Sticks And Stones – And Bullets.


AT THE SERVICE marking the second anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque Attacks, New Zealand’s Prime Minister spoke of resilience.

“Many of us will remember, or indeed have seen children being taught from a very young age to be stoic.” Jacinda Ardern declared. “That if they face the harsh words of others they should adopt a stiff upper lip. Perhaps it has been our way of teaching children resilience in the face of those who might intend to cause harm.”

She’s right, that is the way New Zealanders used to bring up their children. Subjected to hurtful speech, those on the receiving end were taught to sing: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

The Prime Minister was not convinced.

“Of course we want our children to be resilient,” she said, “but surely no more than we want our children to be kind?

“And so we have to ask ourselves, what does it take to create a generation that is empathetic but strong. That is kind, but fair. That is knowledgeable but curious. That knows the power of words, and uses them to challenge, defend, and empower.”

Jacinda’s question was rhetorical, but it deserves an answer.

What it takes is a society comprised of something other than human-beings – angels, perhaps.

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Certainly, empathy confers a kind of strength: Jacinda proved that in the way she conducted herself in the hours and days after the massacres at Al Noor and Linwood. New Zealand was unquestionably strengthened diplomatically by the raw emotional power of its Prime Minister’s empathic response.

Jacinda’s empathy ran out, however, when confronted with the enormity of Brenton Tarrant’s crime. So unequivocal was her condemnation of its perpetrator that she vowed never to speak his name. Nor has she demonstrated the slightest curiosity concerning Tarrant’s motivation. On that matter, at least, she just doesn’t want to know.

But, how can words have power: how can they “challenge, defend and empower” if they are not imbued with the knowledge born of asking “Why?”

The Prime Minister’s own words notwithstanding, there is scant evidence that anyone in this government; the state bureaucracy; or the mainstream news media; has the slightest curiosity, or in-depth knowledge, of the forces that drive individuals like Tarrant. Indeed, within 72 hours of the massacre, New Zealand’s Chief Censor had declared his manifesto “objectionable” – thereby making its mere possession an offence punishable by imprisonment.

New Zealand has not been challenged to do anything about the Christchurch Mosque Attacks except condemn them.

And, of course, they should be condemned. They were cruel and wicked and utterly devastating of the lives of scores of innocent people. But, the overwhelming horror and disgust which such wanton savagery naturally elicits is all too easily harnessed to serve the interests of political causes that are neither kind, nor fair, nor innocent. Causes that have no interest whatsoever in encouraging the free exchange of words to “challenge, defend and empower” their fellow citizens. Causes whose purpose is, rather, to condemn, attack and weaken all those who refuse to endorse their ideology wholeheartedly and without reservation. Causes determined to silence all speech that does not echo their own.

In this regard, there is cause for New Zealanders to wonder exactly where their Prime Ministers stands on how free their use of words should be. What should we make, for example, of this rather oblique passage from her memorial address?

“We all own and hold the power of words. We use them, we hear them, we respond to them.  How we choose to use this most powerful of tools is our choice.”

Is it drawing too long a bow to say that there is something vaguely threatening in the construction of those sentences? Something along the lines of: “Yes, of course you have freedom of speech – just be careful how you use it.”

The sense of menace is not dispelled in the sentences which follow:

“There will be an unquestionable legacy from March 15. Much of it will be heart breaking. But it’s never too early or too late for the legacy to be a more inclusive nation, one that stands proud of our diversity, embraces it, and if called to, defends it staunchly.”

Whenever political leaders begin to declare their intention to defend staunchly the ideas for which they stand – and for which they blithely assume the rest of the nation also stands – it is time to worry.

Stripped of its rhetorical finery, Jacinda’s speech boils down to this: If hateful words are directed at vulnerable groups, then legal sticks and stones will be deployed to silence those who utter them.

Jacinda wound up her speech by implicitly inviting her followers to be ready to respond, as she vowed to be ready, when empathy proves unequal to the darkness that dwells in the human heart:

“And [at] those moments, may I never, and may we never – be at a loss for words.”

The effectiveness of those words, however, will largely be determined by the strength of the person speaking them and the resilience of the society hearing them. Jacinda’s inspired words of 15 March 2019 – “they are us” – spoke much more to her strength than to her empathy. She imposed an explanatory framework on a society that was tough enough to carry it and make it work.

