Jim Hopkins on current issues
Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: It's a choice to behave or misbehave

Drunken behaviour at sports games will expose us to all sorts of ridicule at the hands of international media. Photo / Richard Robinson
Drunken behaviour at sports games will expose us to all sorts of ridicule at the hands of international media. Photo / Richard Robinson

What shall we do with the shrunken jailer?

What shall we do with the shrunken jailer?

What shall we need to face the failure,

Will we heed the warning?

Stand by, Cyril, here's another one. You know the drill. I smile, you pounce from behind, administer the Amnesia Serum, fit the earplugs, play the "No, we can't possibly do that. The International Studies clearly show blah, blah, blah" tape and, bingo, another one in the bag.

Something strange happens to politicians when they go to Wellington, something beyond the comprehension of us ordinary yobbos.

Maybe they do get snatched by crack squads of combat-hardened bureaucrats who use secret brainwashing sessions to turn them into home-grown Manawachurian Candidates, programmed to do as they're bid whenever the administrative ideologues are attacked.

Perhaps they're crushed by the avalanche of documents that hits them, or maybe the maundering of those proselytising minorities who lobby them with virulent regularity, like bacteria in a kiwifruit orchard, finally rots their tiny minds and renders them willing tools of the GFE (Great Failed Experiment).

Whatever it is, something happens. Slowly but surely, the wee dears drift into an hermetic world of others' making, assuming a mindset resistant to challenge or change, a world view impervious to the unlettered whims of public opinion.

So it shouldn't surprise any curmudgeonly codgers out there that the Attorney-General, a man much charmed by his own intellect, saw fit to release the Bill of Rights Act Report on the Alcohol Reform Bill just hours after a boorish display at Eden Park raised major questions about how we handle alcohol and whether we can handle an international event like the RWC.

Heck, if last Saturday was a Fanzone, we've got our heads in The Cloud. A savvy Attorney-General might have said to his officials, "Let's pop this Bill of Rights thing in the bottom drawer till you've written a report proving last Saturday's behaviour had nothing to do with Rugby League, Eden Park management or New Zealanders of any age or sex. Indeed, every confirmed incidence of drunkenness involved Australians pretending to come from Hamilton."

Needless to say (because something happens to politicians in Wellington) sanity did not prevail and out came the Bill of Rights Report, a truly preposterous inanity.

Lest we forget, every right is a State-created privilege which can, and often has been, amended, restricted or denied at its creator's whim - conscription being an obvious Armistice Day example.

Incidentally, the State is still conscripting people. It just makes them go to school now instead of joining the Army. Mercifully, having denied their academic conscripts the right to do as they choose, the State does zealously protect their right to refuse any search of their person or property which may reveal a knife, gun or, worse, a Cliff Richard CD! If that's an hypocrisy which beggars belief, dragging "rights" into a discretionary activity like buying booze is just plain gormless. Our use of alcohol is a choice and a qualified privilege. Its sale and consumption are controlled.

Its use affects behaviour. Its abuse exposes us to the sort of ridicule India recently experienced.

That nation was pilloried because its facilities weren't fit for an international event. Next year, we could pilloried because our spectators aren't fit for the facilities.

By all means boo the anthems of others whilst preciously insisting everybody else respects our haka. By all means bombard the pitch with urine-filled bottles.

By all means fret about the "rights" of spotty adolescents and sodden adults wedded to the view that boys will be boozed and girls can spew anything.

But don't complain when the jackals of the media deride us as roundly as they recently derided those duffers in Delhi.

Action is character, as the movie would have it. Inhibition is one of our jailers. Manners do maketh the man, and the woman. They also maketh the society.

Our enjoyment of life depends more on manners than it does on law. But when manners are missing, if inhibition's absent, we do rely on the law as a jailer.

Ahhh, but according to the Bill of Rights Report "the reversal of the onus of proof in relation to entitlement to buy, receive, procure or process to be on a licensed premises, and proof that a substance found in an alcohol ban area was not alcohol, appear to be inconsistent with the presumption of innocence affirmed in s 25(c)."

Then change s 25(c), you pillocks!!! And here's a polite message for all those transmogrified politicians in Wellington.

A lot of us boondockers would actually like a Bill of Responsibilities that trumps your flippin' Bill of Rights. See, we're daft enough to think that access to rights should be determined by acceptance of responsibilities - like staying sober or not mislaying our toddlers for two days. Fancy getting your Acts together, folks?

- NZ Herald

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