Friday, February 17, 2006

The Fundy Post 20: Whatever Happened To....?

The Fundy Post, for those who know not of it, is the "review of the strange world of the Religious Right," which I produce for the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists. Under the banner of "we read this crap, so you don't have to," the Fundy Post comments on the activities of the Maxim Institute, the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards and others. It is copied here, for your amusement and edification.


Dear Fundy Post reader,

we have never before asked you for help, but a matter of serious concern has arisen and we need your assistance. The problem is simple: the Maxim Institute is in trouble. They are too proud to admit it, but a small note at the bottom of last week's Real Issues indicates that a crisis is looming. This is what it says:

Help support Maxim: We currently need visionary people to partner with us as monthly donors. Will you consider becoming a Maxim Partner? Please call us: 09 627 3261, or email us: and we will send you an AP form. Thank you in anticipation of your valuable support.

I don't think I need to say much more. As a Fundy Post reader, you will realise the seriousness of this problem. If Maxim goes under because of financial difficulties, what will there be to write about? After all, Bishop Tamaki has vanished (reports that The Rapture has already happened, but he was the only man good enough to go straight to Heaven, are exaggerated); the Exclusive Brethren are keeping to themselves; the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards have nothing to say but how beastly the Chief Censor is being towards them; even the spankers at Family Integrity can only wail about being mocked on National Radio. We need Maxim, more than they need us. They have given us so much in the past; now is the time to give something back.

Whilst you are at it, if you have any latent prejudices, seething resentments or uninformed opinions, don't keep them to yourself; send them to Maxim as well. Maxim has always had enough of these but a Peak Bile crisis may be just around the corner. For several years now, production has far exceeded supply. Having scapegoated gays, unmarried people, post modernists, neo-marxists, immigrants and many others, Maxim has few targets left. Indeed, in the previous Real Issues, they were reduced to complaining about news readers. The situation is truly dire.

Remember, without Maxim, the prospects for mockery look dismal. A publication like the Fundy Post can only keep going if there are bigots at which we can point and laugh. So dig deep. Please, please, give whatever you can. You don't need to be visionary; you just need cash. Don't do it for the children. Do it for satire.

Thank you in anticipation of your valuable support.

Where are they now?

If you think I am joking, take a look at The People of Maxim page on Maxim's website. Some familiar names are missing. John McNeil has gone and his blog, Canary in the Mine has not been updated since 22nd December. Scott McMurray, Communications Director, has gone, as have several minor parts in the Maxim drama; all trace of Mr Logan has been removed, of course. Others have come in their place. Has Restructuring taken place? Where are these people? What is going on?

Lack of Evidence

It is a lame title I know, but I told you things were bad. This is not the first time Maxim has asked for money. They have been doing it all the while. In fact, if you go to their website, you will find a personal message from Greg Fleming, inviting you to join him and his pals in building a better New Zealand. In return for becoming a Maxim Partner, you will receive a complementary copy of Maxim's Evidence journal each quarter.

Not any more. According to a cursory note tucked away on the publications page, Evidence is no more. The Spring 2005 edition was the last.

I for one will miss it. I never bought a copy, but I always read it. I shall miss the stock photographs of worried middle-class people, whose imaginary marriages were always under threat from homosexualists and the Neo-Marxist State. I shall miss the Philosophy For Dummies articles, which condemned all those heathen Greeks and lauded the godly thinkers ("Augustine is not just a philosopher, he's a Saint!" or something similar). I shall miss the various whinings of Maxim's Teenage FBI, the interns and staffers who always had a heartfelt personal story about how the world is so unfair to the sort of student who wears a suit to lectures.

In particular, I was hoping to to hear more from Tiffany Scrimshaw (yes, really), the intern who was looking forward to a "buffet of body treatment" with her two best girlfriends, but was disappointed when they "were lured away by the promise of better entertainment elsewhere," The fact that the alternative entertainment involved sex and booze, while Ms Scrimshaw would probably dish out lashings of Edmund Burke with the body rubs, was probably the tipping point for both friends. The Spring Issue of Evidence is available at all good bookstores but you can save your money and read Tiffany's gripe on the Maxim site.

