The bullying of Marama Davidson

Sometimes I read or see something that tempts me to consider writing about. Then preoccupation with other matters and topics leads, after the passage of time, to its significance diminishing.

However, ongoing references to it, albeit not on as big a scale (mainly social rather than mainstream media) encouraged me to revisit.

The temptation was an assault on Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson (although not linked, a few years ago fellow Co-Leader James Shaw was violently assaulted near Parliament). It was not the assault, however, that provided the temptation; instead it as the reaction to her subsequent ‘misspoke’.

Misspoke is an interesting word which, while  appearing not to have a plural, reportedly has over 60 synonyms. The most concise description is that it occurs when someone expresses themselves in in an insufficiently clear or accurate way.

The temptation

The context was Davidson supporting a transgender rights counter-demonstration against a transphobic outdoor gathering at Auckland’s Albert Park on 25 March. British anti-transgender leader Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull (aka Posie Parker) was the key attraction.

I discussed this event in a wider context in an earlier Political Bytes blog (2 April):      Class, transphobia and street democracy. The transgender rights demonstration overwhelmingly out-mobilised the transphobic gathering leading to the latter’s cancellation. Parker caught the next flight back to London.

A smaller diversion

Transphobes and some others such as the Editor of The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury described what happened as mob violence. Taking into account even larger transgender rights rallies in Wellington and Christchurch the following day, I called it street democracy. For me rights activists trumped bigotry.

Over a year ago Bradbury had asked for approval to republish my blogs. I was happy with this (and remain so). But my 2 April blog above was too much for him. It was the first I’m aware of (there’s been many) that he deliberately didn’t republish. That is his right; there is no obligation to republish.

A couple of unrelated subsequent blogs were also not published leading me to hypothesise that he had joined the so-called ‘Woke’ he regularly rails against and had cancelled me. However, normal republication transmission resumed – at least until this blog!

Essentially non-publication was because what he calls mob violence; I call street democracy. He called me out on this in at least one of his own blogs (25 April): Posie Parker violence arrest, where leniency is needed and the drive by NZ media to paint protest as peaceful.

Bradbury claimed that I was promoting mob violence. He’s got that badly wrong. However, for fuller context, he supports transgender rights and has no truck with the bigotry of Posie Parker.

Further, notwithstanding his bombastic tone and misreading of my piece, his blog does make some thoughtful points; worth a critical read in other words.

Back to Davidson’s assault and ‘misspoke’

But back to Marama Davidson. She intended to support transgender rights but was knocked to the ground by a motorcyclist who failed to stop at a pedestrian crossing near Albert Park.

Most likely the motorcyclist was ridden by a Destiny Church representative. The Destiny Church is a far-right organisation ‘selling’ bigotry, including transphobia, as a religious commodity.

Green Co-Leader Marama Davidson: assaulted by motorcyclist, medical attention required, harassed by far-right, misspoke, and then pilloried for misspoke

This was no accident. Davidson needed medical care and the assault was reported to the police. She (the victim) is also a government minister outside cabinet. One of her portfolios is violence prevention. Stuff’s Caroline Williams reported the event later that day: Green Co-Leader Marama Davidson knocked over by motorcyclist.

Upon Davidson’s return to Albert Park she was then hounded by the notorious far-right (and vehemently anti-transgender) Counterspin pressuring her to comment on the controversy over the Parker event.

In this context she uttered the ‘fatal’ words: “I am a violence prevention minister and I know who causes violence in the world, it is white, cis men.”

Counterspin hounding led to Davidson misspoke

This led to an outcry including from the political right, far-right, transphobes and the purportedly left-wing transphobic  ‘Workers Now’. In response, Davidson then released a statement clarifying what she meant:

Women are overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of family violence and sexual violence at the hands of men.

I should have made clear in my comments that violence happens in every community. My intention was to affirm that trans people are deserving of support and to keep the focus on the fact that men are the main perpetrators of violence.

But this didn’t stop the outcry which implied that she was lying. This was despite the fact that she had been hit by a motorcyclist, was in shock, had to see a doctor, and was then hounded by the aggressive far-right Counterspin.

Chris Luxon leaves Davidson for dead on misspoke

If this wasn’t a recipe for a genuine misspoke I don’t know what is. What made it particularly hypocritical was that one of her public attackers was National Party leader Chris Luxon.

He regularly dishes up misspoke as part of his political diet and in much less pressured circumstances than Davidson found herself in. One such dish was his derogatory insinuation that people living in poverty, unemployed or low-income earners were “bottom feeders”.

Assault condemnation

There was another physical assault at the Albert Park event which required hospital treatment. This was of an older woman attending in support of the Parker gathering. It is presently before the courts with the alleged assailant most likely from among those supporting transgender rights and opposing Parker’s bigotry.

This assault deserves condemnation. The fact that she apparently opposed transgender rights and may have supported the bigotry of Parker and her supporters does not mitigate this condemnation.

In the wider context, however, I retain my assessment that the events of that day were not mob violence. This is confirmed by journalists present at the event as discussed in my earlier Political Bytes blog.

The two assaults (the older woman and Davidson) were different. But both were severe in their own ways. Both should be condemned as reprehensible individual behaviour – full stop!

A broader perspective on misspoke

On 30 March journalist Katie Kenny had published by Stuff an article which provides perspective on Davidson’s misspoke: Fact-checking Marama Davidson’s white cis men claims and subsequent clarification.

Kenny explores the linkage between gender, ethnicity and violence including referring to earlier investigations and research. She concludes, in respect of Davidson’s response to Counterspin and her subsequent clarification, that:

If you interpret Davidson’s comment as if it’s only white cisgender men who commit violence…it’s evidently not true.


Her later statement, about women being more likely to be victims of family and sexual violence (and men more likely the perpetrators), is true.

Another Stuff journalist Ripu Bhatia further dealt with the issue on 1 April drawing upon the expertise of Eileen Joy, a professional teaching fellow and doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland: Davidson right about prevalence of white male violence.

The vitriolic attacks on Marama Davidson over her misspoke in the circumstances in which it occurred were reprehensible. The micro-aggression that now continues is no less so. It is time this bullying to end.

4 thoughts on “The bullying of Marama Davidson

  1. A clsssic gas lighting non apology.. Māori men commit domestic and sexual violence at a much higher rate than white men. So why’d she single out white men? Could it be she simply doesn’t like white men.


  2. How would Davidson’s comment work if the cis men all suddenly decided that they had too much privilege from being white cis men and subsequently identified as non-binary people? What would happen to Davidson’s comment then? Would it suddenly become non-binary violence instead of violence commited by white cis men ?
    And how is it not mob violence when the women were unable to speak due to being advised by police that they would be putting themselves at risk by continuing to have the event? In this case, they were not simply “feeling” unsafe (words often used by progressives to shut speech down), they were at risk of tangible physical harm.
    This disinformation being spread far and wide by allegedly progressive people that women’s rights activists are “transphobic” is so obviously untrue that it has raised awareness of women’s rights in NZ, with an attempt to start a Women’s Rights Party to stand in the election and several new women’s rights groups being forme, one with 3000+ members.
    Note also that the two groups that invited PP to NZ were a group of lesbians and a group of Maori women. Hardly “white supremacists” or anti-LGB groups.
    The consistent smearing of anyone who stands up to the identity brigade and stick up for women’s concerns as being “far right” will soon become obviously laughable as almost all the women I know with concerns on this are ex-green or labour voters who currently feel abandoned by the “left”.


  3. Parker was bullied into silence by mob violence. In spitting out “cis” Davidson confirmed she was a fully functioning bigot. You are wrong on both counts Ian.


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