Once upon a time, governments of the west faced down tyranny. They welcomed people running from it, and protected them once they arrived.
I’m not so convinced they’re up to the job these days.
Sometimes it’s like that.
For those who have enjoyed reading the “Offensive Content Kiwiblog Files”, there’s a new page up as of tonight – January to March 2007. Only took 4 years to complete 😀
Essentially, it’s an index of all the anti-Labour posts DPF put up during those months, with a few other items thrown in.
This one covers the period of the anti-smacking bill being passed, and I included several posts from the time attacking the bill. I think they stand the test of time reasonably well.
The funny thing about going through the Kiwiblog archives, is that you come up with stories like this.
See here for more.
Some readers may recall the case of Brett Kimberlin in the US. Kimberlin is a convicted bomber, perjurer, drug runner and has various other crimes to his name.
Since his release from prison, he’s made a habit of attacking those who call him what he clearly is.
One of his lawsuits is against various conservative bloggers, filed in the state of Maryland. (There’s also a federal case). That case came to trial this week.
Obliviously, with his convictions, the idea that calling him a terrorist is not deformation. So the case ended up focusing on the allegations of paedophilia, a crime which he appears to have committed but not been convicted of.
Here’s one version of what happened:
In order to prove a defamation case in Maryland, the plaintiff must prove that what the defendant said or wrote was false. Brett Kimberlin could not do that. After putting his older daughter, Aaron, Ali, Stacy, and me on the stand, he had produced no evidence of falsity. He had no case. With the jury sent out of the courtroom, Judge Johnson incredulously asked him, “Is it your theory that you can come into court and say, “I was defamed,” and rest your case?” Because TDPK had offered no evidence for the jury to consider in its deliberation, the judge ruled that there was no case, and gave a verdict in favor of the Aaron, Stacy, Ali, and me as a matter of law.
Clearly, his first step would be to show that he was not a paedophile. But outside of calling his own daughter as a witness (which proves pretty much nothing), he called the people he himself was suing. That didn’t go so well.
But I knew things were going to go very bad for Brett when he asked me the question “why do you believe I am a pedophile?” You do notask a guy with a semi-photographic memory a question like that. So I went over Jessica/Debbie Barton, another fifteen year old girl he told singer he had been “romancing,” his teen dream, and then as I was getting to his wife, I got interrupted, but I got to that story a few minutes later. He did not enjoy, for instance, hearing me recite the story his wife told me about her walking in on him kissing her twelve year old cousin. In short I was able to recite most of the facts laid out inthis post (which this title is riffing off of) and he clearly regretted it.
One thing that kept occurring, also, is Brett kept expecting me to spontaneously blurt out his narrative, rather than, you know, reality. So he asked me if I said that we should destroy his daughter’s life “because of the corruption of the blood?” All of this comes from having written this post which, as you might notice, does not say that at all. So I remember specifically answering “no, I have literally said the opposite. I have said that we should as much as practicable shield your daughter from the effects of your misconduct.”
Here’s the thing: if someone acuses you of a crime, and you sue them for deformation, your first job is to show that they are wrong. Really wrong. Reading these accounts of the trial, Kimberlin really didn’t bother to do that. He didn’t even come close to trying.
So, the court had no choice to (effectively) declare that “Brett Kimberlin is a paedophile” is a true statement. I mean, he didn’t bother to refute it, did he? And it wasn’t like he had spent months of effort filing a case in order to “clear his name”. If he had the proof, that was the time to present it. If he didn’t have it, he should have withdrawn the case.
Biggest legal backfire in history? Quite possibly.
In 1972, the Deomcratic party’s HQ was the subject of a bungled attempt at a break in.
This lead to a scandal that is so well known, that it became known as “Watergate” after the hotel, and almost every scandal in the English speaking world having the “-gate” suffix attached.
Why would you break into a competing party’s headquarters? Well, you’d find information, strategies, and other things that the opposing party is using legitimately. But you’d also find material that would be embarrassing – possibly even criminal if released to the general public.
What’ we’ve seen this week has been much the same.
Imagine the Republican party operatives who broke into Watergate succeeded.
Imagine they leaked the documents to a known, friendly journalist who wrote a book without checking with any other sources, compromising principles that journalist previously claimed to hold proudly. Imagine that those affected were able to claim with credibility that not just one break-in had occurred.
What we have here is a lot like Watergate. Only, where that break-in failed and backfired, this one succeeded. Only, it didn’t really find anything much, in 8gb worth of stolen material. So little new material in fact, that the media are really struggling to find anything. So little, that an entire chapter is about a man who’s email wasn’t even hacked, and thus, relies entirely on banal, already-public information.
And, just in case you thought this book was somehow principled, it ignores long-standing allegations of worse behaviour from the other side of the isle. (For all Slater’s faults, he has always blogged under his own name, and has never made the slightest secret of his connections to that party.)
Yet, what we have are opposition leaders praising those who engaged in the dirty trick, claiming that the stolen documents show serious flaws in our democracy. There are even journalists condemning the condemnation of the guilty party.
Here’s what the politicians said about it:
Labour Party leader David Cunliffe says allegations made in Nicky Hager’s new book ‘Dirty Politics’ are “the closest New Zealand’s got to its own kind of Watergate”.
How about The Greens?
The Green Party is to lodge a series of official complaints over allegations contained in Dirty Politics.
The party was also promising to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry if elected “to get to the bottom of what has gone on and to seek recommendations on how to rebuild a clean and fair political system in New Zealand”.
[I would note that I have previously called for a Royal Inquiry into the 2005 election, and the attempts by the Labour party to intimidate public servants regarding their theft of $800,000 of public money and their breaking of electoral law and the subsequent attempt to change said law to their own advantage.
To the very best of my knowledge, the Green Party never came close to making such a demand, and still defends and supports the law changes to this day.]
“The New Zealand public cannot have any confidence in our democracy until these claims are investigated and [alleged] offenders held to account.”
The party revealed this morning complaints would be lodged with the police, Parliamentary Service, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Privacy Commissioner relating to the allegations of “corruption and abuse of power”.
“John Key has degraded our democracy,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.
What about Winston Peters?
Winston Peters is comparing the revelations in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics to the Watergate scandal that brought down US president Richard Nixon.
Note the language used. People are comparing the allegations spun from material from a successful break in, with a failed attempt at a break in to extract similar material.
Ladies and gentlemen, a more cynical bit of politics you will not find.
Update: Try this: There was a break in, the material gathered is being compared to water-gate.
In case you’ve been living under a rock of some sort, you’ll have noticed a really silly “Internet Party” has been founded by one Kim “Dot Com”, convicted criminal awaiting extradition to the US.
Mr “Dot Com” is keen to avoid said extradition, and hence is using his money to buy his way into our parliament.
Now, clearly he’s been casting around for which political grouping might be most open to his ministrations.
We now know the answer to his careful research. He has discovered that left-wing environmentalists are most easily bought.
That’s not to say he’ll actually succeed in buying enough to get anywhere of course. But don’t let’s forget that supposed “anti-big money” principles are quickly forgotten on the left.