I personally would think better of the zoo if they took the approach you suggest above. However, I am sure that if they did, some of our more sensational media outlets would have made the ongoing presence of Mr Burton at the zoo a matter of further public attention. I can see the breathless 20/20 expose now .......
Yeah exactly. Just because something is the right thing to do, doesn't make it an easy path to travel. And I can't imagine the Zoo is well-financed with PR people and lawyers and whatnot. One suspects any cash they find down the back of the couch, they put into the residents.
More shame on the sensational media outlets I say. If the guy had been convicted of child abuse, yeah, fair call. But presumably doctors and psychologists have said Burton is safe to go and (literally) shovel shit. I'll take that call over the Herald Editor's vast medical expertise until further evidence comes to light.
The Herald is only at fault if they dobbed Burton into the Zoo management in order to get a story. If that was the case then it sucks. But if it this originated with the Zoo then the article is a reasonable account of what happened. Who would not want to know the Zoo got rid of Burton for PR reasons?
And before condemning the Zoo I'd like to know just what their understanding was with Second Chance and the Mason clinic. Did the Zoo have an expectation of vetoing individuals and/or were they expecting to be informed about who would be working for Zoodoo?
Did the Zoo have an expectation of vetoing individuals and/or were they expecting to be informed
from my hazy recall of the radio interview with 'man from zoo" this monring, yes, they expected to be informed. they also apologised to burton, but said it was necessary.
"But the news - revealed by the Herald on Sunday yesterday - that he was working at the zoo came as a shock to zoo bosses who on Saturday arranged for his employment to be terminated immediately."
The Herald are not clear on whether they are the people who told the Zoo or not. It's implied, but not explicitly stated.
Interesting that the Herald's own feedback page has quite a few stern remarks directed at the Herald, particularly about the headline "Killer at the Zoo."
just chatting about burton. reminded me of a conversation with a writer of erotic fiction at a party in melbourne, she was explaining being alarmed while reading another persons version of her medium.
she insisted quite strongly that the clear boundary between "friendly" or "kinky" bondage and discipline, and the ever-so-slightly dodgy sado-masochism is the introduction of two fluids, blood or faeces.
I just had an interesting reply from the Zoo. I'll see if I can repost it here.
wow. from time to time i cruise by these forums and generally find myself nodding in agreement with the wise regulars. have to say im at odds on this one. as a friends of the zoo member i take my 18 month old daughter to the zoo every couple of weeks and let her guide me around at her leisure. Yes i agree sensational headlines and media interference with an individuals rehab is bullshit and should be called out, though it comes as no surprise. I did a quick skim read of the herald feedback page (from above link) and it seemed to me a fair number of people where taking the "ignorance about mental health" angle which is of course valid, but lets not confuse depression with stabbing your mother to death. Im not overly familiar with the case details but i remember the lead up to this tragedy was another case of the "system" being a complete failure, despite that i beleive the zoo should have been informed Mark was part of the program and absolutely had the right to decline him as a participant. Having said that i do believe mark has every right to, and deserves support in reintergration into society, i just think when u choose to take your family into a place such as the zoo, its reasonable to expect all of the people employed within to be of the "family friendly" variety.
i just think when u choose to take your family into a place such as the zoo, its reasonable to expect all of the people employed within to be of the "family friendly" variety.
OK, folks, so does Aucklland Zoo require all employees to sign a statutory declarationthat if they're suffering from any kind of mental illness it's strictly 'family-friendly'? Good luck - because I'm wondering where my manic-depressive alcoholic self would fit into that scale...
craig, to be honest i agree with vinnie. you need parents to feel their kids are safe when they're in big, potentially crowded public spaces.
but the herald is doing no-one any favours by scaremongering for headlines. next it'll be "mental deficient cleans floors at maccas"...
But he was supervised, and shovelling dung. Hardly a position with a lot of potential for unmonitored access to your kids.
I would go out on a limb and say that if he's living in a supervised environment and taking his meds, he is a much safer employee than your average person. Purely by the law of averages, there is probably someone on staff there (and at your local Macdonalds, and at the supermarket, and down at the mall) who is a greater risk and whom nobody is watching
PS: I have a young daughter too. Does that make my opinion cancel out Vinnie's? Or is it irrelevant?
Watching the news - there's TV3 outing his next workplace. So will he ever be anywhere without TV3 following him? How fair is that?
I don't think there's anything to indicate that people with a mental illness when unwell are a particular threat to children. Paranoid schizophrenics go for adults who are part of their delusional system.
Burton's father is suggestion that the right to privacy might have played a part in this. Possibly some form of lack of communication with the Zoo could have put the Zoo in a difficult position.
i might have misphrased. i wasn't suggesting burton is a danger to children.
rather, "a killer lurking in a public space" is the kind of concern i'd imagine a parent having. the kind of concern that is actually and frequently preyed upon by the worst kind of human being.
Radio Live frequencies for your town can be found at
... and it looks like they have podcasts too, so hopefully Saturday's show will be archived for us.
