August 20, 2007
The Gun Debate
The Firearms Debate Reignites
In the wake of the Virginia Tech killings, fresh questions are being asked about gun control. The answers, however, may surprise you when we put New Zealand’s crime rate up against Virginia’s. IAN WISHART runs the numbers
It’s the names we remember. Not of the people, but the places. Columbine. Dunblane. Port Arthur. Aramoana. Raurimu. Paerata. Virginia Tech. Each synonymous with carnage, terror and emotional trauma. Each with one thing in common: guns...
As news coverage broke of the Virginia Tech massacre last month, it took only hours before the news media worldwide were seeking out the opinions of anti-gun lobbyists like former Fair Go host Philip Alpers, who runs the website GunPolicy.org. Alpers told TV3’s John Campbell that while people would try and blame mental illness, drugs or violent videos, the real issue was guns.
Everywhere you looked, daily media editorials were calling for an end to America’s affinity with guns; the right to bear arms contained in the second amendment. On Newstalk ZB, callers talked of America’s “sick culture of violence”, with many of the hosts nodding in agreement.
“You’ll call me a wussy liberal,” media commentator Deborah Hill-Cone told ZB’s drive host Larry Williams, “but I can’t see why they need guns.”
At one level, you can understand the sentiment. At another, though, it reveals the kneejerk mental conditioning we’ve all been subjected to. America has been awash with guns for more than a hundred years. For the vast majority of that time, school massacres were unheard of. Likewise New Zealand. Apart from Stanley Graham’s rampage 60 years ago, gun massacres were unknown in modern New Zealand until the mentally-deranged David Gray picked up an assault rifle and gunned down 13 people in Aramoana, a remote community on the tip of the Otago Peninsula where few people had guns and critics accused police of letting victims bleed to death over a 24 hour period while they followed a policy of “containment”.
The “wussy liberal” sentiment also overlooks a very fundamental reason for the right to bear arms being enshrined in the US Constitution. In every case in world history, totalitarian regimes have only been able to arise and cement control in the absence of any ability by citizens to fight back. The total disarmament of a civilian population in favour of state police and military may be tolerable in a democratic state today, but it does increase the risk of abuse of power by a future regime.
The question then, is not so much whether a total ban on gun ownership is justified, but whether tighter controls on gun ownership are justified to make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain them.
Do guns kill people, or do people kill people? As well as being a bumper sticker, it’s a hot topic of debate right now. Virginia is one of the most liberal states in the US when it comes to gun laws, but the killings actually took place in a gun-free zone, a place where guns are banned. While all Virginians are permitted by law to carry pistols and handguns concealed on their person, Virginia Tech University voted to ban students from bringing their guns to campus several years ago. Administrators told students they wanted people to “feel safe”, and banning all guns would achieve that.
Now, with 32 innocent lives lost during a killer’s two hour slaughterfest, the big question is being asked: if other students had been armed that day, how many people would Cho Seung-Hui have been able to kill?
Ironically, Virginians can point to a similar incident only five years ago, when a gunman burst into a law school and opened fire. He managed to kill three people, but was himself brought to heel by two armed students and an ex-Marine who’d raced to retrieve guns from their cars when the shooting broke out.
The death toll would undoubtedly have been higher, but for their quick intervention. You’d think the trio would be hailed as heroes but, instead, of the 280 news stories about the 2002 shooting, only four mentioned that the gunman had been overpowered by armed students.
Gun advocate John Lott, writing in the New York Post a week after the tragedy, cited “the liberal, anti-gun Washington Post, which reported that the heroes had simply ‘helped subdue’ the killer. The leftist, anti-gun New York Times, not surprisingly, noted only that the attacker was ‘tackled by fellow students’.
"Most in the media who discussed how the attack was stopped said: 'students overpowered a gunman,' 'students ended the rampage by tackling him,' 'the gunman was tackled by four male students before being arrested,' or 'Students ended the rampage by confronting and then tackling the gunman, who dropped his weapon’.”
Media coverage in New Zealand has been decidedly “anti-gun” in its tone, so we decided to put the presumption that guns cause an increase in violence to the test.
Investigate surveyed US violent crime rates between the years 1960 to 2005. The figures are taken from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, or UCRs, which are a respected yardstick used by criminologists and researchers the world over. Is it true, we wondered, that states like Virginia with the most liberal gun laws were also the most crime-ridden?
