Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: McVicar and the media

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  • David Cauchi,

    The argument, quickly, is that prisons cause more harm than good, and its better to deal with problems within society rather than sequestering them within an artificial environment focused on punishment.

    Quite frankly, prisons are not intended to rehabilitate criminals. They've, along with police and laws, been around for 5000 years and have failed comprehensively to eradicate crime – cos that's not what they're for.

    Civilisation invented crime. It needs it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    You've seriously missed Mr Giles' recent contribution?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    its better to deal with problems within society rather than sequestering them within an artificial environment focused on punishment.

    OK, so practically speaking what happens when someone tries to beat me up or take my stuff?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    Yes, I had missed that.

    And I'm missing the relevance. Please to explain.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Prevailing climate - any libertarian arguments have an even steeper hill to climb to convince the other 98% of non-believers

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    OK, so practically speaking what happens when someone tries to beat me up or take my stuff?

    Do you live in isolation? Do you not live in a community?

    If you and your community can't deal with rogue elements trying to beat you up and take your stuff, what kind of community is it?

    You are not surrounded by barbarians. You do not need the police to protect you.

    They're not there for you in any case.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    And why are you repeatedly calling me a libertarian?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    It seemed like a pretty safe label for an argument premised on abolishing the police and prisons - or was I insufficiently nuanced or even wrong? If so, my apologies - no offense intended.

    I guess it's more anarchistic? Brain clearly getting too tired for labels; maybe tomorrow.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    Yes, anarchistic rather than libertarian.

    And I'm happy to wait till tomorrow to hear why you need the bosses' blue power gang to protect your stuff.

    Stuff. Ha! Why does it always come to that so quickly?

    I could get Kropotkin on your arse and say 'Property is theft!'

    But I won't.

    I like my pictures, and will defend them.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    the [prison] muster

    I loathe this way of referring to the prison headcount. It makes me think of mustering sheep, with all the attendant implications that prisoners are not human beings, but animals.

    The question we should be asking is not, "How big is the prison muster?" but "How many women and men are we holding in our prisons?"

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    If we started with readdressing the laws first. I mean why is it a crime to smoke a joint in your own home and why can we grow poppies but not marijuana? Changing a few laws, changes the numbers in prison, that I imagine could have a dynamic effect. Wtf about Easter trading? Why is that against the law? Some business practices are confidence tricks that are totally legal.
    Haven't figured a good alternative yet but I think one should always have hope and one should be cared for if institutionalised.If we judge that someone is ready for jail, then we should be prepared to try and educate why. Jus' sayin'

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Stuff. Ha! Why does it always come to that so quickly?

    True.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    The Press Council deserve a rocket too if they think that Bryderesque lying and sloppiness is now fine and dandy in the publications they have been granted rights of review over.

    The press have been given certain protections based on corresponding standards of expected behaviour. If they want to welsh on the deal, then let's remove their protection from prosecution for publishing lies.

    The Press Council was formed in the early 1970s, long before the Murdochisation of media outlets. In such a case, wouldn't there be grounds to go to the Commerce Commission instead?

    Released into a society that complains via the likes of SST because nobody wants a half way house at the end of the street. Then society thinks they should just know to be better now that they were told it's wrong. Yeah, grow up, get a hair cut, and get a job. Easy for some.How come?

    Such attitudes take the following line: if square pegs don't fit in round holes, get a bigger hammer!

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5419 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    get a bigger hammer!

    BOOM! :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    Changing a few laws, changes the numbers in prison, that I imagine could have a dynamic effect.

    Yes, I know it's radical, but it's the very concept of laws that is wrong.

    I reckon most people live their lives without reference to laws, in communities, as human beings. Laws are an imposition that serve the interests of the ruling classes.

    We don't need prisons. We don't need the police. They're not in our interest. They're not on our side.

    I'm not very good with words. I'd like to be able to put it better.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I'd like to be able to put it better.

    Nuff said. Intentions an' all. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    Nuff said.

    If only it were.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I will to sleep now.It feels late. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I reckon most people live their lives without reference to laws, in communities, as human beings. Laws are an imposition that serve the interests of the ruling classes.

