Friday, April 16, 2010

Has Kerry the Nazi cast a spell, or are our media watchdogs just incompetent?

Late last year the Broadcasting Standards Authority bewildered observers by upholding a couple of thoroughly spurious complaints that veteran Kiwi neo-Nazi Kerry Bolton had made against Radio New Zealand. Bolton, who is the author of books with titles like The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry and a former member of groups with names like the National Socialist Party of New Zealand, had complained to the BSA because I had had the temerity to call him a neo-Nazi and a Holocaust denier on a Radio New Zealand programme devoted to the discussion of anti-semitism.

After subjecting readers to dozens of paragraphs of tangled syntax, tortured qualifications, and glib non-sequitirs, the Broadcasting Standards Authority's report refused to take a position on whether Bolton 'is or is not' a Holocaust denier. According to the BSA, I should not have been so bold as to attach the term to this country's best-known neo-Nazi. Chris Trotter summed up the sentiments of many of those who read the BSA's decision when he called it an 'outrage', and said that it raised serious doubts about the 'ethics and competence' of the organisation.

One bemused Australian blogger jokingly suggested that the BSA's bizarre decision might have been caused by the sort of black magic in which Kerry Bolton has often dabbled. As University of Waikato scholar Wilhemmus van Leeuwen has famously shown, Bolton attempted in the 1990s to fuse his neo-Nazi politics with Satanism by forming organisations with names like The Order of the Left Hand Path and by publishing magazines that mixed denunciations of inferior races with denunciations of Christianity.

If Kerry Bolton is casting dark spells from a dungeon somewhere in Wellington in the hope of corrupting Kiwi media watchdogs, then he seems to be having some success. Only a few months after the Broadcasting Standards Authority flushed its credibility down the drain, the New Zealand Press Council has upheld complaints Bolton made about an article which appeared last December in the Christchurch paper The Press. The Press Council has found that The Press was wrong to characterise Bolton as a member of the Nationalist Alliance, the gaggle of far right grouplets formed in New Zealand in the lead-up to the 2008 elections, and that it was also mistaken when it characterised him as a Nazi. To its credit, the Press has refused to resile from its claim that Bolton was a member of the Nationalist Alliance. The paper points to an April 2008 document establishing relations between the Nationalist Alliance and an Australian far right group, and notes that Kerry Bolton signed that document on behalf of the Nationalist Alliance. Bolton appears to have convinced the Press Council that he was not, in fact, a member of the Nationalist Alliance by removing the original April 2008 document from the internet and replacing it with a new document that does not feature his signature. Despite the fact that Australian anti-racist researchers have placed copies of the original, unaltered document online, the Press Council appears to have been taken in by Bolton's clumsy manoeuvre.

Bolton used similarly dishonest tactics to confuse the Broadcasting Standards Authority last year. After the BSA asked me for evidence of Bolton's anti-semitism and Holocaust denial, I pointed them to the many pieces he had written for the Adelaide Institute, the notorious neo-Nazi 'thinktank' whose Director Frederick Toben was sent to jail last year for hate crimes. Instead of owning up to his longstanding involvement in the Adelaide Institute, Bolton removed his articles and lectures from the organisation's website. Despite the fact that many other anti-semitic texts by Bolton existed on other parts of the internet, the BSA only visited the hastily-edited Adelaide Institute site. After failing to find anything by Bolton there, the BSA decided it would not be able to decide whether the man was a Holocaust denier or not.

I doubt whether many readers of this blog will demur when I suggest that Kerry Bolton is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. His ability to spell two-syllable words and his aversion to tattoos may have given him a reputation as an 'intellectual' amongst his bonehead chums on the racist far right, but the stream of self-published books and articles he has produced over the past four decades have failed to convince the rest of us of the weight of his learning. Bolton's claims that white men discovered New Zealand thousands of years ago, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a real historical document, that Stalin was a 'secret Jew', that the Out of Africa thesis is a plot by communist anthrobiologists, and that Hitler was a pleasant, peace-loving man could all be demolished by the average eleven year-old. How is it, then, that the buffoonish Bolton has been able to pull the wool over the eyes of first the Broadcasting Standards Authority and now the Press Council? Like Chris Trotter, I suspect incompetence, rather than black magic, is at fault.

I am pleased to be able to note that Radio New Zealand has not taken the BSA's outrageous decision lying down. Radio New Zealand prepared a special submission to the BSA early this year, in an effort to get the body to reverse its error. The submission featured testimony from several experts on anti-semitism, and extensive quotes from Bolton's writings, but failed to make the BSA see reason. Radio New Zealand is now planning to take the Broadcasting Standards Authority to the High Court.

What follows is the text of a document I supplied to Radio New Zealand when they were preparing their submission to the Broadcasting Standards Authority earlier this year. I'd be interested to see a response to it from anyone who sympathises with the recent decisions of the Press Council and the BSA.

Kerry Bolton: neo-Nazi, anti-semite, Holocaust denier

The charge of Holocaust denial is a serious one, even if it carries no legal penalty in New Zealand. I am satisfied, though, that the evidence available easily establishes that Kerry Bolton has been a Holocaust denier for his whole adult life.

According to sociologist Paul Spoonley's book The Politics of Nostalgia, which was issued by Dunmore Press in 1987 and remains the only published full-length study of New Zealand's racist far right, Bolton joined the National Socialist Party of New Zealand in the mid-70s, when he was still a teenager, and belonged to a string of similar organisations in the late '70s and '80s.

The National Socialist Party modelled itself on the organisation of the same name established by Hitler, and explicitly denied the Holocaust. In 1981 Bolton founded a group called New Force, which argued in favour of apartheid at the time of the Springbok tour to New Zealand, and which issued leaflets warning against Polynesian immigration and the 'bastardisation of white New Zealand'. In the same year Bolton established a neo-pagan religious group, the Church of Odin, which explicitly barred Jews from its ranks.

