Saturday, 9 November 2013

Heroes of the week

Have we changed this week? It feels like it to me. Rape culture and corporate welfare both crossed over to become mainstream, out loud concerns. That might mean that a crucial step towards eliminating these scourges has been taken. There is still a long way to go of course, but its good to notice progress.

The issues themselves are not new. Shamefully, the police knew about the pack rapists for two years, but it took a TV3 news team to escalate the issue into the mainstream last Sunday. As for helping out Chorus's shareholders, well the copper tax has been in the offing since December 2012 when the PM, after being called by Chorus's chairperson, announced that there was a problem.

Wise and courageous decisions by a few people and organisations helped tip the balance this week. On both issues the mainstream media played a huge role and deserve congratulations. TV3 told us about the pack rapists and exposed the despicable attitude of the police. Both major print media organisations covered the copper tax very well and have seemed to get more staunch over the week, with the Herald publishing questions about Chorus' dividend policy yesterday and the DomPost considering nationalisation today. Journalists get a fair bit of stick, but this was definitely a week to be proud of ours.

Two individuals also played important roles in the pack rape issue. Giovanni Tiso took the time to track down all advertisers on Willie and JT's radio slot, after they showed their bigotry when talking with a friend of pack-rape victims. By the end of the week many of the largest firms had very wisely pulled their advertising. The market spoke, eloquently, and once the trend was clear Mediaworks voluntarily cancelled all advertising on the show for a week. That superb result is basically the work of one concerned man. Take a bow Giovanni.

The other notable individual play was by Matthew Hooton who has a regular Thursday slot on the Whackoff and Dickhead show. After their appalling conduct on Tuesday, he consulted the twitterati as to whether he should keep the appointment this week, then went on and confronted them directly about their misogyny, the way young men should behave, and their association with the infamous Clint Rickards. This kind of man-to-man confrontation is essential if we are to change our rape culture. Its a guy thing guys. We are the ones that need to stand up and fight. Matthew showed the way this week. Give that man a beer.

Compared with pack rape, a bit of corporate welfare could seem almost innocent, but they are both examples of how warped power structures undermine our society. Anyone who has been paying attention should by now know that, for unclear reasons, the government has been very keen to generate extra cash for Chorus by increasing the price of copper broadband services. A determined campaign exposed this evil plot, but the government said we were talking crap, though it later agreed to wait for the Commerce Commission's ruling before carrying on with their plan to over-ride them.

This week the Commerce Commission played the issue with a straight bat, setting a price at the top of the benchmark range but still a few dollars short of what the government had proposed. Well done ComCom. Just doing your job, I know, but there was a lot of political pressure to push the price up, and I for one am very grateful that you stayed true to your analytical principles.

Then the Minister announced an independent inquiry into Chorus's finances and indicated that she intended to hold its feet to the fire. The jury is still out of course. You could also reasonably ask why that didn't happen back in December last year before the PM set the copper tax in motion. But I still count this as a brave and important move by the Minister.

Maybe I'm just a hopeless optimist. It looks like archaic misogynists pushed their luck too far this week and everyone noticed so the world will be different now. And corporate welfare has also been exposed to the point where Chorus now looks much more likely to be held to its contracts. Just like everyone else.

That's how I saw it after a very auspicious week.

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