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The Christchurch Attack: is the stage set for a continuing domino of death?

By   /  March 24, 2019  /  33 Comments

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Some may balk at these suggestions. I make no apology for making them.

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“New Zealanders hearing so many of the details and seeing Weatherston taking the stand will have been absolutely dumbfounded that this remorseless killer has had a platform for his justifications and excuses televised and thoroughly reported by the media.”

That was from  the trial of Clayton Weatherston in 2009, convicted killer of Sophie Elliott. His behaviour in court, televised for all to see, was appalling.

Chief executive of Women’s Refuge (at the time),  Heather Henare, described Weatherston’s self-serving exploitation of his courtroom platform with disgust;

“New Zealanders hearing so many of the details and seeing Weatherston taking the stand will have been absolutely dumbfounded that this remorseless killer has had a platform for his justifications and excuses televised and thoroughly reported by the media.

Everyone must have a fair trial, of course, but I think we need to be asking whether a trial like this actually represents any kind of justice whatsoever.”

Even as the nation looked on at Weatherston’s performance, the fact is that there was only one real person that Weatherston was playing to: himself. He would have had very little, if any, support from his audience.

Two years later, another killer took the ‘stage’ in a Norwegian courtroom. Mass-murderer, terrorist, and far-right fanatic, Anders  Breivik was charged and later convicted of murdering seventyseven innocent people. Breivik made his court appearances with dramatic effect;

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(Note: this blogger will not share images showing the killer’s face. If you’re sufficiently curious, look it up yourself.)

Breivik justified his killing spree with a chilling statement that bears relevance to the Christchurch terror attack on 15 March;

“They were not innocent, non-political children; these were young people who worked to actively uphold multicultural values…”

During his court case, Breivik expounded his far right views. It became his platform to promulgate his ideology and to create an image of “heroic action” amongst the far-right in every nation on Earth, from America to Britain to Greece to Ukraine and elewhere.

One survivor of his terror attack, Viljar Hanssen,  was clear in his condemnation of the Courtroom circus;

“For many of us, the relentless struggle for a good and dignified life continues… while the media incessantly give a podium to the Breivik circus.”

It had an eerie similarity to critics of Weatherstone’s behaviour during his trial.

The difference between Weatherstone and Breivik is that Breivik was playing to a supportive, approving audience throughout the world.

It should not be lost on people that the alleged Christchurch shooter committed his terrorist atrocity having been inspired by Breivik.

Breivik, in turn, disclosed he had been inspired by Oklahoma bomber and far-right terrorist, Timothy McVeigh.

Breivik and McVeigh have becomes heroes amongst the far right, with many openly declaring their admiration of the murderers. Some, llike Christopher Paul Hasson, were fortunately  caught by law enforcement authorities before they could carry out their own terrorist attacks.

Hasson had been inspired by Breivik.

In the far-right “community”, the term “Going Breivik” has obvious, deadly meaning.

There are multiple instances of far right individuals carrying out, or attempting to carry out, their own terror attacks. All have been inspired by other attackers.  It is an ongoing cycle of domino of death.

It is against this back-drop that we now have to consider the alleged Christchurch shooter’s own looming trial. The alleged killer has indicated he will represent himself;

The duty lawyer who represented Tarrant in court on Saturday confirmed to the Herald today that he was no longer acting for him.

Richard Peters said Tarrant appeared to be lucid and was not mentally unstable – other than the extreme views that he held.

Peters said that his job representing Tarrant ceased on Saturday – and that the accused gunman had told him he wanted to represent himself in future.

This raises the spectre of the alleged Christchurch shooter repeating past instances of terrorists turning his trial into a platform to spout his racist, xenophobic views; his motivations; and his ideas of a world-wide war against other ethnic and religious groups.

Any notion that this will not happen is naive.

When the alleged shooter went on his killing spree, it was live-filmed and up-loaded onto social media. Since then Facebook  confirmed removing 1.5 million copies of the terror attack. That was two days ago (as at writing this blogpost). The number has probably increased by the time you read this.

The purpose of filming and uploading a video of the attack should be clear to everyone.

For the alleged shooter to be given a Court platform by televising or  radio-broadcasting his comments would compound his desire to spread his toxic extremist views. As Massey University law professor, Chris Gallivan, pointed out;

“We’re going to hear a lot more about this gentleman and probably from this gentleman, and also about his ideology, before this is over.

We have to ensure the victims are protected through that and that it is not a platform to be able to extol his worldview. But if he self-represents – the courts probably will struggle to stop him using this as a platform.

Anders Breivik didn’t recognise the jurisdiction of the court and used every opportunity he possibly could to spout his vitriol and worldview.”

