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The Christchurch Massacre

It was two weeks on Friday since a self-confessed white supremacist changed New Zealand forever. Friday 15th March 2019 is a day many New Zealanders, including me, naïvely thought would never come to this country. It’s the day a terrorist committed mass murder on our soil. “The Christchurch Massacre” is now part of our history.

Fifty New Zealanders died that day. 42 of those died in the Al Noor Mosque, and seven in the Linwood Mosque. The fiftieth, a Linwood Mosque worshipper, was pronounced dead on arrival at Christchurch Hospital.

Another 48 were injured. Some of those people are still in hospital, including a four-year-old girl.

If you want to know the killer’s name, or what he looks like, you’ve come to the wrong place. I will not write or say his name, and I will not post his picture. I have great difficulty remembering names in normal circumstances. Unfortunately, I remember his, despite the fact I’ve only heard it a few times. I’m hoping I will forget it in time.

I don’t remember exactly when I began my practice of not mentioning terrorists names. It’s not that long ago. However, I’m at least glad it began before this incident. People like this killer want notoriety, and I refuse to be any part of that.

As the days have gone by, my emotions have been on a roller-coaster. Shock, horror, sadness, frustration, and pride at the way the country has come together to support those who are suffering the most.

Several members of my immediate family have been directly impacted by the Christchurch Massacre. I don’t want to betray them by discussing how. Suffice to say, while the Muslim community are facing the worst of it, many others are having a tough time too.

 

The Murderer’s Aims

Just before he began his shooting spree, the killer published a manifesto about his aims. Before I’d read it all, that document became illegal to download, or have copies of, in New Zealand. Our prime minister has asked international media not to share the contents of the manifesto too, and the media outlets I use (for reasons of trust) are respecting her wishes. It’s probably available on the Dark Web, but as it’s now illegal to go looking for it I’m not going to.

I understand this move as a gut reaction to this terrorist’s poison. As a result, there has been no push-back against the new law. However, long-term I think it’s a bad move. All the same arguments apply in this case as apply in similar circumstances elsewhere.

The example that springs to mind is the illegality of Holocaust denial in Germany.

Quote: Darwin on ignorance.There are always people who will see conspiracy theories, some more than others. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that seeing patterns, even when they don’t exist, is a result of the way our brains have evolved. That’s part of why when something is banned, there will be people who believe it’s information we should know. They think the forbidden information is correct or true in some way and there’s a conspiracy to hide it.

There’s also the Dunning-Kruger effect, which has become more well-known in the last few years because President Trump appears to be such an exemplar.

We all know the saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” too.

I took screen shots of some parts of the manifesto. I had plans to expose the ignorance and stupidity of the killer through his own writings. Much of what he wrote was just wrong, but this new law prevents me exposing that. Personally, I think that is a better way to deal with his manifesto than banning it.

I think it’s unlikely this will change here in a hurry either. Even before this, there were attempts to ban proud alt-righters Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern from even entering New Zealand last year. They came to Auckland, but were unable to find a new venue after their initial choice was withdrawn. The protests against them were not so much about the substance of their views, but were blanket ones against “hate speech”.

(Click here for a report on the Southern/Molyneaux visit to New Zealand.)

There were those who spoke up in support of their right to speak, despite not liking what they had to say. However, those same people would find it far more difficult to speak out in the current environment.

 

New Zealand’s Reaction

Jacinda Ardern, was only 37 when she became our prime minister in 2017. She was famous all around the world not only for being a female head-of-state at such a young age, but also because she was pregnant. It was international news when her daughter was born a few months later. Even though a majority of New Zealanders (63.1%) didn’t vote for her party, most would admit she’d already been doing a good job representing us on the international stage before the horror of the Christchurch massacre.

However, the Christchurch massacre was her first real test as a leader. I think most New Zealanders would agree she passed with flying colours. She is truly a prime minister worthy of respect.

Moreover, New Zealanders in general have followed her lead. I’m really proud of the way most New Zealanders have responded. We’ve come together as a people to give our support to those in need.

