OPINION

Simon O’Connor

onpointnz.substack.com


When I think of the various protest, or activist, movements of late one deeply troubling observation is becoming abundantly clear – there are those in New Zealand who genuinely believe that violence is acceptable when it comes to their cause.  The classic, ‘the end justifies the means’.

This is the belief of zealots, fundamentalists, and of course, terrorists.  Such people and groups are so morally certain of their position that they consequently feel enabled to act against all and any who oppose them.  Those who disagree with them are so wrong, so in error, that removing them by force is appropriate.  Naturally, this is a mindset at odds with a properly functioning democracy.

The terrible conflict between the terrorist group, Hamas, and the State of Israel highlights this very clearly.  Many (not all!) supporting the Palestinians have made it clear they believe the terrible violence – murder, rape, and kidnapping – on October 7th was acceptable.  The near inability of leaders of the various Palestinian groups here in New Zealand to condemn these actions of Hamas is striking.  In recent months, they have sought to ignore this key catalyst to the current conflict or at least, downplay its significance.  Sadly, many commentators in mainstream media are also willing to diminish the barbaric events, mostly against civilians, by justifying such deeds as ‘resistance’ or part of a colonial struggle.

Critically when reflecting on such matters, it is easy for any person to find reasons to justify actions, but that doesn’t make the actions ok.  And this is ultimately what is at the heart of the issue – there are those among us who believe there are reasons for violence to further their ends.

This is not simply related to events on the other side of the world.  More locally in the Pacific, we see the same justifications arising with the violence now occurring in New Caledonia.  Activists here in New Zealand are saying that the violence, looting, and intimidation are ok because it is a rebellion against a colonial power.  Put aside the complete inaccuracy of such statements, because the situation again simply illustrates that there are New Zealanders who think violence is ok.

Right here at home, last year, we had the violent protests in Albert Park.  A few days back I met one of the women assaulted, Judith.  She was punched multiple times and yet there are still those here that believe the violent suppression of speech was acceptable.  Her and others view was supposedly so wrong, that violence was seen as the right response by those protesting.  Mainstream media too sadly played its part in all of this, encouraging the protest and consequently diminishing what occurred.  Implicitly, some commentators reinforced that violence was an acceptable response to this group of women seeking to meet and talk.

Ultimately, we all hold strong views on various matters.  But for most of us, our convictions on such matters manifest in robust discussion, debate, or the pursuit of legislative change.  We do not, and never will, turn to violence.

And so we should take very careful note of those in our society who are accepting of violence to further their cause or supporting those who act violently to achieve their ends.  It is perhaps a harbinger of things to come for whatever next cause they feel drawn to.  Such zealots are always a small group proportionate to the population, but acts of violence are an amplifier.

Violence is not acceptable.  In a democratic society such as ours, it is better to stop such moves towards violence early on rather than letting it spread.

NEW RADIO SHOW AND PODCAST

I have recently begun hosting a online radio show, on every Friday from 10 am to midday. The first show was last week so feel free to check it out. I would love to hear what you think. My very first guest was my friend and Taiwan’s representative here in New Zealand, Joanne Ou. It was a wide-ranging chat on everything from trade to defence, our shared cultural history to joining the WHO. You can check this particular interview here.

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I also chatted with the Maxim Institute’s, Dr Stephanie Worboys. She has recently released a report called ‘Shaky Foundations’. It notes a decline in trust in our democracy. We discuss her findings, notably why she thinks trust has declined and what we could do to turn things around. You can hear the interview here.

Separately, I am also recording weekly podcasts for Family First. My first focuses on an Australian court case known as Giggle v. Tickle. Yep, you read that right! I chat with Sall Grover, the Australian founder of an independent female-only social media, networking platform, and app called ‘Giggle’. Sall shares how she set the app up so that women could connect safely and talk about issues important to them. Recently, she has been taken to court by Roxanne Tickle, a biological – trans identifying – male, because he was declined entry to the app. Will the court agree that it’s ok to say no to males in female spaces? You can see my interview with Sall here.

Image Credit: onpointnz.substack.com

And finally, and on top of all of this, I do a Facebook Live every Tuesday morning from 8 am to discuss issues of the day and engage your questions. You can tune in via my Facebook Page.

So, no shortage of ways to engage ideas and debate alongside this Substack!

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