Category Archives: Justice

Yes, It’s Me, Back Again

Well, where have all the months gone since my last post? I must tell you that each week I say that I will start blogging again and each week passes without a blogpost.

So today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Yesterday when I opened this post from Elizabeth at  Laughing  Cow in France, it took me back two years to when I had that awful misadventure. I hastened to assure Elizabeth that life does go on after a major accident, even if at a lesser pace.  Elizabeth then continued the next day with part two. It is well worth reading and reminds us how quickly life can change and how lucky we are to live in countries where medical assistance is readily available.

And my tale tells how very good our bodies are at healing themselves even if sometimes they need a little medical help. I hope that Elizabeth’s journey is not too hard for her to bear.

Another post I read today is from Nancy at Not Quite Old. In light of the Kavanaugh/Ford proceedings currently playing out in the media around the world, this blog post is very timely.

Most, if not all women will have been the subject of sexual abuse at some time in their lives. Trump asks why Kavanaugh’s accusers did not report the abuse at the time? We as women know why. So thank you, Nancy, for this post. It brings home to us just how vulnerable women and girls are to “rougher and meaner” men and boys. And of course, boys and young men are also vulnerable to these predators and have been equally reticent to seek justice, for where is justice if the perpetrators are men in high office, the church or company hierarchy?

I shall be following the proceedings of the Senate Committee Judicial hearing on Thursday.

Justice will not be served until
those who are unaffected
are as outraged as those who are.” 
― Benjamin Franklin

So enough meandering for today. You have been warned – I shall be back.

 

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The Court of Public Opinion

Here in New Zealand we have just lived through the trial of a man accused of murdering his brother-in-law in cold blood.  I imagine that murder is rarely in cold blood; surely somebody had to upset the murderer to such an extent that the kill is made.  Or perhaps not.  I cannot imagine what would ever make me take another person’s life.

However, this trial dragged on in the courtroom, on television and in the print media. It made headlines on a daily basis in all media outlets here.  I didn’t follow it as I choose what I put into my mind.  I didn’t (and still don’t) need to know all the gory details.

Suffice it to say, that apparently the accused was jealous of his brother-in-law with whom he shared management of a family farm, to the extent that he vandalised a house that his BIL had built and apparently wrote offensive words on a building before shooting him to death.  I don’t know the details; as I said I am not that interested.

What does interest me though is that the jury of 11 brought down a verdict of Not Guilty.  This tells me that even though they sat through all the proceedings for all those days, they didn’t think that the prosecution had proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.  Therefore, they had to bring in the Not Guilty verdict.  Here in New Zealand we don’t have a Not Proven verdict as they do in Scotland.  This verdict as explained by our old friend Wikipedia “The result is the modern perception that the “not proven” verdict is an acquittal used when the judge or jury does not have enough evidence to convict but is not sufficiently convinced of the defendant’s innocence to bring in a “not guilty” verdict.”

What bothers me about this is that today’s Dominion Post our local daily had most of its front page devoted to a survey they had mounted using 750 people.  Is this a fair representation of the adult population of New Zealand?  Those surveyed were asked “From what you have seen, heard or feel about the case, do you think it is more likely Ewen Macdonald is guilty or not guilty?” 48 per cent said guilty.  A further 20 per cent said not guilty, 28 per cent said they were unsure, and 4 per cent of people refused to answer.

As the lawyer for MacDonald, the accused, said the jurors had looked at more than 100 hours of evidence before unanimously agreeing he was not guilty

“Not a single person who responded to the survey heard anything close to that. Most people would have heard one hour of the case, so less than 1 per cent of what the jury heard – and what they heard was someone else’s slanted opinion.” he said today.

And may I add that the jurors were not called upon to voice or consider their feelings in the case, as those surveyed were.  Feelings can never be the basis on which a murder accused is tried.

I have no thought on whether or not this man is guilty.   I rejoice in the fact that we have a robust court system here that allows all the evidence to be heard by a jury (usually of 12 but for whatever reason 11 in this case).  The man has been tried and he has been acquitted.  Apparently there are other charges outstanding against him for which he will have to appear  in court.  But he cannot be re-charged with this murder.

