Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Guns and poesy

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.


Will de Cleene said...

Four guns is pissant. How many guns were deployed in the dawn raids? Many multiples of four, I bet. Outnumbered, outgunned, overwhelmed, and total overkill. Everyone involved has been taking themselves far too serously.

Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

Paul, Paul, Paul. I come to the Fundy Post for well-reasoned discourse, not fallacious rants. It seems to me that in the rush to distance yourselve from the 'loony' left you're buying into the Centre Right Middle-New Zealand rhetoric. Yes, there were guns and yes, if you're a pacifist (and I'm not sure I am), then you should be concerned. Even given that, the Police actions were unjustified in Ruatoki (considering how things went down elsewhere), especially given the Nation of Tuhoe's past problems with the Police. That's just one (very good) reason to be concerned with the raids. There are others. The use of terrorism charges where they were not appropriate. The fact that people, according to the evidence, who did not agree with what you call 'ill-considered political aims' were arrested as if they did. I've been to several of these protests. I'm going to several of these fund-raisers. If it were merely about guns I probably wouldn't be bothering. Luckily (or unluckily) it isn't. It's about language, especially the way that language changed after 9/11.

Anonymous said...

Killing people is disgusting. But you are quite ready condemn the "accused" of something they have not even- as far as I'm aware- been charged with- that is, conspiracy to murder. Trial by flaneur may be a tradition on the Left Bank, but it's no substitute for justice. Did 300 armed police expect to search all those houses, vehicles and people and find only four guns? On all sides this has the feel of people over-playing their meagre hands.
And we all lose.

Robyn said...

Bill Direen at the PR bar twice in one year! You lucky lucky!

Psycho Milt said...

Well, I'm glad you wrote it, anyway. The same thing's crossed my mind when I listen to these buffoons quacking on about their civil rights: "Tell us about the guns first, dickhead."

Anonymous said...

There was one attempt by the US Army of God, an anti-abortionist terrorist group, to contact a since-deceased Christchurch anti-abortion activist, the late Graeme White, in the nineties, but it all came to nothing.

They're the only bigots with guns outfit that comes to my mind...

Craig Y.

Lyndon said...

As far as I know - and I don't really - at the moment we have people who like to play with guns in the woods and some of who have, figuratively, shot their mouth off about revolution.

Sometimes such people are harmless, sometimes the blow up buildings. I don't know.

But the phrase trial by flaneur did amuse me.

Speaking of non left-wingers and violent overthrow of the state (and of wide-definition fundies), via molesworth and featherston from this guy:

Lindsay Perigo calling for an uprising:
...and then dropping hints that there is covert planning going on.

He doesn't seem especially cowed today either:

I can't imagine what he thinks he could do that would make things better.

Sanctuary said...

Anyone left winger in their right mind who saw those Tuhoe Maori idiots outside the Auckland courthouse the other night on the news would be disgusted by the behaviour on show - waving weapons about, spitting on police vehicles, hurling vile racist epithets at police officers - and just buried their head in their hands at the sheer idiocy of the own goal being scored on the national TV news.

Oppressed? If I waved a fighting stick about in such a manner, if I spat on a police car, if I hurled racist and filthy insults at a police officer and all in broad daylight in major Auckland street I'd be arrested in a trice.

Oppressed? Pull the the other one. They got treated special all right - they got away with a shitload more than I or any bunch of white folk would have.

Disgraceful behaviour from vulgar, common criminals. And I am meant to feel sorry for them because....?

Sanctuary said...

Lindsay Perrigo. Graham McCready. John Boscawen. Murray Deaker. Bob McCroskie. What is it about aging white men? They seem so resentful and angry at the male menopause, but FFS - they've got viagra, what more do they need?

Anonymous said...

Just wait the whiners will get invites to the next big NRA convention. Then they can get really scared.

Anonymous said...

Well written. Pity the point appears lost on some.

Will de Cleene, you're fighting a losing battle by focusing on the number of guns. David Gray had one. He killed a lot of folk. He also happened to be white. And I'm not talking about the singer-songwriter, although you could be forgiven for thinking I was.

I'm also particularly taken by Horansome's deep analysis: yes there were guns, but the police overreacted a bit, didn't they?

Yes, there were guns. And no, they didn't overreact. THERE WERE GUNS!

And there's the elephant again, sitting in the middle of the room, with Will stepping around it busy writing new slogans for Mark Burnett's latest reality T.V. show.

"Outnumbered. Outgunned. Overwhelmed. This is 'Overkill'."

Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

Well, Rob, you missed the point, didn't you? So, in a case where there are guns any means necessary, eh? Well, if that's the case then we can point towards the police being prejudicial to, for example, non-farmers, seeing that there have been some fairly high profile cases of the police deciding not to prosecute farmers illegally using firearms.

