@Hilary Stace: Last November I did a feature for the Herald on Sunday on The Cult of Victimhood, in which I attacked SST's increased influence on government policy, its disturbing and growing influence on the right to a fair trial, and what I see as its manipulation of the families of victims when they are at their most vulnerable. Using very good research from the US about the power of forgiveness in rehabilitation, and empirical evidence from our Chairman of the Parole Board, Sir David Carruthers, I did put your question to Garth McVicar. Here is the extract:
"Empirical evidence from America shows forgiveness can be a powerful tool aiding progress in rehabilitation of both offender and victim. Judge Carruthers also cites research showing overuse of prisons, and prison brutality, leads to higher crime and recidivism rates.
Carruthers is not alone in wanting to reduce the number of victims by preventing crime. Simon Power’s “very excited” about an up-coming launch with Pita Sharples of a strategy which came out of the April “drivers of crime” conference.
But Sensible Sentencing’s thousands of members can count on McVicar to stay staunch. Asked how he justified dismissing a man’s life with, “he’d be no great loss to society” (during the Paremoremo hostage drama), McVicar boasted the comment, “increased our membership hugely. We’ve gotta get people off the fence.”
And he doesn’t believe in forgiveness. “I won’t go anywhere near that one. In eight years I’ve only ever had one email from people who want to forgive.”
So there you go. But don't underestimate McVicar. He's very experienced at being interviewed. Will never do a Walker/Muldoon moment, totally believes in what he's doing, and because he never bears a grudge against a reporter or media organisation no matter what shit they write about him, will always make himself available for an interview.
The funding simply comes from thousands of donations. About 20 MPs are members, just for starters. Now, that's the house of representatives, so what does that say about the rest of the country?
The summer I had to say goodbye to Taja, my friend for 17 years, and not shaping up to be a great vintage. However, I shall have to bring you and the crew some James Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris next time I visit Media 7.
Sorry I couldn't help with the programme Russell but I have other commitments down this way.The "pact", as some of you refer to it, and as I see it, is that when certain people, especially those who work in the media and know how the media operates, sell their own personal life stories to other media outlets - the happy wedding, the first babies, the painful separation but we're coping - they forfeit the right to complain when negative stories appear about them in the media. It's like Princess Diana - she played the press to her advantage then sulked prettily when they didn't dance to her tune. She made the stupid decision to leave the Ritz, when she saw all the paps waiting, and go to the apartment, when she new, for God's sake, that they'd chase her. If she'd stayed there and gone to bed she'd never have crashed. It was the most ditzy scatty thing to do. She should have just walked out the front door, posed for photos, talked to the snappers, then walked inside and had a nice night. Instead she had to be a drama queen. Alison Mau's drama on Breakfast Telly was auto-cued, for heaven's sake, it was done with the blessings of her employers. It's all a big media game and why not, if it boosts ratings/sales. No one is in this to lose money, lose jobs, or are they?
@Andrew Clive - why do issues like raising children have to be a "right wing/left wing" thing? Although I don't agree with the assessment, I would be considered by most to be "right wing" but since 1999 when I wrote a feature on the death of James Whakaruru I have advocated repealing S59 of the Crimes Act. I appeared before the Select Committee in support of Sue Bradford's Bill. I wrote a piece for the "Vote Yes" website. I do not support Sensible Sentencing's vigilante cries for "having a crack" at offenders in court via victim impact statements. Evidence coming out of America shows increased use of prison sentences, and harsher prisons, actually contributes to higher crime rates - in other words,if we treat people like scum, they behave like scum. Yet a decade ago I put out the Sex Offender Indexes and I was the pinup girl of the likes of those people marching on Saturday. What happened? I read all the time. I listen to different people Andrew. I try not to stay stuck in the blinkers, that's why I left the Act Party and its narrow focus - can you imagine me and David Garrett surviving for more than two minutes in caucus? Shivers, we couldn't even survive in the green room before a tv programme - as soon as I walked in before we'd even been introduced he said he hated me, or his brother hated me or something. It's this polarisation that drives me nuts in NZ and it's why it's so difficult to make progress, and why I got out of politics. At least with the Maori Party and John Key that polarisation seems to be dissipating somewhat, and we do seem to have some progress, and that I find encouraging, and thanks to Key, when he was in Opposition, he made a move to allow Bradford's Bill to pass. But those marchers on Saturday, polarisation is their raison d'etre.
