Snowden, surveillance, dick pics

I’m late to the party on this most excellent Last Week Tonight segment on surveillance, Edward Snowden, and whether, right now, a US government employee is looking at your dick pics.

The whole segment is well worth watching, but for anyone interested in a really powerful example of effective political communication watch from the point I’ve cued up below.

 

The difficulty with massive world-shattering revelations about complex technical programmes is that most people, like John Oliver says, simply don’t care. And even I, a politics nerd with serious concerns about government surveillance and privacy in the internet age, didn’t really have much of a grasp on the kinds of specifics Snowden and others are talking about.

Until John Oliver created – or rather, uncovered – the Dick Pic Programme.

People have incredibly busy lives and a huge number of demands on their attention. They need a reason to engage with serious, complex political issues. One of the things the anti-TPPA movement has been really good at is giving those reasons: it’s about Pharmac, and the cost of medicine. It’s about our government being sued for raising the minimum wage.

We on the left have a tendency to get a bit jargon-y. The right understand how this works. That’s why we’ve still got leftwingers talking up the importance of quantitative easing to anyone who’ll listen while John Key sits back and sneers “well you can’t just print money.”

On surveillance, on the economy, on any important issue of our time: we can’t keep repeating our very-clever thoroughly-detailed proposals which put everyone else to sleep.

We have to find the dick pic that makes people pay attention. So to speak.

Hager’s revelations have the authoritarians worried

The Sunday Star-Times is reporting interesting things coming out tomorrow:

You can always spot the stories which have the supporters-of-the-status-quo worried:

https://twitter.com/MatthewHootonNZ/status/573949709938634752

https://twitter.com/MatthewHootonNZ/status/574007328468377600

I hate to break it to Matthew Hooton, but in a world where Cameron Slater argues for the right to be called a journalist, you’re not going to get far saying that Nicky Hager isn’t one.

Of course, Hooton has a longstanding beef with Hager:

https://twitter.com/matthewhootonnz/status/370009843781734401

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the foremost rightwing commentators of our nation.

Brent Edwards on political media

I can’t believe I didn’t see this fantastic interview with Brent Edwards on The Pantograph Punch earlier!

As political editor of Radio NZ he has some pretty pointed things to say about dirty politics – and how it’s not really a new phenomenon:

As a young reporter at that time, I was pretty appalled by the manipulation you saw going on. If we look at the Cameron Slater stuff and the way stuff gets dropped, it hasn’t changed. I’ve always struggled to try and break through that really, that kind of manipulation of the news that goes on. The example I saw was with the Labour government of the time, and Mike Moore becoming Prime Minister. One of Mike Moore’s senior advisers would come around the press gallery and drop material that was undermining Geoffrey Palmer, but of course this was all off the record. And those stories were run and it built up this momentum and this sense that Geoffrey Palmer’s Prime Ministership was really weak. Mike Moore would be asked about it on record, and would say ‘I don’t know anything about that, it’s terrible’. The journalists doing those stories knew the source of the information, and on the basis of protecting your source, which is a well-established journalistic fact… but in my view those stories should have been done differently. I’ve always taken this approach, and to be honest I don’t get a lot of leaks, and that’s because I have a very good look at who is going to be providing me the information and what’s the political motivation for doing that. I’m not interested in being played by politicians. That still goes on, and it’s always a sense of disquiet I’ve had about our political process and our coverage of it.

And I love what he says about political leaks:

Often when stories appear of that nature where it’s because of a leak, actually the biggest political story is who leaked it and why? And yet we never ever get told that because, fair enough, the journalist who’s got the story isn’t going to reveal their source, but in a lot of the stories we see that is in fact the big question. Who leaked this and why? There’s almost always a political motivation at play.

That’s a big part of the dirty politics/leaks issue which I don’t think gets enough airtime (pardon the pun). There are plenty of times when keeping a source’s identity secret is really important for the truth to get out – but on the other hand, that kind of critical “why am I being given this information at this moment” approach is vital.