The murderer said he chose New Zealand because he wanted to show that even in a place as peaceful as this, we were not safe. His hope was that our response would be to hate Muslims because it was their presence that brought terror to our shores.

Instead, his rampage has had the opposite effect. It’s brought all New Zealanders closer. Non-Muslim New Zealanders have gone the extra mile in so many ways to show Muslim New Zealanders we care about them. Muslim New Zealanders are hearing from the majority, instead of the minority who perpetrate ignorance towards them.

In the past there the usual things like the abuse of women wearing the hijab, tagging and vandalism of mosques, etc. did occur, and probably will again. The difference now is that Muslims know that most people, even if they don’t agree with their religion, respect their humanity.

We are not ignorant of the problems of conservative Islam here. Anyone who is a regular reader of my website will have read multiple posts critical of Islamists. And, we do have conservative Muslims here. However, they’re not the majority. Just like in any subset of a community, there are people no one would choose to be representative of them. The existence of extremists doesn’t excuse bigotry, and in New Zealand at least, the majority of Muslims are just as much a part of us as anyone else.

We even have a Muslim in the All Blacks. Sonny Bill Williams is one of the best players in the world. He also plays for the Super Rugby franchise, the Auckland Blues. Just before the Christchurch Massacre he had a game as temporary captain of the Blues, and received wide praise for his leadership of the team. I saw the game, and made note of what a good captain he was myself. His words and actions following the tragedy have also shown his leadership skills.

 

New Zealand Atheists’ Response

Peter Harrison is Administrator of the Facebook page of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (NZARH). NZARH members were invited to a vigil at the Ponsonby Mosque (Auckland), one week on from the murders. Peter was one of those who took up that opportunity. He posted an edited video of the event on YouTube. This is Peter’s comment accompanying the video from Facebook:

Yesterday I attended a Vigil at the Ponsonby Mosque. This video is my edited down version of the proceedings. The reality right now from my point of view is that a politically and perhaps religiously inspired nutbag killed 50 people in order to trigger some kind of racial war. In this they have been entirely unsuccessful.

This individual opposes everything we stand for, for an open, free and and tolerant society. We must not lose sight that many of those killed were New Zealanders that worked in our hospitals, universities and schools. Everyone should be safe in New Zealand. I’m gutted.

I’m well aware of the fact that religion and Islam in particular gets plenty of critique in this venue; in my view justified. I’m not stepping away from condemnation of inhumanity anywhere. But right now I think it is important to be united in our clear and unanimous condemnation of this vile terrorist act. There will be time enough for critique, but for now the nation is trying to come to terms with this tragedy.

While the video contains prayer and religious themes I think the speech by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff [3.15 – 11:34] said pretty much everything about the value of a secular society that I could have expressed myself. So many of the speakers expressed how proud they were at how New Zealand has come together to support the Muslim community in their grief. I hope we too can find unanimity in having compassion for the families left behind.

I thoroughly endorse Peter’s comment.

Dave Lane, an NZARH member who has his own website, made this excellent comment on Peter’s post:

Beliefs deserve respect on their merits or lack thereof. The key thing is simple: respect humans. Respect the right for humans to believe what they want, and protect that. Employ reason, not coercion, to dispel unhelpful beliefs, and never without recognising the underlying humanity and right to dignity…

(Both gave me permission to use their words.)

 

Bigotry in New Zealand

Although New Zealand only has low levels of racism and Islamophobia, it does exist. That includes a tiny element of white-supremacy. As we saw on that fateful Friday, it takes only one person to do huge damage. I take some comfort in the fact the killer is not a New Zealander. I don’t know it that makes a difference, though I like to think it does. However, it helps me to deal with the fact of the Christchurch Massacre to know he wasn’t born here, he didn’t grow up here, and he didn’t go to school here.

As I’m unable to refer to the murderer’s manifesto, I can’t discuss much about why I think he came to think the way he does.  However, amongst other conclusions, I agree completely with Peter Harrison above about the killer’s desire to start a race war. There is evidence to support that conclusion in his manifesto.

