Tuesday, March 10, 2015

1080, blackmail and terrorism

By now we've all heard about today's announcement of a threat by anti-1080 loonies to contaminate infant formula unless the government stopped using 1080. The story is still developing, but there's some interesting points already:

  • The threat was made in November, but only announced today. Fonterra has prior on covering up health scares to protect their brand, and this smells like more of the same. And it seems that it was only announced today because the media were finally getting wind of it. So, we learn about a significant threat for media management reasons, not because the police think we need to know about it.
  • While the police are calling this blackmail, there's a word for threatening to kill (which poisoning infant formula is likely to do) or cause serious risk to the health or safety of the public for the purpose of unduly compelling the government to do or not do something: its called terrorism. As for why they're not going down that route, maybe they think it will be too hard to prosecute, or maybe its just because their expected perpetrators aren't Maori or Muslim. Note that even if the threat is a hoax, it is still threats of harm to people or property and punishable by seven years imprisonment.
  • John Key and Nathan Guy have called this "ecoterrorism", but there's no "eco" about it. The environmental movement in NZ supports the use of 1080, because it kills threats to the environment (see also: the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment). It is hunters - people like Guy - who don't.
The last bit is particularly disturbing. We have a Prime Minister who has significantly increased surveillance powers, and who will be staging a review in just a few months to grab more, hyping up a domestic threat by pointing the finger at an innocent party. Its pretty easy to see where this is going to go, and its not going to be pretty.