President's Column | Issue 22

*content warning*

Voting is open! Have you walked past the libraryrecently? Go out and cast your vote!

Hello to you all, and thank you to those nationwide who have had a new found interest in my column! I enjoyed a formal letter from the Southern Young National Party who have completely misread my previous column, and have since accused me because I was supporting the right of free speech when I supported @peace artist Tom Scott who wrote a satirical hip hop song entitled “Kill the PM.”

I would like to point out that Tom Scott has stated since the backlash he had received from this song that “I do not want to literally kill this man ... I do not wish to have sexual relations with anybody related to him... What’s important is that we enrol to vote so that we have a chance to select someone to represent us, who understands the concept of empathy.” I was defending Tom Scott because I believe that it is the message behind the song that is important. This is a hip hop song, and he is using his musical platform to engage with people who wouldn’t usually vote. I would like to make this point very clear.

I supported a song that people have since targeted as ‘Hate Speech’. Music is a creative outlet, it’s used to create conversation, and it is not hate.

In their letter, the Southern Young Nationals insisted on an apology, saying; “You are a leader in this community; we call upon you to condemn the song in your next column to appear in Critic. Any other act will be seen as an endorsement of the threat to kill Mr. Key and to rape his 20 year old daughter” (my emphasis)

I do not want to Kill Mr. Key – in fact, I would like to actually speak to Mr. Key and engage with him as a representative for the students of Otago because so far this year I have had no contact with the man at all. Not even Education Minister Steven Joyce will spare 15 minutes to meet with us in person.

I respected John Key as a leader. That was until the cowardly bullying that I have had to endure purportedly on his behalf, just because I support the freedom to voice your opinions. I wonder what Mr. Key would think about the rape threats that right- wing blogger David Farrar’s recent blog aroused.

Kiwiblog said, “All the young women at Otago University might want to reflect on the fact their student president thinks a song expressing a desire to kill the Prime Minister and implicitly rape his daughter is just a bit naughty, and that criticism of the song is a slur, and that there is a right to express an opinion that you want to implicitly rape someone to piss off their father.”

Again – I would like to point out that I have been taken completely out of context, and there is no reference to rape in the song. What some people don’t understand is that to some Kiwis even discussing ‘Rape’ is a huge trigger. Since his post I have been targeted multiple times, here is an example taken from the Kiwiblog comment thread:

“As rape threats are now apparently an acceptable form of political debate, (Albeit ä bit naughty”) ... I move that Ruby Sycamore-Smith be raped repeatedly until she sees the error of her ways.”

HILARIOUS! In case you need it pointed out that’s sarcasm. The issue of Rape should have never even been brought up. I’d like to thank everyone who contacted KiwiWhale, sorry Kiwiblog, to request he take down some of the troll-like comments. I suppose this shows even David can at least agree that some people take it too far(rar).

What disturbs me further by its hypocrisy, is that National have actually cut funding to organisations such as Women’s Refuge, and then still throw around Rape in order to put the blame onto someone who has actually increased funding and support on campus for sexual violence.

As a 22 year old female, I am being targeted and threatened. I have endured a traumatic experience, all because people have twisted my words, and this is exactly the point that I was trying to communicate.

It is so hard for the youth to be engaged in politics and to be interested in it because we get slammed! This entire election I have been told time and time again to support specific parties and to promote them in my OUSA capacity. But I have refused, for me it has been incredibly important to lead a non- partisan election and to just encourage students to be informed and to get out there and vote!

Tom Scott was a part of our non-partisan election campaign, and I will stand by his creative freedom. I was not endorsing any ‘Hate Speech’ and I doubt that people with half a brain will actually have that impression from the song. In fact Tom Scott has written previous songs such as ‘Listen to us’ which is also similar ‘political satire’ and no one seems to be talking about or ‘listening’ to that.

People seem to be clutching at straws and targeting any suggestive threat and turning it into something explosive. I will not support any political parties that support this kind of behaviour. Turning Tom Scott into a monster and publically slamming him means that we are completely missing the point of these elections! We are voting for parties and what their policies are, not just voting for their figure heads.

Any form of abuse is never acceptable. I encourage students not to fear the political environment, and instead be active and feel empowered to speak your opinions.

Much love! Ruby x x x x

PS, if you want to get more informed politically, check out
This article first appeared in Issue 22, 2014.
Posted 11:52pm Sunday 7th September 2014 by Ruby Sycamore-Smith.