Further, even when his case comes to court, it’s possible we won’t publicly get to hear the clues. Due to the government wanting to ensure the killer gets none of the fame he wants, there may be restrictions on the reporting of the trial. That’s not a bad thing. The last thing any of us should want is for him to gain any level of notoriety. However, as I said above, there has to be a balance to ensure free access to information.

 

Wearing the Hijab in Support of the Muslim Community

Thousands of women in the public eye have been wearing a hijab (scarf covering the hair) in support of the Muslim community. The female anchor of the New Zealand news channel I watch (1News) did not wear a hijab in the studio. However, I’ve seen pictures of women I don’t recognize, but whom I assume are the anchors of ThreeNow and Prime News, sporting the hijab. Most of the (female) on-location reporters I saw wore the hijab.

There are also female police officers, first responders, and many members of the public who are choosing to wear the hijab when attending various vigils and memorial services.

Prime Minister Ardern wore a hijab on all occasions she went to a mosque. It is no surprise to me that she did that. It fits perfectly with her character. There’s a strong tendency towards being Woke there.

Personally, it’s not something I would have done. I’ve written several posts relating to my opposition to the hijab, including by Muslim women:

World Hijab Day
Islam and Women’s Clothing
Egypt 1958: Mockery of the Idea of Compulsory Hijab

For me, the hijab is a sign of the subjugation of women. It is supposedly a part of a woman guarding her modesty, but quite apart from anything else, who decides what’s modest?  It implies men are incapable of stopping themselves from making unwelcome sexual advances towards a woman unless she covers herself. Further, it makes it her responsibility if a man makes unwelcome sexual advances towards her.

It’s a sign that women are second-class citizens in Islam. To me, it’s also just as insulting to men as to women; what kind of man is so incapable of controlling himself that women need to hide their bodies from him?

I understand the wish to express support the Muslim community. It’s a feeling I share deeply. But surely simply making the effort to attend one or more of the many services does that? Wearing a symbol of the suppression of women is a step too far in my opinion.

 

Gun Regulations

It’s almost a week since I wrote this post, but I thought I should include something about the changes to be made to our gun regulations. Most of you reading this are USians. Your culture is plagued by mass shootings, and from a distance it often appears that many in your country don’t care. I know that’s not true of many more though. Several of you have even been so kind as to contact with me directly to offer your support, which truly means a lot to me.

Over the last twenty years there have been three attempts to toughen up New Zealand’s gun laws. Each was a failure. The Christchurch Massacre was a wake up call for some, leading them to cooperate with those wanting change. Others still don’t want change, but the political climate following the Christchurch Massacre means they daren’t vote against the changes.

Writing about the changes to our gun laws is fairly boring. Thankfully, Now This World have come up with one of their informative we videos on the topic. So, I’ll leave it to them to explain.

Note: The smaller semi-automatic weapons they are talking about that will still be legal are those that pest controllers use for bad infestations of rabbits and possums.

As is says in the video, these laws will pass. Some already have. In the past, two main parties have been against any changes. One is the National Party. They are the party that most farmers support. However, the National Party appears to be making a genuine effort to cooperate with the government on this. They are currently the biggest party in parliament and know they would lose support if they did not support change in the current political environment.

The other main party that is against changes is New Zealand First, the party of the deputy prime minister and a party in the governing coalition. Although he has not said the words, it is clear he is not happy about having to vote for the changes. However, he knows his party is small enough that it would be lucky to survive if he went against the changes.

 

Today

New Zealand is still in a state of shock. This tragedy has had good things come out of it though. We’ve faced the worst humanity has to offer and come together to reject it. On the day of the tragedy, I heard only one New Zealand leader offer “thoughts and prayers”, and that was a Muslim.

 

 


 

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49 Responses to “The Christchurch Massacre”

  1. Excellent post about these tragic events. It is not just New Zealanders who have been impressed by the way Jacinda Ardern has dealt with this – much of the rest if the world has as well, especially those of use who know that our own leaders (e.g the Maybot in my country) would not have handled ot at all well.

  2. Colin McLachlan says:

    A well-considered response. I find myself in complete agreement with all your points, well made as usual. In particular, the publication of the killer’s manifesto is tricky, but as with all matters of free speech, it’s important to hear it to rebut it.

