Precious only when it suits

November 30, 2012

Was it the influence of The Hobbit’s my precious that prompted Trevor Mallard to pretend preciousness over a perceived slight to Jacinda Ardern during Question Time yesterday?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Actually, Limited Service Volunteer is making a difference, and we have seen the numbers—[Interruption] Well, if you want to listen to the answer, then just zip it, sweetie, I am getting there. So what it is is that actually what you have got is you have got a number of people who do fall out in the first few—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you heard what the Minister said.

Mr SPEAKER: I certainly did not hear what the Minister said, because the noise level was too high.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Well, we could hear it on this side, and I suggest that if you had listened you could have heard it. It was exceptionally offensive. [Interruption] . . .

It wasn’t the zip it but the sweetie to which he objected:

. . . Hon Trevor Mallard: No, no, no—she said “zip it, sweetie”. That’s what she said. [Interruption] . . .

. . . Mr Speaker, if that term was used to a member who was not a younger woman member—in that sort of approach—I think you would find it offensive. We certainly found it offensive here, and I ask you whether that term is something that is appropriate. “Zip it” might have been all right but—

Whatever it was Speaker Lockwood Smith took a far more sensible view:

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Look, there is a myth that there are certain terms that are ruled out in this House. It is a myth—there are none. Members should treat this place, this House, with respect and members should treat each other with courtesy. If members interject in a rude manner, they may get a less than perfect reaction from the Minister. The level of interjection was so high that I did not hear what the Minister had said. I accept my hearing is less than ideal. I fully accept that, and I apologise for it. But I believe that if we allow ourselves to get worked up over that, we are just being unnecessarily petty. The solution is simple: do not interject so much. It was not necessary. The member had asked a question and should be interested in the answer. It was difficult to hear the answer, so the Minister felt provoked and said something that was less than ideal, but under the circumstances I am not going to ask the Minister to withdraw and apologise for it.

Quite why sweetie is offensive escapes me but Mallard’s preciousness over this perceived slight contrasts sharply with what could be regarded as far more offensive behaviour at Labour’s conference which appears not to have raised any concern at all from him or his colleagues.

Equal Opportunities Commissioner, Judy McGregor, said:

“We produced sexy, big print bumper stickers which said A king for Miramar and Miramar needs a King. Annette was far too nice to let us use Miramar needs a King not a queen . . .

Keeping Stock asks, is it appropriate from someone whose work requires her to protect and promote equal opportunity?

. . . We accept that Dr McGregor’s comment was intended to be a joke. But so was John Key’s banter about Farming Show hot Jamie Mackay’s “gay red shirt”, and look at the furore over that. . .

If sweetie ranks as offensive on Labour’s preciousness meter and gay red shirt also provoked outrage then McGregor’s homophobic reference would be off the scale – if it came from the right.

But it came from the left and somehow slights, in jest or not, from the proponents of identity politics, don’t register at all.

Perhaps that’s because they’re precious only when it suits.


November 30 in history

November 30, 2012

1554 Philip Sidney, English courtier, soldier, and writer, was born (d. 1586).

1667 Jonathan Swift, Irish writer and satirist, was born (d. 1745).

1700 – Battle of Narva — A Swedish army of 8,500 men under Charles XII defeated a much larger Russian army at Narva.

1718 – Swedish king Charles XII died during a siege of the fortress Fredriksten in Norway.

1782 – American Revolutionary War: Treaty of Paris — Representatives from the United States and Great Britain signed preliminary peace articles (later formalised as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).

1786 – Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, promulgated a penal reform making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty. Consequently, November 30 is commemorated by 300 cities around the world as Cities for Life Day.

1803 – In New Orleans, Louisiana, Spanish representatives officially transferred the Louisiana Territory to a French representative.

1804 – The Democratic-Republican-controlled United States Senate began an impeachment trial against Federalist-partisan Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.

1810  Oliver Winchester, American gunsmith, was born (d. 1880).

1824 – First ground was broken at Allenburg for the building of the original Welland Canal.

1829 – First Welland Canal opened for a trial run.

1835 Mark Twain, American writer, was born  (d. 1910).

1853 – Crimean War: Battle of Sinop — The Imperial Russian Navy under Pavel Nakhimov destroyed the Ottoman fleet under Osman Pasha at Sinop, a sea port in northern Turkey.

1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Franklin — The Army of Tennessee led by General John Bell Hood mounted a dramatically unsuccessful frontal assault on Union positions commanded by John McAllister Schofield around Franklin, Tennessee, Hood lost six generals and almost a third of  his troops.

1868 – The inauguration of a statue of King Charles XII of Sweden.

1872 – The first-ever international football match took place at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow, between Scotland and England.

1874 –  Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel laureate,was born (d. 1965).

1886 – The Folies Bergère staged its first revue.

1902 – American Old West: Second-in-command of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch gang, Kid Curry Logan, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour.

1908 – A mine explosion in the mining town of Marianna, Pennsylvania killed 154.

1934 – The steam locomotive Flying Scotsman became the first to officially exceed 100mph.

1936 – The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire.

1939 – Winter War: Soviet forces crossed the Finnish border in several places and bombed Helsinki and several other Finnish cities, starting the war.

1940 – Lucille Ball married Desi Arnaz in Greenwich, Connecticut.

1942 – Guadalcanal Campaign: Battle of Tassafaronga — A smaller squadron of Japanese destroyers led by Raizō Tanaka defeated a US cruiser force under Carleton H. Wright.

1949 the first National government was elected in New Zealand, led by Sidney Holland.

Election of first National government

1953 – Edward Mutesa II, the kabaka (king) of Buganda was deposed and exiled to London by Sir Andrew Cohen, Governor of Uganda.

1953 June Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters), was born (d. 2006).

1954 – In Sylacauga, the Hodges Meteorite crashed through a roof and hit a woman taking an afternoon nap in the only documented case of a human being hit by a rock from space.

1955  Billy Idol (born William Michael Albert Broad), British musician, was born.

1965 Ben Stiller, American actor, was born.

1966 – Barbados gained independence.

1967 – The People’s Republic of South Yemen gained independence.

1967 – The Pakistan Peoples Party was founded by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

1971 – Iran seized the Greater and Lesser Tunbs from the United Arab Emirates.

1981 – Cold War: Representatives from the United States and the Soviet Union began to negotiate intermediate-range nuclear weapon reductions in Europe.

1989 – Deutsche Bank board member Alfred Herrhausen was killed by a Red Army Faction terrorist bomb.

1993 – U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (the Brady Bill) into law.

1994 – MS Achille Lauro fire off Somalia coast.

1995 – Official end of Operation Desert Storm.

1998 – Exxon and Mobil signed a $73.7 billion agreement to merge, creating Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest company.

1999 – In Seattle, protestests against the WTO meeting by anti-globalization protesters caught police unprepared and forced the cancellation of opening ceremonies.

1999 – British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems merged to form BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defense contractor and the fourth largest aerospace firm in the world.

2004 – Longtime Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings of Salt Lake City, Utah finally lost, leaving him with US$2,520,700, television’s biggest game show winnings.

2004 – Lion Air Flight 538 crash landed in Surakarta, Central Java, killing 26.

2005 – John Sentamu became the first black archbishop in the Church of England with his enthronement as the 97th Archbishop of York.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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