Urewera 4 win, the Crown and Police look foolish

I said in a post on my old blog that the Urewera 18 deserved an apology. My main point is that 13 if then were put through 4 years of being accused of being terrorists and criminals and then all charges were dropped. Some of these people lost work, had to move, we separated from family all around these charges and then the charges were just dropped.

From the post

If the police put you or I through 4 years of being accused terrorists, to the detriment of our families, relationships and finances then just threw it all in saying “not enough evidence” we’d demand an apology.

And more

I have no idea what happened in Te Urewera’s for these arrests to have taken place, I don’t neither support, nor do I condemn, the so called Urewera 18. All I know is that if you or I were put through what they were put through we’d expect, and deserve, an apology.
Why should it be any different for them?

I know what your thinking…”just because the ‘4’ were not convicted of the more serious crime of being a part of a criminal organisation…that doesn’t mean they aren’t”…well actually you’re wrong, that’s exactly what it means. In the eyes of the law these ‘4’ are not a part of the criminal organisation that they were accused of. The burden of proof is always on the prosecution, we are innocent until proven guilty, which means if you can’t prove it…in the eyes of the justice system…I didn’t do it.

I think John Minto makes a fair point

In the Auckland High Court yesterday afternoon it all boiled down to a handful of convictions of four people for technical breaches of the Arms Act. That was it. So after many millions spent during 18 months of surveillance, more millions spent on the prosecution and following 30,000 pages of evidence the police bagged a small number of minor convictions on what one of the defence lawyers described as “holding changes”.

Just think about the progressions of these charges.

Five years ago we had ‘terrorists’ being charged, that got downgraded to ‘criminal organisation’, which upon the end of the court case was downgraded to some minor firearms charges. That’s a pretty big fall!

“We thought we had Osama bin Laden…but we ended up with a pig hunter with an unlicensed firearm!”

No I am not naive to think that nothing ‘dodgy’ was happening in the Urewera’s, but as of today we cannot place guilt on these people.

If these are dangerous criminals, then the Police have let the whole country down, if they are not then the Police owe them an apology.

It would appear that the judge did not think these ‘4’ were a danger to society as he grated them bail and they are today at home with their families. The Crown opposed bail, but the judge granted it anyway

There is one other part of this story that I have major concerns about.

If any institution in this fine country should be above reproach, then it needs to be our justice system. The justice system needs to dot its ‘i’s’ and cross its ‘t’s’. The idea that the court room will accept information that has been gathered illegally makes me, at best, uncomfortable.

I understand that is an accusation is so serious it may be acceptable in those instances, but in this case the prosecution have not been able to get a conviction on the more serious charges, so does that mean it wasn’t the kind of case where this should have been allowed…obviously I cannot say for sure any which way…but to have a government change the legislation of this country, to introspectively make illegal evidence legal…then not get the conviction sends warning signs to me.

If nothing else, I think the police owe the people of Ruatoki an apology for the so called raids…I don’t have a problem with them investigating what was going on, but how they did it requires an acknowledgement that they were wrong.

 

You can’t legislate against being a ‘dick’

I wrote a few months ago about football players in the UK being arrested and facing criminal charges for racial taunts, I said then I wasn’t for it, and I have to say I am still not for it. You can’t legislate the ‘dick-ishness’ out of someone.

I could understand if a player was to face a British Football enquiry, that’d make sense, but to head to criminal court, over an offensive statement just rubs me up the wrong way. It’s obviously not that I approve of the statements, but there is something deep in our psyche about speaking freely…even if we are an offensive douche.

It makes me uncomforatble.

Well you can heighten that  uncomfortably now as a 21 year old has just been in court in the UK after ‘tweeting offensive comments‘.

A Welsh student could go to jail after tweeting offensive comments about footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsing during a game on Sunday.

Liam Stacey, from Pontypridd, south Wales, was arrested after the comments were shown to police from Twitter users, including former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore.

The tweet read: “LOL. F*** Muamba. He’s dead.” After various users complained, the 21-year-old replied with a series of offensive messages.

Liam Stacey is obviously an idiot, and an insensitive moron…but is he a criminal for sending offensive tweets…what the heck have we come to?

It feels all a little Orwellian to me…and that worries me.

We have the freedoms to be as offensive as we want, and whilst those amongst with an ounce of sense will realise that what Liam Stacey was reprehensible…it wasn’t criminal.

What’s next? Undercover cops in pubs listening to our conversations to hear an offensive comment?

No matter how hard we try, we cannot legislate away someone being a ‘dick’ and to try will just lead to those of us who are not, to lose some of our freedoms as well.

With freedoms we have to acknowledge that idiots and morons are going to be able to use those freedoms to offend…but it is so much better than the alternative…isn’t it?

Crafer, Crafer everywhere with not an valid point to be seen

Oh my goodness! Are we still talking about why the ‘Chinese’ shouldn’t buy Crafer farms? This conversation has been going on for what feels like an eternity…and just like Christmas…it’s back before you know it.

The Overseas Investment Office authorised over 1,000,000 hectares of NZ land to be sold to foreign nationals or consortium’s from Germany, Australia, Canada, South Africa and many other predominantly ‘white’ countries…all I am looking for is consistency.

I don’t think NZ land should be sold off shore, although it’s not as serious as many would have you believe for a couple of reasons. One, they can’t take it anywhere, and two, when the foreign entity wants to sell it, NZers have the first rights again to buy it i.e. it’s not ‘lost forever’. However I think that leasing is the sensible option for overseas investors…but then again if I am a farmer and I want to sell…and no one can afford to buy my property…leasing may not be an option so why not sell to the highest bidder then?