So what of the future for this man who has been acquitted of murder in a court of law?  His wife has apparently left him, having sided with the prosecution in the case and wherever he goes in New Zealand he will always be known as the man who “got away with murder” if the results of this survey are anything to go by. Where is the justice in that?

And as I think about my fellow man/woman and how quick he/she is to condemn without knowing all the facts, I worry about the future of our world.

“Justice is justly represented blind because
she sees no difference in the parties concerned.
She has but one scale and weight for
rich and poor, great and small.”
William Penn, 1644 – 1718 English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.

End of today’s rant.

Waitangi Day

 

Today February 6 is a public holiday in New Zealand – Waitangi Day.  It celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi the nation’s founding document that was signed on this day in 1840.

The document was signed on behalf of Queen Victoria by William Hobson and by various Maori chiefs representing their tribes.  NZ Maoris are tribal and there is not one Maori nation and so the Treaty had to be taken around the country for signing by other Maoris.  The two versions of the Treaty (one in English and one in Maori) are not identical and over time there has been much debate as to what the two sides actually agreed.

The Treaty gives Maoris the rights of British Citizenship and rights to their land.  The English version of the Treaty promises to:

  • protect Māori interests from the encroaching British settlement;
  • provide for British settlement; and
  • establish a government to maintain peace and order.

while the Maori understand it to :

  • secure tribal rangatiratanga (most often defined as chieftainship); and
  • secure Māori land ownership
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Treaty Grounds, Waitangi

Traditionally celebrations are held at the Treaty House in Waitangi.  Politicians and other leaders are welcomed onto the marae, (a sacred open meeting place) by Maori elders.  Recently there has been a lot of dissension and Waitangi Day has become the focal point for Maori discontent.

However, apart from the Treaty we do have the Waitangi Tribunal where claims by Maori for redress for breaches by the Crown  are made.  The claims and settlements have been a significant feature of race relations since 1975.

Successive Governments have attempted to compensate Maori for the loss of their land and quite large settlements have been awarded.  This too has caused dissension particularly among the Pakeha (the Maori word for those not Maori) and some of the Maori tribes who have not received compensation.

So while February 6 should be a day of rejoicing and celebration, it is regularly marked with protest.  This year the Prime Minister, John Key was ‘drowned out’ by protesters when making his speech.

Our peaceful bi-cultural nation is hurting under the arguments and protests and in the end nobody wins.

 

All Gone!

Yes it’s true.  The big red Santa boot has gone, removed, put into the trash can and now can be forgotten.

So what else is on my mind today?

Twenty tattooed Maori heads are about to be repatriated from France.  At a  ceremony on Monday at Quai Branly museum in Paris, presided over by the French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and New Zealand’s ambassador,  the heads encased in a box, were handed over.

Maori Warriors

Photo copyright EPA

In the 18th and 19th centuries Maori heads with intricate facial tattoos or moko, were often kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But with the coming of the white man, it became fashionable for  to collect these heads  by private individuals and men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos.

These heads are revered as ancestral remains by Maori, who hold it an insult that they should be on display in overseas museums.   Those from the museum in France have not been on display.  We are told that over the years French museums, anthropological researchers and private collectors have preserved and simply stored the heads.

Since 2003 the NZ government has been attempting (and succeeding in some degree) repatriation of these body parts.  And while more than 180 heads and skeletal remains have been repatriated to New Zealand since that time,  about 400 are estimated to remain in the UK alone.

The heads will be brought to Te Papa our National Museum and then will be distributed to the tribes to whom they belong. Some are readily identifiable but others are not, and Maori tribes are unwilling to accept body parts of anyone other than their own.  Because of this, Te Papa have some 500 unidentified body parts in storage.

As a Pakeha (non Maori New Zealander) I applaud the government’s actions  in repatriating these artifacts.

Political Correctness

No Political Correctness sign

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
P. D. James

Is Political Correctness as rampant where you live as it is here in Godzone/Aotearoa?  We are constantly worried here in case we step on somebody’s toes or offend somebody in some way, and often it causes us to do nothing.  Note – the use of the word “us” here is a generic term for both our politicians and the general hoi polloi.

To my mind PC as used by our politicians, the media and those who deem themselves to be in charge of our actions (and maybe even our thoughts),  is tyranny.  And the rationale of this tyranny?  It appears to be to prevent people being offended by what is said or done; to prevent compel each of us to avoid using words that may upset others, including  women, fat people, small or tall people,homosexuals, etc etc.