New Zealanders are not angels, and they should not be expected to behave like angels. In the hours and days after Tarrant’s attack, what mattered most was the swiftness with which the Prime Minister (unlike some of her left-wing fellow-travellers) moved to reassure her fellow citizens that they were not devils. That designation belonged to the terrorist alone.

Words didn’t kill 51 innocent human-beings on 15 March 2019 – bullets did.



  1. There is a segment of NZ society who is not happy with our increasing Muslim minority. Indeed, many people in Europe are not happy with the massive influx of Islamic refugees over the last decade or so. When people rightly or wrongly feel threatened bad things can happen.

    I suggest there is a part of NZ society that is very scared of the immigration policies that appear to them to favour refugees from very differnt cultures (let’s take Somalia as an example) while making it very difficult for english-speaking immigrants to move here. The very pro-refugee policies of our Green Party for example might be examples of this idea, policies that some of our society feel are being pushed on this country without civilian mandate.

    When a part of our society feels disenfranchised, and their concerns not listened to, it will cause resentment. If this same part of our society gets hit with hate speech legislation to shut them up I see only bad things happening in our future.

    I do not understand how some parts of our Govt seem to push identity politics to a ludicrous degree, yet also want to import masses of refugees from very different cultures and claim we are all the same. These are two very conflicting concepts. Anyone heard of ‘doublethink’?

    So NZers have been told very clearly by Marama Daqvidson and Golriz Ghahraman that Tarrant was just a typical example of white NZ racism and prejudice, and btw, we cannot read what Tarrant actually said or we go to jail, just trust them that it is all about ordinary white NZ racism. And we are going to bring in masses of culturally different refugees and if anyone has a single thought about looking after NZ citizens first instead then they are rcist xenophobes who need to be dealt to by the police. and hate speech laws

    If anyone cannot see the inevitable rise in Tarrant-style extremism resulting from this mindest then we are all in serious trouble.

    • Of course Ben. Coupled with the extreme conservatism of the flood of migrants entering NZ only trouble Bosnia style lies ahead. Any fool with half an eye can see that. But not our over paid career politicians. They do as Treasury and the Corporate’ s tell them and simply do not give a fuck about native born New Zealanders. The Greens are arrogant dangerous pig ignorant idiots. I used to be a Green voter.No mor. Jacinda is an intellectual light weight and a closet fascist. Welcome to the 21st Century. Orwell’s century.

      • I reckon the both the Greens and JA aren’t closet fascists. My reckons in this space, going forward, are that they’re basically just naive. But that’s just the consequence of their having grown up in the era of neo-liberal supremacy.
        I mean, you can’t really blame half the lower ranks under the muppets at OT, or NZTA, or the Munstry for Everything, or EdgeiKayshun. or “Health’ (fuck me! what a label in and of itself).
        If they took an all-expenses paid holiday, I think you’d find things would carry on just as they are at the moment. Most of the good stuff that gets done (and there’s the occasional titty bit) happens in spite of its “leadership” rather than because of it. If you applied the same values to the so-called ‘leadership’ in much of our public service that’s applied to the peons at the coalface doing the hard graft, they’d come up short
        At the moment, I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before the fundamentals at OT get over their unwillingness for change. (As an aside – even that master of parenthood and understanding has been asked to stay on a while before taking up his new pozzy at DIA).
        Things are definitely going to have to get worse before they get better.
        On the bright side – I quite like Andrew Coster’s initiatives. At least its a start given how far we’ve descended into the depths
        On the dark side (if you listen to Her with the Balanced Portfolio and work-life balance; Her who is growing on me), we’re supposed to celebrate our tech companies being sod off one-by-one.

        • I have a great deal of respect for Andrew Coster and I wish him well, he has an uphill battle as I have said before.Perhaps he could start with insisting that all police recruits have 3 digit IQ’s? .
          And all the indications are that Blairites( and Jacinda is a Blairite) are neo fascists. So yeah nah Tim. Also I agree the selling off of our tech expertise is a bit of a bastard. But that’s what kiwis do we sell off everything good and great about our country and do not give a shit. No thought for the future or anyone else. Smugness all the way that’s Kiwis for ya!