Hey Jordan, pick me!

Yesterday Jordan Williams – head of the Taxpayers’ Onion and courageous fighter for the right to call women ugly in private – sent out a tweet which got me all excited:

I’m a helpful kind of woman, and yes, my household’s income is over 120k. I got ready to put my hand up and aid Jordan in his doubtless completely-unbiased quest to help the media tell a balanced story about National’s stellar economic management whatever it was.

Alas, his next tweet dashed my hopes:

Two strikes and I’m out.

There were some amusing, and some serious, responses to Jordan’s request:

https://twitter.com/MeLlamoLlama_/status/509566079342219265

But it made me think. Why the focus on a non-political person or family? I suppose the obvious answer is to ensure there’s no political agenda behind what a person chooses to tell the journalist, but in that case I wouldn’t be asking Jordan “runs to the Backbencher to film Winston Peters drunk” Williams to be finding my candidates.

The other possibility is: because a non-political person might be more likely to take the question at face value. Do I feel better off now than I did 6 years ago? Hell yes I do. Things now, compared to 6 years ago, are going swimmingly.

Of course that might have something to do with the fact that 6 years ago my household wasn’t earning 120k! Not even close! We didn’t own our house. I was still in university typing dictation part-time, he was at the beginning of his career.

Through a very fortunate series of events, including a decent dollop of sheer good luck, we are now very well off, especially for our age group, and depressingly high on the wealth distribution table.

None of that makes me think “gee, the government’s done a great job.” It makes me think: How are people raising their kids on the low wages in this country? How are other people my age ever going to afford to buy their first home?

And how can we survive another three years of National?

 

 

(I think the answer might be Voting Positive because we #LoveNZ.)

Not the war on men you’re looking for

It’s headline news: Labour supports re-starting a Law Commission review initiated by Simon Power to investigate possible changes in our judicial system including the option of adopting an inquisitorial approach in cases of sexual violence. Shocking stuff!

Hang on, why is that headline news? Because the Herald and David Farrar have chosen to spin this story into a tale of Labour’s continued War On Men.

Tom Scott has helpfully illustrated the debate with a cartoon in which the personification of Justice is clearly asking for it with her slutty attire and manhating ways.

There are so many things I want to say but just can’t find the words for. The statistics are all out there: the utter everyday common-ness of sexual assault. The under-reporting. The horrifyingly low level of prosecutions, much less convictions. The trauma and pain that survivors go through on a routine basis just to get a smidgen of justice.

All I can really focus on are these two incredibly ignorant statements from DPF’s hysterical little post:

Bear in mind that even if you are married to them, that is not proof [of consent].

If it is what you say vs what they say, you will lose.

And all day today, I’ve seen men on Twitter and Facebook say things like “if this happens men will be afraid to be in a room with a woman without a witness!” or “what if my ex suddenly decides to attack me with a false accusation?” or “how can I possibly prove my innocence when it’s their word against mine?”

Here’s the thing, men. If those ideas horrify you, you need to understand one thing: that’s how women feel all the time. These are the thoughts we’re already having. The reality is that somewhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime – and that’s an overall statistic, because it’s far higher for women of colour, for example.

I can appreciate that when the only version of this story you hear is the David Farrar “Labour will murder everything you hold dear” spin, you might start to get worried, and you might decide to completely ignore the realities of how our justice system treats sexual violence (9% estimated reporting rate, 13% conviction rate, awesome!).

But the only thing Labour is guilty of is considering an expert, independent review of our justice system. That’s all.

On the other hand, after a day of reading awful, heartless comments like “this is just about protecting victims’ feelings” I have to say this. If it were the radical man-hating straw-feminist outrage that the Herald and DPF are trying to sell you, you know what? It’s about damn time that the people who commit sexual assault are held to account for their actions, and far beyond time that we stopped persecuting their victims by putting them in the impossible situation of proving they never consented.

(Hat-tip to DawgBelly: 1, 2)