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Could do with some help here - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 6th, 2013

12:09 pm - Could do with some help here

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Right. So you remember a couple of weeks ago, I posted about an old dude who ranted about women drivers in one of our papers? And I complained about it to the paper? Well, I've decided to publish what he wrote - all of it - and let you judge for yourself. Still not linking:


"Two decades ago, sitting on the balcony of my Da Nang hotel room in central Vietnam, I studied the traffic below.

The hotel lay on the corner of an intersection for five converging, heavily trafficked roads. Vietnamese life was fairly basic then so there were few cars, but lots of trucks, bullock carts, cycles and motorcycles and, with one exception, they all found their way through without stopping.

The exception were young women on motorcycles or bicycles who would panic, dismount and walk through.

On my return, I was the guest speaker at the launch of an environmental initiative by the Hutt City. Afterwards, I regaled the mayor, Glen Evans, about my Da Nang experience.

At the time I was campaigning against the unnecessary traffic lights popping up everywhere and planned to erect billboards on the city's outskirts saying, "Welcome to Lower Hutt: the traffic-light capital of the world". Glen called over the city traffic engineer and I started to get stuck into him. But he interrupted and told me my advocacy was in fact now received thinking in international traffic engineering magazines. "Excellent! Let's pull them all out, then," I urged, and, amazingly, both Glen and the engineer concurred.

Accordingly, at their next meeting, the council agreed to turn off the lights for a one-month trial. TVNZ said they'd document the exercise, which they hoped to sell world-wide. At that juncture, National's supposed libertarian then Transport Minister, Maurice Williamson, intervened and scrubbed the exercise.

Not to be beaten, the council instead ripped most of the lights out and replaced them with dozens of roundabouts in the central city. But talk about unintended consequences - what wasn't anticipated was the women problem.

Things became and remain chaotic as women drivers caused massive pile-ups at the roundabouts. They misinterpret the simple proposition of giving way to traffic on your right as stopping if someone's approaching 50 metres away.

The problem got so bad the late Greg King's wife, Catherine, herself a barrister, packed it in for a few years, furious at the five-minute drive to her Hutt office now becoming 25 minutes through terrified women parked at the roundabouts.

Women drivers possibly cost 1 per cent off our GNP, through causing massive delays in city traffic flows. Nowhere in the world do people drive in the right-hand lane as women persistently do here, blocking the free-flowing traffic.

I hammered the police on this a few years ago. Initially, they denied the problem but after some ferocious exchanges, the Deputy Commissioner wrote conceding my complaint and included the results of their own inquiry.

They'd bailed up a swag of these women, reminded them of the "keep left unless passing" rule and had them complete a two-question "tick the box" form.

The first offered explanatory options for this right-lane obsession of the "had my mind on other things" kind and the like, but near the bottom they slipped in "sheer bloody-mindedness". Unbelievably, a large number ticked that.

The second question related to age. Ninety per cent of the offenders were in their 30s, which accords with my observation. I suspect they're angry because they haven't got a bloke, or angrier still because they have, for which I sympathise.

Older women drive slowly but apart from not taking off when the lights go green, they cause no trouble because they keep left.

I met a newly arrived Serbian doctor in Auckland a few years ago. She said she was moving to Australia because our women were driving her crazy with their right-hand lane hogging and taking six seconds to take off at the lights. Bang me in a helicopter during rush hour and I'll pick out the women drivers.

They're the ones with a 30-metre gap between them and the car in front, thereby compounding the congestion. Not all women offend, just as I similarly have Asian friends irate about Asians' slow driving.

Indeed, the zippiest drivers I've ever encountered were, first, former MP Sonja Davies, who even as an old lady knew only one speed, namely flat out.

The other was my mother, who viewed red lights as an affront to her liberty. At the age of 91, she bought a Jaguar sports car. It lasted an hour before she wrote it off and was cut out of it, upside down, by the fire brigade.

On the occasions I go to my Wellington office, what should take three minutes extends to 15 because of women drivers creeping about causing chaos.

To overcome this, I bought what I was assured was New Zealand's fastest car, with a super-charged V12 engine.