Consistency would be showing the same kind of abhorrence to any international sale as we do to “the Chinese”. I think it’s undeniable that there is massive xenophobia and maybe even racism over this sale.

I wrote about this last year on my old blog. The audio link is no longer working in that post so here it is again, your typical talkback caller with no evidence, just rhetoric, posturing, xenophobia and ‘gut feelings’

We have a couple of possibilities here. One is that Crafer Farms does not sell, two is that it does sell. If it sells to a NZ company or individual it’s likely it will be for far less than an international bid…but it’ll be NZ owned (blah. blah, blah). If it sells to an international group they will inject far more into the economy to get the farms up and running. If it is bought by one of these Chinese groups they will make the milk powder in NZ, employing more Kiwis, and then send it to a part of the world where the children desperately need this kind of product…where is the dilemma?

The latest news is that ‘the latest’ conglomerate from Asia that wants to purchase the farms with the same old people wanting to block it making their loud voices and creating fear amongst Kiwis that ‘we’ll soon be paying to rent our own land’. Well that decision is out tonight or tomorrow. I am sure talkback will be busy.

Gingrich will be nervous about a Perry endorsement

Today we hear the sad news that the last remaining hope for comedians the world over has left the race to be President of the USA. In the early hours of this morning NZ time Rick Perry announced he was pulling out from the race.

Comedians the world over have shed a tear, first Donald Trump, then Hermain Cain now the last of the ‘genuine’ jokes has fallen, Rick Perry says goodbye.

I guess they can still make jokes about Santorim’s name, or Romney’s uncomfortable natures…but the last of their bread and butter has gone.

About the last point of interest is who Perry will now endorse. Politicians in America do this hoping that their followers will then support that candidate…however in this case I am sure the candidate who if being touted by the media as the one likely to receive that endorsement is more than a little uneasy about it.

As a part of his withdraw from the race, Rick Perry also endorsed Newt Gingrich.

“There is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign,” he said in a news conference in North Charleston, S.C. “Today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States.

He called Gingrich a “conservative visionary.”

Newt Gingrich found himself in a little hot water speaking to the N.A.A.C.P. saying “If the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention, talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” The N.A.A.C.P. was not impressed.

Gingrich was then challenged at the latest South Carolina debate asking if he acknowledged that some Blacks could have found that offensive, Newt’s response was a simple, “No!” and then went on another diatribe about teaching the unemployed how to get a job, keep it and own it.

So why would the Perry endorsement be of concern to the Gingrich camp. Well apart from the obvious ‘idiot’ factor, when the dumbest guy say’s your his guy and you think, “If the idiot is endorsing Gingrich…does that mean I am an idiot to support him as well”…apart from that, there is this…caution, contains offensive words

I was going to make some point about the hypocrisy within politics in America, or how these rich white men seem to have lost touch with the “99%” but I think I’ll just say that Perry and Gingrich are GOP nominees…what else would you expect?

Being arrested for using racist taunts…I’m not for it.

In the UK at the moment you can be arrested for using racial insults. Now I find racism abhorrent, the idea that one person believes themselves better than anyone else because of the colour of their skin, or what culture they come from is not only loathsome but ludicrous. Often examples of such cretins who believe in racist theories are plainly at the bottom end of any kind of human ‘ranking system’, which just negates their argument even more, however the idea of being arrested for being a bigoted ignoramus doesn’t sit well with me.

Maybe it comes down to the difference between being a racist, and using a racial slur. Splitting hairs you might say…well I would challenge any person who has not, at some stage, for some reason, put themselves above a person of another race momentarily.  Maybe you’ve rolled you’re eyes when hearing a foreign language at your supermarket and thought, “You’re in NZ now, speak English!” Maybe you’ve been cut off when driving and thought, “Bloody Asian drivers!” Maybe you’ve been extra watchful of a Maori in a public place because, “All Maori are criminals!” Does that make you a racist….or someone who has had a racist thought? Is there any difference?

There are already a couple of examples in English soccer of players being charged with racism, not just by their governing body, but by the police, and the latest example has seen a 20 year old spectator arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.

Now I could go down the extremely weak “freedom of speech” argument, but as we all know there is not such thing as freedom of speech. My discomfort with the idea of being arrested for being a 20 year old moron, who doesn’t understand the issue at hand, is two fold.

Firstly is will not eliminate racism, to me if this is an issue that English soccer is trying to stamp out it would seem more appropriate and perhaps more effective to then ban that spectator from entering any stadiums in the future (however from what I know of the English soccer fan the stadiums may soon be pretty empty in some parts of the UK).

Secondly, and more importantly, I have a concern as to the precedence this is setting. Bigotry and discrimination comes in all forms, against all areas of life. There are 6 main areas of discrimination, none of which are seen any differently in a court of law. You cannot discriminate against race, sexual orientation, gender, age, religion and disability. Of course there are many more such as ‘height-ism’ but these 6 are the main group, and the most common you would see in a court of law. So if in a court of law, these 6 are seen as equally wrong my question is, “Where to from here?”

If this is the precedence that the UK is setting for racism, what is to follow for discrimination and bigotry against age, religion, gender, disabilities and sexual orientation. I don’t know about you but I’ve heard some pretty crass and shocking things shouted out about people in all those categories of life…do we arrest and charge anybody verbally participating in offensive language to all those individuals as well.

Now I realise this is a fairly defeatist post as I don’t have a solution, I think I am just saying that I don’t think you can ‘arrest’ the racism out of people. But then what can you do?