Hate speech or slightly OTT but timely warning?

Chris Trotter goes for broke in today’s SST. He urges the swinging voters who tell pollsters they will vote National this year to ask themselves, “Is this the company I want to keep?”

He points out that the farmers, wealthy and reactionaries have always held ordinary city-dwelling folk in contempt, opposed every progressive reform and acted exclusively in their own self-interest, often at the expense of wider society.

I am happy with the general tenor of what he says. From the peeks that we have been allowed of National’s policies it is clear that the most vulnerable workers are in for another bashing should National win.

Perhaps Trotter goes a little far in places. He says, “Yes, these are the people you will be joining when you make the big switch. The people who have opposed every single progressive reform that New Zealand has ever undertaken – yes, every single one.”

Okay, I can think of the the accident compensation scheme, Human Rights Commission Act 1977 and the Human Rights Act 1993, so the last statement isn’t 100% true. Could probably think of a few more if I really put my mind to it. But that’s quibbling. It’s almost entirely true, so the substantive point stands. [Update: It has been pointed out to me that as Trotter speaks here of the reactionaries and not the Nartional Party, what he writes is arguably entirely true, if not tautological.]

Trotter may be giving the conservatives ammunition by engaging in such full-on rhetoric. One right-wing blog has labelled his rant “hate speech”, and accused him of describing, “the backbone of the National vote as collectively the most evil and foul people ever.” They overstate things much as Trotter does, if not more so; he does not, for example “abuse every small business owner, every person on a high salary.” Nor does he use the words “evil” and “foul”. But other right-wing commentators may not be so inept.

So, hate speech or timely wake-up call to those who may be about to subvert their own interests by voting for the very people who are out to screw them?

[Update: TUMEKE! provides a comprehensive response to Trotter that incorporates a left-wing viewpoint on Labour’s shortcomings.

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11 Responses to “Hate speech or slightly OTT but timely warning?”

  1. Inventory2 Says:

    Honesty call here JP – had this been an anti-left column penned by, say Mathew Hooten, would you be equivocating with comments like “Perhaps Trotter goes a little far in places.”?

  2. jafapete Says:

    I2, I don’t think much of the quality of Hootton’s writing, so that’s probably not a good example to choose. The man’s a fool, as the Hollow Man shows quite plainly, never mind his subsequent ranting.

    Let’s pick a better right-wing columnist. Ralston, Holmes? Too lightweight. Garth George? A favourite of yours, I know, but past his use-by-date c.1925. Roughan? Who? Coddington, O’Sullivan? Extreme enough, and occasionally quite cogent, though such occasions are increasingly rare it seems.

    If Fran, say, wrote about the left having it in for wealthy people and the christian right’s values, I’d probably say there’s a case that you could make. Not so sure about business and farmers, as the centre-left does recognise the need to earn export income and create jobs…

  3. Inventory2 Says:

    JP – I only used Hootton as an example! I’ve just finished reading the print edition, and looked for the authorisation statement at the foot of it, but there wasn’t one!

    I2, Of course not. All that stuff about threat to free speech was nonsense, remember!

  4. adamsmith1922 Says:

    I found Trotters column rather pathetic. No longer is he using rational arguments.

    In the last few months he has veered from grumbling about Helen Clark as Labour Leader to his recent over blown attacks on National, of which this column is just another example.

    I don’t take too much notice of Hooton either.

    Trotter’s column today was not as bad as the one in The Independent on broadcasting, which was so OTT.

    I posted on it here

    http://adamsmith.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/2614/

    One quote from that post:-

    Trotter’s vision of public service broadcasting is one of unions, and taxpayer funded media directed at Labour’s enemies. So in Trotter’s nirvana, publicly funded media are directed to serve the purposes of the regime. By definition anyone with a different view from that of the regime is an enemy, especially if they are business people. because business people are capitalists and as such are by implication evil.

    I thought about posting on Trotter today, but decided it was not worth the energy at the present. I might another day, as he is at least consistent in his frothing at the mouth and I have just come across another Trotter piece, which actually may repay analysis.

