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SALIENT


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN Salient is an annal of student history and as such it should be anchored in time and place. In thirty years, people should be able to pick up a Salient and get a snapshot of what it meant to be a young adult studying at Victoria University in 2014. To that end, our number one priority is to increase student engagement with Salient. What separates Salient from other publications is volunteers. We want to attract and maintain a diverse team of quality contributors. To do so, we would continue the good communication, constant feedback, and approachability that have been typical of recent years’ editors. We also want to make more use of online-only content and the weekly rant so that we never turn down an individual’s work. We want more creative work from students at Te Aro and the Institute of Modern Letters. We want to work with Ngai Tauira to ensure the weekly Maori article is meaningful. The more perspectives on student life, we believe, the better. Accessibility means having many different entry points for readers. The student voice is not always best expressed in long-form prose features. For it to be heard, we need to be creative with the form our stories take- sometimes it's interviews, or investigative stories, or pictures, or poetry, or recipes, or reflections on sport or art or design or photography, or on video, or handwritten, or online, or in app form. We want Salient to celebrate that diversity. Salient should be a beautiful magazine worthy of the incredible work inside it. We believe there is little use having fantastic content if the design doesn’t do it justice. We want to focus on achieving a consistent look and layout which makes students want to pick up and read the magazine.


Salient occupies a crucial place in New Zealand’s media landscape, as student views are rarely presented in the mainstream. Writing from a student’s perspective will therefore be foremost in our minds. We want weekly student-oriented news features, strong and critical coverage of VUWSA and University issues and weekly updates on the election. More than this though, we think Salient should be a mirror as well as a megaphone. We would seek to analyze, reflect and comment on student culture. We think that's what the magazine should be. But not only that, we believe we are the ones who can best deliver that magazine. We are different people from different backgrounds- queer/straight, Maori/Pakeha, working class/privileged, head boy/dux, provincial/Wellingtonian- but we share a passion for media, a thirst for new ideas and a fascination with the world around us. Weakness of one is made up for by strength of the other and it is this synergy that will see us make Salient accessible to all. We have experience as feature and column writers for the magazine, and that involvement has led to close ties with members of the Salient community who we plan on utilizing next year. We know that the role of editor is largely that of a coordinator- communication, organization and people management skills are key. We also know the job is hugely demanding and draining, and that means that we need to have plenty of ideas but not be idealistic. With us at the helm, Salient 2014 will be a student publication of record. We are ready to edit. Yours,

DUNCAN MCLACHLAN & CAMERON PRICE


“Fab quote looking very nice and designy the students will be like wow� I.E TEMM


NEWS

A COUNTRY WAS BOMBED. News Writer Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin quis lectus ac nisl congue volutpat vestibulum posuere odio. Aenean sit amet tempus dui. Ut bibendum urna libero. Mauris malesuada massa a neque elementum ultricies. Vivamus dolor mauris, tristique at arcu et, convallis lobortis est. Aliquam non bibendum lectus. Aliquam tortor lectus, pulvinar sit amet varius non, hendrerit eget nulla. Etiam condimentum gravida quam eget pretium. Ut sed hendrerit ipsum, ac tristique est. Etiam vestibulum viverra accumsan. Duis in condimentum massa. Etiam vulputate elementum pulvinar. Sed pulvinar posuere risus eu porta. Sed sagittis tristique ullamcorper. In congue dignissim venenatis. Fusce arcu felis, sodales non augue eu, rhoncus tempus sem. Nulla fermentum, odio eget fringilla bibendum, justo risus vestibulum arcu, id interdum tortor nulla sed arcu. Duis bibendum at nibh a molestie. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer dapibus turpis id ornare euismod. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam ut magna eu mauris tristique laoreet. Quisque leo leo, tempus eu aliquet vel, auctor a eros. Integer neque urna, egestas ut imperdiet eget, lobortis vestibulum odio. Vestibulum ut nibh est. Vivamus tellus neque, sollicitudin vel tempus non, rutrum vestibulum velit.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin quis lectus ac nisl congue volutpat vestibulum posuere odio. Aenean sit amet tempus dui. Ut bibendum urna libero. Mauris malesuada massa a neque elementum ultricies. Vivamus dolor mauris, triDuis bibendum at nibh a molestie. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer dapibus turpis id ornare euismod. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam ut magna eu mauris tristique laoreet. Quisque leo leo, tempus eu aliquet vel, auctor a eros. Integer neque urna, egestas ut imperdiet eget, lobortis vestibulum odio. Vestibulum ut nibh est. Vivamus tellus neque, sollicitudin vel tempus non, rutrum vestibulum velit. Duis bibendum at nibh a molestie. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer dapibus turpis id ornare euismod. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam ut magna eu mauris tristique laoreet. Quisque leo leo, tempus eu aliquet vel, auctor a eros. Integer neque urna, egestas ut imperdiet eget, lobortis vestibulum odio. Vestibulum ut nibh est. Vivamus tellus neque, sollicitudin vel tempus non, rutrum vestibulum velit. Nulla vitae rhoncus sapien. Curabitur dictum elit eu mauris iaculis condimentum. Aenean libero metus, dignissim non diam vel, blandit malesuada sem. Pellentesque hendrerit accumsan arcu, id pharetra


