Wednesday 28 January 2015

State's gonna State

I was surprised on Monday that the flag at Parliament went to half-mast for the Saudi dictator. Graeme Edgeler pointed out on Twitter that the flag does that on the death of every head of state.

I suppose if you do it for one, you kinda have to do it for everybody. Otherwise, you wind up in a big Parliamentary scrap on the death of each and every foreign Head of State. Given the absence of Twitter outrage over the flag-lowering for equally repulsive Hugo Chavez, I expect the general outcome of a "recognise some" rule would be mouth-frothing at the death of every US-allied dictator and silence on the death of every left-wing one, until the whole thing turned into team-based culture wars with the right working to object as strongly to the death of the next socialist tyrant as the left had objected to the last US-allied tyrant. And that would be no fun at all.

I'd prefer a no flag lowering rule. But I'm not sure that wouldn't unravel were there to be a Commonwealth PM, or American President, who died in office. And as soon as that happens, we're back to the bun-fights.

Sending the NZ Governor General out for the funeral does seem a bit much though.

I'd tweeted:
Not much we can do about Club State always choosing to mourn other Heads of State. At least in the movies, Mafia families would always show up to pay their respects to fallen heads of other families; States are gonna State too. But we can choose how we interpret those symbols.

The Herald picked up that tweet; they didn't note it was a tweet.

I'm cool with that, but I'm not sure I'd be always happy with other tweets being cited as though they were official NZ Initiative comment. I'd had tongue-in-cheek comments in twitter replies last week suggesting that instead of reducing immigration to ease pressure on housing, we could deport anybody who objected to a notified consent, whether or not they were NZ-born, which would both free up one NZ house AND make it easier to build new houses. In case it isn't clear, that's neither my official position nor that of the Initiative. But it is kinda fun to think about.

Update: Thanks to Stephen Hickson for pointing out that the first line in the paragraph above was originally missing the critical "not".


  1. I So agree, as do plenty of others. Here is a cut and paste from another website I frequent

    On Hugo Chavez…

    John Kerry: “Throughout his time in office, President Chavez has repeatedly undermined democratic institutions by using extra-legal means, including politically motivated incarcerations, to consolidate power.”

    New York Times: “A Polarizing Figure Who Led a Movement” “strutting like the strongman in a caudillo novel”

    Human Rights Watch: “Venezuela: Hugo Ch├ívez’s Authoritarian Legacy”

    On King Abdullah…

    John Kerry: “King Abdullah was a man of wisdom & vision.”

    New York Times: “Nudged Saudi Arabia Forward” “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer” “a force of moderation”

    Human Rights Watch: “Saudi Arabia: King’s Reform Agenda Unfulfilled”

  2. To be fair,
    I think it should be noted that, generally, KA did move SA in a "freer" direction and HC moved Venezuela in a less free direction.
    But I don't disagree that the "but he's our dictator" rule applies here.