    Can’t wait to see the next Mueller post!

  3. Robert Ladley says:

    Dear Heather.
    Fair and as always a reasonable and accurate article, this with respect to the NZ shooting incident. Knowing New Zealand the reaction is in line with what I would have expected.
    Like you I have mixed feelings about the business of suppressing details, any form of censorship is a slippery slope but NZ is not alone in this action. This doesn’t make it correct though.
    I still however have the difficulty of personally reconciling the official and repugnant dogma and underlying violence of the Islamic faith toward non believers. No doubt someone will accuse me of victim blaming.
    This is not the case it’s just avoiding the facts. Civilians including children are killed continuously in Israel and elsewhere in the name of this faith (and others) and mostly it just raises at best an eyebrow or a sideline.
    No doubt somene will accuse me of “whatabout “
    One can now officially be stoned to death in Brunei for homosexuality or adulatory etc. I don’t see much outpouring about this latest manifestation of Islam.

  4. Randall Schenck says:

    Good post and along with everyone else, hope this is the last we ever hear of such a thing in NZ. We know we will see it here in the U.S., in fact it is promoted here. I do depart from my own thoughts on the death penalty and probably many others but I don’t think people who do these kind of crimes deserve a place on the planet. I’m sure some professionals can claim insanity in all of these people but so what. We have no free will but so what.

    I saw that the guy who shot Reagan and injured others is now out of prison. I do not agree with this either. We should never stop thinking about gun control and find a way to get there. In today’s society they make almost no sense and people are killed with their use everyday, by accident and on purpose.

    • We haven’t had the death penalty for many years here. (We may still have it for treason, though I’m not sure, and I doubt it would be used even if it were possible.) However, in recent years we have introduced a sentence of preventive detention for the worst of the worst. They’re held even after their sentence is up because it’s judged (with all sorts of evidence) that they present an ongoing danger to society. It’s very rare that it’s handed out. There are only a handful of people on it.

      Because this guy isn’t a New Zealander, he will be deported to Australia immediately on his release. Then it will be up to them to decide what to do with him.

  5. BigBillK says:

    I hear (and agree) with what you are saying about the death penalty. I have problems with the fairness of how it is applied among other things. But that being said, I do agree that people like this POS and others like him need to be removed from this planet. We excise cancerous cells from our bodies, so why not cancerous individuals from the body politic? And make no mistake – white (or black or any other category) supremacists are a cancer. That’s a rather simplistic viewpoint but I think it deserves consideration.

  6. ThyroidPlanet says:

    Thorough post, glad to see it. This is not fun to write about – I certainly wouldn’t want to do it.

    I don’t understand what putting a piece of cloth on the head does for anyone in any scenario.

  7. rickflick says:

    Such a sad, sad, situation. I hope on positive outcome is that gun laws will be tightened here in the US. Perhaps the cumulative effect of so much tragedy will soon push the government to take action.

  8. Claudia Baker says:

    Great post Heather. I agree with you 100% about the wearing of the hijab. Totally unnecessary and not at all reasonable.

  9. aldo matteucci says:

    ” understand this move as a gut reaction to this terrorist’s poison. As a result, there has been no push-back against the new law. However, long-term I think it’s a bad move. All the same arguments apply in this case as apply in similar circumstances elsewhere.”

    People’s motivations for actions are very murky, and it is a slippery slope automatically to assume the overtly espoused ideology drives a person’s action.

    In this case, I instinctively share the PM’s view that the main driver was self-aggrandizement. That is not covered by free speech. She is right in denying the culprit what he truly craved: notoriety for himself.

    More generally, the idea that “truth will set you free” is naïve and one-dimensional. We need to balance the primary positive effect of rational discussion against the collateral negative effect of aroused emotions, at least in the short run. Admittedly, I’d prefer the state not to get involved in finding this balance. Social media, however, have left us no choice but to develop circuit breakers for emotions sloshing around the net. The truth may emerge in the long run. In the long run, however, we are all dead – from excessive emotions. Crying “fire” in a crowded theatre shows the applicable limits.
    fair
    Furthermore, by setting up at all opportunities a joust between “truth” and “nonsense” gives “nonsense” a public space it does not deserve.

