Letters January 26 2013

by The Listener / 17 January, 2013
Coronation Street; sexism; and WOFs.


I’m old enough to have seen the start of the feminist movement and its long-term results. The benevolent sexism theory (“The princess and the plea”, January 19) is just an extension of the feminist doctrine, “those wicked men are trying to put you down, sister”. The feminist movement did a lot of good for society and for women in particular, but there has been a downside. The main group to get the rough end of the stick are children, because today’s economy, thanks to feminism, is based on a two-income family. If both partners are highly paid academics who can afford a nanny and a cleaner, it’s no problem, but for an average working couple it is. As for the social outcomes, today we see women getting drunk in public, drinking from pint mugs or bottles, having tattoos, telling vulgar jokes and using obscene language, all of which lead to more violence against women as they shun the respect of men. Is the world a better place? Are women better off? Is a little respect and consideration for women so evil?
Reg Fowles

Men and women are equal, but each has tendencies and natural abilities bred into them over thousands of years and, of course, physical differences that make some tasks easier for men than women and vice versa. In a partnership, each person tends to do the things to which he or she is best suited and yet some social engineer will pop up and tell them that it is not fair and that they are being put upon. I was brought up by working-class parents and to this day I still hold a door for a woman, offer my seat on a train and show my wife into the car as well as holding up her coat when we are about to go out. I do not do this to restate my manhood or manoeuvre the woman into a subservient position, as suggested by the tone of the theory. Traditional attitudes protect and look after women in their relationships. It is the central feminist conceit – that men and women are the same – that leads to much of the hostility and misunderstanding that characterise so many modern relationships. Chivalry, or BS as the author charmingly calls it, may keep women alive. Take the example of the Titanic. When it sank Sexism and the feminist way in 1912, the men, obviously full of traditional BS, stood aside and let the women and children onto the lifeboats first. The result was that most of the women and children survived. Most of the men did not. In 1994, the Estonia sank with great loss of life. Most women died as did all the children under 12. The majority of survivors were young men, who obviously unencumbered by BS, commandeered the lifeboats, leaving the women and children to their fate.
Scott Lelievre
(Lansdowne, Masterton)

Benevolent sexism is a far cry from the age of chivalry, which has not yet passed. It amused me to learn that Matthew Hammond, Peter Glick and Chris Silby have each missed the point, as propounded by the Lord Archbishop of London at the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton, that marriage is “an excellent mystery”. As we both approach our 60th year of life together, my wife and I recognise the tenet “so far as is possible, let’s try to live peaceably with each other”. I still hold the door open for my wife, and she thanks me.
Alan Marriage
(Blu Hill, Napier)


I’m not a doctor, but I have studied nutrition and learnt from personal experience how lifestyle and diet can affect health and well-being (“Mood food”, January 12). Most modern diets lack vital nutrients and are so full of additives that it’s hardly surprising people feel depressed. The correct ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 is so important, but unfortunately most diets are too high in omega-6, which can lead to a variety of inflammatory responses. Surely doctors should be first asking their patients about such things as diet (including nutritional supplements), lifestyle and traumatic events in their lives before offering treatment or advice? How wonderful if, instead of drugs, people were given prescriptions for salmon, crisp green salads, walnuts and fresh fruit.
Lynn Beesley


I am disappointed in the January 12 Editorial, which appears to take the Herald-Digi-Poll regarding David Bain as a definitive answer to whether he is paid compensation. Digi-Polls are not, by their very nature, a broad sampling of New Zealand society. You mention New Zealanders have a deeply ingrained sense of fair play. We do, and it is not based on random surveys by journalists and a report by Justice Binnie that even its supporters admit is flawed.
Maureen Sudlow

The “esteemed” judge was not required to find wrongdoings of the police. In fact, had the police been on their game with the forensics, the case would have been open and shut long ago, with the defence floundering. Still the incontrovertible fact is that David’s fingerprints were on the murder weapon and Robin’s were not, so the balance of probabilities takes a big tilt. I wish you and the esteemed judge could explain that and the fact the wound was in the left temple when he was right-handed, and to keep it difficult, he left the silencer on.
Grant Lilly
(Rocky Bay, Waiheke Island)

The Editorial makes the contemptuous but erroneous comment that former High Court Judge Robert Fisher QC in his review went as far as “dismissing the entire [Binnie] report”. What Justice Fisher noted were a substantial number of what he described as fundamental flaws. In light of this, Justice Minister Judith Collins cannot be criticised for requesting the independent peer review and is arguably vindicated in doing so. It should also be noted that Fisher is a highly respected and eminent practitioner of the law in New Zealand. The key question is whether a case has been made out to the requisite legal standard to support a claim for compensation. Given the divergence of views arising from the Binnie and Fisher reports, there must now be significant doubt about that. A decision on this issue is too important to be influenced by unbalanced and ill-considered editorials or based on the whims of public opinion polls.
JK (Joss) Miller
(Waverley, Dunedin)