In 1997 Bolton was the founder of the short-lived New Zealand Fascist Union, and in 2004 he became the National Secretary of the National Front, an organisation that became notorious for its members' violent attacks on Somali immigrants in Wellington.

Bolton has complemented his political activism with a stream of rambling, often self-published books and articles on subjects that interest him. These texts offer much evidence of his history of Holocaust denial.

In The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry, which he self-published sometime in the '80s, and which he continues to sell through his publishing house Renaissance Books, Bolton insists that the Holocaust was a fantasy created by enemies of Hitler and the white race. On page twelve of The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry Bolton claims that Jews were placed in concentration camps because they were a security threat to Germany, not because the Nazis wanted to exterminate them. One page thirty-five of his polemic Bolton insists, in the face of all the evidence, that the Nazis allowed the Jews to administer the concentration camps themselves, through a system of elected councils. On page sixty-three Bolton turns to the bombings of Dresden and of Hiroshima in 1945, and claims that these acts, and not the Nazi treatment of the Jews, constitute 'the only literal holocausts' of World War Two.

Bolton wrote The Holocaust: a sceptical inquiry some time ago, and we might might wonder whether the text was perhaps a youthful abberration, something its author has since outgrown and now regrets. A look at a long, vitriolic 'Open Letter to the War Generation' which Bolton posted to the neo-Nazi Stormfront website in 2003 should dispel any doubts about the man's continued attachment to Hitlerism and Holocaust denial. Using arguments that recall his book on the Holocaust, Bolton's letter explains why the Jews deserved the Nuremberg Laws, the Kristallnacht, and internment in the 1930s:

German Jews were rounded up as enemy aliens, since their own leaders publicly declared "war" on Hitler the very year he achieved Government, 1933, at a time when there were few restrictions put on Jews. The Jews, under Samuel Untermeyer organised a world economic boycott to try and wreck Germany economically. Jews and their communist allies organised boycotts of shops that sold Germany goods. People were beaten up by Jewish-communist thugs if they tried to resist.

Despite its insistence on the evil of the Jews, Bolton's 'Open Letter' denies that they were ever targetted for mass extermination. The Holocaust is, apparently, a myth designed to denigrate Adolf Hitler:

So what was Hitler's "crime". And why is he still being demonised, even though his alleged "war crimes" have now been shown to have been inventions of Allied war propaganda (of the type that told Britons during World War I about the bayoneting of Belgium babies and the crucifixion of Canadian soldiers, etc.). Why is he still so feared?

It is because he inaugurated a new form of government that was based on the folkish community, where "the common interest comes before self-interest"? Youth were given a sense of purpose, were clean living, worked at a stretch of Labour Service regardless of class or family wealth. Even William Shirer remarked on the callow, unhealthy English youth, in comparison to the healthy vigour of German youth.


Bolton has not always chosen neo-Nazi venues like Stormfront to express his opinions. He has written many letters to New Zealand's mainstream media expounding his views on race, Hitler, World War Two, and the Holocaust. On the 9th of September 2003 The Listener carried a letter from Bolton which commented on the controversy surrounding Joel Hayward, the Canterbury University student who wrote a Masters thesis denying the Holocaust. An internal investigation found that the thesis had been poorly supervised and that it was full of errors. Hayward eventually recanted his views and accepted the reality of the Holocaust, but he has nevertheless remained a hero to many neo-Nazis.

Bolton's letter to The Listener defends Hayward's thesis by citing the work of a series of notorious Holocaust deniers:

[Listener writer Philip] Mathews fails to acknowledge the academic credentials of the revisionists he cites, doctors Countess and Toben. Proponents of holocaust orthodoxy claim that revisionism has no academic standing. Most spokesmen for revisionism are academics, or are qualified in relevant fields such as engineering and toxicology...

Where Dr Hayward errs is in his retraction of his conclusions. The original Leuchter investigation of the alleged Auschwitz gas chambers has been professionally replicated by Germar Rudolf, chemical analysis showing that there is insufficient cyanide residue for these buildings to have been used for mass executions.


Like the Adelaide Institute's Frederick Toben, who earned his recent term in an Australian prison with violent anti-Jewish outbursts, Germar Rudolf is an anti-semite whose 'research' is designed as a defence of the Hitler regime he reveres. Rudolf was convicted of inciting racial hatred in Germany in 1995 and was jailed again in 2007 for Holocaust denial.

Bolton has attempted to be more discreet about his Holocaust denial and his neo-Nazism in recent years. He likes to use euphemisms like 'revisionist' rather than the ugly term 'Holocaust denier', and he prefers to call himself a 'radical European conservative', rather than a Nazi or a fascist. But the essence of Bolton's thought has not changed.

In his 2005 self-published booklet Nazism? An Answer to the Smear-mongers, Bolton attempts to distance himself from 'Hitlerism', by which he means 'uncritical' reverence for the founder of the Third Reich. At the beginning of his text, though, Bolton makes it clear that he has not abandoned most of his old views, including his Holocaust denial:

We are not interested in jumping on a bandwagon with communist, capitalists, and Zionists by perpetuating slander against the German people. (pg 3)

The 'slander' which Bolton refers to is, of course, the claim that the Nazis killed six million Jews. Bolton complains that 'Zionist academics' are engaging in 'the continuation of wartime propaganda' when they teach and write about the Holocaust.