  5. macdoctor Says:

    That National have opposed every policy that Chris “Nothing to the Left of Me” Trotter thinks is “progressive” is not exactly surprising, is it? What else would you or he be expecting?

    MacDoc, I pointed to three progressive things that National had supported/promoted just off the top of my head. I’m sure there must be a few others too. The meaning of “progressive” is fairly well established.

  6. barnsleybill Says:

    “Hate speech or slightly OTT”
    Or violent ranting littered with sweeping generalisations.
    I wonder where trotter himself would fall into his categories. Surely earning 100k plus? I would be surprised if he is not. I wonder where his fantasy job would be in his “brave new world” Something to do with redistribution of private property and censorship no doubt.
    His rabid frothing and that of the clown at the no right turn echo chamber have reached a new low this week.

  7. 19th century bigotry bad look for 21st century journalist « Homepaddock Says:

    […] is a little blunter with the rebuttal, NZ Conservative says  it’s hate speech, and Jafapete  reckons it’s a slightly OTT but timely […]

  8. ZenTiger Says:

    “A bit OTT” ?

    Ho ho ho. That’s exactly why I labeled it Hate Speech. It was totally in keeping with Trotter’s style.

    No way Jafapete.

    Trotter’s little rant wasn’t aimed at National Party Policy though. It’s pretty clear Trotter’s tirade is at “the 35% of New Zealanders who make up National’s core vote”

    Indeed, that’s why I used quote marks for that bit. 35% of New Zealanders, the National core vote. That’s what he said.

    He’s worried 16%, being the swing voters, will join this monolithic voting block and put National in the drivers seat.

    So his article is very much “who is this 35% of New Zealand’s voters? Who are these people called “National”?

    From that point on he describes these core voters, as guilty of a long list of sins. I do not overstate his sweeping generalisations one bit. He meant every exaggerated bit of it. He has to, to make those kind of numbers.

    “bastardisers of culture; selfish; arrogant; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose income is less than $100,000 per annum.”

    “The people who refuse to pay for the pollution they cause. The people who are bending all their powers towards securing control of our Nation’s water – even as they make it unfit for our children to drink or swim in. These are the people you will be supporting when you vote National”

    and on and on.

    Yes, it does depend on ones point of view. And Trotter’s point of view is so bigoted and narrow minded he is incapable of seeing the genuine intent in ‘the other side’ to try something different to improve this great country of ours.

    Nope, try as you might, Trotter’s opinion piece was simply an obvious descent into a Labour campaign using gutter politics. I don’t have to exaggerate anything to make that point.

  9. MacDoctor Says:

    Agree Zen – Now that I’ve actually read Trotter’s column, I can’t see how it can be interpreted as anything but hate and fear mongering. It is a rank piece of writing even by his “standards”. His arrogance is truly breath-taking.

    Oh, and apologies JP, BTW, you did indeed point out that even by the left’s reckoning, the Nats do produce “progressive” policy.

  10. roger nome Says:

    I wonder, do my latest couple of blog posts count as “hate speech”? I guess just pointing out that National has consistently sought to bash the poorest and most vulnerable of our society over the last 20 years is a bit mean. Those poor tories! They don’t deserve it the poor dears!

    http://rogernome.blogspot.com/2008/07/nationals-90-day-probationary_22.html

    http://rogernome.blogspot.com/2008/07/national-prepares-to-make-war-on-poor.html

    JP says, You’re a hard man, Nome!

  11. roger nome Says:

    You can hardly talk! Being “happy with the general tenor” of trotter’s post! Next you’ll be saying horrible things like “child poverty levels tripled from 1990 to 1996”, or other pieces of nasty invective like “wage levels went backwards in real terms for most workers from 1990 to 1996”! I wouldn’t put it past you!

    Nome, and tens of thousands of workers took actual paycuts or lost their overtime or penal time pay in the early 1990s! So, there!

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