My weaving in and out of the women resulted in complaints to the police, who wrote to me.

I replied, first pointing out that passing is not illegal and adding that while normally I don't condone police violence, this was an exception and they would be doing God's work by going to the complainants' homes, beating the crap out of them and burning their houses down.

Amazingly they wrote me a nice reply apologising for bothering me.

Right now a bunch of young Saudi women are agitating to be allowed to drive. It's a tough one. For by Allah they've got that prohibition on women driving right and should probably kick for touch and maintain the status quo for fear their women will drive like ours."


The reason I've done this is because after a couple of weeks I'd had no response, so I contacted the paper again with a threat to escalate to the Press Council if they ignored me again. I also tweeted about it, which got retweeted a bit. Miraculously, one hour later I had my response.


"Your complaint about Sir Robert Jones’ column has been referred to me. I apologise that no one replied earlier.

The column and the comments contained therein were Sir Robert’s attempt at humour, based on his own personal experiences. Sir Robert deliberately sets out to be provocative – he and his column are well-known in that regard, and should be read in that context.

Many of his comments relate to anecdotes from the 1980s/1990s. He refers to a letter he sent to police – a letter that was not intended, and was not taken by the police, to be serious. It referred to people (women mainly, but also no doubt men) who had complained to police about his driving, whereby, he said, he was having to weave around women drivers.

Neither Sir Robert nor the NZ Herald condones violence against women, or anyone else for that matter.

As a general note, while the Herald may not always agree with some of Sir Robert’s comments, we stand by his right to express his opinion and views.

Kind regards, etc"


So essentially, "He didn't really mean it, where's your sense of humour?"

I called this in my original post - the one where I said "I'm sure he would claim hyperbole for effect. Tell us to get a sense of humour, see the funny side, claim it's obvious that he doesn't really mean it, and therefore we should get over it. That kind of dismissal is one of the privileges of being rich, old, white and male apparently - the ability to say really horrible things about a marginalised group and when people object, say it was only a joke and that we're too sensitive."

I'm not satisfied with this response from the Herald, and would like to escalate it anyway. But I'm not sure of the exact words to use to convey my disgust at this patronising brush-off of a response. As a woman, I'm both saddened that the Herald thinks it's ok to allow Jones to use a public platform to talk about women in this way, and resigned because the response is always the same. It's another of those 'pick your battles' things, because I don't really want to be fighting this fight yet again, but if I don't then this kind of bullshit will continue to be accepted as an OK attitude to take.

What should I do?

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:kehleyr
Date:November 5th, 2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
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I don't really have any advice to give... but wanted to share what really irked me
I suspect they're angry because they haven't got a bloke YIKES!

I mean... ok if they hire him to write what the fuck he wants... but they should allow people to respond if they think that what he writes is offensive and not just brush it off as his right to write whatever. :-/
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:36 am (UTC)
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There is a comments section (now closed) but that just feeds the troll. I want the paper to exhibit some ethical journalism and not stoop to trolling marginalised groups for website hits. I don't think that's too much to ask.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 6th, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)

stupid lj won't let me log in on my phone

(Link)
I really wish I had an answer for you that wasn't getting into ab epic shitfight via email/snail mail with the Herald.
Maybe going to an alternative media source like Campbell Live with the view that bullshit misogyny in the mass media is feeding into a society in which groups like the Roast Busters spring up like foetid mushrooms, and will keep doing so until people realize that women are actually people too?
The Herald are behaving like shitbags in this, and why they're allowing someone who is bringing outdated anecdotes to the table is confusing and unpleasant.
- Rhi
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)

Re: stupid lj won't let me log in on my phone

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Yep. The link between dudes like Jones being supported by the media and groups like Roast Busters existing at all, should not be lost on those who edit the media.
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From:c_maxx
Date:November 6th, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
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At the least, they should print rebuttals.

At the most basic, threats are never a joke, or in this case, incitement to commission of assault with serious bodily harm accompanied by terrorist burning of residences. Look at Thomas a Becket..

