Blogging has suddenly become the subject of popular fascination in New Zealand, thanks to the revelations of the manifold connections between the National Party and right-wing bloggers like Cameron Slater, the proprietor of Whale Oil. I've been too busy to post anything about the ongoing scandal here, and my services are probably not required, anyway, given the excellent coverage that bloggers like Danyl McLaughlan
and Giovanni Tiso
I have, though, been following and commenting
on the bewildering events of the past few days on that bastard offspring of the blog, twitter. Here are five 'tweses' on what we may as well call Whalegate.
I was relieved that the anonymous hacker of Whale Oil gave his or her loot to Nicky Hager, rather than Penny Bright. A comparison of Hager's work with the stuff that turns up at Uncensored
, the magazine Penny patronises
, shows the truth of my mate Matthew Dentith's
argument that conspiracy theories can be robust as well as wacky.
Anyone who doubts Nicky Hager's ability to undertake sustained and painstaking research should read his long essay
about radar stations and codebreaking on New Zealand's home front during World War Two. Hager's text was published by a peace group, and was undoubtedly motivated by his hostility to our contemporary as well as byegone spooks, but like all good pieces of scholarship it has a value that transcends its author's politics. As I've said too many times on this blog, bias is a precondition
for good research. Nicky may not consider it an honour, but Paul Janman and I created the character of Felix Quail
after becoming preoccupied with his descriptions of life in isolated wartime radar stations.
I was amused by the way Cameron Slater attempted to dismiss Nicky Hager as a pseudo-scholar, when Whale Oil has featured plugs for such towering works of scholarship
as Noel Hilliam's book-length claim that ancient Greeks sailed all the way to New Zealand and established a large society here, before apparently being vapourised by latecomer Maori.
The febrile comments threads of Whale Oil and Kiwiblog have been scrutinised over the past week. I've documented a couple of forays
into the Kiwiblog bear pit
. Abandon hope of rational discussion, all ye who enter.
Talkback radio host and columnist Kerre Woodham, whose strident, unselfconscious manner would be well-suited to a Kiwiblog comments thread, claimed in yesterday's Herald
that the sort of dirty politics Nicky Hager has documented have been 'around' for 'tens of thousands of years'. I know that Cameron Slater is a Neanderthal, Kerre, but I think you've made the same sort of mistake as the bank teller who adds a couple of zeros to a statement. I don't think Palaeolithic humans, like my mate Mungo Man
, deserve to be associated with the primitive behaviour that Hager has documented...
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]