Richard I agree with your cynicism. Has any reporter ever questioned the "half a million" budget? (sorry, I don't get the Herald in the Wairarapa, and not all stories are on line). It seems to have just been accepted. That is an enormous income for a property manager. Has anyone done an in-depth story on this guy? What are his companies? Has a search been done of the companies office? To my mind, this is in the public interest - he and his followers want to have an enormous influence on all our lives, we should know where they are coming from.
This morning, because of my column yesterday (which I thought by my standards was a very mild column) in which I pointed out - yet again - that we DO NOT HAVE AN ANTI-SMACKING LAW- my emails are all full of bile and hatred. It is no use even engaging with these people. Sigh! Why am I not surprised. And yet I am - to many of you people who post on these very pages - a right wing nutcase. So there you go. (If I knew how to do a smiley face, I'd do one now.)
Thank you Russell, it's nice to be acknowledged.
Craig, yes, arguably ACP could have found better uses for the money used to defend the Lange case, but that would always be subjective. More cash-book journalism stories, maybe, in Woman's Day? (I'm only playing devil's advocate here). But no one won that case, ACP only won the right to argue it's point - qualified privilege, I think was the legalese (and I'm being too lazy to stroll into the next room and ask my husband). It was a very sad case, I quite agree, but isn't all defamation because in the end the only ones who profit are the lawyers because the words they most love to hear from a client are "it's a matter of principle".
But doesn't your argument that ACP should/could have found better uses for the money contradict the argument against APN's so-called "shrinking budget" and its being extra cautious, and urging journalists to self-censor to save legal dollars. You can't have it both ways. Either publishers risk money on defending defamation - publish and be damned; or they take no risks at all, offend no one, and spend the budget on more worthwhile things like, say, promoting celebrities? Just a thought.
Such an enjoyable read, all of this. Brilliant comments from so many people. I've had such a good laugh over this whole episode - I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about from the beginning. Why shouldn't editors give staff a regular rev-up from time to time? Yes, defamation is a pain, and we in MSM would often like to have free rein to slag off many we write about but that's not how it works. I've been sued, personally, for defamation, when I published the Sex Offender Index. It was settled in the end, but it took me three years to pay off the legal bill so I can understand media caution. Just a comment on that clause about some people being more likely to sue. On face value, that is of concern, and in her usual drama-queen manner, Odgers took it to mean people like lawyers or politicians get preferential treatment from APN, and that's not good journalism. But I'm contracted to APN and it's not correct. I don't think anyone could accuse the Herald of being soft on Richard Worth, for example, who was both a lawyer and a politician, and threatened defamation (and remember, thanks to Russell, this document dates back to April). But also remember, for someone to win damages in a defamation case, they need to already have a reasonably substantial reputation. So in context, that clause could take on a different meaning.
Defamation's a pain not just financially, but in terms of taking up so much of your time. Ask any journalist who's had to spend hours - months - with lawyers going over everything with a fine toothcomb preparing for court. Far easier to get things right before you publish.
And as for Lange - he was the one who persisted with the case!
Re the reporting of suicide, I had to tiptoe around this back in 1989 when I wrote a feature for 'Metro' on Auckland barrister Michael Crew who, after being paralysed from diving off a wharf in Fiji, took his own life by drinking paraquat. I was a very close friend, and had tape-recorded interviews with him prior to his death. When the story was published there were complaints, I suppose to the Press Council (sorry, can't remember the specifics) about the reporting of his suicide, but since the coroner had taken the trouble to release the method of his suicide the complaints were not upheld. However, worse than that was that because I was so close to him in the weeks leading up to his death, and because I wrote the story about his life and the reasons why he wanted to end it, someone, whose name the police wouldl not release to me, lodged a formal complaint with the police that I had "assisted his suicide". It was just after Lesley ?? was found guilty of assisting her mother's death. This person waited until I was an MP to report me - about 15 years after Michael died. All the Auckland police would tell me was that she was a female, who used to know me quite well, who spent some time living in New Zealand and some time overseas. After being interviewed by the police, however, I was cleared, but I think the file remains open. So I tell you this, I guess, to indicate there are other pitfalls to reporting suicides!