Have I lost touch with my country? Where am I?
When did it become an obligation on an employer to discipline an employee for what could be a fleeting airport toilet shag with a woman not his ‘partner’, thousands of miles from the ‘workplace’ with no evidence (so far) that it could affect workplace performance.
I’m especially baffled when the nation’s most economically illiterate lawyers (employment specialists) have created rules that block and reverse the most simple and efficient measures by employers to uphold honesty and other ethical standards, and even basic courtesy. These idiots will expensively second guess the natural disciplinary steps that have for generations made workplaces civilised (and civilising) places for association among non-kin of disparate cultures and backgrounds.
Yet today our media have been reporting the the Rugby Union’s latest venture into controlling off field conduct without a hint of irony or criticism. I feel for the rugby bosses. Last week the media rage focused on them for failing to give the justice to victims which the justice system denied. Media castigation should have been exclusively on the judging class who think they are therapists for criminals, freed from their duty to do justice by their superior compassion. Instead it turned into a witch-hunt on rugby.
And even better directed would be a spotlight on the politicians who make the rules that allow the lawyer elite to pervert justice in secret. The government was about to announce that 17 year olds would come under the Youth Court. That court is a secret court. It could not survive without secrecy. If that change had been made last year it would have been illegal for TV 3 to break last week’s story of the unpunished rugby thug. It would have suppressed the subsequent public debate. The four victims would have been gagged, lest their complaints identify the thug.
Instead of more secrecy, we need less. We only know about the two rugby cases because of the high profile of the protagonists. How many hundreds of other court cases (or “Family” Group Conferences) are telling youngish thugs they get a free hand until they are 18?
So will the media ask why that government announcement has been mysteriously delayed? Do they not care that they will be effectively confined to reporting the official pap they get on the Youth Justice system’s woeful performance? Respectfully parroting St Andrew Becroft that the Youth Court is not a milk and milo court is not journalism. It does not defend the free speech right of the people to know who is beating up who, and getting away laughing, and which judges are too gullible for their work?
So it is perhaps not surprising that the Rugby Union is struggling to work out how it should respond to demands that it accept responsibility for the morals of its players. The neo-witchhunters now demand tangible denunciations for offences that are not even unlawful. The courts can only punish law-breaking (so far). I guess that means the clerical class must hound others to display their virtue (and to enforce their hypocritical morality).
Maybe there is more to come. One suggestion in my office is that it is relevant that it was a disabled toilet. What about the responsibility of the airport company for not supervising access to it? Will we see demands for precautionary modifications of all toilets? Welfare offices must all now be rebuilt because a judge has decided the bosses are responsible for the actions of a mad and bad shooter. Are disabled toilets too inviting? I must confess to liking all that space. Strategically located spikes like those that deter pigeons on statues might help discourage misuse.
In this new country anything is possible.
Stephen Franks is a principal of Wellington law firm Franks & Ogilvie and a former MP. He blogs at www.stephenfranks.co.nz.