Here’s what we found. Overall, the US violent crime rate in 2005 was 469.2 offences per 100,000 population (469/100,000). That’s the average for violent crime across the entire 50 states. Given that much has been made of the US being a “sick...violent” society, we wondered how that compared with the New Zealand figures.
In contrast, New Zealand’s violent crime rate as measured in the official government publication, Crime in New Zealand: 1996 – 2005, was 1,180/100,000 in 2005.
That’s right. Gun-shy New Zealand has a violent crime rate 250% higher than the US! But the comparison gets even worse when compared to the American state of Vermont, which has the most liberal gun laws in the US.
Vermont’s violent crime rate in 2005, as measured by the FBI’s UCR, was only 119/100,000, just a quarter of the US average. In comparison, New Zealand’s violent crime rate is 1,000% - ten times - higher than Vermont’s, where citizens can own as many handguns as they like and carry them as concealed weapons in public places.
And what about Virginia, scene of America’s worst ever civilian gun massacre? The UCR records a violent crime rate of only 282/100,000, a little over half the US average.
When we put these figures to ex-pat gun control advocate Philip Alpers, he simply refused to believe it:
INVESTIGATE: The states in the US that have the liberal guns laws are the ones that have the lowest crime rates. What’s the response to that?
ALPERS: That’s only the gun lobby that claim that. Those studies have been universally critiqued by much more established outfits like Harvard and so on, and there’s not much credibility to those papers. None of them, or the majority, have not been published in peer reviewed journals.
INVESTIGATE: I’m just looking at some stats on state crime rates from the FBI, and in Vermont for example the FBI lists for 2005 a violent crime rate of 119/100,000, New Zealand’s is 1,180/100,000 – that’s ten times higher.
ALPERS: Well, that’s a statistical anomaly I’m sure nobody can account for. If anybody thinks that NZ has a violent crime rate – what was it, a hundred and ten times higher?
INVESTIGATE: No, ten times higher.
ALPERS: Ten times higher than Vermont. That’s statistically questionable I would say. I haven’t seen those figures.
INVESTIGATE: I’m looking at the violent crime rate for Virginia -
ALPERS: I’ve never seen anything like that published in a reputable journal. Statistics can be wildly exaggerated and distorted by anyone who wants to and I can’t be expected to comment on something I’ve never seen.
But the statistics, of course, are not gun lobby figures but FBI and NZ Police figures. Then there’s the inconvenient truth about Kennesaw, Georgia. In 1982, Kennesaw passed a bylaw requiring all households to maintain and keep a firearm in the house. Since then, reported WorldNetDaily on the back of a Reuters story just after the Virginia Tech massacre, “despite dire predictions of ‘Wild West’ showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender.
“The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.
“Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189,” says the WorldNetDaily report.
Now, just to put those overall, total reported crime per capita figures in context, New Zealand’s overall crime rate in 2005 was 9,940/100,000 – admittedly down from its peak of more than 13,200/100,000 in 1992, but still nearly five times higher than gun-toting Kennesaw.
How could it be that New Zealand’s crime rates are much worse than gun-friendly states and cities in the US? Again, we continued to press for an alternative rational explanation from Philip Alpers.
INVESTIGATE: Well you’ve got the case of the town of Kennesaw in Georgia –
ALPERS: Oh, look, that has been so thoroughly rebutted, and completely discredited. Utterly discredited.
INVESTIGATE: Yeah, but Reuters have just done an interview with the local police chief, 2005 stats show the crime rate has halved. In 25 years since the town required homeowners to have a gun in each house, there has not been one single incident where a resident has been involved in a fatal shooting as either a victim, attacker or a defender.
ALPERS: OK, well I think it’s clear where you are going Ian, and I don’t want to buy into this. I’m standing on a cellphone, I’m not in front of the statistics.
INVESTIGATE: But you said it had been debunked, Philip?
ALPERS: I have read the papers that completely discredit that Kennesaw Georgia stuff! It’s one of the oldest myths in the gun industry arsenal and it is completely nutty for you to suggest that Kennesaw Georgia proves that point.
INVESTIGATE: But I’ve just quoted you the statistics –
ALPERS: So thoroughly and completely rebutted by very reputable peer reviewed journal articles, not Reuters, not a police officer who’s trying to justify his tiny little town’s policy, but these have been completely rebutted by very reputable studies.
INVESTIGATE: Well, name one?