    So if we got rid of them, how would we stop the sort of blood-feud based chaos that tends to emerge whereever an effective legal system is absent? If ingroup-based revenge is the only way to mediate crimes against the person - or the group - the ingroup quickly becomes the primary arbiter of justice, insomuch as it exists. It's generally not a lot of fun for anyone who doesn't belong to a powerful ingroup. And the human taste for vengeance spirals very quickly out of control.

    And that's the thing; laws can and often do serve the interests of the powerful, but they also serve the interests of those who have no power and no allies. Without the police or the judiciary, you have no (semi) objective arbiters who can and do rule *against* the powerful. I've yet to see a good argument that the abolition of these systems would not just result in the powerful - groups as well as individuals - doing whatever the fuck they want to the powerless. Because there's never been a human society of any size where that *didn't* happen. It's not that individuals can't be good without law; it's that groups generally won't, especially groups of any size.

    (As for civilisation inventing crime, if this includes imposing penalties for things like rape, then, um, I'm kinda down with that. You can critique the system, and god knows it needs it, but some stuff is non-negotiable.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I think there is an argument that the police and prisons are both reactions to a problem, not solutions. We would rather remove the threat to our 'society' from circulation than deal with the underlying issues of inequality, greed, property and so on.

    It's a head in the sand approach. Prevention requires far more integration at all levels of society. Interestingly from an opportunity I've had to listen to some of the gang leaders talking about this, they get it in more real terms than the police or our current crop of ministers. Unfortunately, often when there is a genuine attempt at dialogue, it is met with the reaction 'we shouldn't be having this discussion, because you're a crook, and you should be in jail'. McVicar and co have a lot to answer for inciting this ignorant standpoint.

    I have been hoping for more from Pita Sharples, as he understands this I think. But any gain from that side seems to be cancelled out rather thoroughly by Act on the other.

    Perhaps if you give McVicar a platform, you should find someone who can present the opposing view to go next to him.

    Last week's show was great by the way. Marilyn made me laugh and think in equal measure.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Somerville,

    A 20 minute lecture by Steven Pinker (prof of psychology at Harvard) on how violence has been declining throughout history and that right now is the most peaceful time in our species' existence - he argues that it's visible at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and years and gives recent stats/examples...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I reckon most people live their lives without reference to laws, in communities, as human beings. Laws are an imposition that serve the interests of the ruling classes.

    So if we got rid of them, how would we stop the sort of blood-feud based chaos that tends to emerge whereever an effective legal system is absent?

    Oh, come now Lucy. Surely we can all strive to make our society a little more like the modern-day paradise on earth that is peaceful, prosperous and most important of all, law-free, Somalia.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    he argues that it's visible at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and years and gives recent stats/examples.

    Without having watched the lecture, I think it's a good point. In the long-term, our legal system has evolved in a way that puts more focus on the protection and rights of the individual over that of, say, the pre-medieval robber baron, or the king/tribal chief as the ultimate authority.

    But I think this is a good point, too;

    I think there is an argument that the police and prisons are both reactions to a problem, not solutions. We would rather remove the threat to our 'society' from circulation than deal with the underlying issues of inequality, greed, property and so on.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I reckon most people live their lives without reference to laws, in communities, as human beings. Laws are an imposition that serve the interests of the ruling classes.

    Speed limits and other road laws serve the ruling classes? Most people in modern societies deal with that class of law every day, and they're a solution that has arisen as a response to people dying on the roads.

    Taxation serves the ruling classes? Really? Who gets the most bang for their buck from the public health system, public education, public libraries...? Sure as hell ain't the rich.

    At any level of society, from the multinational to the individual, the only reason that your property is yours is the law. The very concept of the serfs owning property is a legal construct. Take away the law, and we'll be back to fealty and real ruling classes before you know it. Humanity has demonstrated a near-total inability to operate societies larger than tiny villages without resorting to law-of-the-jungle, you-own-what-you-can-defend systems of "justice". Or, worse, appointing a leader who's above the law.
    Even in very, very small societies, such as rainforest tribes in the Amazon, blood feuds and absolute power vesting in a leader are fairly normal.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • deborah coddington,

    @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?

    new zealand • Since May 2009 • 8 posts Report Reply

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