Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Memo to police: spare us the lectures

(First published in the Curmudgeon column, The Dominion Post, January 17.)

WHEN did the police decide that their role extended beyond preventing crime and apprehending lawbreakers?

Clearly, a new generation of officers is under the delusion that they have a remit to provide moral guidance and matronly advice to the rest of us on how to lead wholesome lives.

Last week the head of the Canterbury police alcohol strategy and enforcement team, Sergeant Al Lawn, was publicly tut-tutting over the granting of an alcohol licence to a new Christchurch supermarket.

With respect, Mr Lawn should pull his head in. The law allows the police to have their say when submissions are heard on liquor licence applications and once the decision is made, that should be an end to it.

Obviously not satisfied with this state of affairs, and probably smarting because the decision didn’t go his way, Mr Lawn seized the opportunity to lecture supermarkets on their supposed moral responsibilities.

He doesn’t think supermarkets should discount alcohol because it supposedly encourages binge drinking. But I know lots of people who are happy to buy discounted wine and beer from supermarkets and they couldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, be labelled as binge drinkers.

Mr Lawn went even further, suggesting that stores should reduce the price of milk, fruit and vegetables to attract customers “in a way that is also good for the community”. What pompous moralising.

Out of curiosity I googled Mr Lawn and on the basis of what I saw, I concluded that he has well and truly crossed the line between objective law enforcement and political activism. He makes emotive statements about liquor industry “drug pushers” and condemns politicians for not getting tougher on alcohol.

He is entitled to those views as a private citizen, but to push them as a police officer is an abuse of his position.

If he feels so strongly, he should run for public office. With his propensity for interfering in other people’s business, Labour or the Greens would welcome him.

* * *

MR LAWN’S pronouncements are consistent with a growing tendency for police officers to lecture the rest of us on how to live.

Just before Christmas, Wellington district road policing manager Peter Baird was wagging his finger at drivers who had enjoyed a couple of drinks at end-of-year lunches. Even if they weren’t over the legal limit, he was concerned that they were “taking risks”.

In other words, it’s no longer enough to stay within the law. Mr Baird should have been congratulating the Christmas revellers for knowing when to stop drinking.

These uniformed nags represent an unwelcome new style of policing – one that could soon test the tolerance of the public who pay their salaries.

It is not the function of the police to act like Mother Hens, treating us as incapable of making sound decisions without their patronising guidance. If we want sermons, we can go to church.

* * *

WHEN will someone admit that sex education, at least as it’s practised in New Zealand schools, is a cruel hoax?

We have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the developed world. In the past decade, teen pregnancies have been trending upward – as has the abortion rate for the same age group.

To complete this ugly trifecta, there has been a steady upward trend in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. The per capita rate of STDs in New Zealand is estimated to be twice that of Australia and Britain.

All this has coincided with highly explicit sex education in schools, mostly funded by the state. It has demonstrably been a failure, yet the champions of sex education insist the solution to teen pregnancies and STDs is – wait for it – more of the same.

We are the most sexually aware society in human history. To pretend the problem is that we don’t know enough about sex is laughable.

Admittedly, teenage pregnancy and STDs can’t be blamed entirely on what’s taught in schools. Sexual promiscuity has been normalised by television, videos and the Internet. But sex education, rather than countering those influences, has compounded them by promoting the ruinous notion of sex without consequences.

Perversely, a high priestess of sex education and abortion, former New Zealand Family Planning head Gill Greer, was recently honoured with a CBE in Britain for her work on “sexual health” while leading the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation.

That she should be honoured by a Tory-led government shows how industriously the champions of the disastrous sexual revolution have infiltrated the halls of power.

The heartening thing is that teenagers see through all the fraudulent bullshit. In a recent survey of 600 young people, undertaken for Family First, 34 percent of respondents wanted values, abstinence and consequences (such as pregnancy) taught in sex education classes – nearly twice the proportion who supported the simplistic “safe sex” message currently emphasised.


The probligo said...

Why are the schools "forced" to include "personal relationships" (read sex education) in their curriculum?

Simply because a very large number of middle-class weak-kneed turtles knew that a semblance of knowledge is required by their children and they were "unqualified" (read too embarrassed) to undertake the task themselves. So it became a case of "they" should be doing it at school.

What ever happened to the "Home Economics" and the other "girls" tech classes that included on the side such things as pregnancy, birth and child care? As I recall they disappeared at about the time that girls took up carpentry, welding and school cadets.

Gilbie said...

And I thought I was the only person out there who has been offended by the attitude of police to my "cautious drinking and driving" when asked at a police checkpoint if I had been drinking. It is nothing short of insulting to have a 20 something police junior constable tell me "you know you are taking a risk when you drink and drive" or even worse "that is a fail sir - "long pause" - at youth level". I was so incensed after the second time this happened I visited the local police station to ask what the story was only to be told that this attitude came from Peter Bairds special group of officers who had been instructed to (and I quote) "scare the bejesus out of any body who has had a drink and then drives." So then I called Inspector Baird to ask kim what he thought he was doing only to be asked by him "don't you watch TV" - The TV message was do not drink and drive - not drink sensibly and drive and as far as he was concerned I was taking a risk when I had a glass of wine and then drove. When asked if he was empowered to make the law he answered that the TV campaign by NZ Transport and the police was quite clear and gave him a mandate to act as he did and he was more than happy with the way his officers had spoken to me.
Make no mistake aboput it - the NZ police are out to ban drinking and driving period! and they do not give a damn about how they do it.

The probligo said...

Hey Gilbie!! Does it matter that it is illegal to drink and drive? Well, at least it is outside of the limits set to stop the majority of us being convicted for the glass of cough linctus we took this morning.

What would you prefer? That the police employ polite old geezers to ask the question?