In his self-published 2006 booklet Red Alert: behind the smear campaign against Australian nationalists, Bolton endorses the views of a series of veteran Holocaust deniers, but chooses to call them 'revisionists', and to deny their anti-semitism:

As for the ready smear that to question aspects of World War Two orthodox history, which is called 'revisionism', the first to question the magnitude of the actions against the Jews, to take the most contentious eg of revisionism, were left-wing academics, the American Professor Harry Elmer Barnes, and the French Resistance hero and concentration camp inmate, Professor Paul Rassinger. (pg 24)

In this passage, Bolton attempts to present Holocaust denial, which he has given the euphemism 'revisionism', as the creation of respected liberal scholars unblemished by any association with the racist right. In reality, Harry Elmer Barnes was a onetime liberal historian who adopted far right views in his later years, and won notoreity for his explicit denials of the Holocaust. Paul Rassinger was a resistance fighter in World War Two, but in the postwar years he lost his old allies by becoming a denier of the Holocaust. Rassinger claimed to hold to the same views which had made him a resistance fighter, but he was widely disbelieved, and in 1964 it was revealed that he had written many articles for a neo-fascist journal called Le Rivarol under a pseudonym. Neither Rassinger nor Barnes' Holocaust denial ever enjoyed the intellectual respectability Bolton claims for it.

If we examine Bolton's book Thinkers of the Right: Challenging Materialism, which he self-published as recently as 2008, and which purports to be a series of potted biographies of twentieth century intellectuals like Martin Heidegger and New Zealand's ARD Fairburn, we find old prejudices alive and well.

In his book's chapter on the Italian Futurist poet and fascist Filippo Marinetti, for example, Bolton eulogises the short-lived Italian Social Republic which Benito Mussolini founded in the north of Italy after he had lost most of his country to partisans and Allied invaders. Bolton presents the Social Republic as an almost utopian enterprise:

The fascist faithful established a last stand, in the north, named the Italian Social Republic. With a new idealism, even former communist and liberal leaders were drawn to the Republic. The Manifesto of Verona was drafted, restoring various liberties, and championing labour against plutocracy within the vision of a united Europe.

In reality, the Italian Social Republic was one of the purest expressions of Nazism ever to exist outside of Nazi Germany. Hitler's troops propped up the state, Nuremberg-style laws prevented races mixing, and Jews were deported in their thousands to death camps north of the Alps. The Manifesto of Verona called for Mussolini's movement to return to its fascist roots, demanded the expulsion of Jews from Europe, and called for the continent's warring powers to unite and establish a single empire that could rule all of Africa and Asia.

No one who was not a committed neo-Nazi could write favourably about the Italian Social Republic. Bolton's support for Mussolini's last government, and his failure to mention the role of that government in the Holocaust, show that he still holds the views expressed so explicitly in his book The Holocaust Myth and in his 2003 letters to The Listener and to Stormfront.

48 Comments:

Blogger Julie said...

Wow, that is very bizarre indeed. Good luck with the RNZ appeal, good to see they are doing it, wonder how they can afford it?!

2:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nazis shold imitate their fuhrer...by blowing their brains out

3:22 pm  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

It seems to me the BSA and the Press Council assume the people they are dealing with are honest, how touchingly sweet!

3:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he lived in a country with decent anti-Nazi laws like Austria Bolton would be in prison.

3:58 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

Great post Scott. I too tend to think gross incompetence must be the answer as to why the BSA ect. would come to such odd conclusions. These ideologically driven pseudo-academics who scream about freedom of speech sure are quick to shut down opposing arguments citing defamation etc. Such hypocrisy we can expect from such a bunch of moronic fruitloops - what I wouldn't have expected was for the BSA and others to uphold them. Useless is a word which springs to mind.

4:12 pm  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

I wonder whether the BSA's apparent incapacity to respond rationally to such clear and unequivocal evidence has something to do with changing attitudes towards the whole idea of objective truth.

I don't think I'm the only person in New Zealand to have noticed the refusal of authority figures to take an assertive and unequivocal position against those who deny well-established facts.

Think of the official response to those who decry compulsory immunisation. Rather than reaffirm the scientific and ethical arguments in favour of enforcing this fundamental social obligation, health officials make allowances for the "genuinely held beliefs" of immunisation refuseniks.

I saw another example, this time on British television, involving secondary school science teachers who point-blank refused to state unequivocally that biological evolution was a fact. It was they insisted merely a "scientific" truth - just one among many "truths".

Did the BSA uphold Bolton's views because, deep down, they no longer believe that it is possible to say something is - or isn't - true or false, and that it is therefore inappropriate for broadcasters to condemn people for telling historical lies? Have they succumbed to the post-modern relativism which denies altogether the very possibility of objective truth and falsehood?

That it refused RNZ's appeal strongly suggests that something of the sort has indeed infected the BSA's collective brain.

5:05 pm  
Anonymous Keri H said...

Chris Trotter - I think you have hit the nail on the head -pomo relativism has quite a bit to answer for...

Edward also, to my mind, got it right with 'pseudo-academic.'

Kia kaha RNZ - and Maps for keeping us up with the play (you know what I mean...)

5:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because I believe in freedom of speech I can't agre with Anon 3:58 who feels Bolton should be in prison for his crazy views I do feel he should be treated with distain at best or just ignored anything else just gives oxygen to this nut-bar
Ray

5:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolton uses his freedom of speech to bring pain to others. National Front members have harrassed elderly Jewish people, causing some of them to die prematurely, killed a young gay man in the cells in Wellington, beaten Somalis, and fired guns at mosques - and the people who did these things were 'activated' by Bolton and other senior Nazis' words.

So Bolton should be in prison.

A case can be made for his execution. Do what israel did to Eichmann.

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone should get onto wikipedia and sort out bolton's self-regarding profile:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerry_Bolton

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BSA includes Tapu Misa.

She belongs to a strange Christian sect with some fundamentalist beliefs.

Don't count on her to defend ideas about rationality.

8:36 pm  
Blogger Andrew Dean said...

Agreed that somebody should edit the Kerry Boulton wiki article so that it has less of his own voice in it...

But it's just one of those battles against stupidity and prejudice...

9:27 pm  
Anonymous Keri H said...

What evidence, yet another fucking anon (now to be called by me 'a yaka') that Tapu Misa belongs to 'a strane christian sect with some fundamentalist beliefs'?

9:44 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I know what Trotter is saying but the problem is not "relatavism" it is the problem of truth verification and that has been with us for hundreds of years and is also a philosophic problem and it extends to - is inevitably connected to - science. This is not to say there are no useful truths...

