Please don’t make me side with the rednecks

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There was an opinion piece that I saw in my timeline today by NZHerald columnist Lizzie Marvelly about the disgusting case of Nikolas Delegat assaulting a female officer in Dunedin and receiving 300 hours of community service and paying $5,000 in reparations as his punishment.

Let me state this from the outset, I think the New Zealand justice system is imperfect, sometimes the threshold and directives for sentencing are too lenient and at other times they are too harsh. I also believe firmly that minorities, and especially Maori, are treated unfairly and disproportionately severely when sentenced as compared to non-Maori. Marvelly’s own NZ Herald, pointed this out earlier this week when it showed that “Maori imprisoned at twice rate of Europeans for same crime

So, if you read nothing else from this post, be aware that I am in the camp that thinks the Justice System is stacked against Maori and that often for others, especially the privileged, the system is too lenient.

The problem with Mavelly’s opinion piece is that the Nikolas Delegat case is not an example of that in the current system.

To be clear, I do think Delegat’s sentence is too lenient, but with the current stipulations for the crime he committed, he did not get special treatment because of his families wealth which is the main crux of Marvelly’s piece. This also means comparing it to other sentencing becomes problematic because Delegat’s sentence was proportionate, in the current Justice System’s climate, to his crime.

Lizzie Marvelly wrote about the difference between the sentence of Delegat to Hautahi Kingi, a young Maori boy in Whanganui in 2007 who, according to Marvelly. “attacked a male friend who had recently taken up with his girlfriend, causing a bloody nose and a cut lip”. The truth is, again according to Marvelly’s NZ Herald, is that with a friend “acted as street thugs engaging in street fighting. There was also an element of premeditation in that Kingi had sent threatening text messages to his intended victim the week before.” So according to the record it was a bit more than a off the cuff punch up.

Needless to say it appears to have been Kingi’s first offence so when he was sentenced to 5 months prison one could start to look at the bias inherent in the justice system where Maori are sent to prison and non-Maori are not, unfortunately for that narrative there was also another person who was sentenced with Kingi for four months…and my investigations point to him as being Pakeha. If my investigations are correct and the Kingi sentence was the inherent racism in the system, why was his friend also sentenced? On top of that the prison sentence was then overturned and both parties had their convictions quashed, and served 200 and 250 hours of community service. This means they actually got an easier sentence that Nikolas Delegat. What this points to is a rogue judge who tried to instill a sentence that was inappropriate, as opposed to the system being broken.

The truth is that Lizzie Marvelly and I, it would appear, are in the same camp when it comes to Maori being sentenced more harshly than ‘the rest’, but I said it on ODTtv this week, and I’ll say it again, this is not an example of that.

The maximum sentence that Nikolas Delegat could have received for this crime, under the current system, was 400 hours community service as experienced Christchurch defense lawyer Grant Tyrrell pointed out on RNZ National this week. He received 300 hours and had to pay $5,000 in reparations…based on the criteria for sentencing that is not a ‘slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket’…that’s close to a maximum sentence.

If you now want to have a debate on the whole Justice system being too lenient and Mr. Delegat’s case being an example of that, then I am with you but please stop comparing this case, today, to the injustice that Maori face in NZ courts on a daily basis.

What Marvelly’s piece does is give oxygen to those who don’t want to acknowledge that Maori and treated more severely in the Justice System than non-Maori because, again, this is not an example of that. So what Marvelly’s good intentions do, is actually give all those rednecks and racists a valid comeback because in this instance she, and many others, have got it wrong. And what that leads me to do it sit on the same side of the argument as those disgusting people and I don’t want to be here, so please, please…I beg of you…stop it.

 

Where does a progressive charismatic go?

Adversaries 1So many of you know, in fact for many of you it may be the primary reason we are connected, that I am, for want of a better word, religious. I have never fitted well into any box. Most other people use the word ‘Christian’ when they talk about me but I don’t and never really have as I feel it doesn’t represent me accurately, especially when so much of my work over the past 20 years has been in a public setting and that public setting has already decided what the word ‘Christian’ means, and their definition is not what I am.

One of the reasons I have never felt comfortable with the term “Christian” is that I look at the community that identifies with that word and I don’t see people like me, who think like me, who act like me, or who represent their faith in the way I represent my faith. So if I’m nothing like them, then I’m not one of them…right?

As someone who hopes to constantly grow in his beliefs, opinions and perspectives on “life, the universe and everything“, I have come to the conclusion in recent times that it doesn’t seem that I fit…because I don’t fit. Simple really.

As with the word “Christianity” I really hate labels as I find them too encompassing, but for the sake of conversation I will try to expand on where I see myself fit in the church.

My personal beliefs, theology and faith fit more comfortably with what many would describe as Progressive Christianity…but my natural style of worship (read ‘style of church’ for you non-religious) is much more like what many would see as Charismatic Christianity. Let me state this for the record to make it very, very clear before the Christian trolls decide to have a crack. I am neither Progressive nor am I Charismatic, but they are areas within the faith that I gravitate towards for aspects of my personal journey and therein lies the problem.

