Thursday, November 24, 2005

"An absolutely disgusting display"

I read about this while reading through yesterday's Question Time last night, and Tau Henare is right: it is "an absolutely disgusting display". Particularly from a Minister in a government which prides itself on trying to build a tolerant, multicultural society. David Cunliffe ought to be ashamed of himself - as should Michael Cullen for trying to excuse it rather than stating clearly that it is completely unacceptable. Mocking your political opponents is part of the game, but this sort of low-level racism shouldn't be.


You're right, I/S. But it's fair comment to point out that Cunliffe has hardly been set the best of examples by his colleagues. It seems to have been something of a tadition among some Government members to snigger through Pansy Wong's heavily accented questions and speeches in the House, and make snarky references to them in speeches.

Of course, Cunliffe's conduct is inexcusable, but he's far from the first, or even the worse, offender. Also rather ironic that Cullen - who gets rather tetchy when he's on the receiving end of sarcastic mockery instead of dishing it out - would try and spin this.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 11/24/2005 09:09:00 AM

"Who are you calling politically correct? *We're* not politically correct! Check out how politically incorrect we are!"

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 11:32:00 AM

Perhaps a stupid -- or naive -- question, but I didn't hear the debate live, just read the reports. Is it remotely possible this mimicking happened accidentally? I ask because I remember when I was traveling in Ireland, I would unconsciously start imitating my hosts' accents. I was embarrassed, but it was totally unplanned and non-malicious, and they laughed it off. (This wouldn't excuse others' behavior in snickering at such mistakes, obviously.)

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 12:33:00 PM

Uh, this happens to me a lot when I'm talking to anyone with an accent or a speech impediment. I have to concentrate quite hard to not reply with their pronounciation.

If the gaffe is unintentional then I think Mr. Cunliffe's apology is enough. Though the Speaker should definitly lay down some stern words about doing it with intent.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 01:32:00 PM

You can hardly splutter and rage about political correctness and then get into a politically correct lather about "weading."

After all, truth is a defence and it is my decided recollection that Pansy Wong does "wead and wite."

Politics is a slugfest as much about dirty tricks (22 year old assault allegations anyone? Whispering smear campaigns about the PM's sexuality??) as anything else.

Lets put an end to mock outrage and hypocritical hysteria - bring on Billy Bunter Brownlee, Hopalong Wilson and the whole rouges gallery of political insults IMHO.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 02:21:00 PM

Just plain Wong.

Posted by Bomber : 11/24/2005 02:35:00 PM

I seem to remember the "great statesman" Jim Bolger giving an entire speech in "franglish" In France!

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 03:49:00 PM

I seem to recall that way back in the days before PC, Dail Jones was openly heckled as "Radar", after the squeaky-voiced character from MASH.
I believe he's still an MP, but whether he's still alive is open to conjecture.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 04:26:00 PM

I've listened to it. There was no sarcastic intonation or emphasis. It was one mispronounced consonant in one sodding word for goodness sake. Clearly Cunnliffe made a simple verbal slip, and Wong herself has completely disavowed any offence.

What an absolutely disgusting display of petty political correctness!

Tau Henare has made a total idiot of himself on this one.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2005 04:27:00 PM

It very likely could be unintentional. Most theories of social interaction have a matching/accommodation process whereby people change their language (usually subconsciously) for it to be more like that of the person that they are speaking with. Mostly, it's very effective for enhancing the interaction, but it can be interpreted negatively, as bloodrage's example shows...

Posted by limegreen : 11/24/2005 04:52:00 PM

FWIW I agree with Bloodrage, Logix and Limegreen. I quite often slip into speaking with the accent of the person I'm speaking with. I've even had people tell me off for making fun of the person I was talking to, when I wasn't. I'm better than I used to be in this regard tho.

My mother is really odd in this regard - when speaking to a person with an unusual accent, regardless of what sort of accent, without meaning to she slips into the swiss accent used by the foreign people she spends the most time with.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for The PC Eradicator to attack Tau Henare tho.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/30/2005 05:30:00 PM