NEWS

SOME MAN WANTS MORE MONEY AND POWER. News Writer Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin quis lectus ac nisl congue volutpat vestibulum posuere odio. Aenean sit amet tempus dui. Ut bibendum urna libero. Mauris malesuada massa a neque elementum ultricies. Vivamus dolor mauris, tristique at arcu et, convallis lobortis est. Aliquam non bibendum lectus. Aliquam tortor lectus, pulvinar sit amet varius non, hendrerit eget nulla. Etiam condimentum gravida quam eget pretium. Ut sed hendrerit ipsum, ac tristique est. Etiam vestibulum viverra accumsan. Duis in condimentum massa. Etiam vulputate elementum pulvinar. Sed pulvinar posuere risus eu porta. Sed sagittis tristique ullamcorper. In congue dignissim venenatis. Fusce arcu felis, sodales non augue eu, rhoncus tempus sem. Nulla fermentum, odio eget fringilla bibendum, justo risus vestibulum arcu, id interdum tortor nulla sed arcu. Duis bibendum at nibh a molestie. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer dapibus turpis id ornare euismod. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam ut magna eu mauris tristique laoreet. Quisque leo leo, tempus eu aliquet vel, auctor a eros. Integer neque urna, egestas ut imperdiet eget, lobortis vestibulum odio. Vestibulum ut nibh est. Vivamus tellus neque, sollicitudin vel tempus non, rutrum vestibulum velit. Nulla vitae rhoncus sapien. Curabitur dictum elit eu mauris iaculis condimentum. Aenean libero metus,

SOME COUNTRY HAS MORE POWER & MONEY. News Writer Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin quis lectus ac nisl congue volutpat vestibulum posuere odio. Aenean sit amet tempus dui. Ut bibendum urna libero. Mauris malesuada massa a neque elementum ultricies. Vivamus dolor mauris, tristique at arcu et, convallis lobortis est. Aliquam non bibendum lectus. Aliquam tortor lectus, pulvinar sit amet varius non, hendrerit eget nulla. Etiam condimentum gravida quam eget pretium. Ut sed hendrerit ipsum, ac tristique est. Etiam vestibulum viverra accumsan. Duis in condimentum massa. Etiam vulputate elementum pulvinar. Sed pulvinar posuere risus eu porta. Sed sagittis tristique ullamcorper. In congue dignissim venenatis. Fusce arcu felis, sodales non augue eu, rhoncus tempus sem. Nulla fermentum, odio eget fringilla bibendum, justo risus vestibulum arcu, id interdum tortor nulla sed arcu. Duis bibendum at nibh a molestie. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Integer dapibus turpis id ornare euismod. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Nullam ut magna eu mauris tristique laoreet. Quisque leo leo, tempus eu aliquet vel, auctor a eros. Integer neque urna, egestas ut imperdiet eget, lobortis vestibulum odio. Vestibulum ut nibh est. Vivamus tellus neque, sollicitudin vel tempus non, rutrum vestibulum velit.


BIAS BEWARE

Duncan McLachlan & Camron Price


A few months ago, South Korea issued an imminent and vital nuclear-threat warning. The main article on Stuff at the time was about South Korean pop sensation Psy. In the byline of a story on Sea Shepherd, The New Zealand Herald described Pete Bethune as a “war-hero” before being pressured to change it to “activist”. When Nigella Lawson was strangled by her husband, 3 News ran with the pithy and insensitive headline “Nigella Lawson’s wedding: a recipe for disaster”.

It’s been said that although there are three estates in government—the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the state—there is a fourth, non-governmental estate that is far more important than them all. The media is a central pillar in any modern society that identifies itself as democratic and free. It fulfils the essential role of holding the government to account, and so it’s no surprise that the suppression of a free press is the first step on the road to despotism and totalitarianism. The right to vote is null and void if you have no idea who or what it is you’re voting for at the ballot box. In society’s great quest to make informed decisions about the way in which it orders itself, the media equips us with the requisite knowledge to do so. The media shines a light on the cavities of state power. More generally, the press “may serve as a kind of moral barometer against which the audience gauges the parameters of acceptable opinion,” says Peter Thompson, lecturer of Media Studies at Victoria University. The term ‘media’ literally means an agency by which something is accomplished, conveyed, or transferred. The media facilitates and directs the exchange of knowledge and information in society; it is the setting for the important conversations that play out which inform our moral and social progress. Our views and interests are validated when we learn that others hold the same. Our attitudes both shape and are shaped by the press, whose job it is to write the first draft of history.

