MediaBrought to you by

Spin Cycle: Comment and feedback, week of 29 August 2016

Last week’s best letters, comments and complaints.

The Spinoff has turned off comments. If you want to have your say on a story, please head to our Facebook or Twitter – or send a letter to the editor to info@thespinoff.co.nz. Letters may be edited for length.


Not true, Ryan. We still want to hear everyone’s dickhead opinions. And also good ones, like this letter from Gemma Mason:

“Yay! You have a letters section! Excellent. This means I can send you cranky emails. Seriously, what is with The Spinoff being rude just for the sake of it, recently? I don’t mean irreverently-toned articles like Hayden Donnell’s facetious apartment exposé, that was awesome. I mean being shitty about Maya Angelou, and the first few minutes of Warcast #4.

“Maya Angelou had to put up with enough crap in life. People are rude to black women all the time. Pointing out that this is a problem is called ‘political correctness’. I find it that pretty amusing, oddly enough. You see, old folks these days have taken to complaining about how, basically, young people these days are too polite. They’re too respectful of other people’s boundaries (including their lawns). They care about ‘microaggressions’, otherwise known as small ways of being impolite that disproportionately affect historically marginalised groups. How dare we.

“Well, sod ’em all, I like politeness. It makes it easier to communicate and to co-operate.

“Now, sure, there are places where politeness hurts rather than helps. Politeness can just as easily get in the way of communication. It can coerce rather than discuss. I don’t deny this. I just think you need a reason to be rude, that’s all. ‘Because you were stupid enough to think we would engage in this conversation in good faith and now we get to laugh at you’ is not a good reason.”

Editor’s note: “Steve Braunias’s story generated extremely polarising feedback – more than usual, even for him. I read the story as brilliantly self-mocking, others – including Gemma – as mocking a brilliant and deceased African-American poet. I haven’t spoken to him about it, but remain confident that the target was Braunias himself. And I should point out that everything else Gemma says about Angelou and so on I heartily endorse.”


Welcome to Hosking Week, a time of reflection and contemplation marked by each New Zealander in his or her own way.


On Tuesday the assisted dying debate was hashed out over plates of whole fish at The Spinoff-sponsored Table Talk, held at Ika restaurant in Auckland (our recap). Later in the week Nick Fenton wrote in with a call for “bravery”:

“The courts and Parliament are the lawmakers in our society. Theoretically, they work together to ensure justice is provided through the effective development and enforcement of law. Leading constitutional expert Philip Joseph calls this the ‘collaborative enterprise’ of government. When a problem arises, the courts and Parliament should function together effectively to remedy the situation.

“But in the context of aid in dying overseas, the ‘collaborative enterprise’ has failed.

“In Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, a gap has emerged between what courts feel comfortable in making into law, and what parliaments are politically able to legislate for. Assisted dying has fallen into that gap. The highest courts in these countries have deferred to their legislatures to change the law, because it’s a contentious issue – yet those parliaments don’t want to touch it, because it’s complex, and to do so might be unpopular within small, but politically influential segments of society.

“No one wins in this situation. No one can be satisfied with a law like that in the UK, which drove Tony Nicklinson, who had locked-in syndrome, to starve himself to death after being denied access to aid in dying services – an intolerably painful and undignified demise.

“In Lecretia Seales’ case last year, the story was similar. Justice Collins clearly indicated his hope that Parliament would intervene. The judge found that current New Zealand law does not adequately accommodate individual dignity and personal autonomy, but explained that only Parliament can change the substantive effect of this law in our system of government.

“New Zealand’s Parliament has been very hesitant to engage in any discussion of assisted dying. Three separate private member’s bills to permit doctor aid in dying have been rejected at the first reading – before any substantial debate could occur, or a select committee could sink its teeth into the issue.

“Now, however, we have a full inquiry into assisted dying in New Zealand. The inquiry represents a chance for the Health Select Committee to succeed where overseas jurisdictions have failed, and bridge the gap between the courts and Parliament to ensure the effective operation of our framework of government. This Select Committee has an opportunity to be clear and courageous, and to send the message to Parliament that New Zealand’s law must change.

“It took 23 years between court cases for the Canadian law to develop. It must not take that long in New Zealand. Lecretia Seales was brave. Now our system of government must follow suit.”


Through livestream audio “obviously channeled through the serpentine plumbing system of the High Court” politics editor Toby Manhire’s liveblog of the interminable Kim Dotcom appeal hearing soldiered on. Far from riveting stuff, but one reader, at least, was enjoying the second-screen experience.


Congratulations to our own Dear Leader, Duncan Greive, who won the Hynds Creative Entrepreneur 2016 award at last week’s ART Awards. His speech described his surprise at having “something like this swoop down, so unexpectedly, and validate all the long hours and weird risks we’ve taken.”

“I love The Spinoff so much,” he added. We know, Duncan. We know.


A short selection of our favourite surrealist Spinoff headlines from last week: “Rebel Vic Crone tells the lawman to take a driverless bus all the way to hell“, “‘I have become death’ – who will die and who will live?” and “Our cat has us under purr-veillance“.

The Spinoff has turned off comments. If you want to have your say on a story, please head to ourFacebook or Twitter – or send a letter to the editor to info@thespinoff.co.nz. Letters may be edited for length.

The Spinoff has turned off comments. If you want to have your say on a story, please head to our Facebook or Twitter – or send a letter to the editor (we publish a selection weekly): info@thespinoff.co.nz. Thanks!