I wonder what people make of this, from Season 5, Episode 1 of "Screenwipe", reviewing a British version of "High School Musical" called "Brittania High":
"It's like a spawning point for enemies in a video game. It's the sort of place you'd be happy to circle with frag grenades for about six hours, sending limbs flying through the air, finishing off the survivors with a rail gun blast to the temple... The main characters, or 'targets' as I like to think of them..."
About 9'24" in here. Before this latest tragedy, obviously, but made after several of the other school shootings.
I can imagine a teenager who felt ostracised by the popular kids at their school projecting onto the saccharine characters in that show their anger at their classmates and then, if they happened to catch Brooker, being prompted to fantasise the frag grenade / rail gun scenario.
Don't get me wrong, I like Charlie Brooker and spend many an hour watching his stuff. But I find it a little ironic that he advocates self-censorship by news media in the clip to which James links, but seems not to have considered whether this approach to the topic was the most appropriate - given I can think of many non-violent options he could have gone for (and indeed uses one earlier in the same piece, when he suggests the windows of Brittania High should be bricked up while the students are inside).
That’s all you need.
But do not get. Otherwise by now we’d have widespread acknowledgement amongst police that an indigenous youth’s refusal to make prolonged eye contact is a sign of respect in that culture, not defiance. (Or it’s wilful ignorance. Same difference).
Otherwise you’re heading for unpleasant territory.
I take your point. But given that “sensitivity” and “police” are rarely found in a sentence (other than one which accuses the latter of lacking the former) and given that, IMHO, that’s never going to change… which is more unpleasant: discreet labelling or being treated like Arie and having the perpetrators get away with it by saying “we didn’t notice anything unusual”?
At least then we could impose an objective procedure which must be followed by an officer once a suspect identified as suffering a mental disability, just as when they discover the “drunk” they’re about to throw in the tank is wearing a Medic Alert bracelet identifying them as diabetic.
I’m not sure of the position in NZ nowadays but over here the list of conditions you are obliged to report include ADD/ADHD, depression and “other mental health problems, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis”.
While the specific issue isn’t enumerated on the licence itself, confess to (or be reported as having) one of those conditions and your licence is endorsed “must take medication as prescribed by a medical practitioner” – which is of course just a tip-off to the officer who’s just pulled you over that he’s dealing with a “nutter”, because he certainly isn’t qualified to know whether or not you’re on your meds. So in effect the labelling, here at least, is already taking place; what’s lacking is the procedures to protect the vulnerable. And ownership of the labelling process by those affected.
(From the link provided earlier by Russell):
For some people, it may be worth printing an autism handout...
Before I'd read that, the idle thought had crossed my mind that perhaps people on the autism spectrum may benefit from some sort of "medic alert bracelet", but that made me uneasy round issues of attaching labels etc.
But I wonder if it wouldn't be possible to have (optionally, so they could choose not to) an annotation on one's drivers licence? After all, I'm obliged to have noted on mine that I'm a danger to other road users without my glasses on and most sensible people* understand that a person with AS is as blameworthy for their condition as I am for mine.
Or would that, too, be considered overly intrusive into the person's privacy? Personally I'd rather see a bit of privacy** traded for an appropriate and non-aggressive response from police, but that's just my perspective.
* And one would hope cops would receive some training so they were sensible about this, at least.
** The persons to whom you'd show your licence are few in number, and generally in some official capacity.
Have you a stat somewhere to back this up?
Data on the prevalence of mental illness (and yes, as Russell says autism isn’t, but is likely to show up in any survey of offenders’ mental health) is hard enough to come by, let alone something that tries to break down the various disabilities.
Remarkably (at least to those like myself, cynical of the US justice system on the basis that it allows people like “Sheriff Joe” to operate) America seems to be ahead of the NZ, Australia, the UK and other Western countries, offering 250 “mental health courts" to the estimated 17 percent of offenders presenting with a mental illness or disability. Hopefully as their prevalence increases, reliable data will emerge as to the nature of their particular difficulties.
In the meantime, I would refer you (and Russell, as it might be useful for the show) to the National Longitudinal Transition Study, another US initiative. It studies a huge range of factors affecting young people. In this pdf of Chapter 6 of the second NTLS, on page 98, Table 36, you’ll find data on “Comparisons between 1990 and 2005 of the arrest rates of youth out of high school up to 4 years, by disability category”.
The categories include “learning disability”, “speech / language impairment”, “emotional disturbance” and the like, which broadens the purely mental illness focus of the data collected to date by “mental health courts”.
It doesn’t, alas, give data specifically correlated to persons diagnosed somewhere on the AS scale, but it’s the closest I’ve come to uncovering valid research into the connection between a range of what I’d term (for want of a better term) “thought disorders” and offending amongst youth.
It’s about time – past time, in fact – that NZ funded research which dug this deep into the causes of the supposed “wave of youth crime” beloved of politicians and foaming “sensible” lobbyists. I fondly hope that sentiment might find it’s way into Russell’s program…
I’d be more comfortable if they’d just made a commercial decision and owned that. Shifting responsibility to the tiny proportion of their user base that bothers to vote is hardly a brave move.
The indolence of the majority de facto validates the retention of power by an elite? Errrrr.... I think not (he says in his most harrumphing tone).
