Friday, August 13, 2004

Picking fights

David Farrar has managed to turn my opposition to the use of information extracted by torture as evidence in a court of law into opposition to acting on it to prevent stadiums being blown up and such. Hardly. By all means, arrest people and evacuate places - but don't expect to be able to prosecute later unless you have real evidence that can be cross-examined and isn't tainted by physical and mental coercion.

He also disagrees with my position on parole. To which I'd like to point out that, sentences being finite, almost every prisoner will be eventually be released - which means we are going to have to deal with the problem of reintegrating criminals back into society one way or another. How does he suggest we do it? Continue to dump people on the street? Or just stick his fingers in his ears and pretend that there is no problem, and that if you just threaten to throw more people in prison for longer (something with "no significant deterrent effect") then the very real problems faced by former prisoners of finding alternatives to crime will just magically disappear?

As for the Treaty Council, I'm quite aware of what the foreshore decision said, and my position is that Maori should be allowed to take their claims to court just like everybody else, as a simple matter of equality before the law (hey, didn't Don Brash say something about that?) But if the government is going to deny the certainty to be found in due process, it is going to require a political solution which avoids leaving Maori with the feeling that they are being walked all over by the majority - otherwise, this is just going to fester and be relitigated whenever there is a change of government (especially if the Maori Party sticks around). Management by a "Treaty commission" is one possible solution in this vein. It's not saying "Maori own the country and Pakeha are only tenants", it's saying "we all own it, and we will manage it together". I guess someone who believes that New Zealand should be run by and for Pakeha would find that threatening, but I certainly don't.