"Whadda we want?" "Ah, yes – well, we're not entirely clear on that."
"When do we want it?"
"Look, we'll need to get back to you on that too, sorry"
Some of those protesting whatever exactly it is they are protesting in the streets around Parliament want an end to vaccinations, which means they don't understand how vaccinations work; some want an end to vaccination mandates, which means they don't understand how mandates work; and some want a meeting with Jacinda Ardern to present their demands, which means they really don't understand how prime ministers work.
So not the brightest bunch. And yet, they are being allowed to call the shots almost unchallenged. Historically, putting patients into management positions at the asylum has never worked out well.
The proportion of diehard anti-Semitic paranoid conspiracy theorists and committed white supremacists in the protest group may be only 1 one per cent. But by staying with them, the other 99 per cent are supporting their position.
The right to demonstrate loud and long is incontrovertible, but it has limits when it tramples on the rights of others, which has now been the case in Wellington for many days.
Wellington Police Commissioner Andrew Coster early made what looked like a good call to go with the flow and let the demonstration fizzle out. It exploded. And with each day that passes, the fizzling point is looking further and further away.
While we wait for the hands-off policy to kick in, the harm being done to innocent business owners, 9 to 5 workers, university students, school children and others continues. These are the people whose views, feelings and hardship need our respect and support, not the incoherent mob.
So, although there has been a lot of talk about what we shouldn't do, there has been much less about possible solutions. On Monday concrete barriers were erected at points on the protest site. These may have been a safety measure to protect the protestors from David Seymour. They definitely sent the message that the protestors are here to stay.
However, there is a way out that would resolve the situation with low risk and in the shortest time. The first Covid response showed we are capable of big bold decisions. It is time for another one.
Bring in the army to support the police and remove the protestors and their belongings one by one. If this seems outlandish, so did closing our borders and making everyone stay home. And that worked brilliantly.
Given the numbers, this would easily allow for a police/army to protester ratio of up to 10 to 1, more than enough to allow for a quick, clean operation.
The army, working with such members of the police as are not in thrall to the Dalai Lama, would convince nearly all the protestors to leave, using no force except the force of numbers.
A hard core might still need to be removed by physical force. But force is not violence. Force is what we use to stop our toddlers running out into the road. We accept this because small children don't have the best reasoning skills nor a clear understanding of how things work. Neither do the protestors.
There are, of course, many details to be worked out. You wouldn't, for instance, want to risk the people at the centre going full Les Mis and throwing up barricades while the ones on the fringes were being escorted from the premises.
Time pressure would mean people had to be separated temporarily from their belongings.
But these could be stored securely and claimed later. Likewise, all those cars which have been blocking streets could finally be towed away. The (by now former) protestors could be taken to collect their property and then to a plane or bus to take them home at taxpayer expense, which would be money well spent.
For a brief period, not long ago, we were taken with the notion that we should "Be kind". This solution is indeed kind – mainly to the innocent people suffering from the protestors' actions, but also to the protestors who clearly don't know what is in their own interests.