Monday, January 26, 2015

What happens if you question our sacred cows

Last week, Fairfax columnist Rachel Stewart published a piece in the Manawatu Standard opposing further regulatory and environmental subsidies for farmers. The response? Misogyny and death threats:

Police are investigating a complaint from controversial columnist Rachel Stewart after a threatening hand-written message was left in her letterbox and her social media account was inundated with abusive posts.

Stewart says she has been subjected to a string of malicious messages this week, including threats to rape and kill her, following the publication of her fortnightly opinion piece in Fairfax papers, among them the Manawatu Standard, on Monday.

This week's article, headlined "That high-pitched whining must stop", talked about irrigation schemes, water quality, the low milk payout, workplace regulations, suicide, stress and farmers complying with the law.

However, the backlash to the article turned sinister, and Stewart says "sexist, standover tactics and personal slurs" were posted from accounts using pen-names and then circulated via Twitter by prominent members of New Zealand's farming community. A hand-written anonymous note saying: "See we not so DumB we Don't No where u live. Bitch.[sic]" was also delivered to Stewart's house, prompting her to lay a complaint and for police to launch an investigation.


Stewart said she was appalled that several prominent members of Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ "favourited" or retweeted crude comments. Dairy NZ did not respond to questions.

This is how our farmers - and their industry bodies - respond to questioning of their sacred cows (and the profits they extract by ruining our waterways): with threats and bullying. And it is unacceptable. I look forward to everyone involved being prosecuted to the full extent of the law.