In fact in some ways the opposite problem occurs when people are naively surprised (say) when things fail.

For example - in engineering it is well known that a machine or device can most highly likely fail when it is brand new and so on (or very very old - each device has a unique "bucket curve") [and also the electron for example can be place only within a "probability density (or Gaussian) curve"] - in fact if you look at medicine as on example a true scientific assessment of a possible "outcome" would be - well it would simply deal with probabilities.

There is danger in defaulting to a "truth".

I am pretty convinced by Evolution but a good thinker keeps his / her mind free to alternative ideas or possibilities. That is why evolution has always been referred to as a theory - indeed Relativity and Newton's theories (which got us (or Them) to the moon (highly probable!) and built bridges) were also called theories.

Newton's - immensely useful - laws of motion, acceleration etc fail in certain conditions. Einstein's also don't work for everything and so on.

We don't have to be frightened of alternative ideas - most people - given a good can study or training can learn to differentiate and know about these ways of thinking.

I agree with teachers not categorically saying evolution is not a fact - even though it very highly likely is.

You simply have too accept we are - post the so-called "Enlightenment" in probabalistic Universe.

None of this denies that Bolton is a crack pot by the way! But he is likely harmless.

I mean - how big is his Nazi Party?

After all we all have our foibles and strange hobbies!

The same applies to the Holocaust - some people will never believe it - putting them in jail wont help (either because they really don't care if it was true or not or they are "brainwashed") - being in jail didn't change Hitler - it helped him. There with Hess he wrote Mein Kampf a very stupid and boring (I read some of it) BUT enormously influential book.

2:19 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Those "Nazis" in the picture seem to disprove Darwin's theory that human's "advanced" by selecting for the best traits!!

They all look like something from a freak show! Are they Aussies?

2:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is the article bolton complained about. the journalist made the mistake of accepting bolton's claim that he is a not a racist. this allowed bolton to go on to claim that is was unfair to describe as a nazi, because nazis are by definition racist.

http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=15075

2:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps good to see the article connects martin doutre and his 'theories' to the neo-nazi movement...

2:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pps richard - the nazis in that photo are all nzers...

2:36 am  
Blogger Rohan G said...

I used the BSA feedback feature to submit the following:


I write to comment on the complaint by Kerry Bolton against Radio New Zealand and in particular BSA's administrative responce to this complaint. In that responce the BSA board majority determined the following:


"To label Mr Bolton as an active and “hardcore” Holocaust denier requires, in the majority’s view, much more than one website page in which an undated quote attributed to Mr Bolton referred to the Holocaust as “fictitious blather”. Dr Hamilton has not been able to provide any other supporting material – such as publications or quotes – that would lend support for his assertion that Mr Bolton is actively, and industriously, promoting Holocaust denial within this country."


It is my conclusion that the BSA majority has been incompetent is its assessment of Kerry Bolton's complaint against RNZ and that this incompetence is the key reason for his complaint being upheld. Your claim that Dr Hamilton has been unable to provide supporting evidence for his assertions, however Dr Hamilton has pointed out that Mr Bolton has acted dishonestly and removed his name as listed the author from various Holocaust denying texts available on the internet so as to strengthen the case for his complaint.

It is not too late for BSA to remedy this situation by reevaluating Dr Hamilton's case that Mr Bolton is indeed a long time Holocaust denier. This is a serious matter and that requires greater diligence than has been displayed so far by the BSA.

Sincerely
Rohan Gaiswinkler
Hobart, Australia

10:49 am  
Anonymous tertius said...

Jewish propoganda has the holocaust death toll at exactly 6 million like the 6 points of the star of david not 5.8 or 6.2 its a rough estimate and we all have to believe it otherwise we are labeled racist, far right or crazy...look at the facts the American OSS (later CIA) absorbed much of the Nazi secret service in 1946 to monitor communism in Western Europe...communism is related to the jewish kibbutz theory of ownership and was promoted by Marx; furthermore without ww2 Isreal would not have been re instituted with a severe nuclear state and to religious fundamentals the holy land must be occupied for the messiah to return. Lastly read the old testament to see that the jews are specially chosen by God and are "superior" to other races ...sound familiar?

5:28 pm  
Anonymous Keri H said...

Tertius: no.

Sounds like a lot of tortuous conspiracy nonsense to me.

O, by the way all readers, my acronymic coining was, of course, "yafa".

5:43 pm  
Anonymous tertius said...

What is it RT do skinheads only come from Aussie or r all NZers still hung up about Australia and you therefore fall into the trap of nationalism and stereotypes, despite your liberal overtones. This is the first grand step towards national socialism...welcome to the dark side...they are among you but dont all appear as skinhead fashion fools..they are like goths or punks or even hip hop gangsta rappers. Are you afraid of them...no of course not...you may be labelled a racist and thats not kosha in hollywood . The New Age mantra "to thine own self be true" is embedded deep in the Nazi doctrines, Indian mysticism (hence the swastika) and 19th\20th century occultism including Crowley and Blavasky. All these signs and symbols are seen throughout popular culture in movies, music, art, buildings and brands and corporate logos also...By serving your SELF first...even worshiping THE SELF in some extremes. WHO DO YOU REALLY SERVE...WHO OR WHAT IS THY MASTER?? you fucking black nazi homo jew commy cunt

5:56 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
pps richard - the nazis in that photo are all nzers."

I know that I was making a joke - it was a reference to Robyn Williams (rather silly but harmless) comments on David Letterman.

6:05 pm  
Anonymous tertius said...

So is Isreal (which means "struggles with God' in Hebrew) A NUCLEAR STATE or not...dont wash these facts of as conspiracy nonsense KERI H. Dont you "conspire" to get published...or some may say SELL YOURSELF like a WHORE who do you serve CHILD

6:07 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"tertius said...

