It says a lot about where somebody has come from that they would choose to join a gang.

I can't imagine why anybody would choose to live in a totalitarian society, where the head of your organisation governs what you do, where you live, who you can associate with, and who will not let you leave the organisation unless they grant their permission.

To live a life where you have limited free will and which is marked by fear and violence doesn't strike me as any sort of life at all.

But then a lot of gang members come from backgrounds we can't even begin to imagine. And I suppose if your prospects are limited to menial, low-paying jobs, joining a gang might have some advantages. Some men might prefer seeing fear or wariness in the eyes of their fellow citizens rather than contempt or superiority.


However, I find it extraordinary that these gang members, who say they choose to live outside of society and who appear to have nothing but scorn for society's rules, are so quick to make the most of the establishment's structures when it suits them.

The Porirua City Council has called for submissions on what should be allowed on gravestones. The council says it believes the Mongrel Mob insignia is offensive and that future gravestones will no longer be allowed to be decorated with the Mob emblem of a snarling dog in a spiked collar.

Mongrel Mob members say this is an infringement of their rights and they'll fight the proposal all the way to the Supreme Court if they have to.

They say former rugby players and army and navy veterans have the right to be buried under their insignia - and that they're the same and want to be granted the same courtesy.


The fact that the Mob sees itself as on a par with returned servicemen shows a flaw in logic that is simply breathtaking, though I accept that the council's proposed bylaw is problematic.

Their test is if "a reasonable person finds the headstone offensive or objectionable, we would turn it down". That test is incredibly subjective. I think I'm a reasonable person and I would find it extremely offensive to see beer cans set into the headstone of a young man who died while drink-driving.

I would also find it objectionable to see saccharine words of love and a message from a mother on the headstone of a baby who died when Mum's boyfriend killed her.

So, all very subjective.

Maybe, though, the Mob would have a better chance of having their "rights" recognised if they were more respectful of the rights of other people.