If the dozy majority don't like the decisions made by those of their fellows who are engaged and involved, then they'd damn well better get off their asses, inform themselves and vote. If they're happy to leave the decision making to those of us who are already informed and involved well, that's not as good but it's still better than leaving it to a handful of people who think they know best.
That applies as much to Trade Me as to Parliament. So good on a commercial enterprise putting a decision affecting a tiny bit of revenue into the hands of those it's meant to serve. Now if only some truly important decisions would be divested by other institutions who cling to their belief in their innate superiority.
Tearing up here, too... though more out of frustration. Which is not to deny the simple power and honesty of Senator Grisanti's speech. But this is the second such example I've stumbled upon in the debate in a single State legislature in the US. The other was GoP Senator Roy McDonald who said:
Am I comfortable with my vote? It's changed. I was raised in a conservative household. Would my parents be OK with my vote? Yes. The only thing they would require of me is do the right thing. Do what you think is appropriate. That's it.
And more pointedly, in a series of statements (some via reporters' tweets) that choked me up because I've yearned to hear this form of words used by a NZ legislator:
You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.
You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing.
I think I'm doing the right thing, it's the appropriate thing, and if the public respects that, I'm grateful. If they don't... then I move on...
I'm tired of blowhard radio people, blowhard television people, blowhard newspapers. They can take the job & shove it."
Is it that hard to lift your nose from the trough (or, in the example cited in the post, the pants-wetting thrill of being "politics' glamour girls" or whatever the hell schtick the media is running) and just do the right thing?
If you're elected in NZ the answer, it seems, is "Yes".
Well in light of the topic of the previous post I can only recommend a song, the lyrics of which manage to include:
All research on successful drug policy shows
That treatment should be increased
And law enforcement decreased
While abolishing minimum mandatory sentences
and yet is still eminently listenable. I give you System of a Down, "Prison Song".
You might still enjoy the show we did record last night – Chief Judge Russell Johnson was particularly good value.
I did indeed, and as was David Lomas. There's a similar effort to what I understand his series to have been, on screen in Australia now - "On Trial". Anyone who knows proxies (and can thus bypass the geoblock) might want to go to the ABC's iview site and have a look.
Judge Russell's comments echoed those of many other jurists, including recently retired WA Chief District Court Judge Antoinette Kennedy, who noted:
Once you can have people more frightened of disorder than tyranny, it enables you to do almost anything you like so far as legislation is concerned. It's also cheap, you see it's very or it was until very recently very cheap and it doesn't require any leadership to say we're going to increase all penalties and we're going to lock everybody up longer...
The problem, of course, is that the McVicar cheer squad will dismiss such sentiments as being those of out-of-touch elitists who have degrees ferchrissakes, and thus no idea of what's truly right or wrong. And lawyers, well... they're just rorting Legal Aid while waiting to be made a judge.
More effective in changing perceptions is what David Lomas alluded to... introduce criminals (or those stereotyping suggests are criminals) to "ordinary" people, who very quickly find that the crims are very ordinary and often quite sympathetic and certainly not the red-in-tooth-and-claw monsters McVicar tells us are outside our windows.
I have a friend who's a mild manner, bespectacled academic and a world authority on Restorative Justice. Bravely, he tells people he's a "convict criminologist" to make the point that not everyone who's been to prison is a monster, and nor do they all reoffend. Likewise I've had some wonderful encounters which have gone:
Person: "All prisoners are scum, and they remain scum after their release".
Me: "I've been a prisoner, actually".
Person: *look of horrified confusion* "Errr well, except you, obviously".
Me: "I was in on remand. Actually half the people in Perth's main prison are on remand, and the majority of them actually walk free when they finally get to court. So they're....?"
Person: "Is that the time?! I'm late for... something..."
Hence my enthusiasm for the Wormwood Scrubs idea, and anything else (like "On Trial") that shows crimes for the usually complex and quite nuanced events they are and accused, and convicted, people as being just as varied and multifaceted as the audience.
Failing that, I'd like a debate with McVicar. Kim Workman is both erudite and admirable, but too bloody polite when the bullshit starts to flow!!
A suggestion to TVNZ7 readers: a show which brings the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and/or the Minister of Corrections into a prison to answer questions from prisoners, prison officers and others who actually know what they're talking about.
Unashamedly stolen from the BBC's Question Time, which put several pollies into Wormwood Scrubs to do just that.
I'm going to try and get a similar exercise off the ground here... when I get time :-/
If you decide to do it, a heads-up would be appreciated...
Gak... ironically, struggling to prepare for a Supreme Court hearing seeking to overturn the WA Criminal Property Confiscation Act ("an Act that lacks coherence and, for that reason, is drafted unsatisfactorily"- High Court of Australia. "An Act we have no present intention of reviewing" - Government of WA) and so much I want to say.
I will interject the comment, however, that the new paradigm for dealing with statistics , peer-reviewed research etc amongst politicians (especially my personal favourite, the Attorney General of WA) is to blithely state "I don't accept that" leaving the profferer of said data slack-jawed in amazement at the sheer chutzpah and rendering moot any and all research that doesn't accord with the government's view.
As for sentencing effectiveness, well... sending someone to jail for 6 or 7 years and taking their home, indisputably bought with legitimate income leaving their school-age children with no home and them, when they're finally released, also homeless isn't exactly, err, top-notch rehabilitation.
Must go, affidavits to file...