So does the media wield this power responsibly? It’s a pity that, despite the industry’s noble heritage and goals, most people would agree that Stuff.co.nz is frankly a bit shit. I mean, hire a sub-editor for God’s sake. 3 News has that awkward, unfunny, time-wasting interplay between the presenters. You know that Seven Sharp is gobshite when people would prefer to watch that sanctimonious wanker John Campbell instead. Talkback radio is a place where fools listen to fools who have nothing to say, say it. But worse than all this is the flagrant bias the media as a collective constantly spouts. Everybody sees bias in the media, but which way it goes is in the eye of the beholder; those who vote National are apt to believe in a left-wing bias, and vice versa. Some say that, because journalists are generally of the type who are interested in the liberal domains of the arts and the humanities, there exists a slight left-wing bias. However, the argument that any one political viewpoint is consistently shown in a favourable light is a mere conspiracy theory. Professor Thompson believes “there is a valid argument that the media by and large reflect and reproduce the prevailing political-economic ideology.” He says the more correct view is to say that, rather than having an overarching political bias, the media exhibits different biases on different issues. “At the same time as we have seen a significant shift to the neoliberal right in economic terms, since the 1970s we have also seen a shift to


“The tiny country of Liechtenstein owns ten times more New Zealand land than does China. Director James Cameron and singer Shania Twain jointly own 100 times more. Take a second to mull that over. How do those facts compare to the impression you got from the media?�


the liberal left in cultural terms.” It is Shania Twain jointly own 100 times a bias in favour of the present. more. Take a second to mull that over. How do those facts compare Although often pernicious and diffi- to the impression you got from cult to quantify, the harm caused by theto the impression you got from bias is real. The press can make or the media? break a person’s career. John Key’s active courting of the media during More recently, the Chinese have his first election campaign was been blamed for Auckland’s high awarded with a ‘honeymoon’ period house prices. That Australians own lasting the first year of his prime far more houses than do the ministership. As a result, New Chinese, and that prices would come Zealanders were unaware of his down if only the Council would government’s frequent use of the relax its ban on building residential democratically dubious practice of homes on huge swaths of land on having the House sit under urgency, the outskirts of Auckland, are treatrobbing it of the ability to take time ed as inconvenient facts by reporters and care when passing important desperate to take advantage of the legislation. Margaret Thatcher had xenophobic feelings New Zealandthe opposite problem with the ers have. media, complaining that if her critics saw her walking over the Thames, But is it all the media’s fault? Nicky they would say it was because she Hager, investigative journalist and couldn’t swim. author of The Hollow Men, says there are three places to lay the It’s too often overlooked that when blame. First, he argues that journalthe flames of racism flare up, New ists are indeed partially at fault. In Zealand’s media has invariably been their quest to present balanced and there to fan them, and continues to fair news, journos often engage in be. The characterisation of the tokenistic box ticking. They will Chinese immigrants during the present the two extremes of the 19th-century gold rushes as the argument to show that they’ve done ‘Yellow Peril’ led to a poll tax being their job, but neglect to show the imposed on Chinese entrants to majority view of those in the middle. New Zealand – a tax based on noth- Some stories simply don’t have two ing more than the randomness of sides, but journalists will bend over the lottery of birth. Today, the backwards to find them. Will media continues to demonise the McAvoy, in the US TV show The Chinese. With all the hubbub about Newsroom, drily observed that if the Crafar-farms sale, you will no the Republican Party announced the doubt be surprised to learn that of world was flat, the headlines would the nearly 900,000 hectares of land read “Politicians Disagree on Shape sold to foreigners between 2007 and of Planet”. 2012, only 223 of those were bought by the Chinese. The tiny country of Secondly, Hager argues that PR Liechtenstein owns ten times more people, spin doctors, lobbyists and New Zealand land than does China. interest groups are the biggest skewDirector James Cameron and singer ers of news. Journalists work in a

strained and stressed environment, faced with a torrent of news, tasked with sifting through endless press releases to meet constant deadlines. Reporters aren’t often experts in the areas they are reporting on, and Hager argues that balance is lost because “the media falls unconsciously for the viewpoint of so-called experts”. He points to the media’s positive treatment of rising house prices as an example of a PR campaign run by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. For the people who don’t own homes, increasing house prices simply means having to pay more in rent. Increasing house prices are one of the worst forms of inflation, particularly for students. But when house prices rise, that side of the story isn’t reported and instead it’s a “sign of a buoyant economy”. But when the REINZ wins, we students lose. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010, which gave disproportionate power to landlords and property managers over tenants, was under-reported in the media. When it was, a very one-sided view was presented. Most of those who submitted to the Select Committee were lobbyists for the property industry. As a result of the media bias against students, the Bill passed and rents continued to get ever higher. Media bias is just another form of discrimination against minorities. Finally, argues Hager, the capitalistic funding system of the media distorts the incentive to produce objective news. The media has a dual goal: in order to maximise their profits and please their sponsors, they must maximise consumption


