Sunday, April 3, 2016

'Did anyone get that on camera?' Yes they did, and we could all see who was at fault

(First published in The Dominion Post, April 1.)
Protesters, eh? I’ve been one myself, so I’m not entirely hostile to the idea of marching in the street and waving banners. But sometimes protesters push their luck.

Consider what happened last week in Wanganui, where a car driven by National MP Chester Borrows allegedly drove over the foot of a woman protesting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The car, in which cabinet minister Paula Bennett was a passenger, was leaving a breakfast business meeting. Video footage showed several protesters blocking its exit.

While it’s true that Borrows appeared to make no attempt to stop, his car was moving so slowly that the placard-wavers had plenty of time to get out of the way. It looked to me as if they were either intent on provoking some sort of confrontation, or at the very least trying to force him to stop. 
Who’s at fault here? Certainly Borrows could have pulled up. The protesters could then have surrounded the car and harangued him and his VIP passenger at close range.

But equally, the protesters had time to move and chose not to. If one of them was hurt as a result, then the injury was surely self-inflicted.
I noticed too that the moment the car came into contact with the protest group, a woman called out: “Did anyone get that on camera?” It was almost as if they were willing it to happen so they could then accuse Borrows of being a callous Tory thug.

Well, someone did get it on camera, and most people who saw it on the TV news would have had no difficulty deciding who was in the wrong.
There’s a classic clash of rights here: the right to protest versus the right of people to go about their lawful business unobstructed (or to use the classic phrase, “without let or hindrance”).

Freedom of movement, like freedom of speech, is a fundamental part of our rights. No one has the right to impede it just to make a political point, no matter how righteous they feel about their cause.
Borrows was exercising his right and the protesters were trying to deprive him of it. The case rests.

The situation would have been different had the MP provocatively accelerated into the protest group, but Borrows is no hothead. He was barely driving at walking speed.
Now here’s the point. We live in one of the world’s freest and most open societies. People are entitled to shout and wave placards.

Protesters are indulged to the extent that authorities routinely allow them to conduct street marches that inconvenience other people.  In much of the world this would be unthinkable.
But protesters too often interpret this tolerance as a general licence to disrupt, which is where they get it wrong. Generally speaking, the right to protest ends at the point where it obstructs the rights of others.

When protesters become so pumped up with self-righteousness that they believe they’re entitled – indeed, have a moral duty – to interfere with the rights of others, public sympathy for their cause rapidly evaporates.
We’ve seen a lot of this lately. The day before the Wanganui incident, Greenpeace protesters blocked all the entrances to the SkyCity convention centre, where a petroleum industry conference was underway. People were unable to get in or out.

Police took a lenient line, as they almost invariably do, removing some protesters but apparently making no arrests. 
They were similarly indulgent with the anti-TPPA Waitangi Day protester who hit cabinet minister Steven Joyce with a flying dildo and inexplicably escaped prosecution for assault. Perhaps the police were too busy processing dangerous spinsters who’d been intercepted at checkpoints for having half a glass of sherry too many.

Then there were the protesters dressed as clowns who invaded a public meeting held in Auckland to explain the free trade agreement.
Never were protesters more appropriately disguised. They were far more clownish than they realised, noisily disrupting an event that was held to do exactly what the anti-TPPA camp had been demanding: namely, to reveal more about details of the agreement.

Plainly, these buffoons weren’t remotely interested in information or disclosure. They were getting off on the adrenalin buzz of protesting.
But the gold standard of protester arrogance remains the actions of the three men who sabotaged the Waihopai electronic listening post in 2008, causing damage that taxpayers had to pay for. The official estimate was $1.2 million.

The sanctimonious saboteurs claimed to have Jesus Christ’s backing, although how they could be so sure of that was never explained.



Kimbo said...

The sanctimonious saboteurs claimed to have Jesus Christ’s backing, although how they could be so sure of that was never explained.

Hmm. I heartily agree with your thoughts about protestors in the current New Zealand context. Also, I don't think the actions of "the Waihopai Three" necessarily reflected the ethics of Jesus Christ, nor the wider Scriptures in general, However, it is not correct that their claim "to have Jesus Christ’s backing...was never explained". The case for Christian anti-war Pacifism is well-known. You may not have researched it, or if you have, you may not agree with it. Fair enough. Nonetheless, the reasons and arguments are readily available.

blondewithaniq said...

As much as I may agree with your comments on the Josie Butler protest and the Chester Borrows' incident, well at least the part on him personally not being malicious and very probably also the injury sustained, not due to a deliberate act, Karl you push the limits with your linked 'opinions' and what you 'could see' despite not being present at that particular TPPa protest, any more than one of your peers, Heather Du Plessis Allen was at the massive 4th Feb Auckland. An event after which she actually fabricated a protester with a molotov cocktail in her 'opinion piece' to try to make a similar point one can only surmise.