In the scenario in Justice Binnie’s report: Robin comes into the house earlier than his usual time. He finds the rifle and the key to the trigger lock, puts on gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints (Justice Binnie gives this as the likely reason), shoots four members of his family, then takes off all his blood-stained clothes and puts them into the washing machine. He then must have showered to remove any blood, before putting on his “dressed for school” clothes. At this stage he must for some unfathomable reason have gone to the gate and collected a copy of the Otago Daily Times and put it on the hall table. (This is acknowledged and Justice Binnie accepts it.) Now he goes into the lounge, switches on the computer, waits an infuriating time for it to warm up, types the message (David is coming in the gate now), then picks up the rifle and shoots himself – a difficult task with the silencer on the rifle. Who had a motive for the murders? David. Shoot his dysfunctional family and inherit the property and the significant amount of money that was in the bank, with no competition from his siblings. In his report, Justice Binnie says, “It is noteworthy that the police chose to exclude the one suspect (Robin) who was alleged to have a plausible if challenged motive, and pursue for 13 years the other suspect (David) for whom they had found no motive whatsoever.” No motive? But what plausible motive did he find for Robin? Binnie: “On the issue of Laniet’s incest allegation, I conclude there is smoke, but I cannot find that the record establishes the existence of any fire.” Quite right. There was no substance to any of those allegations, and even if there had been, it would not explain, for example, why Stephen had to die and David was the only one who deserved to stay. I could go on.
Max Skerrett


When I was a teenager, I kept a diary, recording all my activities and feelings (Internaut, January 19). One day, the dog took it and scattered all the pages down the stairs. Naturally, my mother picked them up and read them. I have never since kept a diary.
Anne Wills
(Sandringham, Auckland)


“Pity the poor driver” (January 12) makes some interesting points, but is one-sided. “NZ Fleet Statistics” (published by Ministry of Transport in March 2012) raises some questions around the validity of David Vinsen and Clive Matthew-Wilson’s claims. For the record:

  • The ratio of new cars sold to used cars has been 1:1 since 2008; therefore, used imports are not the only source of used cars, and therefore not the driver of used-car pricing.

  • The average distance covered by light vehicles at their last WoF (ie, before they are scrapped or deregistered) has steadily increased from 150,000km in 2001 to 200,000km in 2011 (not 250,000-350,000km).

  • New Zealand new vehicles cover more kilometres than imported vehicles over their lifetime.

The Mazda Demio price comparison is misleading; in 2011, a 2003 vehicle would be $8000, and now a 2005 goes for $10,000. Well, of course it would be more; it is newer. More important, a quick search on Trade Me doesn’t bear out the price-points example. $10,000 also buys a 2008 Toyota Camry, a 2009 Nissan Wingroad, a 2009 Suzuki Splash, a 2008 Hyundai Sonata and a 2007 Nissan Maxima. Our used-car pricing remains high – and that’s despite over 10 years of used imports. We know they are high because it is still cheaper to bring a used car from Japan or (increasingly) the UK and sell it here. It’s not the sticker price of new cars to blame, despite what people may think (our new prices are in the main comparable with other countries’). It’s just that for some reason our cars don’t depreciate like they do in other countries. Which is an interesting reminder about the point of the article. The cost of acquisition is just part of the equation; as real estate agents will tell you, you buy and sell in the same market. The real shame is that New Zealand hasn’t fully embraced reducing vehicle emissions by forcing the most polluting vehicles off the road, or by introducing emissions testing to help protect the poorer families who are most susceptible to respiratory diseases to which pollution is a contributing factor. That’s the real cost to the country. We have low depreciation rates and low compliance costs, cheap fuel and a sophisticated used-parts network; perhaps owning a car here isn’t so expensive, after all.
Anthony MacLean
(Glendowie, Auckland)


January 5 Nutrition promotes nuts to improve the overall quality of our diet, but wrongly dismisses chestnuts as not making the grade. Yes, chestnuts differ from other nuts. They have a carbohydrate to protein (high quality) ratio of 20:1, which could be argued as the perfect balance for the human diet. They are low in fat and calories and contain no cholesterol, yet like other nuts are rich in minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients, are gluten free and are a good source of dietary fibre. They are also high in antioxidants, but here is where they are unique: chestnuts have a high level of vitamin C equal to a similar weight of lemons. How could they be lumped in with coconuts, which are high in saturated fat? Do chestnuts make the grade? Asians, Europeans, Americans and a growing number of Kiwis will tell you they do.
John Margetts
(King Country)


Rosie France should be grateful there’s something on TV1 she wants to watch. I struggle to find anything worth watching. Instead of complaining that New Zealand is too far behind, why doesn’t she find something else to do while she waits for an episode she hasn’t seen. By the time it comes around, she could be so busy having a life that she won’t even notice.
Janet Crowe

As a recent resident of the UK, I find it hard to understand intelligent New Zealanders’ fascination with Coronation Street. I lived most of my life in and around the area and always found the depiction of life there an insult.
Jean M Cartmell
(Khandallah, Wellington)

Why not persuade TVNZ to broadcast three (or more) hours of Coronation Street every night for as long as it takes to catch up? Most people have the means of recording programmes. Everyone would be satisfied – and perhaps TVNZ could then find a good programme to broadcast in its place two nights a week.
Robert Collins
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