Friday, February 5, 2010

We no longer expect politicians to tell us the truth

(First published in the Curmudgeon column, The Dominion Post, February 2.)

AUSTRALIAN Opposition leader and practising Catholic Tony Abbott brought a hail of criticism down on himself last week for expressing a conservative view on virginity. Feminists and leftist academics predictably pounced, denouncing Abbott as an unreconstructed male chauvinist.

But hang on. Regardless of what anyone thinks of his views, shouldn’t Abbott be given credit for expressing his opinions honestly and openly? That’s what democracy is supposed to be about: politicians saying what they think and letting the voters make up their minds.

Trouble is, politics is now so contaminated by spin-meisters and risk-averse media minders that we no longer expect people like Abbott to tell the truth.

Are his critics saying they would prefer it if he prevaricated and dissembled, like so many of his colleagues? It’s a strange old world, all right.

* * *

HOW entertaining it is to see the fear-mongering campaign of the global warming alarmists unravelling.

First there were the hacked emails and documents that indicated a conspiracy to massage scientific evidence in favour of the manmade global warming hypothesis. Then came the almost comical revelation that a predicted melting of Himalayan glaciers – one of the most alarming assertions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – was a fiction, utterly lacking in any scientific validity.

Now a sheepish IPCC has had to admit there was no scientific basis for claims that global warming was linked to a supposed rise in natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

This latest backdown came as no surprise to me. I recently watched a compilation of old movie newsreels dating back to the 1920s, and in virtually every year there were reports of catastrophic weather events – most of them every bit as bad as the more recent floods and hurricanes allegedly caused by climate change.

The global warming alarmists insist that a few embarrassing porkies don’t detract from the overwhelming weight of evidence pointing to an impending climate catastrophe. But the truth is that they reveal a shocking lack of scientific rigour and in doing so, raise questions about the credibility of all IPCC reports.

None of this should surprise anyone. When scientific report writers are little more than propagandists, they will inevitably be tempted to use whatever scrap of dodgy information they can find to support their case – even to the point of making things up.

And when gullible governments and charitable foundations are handing out massive grants for research into global warming, what mug is going to choke off the flow of funds by saying it isn’t happening?

* * *

THE funniest comedy on television is often to be found on the 6 pm news.

In a lead item last week on the Auckland power blackout, One News excitedly crossed to reporter Jack Tame who, we were told, was “across developments” (my thanks to media critic Denis Welch for picking up this latest fatuous expression).

Then we saw Tame standing at a city intersection at peak hour, telling us about the traffic problems supposedly caused by the outage. Trouble was, viewers looking over his shoulder could see no sign of congestion. In fact vehicles were moving as freely you’re ever likely to see in Auckland.

I have a suggestion for TVNZ’s Auckland newsroom when covering such stories in future. Perhaps they should hand out petrol vouchers to motorists as an incentive to remain stationary, banking up at the lights and tooting impatiently, so as to replicate the traffic gridlock One News is so anxious to report.

Aucklanders are an obliging lot, after all; I’m sure they would be happy to comply.

* * *

IN THE sports pages of this paper last week, Phoenix football team chief executive Tony Pignata reportedly said he was “in agreeance” with another club about the undesirability of a recent on-field fracas.

Agreeance? Pardon me?

The word “agreement” has served the English language very well for a long time, but what the heck – let’s make up a new one.

Come to that, why doesn’t everyone just invent whatever new words happen to come into their heads? Then people can babble away in their own private languages and make even less sense than they do now.

Speaking of new words, what about “firefight” and “lockdown”? Reporters love them, presumably because they convey a sense of drama – but what do they mean?

I assume a “firefight” (the word originated in the Vietnam War) is what we used to call a gun battle, in which case the latter term seems a lot more accurate.

As for lockdown, I hear it used freely by journalists but don’t have a clue what it means. How can an entire neighbourhood be placed in lockdown, as is sometimes reported? And why are prisoners now said to be locked down when, only a few years ago, they were locked up?

A free weekend in Paremoremo with the partner of your choice for the most convincing explanation.

1 comment:

Vaughan said...

I think we can expect a lot of other made up words going forward...going backwards...and going sideways...