    • Correct Ben. Spot on. If people cannot challenge the predominant liberal consensus with alternatives, doing so legitimately from within the political system, if they are silenced and cancelled and cannot express their concerns, then they will sometimes be forced to go outside the system to make their point: Tarrant did exactly this. They don’t go anywhere and their opinions do not change. In fact, they are probably bolstered. “Radicalisation” is a result of having one and one ideology only rammed down people’s throat. The Left radicalised Tarrant, not 8chan. Calling people “racist” bigoted “white supremacists” is just empty rhetoric, deliberately ill-defined so that it can be thrown at anybody to shut them up.

      • I don’t believe that more government regulation will make New Zealanders any more safer from the evils of terrorism in the future.

        Reducing the likeliness of terrorism in the future one might start with expanding cooperation between police in Australia and New Zealand and the rest of the world.

    • Ben – in brief – from what I know, the ChCh Muslim murderer, was radicalised well and truly before he came anywhere near New Zealand.

      In spite of what Marama and Golriz ranted that dreadful night in Auckland, this country only provided a convenient location for a stunted loser on steroids to carry out his sick plan – funded by an inheritance which enabled him to leave the small town where he was a social misfit, and to travel the world, garnering and feeding his prejudice. We were irrelevant, except insofar as we suited his purpose as a convenient geographical location.

      We were used. And then long came Marama and Golriz,who promptly clobbered Pakeha NZ, because it suited their own slippery, or dishonest, or dumb purposes.

      I see Davidson as the most racist politician in the New Zealand Parliament, who decided to utilise the Muslim vigil to cause fear and racial disharmony. She has that right.

      If Marama’s words radicalise another into shooting my mother or child, then that’s a separate issue.

      Davidson and Golriz had no evidence for their vilification of white New Zealanders that night, and I am calling both out as liars for making accusations without one iota of evidence. Not one.

      I too have been flummoxed as to why this country is enticing certain ethnicities here, but have assumed that like other crooks, they go for the soft targets, i.e. the folk who we can most easily exploit. The fact that many are Muslim, may be not hugely relevant. Pacifica fundamentalist Christians can be pretty bad – and their older males, sick, but it is an imposition on NZ’ers wanting to go peacefully about their daily lives, having to risk being subjected to extremist behaviour just because some woke politician leading a very cushioned life, wants to make a vain show-offy statement about themselves.

      Prefer not to comment on Ardern’s waffle – that’s all it is, P.R.

      • Well said Snow White. ….”this country only provided a convenient location for a stunted loser on steroids to carry out his sick plan.” It pisses me off Marama and Gloriz were not shouted down for their pig ignorance. Tarrant is NOT A KIWI. And Jacinda is a blatherer.I stopped listening to this government some time ago. Comfortable non achieving quibblers without an effing clue of what to do .

    • I think the majority of our citizens and voters are people who think that immigrants should be selected on the basis of being people who will thrive and flourish in NZ, not complain and brand the rest of us as “white supremacists” or any other pejorative identity politics terms. Excessive immigration of people who are not compatible with the Western world for political and self-interested ideological reasons can only harm NZ society as a whole.
      The deluded Aussie misfit existed in an anti-social bubble of online egotism as a self-styled paramilitary and targeted those particular mosques based on media reports of their alleged support of islamic extremism. He had little or no impulse control, self-restraint or moral compass and acted out his illegal and immoral fantasy for self-serving egotistical reasons.
      The attempts to smear other NZers as having the same opinions as the Aussie misfit and extrapolating that fiction as a likely physical threat in order to justify punitive legislation is a cheap political ploy that will ultimately fail as the wider electorate will not support it.

  2. It has been known since ancient times that the impact of words can be lethal: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:21 The right to free speech cannot go unchecked in a civil society. Words are thoughts expressed, deeds are thoughts acted out. There is a direct line between thoughts, words and bullets

      • Since Diana started using the best-selling book I will mention that it has the only answer that will bring peace, when we love others as we love ourself then transformation will happen. Obviously, that is not an option for most people so governments seek to control people instead with the result that some agree with state rules & others react against them. Church & State combined have caused untold damage in the past & current problems suggest that the same combination is about to happen as people seek answers to damaging world events.

    • Well Diana, if indeed “there is a direct line between thoughts, words and bullets” then tell me what is left over if the thoughts and words that you disagree with are not allowed.

    • Along with the right to free speech comes a requirement for restraint and self-discipline. Any hate speech legislation should not overstate the power of words from the average citizen. The propaganda agents of the State and any self-appointed rabble rousers are another matter. Our socialist overlords should pay heed to another bible verse: “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” – Proverbs 14:23

  3. You want peace among the humanoids? Then replace the word ‘love’ with ‘methylenedioxymethamphetamine’.
    For those of you with dentures? You can use the word ‘Ecstasy’.
    “What the world needs now is love sweet love”
    Jackie DeShannon

  4. “When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.” (Krishnamurti)
    History confirms the truth of what he says.

