“Breaking the news is good, making it isn’t.”
These words of advice from a seasoned editor obviously don’t apply at the Sunday Star Times which stupidly sent its reporters to test security at sports stadiums last week.
Shock horror, they cry, there isn’t any.
Well why would there be?
There is always a risk of some idiot doing something stupid, as these reporters did. There’s also a risk of someone with evil intent harming others.
But the risk of acts of stupidty is higher than the risk of terrorism in New Zealand and we can’t live our lives in fear nor with the expense and restrictions which high security would impose on us.
Police Minister Judith Collins points the stunt could have led to the evacuation of a stadium and games being called off.
“This would have caused not only great public inconvenience and cost, but possibly presented a risk to the safety of spectators.
“Common sense would tell you that running around a stadium dressed as a bomber has the potential to end very badly.
“If there had been panic there was the very real possibility that people – particularly the elderly, children and those less mobile – could have been hurt. . . “
Ms Collins said security at major events is based on risk, and that security at a provincial rugby game will be much less than for a major international match.
“The only thing people masquerading as bombers will achieve is an unnecessary increase in security at considerable cost and inconvenience to the public,” she said.
David Farrar over at Kiwiblog makes a similar point:
New Zealand is not a country that has security based on paranoia. It is based on credible threat. I do not want to live in a country where I get x-rayed going to the local rugby match. Bizarrely, the Sunday Star-Times does.
But any more of these silly stunts and security might be tightened. That would include restrictions on the Prime Minister and other high profile people to whom reporters and the general public have remarkedly easy access.
The SST would be among the first to complain then and have only themselves to blame.
I was in Britain in the early 80s when there was the real and ever present threat of terrorist attack by the IRA. Security in some places was tight but generally people were free to get on with their lives without restrictions because that would have been seen as a victory by the terrorists.
There was a similar reaction after the 2005 London bombings.
If real acts of terrorism don’t lead to restrictive security in other countries, why would the SST expect our freedom to be curtailed when the risk is so low here?