Tuesday, May 21

A spark can start a flame

I’ve had to remove myself lately and watch as this whole Spark Debacle has played out. And I’ve watched it with a heavy heart, a pit in my stomach and a determination like no other.

It’s certainly no secret I’ve been vocal about boycotting Spark following their social media team majorly messing up by being involved in something that didn’t require their input. 

That was only the beginning though as Spark chose to double down by shutting down the conversation. Which was made worse again (hard to believe it could get worse right?) by the gaslighting explanation Spark gave that they were being inclusive of the Trans community while overlooking the glaringly obvious fact the comment they supported wasn’t one of inclusivity at all but rather and was an attack on others.

What followed was a lot of outrage amongst Tweeters because Spark missed the real grievances people have. 

I’ve seen Free Speech Union offered to work with Spark and give them training and resources, but that offer was declined with the excuse that Spark has “appropriate protocols and training” in place.

My firsthand experience of those appropriate protocols and training meant a male employee rang me to gaslight me into believing people misunderstood what had been said by their social media team.

Nobody misunderstood that Spark employees shouldn’t use a work account for highly political and contentious issues. 

And yet despite the outrage, the messages and the internal communications being leaked online, you would barely know what was happening if you tune into MSM. Because to them this is a non-event that they don’t think requires attention. 

Following one poorly written MSM article, I sent an open letter to the journalist who wrote it and challenged her to have my open letter published. To this day my email goes unnoticed and unanswered. For context, this MSM outlet also lists a certain trans activist as one of its’ columnists so it was always going to be a cold day in hell’s chance before they published my letter, but I couldn’t say they didn’t publish it, if I didn’t give them a chance to do that. Now, from experience, I can say that The NZ Herald would rather support division than Free speech and a chance for people to add to the conversation.

And that’s what the issue is. It’s about the shutting down of free speech and the unwillingness to have a discussion.

Had Spark listened to the concerns, they would understand the term TERFs is a derogatory term they supported the use of. What they would also understand by taking the opportunity to engage in conversation is that some of the people who have had this label placed upon them are from the ‘Rainbow Community’ Spark claims to be inclusive of. 

How are they inclusive of the ‘rainbow community’ if they’re not listening to part of the community that are expressing concerns? The fact there is a sector within their own community that is expressing concerns should have been a red flag straight away. To not hear those concerns was poor customer service at best and a complete disregard for women and children at its worst. Because the concerns don’t just end there.

There are also serious concerns around the new self ID laws in NZ. As of June 15, this year, all it takes to change your sex on your birth certificate is filling some forms and paying some money. At 16 and 17 years of age, you don’t even need parental consent for this to take place. All you need is a letter of support from a 3rd party so while people like Shaneel Lal and Max Tweedie scream “Transphobe bigot” at anyone who dares mention this law, the reality is there are real concerns from women and men for the safety of women and children in women’s spaces and for parents in how this law could be used by their child without their consent or knowledge.

Riley Gaines has been vocal about the discomfort of being on a swim team with Lia Thomas, what the changing room situation was like and how the swim team were all expected to go along with things to accommodate Lia. These are not things we should disregard when we have self ID laws in place because at the heart of the issue isn’t transphobia, it’s the reality that deviant men can take advantage of laws like this to commit crimes against women and children.

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about the need to sit down and have the important discussions. That no matter how difficult, we need to be truthful with ourselves and each other even through the discomfort so that we can find healing for all. 

And I stand by that even stronger today than when I wrote it.

What I’ve learned is that even if Spark and MSM won’t take part in or allow these conversations that people are screaming out for, the conversations still keep happening and as the audiences (a growth of over 5000 one social platform since joining Plainsight) and awareness grows, so too does the distaste for government, corporations, and media, who are the drivers of the division. 

A revolution doesn’t have to be an out and out war against the enemy. A revolution can be as simple as a spark starting a flame through conversation. And my intention is to keep starting sparks and being part of conversations because the people who really matter in these conversations are the voters. Voters who can cut the head off the snake at the next election.