Well I would not knowingly offend any of these people but feel that this has gone too far.  Political Correctness is in my view,  a sophisticated form of censorship that affects all of us and creeps unasked into our lives.  The values and rules of my parents’ generation appear to be thrown out with the bath water and what is moving in to take their place?  Political Correctness.

I decided to investigate the origins or this phenomenon and see if I could find out the reason for its introduction into our lives.  I found an explanation on this site.  Here I read that “It  was developed at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany, which was founded in 1923 and came to be known as the “Frankfurt School.” It was a group of thinkers who pulled together to find a solution to the biggest problem facing the implementers of communism in Russia.

The problem?  Why wasn’t communism spreading?  Their answer?  Because Western Civilization was in its way.”  It went on to say

“What was the problem with Western Civilization? Its belief in the individual, that an individual could develop valid ideas. At the root of communism was the theory that all valid ideas come from the effect of the social group of the masses. The individual is nothing.”

And so Political Correctness was introduced to undermine Western Civilisations’  foundations by incessantly and insidiously attacking the rights of the individuals.   Well, that explains it then.

And today after receiving this email from a friend, I decided to air my concernsobjections about and to this trend.  See what you think?

“There’s an annual contest at the University of Arkansas calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year’s term was: “Political Correctness.” The winning student wrote:

“Political correctness is a doctrine — fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rapidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media — which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.”

 Well that says it all for me anyway.  What do you think?

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson

Different Worlds

“Two different worlds
We live in two different worlds
But we will show them as
We walk together in the sun
That our two different worlds are one”
As sung by various artists.

These are the lyrics from an old song – way back in 1956 – and yes it was a love song, but it came to mind today when I read the headline  “Driving Car Gets Saudi Woman 10 Lashes”.

Saudi woman at wheel

From womeninsaudi.com

Apparently it is illegal for a woman to drive a car in ‘the conservative kingdom’ and this woman has been caught behind the wheel several times in recent weeks.  She attended a mass rally in June to garner support for women drivers. Since then, dozens of women have been involved in a campaign to try to break the taboo and impose a new status quo. The campaign’s founder who apparently posted a video of herself driving on Facebook, was detained for more than 10 days. She was released only after signing a pledge not to drive or to speak to the media.

Shaima Ghassaniya, the woman sentenced to the lashes, has been stopped on three occasions and each time was given the opportunity to sign the pledge not to drive again.  Each time she refused and this is the fourth time she has appeared in court.  The final time she was sentenced to the ten lashes.  This woman is Western educated and holds a masters degree and is to hire a lawyer to appeal the sentence.

What makes this all the more confusing to us in the Western world is that just two days ago King Abdullah made an announcement granting women the right to vote and to hold public office.  Where does this ban on driving fit in?

We most certainly live in two different worlds.  We are allowed the freedom not available to women in so many other countries.  Saudi Arabia is the only nation in the world where women do not have the right to drive.  What other rights do we take for granted that are not allowed to them?

The breaking news via the BBC is that King Abdullah has overturned the sentence, although this has not yet been confirmed officially.  This added to the earlier news that women will be allowed the vote, must help move this nation into the 21st Century where all people are treated equally.

End of rant for today.

Scorpions are Really Buzzing Around Today

Once again, my mind is full of scorpions.  And not just one or two but a cyclone of scorpions.  You did know that a group of scorpions is called a cyclone?

Yesterday we laughed at the ridiculous ads of half a century ago.  But now I have found one that is truly awful.  Not anything to laugh about.  See what you think?

Ad for love cosmetics

This was an ad for Baby Soft products produced by Love Cosmetics made by Menley & James Laboratories a subsidiary of Smith Kline.  Wikipedia tells us “In April 1974 Love Cosmetics began to make a line of Baby Soft products meant for adults. The items were scented with an innocent fragrance most often associated with babies. There was a Baby soft talc, a body lotion, and a foam bath. A marketing slogan read sexy in a very special way. ”  How immoral is that.  And now compare the above photo to this

Jon Benet Ramsey

This is Jon Benet Ramsey an American child beauty pageant contestant.  We all know the story of how this 6-year-old went missing from her family home in Boulder  and was found some 8 hours later in the basement of the house.