In New Zealand, progressive churches (which support the LGBTI community and treat women as equals) are typically very traditional (think hymns, organs, choirs and a liturgical, repeated service each week) and seem to be to have less of an interest in what the bible describes as “Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” On the other hand, a charismatic church will have more life, more youth and have more my preference in style of music. However a charismatic church is much more likely to be very conservative in its beliefs (think anti-same sex marriage, limits on women’s participation in the church) and there is often an implicit message that input from outside the bible is something to be avoided, and everything in the bible is ‘literal’. I realise I am being unfair to pigeon hole all charismatic churches like this, but if you lined up a hundred of each, these trends would be very obvious to see.

So for someone who wants the style of a charismatic church, but the intellect and theology of a progressive church what do they do? What do I do?

In an ideal world I would be finding a church that has progressive leanings and a charismatic style but it would seem that in Dunedin that kind of church doesn’t exist. When we first arrived in Dunedin I tried to attend a church that has progressive leanings knowing that the style wasn’t me, and I hoped that I could make a space for myself and others who wanted more of what I was looking for. Offers were made and accepted, but those doors were quickly closed so here I sit on Sunday morning at my desk with no church affiliation…but still feeling like I want one.

I decided this morning that I actually want to find a church here in Dunedin. In my investigative efforts so far I have failed to find what I am looking for and what I’ve decided to do is start by finding out where churches sit theologically. Obviously I can find out about their style of worship is by visiting. I have three questions to ask the leadership in the churches I am going to approach.

  1. If one of my children was to come out as gay at 15 how would they be received in this churches congregation?
  2. If my child, then as an 18 year old, wanted to be the leader of the youth group, how would the leadership approach that?
  3. If my child, at 22, then wanted to be married to their same-sex partner in this church, by the Pastor, how would that be received by the leadership?

Whilst many know that my connection with and defense of the LGBTI community is a very important part of my faith, it’s not the be-all and end-all. However I find that asking questions around this issue is very enlightening – it gives me a pretty good indication of where the church sits on other issues important to my faith.

Let’s see how I go.

 

 

If you are interested in interacting with me about this post you can comment below, follow me on twitter or facebook or email me directly.

Labour and their ‘Chinese Surnames’

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So here we go again, an idea thought up in the upper offices of Labour with merit, executed like those making the decisions are in their first day of politics.

I say ‘merit’ because I think many people are in agreement with the idea of foreign money (from whatever country) flooding into our housing market will indeed put pressure on locals (of any ethnicity)  when it comes to buying houses. A register of international buyers is not an idea that any political party opposes and in fact National will eventually bring in and then take the kudos for doing so.

However good ideas every day, whether their good business ideas, good relationship ideas, good political ideas or any kind of ideas, fall over due to those trying to impose them. Usually with political ideas it’s the execution that fails that party and this is a classic example of that. There is also the consideration of those opposing Labour and their ability to change the narrative of the issue which National has done perfectly, but not without help.

My sources inform me that Labour gave the policy to the New Zealand Herald several days before they released it, embargoed, to fact check and prepare themselves to write about it once Labour made the issue known publicly and I am reliably informed that the Herald then leaked the information to National. What this did is give National the ability to get ahead of what Labour was doing and formulate a strategy to combat what Labour was trying to say. For future reference National poll everything, they research and get public opinion on everything which usually takes two days. If in the future National comes out with a cast iron position on a major Labour or Greens policy that is not yet in the public domain then it’s a pretty safe bet they have been leaked the information and have already tested it.

In saying all of that the way Labour has handled this information is sloppy and amateurish and even though National got ahead of the release, it still only too Lisa Owen on The Nation 8 minutes to accuse Phil Twyford and Labour of playing the race card all without the polling that National did, she came to the same conclusion.

The conversation about international money influencing our housing market is valid…very valid…but what Labour has done is basically give a green light to every red-neck, right wing, talkback calling bigot fodder to continue to treat the Asian community like second class citizens. If you don’t believe me just have a read of, Masterton native, Raybon Kan’s article from Wednesday.

And now we have groups like HouGarden.com, one of NZs biggest websites for Chinese immigrants to find property in NZ, stating that Chinese buying in NZ are looking for better education opportunities for their children, not investments as there are much better investments elsewhere. Their evidence for this is that when people are on their site some of the most searched words were “school zone, double grammar zone, Maclean, Westlake, Rangitoto and Auckland Grammar.” This again is a terrible news item for Labour but not quite as bad as the leaker of the information from Barfoots now losing his job…wonder how that will sit with the core Union member Labour supporter.

Finally, I am also dismayed that no one yet has actually offered a solution to the housing bubble in Auckland. So Labour is promising to ban international speculators, fair enough, but my question, as always, is “then what?” The average house price in Auckland is approaching $800,000 (see why we moved to Dunedin) and if this move ends up ‘correcting the market,  then what about all those people who have bought in this market and just had $200,000** wiped off their equity…what about them? Or if the prices of houses still remain near $800,000 on average how are first time home buyers going to afford that?

An idea with merit that at it’s core most would support, executed poorly: Labour 2015

PS – Got $800,000…come to Dunedin

Better yet…got $400,000ish…come to Dunedin

Or how about, just for fun, $200,000ish

** arbitrary figure