ALPERS: OK, Webster and...give me your email and I’ll email it to you.
INVESTIGATE: If I can see some figures that actually show what you are saying is correct I’m more than happy –
ALPERS: No, I know exactly what you’re going to do because I read your magazine. You’re going to take your own point of view and twist everything to that. Now you can accuse me of that as well, and I can accuse the gun lobby of that – but that’s what you’re doing and it’s clear you’re not going to listen to the other side.
INVESTIGATE: Philip, I listened to you on John Campbell and listened to John Campbell not ask you any hard questions at all. All I’m doing is asking some hard questions because having looked at the stats – and I’m happy to be persuaded otherwise, I really am – but having looked at the stats –
ALPERS: OK, well why don’t you ask me, not on the United States, no, OK, look, you can ask me whatever question you like, fire away.
INVESTIGATE: NZ’s violent crime stats are three to ten times higher than the violent crime stats of American states where concealed weapons are allowed to be carried. Why is that?
ALPERS: I am not going to allow comparison between apples and pears. If you start talking about violent crime rate, that includes people poking each other in the eye in pubs with their fingers.
INVESTIGATE: Yeah, but statistically that’s the same everywhere.
ALPERS: But why are you saying that guns have something to do with people poking each other in the eye with their fingers?
INVESTIGATE: You and I both know that most violent crime is not eye poking in pubs.
ALPERS: They’re certainly not, and neither are gun crimes. Gun crimes are a very, very small proportion of violent crime, so when you talk about violent crime you’re not talking about guns.
INVESTIGATE: Yes, but what the gun lobby will say is that in those states where people are allowed to carry guns, the crime rate overall is lower because criminals don’t like to take their chances on whether a victim or potential victim is going to shoot them. So therefore the violent crime rate in those states, on the FBI’s own figures, is showing a huge difference in crime rates between those where guns are banned and those where guns are allowed. And NZ’s violent crime rate far exceeds the crime rate of the US overall, so I’m kind of curious how this is if your logic is correct?
ALPERS: I’m not going to compare violent crime rates with anything that suggests guns affect violent crime rates.
ALPERS: Because it’s like saying that pedestrians somehow affect – no, I’m not going to draw analogies. It’s not logical to say that a tiny, tiny, tiny proportion of crime, in other words, gun crime, affects all violent crime. The gun lobby regularly use this as a tactic, it’s apples and pears. Violent crime is not the same as gun homicide or gun suicide. They are subcategories of each other and if you want me to compare stuff you have to stick to gun related crime and gun related results. There’s no point in saying that the road toll somehow affects the infant mortality rate.
INVESTIGATE: No, but the speed limit might affect the road toll?
ALPERS: What you’re saying is what you are going to print. I’m happy for you to say that, you go ahead and print it. Don’t expect me to jump into and just swallow what you’re saying.
INVESTIGATE: Then rebut it, rebut it with some science.
ALPERS: I’m happy to send you that. For instance, in America all these small studies came out, then the Yales and Harvards and so on brought out their studies, and then all of it went right up the line to the National Academy of Science in the US, and the NAS brought out their report so I’ll send you that and hopefully that’ll bring you down a bit.
INVESTIGATE: I’m not working from any obscure statistics, these are FBI and NZ police figures.
ALPERS: I’m not interested in violent crime, if you’re going to ring up and talk to me about gun deaths, that’s fine.
INVESTIGATE: So you would be suggesting to me there is a difference between criminals having guns, and householders possessing guns for self defence.
ALPERS: There seems to be very little relation between a gun crime rate and a violent crime rate. A good example is Japan where guns are virtually unused, they’re very, very rare. But Japan has much the same VCR as everywhere else, just as NZ has much the same VCR rate as the US.
INVESTIGATE: But on the FBI figures, NZ has a VCR more than double the US overall.
ALPERS: Print that, that’s fine.
INVESTIGATE: But you have no response to it?
ALPERS: I haven’t seen those figures. This is insane. Absurd. I can see now how you get your articles, your technique is pretty, unusual.
INVESTIGATE: Philip, you make your living from being a gun policy advocate. You are a PR person who is putting this case every single day. I am simply asking some hard questions and you can’t answer them.
ALPERS: I’m happy for you to give me questions, and I’ll send you an email.