Do you see the resemblance between the advert and the child?  I think that the promulgators of the ad were totally, morally corrupt to advertise in this way.  What has changed in the 37 years since then?

We still have ads directed at pre-adolescents, encouraging girls particularly to dress and act way beyond their years.

Thylane

This is 10-year-old model Thylane Loubry Blondeau.  According to The Fashionist “10-year-old model Thylane Loubry Blondeau has been making headlines – both good and bad. While some publications have begun praising the genetically blessed child as the industry’s next big thing… the little girl with a sultry stare beyond her years, has started a debate over the sexualization of young girls. ”  How can this be acceptable in today’s world?  Is this what we want our young girls to aspire to?  This child most certainly looks old way beyond her years.  And  find these photos of her not only disturbing but also immoral.

I have no granddaughters and my daughter is married with sons, but I should really be concerned if it were considered that this kind of advertising is acceptable.

And then I found this –

This is a photo of 8-year-old Britney Campbell recovering from a shot of Botox administered by her mother.  After the pair appeared on Good Morning America showing the mother administering the shots,  Trent Rhorer, executive director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, said officials wanted to talk to Kerry Campbell and her daughter Britney.  Ms Rhorer said ”It’s pretty unusual for a mum to be injecting an eight-year-old with Botox..”  Oh really!

And I really think I should end this rant here.  Tomorrow will be on a lighter subject I promise.

“If our way of life fails even one child, it fails us all.”
Judith Baxter, Mother, Grandmother and blogger.

Note – I have assumed that as these images have been circulating freely around the internet that they are outside copyright.  If this is not the case then I apologise wholeheartedly for any misuse.


Human Rights, Prayers et al

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”  ~Gandhi

I read this post from Fribnit’s World the other day and lo and behold the next day in our local newspaper was an item whose headline read “Prayer row heads to tribunal”

Map of New Zealand

Wikipedia

This is all about a row that has erupted in Wanganui  in the Manawatu region of New Zealand.  Wanganui is approximately 122 miles north of Wellington on the map. Apparently in April, the Mayor suggested that reference to God should be removed from the prayer that opens each meeting as a way of respecting all the faiths in the community.

We are told “The informal remark sparked a furore about whether praying was an appropriate item of business on the council agenda”*  And now a complaint has been made to the Human Rights Commission** which stepped in to mediate.  One Councillor has admitted that he laid the complaint and that he has now asked the Office of Human Rights Proceedings (an independent director attached to the Commission) to consider taking his case to the Tribunal as no solution was found during mediation.

We are also told that most councils open their meetings with a prayer and this is just a continuance of the way things have always been done.  What do you think about this?

  • Should this practice of opening with a prayer continue
  • If it continues should the reference to God be removed to take into account the various faiths represented in the community
  • Should this matter go as far as the Human Rights Tribunal **
  • Does there need to be more open discussion on this matter

Each sitting of the country’s parliament is opened with a prayer.  If this case does go to the Tribunal the reverberations could reach parliament and then what will the decision be?

On August 5 2011 the National Secular Society in the United Kingdom reported on a decision handed down recently in the United States.  “A federal appellate court has struck down a North Carolina county’s policy of opening board meetings with sectarian prayers. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled 2:1 that the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ preference for Christian prayers violates the constitutional separation of church and state.”

I am quite sure that we haven’t heard the last of this and that the discussions on the matter will go on for many months.

Notes – *   Reported in the Dompost August 13 2011
** “The Human Rights Act sets out the primary functions of the
Human  Rights Commission. These are to advocate and promote respect for and appreciation of human rights in New Zealand society; and to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and the diverse groups in New Zealand society.”

Oranges and Sunshine

Movie poster

Image via wikipedia

This is the movie that I saw at the weekend.  It was such that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  Click here to see the trailer.

I had heard of the government programme called Home Children and in fact, met a man in Toronto who, when gathering information for his own book on evacuation during the Second World War, had come across several of these deportees.

Book cover

My very tattered copy.


Ben Wicks, the man I met on a sunny afternoon sail in Toronto wrote the book “No Time To Say Goodbye” and that is a sorry account of a plan made with the best intentions that went horribly wrong.