    • I heard not long after I posted this that a judge ruled yesterday that cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom during the trial. This is a good thing imo, as it denies the perpetrator a chance to grandstand in front of the cameras as he would like. The media outlets whose policies I’ve seen/heard regarding this case all appear to be being very responsible in the handling (imo, of course!). They will cover it, but will use his name sparingly and report the details judiciously. Our media are pretty good and usually very balanced. (I think it’s a big part of why NZers are how we are, or perhaps it’s the other way around.) We don’t have a Fox News or National Enquirer equivalent, for example (We used to have a NE equivalent – a newspaper called ‘Truth’. It went out of business.) Therefore, I think we can rely on them to report responsibly i.e. to report the facts without any sensationalism.

      I see the point you made in your last sentence and I largely agree. It’s something I did think about. It’s like like putting anti-vaxxers and climate change denialists up to counteract the vaccination and climate change arguments as if it’s a 50/50 thing. I don’t think anti-vaxxers etc should be given the time of day. I agree that we shouldn’t be giving the views of extremists much time either. However, I think making reading his manifesto illegal is a step too far. People will still get hold of it and read it, discuss its views. Unless there are credible voices counteracting the arguments where necessary, there are those who will get sucked in.

  10. Ken Kukec says:

    Great post, Heather. I don’t think any country could’ve shown more heart and spirit and class under such unspeakable circumstances than New Zealand has — and I don’t think anyone could’ve captured and summarized it better than you have here.

  11. Lee Knuth says:

    Thank you again for a well thought-out post. New Zealand has dealt reasonably and effectively with this horrible event. I can only wish we had the same here in the US after all the horrible massacres we have experienced.

  12. Kevin Henderson says:

    Great post Heather. Glad to hear NZ is mostly free from the nonsense of thoughts and prayers. For me, thoughts and prayers are marked only by hubris, disingenuous kindness, and vacant sympathy.

  13. Mark R. says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this thoughtful piece Heather. NZ is lucky to have its current leadership; I can’t see how the PM et al. could have handled it better. Perhaps one day the U.S. will be so lucky to have strong leaders again who are not beholden to the NRA and the gun lobby.

    I’m glad I don’t remember this terrorist’s name, and though I understand why the media tends to repeat the names of killers ad nauseum, I respect that you chose not to on this site.

  14. nicky says:

    A great post Heather. I gather from your post the murderer was not from NZ. That gives the events an even weirder twist.
    The new gun laws are very satisfying, like ‘at least they did not die in vain’, unlike all the victims of mass shootings in the US. And the notion that dislike, or even hatred, of Islam, is not -and should not be translated into- bigotry towards and hatred of Muslims is so very essential. I think this deplorable shooting made this distinction clearer (well I, and I guess all of us, suppose and hope so).
    And I like your take on the hijab too. Fabulous post.

  15. Matt Cavanaugh says:

    As an American, I was taken aback to discover that NZ has a Chief Censor. The reason he gave for banning “The Great Replacement” (“TGR”) was that it:
    “promotes and supports criminal acts including mass murder, terrorism and the killing of children. It tries to glorify the writer and inspire others towards terrorist violence. It identifies possible groups, individuals and locations for attack, and references means of carrying out attacks.”

    I have read the entire document. I disagree that the writer was trying to “glorify” himself, quite the opposite. It does contain a few general calls to action it concedes qualifies as “terrorism”, but is primarily devoted to explaining his thought process leading up to his attacks.

    What struck me most was the lucidity of the writer. I expected crazed, prolix, Unabomber style ramblings. His conclusions are, it should go without sayin, horrifically wrong. But he exhibits an internally consistent logic, devoid of seething rage. With copious footnotes and an organized, succinct structure, it reads more like a thesis paper or business proposal than a ‘blaze-of-glory’ outburst.