Jewish propoganda has the holocaust death toll at exactly 6 million like the 6 points of the star of david not 5.8 or 6.2 its a rough estimate and we all have to believe it otherwise we are labeled racist, far right or crazy...look at the facts the American OSS (later CIA) absorbed much of the Nazi secret service in 1946 to monitor communism in Western Europe...communism is related to the jewish kibbutz theory of ownership and was promoted by Marx; furthermore without ww2 Isreal would not have been re instituted with a severe nuclear state and to religious fundamentals the holy land must be occupied for the messiah to return. Lastly read the old testament to see that the jews are specially chosen by God and are "superior" to other races ...sound familiar?"

Sounds pretty garbled...rework this...too many inconsistencies...I can only give this a mark of 20%

6:08 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"...movies, music, art, buildings and brands and corporate logos also...By serving your SELF first...even worshiping THE SELF in some extremes. WHO DO YOU REALLY SERVE...WHO OR WHAT IS THY MASTER?? you fucking black nazi homo jew commy cunt."

You've blown my cover!

6:12 pm  
Anonymous Keri H said...

Tertius - you are obviously - given what you have posted - quite deranged. Or very very drunk. Or drugged up to your eyeballs. Or very possibly, all three.

Will not respond to your idiocies again. Heoi.

6:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get lost tertius you anti-semite.

12:24 am  
Blogger maps said...

Thanks very much for the comments, folks. I am pleased that Radio New Zealand is taking a stand over this issue, especially at a time when they are being leant on unfairly by the government for supposedly spending too much money.

I think Radio New Zealand realises that this is an issue which involves free speech. If we can't call Bolton what he clearly is, then what sort of precedent is set? Bolton himself is a marginal figure, a man who would be pitiable if his views were not so obnoxious; the BSA's mistaken decision, though, has wide import. How can we have any sort of rational political discussion, if we can't hold political actors to their words and to their past actions?

I think Chris could well be correct when he says that a sort of lazy relativism has informed the BSA's thinking.

I think it is possible that even when they were presented with unequivocal evidence of Bolton's Holocaust denial like the Listener letter of 2003 or the favourable remarks made about the Italisn Social Republic last year, members of the BSA thought to themselves 'well, he might have been a Holocaust denier then, but can we be absolutely, super-super sure he is one right now?'

One of the most irritating features of the dumbed-down parody of postmodernism* that has become part of public consciousness is the erection of ridiculously formidable standards by which truth-claims must be judged. These unreasonable epistemic standards are applied to truth-claims which are supposedly held by the 'establishment', but they are quickly dispensed with when kooky beliefs which are deemed fashionably 'subversive' are considered. 9/11 'Truthers', for example, go to ridiculous lengths to query the immense weight of evidence which shows planes were hijacked and flown into the WTC, and then ignore all sorts of contradictions and anomalies when they make the case for their bizarre theories of an 'inside job'.

Tertius' comments serve to remind us that, no matter how ridiculous they seem, anti-semitism and Holocaust denial still appeal to some minds in our midst.

*note: I use the words 'dumbed down parody of postmodernism' to avoid the slings and arrows of Giovanni, who argued vigorously with my perhaps simplistic attacks on postmodernism this time last year:
http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2009/02/snow-descartes-and-derrida.html

10:12 am  
Blogger anarchist said...

What consequences does the BSA's decision have? I had a look at their website, and I couldn't find any reference to any powers they might have.

9:59 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

tertius is right though - Israel IS a nuclear state - and the simplistic dismissal that Israel was not involved in 9/11 is very unwise as Israel is massively assisted b the U.S.

So that is one scenario. The U.S. and Israel, have been constantly aggressive and have made endless invasions, assassinations, bombings, and more. So these nations should not be the "friends of the Left or of liberals.

Obama is planning more invasions of Iran and other nations. HE is dangerous. Bolton is almost nothing...

How many people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? 100,000 ...1 million? And the Palestinians - Israel and the US don't attack them? They are now going to pull out of Palestine and be nice to them?

The exposure of Bolton is important - BUT to dismiss those who are rightly skeptical as relativistic show Maps and Trotter to be massively naive.

It is possible to invoke skepticism without defaulting to total skepticism. That is why the JBT criteria for truth determination are so important.

It is nothing to do withe a "dumbed down" postmodernism - these epistemological criteria are not relevant(directly) to postmodernist relativism or any relativism. Using these criteria doesn't mean it is necessary to invoke relativism - but we do need to be completely sure of our facts before we malign someone publicly.

In my opinion the BSA were rightly skeptical. I have heard Maps accuse and attack people on before and he has often had to retract. The facts have been wrong, or he has overreacted.

There is a danger being here on a stage and getting endless praise from cronies for what is mostly irrelevant mumbo jumbo... no wonder tertius is angry

And when I dared to question the truth of 9/11 I was shouted down and treated as a mad poet - that 9/11 may have been an inside job (it might not have - who knows?? (no one for sure except those who did it))doesn't mean I am one of the Nazi's - or a "Truther" etc

So re-read "Animal farm" before you all get swept up in all of this...

10:54 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

"I wonder whether the BSA's apparent incapacity to respond rationally to such clear and unequivocal evidence has something to do with changing attitudes towards the whole idea of objective truth."

"I don't think I'm the only person in New Zealand to have noticed the refusal of authority figures to take an assertive and unequivocal position against those who deny well-established facts."

"I think Chris could well be correct when he says that a sort of lazy relativism has informed the BSA's thinking."

"One of the most irritating features of the dumbed-down parody of postmodernism* that has become part of public consciousness is the erection of ridiculously formidable standards by which truth-claims must be judged. These unreasonable epistemic standards are applied to truth-claims which are supposedly held by the 'establishment', but they are quickly dispensed with when kooky beliefs which are deemed fashionably 'subversive' are considered."

