Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 14. 1966.
Sir, Criticism to often necessary but never tasteful, and therefore, so as not to lessen the chances of this letter being minted, I will adress it to Mr. James K. Baxter himself, and not to you for publishing an article featuring his statements.
Mr. Baxter: I have read your statements and must admit that, though a university student, I prefer our present New Zealand way of life to that of which you suggest (And I have been assured that I am not a paranoid!). The idea of abolishing compulsory education to provide an illiterate population and re-vitalize art, I cannot accept. How many artists have illiterate peoples produced? And moreover, many of us owe a debt of gratitude to the present education system—including the boarding schools—and though we may not all become poets, we are able to appreciate the arts as much as we wish, and, I hope, question the views of a name.
I applauded your recommendations about advertising (censorship, too—with qualifications) but your ideas on sex and homosexuality leave a bad taste even in my "Colgate-tended" mouth. To me they are the ideas of a frustrated, dirty, old man —I hope you got them from someone else.
Your suggestion that everyone be allowed to take a spell of economic insecurity every now and then, would certainly make New Zealand a land of paranoids, though hardly a paradise. And as for immigration, drugs, grogshops, and bull-fights, I give no reply: a ship with no bottom will sink without being torpedoed.
You know some funny policemen ail right, James, but I must remind you that there have been some strangetype poets too—I mean, do you want me to condemn all artists because of your statements?
No, I cannot agree with your plan for New Zealand until I see some practical and better alternatives, I am prepared to defend our present education system, our various laws, and their means of enforcement. Your suggestions were not alternatives and fall to win my vote. But I must qualify this: at least a New Zealand under your system could produce many artists—there would certainly be plenty to protest about.
David M. Roughan.