    For these exact reasons, we should carefully read and reflect on TGR. It’s too easy to dismiss the author as yet another unhinged maniac; to do so would to miss the opportunity to understand how someone can arrive at where he did, and to prevent others from taking that path.

    The Chief Censor and Prime Minister believe the manifesto is “likely to be persuasive to its intended audience.” If the audience in mind is others who believe murder and mayhem are justified means to an end, I doubt TGR is what’d push them over the edge. If they believe TGR might spur everyday folks to violence, then they condescend. On the other hand, stifling questions of whether diversity is indeed a strength, whether multiculturalism is feasible, or whether high levels of immigration are beneficial to our economies or the cohesion of our societies, may well drive otherwise reasonable people to adopt more extreme positions.

    • I agree with what you say about TGR. It’s the reason I think there needs to be someone counteracting his arguments. Someone who doesn’t know any better could think that he makes perfect sense; as you say there’s an internal logic and consistency to the document. It is not crazed ramblings.

      The usual job of the chief censor is to classify films, TV programmes, decide whether publications (such as pornography) can be sold to minors (or at all in the case of things like snuff films) etc. This decision isn’t outside his mandate, but it’s not his usual work.

  16. I cannot help reflecting that it is education and perceived familiarity which make us feel more comfortable and emphasise with people who we initially feel are in some way different from us.

    My observation is that this terrible incident in Christchurch
    seems to have had an effect of making some people in the community feel that they know muslims better than they previously did and feel more empathy with them. So maybe some benefit has come out of what has happened. After all all of humankind share DNA and a common ancestry. We are family, family!

    Another thought is that if you have ready access to weapons with high destructive capabilities you are are more likely to use them in moments of angst and high passion. We are all passionate creatures from time to time. Let us reduce the opportunity by taking military style automatic weapons out of our community and also look at what we need to do to prevent larger caliber semi-automatic weapons, which are used by farmers and hunters, being converted into potential weapons of mass- destruction. Do your stuff you politicians – this issue is in your hands

    Lastly let us be grateful that we live in New Zealand. Not a perfect county, no country is, but New Zealand is a hell of a lot safer than many other places.

    • I still remember as a child when I first found out about human evolution and how we’d spread all around the world from Africa. I said to my teacher that everyone should know about this because if they knew we were all related there’d be no more racism. I thought I’d come up with a brilliant idea, and didn’t understand why my teacher couldn’t see it. I didn’t understand the look he gave me, but that look is the reason I still remember the moment. (My own family is a bit of a United Nations and so I was aware of racism early on and it always mystified me.)

  17. Thanks everybody for your kind words. I appreciate it very much.

  18. Claudia Baker says:

    Been thinking of you a lot over the last two weeks and hoping that you are okay. It has been quite a shock to the world that this has happened in NZ, so I can only imagine what it has been like for you who live there.

  19. Colin McLachlan says:

    Reply to Matt & Heather re TGR:

    It seems to me that the answer could be to publish the TGR in full, with a paragraph by paragraph reasoned rebuttal. I’m sure Heather would be up to the task.

    (I tried to place this as a reply, but, you know, stuff!)

    • Hi Colin. It’s something I’d like to have tried anyway, but no chance of that now. If I could afford (both physically and financially) to make it a test case, I’d probably do it, but I’m not, so I won’t. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d do it, but I think at this stage they’d probably make a point of prosecuting me.

      I’d be interested to know if the reason you couldn’t reply is because the website isn’t working properly still, or if it’s something your end. Build Business, who manages that part of things for me, are working on a fix and I need to let them know if there’s a problem. Thanks.

  20. Colin McLachlan says:

    Hi Heather,
    I was only half serious in my comment. I believe you could do a great rebuttal, but wasn’t seriously suggesting you should.

    When I try to click the “reply to comment” button, nothing happens, last time and this time. I tried a right click and “open in new tab”, but this simply opened the whole post & comments, without a “reply to comment” rectangle to fill in. So again I’ve used the “Leave a reply” at the foot of the page. I’m unaware of any problem at my end.

  21. Robin says:

    Just a note that Ardern is not wearing a hijab in the picture at the top. That is just a headscarf, which is different.

