Friday, 22 August 2008

Revisited by the rabidly right?

The following email has been circulating. If you've seen it already, I apologise. No one should be exposed to this sort of shite twice. If you haven't, I don't suggest you read the whole thing. A few paragraphs will give you the gist.
*There is an 'Old Version' and a 'Modern Version' .... Two
Different Versions! ** **Two Different Morals!


OLD VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long,
building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances
and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

*Be responsible for yourself! *

-------------------------------------------


MODERN VERSION:


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building
his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances
and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference
and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and
well fed while others are cold and starving.

TV1, TV3 and Maori TV show up to provide pictures of the shivering
grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with
a table filled with food. New Zealand is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor
grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Good Morning with the grasshopper, and
everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.'
Sue Bradford stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house
where the news stations film the group singing, 'We shall overcome.'
Gordon Copeland then has the group kneel down to pray to God for
the grasshopper's sake.

Michael Cullen exclaims in an interview with John Campbell that
the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both
call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair
share as the ant is too much of a "Rich Prick."

Finally, the Labour Party drafts the Economic Equity
& Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green
bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his
home is confiscated by the government.
Winston gets his old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a
defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a
panel of judges that Helen appointed from a list of single-parent
welfare recipients.

The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits
of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which
just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because
he doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and
the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders
who terrorize the once peaceful neighbourhood.
MORAL OF THE STORY:


*Be VERY careful how you vote in 2008!! *

This tale took me right back to my student politics days in the 1990s. It even made me a bit nostalgic. The right wingers were nuttier then, and I kind of miss that. I'm thinking particularly of the young men of ACT (and they were exclusively male) - those young freedom fighters who held the answers to all society's problems, although their mums still made their beds for them.

These days, the popularity of Third Way politics has made the right a bit more savvy. Beneficiary bashing is conducted under the guise of restoring the dignity of the poor. Whatever. I liked it when the righties just said what they thought: that the rest of us are depraved, drug-taking layabouts. At least we knew where we stood.

And I missed the tone of righteous self-pity that the nutty right were able to invoke. I like the way they imagined themselves as victims: the only ones capable of a hard day's work, the only ones with any personal integrity, put upon by lazy sods who would rather leach off them than get a job. Beseiged by women/Maori/insert minority here who wanted privileges at their expense. Poor sausages.

I wonder what became of those rabid right wing folk of the nineties, now that their rhetoric is less fashionable. Like me, they may now be combining children with paid work, and perhaps relying on taxpayer-funded support to make ends meet.

As a recipient of Working for Families, I suppose I'm one of those dreadful degenerates that so concern the nutty right. Perhaps at morning tea time, I'll excuse myself from my public servant's desk and go and shoot up class A in the toilets. Look out for me on Campbell Live tonight. Perhaps you'll see some footage of me overdosing with a poignant voice over from Sue Bradford, railing about the system. Whatever.

14 comments:

Anna McM said...

I tried to hide most of that post behind the 'read more' bit, but failed miserably. Perhaps one of you more competent feminists could do it for me? ;-)

Julie said...

Fixed! :-)

Anna McM said...

You're awesome! (I'm a Luddite.)

Hugh said...

I'm thinking particularly of the young men of ACT (and they were exclusively male) - those spotty young freedom fighters who held the answers to all society's problems, although their mums still made their beds for them.

I'll keep this in mind next time I meet a male feminist who has acne and lives with his mother. He must be wrong too, right?

On a more serious note, the most interesting thing about this to my mind is the fact that it conflates people of such varying ideological strands together in a very 'us vs them' attitude. I mean, do you thinks there's anything Winston Peters, Sue Bradford and Gordon Copeland could agree on? I certainly don't ever recall seeing Gordon Copeland praying for the poor.

Anna McM said...

Quite right, Hugh - this appears to be party political in origin rather than ideological, or it would hardly bunch together such a diverse bunch of opponents.

The spotty comment may have been a bit harsh (particularly in light of my own less than perfect complexion today). I don't retract the bed-making comment for a minute though. :-)

Hugh said...

I would say it appears to be inviting its readers to vote National or ACT, since every other party gets knocked.

Interesting, because as we all know National has no intention of removing the welfare state structures that this little dialogue excoriates.

Anna McM said...

Yes, which makes me think it might be ACT in origin...

ideologicallyimpure said...

Way to miss the point, Hugh - which was, "people who have never had to actually work for anything in their lives are really in no position to make broad-spectrum statements about How Society Works, especially the lower-class struggling parts of it", in case that needed spelling out.

Hugh said...

Way to miss the point, Hugh - which was, "people who have never had to actually work for anything in their lives are really in no position to make broad-spectrum statements about How Society Works, especially the lower-class struggling parts of it", in case that needed spelling out.

I'm going to be charitable and presume that your view that those who haven't worked don't deserve to have their views listened to doesn't extend to the long-term jobless, stay at home mothers or other sorts of non-gainfully employed.

The reason this annoyed me is that for the first few years that I was at University I was a spotty man who lived with his parents. I wasn't an ACT supporter, in fact I suspect that I would have been one of Anna's ideological allies, but that's rather the point - if we make ad hominem attacks on such broad grounds against those we disagree with, we're potentially silencing those who agree with us too.

I've got to say it's really quite mindblowing for me to hear criticisms of those "who have never had to actually work for anything in their lives" coming from somebody criticising ACT. It sounds more like what somebody supporting them would say.

Hugh said...

Possibly Anna, but more likely is it's Nat supporters (possibly not Nat members) who believe that National exactly has a far more razor-gang-oriented approach to the welfare state than its stated policy intends.

Whether or not they're right is another matter. But in a way it doesn't matter. Regardless of whether or not Key does plan to tear off a latex mask and reveal the twin heads of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson after election day, he obviously knows that this demographic think he does, and doesn't plan to disabuse them, since they're voting for him on that basis.

Anna McM said...

I didn't actually make fun of people who live with their mothers. Both of my children do. I did, and will continue to, make fun of people whose mothers make their beds.

I also made fun of spotty people, despite being spotty myself. I cheerfully retract this comment, and will delete it right this very moment. I don't think it's all that important in the great scheme of things, but one doesn't like to offend needlessly.

Christina said...

Recycled rhetoric alert!! I was sent a version of this about 6 months ago. From memory, at that point there were no specific political references (suggesting ideological origin)and it had a distinctly Australian flavour.

Anyone got any earlier sightings?

Tui said...

I had it in October 2005! (Bless GMail's search functions.) And yep, it was distinctly Australian in origin.

@Hugh, I think there's a distinction between young women and men attending university, living at home, and unemployed, and stay-at-home mothers (or the long-term jobless, or any of the other groups you mentioned) in terms of experiences of poverty. (I also, radically enough, think there's a difference between privileged young adults who denigrate the experiences of poor people, and privileged young adults who accept that life isn't as easy for other people as it has been for them. No-one says "How dare these rich young lefties make such sweeping statements about the experiences of people living in poverty!" because the difference between rich young lefties and rich young whities is that lefties usually make the attempt to listen to people who aren't rich, whereas the righties don't give a crap. Of course these are generalisations to which there are exceptions, but that's my experience. As a rich young lefty.)

Hugh said...

No-one says "How dare these rich young lefties make such sweeping statements about the experiences of people living in poverty!"

I've heard conservatives say that many times. Presumably they wouldn't agree with your 'righties don't give a crap' thesis.

And I agree that there's a big difference between the two groups. That's why I get suspicious when people use language to attack one that's usually used to attack the other.