Friday, March 30, 2012

Ravin' about Trayvon, Diplomatic Indulgence and Lombard Convictions

The Trayvon Martin case in the United States seems to me to be typical of the lunacy that has possessed the Western world in the early 21st Century.  No one, least of all President Obama, seems interested in the facts - it has become a witch hunt reminiscent of 16th Century New England.  Listening to the media and the rhetoric of activists like the Reverend Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson (why are they so often priests?) you would think that a redneck had executed a black man in cold blood and with impunity.  Those are not the facts as I understand them.

What actually appears to have happened is that a local Hispanic community watch volunteer named George Zimmerman (dubbed a "White Hispanic" when his ethnic origin is mentioned at all) shot Martin while the 6 foot, 2 inch-tall Martin was beating and kicking Zimmerman on the ground.  But irrespective of the facts in the case, it is reprehensible for the President to interfere in a case that is sub judice.  How can the authorities and the courts possibly  determine the rights and wrongs of the case now when the President has waded in and called Martin "the son I could have had?"

In New Zealand, the cause du jour for the left-wing media in recent days has been whether a bunch of highly paid diplomats should keep their swimming pools, cocktail parties and chauffeurs.  The chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced plans to reduce staff and diplomatic posts to help balance the Government's budget.   Never have so few owed their privileges to the indulgence of so many.  The worst aspect of this issue is that the chief executive of MFAT, John Allen, who was acting on the instructions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully (aptly referred to as the "Short-assed Machiavellian" by blogger Peter Cresswell), is now being hung out to take the blame by said minister. So much for the  concept of ministerial responsibility that is traditionally such an important part of our Westminster form of government.

Talking of witch hunts, this week we have also seen the sentencing of the directors of failed finance company, Lombard, amongst them former National Party cabinet ministers, Doug Graham and Bill Jeffries.  As blogger-lawyer and former MP Stephen Franks points out here, this was a conviction under a strict-liability law that ignores whether there was any intent to deceive investors (and, in fact, the judge in the case conceded that there wasn't).  So, these directors were guilty of nothing more than being directors of the wrong company at the wrong time.  The directors themselves did not gain from their crimes and, in fact, a couple of them were by all accounts financially ruined by the failure of Lombard.  But this type of case brings out the schadenfreude in the media and public and the baying for more blood, such as the calls to strip Doug Graham of his knighthood, is a bit like quartering the condemned after they have already died on the scaffold.

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