Ruth is stranger than Fiction

The good news for Maxim is that they have had something published. Since that little matter with Mr Logan, we have not read much from Maxim in the papers. However, Ruth Porter managed to get an article published a few months ago, in the Education Weekly of 25th October 2005. Here is an excerpt from "What the next three years may hold:"

Despite attempts to avoid haemorrhaging schools to alternative examinations systems, including the PPTA's opposition to the Cambridge International Examinations, the latest stats show that, as long as the NCEA remains in its current form, the haemorrhaging is inevitable.

Parse this sentence at your peril. Our crack team of Semioticians has been working day and night in a futile attempt to understand what Ms Porter means. It is a bit rum that a body which claims to be so concerned about education standards has such a loose grip on grammar, syntax and all that jazz.

Never mind. Perhaps the winner of this year's Maxim Essay Contest, David Griffiths, will be able to translate. His winning entry can be downloaded as a PDF. Mr Griffiths is bothered that it is alright to make fun of religion. He is particularly vexed that "the Auckland Public Library displays a poster of cricketer Daniel Vettori reading a copy of The Da Vinci Code," and not because the book is a load of rubbish. No, it is an attack on Faith. Perhaps somebody at Maxim's Centre for Education needs to explain the difference between fact and fiction; maybe Paul Henderson whose "special interest is in hermeneutics"

Familiar Oddities

The title comes from an article in Real Issues 190, but it will do for my purposes. In said article, a Maxim staffer writes "have you ever stopped to consider why Don Brash's speeches delivered at Orewa, merit the attendance of major news outlets? A strange and implicit understanding now seems to exist that these speeches are more significant than the dozens of others given by Dr Brash throughout the year."

Perhaps that is because they are more significant than the others. Dr Brash said so. He gives a speech at Orewa Rotary Club every January in which he makes major policy statements and offends his colleagues. Doesn't everyone know that? Obviously not.

Perhaps what the staffer is trying to do is downplay the significance of Dr Brash's most recent speech, in which he stressed the values of a "liberal tolerant secular society" Maxim must feel a little hurt about that. Having done all that work to get the Christian vote to turn out for National, with its NZ Votes website and its political forums, Maxim finds that Dr Brash has not changed at all. He is still a godless heathen.

In another article in the same edition of Real Issues, Maxim gets very ornery about Dr Brash going on to say that New Zealand is a "society that embraces the Western Enlightenment ideals of personal liberty, private property and rationality as the basis of decision-making." He really has not been listening, has he? For Maxim, the Enlightenment (you know, that thing which gave us electricity and ended slavery) is anathema. What's more, Dr Brash failed to mention tradition and heritage, of the Judaeo-Christian kind. Maxim takes up the task of educating the Good Doctor about the state of things. We are living in a Postmodern age "where truth is relative rather than universal and reality is little more than one's perspective. As a consequence, the world is stripped of its meaning, making it difficult for people to meaningfully dialogue together about the world." Difficult especially for Maxim, which struggles both to meaningfully dialogue and to form a grammatically correct sentence.
A Critique of Politically Correct Reason

It can't be easy for them. Years of trying to get people to realise that the real enemy is post-modernism, political correctness and Neo-Marxism, and yet even the leader of the Tories will not pay attention. At least Maxim can take some comfort that Dr Brash's sidekick, the Eradicator Wayne Mapp, has been listening. In his speech to the Rotary Club of Eastern Hutt (are these speeches in some way franchised to Rotary clubs?) Dr Mapp expounded on "Why the Debate on Political Correctness Matters" and promised to develop a "substantial paper" on this theme in the next few months.

The Eradicator says "Much of the writing on political correctness refers to its Marxist origins. It was a term used by Leninists in the Soviet Union of the 1920s to denote the correct way to think about politics." I suspect the writing to which he refers is Maxim's own publication "Political Correctness and the Theoretical Struggle" by Dr Frank Ellis, a man so politically incorrect that he is prepared to share a platform with the people in the pointy hoods with the fiery crosses. Not content to be just the PC Finder General, Dr Mapp aims to add to the scholarly corpus on this topic. He revealed to the Eastern Hutt Rotarians that he has discerned the Categories of Political Correctness; we might in future think of him as the Kant of PC.

However, he tells us, we do not need theory to recognise PC, because "like pornography, we know it when we see it."

One wonders what other publications Dr Mapp has been reading.

The Fundy Post is written by Paul Litterick, NZARH Spokesman and is a publication of the NZARH. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the NZARH.

The Fundy Post is available by email subscription. Write to
If you want to join the NZARH (go on, you know you want to), write to