At the risk of sounding like one of those cronies Richard mentions, I very much agree with the above sentiments of both Chris and Scott.
And I disagree somewhat with Richard. I don't think it wise to confuse a purely epistemological issue with talk of the state of Israel and 9/11 etc. This seems irrelevant and superfluous to necessity.
Also, I don't think Scott dismisses people merely because they are skeptical, but because they are skeptical in the face of overwhelming evidence to the point where they actually try and argue the opposite. I therefore think it unfair to call Chris and Scott naive to consider the ramifications of pop-culture relativity in this case.

Skepticism in science and academia in general are employed constantly and are a central requirement. The rhetoric Richard seems to invoke comes fairly close to the "scientists are dogmatists" meme which has infested popular culture, in part probably due to the lazy pop-relativism we see every day and in part possibly due to attacks against science from disenfranchised idiots such as intelligent design "researchers" (not the followers) and others.

11:34 am  
Blogger Edward said...

And I think it might be aptly termed 'dumbed down' relativism. Think how many times vaguely interesting but ultimately useless comments are made along the lines of "if time is in fact linear" or some such. It makes me think of the smug look on the face of one of the characters on Monty Python's 'Meaning of Life' during the 'Death' scene - as though they've just said something very insightful. I've even come across someone trying to argue that stone artifacts and pottery were 'socially constructed concepts' rather than material objects, and that we could therefore not know whether that stone flake is in fact a stone flake. As someone who is actively engaged with the 'debate' surrounding NZ pseudo archaeology, I find relativistic arguments are common place amongst many people and are often employed as a last resort and ultimate justification when their other arguments have failed dismally. And, as Scott points out, it also seems to be used on the defensive when 'authorities' such as the BSA say "who can know?" It's like a mechanic saying "who can know how the combustion engine works?" Perhaps it's due to relativistic magic?

As for the BSA's skepticism, yes, it's good to check the facts. But they obviously didn't. Also, Richard says he's heard Maps have to retract things on here before. I think it's a good thing rather than a bad thing - it shows he will accept the evidence even if it goes against earlier statements he made.

I would also point out that the opposite has been true on this blog. During the Dargaville Museum Scandal Scott and I made a series of strong attacks against what was going on up there - the reaction on this blog? Mostly relativistic excuses about "different ideas" and "small town attitudes" combined with the old hyper-skepticism about our arguments as to certain individual's agendas. This was despite appropriate training, local knowledge, and actual conversations with the Museum myself and Scott had. It was a case of lazy relativism and apathetic intellectuals too scared to take a solid stance.
I believe that it is possible that the same can be said of the BSA's take on Bolton. Obviously i'm not fond of the pop-culture form of relativism which exerts itself past rational usage such as might be applied to aspects of culture or observation and into the realm of reality itself and all forms of knowledge therein. This, I think, is what Chris and Scott are talking about.

11:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Taylor also thinks Mao and Stalin were great leaders.

He is irrational...

11:56 am  
Anonymous JAFA said...

Having had the urge to read most of these comments and those in the link maps suggested I would like to weigh in on the relativism debate.

I would like to reiterate Giovanni's concern that very few of the so-called relativists are named next to their so-called relativistic views. I agree that using a type of relativism that suggests all views are as good as another as a defense when faced with a critique of ones ideas is a cheap trick. However, there seems to be more to the critique of relativism than just aiming at the people who use it as a last resort.

I would like to point to the work done by Alan Sokal in his book Fashionable Nonsense win which he follows up the article which prompted the Sokal Affair with a more rigorous analysis of the way so-called postmodernist authors use/abuse science. In that book he tends away from the critiques of the people who are popularly associated with the postmodern, such as Foucault and Derrida, yet still critiques Baudrillard. Though I am not that impressed with Sokal's book, I am happy that he read the books of those he dismisses as fashionable nonsense and exempts many of the people considered post-modern from his scorn.

I hardly see why even a flimsy parody of the postmodern needs to be connected to Bolton or the other people written of as pseudo-historians.

But it is so tedious to be defending something which so eloquently would defend itself if given the chance to speak. The postmodern, Mr Trotter, is nothing more than the existentialism of times past if it is reduced to undermining the ability to make a stand on particular issues.

I would finally like to congratulate Richard's spirit in responding to this and other threads on readingthemaps.

11:00 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Thank you. I know the book. Maps showed it to me once! But I feel that Sokal was somewhat hoist with his own petard. Just as Stewart and Harris were in trying to "catch out" Modernism...in the Ern Malley affair...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ern_Malley

Now I am not for relativism (or necessarily for postmodernism - however one defines that term - holus bolus) my point is that both Trotter and Edward are dealing in generalities...vague stuff about some kind of liberal attitude is making people less certain whether Bolton is bad guy and so on.

Clearly Bolton's theories are wrong (and potentially dangerous - but how to be sure if you are on the BSA?) BUT the BSA are not following some philosophic view of relativism or whatever - they are rightly cautious. Or perhaps they are stupid or pro Nazi - who knows..?

Of course Maps is right to expose Nazis and others but to then jump to some kind of relativism as the reason the complaint against him was upheld is dubious.

I also feel that Edward is typical of many scientists - and I feel science is great if used rightly - who in fact don't really understand science!

(O.k. I'm being a little provocative here! Note the "typical" )

Part of the problem is that he (or they) even misunderstood (and) what postmodernism is...easy to do as the are so many 'definitions' of what it is!... (I am not a big proslytizer of postmodernism - a lot of their ideas I am afraid are way beyond me) - he has shown on here also he doesn't understand modern art and is probably even frightened of it..now a true scientist is also a philosopher, an artist, a poet (even if he or she writes no philosophy and does no art etc) and on and on - a real and major problem we have is the stupid limitations of science and the inability of (many) scientists to see the impossibility of ever gaining knowledge of the things in themselves. They will never know the Why of the universe for example.

(Not that this is a big worry - especially in the light the more important matter of what one should eat for breakfast!)

This is has nothing to do with postmodernism. Nor does relativism necessarily arise from postmodernism. Relativism and skepticism are tools only in my view. So Descartes e.g. used skepticism to rethink everything. He then shed it.

