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If You're Right, You're Right
Entry 1732, on 2015-08-06 at 16:26:48 (Rating 4, Politics)
My political views are broadly left-wing and liberal but I don't usually use labels like that because they can be misleading. For example I despise political correctness and many traditional left oriented beliefs have a significant component of this in them. Because of this, sometimes the people who would usually be my allies are surprised when I have a completely contrary view to what they might expect.
There are two other elements to my personality which can also mean I sometimes appear to be controversial, or even rude! The first is that I sometimes like to present an alternative view to that held by the majority just to emphasise that there is always more than one way to approach a question (you might call that being "devil's advocate"), plus I like to pursue pure rationality and forget about history and what the traditional response might be.
All of this is illustrated very nicely in a recent incident involving New Zealand's Prime minister, John Key (henceforth referred to as the PM or JK) and a comment be allegedly made at a school meeting about his opinion of Maori Language Week (a week where the language of the Maori - the original inhabitants of New Zealand - is emphasised).
So here is one statement about the incident I found on a national new source: "John Key leaves girl in tears after calling Maori language month 'boring'". The question was something like did the PM support extending Maori Language Week (which had just finished) to Maori Language Month.
The whole issue has become rather convoluted and hard to get any real facts on, but apparently what he really said is that he thought the shorter time was better because people might be bored with a full month. And the reaction of the young (16 year old) woman asking the question has only been reported second hand from a "friend" who is involved in pro-Maori activism!
Naturally many of my politically correct friends were horrified at the whole thing. First, how evil was JK that he made a young girl cry? Second, how evil was he that he didn't support te reo (the Maori language)? And third, well they just don't like the PM no matter what he does.
So let's look at each of these issues to show how I treat them differently from my erstwhile allies...
Is upsetting someone by making a comment they don't approve of a bad thing? I guess it depends on the circumstance to an extent, but I think the PM just gave an honest answer here, which was his opinion at the time (exactly what the questioner wanted). Whose fault is it that his answer wasn't what she expected and therefore upset her?
If she was offended by an honest answer to a potentially controversial question then I would say that is her fault, not JK's. And yes, she was quite young, but when I mentioned this to my daughter she said 16 isn't young, running away and crying because you don't like an answer sounds more like an immature 5 year old!
So come on everyone, toughen up, and be prepared to accept a bit of diversity of opinion. What's the point in asking a question if you are only going to be able to cope with one answer? If you don't want to hear the answer then just don't ask the question!
I think this is a sign of how bad things have got in our schools though. Rational thought, fair consideration of contrary opinions, and honesty in answering questions has been thrown out and replaced with repetition of politically correct slogans and other meaningless nonsense.
So on this first point I support the PM. He gave an honest answer (something to be encouraged in politicians, surely) which not everyone agreed with. What is wrong with this? Nothing that I can see. If the girl really did get that upset (highly doubtful) then it's about time the school did its job and taught her about how to handle genuine political debate.
So the second point is should JK have been more supportive of the Maori language? Well this is a politcal question in the end and depends on your perspective, but even if he was trying to support the language more having a month designed to advance it isn't necessarily going to be more successful than a week.
It's not the people who are already interested in the language (or at least determined to pretend they are interested to keep their political correctness status intact) who should be the main target of the week (or month) it is more the people with no current interest or knowledge at all. And they are the type of people likely to get very resentful if they think they are having someone else's political views forced on them!
So would people get bored with a Maori Language Month? Well it depends on exactly what form it takes, but a fair fraction of the people I know find the week boring enough so yes, I think he has a really good point there! I have to say that on the second point I also support the PM!
So what about the third point, should I just reject the opinion of someone who I would normally not have a political affiliation to? Of course not. That is one of the saddest things about modern politics. People make their decisions based on what their political leaders say, not what is right or wrong. I'm quite happy to accept it when the right make some point I agree with, just like I am happy to point out any deficiencies in the left.
Yet again, on the third point, I am on the side of the PM, even though he represents a general political view contrary to mine. Here's the way I see it: If you're right, you're right, even if you're from the right!
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