Hard News by Russell Brown


Still crazy after all these years

It's always surprised me that more people don't recognise that the really crazy dimension of the Act Party does not lie in the economic prescriptions of Roger Douglas. You may debate those, and they certainly lie at some distant end of the neo-liberal spectrum, but they have a relatively coherent basis.

The same can not be said for the cult of Muriel Newman, who spoke at the party's conference over the weekend, attacking National's relationship with the Maori Party as damaging to race relations and "underpinned by racist policies".

Newman herself has of course, been a champion of various explicitly racist myths, including the belief that Maori were not New Zealand's original inhabitants. But that's not the really crazy part. For that, you only need to go one click deep on Newman's New Zealand Centre for Political Research website, where you will find such headlines as Chemtrails: Why Are We Under Chemical & Biological Attack?

In this light, Muriel's own demand to know "who scrutinises all these Waitangi claims to make sure they are correct? Does anybody? If not, there is nothing to protect taxpayers from exploitation," seems almost sane, if not very well-informed.

It does strike me that not only does Act enjoy a membership with a penchant for strange ideas unmatched since the heyday of the Social Credit Party, and isn’t shy about electing them to office, it is rarely held to account. Newman is a former deputy leader of her party and, of course, former vice president Trevor Loudon remains a "student" of a seriously weird Scientology spin-off whose founder is held to have enjoyed godlike powers. If senior members of the Maori Party had come out with anything approaching that degree of weirdness, it'd be front-page news.


I'm not sure there was a more depressing story in the weekend's papers than that of the unraveling of Bailey Junior Kurariki. Two Herald on Sunday journalists, both women, visited Kurariki's house in the hope that they could tap him for a little more spectacle to help them in the Sunday paper chase. He exposed himself to them, masturbated and groped them as they left – while his mother lay helpless, recovering from cancer treatment, in another room of the house. How completely bloody awful.

But that emotion escaped David Farrar, who knocked out a post declaring that "In hindsight it is a pity he was only convicted of manslaughter, not murder, as a life sentence would mean his parole can be revoked at any time."

Or, as Graeme Edgeler rephrased it for him in comments:

In hindsight, it’s a pity someone wasn’t convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, because it would have made it easier to send to him to prison for life for a potential crime carrying a sentence of only a few years? Stuff off.

It is not a pity that people who are innocent of crimes – like Kurariki was innocent of murder – for them not to be convicted for them. This call for a police state doesn’t really seem like you, DPF.

Second, even if three-strikes was retrospective, the other bit you’re missing is “it’s a pity three-strikes doesn’t apply to 13 year-olds”.

Farrar weakly responded that he wasn't being "literal". And, as you might expect, various of his commenters filled in the blanks:

This young criminal Kurariki is scum, who deserves to be put against the wall facing a firing squad.
It’s a pity we waste money trying to reform a beast like him.

There's some brief amusement, where Redbaiter contends that drink-driving isn't an "actual crime", but in general it's a heartless spew-fest, almost as depressing as the story the original post addresses.


I've also made my first post to Humans in ages, about Nigel Latta's fatuous commentary on autism in a Herald On Sunday interview. I have some plans for Humans this year, to get some help to freshen it up and make it more useful. For now, I just wish someone had told me that the secret to WordPress is not using the WordPress editor.

You should also read Ben Wilson's wonderful, heartful post about his son, Marcus.

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