The latest NZ Herald article about the upcoming TPP signing is a perfect example of the subliminal messaging used to undermine dissent in New Zealand. The article’s headline is about police door knocking on ‘known activists’, which for any sane person should have alarm bells ringing. The article proceeds to undermine those alarm bells by beginning with an example of police door knocking in Dunedin, at the house of a transgender activist Scout Barbara-Evans.
Here is where they should have ended. Yet, the reporter, or likely, the editor, chose instead to give us irrelevant facts in order to discredit this person via subtle means. What I refer to is the irrelevant fact that they go by the pronoun ‘they’. Sounds bizarre, because it is. But that has no bearing on the story whatsoever. The story is about the TPP, not about transgender pronouns.
Sadly, people don’t really care about the trials and tribulations of the transgender community. Society should probably focus on this issue more. However, for the case at hand it is irrelevant. What’s more, the Herald knows that the average person who reads the paper is, like most New Zealanders, pretty socially liberal, but does not care for unconventional topics as how a transgender should be addressed. This characterises Scout as unconventional, and therefore, less likely to be listened to.
In this way, the Herald undermines the comments of Scout. By attaching ludicrous information to focus our attention on the fact Scout is a little unconventional, the average reader will then likely dismiss Scout’s comments that the situation is akin to the 1981 Springbok tour, perhaps still, New Zealand’s most divisive issue to date.
Of the 735 words that constitutes the article only 94 are actually spent on this person Scout, who goes by the pronoun ‘they’. Thus, they figure very little in the article – the article mostly focuses on Jane Kelsey. However, a photo of Scout accompanies the piece giving the impression she features significantly.
It is ironic that the fears of Dr Kelsey, mentioned in the piece, are subliminally realised in articles such as these. Kelsey fears that the government aims to shift the narrative from one about “ethics [and] justice, [and] democracy and sovereignty to a law and order issue”. The NZ Herald is doing the dirty work of the government by characterising those involved in these protests as ones who come from the edge of society, while the police prepare to get the preemptive jump on the dissenters.
The article mentions at the end that Scout is not even involved with the group participating in TPP protests. This renders Scout’s inclusion almost completely pointless except for the fact that we can then blame the police for harassing people not involved in the upcoming protest. Placing this tidbit at the end is significant because most readers do not read an entire article. Moreover, the information is completely out of context except for a stylistic flourish to create a sense of closure to the piece.
But it’s a 750 word article, it doesn’t need ring composition. If the NZ Herald reported properly, they should have placed this information at the beginning when Scout is introduced in order to give an accurate portrayal of events. The beginning more accurately should read something like:
New Zealand Police have been knocking on the doors of ‘known activists’ around the country ahead of upcoming protests over the TPP, which is to be signed in Auckland on February 6. One such person to experience this was Scout, a transgender activist from Dunedin, who is not involved in the planned protests. Scout characterised the police actions akin to the 1981 Springbok tour protests which divided the country.
If the NZ Herald genuinely wished to accurately report the news in a meaningful way then their articles would more accurately reflect reality without the addition of spurious adjuncts.
Hours after reading this article the average reader of the NZ Herald is not going to remember the comments of Jane Kelsey, who warned that the government is trying to change the narrative. Instead they will remember the transgender Scout, who goes by the pronoun ‘they’ and is not even involved in the protest.
The narrative over the TPP is changing, and the NZ Herald are the one doing so.
link to the article: