Importing indignation


The murder of George Floyd was heinous and the protests in his home state and home country are understandable.

But do those protesting understand what Theodore Dalrymple calls those pesky statistics?:

To the citizens of most Western countries, the numbers of people killed by the American police are rather surprising, to say the least, but so are the numbers of police killed.

Roughly speaking, a policeman in the United States is about fifty times more likely to be killed than to kill, and this is without taking into consideration that the majority of the killings by the police are at least prima facie justified by self-defense or the interruption or prevention of a serious crime. Let us exclude only half of those killings on these grounds (probably a gross underestimate): This means that a policeman is 100 times more likely to be killed than to kill.

Let us also suppose that the police are killed by black and white in the same proportion as blacks and whites commit homicide in general (again, a generous, that is to say a conservative, assumption). This means that a policeman is about fifteen times more likely to be killed by a black man than to kill a black man, and again this is not to take into account the fact that many of the police killings would be at least prima facie justified.

A black man is about thirty times more likely to be killed by another black man than to be killed by a policeman (and some of the police are themselves black, of course). A white man is only fifteen times more likely to be killed by someone of any race than to be killed by a policeman. Are the police biased against whites? . . 

None of this alters the individual responsibility of the policeman who must surely have caused the death of George Floyd. (Would the latter have died anyway, even if not under arrest and treated in the way he was treated?) Nor does it alter the responsibility of the accessories before the fact. But it does cast a strange light on the rioters, and even on the peaceful demonstrators, most of whom seem to have expressed little concern, much less moral outrage, at the much more frequent murder of blacks by other blacks, or at the comparatively high rate of the murder of policemen. (The general homicide rate in the U.S. is about five per 100,000, that of policemen fifteen per 100,000.).

Now, it might be argued that an unjustified killing by an agent of the state is far worse than any other kind of killing, so raw statistics do not apply. I can see that this argument has a certain force. On the other hand, the killing of an agent of law and order also has a special seriousness, for it undermines law and order itself. And egalitarians who uphold the sanctity of (or at least the inalienable right to) human life are ill-placed to claim that one killing is worse than another. . . 

Black lives matter, all lives matter.

So why no marches for the persecution of Christians ‘at near genocide levels’?

Why no protests against all sorts of atrocities in many different countries?

Is there something about the USA that makes this crime much, much worse than many others committed in many other countries?

And why are we importing indignation anyway? Don’t we have more than enough to be protesting about here?

How about the death of one year-old Sofia Taueki-Jackson a couple of weeks ago?

Or the four year old Flaxmere boy who has been discharged from hospital where he was being treated for permanent and severe brain damage?

Perhaps it’s too soon to be indignant about the unexplained death of a young child in Palmerston North. It might have been the result of illness or accident.

Or it might have been yet another to add to the sorry toll of babies and children maltreated and killed far closer to home than Minneapolis.

Anna Leask wrote of the 61 little names on New Zealand’s roll of dishonour:

A child is killed every five weeks, putting us high on list of world’s worst offenders.

Sixty-one. It’s the number of children who have died as a result of non-accidental injuries in New Zealand in the last 10 years.

Their names are scars on a shameful landscape of child abuse – Chris and Cru Kahui who would have turned 10 today, Nia Glassie, JJ Ruhe-Lawrence, Jyniah Te Awa.

Thirty-one of those young ones were violently assaulted. They were kicked, punched, thrown, stomped or bashed to the point of death.

New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of 31 OECD countries and on average a child is killed here every five weeks. . . 

That was written four years ago. How many more little names have been added to that roll of dishonour since then?

The Child Matters website says:

Between 1 January 2019 and 30 November 2019, 11 children and young people have died as a result of homicide in New Zealand.

The Homicide Report

Released 13 May 2019

  • Every 8th homicide victim in New Zealand from 2004 to 31 March 2019 was a child
  • More than two thirds of the victims were aged 2 or under
  • Of the cases where the killer’s relationship to the victim was known, 27% were mothers, 24% were fathers, and 17% were de facto partners.

We don’t need to import indignation, there’s far too much here that ought to be raising anger and sorrow.

So why have the protests in the wake of Floyd’s death spread here?

Is it because it’s far easier to borrow another country’s ire than address the problems in our own?

Or is the murder just an excuse for protests that are really about thinly veiled anti-Americanism?

Court rules against marches


In Australia police went to court to stop protests over the death of George Floyd:

The court heard NSW Police opposed the protest, which was expected to attract close to 5000 people, not only because it breached restrictions imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 but because of the risk of violence.

In a hearing that stretched for more than four hours, NSW Supreme Court Justice Desmond Fagan said the social distancing measures imposed to date have been “the key element” in stopping the spread of COVID-19, and allowing the protest to go ahead at this time was “an unreasonable proposition”.

An affidavit by NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant was tendered in court in support of the police application.

Justice Fagan did not make an order prohibiting the protest, but refused an order allowing it to go ahead, which had the same legal effect. Protesters may still attend the event, as organisers have foreshadowed, but may be exposed to criminal sanctions for doing so. . .

Politicians and Australia’s chief medical officer have also spoken out against the marches because of the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Contrast that with the deafening silence from politicians, police and health officials before the marches for the same cause here.

Muriel Newman says, the marches show the Covid-19 restrictions have become a farce:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now looking foolish after thousands of people took to the streets in protest action on Monday, thumbing their nose at her Level 2 lockdown rules, while the Police watched on doing nothing. Nor was there any talk of prosecutions, despite the event being heavily broadcast on social media.

Penalties for breaching the Level 2 rules, which restrict public gatherings to 100 and private gatherings to 10, include six months in jail or a fine of up to $4,000.

