The case for civil disobedience in the face of injustice and discrimination has arisen countless times in history. Many of history’s greatest hero’s stood against injustice. Nelson Mandela, a hero of our time, springs to mind, opposing the discrimination of apartheid.

We in New Zealand are at a juncture in our history where we may look back and be called to answer for and justify our actions or lack of action. It is worth thinking critically about how we proceed. Where do we stand in relation to the injustice that is creeping into our everyday lives? What lengths are we prepared to go to to maintain our personal integrity?

The COVID-19 Protection Framework

“The Government has announced the next stage of the COVID-19 response plan to provide a pathway out of lockdown and give vaccinated New Zealanders more freedom.”

On 15 December this “world where we are freer to move” will come into effect. As well as sounding rather sinister it will in effect be discriminatory for all unvaccinated, who will be barred from:

  • hospitality
  • gatherings, such as at places of worship or marae
  • weddings and civil union ceremonies
  • funerals and tangihanga
  • events
  • close contact businesses (for example hairdressers)
  • gyms

“The framework is more flexible than the current Alert Level system because we know that businesses that only open to vaccinated customers pose a lower risk.”

There is no room in this Framework for rapid antigen testing which delivers accurate results rather than relying on a vaccine pass to defend against Covid. Instead of finding a way to be inclusive it has set out to radically discriminate against all unvaccinated New Zealanders.

Is this an injustice? It simply does not seem intelligent, fair, just or scientifically accurate to set such draconian measures in place when there is a viable and inclusive alternative. Ivo Andric’s words are frustratingly accurate;

“If people would know how little brain is ruling the world, they would die of fear.”

The Labour Government, Jacinda Ardern, and the complicit media have whipped New Zealand into a fear frenzy over Covid. In this climate, the usual common sense and empathy we feel for others have been dangerously compromised.

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd”     

Bertrand Russell

Jacinda Ardern is attempting to replace our decency and empathy toward our fellow New Zealanders with fear, by labelling them, dehumanising them, and now outright discrimination against them.

She is seeking to blind us to the human situation. 1,461 New Zealand health professionals who lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates are all people with families relying on their income. They all agonised over their situation and had sleepless nights trying to figure out how they would make life work without being vaccinated. The yet unknown tally of teachers who felt so strongly that they have given up their career are all brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. These unvaccinated are our midwives, our teachers,  our friends and maybe even our family. Someone horrifically cliched might say, “They are not ‘unvaccinated’, they are us!”

They are us. The BFD.

If New Zealand follows international trends, mandatory vaccination for all could be on the agenda. If we do not defend every New Zealander targeted by discrimination based on conscience maybe we should consider it pragmatically.

We have a duty to other New Zealanders to ensure our nation is a fit place to live. Is it proportionate to exercise our democratic obligation to civil disobedience to object to them being dehumanised? Should we actively oppose the COVID-19 Protection Framework?

It is time to think about where we want to stand in history. How will we answer to ourselves when this has passed. If we see discrimination as injustice, are we collaborators with injustice or do we oppose it at every opportunity?

Do we abide by the Framework or take a leaf out of Rosa Parks‘s playbook and say “Not today”?


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At What Point Civil Disobedience?
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