From there, it is a short step to that publicity being widely disseminated amongst the far right, and inspiring the next terrorist attack. Copy cat attacks are already occurring in Britain;

Detectives are investigating an alleged far-Right terror attack in Surrey after a teenager was stabbed amid a spate of racist incidents across Britain which came in the wake of the New Zealand massacre.

Politicians and police have condemned the attacks and said extremism has no place in British society.

The 19-year-old victim was said to have been attacked by a man armed with a knife and a baseball bat who it is claimed was heard shouting racist comments.

Yet, conducting the trial in secret is also not a solution.

Secrecy breeds suspicion. It would give birth to a host of mind-numbingly tedious conspiracy theories. Salient information about his actions would be lost. It would create dangerous legal precedent.

There has to be a middle-ground. A compromise where the alleged shooter is denied a platform – but where secrecy does not create unintended consequences.

Televising and radio-broadcasting the alleged shooter’s comments is simply not tenable. That would give him the stage to encourage others by his own words.

Just as The Daily Blog denies links to ‘Infowars‘ because the administrator(s) consider Alex Jones a crazed hate-monger who cannot be reasoned with.

Worse still, it re-victimises the survivors and families of the terror attack. The ghoulish spectacle of the alleged shooter on our TV screens or his voice on our radios, would be an unbearable trauma for many people. There is no fairness in such a prospect.

The best compromise is to allow media to attend the trial – without electronically recording and disseminating anything the alleged shooter says. His comments can be paraphrased, if they are salient. Simply repeating his toxic beliefs is unnecessary. Anyone interested in his ideology has a multitude of far right websites to visit: they are not shy in seeking publicity (and recruits).

RNZ chief executive, Paul Thompson,  has  taken a lead by approaching other news media to show restraint how the alleged shooter’s comments should be reported in the media;

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson said the organisation would have “really strong editorial controls” in its court coverage, focusing on the key legal aspects of the case.

“Just because someone’s representing himself, perhaps, and makes a three-hour opening statement, you don’t have to cover every word of it,” he said.

Mr Thompson said he had begun contacting others in the news business to see if they wanted to develop a joint approach.

“It’s no good if some of us exercise that restraint and other outlets don’t,” he said.

This shows responsible restraint.

Furthermore, Court gallery seating should be given priority to the families, friends, and community leaders of his victims. They, above all of us, have a right to see the face of the alleged killer who took so many precious lives.

Recording devices (smart phones, dictaphones, etc) should not be allowed into the Court.

Some may balk at these suggestions. I make no apology for making them.

‘Phase 1’ of the alleged shooter’s plan was to live-stream his terror attack. If the alleged shooter is allowed to use the Court as a platform for his toxic views, we are, in effect, allowing him ‘Phase 2’ of his plan for maximum publicity.

We should deny him that oxygen. Just as we deny ISIS the oxygen of publicity by removing their on-line propaganda videos whenever they are found.

Otherwise, any direct publicity given to him could inspire the next far right terrorist to commit his own atrocity. We would be complicit in that.

New Zealanders never thought this would happen here. But it did.

New Zealanders may think giving the alleged shooter a platform won’t inspire the next killer. It will.

We should think carefully on what we do next.  There will be consequences.

There are always consequences.

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References

NZ Herald: Weatherston trial a ‘national disgrace’

The Guardian: Anders Behring Breivik claims victims were not innocent

France24: Breivik makes Nazi salute at court appearance

Sydney Morning Herald: Christchurch suspect claimed ‘brief contact’ with Norwegian mass murderer

The Buffalo News: For some alt-right extremists, bomber Timothy McVeigh is a hero

Public Radio International: Oklahoma City bombing inspired Breivik, Norway’s mass murderer

Washington Post: ‘They hate white males’ – A Norwegian mass murderer inspired the Coast Guard officer accused of plotting terror, feds say

New York Times: The Anatomy of White Terror

NZ Herald: Christchurch mosque shootings – Brenton Tarrant to represent himself in court

Mediaworks/Newshub: Christchurch terror attack: Lessons from the Anders Breivik trial

Fairfax/Stuff: Christchurch shootings: Facebook removed 1.5 million videos

The Telegraph: Surrey teenager stabbed in ‘far-Right terror attack’ amid spate of racist incidents after New Zealand massacre

Radio NZ: How media plan to cover the accused Christchurch shooter’s trial

Additional

ADLS: Judges zoom in on courtroom cameras

Other Bloggers

TDB:  On the trial, on the failure of our intelligence agencies & on the blame game

TDB:  Dr Liz Gordon – The narcissist twins and the future of humanity

TDB:  Selwyn Manning – Christchurch Terror Attacks – New Zealand’s Darkest Hour – Friday 15th 2019

Previous related blogposts

A funny thing happened at the Mall

15 March: Aotearoa’s Day Of Infamy

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33 Comments

  1. David Stone says:

    I agree with this Frank. There will be official court records of all that transpires available to interested parties, the court will be open to the public as it should be but there’s no need to go further than that.
    D J S

  2. Michael Wynd says:

    Frank, you are absolutely correct here in this instance. I think that the court will appoint a lawyer at the trial to try and stop any mischief he wants to do. There is also the third step which you’ve missed. It’s called the Martin Bryant paradox. He knows very well that the government must now expend resources and efforts into keeping him alive. He cannot be killed in custody without turning him into a martyr. He can play with that for a while.

