Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has written an eloquent assertion of the right to protest.
“Our communities don’t evolve and progress by sitting around, hoping for the best,” she says in the New Zealand Herald. “Rarely, if ever, does change come from the top.”
She goes on to reflect that “many of the developments we’re proudest of as a country” – she cites the revitalisation of te reo Maori, rainbow rights and the stands against apartheid and nuclear weapons – arose from protests that were “typically pretty tense” and “didn’t come easy”.
She adds: “They never would have happened if protesters had relied solely on pre-existing ‘official’ avenues for civil engagement.”
Perhaps most pertinently, she says: “Peaceful protest often involves putting your body on the line in pretty inconvenient places. The point is to occupy space and time. The point is to make a point. It’s a spotlight firmly on the issue … it’s to show the difference between what is legal and what is ethical.”
Swarbrick’s opinion piece was inspired by the cyclists who defied the police by riding across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, but all of the above applies equally to the people who maintain peaceful vigils outside abortion clinics in protest against the killing of the unborn.
Can we, then, expect Swarbrick to vote against Labour's so-called “Safe Areas Bill”, which is aimed at denying those people their right to protest (or to be more correct, to highlight the fact that abortion involves extinguishing a life)? Or is she just another left-wing hypocrite?