  5. Tarrant was a white supremacist fearing the ‘replacement’ of white culture by black and brown migrants. This is the logical consequence of the European nations invading and dominating non-European cultures and living off their wealth for centuries. In Aotearoa white settlers stole Maaori land and extracted the rent, displacing Maaori as largely landless labourers.

    That imperialist world system is coming to an end as the capitalist rip-shit-and bust world economy is destroying the material base in nature it lives off. Naturally this means everyone is staking their claim and defending it from incursions by outsiders. White supremacy therefore is the extreme reaction to non-white outsiders competing for the diminishing stakes of the white empires.

    But that is futile as cultural wars are but the expression of underlying economic wars.
    The result appears as a race war, and the solution, banning racism in language and deed.
    Moreover it is a total contradiction when we beg the 1%ers state with a monopoly on force to do this on our behalf. Inevitably that state which default is authoritarian becomes fascist.

    Our survival as a nation among other nations is to wake up and recognise the true enemy – the capitalist 1%ers who fool the masses into embarking on race wars so that they, the 1%ers can divide and rule, let the masses destroy themselves in useless racewars, instead of uniting along class lines.

    90% of the world’s population are poor workers of one sort or another. They range from wage workers, unpaid domestic workers, small traders and small farmers to name the largest segments.
    They include all ethnicities and nationalities but unite in the one common cause.
    The enemy, is also not exclusively white, but comprises the corporate elites, or ruling classes, along with the middle classes who attach themselves to the bosses and look down on the workers. They comprise the the professional military, bureaucrats and paramilitaries. That’s 10% parasites armed to the teeth vs 90% working people whose labour is required for the system to exist.\

    The only meaningful question facing us is how can the 90% organise, defend themselves and bring about a revolution that succeeds in preventing the 10% from killing us all in a climate, nuclear or biological apocalypse.

    There is no doubt about the willingness and courage of the 90% when we look around the world at Myanmar, Syria, India, and the street mobilisations in the West. What we need to find is the willingness to unite, organise, defend ourselves, and win back the world for the vast majority of humanity before it, and we, are destroyed.

  6. “When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.” (Krishnamurti)
    History confirms what he says. Diversity is great, but only if out of it something new is created. Krishnamurti also says, “Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.” Locked in to what was, seems to be destructive. Being open to new ideas creates healthy change and renewal. What we are, is not what we were, nor what we could be.

  7. If Jacinda really cared she would take our AstraZeneca vaccine live on television like the other world leaders, to take a stand against rona hate, to show that public medical procedures are safe, to unite the tribes and to show that actions speak louder than words. Innoculate for the people Jacinda, take the dose of holy sacrament as under cover brother joeboxerparker did before you – “it’s the best stuff out”.

  8. This is a well-targeted statement, aimed at the success of Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony. The progress it has made on behalf of the “political causes that are neither kind, nor fair, nor innocent” is extraordinary. Countering ‘this evil that cannot be named’ is a challenge that parallels but dwarfs the Thucydides Trap in complexity. The one subject that no one talks about is comparative morality, thanks to Franz Boas. Yet that should be considered the fundamental issue – universalist deontological ethics, versus the West’s liberal democratic ethics which allows for utilitarianism, consequentialism, virtue and situational ethics, and above all, freedom.

  9. Adern is only empathetic up to a point where it suits her to be. Where is the empathy for her long suffering people who live in hope that a LABOUR government will be just that… the peoples representative against the horrors of capitalism and the cruelties the National party represent when in government. Not a standard bearer of market economics and do nothing status quo management.
    Adern and her colleagues are frauds like the people they replaced.

  10. Stick and stones didn’t break our bones (Maori) legislation did taking much of our land denying us our language for fifty years and denigrating our culture.

  11. Well, I dunno what happened there but I must have bumped the wrong keys and my handle came out as ‘ay as were’ L0L !,… its me , – WILD KATIPO,..but ‘ay as were’ sounds kinda cool anyways… I think…?

  12. If words matter, can we at least talk about the bullets that murdered the 51 in Christchurch? Were they sold/brought in the same shop as the Aramoana massacre?

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