I was at the Rendevous for the First TPPa Spinshow. I was not dressed as a clown. Nor others of us from It's Our Future. I WAS one of those who respectfully but curtly got past one of your other ex peers Sean Plunket. An ex journalist who also can be extremely elastic with both fact and re-framing protests and selective link protest actions negatively. How do any of you who purport to still be journalists pass off your opinions as facts without actually fact checking?
The clowns in the audience were annoying and did nothing to add to the weight of those who wished to use their carefully crafted questions to see if we could get answers. However in the end the were actually not as bad as the rehearsed performers on the stage who did not as you claim 'reveal more details about the agreement' nor actually answer the genuine concerns in our questions other than with bog standard answers unsurprisingly. No matter the subject they were automaton scripted. So contrary to what you opine and much like you have also repeated what they assert is true, as I have pointed out, that is not necessarily what IS true even though journalists/reporters or whatever people call themselves these days but get printed in the mainstream here may report from that viewpoint.
Can we assume you weren't present there either?

Karl du Fresne said...

No, I wasn't there. And contrary to the implication in your comment, I made no judgment about how much was revealed at the "spin show". Not having been there, I couldn't. I merely recorded that the event was held to disclose information about the agreement; whether the quality of that information was satisfactory to all those present is another matter. Either way, the purpose of the clowns seemed to be to prevent people hearing anything at all, whether it was useful or otherwise.

blondewithaniq said...

Questions answered Karl thanks. To be clear for others. You weren't at any of the events you've opined on, much like many of the busy journalists who comment retrospectively on so many events these days.
If you have a perception of any implications in my comments incidentally, it is because I wanted to convey that some of the things you have concluded, are to my mind at least, guesses dressed as,well, guesses,much like the 'information' from the whole NIA TPPa consultation spin shows unfortunately.

To close, as I am sure you know as well as me, perceptions among most of the equally busy or less attentive public can be very easily skewed deliberately, or accidentally. Should you be at any of the submission hearings like me, let's hope for no clowns or misinterpreted perceptions of any kind.

Max Ritchie said...

Re the comments of blondwithanniq, firstly is she a person? And if so, why doesn't she use her name? Second, if you go to Its Our Future's Web site, this organisation has been set up by Barry Coates to oppose the TPPA. This person did not go to the meeting to find out about the TPPA, she went there to protest, to take action against the TPPA. Well, I wasn't there but when I read the Web site and Mr Coates' statements I think I can say that. The Agreement has the blessing of NZ's nominee for Secretary General of the UN and was endorsed at the last General Election. It is opposed by Donald Trump so IOF is in good company. My recommendation to Mr Coates and his followers is to protest by all means but don't disrupt meetings. And next election offer yourselves as candidates - Its Our Future would make a good title for a political party. Then if you get into parliament you can try to implement your policies. Good luck with that. You'll need to have a name, though.

blondewithaniq said...

Yes I am a person Max..

My name is Jacquelyne Taylor, which is not hard to establish and at least I did state the fact that I am affiliated loosely as are many others who are also members. Actually I am a small business women, a director of a transport business and registered as such,at Todd McClay's invitation.
I am also a person concerned about many aspects of the TPPa for valid reasons.. The primary one being the same as Rod Oram's and others like him who are neither left nor anti trade either it is a trade management agreement not a free trade deal
There are many sectors that were neither consulted properly prior to signing,unlike during the Chinese FTA process nor have real TPPa risk assessments of trying to deal with 12 countries simultaneously let alone anything other than guess-timates proposed as cost benefit analyses, been conveyed properly for each sector in my view..
As for stating I attended the first NIA spin show to protest,I did no such thing, nor did many others like me and since you were not there, saying that makes you as disingenuous as the dogwhistlers with their ad hominems who similarly accuse all people of being rented?
I suggest you check with anyone you know who actually did attend. It was recorded so my question would have been too..

The rest of your hyperbole and quite frankly jibber jabber is nothing I haven't actually heard before and it didn't fly then either. Am curious who you represent though Max? Care to elucidate?

Max Ritchie said...

Crikey! Hyperbole and jibber jabber? I'm bound to respond that when you say you're from an organisation which I then find is committed to oppose the TPPA I think it's fair to conclude that you oppose the TPPA. Flies like a duck etc. But if you do not oppose the TPPA then I accept that. As to who I represent? A quick Google will reveal my CV. I represent nobody nor organisation. I have served the community all my working life. I currently work for a charity and have done so for over 30 years. But that's my work. This blog is a personal view. And can I add that while ascertaining your name might have been easy for you, I'm afraid it was beyond me. And finally, I think I'm on fairly safe ground that on balance most informed people believe that the TPPA is in NZ's interests. Of course, it's not perfect - it's a deal. But overall we will benefit. If that's not the case then we will withdraw I imagine.