The official non-response is typical of our politicians and their agencies, talking tough but when confronted, their authority often dissolving into nothing.

What the protesters have done is highlight the farcical nature of the current lockdown restrictions. Everyone knows it – apart from government politicians. The country needs to immediately go into level 1. Next week is another week too long. It’s another week of businesses bleeding money and laying off staff as they follow ridiculous rules. The restrictions killing small businesses are the same ones the protesters totally ignored and suffered no consequences whatsoever for doing so. . . 

The marchers all around the world not only show a total disregard for the health risks and sacrifices so many have made to stop the spread of Covid-19, they show a total complete lack of imagination.

New Zealanders managed to observe Anzac Day while adhering to social distancing requirements, there are myriad ways people could protest about George Floyd’s death without risking the health of themselves and others.


Missing real misdeed


The Teaching Council is considering complaints made about an Auckland teacher who wore a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat to the protest against the murder of George Floyd.

Wearing the hat was an error of judgement but it is not something about which the Teaching Council should be concerned.

Political opinion and the expression of it doesn’t break any laws, whether or not anyone agrees with it.

But the council and those showing outrage are missing the real misdeed – breaking the level 2 alert rules by taking part in a gathering of more than 100 people and not observing social distancing.

We all had to endure four weeks of level 4 lockdown, then we were only slightly less constrained in what we could do and where and with whom we could do it at level 3 before we moved to alert level 2 with quite a bit more freedom.

That freedom did not however, allow many businesses to operate at full capacity, and some still can’t open at all.

The reason for all this, we were repeatedly told, was to keep us all safe from Covid-19.

Then came the announcements of protest marches. In contrast to all the instructions of keeping to the rules in observing Anzac Day there wasn’t a single official word deterring people from congregating in large numbers or encouraging safer ways to protest.

The teacher chose to march with thousands of strangers, anyone of whom could have been carrying Covid-19 which he could have contracted and then passed on to staff and pupils at his school. He also provided a very bad example of rule breaking to his pupils and that is something which his school and the Council could rightly consider complaints about that.

That people are laying complaints about his politics but no-one has raised so much as an eyebrow at breaking the alert level rules isn’t surprising.

After all if no-one official spoke out against the protest marches before they happened, and the police didn’t act because they didn’t want to create tension; it’s not hard to see why someone might think wearing a MAGA hat is far more a misdeed than being at the protest at all.

And still we wait


The last case of Covid-19 which was thought to result from community transmission was on April 2. That’s more than eight weeks ago.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

There have been no new cases Covid-19 for 10 days.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

There is one active case of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2 lockdown.

Many Covid-19 testing stations are closing down.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

People are losing 1000 jobs a day.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

New Zealand is facing the largest decline in GDP in 160 years.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

Thousands of people assembled to protest  the murder of Minneapolis man George Floyd. That murder was atrocious but no excuse for flouting the rules when still only 100 people can attend weddings and funerals and we’re all supposed to be social distancing, festivals and events from the National Fieldays to church fairs can’t be held and many businesses cannot operate at full capacity?

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

The Government needs to explain to New Zealanders why it won’t consider a move to Alert Level 1 for another week, Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller says.

“Kiwis have made enormous sacrifices to flatten the curve, but if their efforts still aren’t enough to move to Level 1 then the Government must explain why.

“It has been more than a week since the last confirmed case of Covid-19. There are fewer cases now than there was before any restrictions were put in place.

“The Government has a duty to speak with one voice on such a critical issue, but all Kiwis are hearing now is mixed messages from the Prime Minister and her deputy.

“Businesses on the brink of closure have been left in limbo too long. It’s time for the Government to be clear about what conditions need to be met for the move to Level 1.

“Level 1 should mean businesses can return to full capacity, transport networks can resume without constraints, marriages can be properly celebrated and loved ones can be appropriately mourned.

“The sooner small businesses know what Level 1 will look like, the easier it will be for the backbone of our economy to start repairing itself.”

Most of us co-operated with the Level 4 lockdown requirements.

Most of us co-operated with the Level 3 lockdown requirements.

Many of us are confused about exactly what we can and can’t do at Level 2 – protests are unlimited but work, church, funerals, weddings festivals and social gatherings are restricted?

And still we wait to drop down from Level 2.

But why?

The Ministry of Health’s criteria for  Alert Level 2 is:

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

Risk assessment

    • Household transmission could be occurring.
    • Single or isolated cluster outbreaks

The criteria for Alert Level 1 is:

The disease is contained in New Zealand.

Risk assessment

    • COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.
    • Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand.

By those measures it should be safe to go to Level 1.

And still we wait to drop from Level 2.

But we’re sick of waiting.

The social licence that is needed for us to keep the rules was torn up and stamped on yesterday.

If protesters don’t have to wait for a drop down from Level 2, why should the rest of us?

Rules only for the rule-abiding


Businesses are failing.

Jobs are being lost.

Diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses have been delayed.

People have died and given birth alone.

Funerals, weddings and other gatherings have been restricted.

Rest home residents have been denied visits from family.

People have been prevented from worshiping, playing sport, celebrating and socializing with family and friends.

For more than two months we’ve been severely restricted in what we can do and where, with whom and when we choose to do it.

But thousands of people have been allowed to protest over the death of George Floyd.

That murder was atrocious but it’s no excuse for flouting the Level 2 rules by which  most of us, however unwillingly, have been abiding.

Black lives matter and so do all the lives and livelihoods of everyone else.

If there is no risk from ignoring the rules for a protest, there is absolutely no excuse for keeping us at Level 2 where the rules are obviously only there to curtail the rule-abiding.

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