Wednesday, 7 March 2007

First (and final) thoughts not really on the Rickards affair

I'm not going to get into the whole Rickards, Shipton and Schollum vileness. I don't know if all of them, some of them or none of them raped one or two young wome two decades ago. They know, their accusers know, or at least they all think they know - subjectivity and all that.

I'm not going to talk about whether or not Rickards should have his old job back.

What I am going to talk about is the strange intellectual practices of ideologically motivated people. Today I was listening to National Radio - Waytne Mowatt or Jim Morra's show, I can't keep track of which one is broadcasting in the afternoons. Towards the end of the programme, the discussion turned to the Rickards affair, as it seems to have at every opportunity, in every programme, every day.

A female campaigner called in. I can't recall her name. She was identified as a student campaigner against rape. It was put to her that the existance of a few bad cops did not equate to the whole police force being corrupt. She retorted that this was not the opinion of most New Zealanders, and their opinion could be seen in ther ferocity of the response to the verdict. This is faulty reasoning. The revulsion expressed stems from the disgust felt at the actions of these three officers, and the inentisty of debate from the wrangle over whether or not the jury should have been told that Shipton and Schollum were convicted rapists. It was centered on the two rape trials, and the three police officers in question.

She made another comment, that she personally felt hostility towards the police. She recounted how she had been insulted by a drunken police officer outside a police station, while she was waiting for a friend to be released. Apparently, the policeman said, "If you get raped, don't call us, we won't come."

Indefensible, of course. But think about the background here. We were told the commentator hwas waiting for her friend, who had been arrsted on a demonstration. Think about that for a moment. I twasn't clear from what she said which demonstration it was, but I'll hazard a guess that it was the demos surrounding the Louise Nicholas trial, when campaigners were breaking the story about Shipton and Schollum's previous conviction. Assume that police officer had been out there, that day, policing the demo. He might have seen something like this:


He might have been insulted, spat at, called a rapist. He would have been very aware of the hostility being directed at police by the demonstrators. He might have felt shamed to be tainted by association with Rickards, Shipton and Schollum. He might have felt angered by the attempt to influence the jury in the Nicholas trial. Then, tired, with a few drinks inside him, he rolls out the bar to see a group from the demonstration outside the police station. He vents his fustration by saying something stupid. And it was stupid, and inexcusable, but not something that can be used to impugn the reputation of the police in the way that the commentator did.


On the TV news tonight, there was an item about a demonstration showing anger at the Rickards-Shipton-Schollum verdicts. It was noteworthy because the police opted to deploy female officers to maintain order. Even then, it was startling to see the hostility being directed at the officers. One demonstrator snarled, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself" at an officer. For God's sake, why? Because she chose to join the police force so she could put wife beaters, murderers and rapists in jail? I'll bet that officer does more to help women who have been assaulted, violated and tormented by evil bastard men that most of those on the demonstration do. And in payment, she gets a mouth full of abuse from a supposed sister.

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