Hooray....something finally worth worth listening to on a Saturday. Russell Brown and David Slack in one room all at once, you 2 will never get past the first item lol.
I agree with you - and having done my share of living la vida loco parentis, I can be twitchy and neurotic as anyone. My point - and I did have one - is (as out host pointed out) that I don't think you enter into any kind of relationship with Second Chance Enterprises without them being all the way up front that they exist to "provide employment opportunities for people with psychiatric disabilities." And I also assume Burton had to fill in a couple of pieces of paper with his residential address and there were some discussions as to the level of supervision he'd require?
Hey, if Auckland Zoo has a clear, consistently applied policy of refusing to employ paranoid-schizophrenics because they might go bonkers and beat some family to death with a shit-shovel... well, I won't say that's fine, but at least it's consistently stupid. Where I get rather nervous is sacking an employee who, as far as I'm aware, is competent, conscientious and closely supervised because the Herald on Slumday missed out on the kinky kops scoop.
Let's put it this way: I'm pretty comfortable outing myself as a manic-depressive alcoholic, and I know for a fact that scares the shit out of some people. And that's never going to change regardless of own well I maintain my sobriety, religiously take my meds, and don't put myself in situations where I'm compromising the well-being and safety of myself or anyone else. Life's not always fair, and sadly Burton is probably going to spend the rest of his life as an easy target for every tabloid scumbag or the frustrations of people who can't - or won't - vent at the people who are actually responsible for fraked up mental health and justice services that aren't susceptible to quick fixes.
I've just got to wonder who is really the winner if Mark Burton spends the rest of his life rotting in a boarding house on a sickness benefit because he's never going to get a job without it hitting the media?
Neil: yup, that was what I wanted to say but couldn't get to cohere.
Craig: well said, and more power to you.
Where I get rather nervous is sacking an employee who, as far as I'm aware, is competent, conscientious and closely supervised because the Herald on Slumday missed out on the kinky kops scoop.
[clap clap clap].
might i add, "who enjoyed his job, and reported to be making noticeable progress in his rehabilitation".
What I really don't want to know is how many people would have paid to watch the infamous outpatient shovel shit, effectively behind bars.
I'm not sure the Zoo would want to either.
Me, I'd far rather watch tabloid journalists shovel shit behind bars.
This is it, isn't it: is there a legitimate public interest here? Or only a prurient one?
yes i realise he was under supervision. problem is that big bad system that most of us seem happy to call a load or arse fails... whats to say its not possible for marks circumnstances to change - the "system" again fails to pick it., his state of mind begins to suffer, his minder momentarily wander off... and the system fails again?? Im not suggesting it will, nor am i suggesting Marks mental health issues, or people suffering from similar issues in general are likely to relapse, but its not exactly unheard of is it?
Stephen i dont see how anything you can say should cancel out my opinion, nor vice versa - certainly was not my intention. and i have to admit im baffled as to how my concern for her welfare could be irrelevant, perhaps i misunderstand.
Neil, again i stress the point, im not trying to profile mark, but when combine "dude that stabbed his mother to death" and "not a particular threat to children" - my call is i would rather not take that risk, at the very least i expect, nah fuck it i demand to have the knowledge to make my own call on it.
Heh, legitimacy v prurience, thats a tough one.
In the eye of the beholder I suspect, while we can point the finger at tabloid journalism, I often wonder if they lead or follow public demand. While media have a certain power to influence perceptions and set the agenda, there is always an eager audience ready and waiting to perceive.
No real winners here, I have a lot of sympathy for the zoo, who have gained a lot of unwanted attention that is probably outside their experience, and of course the Burton family.
OK Vinnie, what I'm saying is that your concern for your child - and my lack of concern for mine - is irrelevant, unless its connected to some reasonable assessment of risk. I'm tired of people using children as a sort of trump card that always wins in arguments about risk.
What I read in the Herald is that he lives at the Mason clinic, is monitored by them, and that he's supervised at work. That the people who have the expertise to assess risk and make those decisions are doing so.
They don't seem to have too bad a track record:
"Mason Clinic director Sandy Simpson said the success rate with patients such as Burton was extremely high. In the past four years, not one patient who had left the clinic had reoffended."
It's true that his crime originated in a failure of "the system", but at the same time, you have to think that you only ever hear about the (rare) failures, not the successes. And also, when he killed his mother, he wasn't in hospital, and wasn't monitored - in other words, in quite a different situation to now.
It's all very well to imagine psychotic killers bearing down on your daughter, but you have to ask yourself whether that's a real risk that's more severe than the ones you already allow her to take. You say "it's possible", and I agree - the question is "how likely is it?" Is it possible like the possibility of her being run down at a school pedestrian crossing? Like her dying of meningitis? Or like being hit by a meteorite on the playing field?
The newspaper article stirs up our fears, but to the extent that it offers guidance (and it doesn't offer much) it seems like the risk is very low.