of their news. Naturally, if a story about Kimye’s baby North is likely to appeal to the audience more than the latest dire statistic about starvation in Africa, the editor often has no choice but to run the former. The main consumers of newspapers and magazines and TV news programmes are middle-aged, and that explains why the narrative is directed at them. Other groups, such as youth, are portrayed as token caricatures of themselves. Economic interests are able to dominate coverage at the expense of the less privileged. There is a fourth explanation for the bias: inevitability. The inability to be completely objective is an inherent fact of news production. Questions of whether an attractive or unflattering photograph of someone accompanies their story, of which stories are reported on, of how prominent each story is, of whether the story is on the front page or hidden in the back, of how much weight is given to each side, of which aspect of the story to focus on etc, simply cannot be answered in the neutral. Further, what’s termed ‘objectively’ true is dependent on the wider context of social and historical mores existing at the time of writing. The media’s treatment of gay marriage in 2013 would have been absolutely shocking in the 1950s. So, media bias is both mostly unintentional, in that rarely is it the case that we are being knowingly deceived, and mostly unavoidable, in that humans can’t help but be fallible. So, the media is pretty shit when it comes to being impartial. Is there anything we can do to improve the situation in New Zealand? One solution which has been bandied about over the years is to move to a public-funding model of news. Although TVNZ and Radio New Zealand are publicly funded, both are required to operate as a profitable commercial business. If that requirement were removed, journalism for journalism’s sake would flourish. Although there is a general reticence to involve government in the media for fear of interference and corruption, other pillars of our democracy, such as the courts, maintain their independence despite technically being in the pocket of the state. [ITALICS: Salient] itself is funded by, but independent from, the University, and there is no shortage of vocal opposition to many University policies within these pages. The internet has revolutionised the rapidity and fluidity of information-sharing. Although traditional media remains the primary source of information, the news is being

“the capitalistic funding system of the media distorts the incentive to produce objective news”


decentralised more and more so that now many people learn their news from Twitter, Facebook and blogs. People can access news directly from the source, as happened during the Arab Spring when millions of young Arabs turned to non-conventional means of news-reporting. The internet is likely to be the biggest driver of change in the industry since the printing press. Nicky Hager is not so optimistic about the internet as saviour. Of the shift to internet-based news, he says: “It’s far from clear that the news media will be economically viable.” Hager also feels that the anonymity granted on the internet retards rather than enhances political discussion. Finally, he worries that blogging has issues with ‘confirmation bias’, that is, people will only seek out and read blogs which conform to their own views. This leads to a false sense that their views are the correct ones, as they feel that everybody else feels the same way. Hager’s not alone – numerous editorials in our national newspapers have argued against the internet as a new medium. However, it is important to remember that the occupations of both Hager and newspaper editors—in print media—will create an inherent bias in their perception of the internet. When people complain of bias in the media, it is often unclear whether they want the media to be more neutral, or just to be biased

toward their own opinions. Counter-intuitively then, the cure for impartiality may be to acknowledge and encourage the sickness. Instead of attempting to be objective, news outlets should explicitly declare their views and preferences. Journalists shouldn’t be able to hide behind a veil of supposed impartiality. They should say what their political leanings are so that we are better able to decide the extent to which we should trust their judgment. In America, everyone knows Fox News is Republican and MSNBC is Democrat. In Britain, all the major papers have a front-page editorial on election day saying which party they want to win. Why not say it explicitly in New Zealand? The media can’t help but fall prey to the dangers of bias. It is a weakness of the human condition which allows reporters to be reduced to mere mouthpieces of special-interest groups; which allows entertaining stories to outsell informative ones; which means the media seeks a cause, an angle, a reason, a hero, a winner, a loser, someone to blame. In New Zealand we blame the Chinese. Students are the losers. But ineptitude of the fourth estate needn’t stymie the discussions we as a people need to be having. Readers need to be sceptical of everything they read. We need to yell for better news. Journalists need to create the market for the real stories. We are better than cat stories. Let the conversation continue.

DISCLAIMER Cam and Duncan struggle to define their political views, but would say they are broadly libertarian. They believe every individual should be free to pursue happiness in any way they please, insofar as no-one else is hurt in that pursuit. This includes legalising drugs, support for marriage equality, and support for open immigration. Their economic views are more complex and less well-developed, but generally they believe that government intervention in the economy, while well-meaning, often produces worse results than if things had been left to individuals and businesses to decide. Their central concern is for the poor and the persecuted.


THEY’RE HERE THEY’ RE QUEER

WE’RE USED TO IT Duncan McLachlan & Camron Price


Two weeks ago, 77 MPs voted to end formal discrimination of gays in New Zealand. Passage of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 reflects society’s changing opinions of people in same-sex relations; hateful bigotry is giving way to loving acceptance. The gay identity was forged out of a struggle against past oppression and marginalisation. Will this cohesion survive now that the fight for equality is won? What does the gay identity look like in a world that is more accepting of gays?

The heavens opened on the night that New Zealand became the 13th country to legally recognize same-sex marriage. Contrary to the religious zealots’ claims that God would rain down hellfire on our sinful lawmakers, all that precipitated was some much-needed drizzle. The drought afflicting our nation had come to an end, and so too had the plague of legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. You can’t have the (big, gay) rainbow without the rain, after all. As the public gallery was full a handful of people viewed the debate, somewhat fittingly, from Parliament’s Spouses’ Room. Des Smith, and John Jolliff, the first gay couple to have their relationship recognised by the state with a Civil Union were among the congregation. Seeing an 83 year old man break down in tears because his love for his partner of three decades was no longer considered ugly would be enough to warm even the coldest and most ambivalent of hearts. There was a sense

There was a sense that politicians had uncovered an essential truth, and had done so by transcending the antagonistic point scoring of politics. The anti-gay edifice is crumbling. Everywhere you look, countries are coming out in support of gay marriage. France has just legalized it. In Ireland’s recent Constitutional Convention, 79% of those questioned supported altering their constitution to allow for same-sex marriage. The biggest issue MPs in the UK are faced with is how the law might affect succession to the throne (because heaven forbid a King who’s also a queen). The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, during the hearing for a case currently before the court addressing the constitutionality of same-sex unions sardonically observed that, “political figures are falling over themselves to endorse [gay marriage].” The battles aren’t yet over, but the war is won and it’s the gays who are firmly on top.

