Friday, August 03, 2007

People Will Stop Making Fun of You When You Stop Doing Things for Them to Make Fun Of...

This story out of New Zealand got buried over here in last week's busy-ness, but I felt like it deserved some comment: That nation's Parliament has voted to outlaw satire of its members:
New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.

The new standing orders, voted in last month, concern the use of images of Parliamentary debates, and make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for "satire, ridicule or denigration".

The rules apply any to broadcasts or rebroadcasts in any medium.

They also ban the use of such footage for "political advertising or election campaigning", except with the permission of all members shown.

The new broadcasting regime coincides with the introduction of Parliament's own continuous in-house TV feed, which will be made available to broadcasters.
Oh, that's convenient now, isn't it?

I'm really glad we have the freedoms we do here in the United States. Here in the YouTube era, it's hard for a politician to get away with anything, because such a gaffe will probably be online within hours (and indeed, as the story points out, it will be nearly impossible to punish someone who posts a satirical video anonymously on YouTube). There are also concerns that the no-satire rule will remove a key component of legitimate debate, and it's even possible that the orders violated the country's own Bill of Rights Act, to which such orders are of course subordinate.

The chair of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, Vernon Small, sums things up pretty well: The new rules have been widely panned in the media. Vernon Small, chair of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, pointed out that MPs ridicule each other as often as the media join in, and said the rules seemed to be aimed at trying to protect MPs from themselves.

"If MPs want to improve the reputation of the institution, and of themselves, the answer is surely in their own hands, through improved behaviour."

Arch deluxe: During the three times I've visited the St. Louis Arch in the past year, I've been trying to get a picture of the Arch from the side angle as seen from Laclede's Landing, but the sun has always been in just the wrong place and the Arch never shows up in the picture. Today, I noticed that someone else has had better luck with the shot.

Got tickets? Anyone need tickets? Lost in the news of the Minneapolis bridge collapse was this interesting story from earlier in the week: It's no longer illegal to scalp tickets in Minnesota.

To sun or not to sun? That is the question: It's now being reported that a little exposure to the sun isn't as bad as was once thought (and in fact, a lack of exposure causes its own set of problems.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: A "manualist" plays Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" on his hands. (He may well have been inspired by this ancient practice.)

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