INVESTIGATE: I will email you, and explain why these figures are relevant. To me it is patently obvious, and it is a simple thing. If there is some rational argument as to why they are not relevant then I’m happy to hear it. If the gun debate is being discussed by media types and being restricted to this narrow little area you’ve got it restricted to, and is not looking at the wider issue – that guns defend people from crime – and you say ‘I’m not willing to look at that because it doesn’t fit my analysis’, then there’s no intelligent debate going on.
ALPERS: I don’t say – you’re putting words in my mouth and I’m not going to accept that.
INVESTIGATE: Fine, then correct me.
ALPERS: I don’t need to. You’re going to print what you want to print, and who cares, really.
INVESTIGATE: A hundred thousand readers, perhaps.
ALPERS: Up to you.
Investigate did email the full statistics across to Alpers, and in return he sent back links to studies that he had suggested would “debunk” our line of questioning. Unfortunately, they didn’t. The reason for that was their focus. Alpers did not want to discuss the proven facts that states with higher gun ownership have lower violent crime rates. As you saw above, he wanted to focus only on gun crimes as the basis for comparison.
In this regard, Alpers and other gun control advocates are entirely correct, the evidence clearly shows that states with higher gun ownership have a higher level of gun-related incidents (not necessarily crimes – we’ll return to that point later). But as Alpers also admits, gun crime actually makes up only “a tiny, tiny, tiny proportion of crime”. Alpers wants people to be sufficiently outraged about “a tiny, tiny, tiny proportion of crime” to the extent that all guns are banned, or at least tightly controlled by the government.
The Webster study he offered to send, for example, found that: “In homes with guns, the homicide of a household member is about 3 times more likely to occur than in homes without guns. The risk of suicide of a household member is increased by approximately 5 times in homes with guns.”
But the gun lobby argues, with some backing based on the FBI figures, that a high level of civilian gun ownership actually deters a much larger proportion of criminals than just the “tiny, tiny, tiny proportion” who specifically misuse guns. If there’s an increased risk that burgling a house will get you shot, will a criminal take that risk? If there’s an increased risk that a potential mugging victim will grab a concealed gun and shoot his or her attackers, will a criminal take that risk? In Vermont, where there are virtually no restrictions on the ownership of Glock semi-automatic pistols and other handguns, the figures appear to speak for themselves: a violent crime rate of 119/100,000 compared to California’s gun-restricted 524/100,000.
The most tightly gun-controlled area in the whole United States is Washington DC, with a virtual total ban. You’d expect its violent crime rate to be low, right? In 2005, it was 1,459/100,000. Remember, New Zealand’s violent crime rate at 1,180/100,000 is only marginally less than the mean streets of Washington DC.
Auckland city’s rate is 1,236/100,000. Counties/Manukau police district’s violent crime rate is 1,621/100,000. In other words, for the vast majority of people in terms of their crime experiences, Manukau city is actually a more dangerous place than Washington DC. Neither Manukau nor Washington DC allows you to carry a concealed handgun, whereas Virginia, where concealed weapons are common – except on the University campus – has a violent crime rate of only 282/100,000, which is roughly only 1/6th the rate of Manukau city.
Expressed another way, you are between six and 14 times more likely to be mugged in Manukau, than you are in gun-happy Virginia or Vermont, USA.
Are New Zealanders inherently more badly behaved than Americans? Is New Zealand society six times sicker than the state that produced America’s worst-ever gun massacre?
Perhaps, we wondered, the prevalence of guns in Vermont might result in a higher number of murders than New Zealand. We checked. For 2005, the most recent year we seem to be able to get comparable figures for, New Zealand’s murder rate was 2.7 per 100,000 people. Vermont’s was only 1.3, less than half NZ’s murder rate.
In Washington DC, where no one is allowed to carry a gun at all except police and criminals, the murder rate was a staggering 35/100,000 that year.
New Zealand’s rate of sexual attacks, at 53/100,000, compares unfavourably with Washington DC on 34/100,000, the US national average of 32/100,000, or gun-happy Virginia and Vermont which are both on 23/100,000.
For robbery, New Zealand’s rate is 54/100,000, while Vermont’s is just 12/100,000. Virginia has a robbery rate of 99/100,000 – very similar to Manukau city’s 95/100,000. It is worth noting however that the just-released figures for 2006 show Manukau’s robbery rate has shot to 149/100,000.
New York, where guns are also banned however, has a robbery rate of 184/100,000. Washington DC’s is – wait for it – 672/100,000.
