A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington’s endorsement of misogynistic violence

by Don Franks

It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission statement.

Hours of debate finally reached consensus: “Peace, with Justice, and self-determination”.  The addition of “with” had  finally clinched the slogan to everyone’s satisfaction. Those six words took a lot of work to corral but words were important to PAW.

In the beginning, words were all we had to try to advance our cause. Words, and later, masses of people.

PAW’s main function was organising mass marches and protests against New Zealand-aided US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. History will remember PAW for that, and also for standing up for a point of principle.

During the period, many people in and about the left were chary of criticising the Labour government, largely because of Helen Clark’s big popularity. From the outset and throughout, PAW pulled no punches with Labour and its leaders. Abusive accusations from party hacks and even a special visit from NZCTU head Helen Kelly were unable to dissuade us from the truth. We continued speaking out about Labour’s embrace of those imperialist wars.

Today, some fifteen years on, Peace Action Wellington is still vocal . On matters and in a manner far from its origins.

Against the women’s rights site Speak Up For Women PAW chose to endorse a tweeted image of a gallows as an intended  platform for SUFW: “Great to see people support their awesome friends by standing up to your transphobic bigotry.”

When asked how they reconciled public execution with the cause of peace, PAW replied, “we agree it was a pretty great tweet the way it called out your ongoing transphobic hatey campaign and all but to describe it as public execution is a bit ott.”

Peace Action Wellington’s degeneration is a sign of the times. Among the wreckage of the left, words like ’transphobic’,  ’trash’ and ‘fascist’ get hurled mindlessly at any person supportive of women’s basic rights. There is a carelessness for words’ meaning, for people’s feelings and for truth.

The great mass of the public will not be interested in squabbles between small political interest groups, but I would say this to any few who might be: read the material published by Speak Up For Women. See what they actually stand for and say and see how untrue are the accusations flung against them.

My response to those presently representing PAW is simple: your abusive missive will not dissuade us. It won’t shift the focus of Speak Up for Women and its supporters by the fraction of a millimetre.  In the words of one of New Zealand’s greatest peace activists, Archibald Baxter – We will not  cease!


  1. Stuff like this shows to how great an extent a section of the NZ left has lost the plot. Displays of violent misogyny are now acceptable to this section of leftists. The need for a new, genuine left just keeps growing as this element just get worse and worse politically. Even Gramsci would be surprised at just how morbid the morbid symptoms have become.

    • As an American I can’t begin to tell you how much we need a genuine left! Our so-called left is filled with trust funders, and trust funders can’t be radicals as they are dependent on unearned income. But they can be torch bearers for the craziest causes imaginable such as transgenderism.

  2. It just show if women stick up for themselves, they are due a lynching apparently…this won’t be forgotten. By a Peace group of all things. Take me down to Alabama.

    • When the women’s liberation movement got going in the late 1960s and early 1970s, politically conservative men reacted in a hostile – and sometimes violent – manner. But nothing like this! The emergence of this new misogyny in sections of the left is far more crazed and violent. It’s like medieval and early-modern hunts for witches to burn at the stake. And the number of left activists who encourage and enable the misogynist violence shows the left is rather full of crazies and spineless people who won’t stand up for basic principles like the right of women to live and organise without misogynist violence.

  3. Alabama indeed. This is KKK stuff. The KKK threatened ‘disobedient’ black Americans with lynching; PAW likes seeing ‘disobedient’ women threatened with lynching.

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