Letters January 19 2013by The Listener
WoFs; child poverty; and David Bain.
CHANGING THE WORLD
The most powerful image in the “2012: The Year in Pictures” photo feature (January 5) is of the tiny child being cleared from the rubble after a Syrian Air Force attack. This picture is an indictment of the human race. How is it we continue to allow this to happen? In our well-fed Western world, where we are busy worrying about house prices, and grown-ups argue over who has the kids for Christmas, we have forgotten to question or wonder about how fortunate we are to live in enduring safety and security. The sad irony is that this image was granted a fraction of the space dedicated to the one on the opposite page of a man about to free fall, perhaps reflecting the weird and unfathomable priorities we place on what is important. This little girl never knew peace, was never safe. In the words of Celia Lashlie, she was born “pure and full of magic”. But by the accident of birth, she was placed in the way of a conflict that is generations old, sustained by those who prioritise power over human life. One hopes that, although she existed for such a fleeting moment, her image will remain for a lifetime, and as a result some small good may come. Since seeing her tiny body in the rubble, with adult hands stretched out around her in a futile attempt to salvage her extinguished life, I have been thinking about little else. Many of my supposed “priorities” now seem trivial. My children are even more treasured and precious, although I’d have thought that impossible. I want to do something, anything. And I will. That, I suppose, is the power of good journalism. One captured moment, in all its tragedy, extending across the globe to help someone see things differently. Thank you for bringing me such journalism. Long may it continue.
This feature could have been improved by omitting the photos of mass murderer Anders Breivik and accused killer James Eagan Holmes. Can we stop publishing details and images of these people? Possibly this would mean incomplete journalism, and there is an interest in the whole story, but I support any move towards more rigorous editing and supplying only the minimum of information. One could argue that such a decision in an antipodean location, far from the site of action, couldn’t possibly influence similar events from occurring. But that same logic could be applied to any small stand.
I disagree with Hugh Roberts (Books, January 12) when he claims the controversy over who’s absent from The Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature is not a fruitful one. When I first opened this large volume, I spontaneously and randomly searched for, and failed to find, Stephanie Johnson, Charlotte Grimshaw, Charlotte Randall, Laurence Fearnley, Emma Neale … If teachers do indeed use this volume to “tell the stories they need to tell about the development of New Zealand literature”, their students will, sadly, be hearing a rather twisted tale.
The Women’s Bookshop
How many people can tell if their car is in a warrantable condition? I can’t. That’s why I am quite happy to have a six-monthly WoF to tell me if something needs fixing. I feel a certain trepidation about the possible change to the WoF rules (“Pity the poor driver”, January 12). What happens if (when) the regime changes to a yearly test? Currently, the police can order cars not of warrantable condition off the road. That rule will stay, but here is where a change will most likely occur. When the vehicle is ordered off the road, a fine will also be levied. Then further down the track, the police will be given a quota of unwarrantable car owners to be fined. A rise in accidents attributed to cars in an unwarrantable condition will lead not to an admission of having made a mistake and reverting to six-monthly inspections, but to blitzes to catch these unsafe cars – blitzes described as helping educate drivers, but more importantly as a revenue-generating exercise. Arguments will occur in court – the competence of a constable on the side of the road at night versus a WoF inspector who inspects that car the next morning and finds nothing wrong. The regular servicing of a car hasn’t been mentioned in articles on this subject. Maybe a car doesn’t need an oil change and whatnot every six months. But if it does, adding on a WoF test may add a few dollars to the cost, but, hey, the car is in the garage for its service anyway, so why not?
(St Albans, Christchurch)
I feel compelled to respond to Linda Burgess’s December 29 letter about Ann Packer’s choice of the 13 best novels of 2012 for teenagers. Although Burgess commented on the graphic content of some of the books, they are eye-opening reads and stories of true inspiration. These books were reviewed for teenagers and young adults, not children of nine and 12. I am a 16-year-old, and have read many of the books Packer reviews. I always consider her recommendations worthy of noting. Many are novels for teenagers to dip into and to explore worlds that in many instances have ceased to exist, and others that are reality. Sheltering children from the reality of the world provided by books, because they seem too graphic or depressing, will only delay their learning experience and the way that we, as teenagers, are able to deal with the relatable facts of life.
RING OF TRUTH
I agree with David Larsen’s assessment (Now showing, December 29) that The Hobbit was “unexpectedly awful”. I don’t know whether there was supposed to be a credible storyline. All I saw was a lot of excellent visual effects mixed with a lot of violence. I came away wondering what it was all about and why we’ve made such a big fuss about it.
TACKLING CHILD POVERTY
John Dyer (Letters, January 5) should take his own advice and have a first-hand experience of poverty and living on social welfare. Having worked directly with beneficiaries, I agree there are a (small) number of people who are satisfied to stay on benefits long-term and game the system to do so. This is a minor issue, though, and does not explain the huge numbers of children with preventable diseases, malnutrition and poor educational outcomes. Therefore, getting even tougher on “welfare dependency” will have no effect. Having been a beneficiary for half of 2012, and noting the rising numbers of people out of work, I can only assume Dyer believes hundreds of people a month are choosing a life on the dole rather than working. Get real. We need more high-value export manufacturing and services and a sensible monetary policy to allow this to happen. No amount of welfare reform will change the fact that we don’t have enough jobs, and those we do have pay too little.
Rosie France (Letters, December 29) urges TVNZ to screen more Coronation Street episodes each week. For pity’s sake, what about those of us who have been trying to avoid this dreadful tripe for the past 50 years? The appalling dirge that introduces each episode can drive me screaming from the room without even seeing any of the alleged acting that follows. Please, please, TVNZ, no more.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
We all have our own views on whether David Bain is guilty or innocent, but most of us didn’t serve on either of his juries (Editorial, January 12). Ultimately, he was found not guilty. That is the one abiding decision we have to accept. A jury of one’s peers makes the final decision; that is how our legal system operates. If we disagree, what rules? Anarchy? Regardless of the sphere – be it apartheid, the Pike River disaster (with its lack of accountability), asset sales or justice – most New Zealanders want a sense of fair play and, if mistakes have been made, those who made them to put their hands up and accept responsibility. What outraged so many New Zealanders with the Arthur Allan Thomas case was that justice was not only not done, but never seen to be done. The question arises: will David Bain have to endure a similar path?
WORLD WITHOUT END…
Does anyone know the Mayan for “Now will you shut the x#%& up”?