  22. Yakaru says:

    This puts it especially well —

    “For me, the hijab is a sign of the subjugation of women.”

    When people do mention it, they usually say that the hijab might be seen as a “symbol” of the oppression of women.

  23. Randall Schenck says:

    One pretty important point to remember and clearly show as a side show or excuse to pull people off the real purpose is mental health or defective people. In the U.S. this is nearly always thrown out as somehow the real problem and not gun control or regulation. It is a phony distraction at best and meaningless to prevention. The usual line goes, oh, if only we could do more about the mentally disturbed and keep guns out of their hands. It is a pathetic side show.

    Mental health as a human problem and condition has been around much longer than guns and is far more difficult to correct or solve in society. Gun control takes only reasonable thinking people and particularly some people with knowledge and understand of the guns we want to regulate in our society. We have no will to do that as yet in this country and I’m not sure how many mass murders it would take to get there. Maybe we will be surprised as I was just yesterday to hear a female, African-American gay candidate was elected mayor of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois, one of the most politically corrupt cities with a very high rate of shooting and killing with guns. And she won the vote in every single district of the city.

    • I heard about the new Chicago mayor. I assume the voters realized that her gender and sexuality are irrelevant to her ability to do the job.

      The mental health thing doesn’t work in NZ. For many years there has been a public campaign to promote acceptance and understanding of mental health issues, and it’s worked. People such as some of our most prominent All Blacks speak openly about their battle with depression for example. Most understand that mental health illness is just like any other illness and they don’t take advantage of it when someone who is ill does something bad.

  24. rickflick says:

    This is in reply to Heather’s, “I heard about the new Chicago mayor”.
    It’s great to hear about a country like New Zealand where people seem to operate quite rationally in the political sphere. As you are well aware, we have numerous subcultures and media who are against just about any reasonable suggestion. Mental health here is treated by many almost as possession by the devil. In any case, it’s often considered the fault of the patient and has the color of moral weakness. But, if NZ can do it, there’s hope for the rest of us.

  25. rickflick says:

    The comment system on this site is still operating poorly. Replies are tossed down to the main comment level. Is someone working on this? Also, I have to fill in my name and email on every comment. Isn’t it supposed to know who I am by now?

    • Yes someone is working on this. Sorry Rick. He thought he had the problem nailed down, but obviously not. I’ve passed your comments on to him.

      If anyone else has any comments to make about problems they’ve had, please let me know in the comments section, or email me at heather.hastie@xtra.co.nz. Thanks.

  26. Colin McLachlan says:

    Test reply to 5th April 12.50.

    It did not open a reply box directly below the comment, so I don’t expect it to work.

  27. EWM says:

    Giving credence to the rantings of the insane is insane.

    • I agree. Except his manifesto didn’t read like the rantings of the insane. To someone who didn’t know any better, they might make sense. Someone would have to already know the truth, or research what he said, to know he’s wrong. And in the research process, they would find others saying the same things as him regarding such things as white supremacy.

  28. nicky says:

    I note that Darwin’s “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” is a clear precursor of the Dunning-Kruger effect, by more than a century.
    The latter got awarded an IgNoble prize for their paper, although I see little ridiculous about it.

  29. Colin McLachlan says:

    I love the Ig Nobels, Nicky, and the award doesn’t necessarily imply that the work was ridiculous: from their website – Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

    The Dunning-Kruger effect is one of my favourite pieces of science.

  30. nicky says:

    I agree, although they are also for ‘useless and irreproducible results’, some of these studies are quite interesting. Notable are Pek van Andel et al doing MRI imaging of human copulation, or Peter Bars about the injuries caused by falling coconuts. Or Ben Wilson et al for discovering herrings communicate by farting.

  31. rickflick says:

    [ reply to Heather Hastie: “I think some men I know communicate by farting too.” ]

    LOL. I think we simply overcome the neuroticism of shyness and use all the talents God gave us. 😎

  32. rickflick says:

    This is one of the great mysteries of the Universe.

  33. rickflick says:

    Winks comically in amusement…

  34. nicky says:

    Of course God farts, we call them hurricanes, ne?

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