There are moments of unscripted reality that manage to pierce all the propaganda bullshit that pollutes our mental environment, last nights ‘The Vote’ was one such moment.
The Vote has been a bit of a disappointment to be frank, some of the topics have been coma inducing, but with the need for less safe broadcasting and some ratings hustle to convince NZ on Air to keep paying for Tim Watkins mortgage, last nights ‘The Vote’ went somewhere most mainstream media never would, they opened Police up to a challenge that went well beyond the fawning hero worship it usually gives the cops.
The astounding 56% vote against the Police was extraordinary when you consider the wall to wall pro Police propaganda we are normally served up.
The pro Police team’s position last night was facetious. They kept pointing to surveys that show the vast majority of NZers respect Police and as such, how dare we complain about the protection they afford us. Their argument was effectively the Jack Nicholson ‘you can’t handle the truth’ monologue from ‘A Few Good Men‘.
We are conditioned in society to worship authority, using that conditioning to suggest unquestioning support for Police is a simplistic and intellectually bankrupt reading that falls well short of a defendable position. It’s because Police have so much power, that they have extra responsibilities to be transparent when investigated for abuses of that power.
The issue with our Police force is that the checks and balances aren’t rigorous enough for a progressive democracy. Without independent counter wights built into the system, it’s just cops investigating cops. No manner of flag-blinded, stabbed-Police-dog-health-updates, national-anthem-whistling-jingoistic-hero-worship can escape the gravity of that conclusion.
I thought it was interesting that there seemed to be no Maori advocate on the panel when you consider Police abuse Maori more than anyone else. Police have been the enforcement of colonialism since NZ was founded and I guess that ugly truth is a bridge too far, hence it being totally ignored last night.
The new Labour Party spokesperson for Police, Jacinda Ardern, should look at this astonishing result and push harder for a truly Independent Police Conduct Authority, one that doesn’t see 80% of cases investigated by cops.
I am still waiting on an IPCA report I helped lodge into the death last year of medical cannabis activist Stephen McIntyre after NZ Police turned up at his home after dark and bullied and threatened him. He committed suicide less than a week after that night time visit and his family believe the bullying by Police led directly to that suicide.
When Police can threaten, intimidate and bully citizens into suicide with impunity, then no amount of surveys professing respect can expunge that stain.
The illegal spying during the Urewera fiasco, purposely deceiving the Courts in the Red Devils case, the jaw dropping incompetence over the Kim Dotcom arrests illegally involving the GCSB and the recent report into the sexist culture of the Police inspired by the investigation into the pack rape culture of the 1980s that found Police aren’t changing are all blaring klaxons warning the Police demand far more scrutiny.
If we as citizens don’t stand up and demand accountability from the Police then we are part of the problem.
Excellent and surprising episode. Well done.