Academic, Media & Religious Freedom ~ Not ~ in Fiji

August 28, 2011

by Dr Mark Hayes

Update, September 4, 2011 ~ This Post started out as something else, but, over the last week of August, 2011, it morphed into a major, running, UpDate on developments in Fiji, several currents of which seemed to coalesce with very worrying speed and intensity. Most of it was written over August 27 – 31, with some tweaking and a few extra links added, until September 4.

I also know this Post has been read in Fiji, as well as more widely.

I won’t update this Post again, but will link to it as relevant in any future Posts on the general topic of Fiji, of which there will be more when events there suggest it and I decide I have something useful to contribute.

Of course, the Comments section remains active and I welcome any comments, which will not be censored (aside from normal, journalistic, editing as to clarity, legals, and taste).

Original Post continues –

I started to compile a more comprehensive wrap on recent developments in Fiji – more attacks on unions, the media, the Methodist Church – but then things started moving so fast on several fronts that I gave up, and will get to the bits and pieces, with much more context, in due course.

Scroll down for material on More Fantasy and Nastiness in Fiji, traversing the latest round on the Fiji regime throttling the Methodist Church, more on how media freedom is also throttled in Fiji, how the University of the South Pacific throttles academic freedom, continuing raids on the Fiji National Provident Fund, and insights into Fiji’s justice system under the military dictatorship.

Why Civil Resistance Works

A long anticipated and exceptionally valuable study, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by American scholars, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, has landed on my desk. This is formidable and very thorough scholarship of the very first order which assembles and analyses a vast amount of historical and contemporary data to show, about as conclusively as this kind of research can do, that nonviolent direct action is much more effective at removing dictators, supporting democracies, and challenging domination than armed resistance or terrorism. That’s a huge claim, to be sure, and their work deserves a very close read, which I’m doing now.

You can get a feel for the book from this article, published in Foreign Affairs by Erica Chenoweth on August 24, 2011, and this earlier article, by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict.” International Security 33, no. 1 (Summer 2008): 7-44 (172 k PDF).

As well, I’ve been watching an excellent documentary on the impacts of global warming on Kiribati, The Hungry Tide, which has added to my collection of material on this crucial issue, has been doing the rounds of Australia’s film festivals recently, and brought back acute memories of my trips to Tuvalu where I’ve seen, and reported upon, the same kinds of effects.

More recently, Australia Network Television’s Pacific correspondent, Sean Dorney, has been to Kiribati to report on frustrations experienced from global warming’s front lines as they try to access mitigation funding and assistance pledged after the Copenhagen conference. His reports, including one on Radio National’s Correspondent’s Report for August 20, 2011, have been outstanding.

Sean Dorney’s Australia Network Television News Kiribati story ~ August 8, 2011

But, Memo to the always terrifying ABC Standing Committee on Spoken English (SCOSE) – Please come for Correspondent’s Report presenter, Elizabeth Jackson, for two broadcasting sins. Firstly, she mispronounced the name of the place ~ Kiri-bas ~ and not Kiri-bati. Secondly, she did so twice, in the introduction to the story, and again in the backannounce, clearly demonstrating she didn’t listen to the story she was presenting, in which the reporter pronounced the name correctly. Back in my days at the ABC, we’d be flogged in the car park for such gross violations of SCOSE directives!

Read the rest of this entry »

Scrabulous, Atheism and Scientology

June 10, 2008

Now I am desperate. I just clicked on a link that appears as an advertisement on the Scrabulous page of Facebook. I’m in the middle of an opening losing streak – did you know it’s possible to score better than 200 points and still be beaten by 200 points.
Ouch! No I didn’t either.

So, as a distraction from my losing ways and in order to avoid the temptation to cheat, I decided to follow the flashing golden cross that Google so thoughtfully provides on my Scrabulous game page.

Read the rest of this entry »

Storm in a G-string?

April 22, 2007

The May 2007 edition of Dolly magazine in New Zealand has been recalled by its publisher, Australian Consolidated Press, because an image of a model strutting the catwalk sans g-string as her skirt billows open was deemed too offensive for the publication’s “tweenies” audience.
I’ve included a small-ish version here, but it has been doctored, if you’re offended, close your eyes before reading the rest of this post. If you want to see a bigger version of this image, it’s here at this interesting blogspot for Today’s Apathetic Youth.
Was it an accident?
ACP is claiming that the “little spot” they used during page makeup to cover the model’s (let’s call it what it is) vagina “fell off”. Just exactly how this can happen using digital image management in a program like PhotoShop or InDesign escapes my thinking processes.

According to a New Zealand Herald report, a spokesperson for ACP said the picture was the result of a printing error and the new, censored editions of the magazine would be distributed shortly.
But what about this?
The picture had an arrow pointing to the girl’s crutch with the caption: “Umm … we think you forgot something.”
Some accident…the subs put a caption on the photo with an arrow pointing to the model’s crutch, but then they were going to cover it up? OK, I’ll buy that.

What I really want to comment on is the poor state of our society when such a harmless image can cause such a fuss. Most readers of Dolly actually have the body part in question and so wouldn’t be too surprised that a female model has one too. They might even see the humour in the sub-editor’s little joke.
Where’s the offence in this?
I can’t see why it had to be censored. Unless of course ACP feared a backlash from those odiously hypocritical “family first* types who want to continue belting their kids as a way of “teaching them a lesson”, but who don’t want their children to grow up with a healthy attitude towards vaginas, penises, anuses and breasts. In short, the very same uptight and twisted parents and deluded religious “do-gooders” who want to shut down any discussion of healthy sexuality, in favour of some made up taboos that effectively destroy young minds and reproduce the same repressed mentality that they suffer from.
“Get your hands off our bodies,” we used to chant. And off our magazines.
And while we’re at it, keep your bloody hands off our (and your) children too, you sadistic perverts.

* My apologies – this link leads to perversion and may rot young minds, parental guidance required. However, I make no apologies for linking to Richard Dawkins talking about the “God delusion”. In fact I encourage young (and old) minds to go there and listen to his podcasts.