In the interview with Alpers, he suggested a National Academies of Science overview had taken account of all the gun research to date:
“All of it went right up the line to the National Academies of Science in the US, and the NAS brought out their report so I’ll send you that and hopefully that’ll bring you down a bit.”
So what does the NAS report actually say?
“Research linking firearms to criminal violence and suicide is seriously limited by a lack of credible information on who owns firearms and on individuals’ encounters with violence...Moreover, many studies have methodological flaws or provide contradictory evidence; others do not determine whether gun ownership itself causes certain outcomes.”
Hardly a ringing endorsement of the gun control position.
“Research has found associations between gun availability and suicide with guns,” noted the NAS, “but it does not show whether such associations reveal genuine patterns of cause and effect.”
In other words, did owning the gun cause a suicide or would they have killed themselves by another method anyway? Or did they simply buy a gun, rather than a rope, because they were already suicidal?
Alpers told Investigate that Harvard and other institutions had thoroughly rebutted and debunked the idea that gun ownership reduces violent crime rates, but the National Academies of Science report he sent us doesn’t support his claim at all.
“Current research and data on firearms and violent crime are too weak to support strong conclusions about the effects of various measures to prevent and control gun violence...there is no credible evidence that right-to-carry laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime,” says the NAS.
In other words, the studies specifically cited as “debunking” the idea are not regarded as “credible” by the National Academies of Science, even though they have been carried out by Harvard or Yale.
Despite this, Alpers says:
“I’ve sent you a bunch of studies which were published in peer-reviewed journals. The hypothesis you cite, that “states with liberal gun laws are enjoying much lower crime rates overall,” is by and large not to be found in literature which survived standard academic scrutiny. Instead, your theory is roundly discounted in the scientific literature, including the National Academies of Science report. That’s the peak of US scientific consideration.”
As you’ve seen however, we’ve quoted the NAS report, which says none of the studies to date can be trusted. Which is why Investigate largely ignored the studies and just went straight to the bottom line – comparing raw FBI crime data and ignoring the spin from both the gun lobby and the gun control lobby.
It is often said that higher gun-ownership equates to higher gun related incidents. But that statement doesn’t tell the whole story. When you compare gun homicides (murders committed by gun), you find the states with the highest gun ownership generally have the lowest rates of gun homicides.
STATE % of households w/guns Gun homicide rate
Wyoming 59.7% 1/100,000
Alaska 57.8% 3/100,000
Montana 57.7% 1/100,000
South Dakota 56.6% 0.9/100,000
West Virginia 55.4% 3/100,000
In comparison, the states with the lowest gun ownership:
STATE % of households w/guns Gun homicide rate
Washington DC 3.8% 25/100,000
Hawaii 8.7% 0.7/100,000
New Jersey 12.3% 3/100,000
Massachusetts 12.6% 2/100,000
Rhode Island 12.8% 2/100,000
On those figures, it is impossible to argue that gun ownership is directly related to gun homicide. For the record, the figures were taken from the CDC’s WISQARS data for 2004, used in the anti-gun Miller & Hemenway study published earlier this year by Harvard.
In a stinging critique of Miller & Hemenway, US blogger Jeff Soyer wrote:
“Buried within the study, Miller and Hemenway finally admit at their ‘study’ doesn't prove a causal relationship between homicide and guns in the home but that's not what their press release says and it's not how the liberal media is reporting the study results.
“Naturally, all media need do is compare Massachusetts (2/100,000) and New Hampshire (30% ownership, 0.8/100,000) to see that the percentage of homes with firearms has nothing to do with the rate of homicide by firearms.
“The problem isn't guns. It might be demographics, it might be a failure to lock up criminals or keep them locked up but it isn't households with guns. That dog don't hunt,” says Soyer.
Alpers however insists that we should pay no attention to the lower crime rates in states where guns are allowed, and instead focus on firearms deaths. He quotes firearms death rates for Virginia of 11/100,000, compared with New Zealand’s 1.3/100,000. But when homicides only are counted, the rate drops to 3.9/100,000. Vermont’s overall rate was 9/100,000. Again, when homicides only are selected, Vermont’s rate drops to an incredibly low 0.3/100,000. The vast bulk of Vermont’s gun deaths are suicide.
It is true that a large number of American suicides involve guns, and when lobbyists like Philip Alpers talk about “firearm death rates” in media interviews they are usually including the suicide figures in there. So how do we compare on the suicide front?
