Thursday, December 20, 2018


NotPC has published his reading list for the holidays so I thought I would post mine here:
That ought to keep me busy!
Thanks for reading my blog and have a very happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

No, we are not all responsible for murder

I was horrified, like all decent New Zealanders, to hear of the killing of young Britsh tourist Grace Millane on our shores. I have a daughter of Grace's age who is presently travelling overseas and I share every parent's fear of a similar thing happening to their child. I can only imagine what it is like to have such a nightmare become reality.

Grace Millane was killed, if media reports are to be believed, by a sole perpetrator. Unfortunately, human beings are far too capable of such malevolence and it is only the fact that violence is becoming rarer in human societies that provides some comfort and hope when these events occur. But what makes the situation worse is when certain politicians and activists use such a terrible occurrence to push their warped, collectivist view of humanity. 

The most significant reason for the decline in violence in the world (and you can acquaint yourself with the facts regarding this trend in Steven Pinker's excellent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature) is undoubtedly that great achievement of Western civilisation - the supremacy of the individual. It is our respect for the individual as the sovereign unit in our culture that has led the West to develop and codify the idea that all human beings have innate rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and to be treated fairly and equally under the law.

The idea of the sovereignty of the individual has a corollary - that individuals are responsible for their own actions. This idea is being abandoned for the political ends of those who see human beings not as individuals but as members of collective groups. We saw such attitudes on display in the responses to Grace Millane's murder from Robb McCann, the leader of the "White Ribbon anti-violence campaign", and New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Mr McCann was reported as saying, "We want to make sure that men don't grow up with the type of attitudes where they treat women like objects, where they think that they're superior and where violence occurs because they don't understand what a respectful relationship looks like." In other words, it wasn't a sole perpetrator who was responsible for Grace Millane's murder but all New Zealand men. Of course, men commit violent crimes more than women - that is indisputable - but men are also the victims of violent crime at a far higher rate than women (see the statistics for New Zealand here) and the vast majority of men never commit a serious assault on anyone.

Jacinda Ardern went further, issuing a tearful apology to Grace Millane's family on behalf of all New Zealanders. In my view, Ardern's response was plain wrong. New Zealanders collectively did not kill Grace Millane and therefore the prime minister should not be apologising on our behalf. It would have been appropriate for her to express deep regret and sympathy to the Millane family but not to apologise. What is the harm, I hear you ask? Well, it might just make the situation worse by sending a message that New Zealanders have much to be sorry about - that the murder of tourists is endemic to this country. The reality is that such murders are very rare and New Zealand remains a comparatively safe country. The prime minister would have been better telling the world what she and her government will do to further reduce the incidence of violent crime in New Zealand.

I have the utmost sympathy for Grace Millane's family and I feel a sense of shame that she was murdered in this country. But there is only one person who is allegedly responsible for Grace Millane's death, one individual who in this instance did not "understand what a respectful relationship looks like", and one who should be apologising (as if that could do any good). I trust that individual will be held to account.