Mere stuff and nonsense and the dishonesty of Philip Matthews

The first recorded use of the word ‘stuff’ was in a phrase: “mere stuff and nonsense” carried in a column by an edition of The Times newspaper appearing in 1827 when commenting on the very low merit of a speech given in parliament at the time. Stuff serving, in the phrase, as the intensifier of nonsense. As it does today.

It seems the modern media company of that name has determined to sink their standard well below mere stuff and nonsense in the debate over freedom of expression. They are now plumbing insincerity and dishonesty into the pipes of a once-respected organ. A couple of days ago they published Tom Scott’s vile cartoon pretending that ‘free speech’ somehow assisted Hitler to power and associated the alleged freedom granted The National Socialist German Workers Party as leading to the ugliness of concentration camps and subsequent awful racial and ethnic cleansing of ‘The Final Solution’.  

Only an ignorant fool, or a propagandist, would pretend that Germany did not have ‘hate-speech’ (incitement) laws and that the Nazi’s fell foul of them; their newspaper Der Stürmer was several times shut down, its editor, Julias Streicher, served two prison sentences in the 1920’s, Goebbels entered the Reichstag with 23 incitement charges hanging over his head. Upon gaining a foothold in power with just 37% of the popular vote the Nazi’s countered legal restraint with the most complete and brutally enforced political censorship regime imaginable, excluding all other views but their own with organised squads of goons wielding fists, batons, bayonets and fire-bombs, terrorising their detractors. Theirs was a regime of fear of expression, not freedom of.

To pretend Hitler’s rise to power was somehow married to the message of free expression and his ghoulish regime a consequence of it is an insult to the reader’s intelligence. An intended insult.

They followed that piece of anti-truth illusory up on Saturday with a so-called ‘editorial’, by Philip Matthews, which was in fact a hit-piece on Don Brash, maligning him for the crime of supporting the fledgling free-speech movement and all-but claiming the man is deeply racist. The evidence for Brash’s racism it seems is hard to come by so mere stuff, along with comrade nonsense, simply made it up in an effort that would make Goebbels himself blush with pride. From the editorial: Quote:

“Yet it turned out their [Southern and Molyneux’s] views about racial superiority were surprisingly similar to his own. Brash is on record as saying that “while Jews made up only around 0.2 per cent of the world’s population, and only 2 per cent of the American population, they had won 22 per cent of all Nobel prizes”. Therefore, “it is impossible to ignore the possibility that at the very least Jewish culture is superior to many other cultures”. Brash made that comment during a debate on free speech at Auckland University”. End quote.

That’s it, that’s their evidence for Brash’s “views about racial superiority”? Let’s take that propaganda piece apart: Firstly “Brash is on record as saying that “while Jews…” Journalists are directed by style guides in the use of their language and in the style guides “on record” adds gravitas and authenticity, so has very specific meaning; it must be a statement made by the subject, in public, and written down. Dr Brash clearly, very clearly, stated in his speech the extract he was about to read was a quote from Niall Ferguson’s work, stumbling with the pronunciation of Ferguson’s name Brash says “Niall [ne-all] Ferguson, I think that’s how you pronounce his name, although it’s written as Niall [ny-all]…” before beginning. It is unmistakable that Brash was not ‘saying’ anything his own; he was quoting another author’s work, but that’s just the small fib from mere stuff and nonsense, the second piece of deceit is the big, big, lie.

Quoting Brash they claim he next said it is impossible to ignore the possibility that at the very least Jewish culture is superior to many other cultures enclosing the statement within quotation marks which, again, have very specific meaning in the style guides: Quote:

“Take care with direct speech: our readers should be confident that words appearing in quotation marks accurately represent the actual words uttered by the speaker, although ums and ahems can be removed and bad grammar improved. If you aren’t sure of the exact wording, use indirect speech.”

If a reader reads something in direct quotation marks he/she is entitled to believe that the reporter can vouch directly for the accuracy of the quote.End quote.

Here is what Brash actually commented during the free speech debate (14:50) at Auckland University immediately after reading the extract from Niall Ferguson’s work regarding anomalous Jewish over-achievement in several scientific, engineering, entertainment and technology fields (verbatim): “Now; I don’t know why that is the case, and I hasten to add I’m not Jewish myself, but it’s impossible to ignore the possibility that Jewish culture is in some respects more advanced or superior to other cultures.”

See what mere stuff and nonsense did? First; they removed bits they didn’t want, they clipped the quote: “Now; I don’t know why that is the case, and I hasten to add that I’m not Jewish myself, but it’s impossible to ignore the possibility that Jewish culture is in some respects more advanced or superior to other cultures.” Leaving us with: “it’s impossible to ignore the possibility that Jewish culture is superior to other cultures.” Which is clearly still not sinister-sounding enough for mere stuff and nonsense so; on to trick two! They insert words not spoken by Mr Brash: “but it’s impossible to ignore the possibility that at the very least Jewish culture is superior to many other cultures.” And there you have it; an all-fixed-up direct quotation hinting at ‘racial superiority’, complete with quotation marks so you know it can be trusted as Brash’s own words.

Their deceit, ineptness and downright dishonesty would be laughable if it wasn’t anchoring an accusation as awful as racism, but that’s why the piece, an editorial no less, is so menacing; because they willingly lie to make racism appear, even where it doesn’t.

“If a reader reads something in direct quotation marks he/she is entitled to believe that the reporter can vouch directly for the accuracy of the quote.” Except when it appears in a stuff and nonsense publication for they are shameless fraudsters; race-baiting hucksters.


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Living in Wellington idbkiwi is self-employed in a non-governmental role which suits his masochistic tendencies. He watches very little television, preferring to read or research, but still subscribes to the daily paper despite his distillation of dismay and disappointment at the very low standards of the modern press on every opening of the awful rag.

He is married, to an obviously very unfortunate woman, and has a family who allegedly loves him despite his right-wing nut-job views on life and the meaning of. He believes laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you, closely, very closely, followed by wine. He hopes to reach retirement, both alive and eventually.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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