Brian "don't believe in user pays" Rudman is upset at some of the reactions to the death of Pihema Cameron at the hands of Bruce Emery. He implies the sentence for Emery is too short, because Bailey Kurariki got more - except Kurariki's crime was premeditated. Michael Choy did nothing wrong. Cameron did, and Emery lost it in response.
Emery deserves to be punished. His response was disproportionate. Four years in prison is a heavy price to pay for someone otherwise unknown to the law. It sends a strong signal to others that retaliation for vandalism is not injuries that kill.
However, when Rudman says "Tourists talk about the friendliness of the New Zealanders they meet. But just below the surface there simmers a nasty uncharitable streak that should fill us all with a deep uneasiness. Perhaps it's always lurked there, and it's taken the anonymity of the internet to provide a conduit for it to ooze out. Whatever, it's much more scary to me than the odd tagger abroad at night." He is dead wrong.
The reaction of so many cheering on the unfortunate death of Cameron is over the top, but does not reflect a nasty uncharitable streak. Rather it is the experience of thousands of people sick of spending their time and money to pay for the likes of petty criminals and thugs who couldn't care less what their actions do to others. It could be tagging, it could be smashing fences, it could be car conversion, burglary, smashing windows or intimidating behaviour against yourself or your kids. It's the anti-social behaviour of an underclass that are seen to get relatively light sentences, and who unjustly get taxpayer funded welfare, housing, healthcare and other assistance, without any thanks. In other words, people who if it weren't for the hard work, enterprise and honesty of the average New Zealander, would have to work or die homeless, starving and sick.
Those who carry the underclass want to pay less tax, want to spend less time cleaning up the damage caused, paying higher insurance premiums and fearing those for whom the self sufficient are targets to abuse. Politicians who fail to hear this message fail to understand the deep anger, that Cameron should not have carried in such a terminal way, but what he represented - the underclass which thinks "fuck you" to those who make an honest living.
Tapu Misa in the NZ Herald sympathises with Cameron's family too. She is concerned Emery showed little emotion. Hardly surprising the man who is in shock that he went too far, that his life with his family and career are ruined, and he faces years incarcerated. Why SHOULD Pihema Cameron's life mean anything to Emery? It shouldn't mean anymore than any other anonymous criminal. We'll never really know what words were said between them, or how the boy acted with Emery, but we know Emery is paying for his mistake.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust is backing Emery. Misa claims it is racial saying "perhaps this illustrates the difference it makes when the person involved is someone McVicar can more easily empathise with - a white, middle-aged middle-class businessman". Maybe it is more a matter of a man who did nothing wrong overreacting to what was being done to his property? Certainly he shouldn't be set free - it is entirely inappropriate to allow vigilante justice when people in such circumstances could get it wrong.
However, the Standard thinks it is institutional racism, as does the Hand Mirror. Steve Pierson at the Standard thinks Bailey Kurariki was just an accomplice to a robbery "that went wrong", and says he is less culpable than Emery.
Let's be clear. In one case:
- Boy vandalises, is caught by the victim, victim chases him and stabs him, resulting in his death.
In another case.
- Boy acts as accomplice to a premeditated robbery, those participating beat the victim to death, boy shows no remorse.
They are not the same. However these are the debates that are needed about the role of the state and what the criminal justice system should do. The right to self defence is about exercising a proportionate response in the circumstances as you see them. Killing a tagger is not a proportionate response, but killing a tagger is not the same as a premeditated murder of an unprovoked victim.