The people of Ruatoki were searched by Armed Offenders. They had their photographs taken illegally. These people were maltreated all because of a suspected threat living in their community. That is overreacting, especially considering how the police acted in other areas of the country on the same charges. If you want to tolerate brutish behaviour by our police service, fine. I, on the other hand, do not, will not and am doing what I consider to be the ethical thing, which is to show support for these people who have yet to convicted of anything and will not be convicted of anything called terrorism because there was not sufficient evidence to prove a case for that prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in a case where there are guns and sufficient evidence for police to suspect they're about to be used, even against someone like That Bloke That's Gonna Be The Next Prime Minister, any means necessary.

The police do not have the luxury of supposing nothing serious will come of the chitter-chatter. They are obliged to take action and they did.

Read the evidence that's been leaked, Horansome. It's compelling to say the least.

Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

It's not compelling at all. It's mostly hypothetical, relating to suspected conversations and the majority of the supposed terrorists spend most of their time either texting each other about dinner plans or asking why people are talking about stupid shit. It's also a one-sided presentation designed to try and get grounds for prosecution. The fact that it failed to achieve shows that the evidence was insufficient. Frankly, the kind of evidence that was presented is good grounds to argue that we need more critical thinking teaching in our schools, because what was presented does not stand up to analysis and if this is the best the police could muster there was no real case to answer for and a good case to erase those cops from the roster and train them all over again.

The police are obliged to act upon sufficient evidence, not on mere suspicion. The fact that they not only acted on mere suspicion but that Howard Broad is now asking to have the authority to be act on those grounds in the future is telling, methinks.

Paul said...

It wasn't a matter of insufficient evidence. The Solicitor General reviewed a lot of evidence which he found "very disturbing." The problem was the Terrorism Suppression Act, which he found "unnecessarily complex, incoherent, and as a result almost impossible to apply to the domestic circumstances observed by the police in this case."

The plotters got away with their plotting because of a badly drafted law.

Matthew R. X. Dentith said...

That's not strictly true either, although it would be fair to say that the media have reported that story as being the one true account of events. Within judicial circles the issue really is the role of the Crown Law Office and the Auditor General's desire to have it more involved with the drafting of leglisation, something Kevin Brady has been pushing for.

Anyway, rumour-mongering aside, it is still the case that there was, in the eyes of the Law, no crime (as suggested) to answer for. You can't condemn these people on the possibility that under another law they might have been done (for that is a slippery slope). And even if they had been done under the existing law, would it still have been justified for Police to raid Ruatoki, conduct illegal searches and the like? If you say 'Yes' then I would like to know where, exactly, you would draw the line about this kind of police behaviour?

And anyway, four guns? Distributed over seventeen people? I've heard individual farmers with more in the way of weaponry discuss killing politicians.

Oi vey.

(Frankly, the Centre Left's reaction to this whole debacle is disgraceful. I'm certainly not voting Labour next election.)

And, anyway, for plotters to plot they need an actual plot, of which the evidence really doesn't suggest the existence of. I should remind people that I'm writing a doctoral thesis on Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories. I've yet to see anything in regards the terrorism raids to suggest anything of that kind.

I shan't be commenting on this matter any further because I'm going away on holiday for a month to a part of the country that has little internet access. Yes, I'm going south of Auckland.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing was a farce.

On all sides.

guerillattzzis playing rambo.

millions spent, thousands of police hours and a few firearms charges is the result ??????????????

I thank the police for saving me from nothing.

............... now if they could put a bit more effort into REAL crime ( some of which subjects the victims to REAL terror ) then I might feel they are actually doing something for the country.

............. and the poor little guerillattzzis have had their silly hands smacked.

friggen expesive way to do it.

Richard said...

If you wanted the issue of guns discussed why didn't you speak up?

There are in fact times when guns are necessary in the process of social and political change - Capitalism itself came about via many wars and revolutions - perhaps there are Tuhoe and others who are organising to use guns - perhaps not - but you have to show that such a use is ALWAYS a bad thing. Always bad to have guns?? Guns were sued to stop Hitler.

(I have in fact fired a gun - I don't like guns in general though BTW)

I agree that guns (for the most part) are bad news; but the people I saw with guns were the police - and they have had them and used them in NZ for years. Most of those protesting have a more sophisticated view than this kind of very superficial synopsis of yours; and most in general and in principal oppose guns as a primary weapon for use in a political change - but again - we heard nothing from you at the PR Bar...)

Why are the Maori - including Tuhoe so angry?

What you have said here is very witty perhaps but seems to float around and away from the subject -it is not even very clear what your point is...

That some people were planning to murder certain politicians or others - so what? maybe it will be necessary one day.

That guns are terrible? - Hmm - yes - they can be. But hands can "murder or create" (Eliot) - we don't need guns to kill...

That protest organistions attract mixed bunch(es)? - yes they do -

That Jamie Lockett's speech was quite tedious and almost meaningless? (Almost like that of an agent provocateur or an SIS agent? Or a "madman"?) Yes. It seemed so to me...but he was at least given, and took, the right to speak out, BUT