As the westerns used to say, "Smile when you say that, pardner", or perhaps more poetically just, if he can joke while staring down the barrels of a double shotgun (I am being facetious, this is just a joke, of course! [if poetically just]), then let him say his worst when he is the one at risk. "Speak your best, Slobberface!"

If there were no systematic violence against women, it would just be incitement to terrorist voilence. As it is, printing his speech is a crime.

Edited at 2013-11-06 12:41 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
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The problem with rebuttals is that they are attention, and this guy loves to a) use them as a platform for another offensive rant, and b) get attention.

But you're right, if his bullshit weren't believed by a bunch of people already, it'd be a lot easier to ignore.
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From:richaarde
Date:November 6th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
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That guy should run for office here in the US. The Tea Party would love him.

In all seriousness, if I was the newspaper editor, I wouldn't have let that one go to print.
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC)
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The guy's a Knight Bachelor. He got this title in the late 80s for 'services to the community and business'.

Dude's a screaming neoliberal, but yeah, I suspect he'd fit right in.
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From:sophiawestern
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
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I'd ask to write a rebuttal. Holy shitballs, that is offensive. At the very least, a letter to the editor that they might print.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:16 am (UTC)
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I checked, and the Herald doesn't publish letters to the editor online. I've sent it to the Press Council. They are actioning it.
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:14 am (UTC)
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"Lighten up it's just a joke" has got to be one of my least favourite brush-offs.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:16 am (UTC)
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Yep, and it's almost always delivered by someone who has absolutely no personal experience of why the 'joke' really isn't funny, and thus has no understanding of their privilege in being able to say it at all. It's infuriating.
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:17 am (UTC)
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Yes, and the offensiveness of the original comment is directly proportional to the likelyhood of that particular response being given too!
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From:downwardlashes
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:18 am (UTC)
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Do something, but I have no idea what. But you shouldn't just let it go, because you are right, and this needs to stop being accepted.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
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I have complained to the Press Council. Hopefully others will too when they also get brushed off by the Herald. I know I'm not the only one who complained, or who followed up.
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From:pythia
Date:November 6th, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
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Fuuuuck I cannot stand him. He's a disgusting misogynistic prick who, as far as I'm concerned, should be put out to pasture (read: taken into the back paddock and shot)and ignored. I'm so sick of this (not so) casual sexism that is EVERYWHERE in New Zealand. Don't even look at the article he wrote about rape.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 04:04 am (UTC)
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Too late, someone linked me to it by accident and I read it with increasing horror.

The thing that horrifies me the most is that Mr Jones* will probably tut tut over the Roast Busters thing and Youth Today, and possibly have a go at the victims for underage drinking, without ever considering how his own attitude to women and rape has contributed to the culture that allowed such a thing to eventuate.

He's that privileged that he's completely blind to his own complicity, and thinks women like me who object are 'hysterical'. Genuinely.

Ugh.

* Edited to add: I will not acknowledge the man's title because in my view he doesn't deserve it and calling him by it makes a mockery of the whole title system.

Edited at 2013-11-06 04:04 am (UTC)
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From:pythia
Date:November 6th, 2013 05:03 am (UTC)
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I completely agree about his title.

Also, have you heard the latest shit about the Roastbusters stuff, and the DISGUSTING interview by Willie Jackson and John Tamihere of a friend of one of the victims? it's appalling, and if someone starts a petition to get them removed from their jobs, I will gladly sign it.Or even start it, if no one else has yet.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
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I heard it was going on but only touched on the edges of it because the whole thing makes me feel sick. I heard enough to know that they were also waving their privilege around in a completely arseholish way.
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From:pythia
Date:November 6th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I can understand wanting to avoid it. I think the worst thing in the small part I listened to was one of them saying "So they raped some girls, but some of the girls consented, right? So if some of the girls consented, then the guys aren't rapists are they?" WTF.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 05:24 am (UTC)
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OH JESUS FUCK
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From:ms_hecubus
Date:November 6th, 2013 04:20 am (UTC)
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Is there a competing media outlet that might be interested in smearing him to turn public opinion against The Herald and decrease their readership?