Gay marriage is a manifestation of society’s slow but inexorable march toward social acceptance of people who are different to us. They’re here, they’re queer, we’re used to it. The maturation of our views on homosexuality has come about as a result of greater prominence of gay people in society. The ubiquitous gay characters on our screens teach us that gays aren’t the evil monsters they were once made out to be. Green MP Kevin Hague, who sat on the Select Committee for the bill, argues that “people like Cameron and Mitchell from Modern Family have done us an enormous service in providing a model of a gay couple who are just like everyone else”. More and more brave young men and women are having the awkward ‘coming out’ conversation with their family and friends who are in turn coming out in support of the right to marry. Our generation has a particular fondness for the idea that the activities people take part in while pursuing their own happiness are of no concern to us so long as they aren’t hurting anyone. See our liberal stance on marijuana legalization. The social construct of gender is becoming more fluid, and increasing numbers of generally heterosexual people are realizing that they’re a little bit gay and that that’s all right. It would be wrong and naive to say that homophobia no longer exists. There’s still a long way to go. But we all rightly take it as a given that the future is a far friendlier place. Des Smith reminded us that it hasn’t always been this way. “In the staid society that existed prior to the social upheaval of the swinging


sixties,” he says, “homosexuality was treated as a kind of sexual deviancy.” Unable to openly express their love for fear of being prosecuted, gays were forced to lead a double life: polishing a veneer of heterosexuality by day, cruising public toilets and gay saunas by night. Portrayals of homosexuality in the media were contemptuous, even the usually liberal Times Magazine described the lifestyle as “a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life.” The invisible minority fell victim to society’s tendency to push a group to the margins and then hate them for being there. Then the revolution came. The writings of prominent gays such as Gore Vidal and Truman Capote conveyed to the general public the basic humanity of homosexual relationships. Two people of the same sex weren’t just sharing a bed, they were sharing love. Tired of being marginalized, and spurred on by the successes of women’s and black rights groups, a dormant political force emerged. Previously disaffected by and disinterested in the political process, queers realized they could stick it to the man by beating him at his own game. The Stonewall Riots of 1969 showed gays would no longer take discrimination lying down. It wasn’t long before the gay rights movement had their very own political hero and martyr in Harvey Milk, who was to gays what Martin Luther King Jr was to blacks; Milk became the gay MLK. It’s true that no man is an island, and in forming our identity we look to people and ideas that we can identify with, as well as those we can define ourselves against. As gays bonded over the shared bondage they were subject to at the hands of the conservative establishment, a community emerged. Just as people who feel shunned by society join gangs in search of acceptance, young gay men and women rejected by their families formed a family of their own. The formation of the gay identity, then, is a tale of a struggle

against an oppressive majority. But once the vitriolic bigotry dissolves and gives way to open acceptance, will the bonds of solidarity forged in reaction to that hatred survive? Is a distinct gay identity necessary any longer? Ironically, it is their acceptance by the mainstream - the goal from the very beginning - that will remove the necessity for gays to have their own separate and distinct culture. Once the sexual difference becomes accepted and valued, it ceases to be important. Gay assimilation will replace the separate-but-equal status quo. When it is no longer ‘us’ against ‘them’, does the ‘us’ become redundant? The disintegration of a distinct collective gay identity will counterintuitively prove to be a good thing for gay individuals. In order to become a serious political force, the movement formed a united group, claiming to represent the interests and views of all gays. It prescribed a set of criteria for what it meant to be gay. Kevin Hague explains that “we confined ourselves to a gay ghetto of a narrow range of stereotypes and created for ourselves just a bigger closet.” For homosexuals who didn’t fit the stereotypes embraced and promulgated by the movement, this was a problem. Bruce Bawer, writer of the seminal gay culture book ‘A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society’ explains that the movement “insisted that gays who, say, wanted to join the military, or attend church, or who lived in committed relationships were aping the straight majority and betraying the queer nation, probably because they were “self-hating” or ‘sex-negative’ or both.” It’s conveniently dropped down the memory hole that “in 1993 virtually all of the leaders of the gay political establishment were fiercely opposed to the idea of gay marriage, and they vilified as sellouts those of us who supported it.” Something is wrong when a minority discriminates those amongst them who just want to be accepted by the majority.