The movie shows another plan that went horribly wrong.  It concentrates on those deported to Australia and follows the trials and tribulations of Margaret Humphreys a social worker from Nottingham in England as she brought to the public attention the British government programme of Home Children. This involved forcibly relocating poor British children to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa and often without their parents’ knowledge. Children were often told their parents had died, and parents were told their children had been placed for adoption elsewhere in the UK.  Margaret Humphreys believes that up to 150,000 children were resettled under the scheme,some as young as three, about 7,000 of whom were sent to Australia.

The movie shows how Humphreys was approached by a woman from Australia who had been sent away at age 4 and who wanted to find her mother.  This set Margaret Humphreys on the quest that was to take over her life.

In one scene, while Humphreys is celebrating Christmas in Australia with her family and friends she had made during her investigations, presents are distributed.  One person asks Margaret’s young son “What are you giving us for Christmas?” to which he replied “I’ve given you my mother.”

This is a movie showing the hard lives many of these children lived under the harsh conditions imposed by the Brothers at the Fairbridge Farm School.  Many of these children now into middle age, have joined together in a class action.  We are told  that  “65 former students of the Fairbridge Farm School began unprecedented court action, suing the organisation and the Federal and State Governments claiming they turned a blind eye to years of abuse.”

Author David Hill “The Forgotten Children”  who was an inhabitant of Fairbridge although for a short time as his mother reclaimed him said “It wasn’t until 2006, after teaming up with an old classmate to produce a book and documentary on Fairbridge, I learned of the horrific abuses many of the children had endured and the magnitude of their betrayal by the authorities.”

This isn’t an easy movie to watch but I urge you to see it if/when it comes to a theatre near you.


It is 2011 Right?

“A little touch of powder and a little bit of paint makes a girl look just what she aint.” 

The above ditty was quoted to us so often when we were growing up.  My Father loved it and said it with a twinkle in his eye and delight at seeing his girls dressed up to go out.  I have no idea where it came from but I love it and keep it as a memory of my Dad.

Harrods

via Wikipedia

I read in yesterday’s Guardian Newspaper of a woman being forced to choose between wearing makeup and resigning her job at Harrods.  This iconic London store apparently has a dress code for both men and women employed in the store.  The two-page “ladies” dress code stipulates: “Full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly”  There is an after-note in brackets saying  “please take into account the store display lighting which has a ‘washing out’ effect.”

This young woman has been employed in the store for 5 years  three of them part-time while a philosophy, religion and ethics student at King’s College London, and the last two years full-time after completing her masters.  She has received only excellent reports from Managers on her performance at work.

A Harrods spokeswoman said: “All our staff are subject to a dress code which they sign up to on joining the company, which relates to an overall polished appearance. Our records show that discussions with (this employee) concerned a general lack of adherence to the dress code. However, no action was taken and she subsequently decided to leave the business of her own accord with no reference made to dress code.”

However, it is also reported that at a meeting with the floor manager she was told  “You’ve got two options. You wear make up or you leave”.

I have only once been asked to adhere to a dress code and that was in the form of a uniform.  This was in a service industry – a car hire company – and everybody wore the uniform provided by the company.  I didn’t object to this.

Harrods also stipulates for women:

“Hair Trimmed regularly and styled to flatter features. May have subtle highlights or colour but must be natural looking and complementary to skin tone. No regrowth.  Jewellery One earring per ear. Pearls or diamond studs preferred. One ring per hand with exception of wedding & engagement rings. No visible tattoos, sovereigns, mismatched jewellery, scrunchies, large clips or hoop earrings.  Footwear Smart black leather shoes such as court shoes with stiletto or kitten heel.”

I think it is time that Harrods re-wrote their Ladies Dress Code to keep up with the times.  I do think it is going too far in this day and age to insist that a saleswoman wear makeup.  What do you think?

And now this well thought of, well-educated young woman has to find another job where her talents will be recognized even if she doesn’t wear make-up.

What do you think about dress codes, choosing whether to wear make up,  an employer’s right to demand this etc etc?

Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can’t put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you’re doing it from a position of correction.
Kevyn Aucoin,  American make-up artist and photographer. 1962 -2002


Judith Baxter, EzineArticles.com Platinum Author
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