Or you could take it straight to the advertisers. Do you have a copy of the physical paper? The businesses with ads on his page or facing pages might listen. Or advertisers on their online site even.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)
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That's a good idea actually. I wouldn't want my business associated with his ranting.
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From:helianthas
Date:November 6th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
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That's what I was thinking. The paper stands by his right to say whatever he wants because it sells papers. If they somehow become the target of a campaign for readers to boycott the paper / read a different paper until this one shows more editorial discipline and stops publishing misogynistic drivel, maybe then they'll listen or publish an apology...
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From:riath
Date:November 6th, 2013 08:29 am (UTC)
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What an asshat, and that's putting it politely. As for that response, it could have been squashed down into two sentences: "Calm down, dang women can't take a joke. Get a sense of humour sweetheart!" Yeah well, your sense of humour sucks balls.

Yeah, I'm sure he's peered into every one of those cars to determine it's a woman driver. Cause there's nothing like serving up a side of misogynistic, generalised bullshit with the morning cornflakes.

No advice unfortunately, but if you find a way to hit back at him, go for it. I'm sick unto death of men writing tripe like this and having everyone else brush it off as a joke.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
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Yep, I'm with you on that one.
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:November 6th, 2013 11:22 am (UTC)
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"I suspect they're angry because they haven't got a bloke, or angrier still because they have, for which I sympathise."

"they would be doing God's work by going to the complainants' homes, beating the crap out of them and burning their houses down."

"Right now a bunch of young Saudi women are agitating to be allowed to drive. It's a tough one. For by Allah they've got that prohibition on women driving right and should probably kick for touch and maintain the status quo for fear their women will drive like ours."


Holeee shiiit.


Like, people over here complain about Jeremy Clarkson, who is abrasive, opinionated and rude. But even HE would never say something like that. Jeez.


And that reply is terrible - what gets me is they said, "Oh yes, well the people who reported him to the police were men AND women, but he was having to do it because of JUST women", like they're totally agreeing with his awful stereotypes.


I hope you do take it further, but I have no idea how you could. Write an open letter to the editor, published in a rival paper? Do you have any female politicians who are worth their salt, and who could add a bit of heft to your argument?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
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That's the thing that irked me about the reply too. As if he thought (and yes, it was a male editor that replied) that if he repeated what Jones said in different words, somehow I'd understand why it was funny and that it was all ok and I was just being silly to react to it. Instead it just made me roll my eyes and go "No wonder he has a job there."
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From:clashfan
Date:November 6th, 2013 05:00 pm (UTC)
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Two things leap out at me: That he's lying, and that if you substitute, say, 'Asians' in for 'women', everyone would agree it's completely unacceptable.

In the first case, has he a copy of the letter the police wrote him? Or the following apology letter he claims to have received? Has he any evidence of his claim that women caused the majority of pile-ups at roundabouts? Is there a record of all these tick-box forms with 'sheer bloody-mindedness' on it at all, nevermind large numbers of women ticking said box? How about his claim that women cost 1% of GDP in accidents caused (how much do men drivers cost in terms of GDP?).How about that letter from the Deputy Commissioner, complete with the results of their internal survey? My suspicion--nay, my actual charge--is that he's exaggerating in some cases and flat-out lying in the rest.

The second case needs no elaboration, I think. My absolute favorite is that he apparently holds two women drivers in high regards: one who drove flat out at all times, and his own mother who cracked up her Jag the day of purchase. Neither sound like models of automotive prowess.

In sum, he's an arse and I'm surprised his rant went to print.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 6th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
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Yep, 'facts being inaccurate' was one of the things I checked in my complaint to the Press Council. Along with 'discrimination and diversity'.

The fact that his rant went to print is what I'm fighting. If these attitudes weren't held by a significant percentage of the population, it'd be much easier to brush it off as 'old man ranting', but he's feeding a culture of misogyny that allows this sort of thing (warning: rape) to happen, and that makes his words dangerous.

Quick summary of that article: Roast Busters is/was a gang of young men who deliberately intoxicated young women then gang raped them and took photos/film, and bragged about it on Facebook. The police have known about it for over 2 years and it's only just come into the public eye this week.

So yeah, Jones is an arse but he's an arse that needs to shut the fuck up.
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