased.

I wrote to RNZ and Stuff many times over the past 2 years about their biased reporting during the pandemic lockdown and protest and they flatly denied  every complaint. Jessie Mulligan scoffed at people who chose not to get RNA injected. I was somewhat a fan. Many of us wont go back to the 'trusted' media we used to tune into.

What could be done to reinstate trust? Meet with us. Listen to the suffering  we endured for making a personal choice, a choice that was upheld by The Bill of Rights and Human Rights charter. Show and tell like you once did. Poignantly, this was not offered as a way to regain trust in the article or any of the others I could find. 

You will notice the frenzy of media activity recently about 'misinformation and disinformation'. A year ago I had to  find out what they meant and decipher the difference.  So it appears, and the Ardern government said so, that any views contrary to the government's on Covid are to be considered conspiracy theories. How did this happen? How did we get to here? Did we not learn from the constitution makers in democracies around the globe that governments are to be treated with caution, for good reason and a thousand historical precedents of wild caucuses coming up with ideologies which end up persecuting minorities and sometimes majorities? So now we have a government body set up to combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation. Whatever happened to the recognition of our ability to decide for ourselves the course and direction of our lives and the veracity or not of the information out there? It is demeaning to our own value compass and sensibility to say we cant decide for ourselves. I would like to decide for myself who I listen to, visit with, read books by, attend to talks by, and put into my body. Oh but they say, it's the people who don't possess this discernment we have to worry about; the lonely outsiders with a big grudge, Couldn't we make a government body that gathers these folks into community that they crave instead of a government body that monitors and judges everyone? That stops terrorists, not censoring every dissenting voice.

When I was growing up we knew who the town bull-shitters were, the people you couldn't trust. We even knew who the local pedos were and where they were likely to be. Which brings me to full circle; a repeat performance of Covid passports time- telling us what to do and when to do it. "Simon says Stand up!" Simon says sit down!" Beyond criminal activity (for which we have the police), there is no need to bring in a kind of Morality Police to decide on what people can be exposed to; who can speak and who can't.

One of the coolest things that came out of lockdowns was that it gave us time and space to consider and feel what we wanted and what we did not want. From what I've gathered we want a more balanced life in terms of work and family, and play and time to follow our passions and interests. We want and need human connection; touch. Autonomy and agency in plotting the course of our lives. It was as if a giant bear came out of hibernation and it was angry and hungry, lonely and scared. The bear was us- hungry for what it needed and angry that it had been in a deep sleep for so long.

It is not just the in the media that are losing our trust. It's every institution. And it is world wide apparently. Could it be that, and as I've said, this is something these examinations avoid asking, that there is good reason not to trust. ie we have been lied to or had information skewed or left out altogether? Im a cartoonist, and I remember a couple of years back sending a cartoon of the newly elected local mayor Michael Feyen and recently defeated Brendan Duffy to our local newspaper and being told that we don't publish that sort of thing. I and the friends I showed it to thought it was (sort of)finny and not offensive. Here it is:

The difference between media of my day and now is that I can now see and hear every local, every global village hater, rascist, misogynist all at once. Whereas once, pre internet, I couldn't. There are rooms full of them all shouting at once, all wanting to be seen and heard; and we can enter the rooms. In my day it was very much limited to my local geography. We all knew where Snow the Ho was likely to be.

We don't trust the media not because we are conspiracy theorists or anti-vaxxers or anti -government. True they are government funded, and got a mighty fat cheque over lockdown, that makes one suspicious. Or  its because we value truth, honesty, fairness, integrity and balance, most of which are enshrined in the journalist code of ethics. And we aren't finding those values being upheld in mainstream media.

Which brings me back to where I began, with school billboards. If you shout your values across billboards and boardrooms and staffrooms and websites and then fail to live by them, don't be surprised when people don't trust you. Media, the onus is on you buddy.

On a deeper level, we are collectively coming to the realisation that truth is not ever centrally held by one source, be it the Vatican or government. Truth is elusive and evasive. Its private and subjective. This is not a woke liberal chant but a reality. If we share a truth it may be our collective humanity, our values which differ in their importance to each person but remain a stable foundation even if their expression and priority are different. I've mentioned a few in this article. I've never been that hot on 'truth' as if its something immutable. Perhaps, when we say we want truth, we might be pointing to deeper needs such as to trust, honesty and to feel safe.

I want to trust; it is a basic human instinct that helps to bind us to one another. How else to we all get scammed and preyed apon by sales people and others? I tend to trust people at their word and if I'm taken advantage of, lose my trust in them which affects that relationship.  

Friday 25 June 2021

How child abuse happens

 The elephant in the room with recent statements made by the Catholic Archbishop of NZ is the structure which underpins abuse by clergy. I've just finished watching Heaven and Hell, the Centrepoint story. It's sad viewing, because the structures which allowed abuse to take place there were the same as in the Catholic church, the Salvation army, Gloriavale, some cultures and on into the sunset. Namely, a power imbalance where hierarchies exist and children (and often women) have little power and protection.

 I watched a very supportive, if not saccharine, documentary on Gloriavale last night and quite franky I'm worried. A woman survivor of Centrepoint said that the adults there did not fit her idea of what abusers would be like: that abusers would be nasty angry men. She said "and these people were loving people." I also have a researched conviction that these people who stood by either consciously or involved themselves were victims, at one point in their lives, of such powerlessness. In short, they were unable to recognize abuse in front of their faces because their own abuse was as yet  unhealed. People keep saying ridiculously stupid statements like it's never going to happen again. 

As long as structures exist where (people) children are powerless, you will create an abusive environment able to ferment scenarios the like of which we have witnessed in global media and our own inquiries in Aotearoa. 

And so I'm worried when I see a  documentary series full of wonderful people who refer to love and Jesus and so on. I'm worried when I see cultures where children have no say, no ability to direct their own lives, no say when something doesn't feel right, to express their innate needs and values. 

Churches and state care institutions seem to have missed the opportunity to restructure their organisations, instead of dwelling on the criminal misdemeanors of errant men and giving heartfelt and anguished apologies. The Catholic church has brought in a new set of rules which say what they going to do with abusing clergy. Deafening absence of attention to the structure which allows it in the first place. And so have set up a climate for repeats. The only mitigating factor being mainstream church's decline: in which case their power is considerably reduced as they simply don't have the power they used to have. They no longer wield unquestioned pastoral authority on a daily basis. 

Ah but wait; the younger churches that align themselves with the moment at Pentecost where the 'spirit' of Christ was handed to them; the ones that claim literal truth for the Bible (or any book). And usually pyramidal in organization ie supreme power at the apex and subservience at the base. That's how you build pyramids though! 

They are the ones to watch. Places where the group has a kind of fervour about the 'good of the group' and everything being subservient to the group- that's where you'll also find abuse. So have a look around at the groups you know. Let them know you're watching them. Let the powerless ones know that you care, by speaking out and showing you care. These structures, whether business, cultural or clubs are around us and possibly always will be. We need to challenge their existence and can do so using our skills talents, resources and sphere of influence.