Even Wittgenstein* - who was initially an engineer and would have known how a car engine worked -was dubious of the possibility of any knowledge per se. I don't mean things such as "This is my hand " quite but...his ideas (in Logic) meant Russell and Whitehead were stymied and also he knew the problem of language (interpretation and transmission of knowledge) which is overlooked by many rather "wooden scientists" with Dr Watson mentalities.

Of course all this is rather like fiddling while Rome burns but are there not hugely more important issues afoot in any case? (Maybe not - after all these issues are all interlinked I suppose...)

But I feel we can unite against Bolton inter alia without being diverted by Trotter and so on about whether it is a general malaise of liberal "anything can be true thinking" or something ... caused by an epidemic of alternative or original or whatever thinking! It is dubious that many people would be or are influenced by such a way of thinking...

Once - when I was a boy - they said that Rock 'n Roll was dangerous!

*But I am probably quite wrong here - I don't really understand W either. Actually Maps was the person who introduced me to W! fascinating but difficult thinker - for me...

PS tertius is special case (he may well have been drunk or on the wacky)...he is misunderstood...but his raves clearly confuse people on here...but some of the anon's comments on here are really really crazy...

12:05 am  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolton uses his freedom of speech to bring pain to others."

Yes.

" National Front members have harrassed elderly Jewish people, causing some of them to die prematurely, killed a young gay man in the cells in Wellington, beaten Somalis, and fired guns at mosques - and the people who did these things were 'activated' by Bolton and other senior Nazis' words."

Can you give reference /examples of this - as this is indeed serious if true.

" So Bolton should be in prison."

Possibly.



" A case can be made for his execution. Do what israel did to Eichmann."

That's taking it all a bit far. Actually I read a book about how they abducted Eichmann. But better to have given that job of judgment to the UN or some more independent body.

Israel is itself becoming more and more like a little Nazi Germany itself. That is the problem. they were bashed, so now THEY bash - the Palestinians for example, or they carry out blizkrieg attacks on Iraq.

12:15 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Richard I think you're being a little defensive and, I would argue, aggressive in your response and portrayal of me as a wooden and unimaginative person who doesn't understand science.
My problem is not with 'post-modernism', however you wish to define that, or, indeed with relativity. I thought I made it quite clear my problem is with what I see as a pop-culture relativity. Now, I may be wrong or right on that score, and i'm happy to be shown otherwise, but i'm afraid your rhetoric doesn't do that.

I would like to know how it is I don't understand science Richard? You say i'm dealing in generalities, well, yes, that's correct. I'm not talking about relativism in the sense a philosopher might, i'm talking about it in a social sense which is generalisation.

Also, I would like to know why this is relevant or why you think it even true:

"he has shown on here also he doesn't understand modern art and is probably even frightened of it..now a true scientist is also a philosopher, an artist, a poet (even if he or she writes no philosophy and does no art etc) and on and on - a real and major problem we have is the stupid limitations of science and the inability of (many) scientists to see the impossibility of ever gaining knowledge of the things in themselves."

I don't understand modern art? I'm afraid of it? I have probably made it clear i'm not a fan of much modern art, and prefer the more typical baroque period and earlier. However there is in fact much in modern art I do enjoy. As for being afraid of it, it's more that I simply don't understand some of it such as an empty bucket in a white room or laminated fecal matter on display. If this makes me a bad human scientist then what can I say?

Obviously you have a problem with my philosophical positioning within some form of empiricism and would rather I embrace poetry and art as a means of understanding? I'm afraid this merely shows how little you know me. My background before archaeology was in the arts - I was an animator for several years before finishing my minor in art history. Not that I feel the need to justify myself to you, but I think it important to know your polarisation of my character is unfounded.

Science today, as it was taught to me, involves very much post-modernist critique. From observer bias to phenomenology, we have to try and be aware of competing ways of seeing. It seems to me you are the one with the dismal understanding of science Richard. You keep on deferring to skepticism yet I nor Scott not Chris Trotter said otherwise. You are setting up a strawman.

While I rather enjoy reading some of your comments and find you a creative, if not completely eccentric, character I am at odds with you on this. I posited what I thought, not as a scientist but as myself.
Tell me, what is your explanation for the BSA failure to take a solid stance? You talk much but say little.

9:50 am  
Anonymous mike said...

It would be quite interesting to hear how the BSA define their process in legal terms when determining such cases.

For example, do claims have to be proven "beyond reasonable doubt" or only on the "balance of probabilities"?

It seems we have a situation where only written submissions are made and the process relies upon the BSA members themselves to assess competing claims abouts facts and evidence.

While this set-up might save a lot of money and trouble (compared for instance with oral submission and cross-examination), it would seem to have been proven rather flimsy in this case.

Do the BSA members or their minions have competence or training in doing online "forensic work"? If not, an appeal could be lodged on this basis.

Perhaps a complaint to police could be made about Bolton falsifying evidence, fraud and showing contempt for legal process? (This might be hard to prove, of course).

The BSA need to be made very aware that the internet is a mutable domain of evidence that requires a higher standard of rigourous investigation than they have shown.

11:40 am  
Anonymous JAFA said...

Although it is tempting to jump into a brawl about who is fearful of what and whatnot, perhaps we could all sit down together and listen to the best lecturer I have ever heard, Rick Roderick.

Roderick gives an impassioned and persuasive discussion of many of the issues of postmodernity and relativism in his 'Self under Siege' series,(available at http://larshjo.tihlde.org/roderick/ ) He does this by going through a number of the most important philosophers of the last fifty years and discussing some of their central themes.

Basically, he makes his way to Heideggar and Sartre without leapfrogging Nietzsche, Freud and Marx (though Scott does deal in Marx in the earlier post).

Plus, as an added treat, Roderick speaks in a West Texas drawl and uses West Texan anecdotes to jazz up the dialogue. While some have called him the Bill Hicks of philosophy, I'd call him the Slavoj Zizek of Texas, minus the Lacan.