“It’s true that no man is an island, and in forming our identity we look to people and ideas that we can identify with, as well as those we can define ourselves against”


The narrative of self-hatred will be silenced. In an effort to portray themselves as marginalised victims, the gay community has made a big deal of the fact that gays can’t choose their sexuality. But “It’s not my fault I’m gay” implicitly presupposes that gayness is indeed a fault. It is helpless euphemistic shorthand for “If only I could choose to be straight.” Science has known for a long time that people aren’t born gay or straight. Two identical twins can share exactly the same genetic material but be attracted to exactly opposite sexes. It is likely that some genes mean a person is predisposed to being gay and sexuality is therefore determined by both nature and nurture, but what does it matter where gayness comes from? Even if it was a choice, gay people should be able to proudly say they chose it. The erosion of the barrier between gay and mainstream culture will affect straight people too. Straights will no longer have to worry about whether their red shirt makes them look gay, or whether their peers will call them faggot or poof for performing in the school musical. Kevin Hague agrees: “Homosexuality will stop being seen as such a threat to masculinity and there is evidence of this happening already, such as the implementation and success of queer-straight alliances in schools.” Sex positivist views will become the norm in society. It’s true that many gays have a lot of sex with a lot of people, but this isn’t a deviant gay trait, it’s a male trait. If the average female sex drive was as strong as the the average male’s, straights would be having more sex with more people too. It’s also true that pursuing intercourse over loving relationships is a direct result of being denied the ability to do so. Ignorance as to how gay people even have sex (it can be done face-to-face) may finally abate and with it the perception that homosexual sex is devoid of love. The institution of marriage will continue to

evolve. It’s come a long way from its origins as a transferral of ownership of a woman by her family to her new husband. It’s ceased to be a religious construct and is now a secular enterprise in which the state recognises the importance of the relationship to the two parties and rewards the commitment they have made with certain legal rights. Same-sex marriage will merely result in more people throwing fabulous weddings, rejuvenating and adding a certain romanticism. None of this is to say that there will no longer be a gay culture. Gay men and women will retain certain bonds and traits as a result of their shared understanding of the experiences, issues and relationships unique to their sexuality. There will always be an opposition to rally against; ignorance and homophobia will continue to exist. But they’re called homophobes because they’ve got something to fear. In many cases, extreme anti-gay sentiment is the result of repressed feelings. As Shakespeare put it in King Lear, the policeman who lashes the whore has a hot need to use her for the very offense for which he plies the lash. Equipped with this knowledge, and with support from heterosexual allies, gays will overcome. Cultures evolve. In a more accepting world, the need for homosexuals to band together to fight a common foe dissipates, and so too does their collective spirit. But this should be welcomed. When identities seek recognition by society they become exclusive and intransigent. The lives of those who don’t fit the bill are made worse. Once gay culture becomes gay cultures, or better still just plain old cultures, that straight jacket is removed. “Gayness” alone will cease to tell you very much about an individual. The distinction between gay and straight culture will become so blurred, fractured, and so intermingled that it may be more helpful not to examine them separately at all. And if that means fewer floral shirts, so be it.


CREATIVE FEATURE

IMOGEN TEMM VICTORIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DESIGN PHOTOGRAPHY

ARTISTS STATMENT Somehing about photography, narrative, time travel and escapism. Vestibulum posuere odio. Aenean sit amet tempus dui. Ut bibendum urna libero. Mauris malesuada massa a neque elementum ultricies. Vivamus dolor mauris, tristique at arcu et, convallis lobortis est. Aliquam non bibendum lectus. Aliquam tortor lectus, pulvinar sit amet varius non, hendrerit eget nulla. Etiam condimentum gravida quam eget pretium

w w w. i e t . t u m b l r . c o m


CONSTITUTIONAL TRANSFORMATION

An interview with Moana Jackson By Duncan McLachlan


IN LIGHT OF THE UPCOMING CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE SERIES, WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR A NEW ZEALAND CONSTITUTION?

Three years ago at a national hui of nearly 2000 Maori people, it was decided to revisit the work done in the mid 1990s to discuss constitutional issues. A working group was set up. I had been appointed co-chair. I think the terms of reference of that group give a sense of the starting point from which Māori are coming, from which is quite different than that of the crown. Part of the crown task is to see whether the Treaty of Waitangi can fit within the existing constitutional arrangements. The brief given to us is to see how we can fit a constitution within the Treaty of Waitangi. A constitution is really just the way in which people to choose to make rules to govern themselves. But if those rules are to have any value them they must be based on a set of values. What are the things we would like to preserve; what are the things that are worth protecting? So for me, a legitimate constitution is one that comes from the land of the people it is there to serve and it enables people to live well together. YOU HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE BOLIVIAN CONSTITUTION. DO YOU AGREE THAT THERE ARE LESSONS THAT CAN BE LEARNT FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL BASIS ON WHICH IT OPERATES?

