What a busy day for Auckland Saturday turned out to be. I missed the morning protest but caught the matinée. Due to unforeseens, I failed to attend the march for Civil Rights. However, I did catch the new and improved march against the Electoral Finance Bill, the second Auckland has seen. This one differed from its predecessor in that it appeared to be more Tory than Fundy. Rarely can have so many panama hats been gathered together in one place, except perhaps the Members Pavilion at Lords for the Eton and Harrow match. The streets of Remuera must have been empty.
That said, Family First made a showing, spreading their banner out across the front of the parade. The irony of Family First campaigning for freedom of speech was lost on the organisers, who obviously had forgotten Family First's campaigns against the exercise of freedom of speech by the makers of Hell's Pizza, The Simpsons, South Park and (shudder) Californication.
Others carried standard issue banners, proclaiming such messages as "Labour - you've gone too far." Various misplaced accusations of Fascism were made in home-made messages. On this theme, one man carried a banner adorned with a swastika, which perhaps did not give the impression he intended. The chanting wasn't up to much and some marchers sang the National Anthem as they went down Queen Street.
Interestingly, among this unhappy band were some from the morning protest, who obviously felt that one march was not enough exercise for the day. In their dour black fatigues they stood out from the mass of blue and white stripes. Younger and, in some cases, browner than the tories and fundies, they obviously caused some discomfort. I am told there were ructions during the speech-making when objections were made to the Maori flag being displayed. I also hear that one of their number tried to make an impassioned speech but had the microphone removed from him. Free speech has its limits, even at a protest claiming to be in its favour.
Also out on the street that day were the Scientologists, who were offering free stress tests; I was reminded of an old Goon Show joke about offering to take the weight off your wallet. The Hare Krishnas had gathered with some real Indians to pull a huge cart, a juggernaut I suppose, up the street. As I said, it was a busy day.
That evening, I made up for my absence at the Civil Rights march by attending the poetry and music event in favour of these same Rights, although purely as an observer and a drinker. The poetry did not move me but the music, provided by Otis Mace and Bill Direen and The Bilders, was splendid. It was held at the PR Bar, which is a curious mixture of Indie and Poly: the main bar is full of Island folk, swaying to the rhythms of commercial R'n'B, while the side room is full of pasty-faced white boys, gazing at their shoes and the extraordinary (and very comfortable) wall-to-wall carpet.
The guests included two of the accused, one of whom gave a very long and detailed account of the various charges against which he has defended himself (without a lawyer, of course) over the years, as well as the counter-attacks he has made on the oppressive police state that is New Zealand; the phrase 'vexatious litigant' sprang to mind. It was like listening to paint drying. The other accused was Omar Hamed who is, despite his name, a pasty-faced white boy. Just as OJ Simpson defended himself on the grounds that the glove would not fit, Hamed may be able to convince a jury that he would not have the physical strength to pick up the semiautomatic gun which was found on his premises.
Speaking of guns, there was one other guest, uninvited but impossible to turn away: the elephant in the middle of the room. Everyone pretended it was not there, but it could not be avoided.
The guns, the guns; of course, nobody spoke about them. Everyone talked about justice, rights, freedom. Everyone talked about the oppressive Terrorism Suppression Act, how it stifled protest; how it copied the terrorism laws of the USA, Canada and Australia which had been used against indigenous people; how its use by the Police was like the emergency powers they used against the Wharfies and the Springbok protesters. But nobody talked about the guns; nobody except the lovely woman to whom I was talking, who said there were only four of them. Only four, as if such a small number didn't matter. Perhaps I should have asked her how many guns it took to kill JFK; or perhaps I should have chosen a better example; but you get my point.
I expect most of the people there had never seen a gun in real life. I think most people who have no experience of guns fail to appreciate their essential nature, what guns are for. Guns are for killing. This seems bleeding obvious when you state it but it is a truth that is usually ignored. Hold a loaded gun in your hands and you can appreciate the ingenuity of its design and the skill of its maker, just as you could any other device; but you cannot escape the fact that you could point that particular device at someone and make him dead. Some of the people at that event should try holding guns sometime.
The people they support had four guns between them, four guns which could kill many more than four people. I am still baffled as to what cause in New Zealand is so just and so urgent that it could justify killing other New Zealanders. Of course the people that night talked of a secret police and of a police state; meanwhile the Police, practically the last unarmed police force in the world, rushed past in their cars to deal with aspects of the Saturday night drinking problem. Members of the Tuhoe tribe who had come up to town for the demo jeered; dickheads.
Of course, some are saying that these Tuhoe people have been treated dreadfully by the Police. The Police searched cars, searched a school bus, even searched a woman's underwear drawer. What infamy. If scenes like that had been included in Schindler's List, what would the Chief Censor have done? Some residents were so disturbed by the Police actions that they were moved to demand financial compensation. I bet that never happened in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Rarely have I heard so much twaddle spoken about so few. A bunch of people who planned to kill other people have been caught. Many people of the left, faced with the enormity of the fact that some of their mates wanted to be murderers, have reacted with knee-jerk radicalism: its all about civil rights, oppression, institutional racism, fascist police state... waa, waa waa. No it fucken isn't. Its about killers. Omar Hamed might be a wanker; and he is. Tame Iti might be a really creative visual artist; and he isn't. What unites them is that they are people who are prepared to kill or assist others in killing to achieve their ill-considered political aims.
The people who are huffing and puffing about civil rights might like to think about what might happen if some of those on that other demo, the tory protest, got the means and got the motion to do some terrorism. Perhaps they might like to think what it was like in Italy during the Seventies. Italy had the so, so, glamorous Brigate Rosse, who strove to increase the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat by killing bank clerks. And then, to match the Red, Italy had the Black: the Fascists (yes, real ones, not the imaginary villains of the suburban leftie imagination) who blew up Bologna railway station, killing proles and bourgeois together. I wonder if, should some of those tories decide to defend freedom of speech by doing some killing, anyone will be holding a benefit night of interpretative dance for their civil rights.