Of course, all three series are worth a listen. The eight on Nietzsche are brilliant and the eight on human values are also super-duper.

4:37 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

.......Edward.... great stuff! I like the cut of your jib!

Points well made...more than meets the eye...my science points are rather

complex...interesting...rather tangled up...no worries...arts you were in eh?...not a wooden (over specialising (head in the sand) scientist then...rare?

The BSA (not the motor bike!) - can lead a horse or camel to water but cant make it drink...

world is probably focked..Greens seem to think so...everything melting...ALL..place heads in rearends...good byes... or maybe there is hope?...

Don't worry...there is still hope...(for we have a Pope!)

Trotter and Maps still wrong to diverge into nonsensical theory about relativism but there you go ...still good sorts...Trotter the man for history and high power politics...tertius is Mad againe!!
..........................

9:02 pm  
Anonymous mike said...

"world is probably focked..Greens seem to think so...everything melting...ALL..place heads in rearends...good byes... or maybe there is hope?...

Don't worry...there is still hope...(for we have a Pope!)"



Richard, appreciate your - perhaps unintentional - homage to the master of "...", Samuel Beckett.

8:32 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Richard, you are an interesting sort. I don't have an in depth understanding of much of the poetry, modern art and literature you Scott and others talk of on here, but I rather enjoy trying to understand and learn. My training in dealing with material evidence and my philosophical outlook on life leads me to indignation at naive (hard?) relativism - sometimes when one walks into a wall it really does hurt, whether 'wall' is a social construct or not. Sometimes a holocaust denier is a holocaust denier in the same way, though it seems the BSA might object, perhaps accepting 'revisionist' in its stead.

9:42 am  
Blogger Richard said...

mike said...

"world is probably focked..Greens seem to think so...everything melting...ALL..place heads in rearends...good byes... or maybe there is hope?...

Don't worry...there is still hope...(for we have a Pope!)"

Richard, appreciate your - perhaps unintentional - homage to the master of "...", Samuel Beckett."

And Joyce of 'Ulysses' but Beckett I am a great fan of - very funny writer. But also to Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. Also Ron Riddell... (his jocular outlook etc)... I use the ellipses all the time... Less on here as we are perhaps trying to be rational...(Keri Hume uses lower case or ellipses a lot in "The Bone People" also as well as the interior monologue internal dialogue - rather it is - stream of consciousness... just finished the second half of that book..started the first half in 1991!!...hmm.... strange, dark, and light and extraordinary in many ways...very powerful if sometimes confusing...Beckett is great of course...Celine also uses ellipses...but I seem to just like doing it...

5:08 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Edward - I was bit heavy on you - I don't think Scott or I understand poetry, art etc (who does?) that much either - Jack Ross is the man for knowing literature and poetics and Historicism and Postmodernism - as well as Giovanni and probably Ross Brighton..I don't agree with relativism (not for me but it has interesting ideas inside it) ... I studied Philosophy (up to stage 3) and the relativism I am referring to is connected to the problem of truth criteria...and the Gettier objections and so on - nothing to do with postmodernism as such ....*

..of course a bus [especially a stepped in front of bus] is a bus is bus is a bus...!!

..as to science..my favourite books when I was young as well as novels and "classics" and etc etc & poetry etc etc were my scientific book club books (and also Gerald Durrell's books), my huge book about Darwin and evolution and one on astronomy, others on biology ...I wanted to be a biochemist...and so on....in fact in 1987 I was thing of becoming a professional engineer...but I slid out of all that (too hard) and studied literature...and some philosophy...

...but everything is beyond me..only Dr X has the answers....

...we are strange, beating things..

...the social constructs...not sure what that means ...but we interpret everything we see or know about via language which is the big problem... or can be a big issue...and also via our own concept of those concepts, our own experiences...which is indeed social experience as we are social beings..so science and sociology and all the ologies are interconnected....

* "and so on" is courtesy of the Kurt Vonnegut of 'Breakfast of Champions').......

6:11 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Someone suggested the BSA deliberations should be more like a Court and with a legal basis where one can posit limitations...

A very simple 'solution' could be obtained if it was indeed illegal to deny the Holocaust.

Now whether that is desirable is anther huge question but while no one likes the law and the police etc you don't for example (usually) stand in front of a judge and invoke some obscure philosophy as a defense...the Law with all its complexities and contradictions is at least on a kind of ethical-philosophical-historical-scientific footing.

If it was illegal to be a Nazi or Holocaust Denier or to express opinions about NZ being other than originally settled by Maori then it would make things easier.

But of course that is like the anti smacking laws (which I support) and I even support having law outlawing booze (which is a drug and we do have laws against drugs, and knowing the damage booze does I would support such a law....)..so maybe we have to make it a legal issue eventually... people don't seem to be able to control themselves...

Who put the 'moc' in democracy?

But I think the danger of Nazism reappearing is possible and so ugly we may have to build in laws to stop it.

6:30 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

Richard, no worries. I think I understand what you mean.

Speaking of pseudo-historians and broadcasting - I just heard on Radio Live at about 11:30am this morning (23rd April) the end of a conversation between a female presenter and one of her callers (defending the Government accepting the UN declaration of indigenous rights) where she opined that "the jury was still out" on whether Maori were indigenous or not and that the topic of NZ prehistory was "very contentious". She then went on to use the pop-relativity we were just talking about with "it's just an opinion, people who think they are indigenous are just putting forward an opinion.."

Suffice to say that between my cringing and swearing at the car radio I didn't catch the name of the ignoramus lazy presenter. I had a look on RadioLive's website but can't identify which presenter it was - maybe Karyn Hay and Andrew Fagan but not sure. Does anyone else know so I can perhaps send them a letter pointing out a few issues?

12:37 pm  
Blogger merc said...

Ron Riddell is a beautiful man and I owe him a great debt of gratitude...for starting me into the public arena, thanks Ron.

11:05 am  

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