I don’t think that it is transplantable here. Just as I don’t think the Westminster system is. But I do like the fact that it is values-based, and that those values reside in the land and caring for the land. They acknowledge what they call the sacredness of the individual. They position the individual always within a wider collective. What has become clear in the hui we have had around the country is that there is a similar desire among Māori people, and I would guess among many

Pākehā people. If you recognize the sacredness of every individual, and position that individual within whatever social or community group they belong to, then you have a values base on which good law will be made. If you focus on the individual, then the debate about gay marriage would not be a debate. The moral base on which Māori viewed gay relationships was not one of good and evil or sin or purity, it was based on whakapapa and cherishing the sacredness of people. So if the relationship was a respectful, loving, caring one then it was all right. There was no issue. Now if you extrapolate that from beyond the debate about gay marriage, and you have a constitutional system, which similarly respects that preciousness then I believe you will get better law. It is that issue that our people are really keen to talk about. ALTHOUGH IT SEEMS VERY COMPELLING TO HAVE A VALUES-BASED CONSTITUTION, IN NEW ZEALAND WHERE WE HAVE SO MANY CULTURES AND BELIEFS THAT PEOPLE SUBJECTIVELY HOLD IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO REACH AGREEMENT AS TO WHAT THOSE VALUES SHOULD BE?

I’m not sure that that is true. I think there is a set of fairly common shared values: most people want to do their best by their kids; most people want to love and be loved; most people actually do care about what they now call the environment. The trick is not getting agreement on the values. The trick is how you give effect to them in a constitutional sense. YOU HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT SELF-GOVERNANCE FOR MĀORI: HOW WOULD YOU SEE THAT SELF-GOVERNANCE OPERATING IN NEW ZEALAND?


You have jumped straight to the system rather than the values. You are asking how it would work, where I begin with the values and the values are clearly sourced within the Treaty. The values base for me is to go back to what was actually agreed in 1840, and what was not agreed was that you can come from somewhere else and govern us. And part of the debate we are about to have in this country is not whether grievances should be settled, but whether the overarching grievance of colonisation can be settled. And underpinning all the discussions in all the hui we have had, the debate always comes back to the values and Te Tiriti, and they are inseparable. I am not suggesting that that debate will be short or easy, but until we have that debate we will not get to the point of determining the ethical values that should underpin a constitution. So how it should work is less important than what we want it to do. And my experience is that once people begin to discuss values then the model becomes easy. THE WAY IN WHICH THE MODERN JUDICIARY HAS INTERPRETED THE TREATY, IN SAY THE LANDS CASE, HAS BEEN TO INVENT CERTAIN PRINCIPLES RATHER THAN TREATING THE TREATY AS A MORE PURE CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT. DO YOU SUPPORT THAT APPROACH?

It’s rather like taking the Magna Carta and inventing a set of Magna Carta principles rather than looking at what it actually says. I GUESS THE JUDGES HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH THESE PERCEIVED INTRACTABLE DISPUTES BETWEEN PAKEHA AND MAORI AS TO WHAT IT MEANS. DO yOU THINK THAT WAS A BAD MOVE AND THEY SHOULD JUST LOOK TO THE MAORI INTERPRETATION?

I think the principles have been unhelpful. I

I am always reminded of Sir James Henare. When the principles were first discussed he said at the time:“Our ancestors did not sign a set of principles. They signed words. The mana is in the words.” I have difficulty with what has happened to the relationship because of the principles. I don’t want to deny that there have been really quite profound changes in this country in the last 30 years in terms of the Treaty relationship but we are not there yet. I just prefer we celebrate the good things but know we are not at the end of the journey yet. THERE ARE SOME PRETTY DAMNING STATISTICS WITH REGARDS TO MĀORI AND THEIR UNDER-REPRESENTATION AT THE BALLOT BOX, AND THEN THEIR OVER-REPRESENTATION IN PRISONS. DO YOU THINK THE CURRENT WAY WE CONSIDER THE CONSTITUTION AND OUR PERSPECTIVE OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM WHICH FOCUSSES ON THE INDIVIDUAL, PLAY A ROLE IN THOSE STATISTICS?

Yes. We have an aphorism in Māori: “you cannot understand the present without understanding the past.” And so you cannot understand, say, a young man in prison without knowing what has shaped him. the prison figures are the same for any indigenous people. That suggests either that indigenous people must be inherently more criminogenic or there is something in the shared history of those indigenous people that has had an effect. The commonality is the dispossession of those people by colonisation, which is historically, culturally, emotionally a traumatic process. All the Maori I know in prison, and some have done really unacceptable things, but something has happened to all of them that led them to do all those things. The commonality is the trauma and its various manifestations of dispossession. The way in which the criminal justice system functions is part of that trauma. The resolution on the prison


population won’t be achieved unless of that biased use of discretion. we look to those broader affects. if IF YOU WERE A STUDENT Māori had not been dispossessed in AND WANTED TO GET all sorts of ways then there would not be as many Māori in prison. I INVOLVED IN SHAPING NEW actually think that is an uncontesta- ZEALAND’S CONSTITUTION AND DISCUSS THE WAY ble argument. ARE THE POLICE RESPONSIBLE? I WAS ONCE TOLD THAT SOMETHING LIKE 20 PER CENT OF MARIJUANA CONSUMPTION IS BY MĀORI BUT SOMETHING LIKE 60 PER CENT OF THOSE CAUGHT ARE MAORI.

