Another Catton thinkpiece

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I sympathise with Eleanor Catton, although it’s difficult to feel much sympathy for her, and if she’d just stuck to commenting about books instead of politics she wouldn’t have copped so much flak,  but everyone is entitled to express their political opinions, unless they receive government money, even if they receive government money, because her receipt of public money put her in a difficult position, opened her up to criticism, and put her in a conflict of interest situation, which is absurd since just about everyone is a beneficiary of the state’s largesse in one form or another, except that she was in a privileged position because of some of the grants paid to her, but that doesn’t mean a thing because we should all be free to express our opinions on political matters, although nobody is stopping her from expressing her opinions, except that she is being told by some people to shut up, which is bullying, except that it isn’t and freedom of expression means we are all free to express our views on what she said, except that much of the criticism of her goes beyond mere expression and looks more like intimidation, which it really isn’t, and what Catton really wants to do here is criticise the government and be immune from criticism in return, which is not at all what is happening here and her criticism shouldn’t have been a big deal and they were off-the-cuff comments at a literary festival for God’s sake, and now she’s being called a “hua” and a traitor, and fair enough too, whether she likes it or not Eleanor Catton represents New Zealand when she is on the world stage, and if she is going to go around dissing our country then of course people are going to get upset, imagine if an All Blacks captain used an after-match speech to attack the Labour Party, imagine the outrage, but of course that’s a stupid analogy because someone selected to play for the All Blacks very much is representing New Zealand whereas Eleanor Catton was speaking as a private citizen, not that that makes any difference because when she won the Man Booker it was celebrated as a triumph for New Zealand literature, but none of that is relevant because Catton wasn’t selected for any team and she won the prize through her own hard work and talent, not to mention a pile of taxpayer  money, which actually wasn’t very much, except that she had a taxpayer-funded job while she wrote her book, a book that earned the government thousands of dollars in GST, but let’s not forget that she was being paid for providing her labour, it’s not as if they paid her for doing nothing,  and her most vocal critic also held down a taxpayer-funded job at Radio New Zealand for many years, and all of her critics would have received a taxpayer-funded education, which makes them hypocrites, and I’ll tell you what hypocrisy is, hypocrisy is whining in public about other people attacking you, and then publicly attacking other people, except that Catton didn’t get personal unlike some of her critics, although I haven’t heard any personal abuse levelled against her,  but if words like “hua” and “traitor” aren’t terms of abuse then I don’t know what are, and it’s just a continuation of the whole Dirty Politics thing where critics of the government are attacked by allies and proxies of the National government, even though this has got nothing to do with Dirty Politics and the analogy is a silly one, and the other thing this has nothing to do with is the tall poppy syndrome, because this is simply an instance where someone has made unwise remarks and been criticised for them, but the criticism has been so hostile and personal that it proves Catton’s point entirely, which it most certainly doesn’t, and it also illustrates a culture of anti-intellectualism in this country, which it also does not, and if someone says something stupid, but it wasn’t stupid at all, then they should be prepared to face the consequences, unless the consequences involve personal abuse and patronising commentary that in some cases borders on the misogynistic, as if this little woman should just shut up and stick to her knitting because girls can’t have opinions, but that’s ridiculous and maybe some people are being just a bit too precious, and we should all be entitled to have opinions, and the worst thing we can do is demand that we leave politics to the politicians, and it would be a tragedy if  Catton quit New Zealand in disgust over these attacks, but she can always join ISIS if she is so anti-New Zealand,  although it’s more likely that her critics who so despise it when a woman speaks her mind would join Islamic State, and I have opinions and these are my opinions, and they may even be your opinions and I think that should just about cover all angles of the story, thank you, hopefully I didn’t miss anything, and I will not be commenting further on this matter, although I suspect this story still has at least a week to run, God help us all.

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