Matt Nippert - certified hack, Auckland

Friday, June 25, 2004

To be, or...?

I know it's been a long while since I last rapped at ya, but things have been kinda crazy in this automotive city of automotive snails (catch the bus, green lanes rule). To collapse into to seedy metaphor, I'm guessing gynecologists fit into one of three camps. One; they're paid-up porn producers who have a stall at Erotic Expo, or two; when they sign job contracts there's an implicit don't-take-work-home burnout going on (much like vegetarian butchers, or pacifist boxers), or three; they're gay.

Recent craziness has seen me sign my soul (aka copyright and the hours of 9-5) away to the commercial media (the Listener, it could be worse - I could not be working for them). I write all day, and do I really want to come home at night to hammer out a blog? Or am I such a media junkie (or lacking social life) that'll interview my keyboard until we both, at 3am, run out of things to say? Depressing and mind-numbing; quite likely.

I've cleared my volunteer slate. No more bFM morning shifts, no Wire production, student mediawatch on holiday, and best of all (timewise at least) - no AUT. With only eight hours of my day taken up - what to do with the rest?

While the blog model, I think, works - nil publishing costs, the ability to link with stories under discussion - it ain't entirely costless. There's time, and the risk of stepping on various toes. As a young journalist, I'd prefer to keep my career on-track. But what does writing here achieve, and more importantly, does anyone read it?

The second every Fightingtalk Readers Poll is now open: Is it worth writing a blog, in particular, this one? Results will be announced if there's a positive response.

I never thought I'd actually say this, but I find myself agreeing with Garth George and Pat Buchanan more and more often. I caught the icon of the religious right (and whipping boy of the secular and liberal left) on a PBS panel discussion last night. Buchanan said the war in Iraq was a mistake, Clinton didn't do too bad (compared to Reagan at least), and Bush is fucking thing up. Triangle Television is responsible for all this international content (the only channel where the Voice of America is followed by the Voice of Islam).

Recommended: PBS is where you get to see the Berkeley Law Professor who drafted the 'torture is okay, as long as you're aiming to get information, not to cause extreme pain' memo - go head to head with the head of Human Rights Watch. (Monty Python's Terry Jones has a hilarious column on the memo.)

Garth George is where our third hypothetical gynecologist comes in, with queer notions about gays. His column in the Herald earlier this week was quite restrained. No biblical quotations, and even a sensible conclusion: the effects of the Civil Unions Bill, pass or fail, will be practically negligible. The sky ain't falling.

(George's references to 'the homosexual question' isn't something I'm buying into though.) Regardless of the significance in policy outcome, the politics of symbolism shouldn't be ignored. Pass or fail, same-sex couple will still be cohabitating. Much like earlier in the year, the Prostitution Reform Bill didn't invent the oldest profession, but it did acknowledge it existed and tried minimising pointless, costly, and inconsistent sanction.

Parallel? I couldn't possibly comment.

Although I am willing to comment on criticism that Tim Barnett shouldn't chair the select committee looking at the bill because of "conflict of interest". If that's the case, when considering any bill promoting top-tier tax cuts, no MP should consider the bill in committee. They're all in the top bracket and thus have a clear financial stake in the outcome. Only truly impoverished MPs should consider such law. Ridiculous? Quite.

Queer Nation interviewed me today, about the Wizard, which I dissected in a short piece in this weeks Listener (article if offline, sorry). The Wizard isn't especially evil, it's just taken a mailing list and made it very user-friendly. The genie is out of the bottle on this one, any lobby group worth their salt will be spamming letters.

But it's all, really, up to editors and whether they want credibility attached to their letters to the editor pages. Political debate is war - it's always a brutal battle in the marketplace of ideas - but that doesn't mean it shouldn't have codes of conduct and limits. Even the US is now acknowledging this. Does editorial policy matter?

And hey, if this ends up being my last blog, here's a couple a funny links worth checking out. I even may have them carved on my tombstone...:

Remember John Mitchell? It's good to laugh at national tragedy. Check out this very funny faux-Scribe track by Jamie Linehan from Pulp Sports.
Student Choice activists get busted (possibly) falsifying letters to the editor down in Dunedin.
Trogdor - the burninator.
Drinking alert: I'm having a pint or two at Shakespeares tonight (Friday) from six. Come and vent your spleen and replace bile with hoppy goodness. The more the merrier...