MAORI PLAY A ROLE IN NEW ZEALAND’S CONSTITUTION. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I think it is really important that they start from the point that there is always more than one side of a story and they are open enough to listen to each side. They may not agree or like some of the sides but unless we I often tell a true story here. A young listen to each other then we can’t Māori boy and his Pākehā mate have have any sort of relationship let a few drinks and were then stagger- alone a Treaty relationship. ing home. They had a few small cartons of Steinlager and one of the I think we are at a similar point now boys tripped and the bottles fell and in the constitutional debate that we broke. They tried to clean it up. A were in the 1980s with the treaty police car came along. He exercised debate. The only solution I can see is his discretion to arrest. The police that we just have to keep talking and then exercised discretion to prose- try to show people that just because cute. They charge the Pākehā boy something is there now, that doesn’t with depositing litter. They charged mean that it is fair. the Māori boy with possession of a dangerous weapon. It’s illustrative But change does not come without

dialogue. Our view is that this change won’t occur overnight. But we wouldn’t even be having a constitutional discussion if, 30 years back, there hadn’t been a tentative, nervous, even angry sometimes, attempt to have a discussion about the Treaty. It will happen, and what I am hoping will come out of this current debate is that a starting point will be established. That little baby there is my first great grandchild and she will live to see it. I may not, but the New Zealand she will inhabit as a young woman will be as different from today as today is from 1980. The challenge in those sorts of changes is to get it right. You make mistakes along the way, but if we can find common ground in the values then we will get it right. In 1980 it was unrealistic to think that a little Pakeha boy would learn a little about how to say his Māori friend’s name properly. Reality changes. I ask our people just to imagine what might be and then see what happens.


FREE MARY JANE Duncan McLachlan

80 per cent of New Zealanders between 18–24 are currently considered criminals in our country. 50 per cent of all New Zealanders are too. They did not kill anyone. Or hurt one another. They paid a guy to pay another guy to grow something that would make them feel better. They smoked weed. And in our country, that makes them a criminal: something to be jailed for. Students should not accept such bullshit laws. Marijuana should be legal.

1.

No one in the world has ever died overdosing from marijuana. They have been helped through cancer. They have relaxed after a shit day at work. They have made the best music ever to touch our ears. But no one has died. Four people died last year from skiing. Random fun fact. Here’s another: more people die on escalators than on airplanes. That fact is irrelevant. My point is this. People

can make trade-offs. They know things have harms and risks associated. They do them because it makes them feel better or look better or act better. But currently, the state says no. Don’t even try making such a choice.

2.

There has been a lot of media scaremongering over the proliferation of synthetic drugs. Children are taking them. John Campbell sought out the only person in the world who had a son who died from K2 and heard his heart-rending story. I’ll accept that these unnatural drugs are dangerous. But unfortunately, they have actually been created because of the prohibition on drugs. There is a demand for having an awesome night that will not go away. And some people try and fill that demand by creating things which are like marijuana but without the same chemical make-up. People take them. They are sold at the local dairy. They cause harm.


So, if you are your average drug dealer, you make your stuff stronger shit. The THC level of Marijuana is four times as strong as it was in the 1970s. Cocaine, many say, was actually created because of the prohibition on marijuana. It is easier to hide; harder to detect. On second thought, that is probably the only benefit of prohibition.

Hunter S. Thompson

3.

Drug laws are racist. Unlike assault where someone is harmed, no one is directly hurt in the process of smoking marijuana. No one reports it happening. But cops have to come down hard. They have to search for people and find people who smoke such a killer drug; who wreak havoc on our communities. What better way to do it than to rely on their prejudices. 13 per cent of those who consume marijuana in New Zealand are Māori. Yet over 60 per cent of those caught are Māori. Random? No. Just racist.

4.

If you are a concerned parent who stays up late worrying about your dear Johnny and his dangerous pot-smoking friend Jim, then you should also legalise drugs. Because when they are illegal, you can’t regulate them. Alcohol has to be checked so that we know the percentage of alcohol in it. It can’t poison you or be laced with cocaine. Marijuana can be. Sometimes, you get drugs from a friend. Other times, they get it from someone with whom you wouldn’t want to party. If it’s legal, we can have age restrictions, content restrictions, quantity restrictions: a better joint.

5.

In fact, drugs are actually stronger now because they are illegal. You are punished based on the quantity of drugs you are holding. If you have too much, you are a supplier and thus get a larger fine or jail time. But quantity is based on weight, not on strength.

6.

Some people probably do have drug problems. Like others have eating problems. Or alcohol problems. Or mental-health problems. And those people should seek help. Drug prohibition puts them in jail next to a rapist rather than offering them the support that they need. Sure they can, at any time before they are caught, go to rehab. But they don’t. Because, quite rightly, they are worried about getting punished. People fear the consequences of seeking help. Shame. Our current law is nothing other than cultural snobbery by political elites. John Key can drink Moët with his son. He can take him skiing on volcanoes, or surfing at his bach in Hawaii. But our methods to make ourselves happy are somehow unworthy. You are the 80 per cent. Don’t be told by decree from the powers above how you should make your life better. Do like Obama did. Smoke.* People cheer themselves up in many ways. Some get drunk. Some eat burgers. Some watch Notting Hill. Some go for runs. Some engage in monogamy. Some take medication. Others smoke a joint. Only one of those people is a criminal. Fuck that.

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