Garth George: An anarchic society that needs a good zap

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Reading the Herald this past week or so, I'm beginning to wonder whether we are descending into a state of lawlessness in this country which, if not arrested, might lead to outright anarchy.

I'm not talking about lawlessness as perpetrated by the gangsters, druggies, murderers, rapists, bashers, burglars, thieves and others who have chosen to live on the wrong side of the law, but of the breaches of acceptable behaviour by people from whom one would once not have expected it.

The prime example of the sort of behaviour which should be of concern to us all is that of those arrogant twits who last Sunday invaded the Auckland Harbour Bridge, disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of other people who were going about their lawful occasions.

These selfish, thoughtless louts defied transport authorities and a police cordon just so they could traverse the bridge on foot or by bicycle on its 50th anniversary.

This contemptuous behaviour towards the police is indicative of a breakdown in law and order which, unless it is nipped in the bud, can only get worse, for already the leading dickheads of this push to have the bridge opened to cyclists and pedestrians are threatening to do it again on a larger scale.

What a shame that the police haven't already been provided with Tasers. Confronted by a cordon of cops with zappers on their hips, these nutters might have had second thoughts.

I suspect, though, that some wouldn't have and it would have been edifying and amusing to see whether they changed their minds after being whacked with a 50,000-volt shock.

I'm all for arming frontline police with Tasers; in fact it should have been done years ago. They are a perfect compromise between unarmed police and police armed with lethal sidearms, and should have a salutary effect on those - seemingly an increasing number - who are only too quick to tangle with the men in blue.

I well remember the first time I saw an armed policemen - in St Paul, Minnesota, many years ago. Having never seen a real pistol, this boy from the boondocks politely asked the policeman if he could look at his.

To which the cop politely, if somewhat warily, replied that he was strictly bound by rules surrounding his pistol and one of those rules was that he never took it from his holster unless he was going to use it. From that day for several months every time I so much as jaywalked I felt an itch in my back.

One would hope that the carrying and use of Tasers by our police will be well and truly defined by what one might call rules of engagement, yet it is sad that things have come to such a pass that even this level of armament has become necessary.

Much of the responsibility for that state of affairs rests, unfortunately, with the police force itself for, under a series of gormless commissioners in recent years, not helped by the money-grubbing politicking of a Labour-led Government, our faith in the police has been sorely diminished.

The irony of the bridge affair is that it needn't have happened. There is no reason the bureaucrats who run the bridge could not have dedicated a couple of the eight lanes for pedestrians and cyclists for the entire Sunday, save that saying "no" is always the easiest option - for them.

Then there's the Rotorua bloke who stiffed Westpac Bank for nearly $4 million and scarpered overseas. He is a thief, yet thousands of New Zealanders have admitted that they would have done the same thing.

I remember years ago finding $16,000 in my bank account which I knew wasn't mine, unless I had suddenly acquired an anonymous benefactor. I rang my personal banker at the National Bank (bless her, she's a treasure) to inquire about this deposit and very soon she discovered it wasn't mine.

I can understand that lots of people, including myself, are enjoying the fact that a bank was taken for all that money because, after all, banks are - along with power companies, oil companies and chemists - the biggest thieves in legitimate business.

Nevertheless, they are indispensable to our financial affairs and they are entitled to make a mistake without suffering such a serious penalty.

I wonder whether those people who say they would have done the same would also have participated in the widespread rorts on the part of those finance companies which have stolen hundreds of millions from Kiwi battlers and left them next to destitute.

In this age of "me first" and "up yours, I'm all right Jack" morality, ethics and respect for the law are being inexorably further eroded.

But those who take the law lightly had better beware, for we reap what we sow.

* garth.george@hotmail.com

- NZ Herald

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