26 June 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday June 20, 2007

Oops YB, stop being boorish



When politicians behave badly, their party-mates are more often than not reluctant to tell them off so as not to give the ‘enemy’ any reason to point out faults.

IN ANY family, when a child has done something wrong to someone else, the parents take it upon themselves to admonish the child and then insist that he or she apologise to the other person.

This was why I, at age six or so, had to say sorry to our gardener for sticking my tongue out at him.

Part of the reason for the admonishment was to teach the child to behave properly towards other people.

The apology, besides being the right thing to do, restores the family’s image, since a badly behaved child reflects badly on his or her parents.

I wish things were quite as simple in the political world. When politicians behave badly, their party-mates are more often than not reluctant to tell them off.

Apparently this is seen as giving the opposition ammunition to destroy the reputation of the party as being united in all things. Everything is seen in terms of not giving the “enemy” any reason to point out faults.

But the trouble is politicians forget that the public is also watching. When politicians behave badly, it is the public that they should worry about, not the opposition.

As an example, when two government MPs displayed crude and boorish behaviour towards a woman MP recently, not only did they take nine whole days to issue an apology of epic insincerity, but also none of their fellow party-mates told them off, including the female ones.

The reason was that they did not want the opposition to “take advantage” of the situation.

But the world is not just political parties and their opponents. There is also the larger public, many of whom vote.

If members of the party they usually vote for behave badly, they will not necessarily immediately vote for another one but they will certainly think much harder about voting for the same one again.

There are other ways to skin a cat, and voting for other people isn’t necessarily the only option.

Like families, individual members of any organisation, including political parties, represent their family wherever they go and whatever they do.

If they behave well, then people think highly of the entire family. If they behave poorly, then the image of the whole family becomes tarnished. Therefore the only way to restore the reputation of the family is to admonish and apologise.

When children do not get admonished for their bad behaviour, they grow up believing that the family sanctions that behaviour, and be-come spoilt brats.

They continue that sort of behaviour and increasingly annoy others until they become unproductive and anti-social elements in society.

Their behaviour reflects on their parents, who seem to have been lax in their disciplining of their children.

Today, we see a continuous stream of bad behaviour from spoilt brats in Parliament. They are almost never told off, and are often quick to claim that they can’t help being emotional sometimes; after all, they are defending the integrity of their party.

Of course, if anyone else does the same, then “emotional” becomes a derogatory term.

The public can only watch with horror at these antics. From fascinated horror, it quickly becomes disgust. We are disgusted that people we vote for should behave in such a manner, and at the cavalier way that the voting public is treated, as if we don’t matter at all.

In insulting one female, for instance on a condition that affects all women, they forget that they in fact insulted all females. Politicians seem to think that getting into Parliament is a licence to become the worst sort of hoodlum, only dressed questionably better than the ones outside.

And we should ask, where are the parents? Why don’t the parents tell off their children? Don’t they feel ashamed and embarrassed at such behaviour?

Are they simply blind to what damage this sort of crassness does to the entire family?

If they can’t see that, then there is really no hope in ever changing the situation.

When people who are supposed to be in authority behave badly, they set an example to the rest of society of what norms of behaviour are now acceptable.

They should not then complain when members of the public start behaving in the same way.

This can only be countered if there is an authority that comes out and says that this type of boorishness is not acceptable anywhere, whether in the privileged halls of Parliament or outside.

But this has been noticeable absent. Nobody, it seems, has the moral courage to call out people for unacceptable behaviour even when you are supposed to stand together in unity. Nobody has the gumption to do just simply the right thing.

Everything is calculated for political expediency. But what if the calculations are wrong?

14 June 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Friday June 8, 2007

Shouting down the majority voice


Many sensible people keep quiet on issues because they think they’re the only ones who think that way.

IN AN article, physicist Mark Buchanan recently talked about a common phenomenon where people fall in with the majority view, even when they disagree, because they assume – mistakenly, in many cases – that they are in the minority.

Psychologists in the 1930s termed this phenomenon “pluralistic ignorance,” and in 1976 researchers described it as when “moral principles with relatively little popular support may exert considerable influence because they are mistakenly thought to represent the views of the majority, while normative imperatives actually favoured by the majority may carry less weight because they are erroneously attributed to a minority.”

What this really describes is that entity called the Silent Majority, the many sensible people who keep quiet on issues because they think that they’re the only people who think that way.

To say something may invite contempt or worse, violence. And they are right. But just because the reaction they may get is nasty doesn’t mean that reaction reflects the majority opinion.

When we live in a society that is closed to open debate and discussion, the problem of the silent majority becomes more acute. As Buchanan says, the process of pluralistic ignorance disturbingly lends itself to the “noisiest and most visible.”

For instance, psychologists have noted that students on American campuses who are the heaviest drinkers tend to speak out most strongly against measures to curb drinking, acting as “subculture guardians” in support of their minority views.

This produces what is known as “false consensus,” as others, who think they are in the minority, keep quiet. The result, says Buchanan, is that “the extremists gain influence out of all proportion to their numbers, while the views of the silent majority end up being suppressed.”

We see this happening in many places. For instance, when people who are not part of the establishment say something silly, everyone else happily jumps on them because it is seen as the okay thing to do. But when establishment people say something equally silly, people hesitate.

If no criticism is forthcoming, then people keep quiet, afraid that if they say something, they themselves may attract unwanted attention and negative feedback.

This is particularly true in male-dominated societies on issues that concern women. We’ve seen several cases of despicable and insulting behaviour by men in public positions, yet very little reaction from female public figures on the same political side.

Privately, they are probably just as angry as the ordinary woman, but they fear that speaking out on principle may not be politically expedient and may cost them their careers.

I was once at a women’s forum overseas where I asked why it is that when women come into power, they very rarely do much to benefit their own sex. A woman from Chile gave some insight into the phenomenon.

One reason is that many women leaders, especially in the developing world, come into power with very shaky legitimacy.

They may have been voted in because of their family connections, having been the widow or daughter of a man who had been in power previously. Often they owe their position to men, and therefore are always beholden. Once in power, they try not to upset any of these men.

Even those who come in on their own steam tend to tread carefully because often, as women, they are in the minority. Thus we hear statements like “I can’t be seen to be only favouring women,” as if women themselves are a voting minority.

The solution may be to follow the example of Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first woman president, who was elected last year. One of her first moves was to appoint nine capable women to her Cabinet of 24.

Besides sending a strong message to the country about the capability of women, appointing so many women also gives her strength in her Cabinet to push for women’s issues.

Indeed, since she has been in office, she has legislated for the right to breastfeed in the workplace, offered greater protection against domestic violence, and cracked down on alimony dodgers.

On International Women’s Day this year, she promised no return “to the days when the top jobs were filled with dark suits and neckties.”

Given that we have so few women in Parliament and even less in the Cabinet, it is not surprising that when women are insulted, we cannot really rely on them to stand up for us. The solution therefore is to up the numbers of smart no-nonsense women winning seats in the next elections. Only then will women’s rights be upheld.