  3. Jody says:

    I don’t think statements such as “This is New Zealand’s darkest day” are helpful either no matter how well intentioned, it just sets a level of hate for other sick people to aspire to or exceed (not to mention disregarding the losses in our colonial past, the world wars, or in events such as Tangiwai, Erebus or Wahine).

    • Where is the phrase “This is New Zealand’s darkest day” used, Jody? I don’t believe it’s anywhere in my writing above.

      Do you have any thoughts on anything else I’ve written?

      • Ngungukai says:

        Agree + 100% Erebus 278 Dead, with a DC10 plane driven directly into a mountain ?

        • Mjolnir says:

          Jody & Ngungukai, not to take anything away from the grief of those 2 disasters but theres a huge difference between a natural or seminatural disaster, and a deliberate act if mass murder. Youre both conflating different tragedies. One was by the act of a white supremicist terrorist, the others were tragic accidents. The only similarities is that the loss if life from ALL events was tragic for families

          None if which relates to what Frank has written and explained to us with great clarity

          He’s raised string points NOT to film the (admittedly alledged) terrorist, or btoadcast his voice or report his words directly. He’s also rejected secret trials, which I thouroughly agree with

          Great blogpodt, lets hope the judiciary listens

    • Samwise says:

      One of your best blogposts Frank. A clear insightful look at how white supremacists crave power and the apologists who defend or minimise their cold blooded violence.

      Let’s hope the killer doesn’t get the attention he craves.

  4. Sarah says:

    Originally I had thought that closed court with no media would be an option but maybe this approach would be better. Can our media, govt, or courts control the international media though? Maybe international media could be banned and they’d have to get their coverage through local media and so deny this platform. I’m not sure how that works, but the US Military managed it to a degree with their ’embedded’ journalists only showing them what they wanted the world to see.

  5. Bruce says:

    Meanwhile the 7 yr old in the house asked me this morning if we good get the shooting game from Christchurch, his mother had shown him on her ‘smart phone’

  6. Andy says:

    Is Mein Kampf still available at Whitcoulls?

    Asking for a friend

    • Pedro says:

      What does that have to do with anything in Frank’s article Andy? I get the whole censorship point your attempting to make, but Whitcoulls have made their decision move on and put your energy into something more constructive.
      What are your views on what Frank is advocating that’s the purpose of this blog isn’t it?
      Personally I’m not interested In any part of the trial apart from the sentencing.

      • Andy says:

        The killers was a robotic psychopath. His now banned manifesto is a hodge podge of memes and contradictory political positions

        We will never know what really happened because the government are too afraid

        In my view, New Zealand is finished as a country. We will never recover from this. Trust between people and government is destroyed

        The killer achieved his goal,
        Thanks NZ

    • Mjolnir says:

      Is Andy being a bit of an ass?

      Asking for a friend

  7. Ngungukai says:

    NZ MSM absolute rubbish enabling pure white hatred, no compassion what so ever ?

    • Off white says:

      Agreed, the media’s hatred for white people is plain to see.

      • Samwise says:

        What the heck are you on about Offwhhite? In what way is the media showing “hatred for white people”? In case you hadn’t noticed most of the victims of the terror attack were non-white, shot by a white. Has that registered with you at all?

      • Mjolnir says:

        What media hatred Off White? Care to share with us??

        • Off white says:

          A quick daily blog search, barely scratching the surface reveals headlines such as these:

          Trumps SOTU a modern day pied piper for nascar dads and white men who have lost their identity.
          Can trump win the presidency? It depends on how many white men really hate women.
          The entertainment section of the nz herald can’t imagine news without white people.
          Calling all white, old, rich men who are decent – please rein in your peers.

          Generally speaking: how about Sarah Jeong of the New York Times? Jussie Smollet? Covington?

          I could go on and on. Blatant hatred, racism and dog whistling.

  8. Janet Bedggood says:

    As Michael Wynd said, the court will appoint a lawyer so what Tarrant says will be controlled. I heard a lawyer on RNZ explaining this lawyer’s role so you need to check on this. Good of you to advise the judges but I think they’ve got it covered.

    My comments on other posts:I assumed Jody is writing about the general discussion in media coverage of the massacre.

    And Bruce, the inquiry from the 7 year old is horrifying. My sympathies to you for having to answer it.

    • Mjolnir says:

      “Good of you to advise the judges but I think they’ve got it covered”

      Is that an official comment from the NZ Law Society? A bit arrogant, isnt it Janet

    • “Good of you to advise the judges but I think they’ve got it covered.”

      I hope so, Ms Beddgood. The Weatherston trial did not engender much confidence in the system to prevent grand standing.

  9. Dr Janet Bedggood says:

    Frank, you acknowledge the difference between Weatherston and Tarrant, W. did not have support from his audience. His vile behaviour was unlikely to spread. You’re right that it was horrible to endure his self justification. But this is avoiding my advice.

    Have you checked the role of the court appointed lawyer?

    [Janio/Dr Beddgood, please use only one pseudonym in this forum. Thank you. – Scarletmod]

  10. ALH84001 says:

    A timely blogpost Frank. The last thing we need is for a white supremacist to be given a platform and his vile ideology of hate broadcast throughout NZ and the rest of the world. Giving him a platform will enable the next killer somewhere in the world.

    Will those who yell free speech the loudest be crying tears when the next far right killer is motivated by the Australian mass-shooter (I will not say his name) to carry out his own killing spree?

    It defies understanding that some people are so blindly adherent to this notion of “free speech” that they cannot see the threat posed.

    The Australian does NOT deserve a platform. His appearance in court should NOT be televised or radio broadcast. His words should be filtered to remove meaning to other far right thigs.

    His voice should be muted as he muted the voices of his 50 victims.

  11. Iain McLean says:

    AH HA!! Thought so.

    The very question I just posed to Liz Gordon underneath this post, if it goes up.

    “The question is, given all the censorship, will there be a closed court?”

    Your drawing some very long bows here Frank. Full of holes.

    And pulling the emotions card, as well as having a cheap go at Infowars.

    It’s the same logic others put up. We should be able to decide for ourselves
    whether he’s crazed or not and his message exposing the Official Narrative.

    Censure only increases the attention as is shown his numbers have surged
    again after the Twitter censor, just as it did after the You-tube de-platform.

    What your proposing here is more censorship and space for more deception,
    more propaganda and lies.

    MSM and it’s reporters have proved time and time again that they can’t be trusted.

    The whole world knows this now Frank, unless your target is the aged.

    I suggest the “administrator(s) “ and TPTB know full well he knows their game.

    ALL murderers, other criminals and fraudsters can influence the odd lost soul.

    Should we shut down all courts? Of course not.

    My post went up on Trotter’s article about Authoritarian Gvts.

    This is what they continually do all the time.

    DEFEND THE OFFICIAL NARRATIVE at all costs.!!

    Cheers.

    • If my article is “full of holes”, Iain, feel free to point out where.

      Your question “Should we shut down all courts?” is ludicrous on the grounds I made no such suggestion. It has come from your own mind.

      I put it to you, Iain, that your constant posts supporting the alt.right explains your agenda.

      I stand by my story.

      • Iain McLean says:

        It is just plain common sense, Frank.

        “People are more confident of each other and their leaders when there is no room left for conspiracy theories, when nothing is hidden,” Stephen Franks, a constitutional lawyer and spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, told AP. “The damage and risks are greater from suppressing these things than they are from trusting people to form their own conclusions and to see evil or madness for what it is.”

        https://www.rt.com/news/454640-new-zealand-free-speech-censorship/

        Conversations are going on overseas suggesting that when
        Governments are going to these lengths to censor and shut down debate, it usually indicates there may be something to hide.
        Authoritarian seemed to be a key word.

        “Christchurch used to silence questioning on global scale” Is an another headline.

        Transparency is what’s needed. Just like Norway.

        “The Great Replacement,” is the name of the Manifesto.

        Go figure.

        • Mjolnir says:

          “Transparency is what’s needed. Just like Norway.”

          Perhaps you should read what Frank actually wrote instead of misrepresenting his views. He said:

          “Yet, conducting the trial in secret is also not a solution.

          Secrecy breeds suspicion. It would give birth to a host of mind-numbingly tedious conspiracy theories. Salient information about his actions would be lost. It would create dangerous legal precedent.”

          Youre so eager to stick your oar in Iain that you dont actually take in what another person has said

    • Samwise says:

      @Iain, sorry, but none of your post makes any sense. You certainly haven’t actually addressed any of the critical issues raised in this blogpost. Whether Frank is right or wrong, he’s put a pretty convincing case to be circumspect in reporting the terrorist’s (ok, ALLEGED terrorist) trial.

      There’s a strong case for not giving the terrorist a platform. If he motivates another disgruntled white supremacist to commit another act of atrocity, doesn’t that make us responsible? I think it does.

      If you’re going to comment on something Iain, make it about the issue. Whatever bee you have in your Bonnet about the author Is between you and him.

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