In 2003, according to Ministry of Health figures, New Zealand’s suicide rate was 11.5/100,000. In the United States, it was 10.8/100,000. Despite the guns in the US, more New Zealanders are killing themselves than Americans. Virginia’s suicide rate, at 11.1/100,000, is slightly lower than New Zealand’s.
It is true that easy access to guns makes it easier for someone bent on murder-suicide to take a whole lot more people with him. But it is also true, as real incidents have shown, that armed members of the public can and have foiled mass murders in recent years by intervening.
Philip Alpers disagrees, citing the Iraq war zone as proof.
“No such effect seems apparent in the favelas of Rio or in Baghdad. To wish only for escalation, and to always discount prevention, seems to be a hallmark of the gunfight fantasist.”
Perhaps. But 32 American students were gunned down in an area where firearms prevention was already in place. It is likely that many of them, in their dying moments, wished that somebody had been able to shoot back.
Footnote: Because of space limitations caused by our major lead story this month, we could not include all of the material for or against that has been provided to us. Readers interested in hearing the full interview with Philip Alpers on MP3 can find it at www.thebriefingroom.com, along with the studies emailed to us by Philip, and other research links we perused as well.
For the record, Investigate believes there is strong merit in tightening gun ownership laws to restrict undesirables, but that ideology – “guns are always good” or “guns are always bad” has no place in intelligent debate on the issue. The statistics we have quoted here are genuine. They have not been “debunked”, and they require explanation. One final point: we absolutely reject Alpers’ assertion in his interview that he “didn’t have the figures” and we were being unfair. Alpers was not provided with questions in advance by TV3’s CampbellLive, but was perfectly happy with the question line. The figures we quoted from were standard FBI crime rate figures which Alpers, as a paid gun control lobbyist for a decade, should have been familiar with.
August 14, 2007
To Serve & Protect: June 07
TO SERVE AND PROTECT
The devastating truth about police corruption in New Zealand
Explosive new allegations of widespread police sexual misconduct reaching as high as current police commissioner Howard Broad have emerged in a major Investigate magazine inquiry into police corruption, along with evidence of a political cover-up by senior Labour politicians including the current Attorney-General Michael Cullen, and CYFS Minister David Benson-Pope. IAN WISHART has this exclusive report
When Investigate magazine broke the story last month of a young court worker allegedly raped by an off duty police officer, many people suspected there was more to our story than met the eye. Although Dunedin police moved swiftly to “investigate” and announce no offence had taken place, they didn’t realise the story wasn’t over – instead, it was the jaws of a trap closing around a police unit whose members have, for at least three decades, been amongst the most corrupt police officers in Australasia.
Last month’s cover story was merely a shot across the bows of Police National Headquarters. Today, Investigate brings you a devastating exposé that’s taken two years to pull together, an exposé linking Dunedin police officers to extortion, bribery, rape, indecent assault, underage sex, drug dealing, bestiality and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. As one former police officer told us, “A large chunk of Dunedin police were effectively the biggest organized crime syndicate in the city – even more powerful than the gangs”.
Some of the Dunedin police officers involved in some of these activities have since graduated to senior positions elsewhere around the country, including Police Commissioner Howard Broad and some of his district commanders.
When Broad apologised “unreservedly and unequivocally” to the women at the centre of the Bazley report on police sexual misconduct last month, he suggested the corruption was confined to “a very few officers who have behaved disgracefully. Their actions were wrong and contrary to their oath of office.”
That’s what Police National Headquarters wanted the public and the news media to believe. It is not, however, the reality.
Howard Broad himself, according to former colleagues, was part of that police culture when he worked in Dunedin in the 1980s.
One colleague approached by Investigate alleges Broad had bestiality videos at his going away party from Dunedin’s CIB in the mid 1980s, a party held at 19 Arawa St, Dunedin.
“There was one particular video being shown, of a naked woman holding a chicken while a man had sex with it. The chicken basically expired, and then the woman immediately performed [a sexual act] on the man. I remember it very clearly, because it’s the only time I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness bestiality.”
Another colleague, former Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis, was Howard Broad’s boss in Dunedin, and recalls incidents of indecent assault.
“He was a bit of a groper...He didn’t take much to get him drunk, and when he got pissed he got a bit of Dutch courage. He was never charged with anything, and I don’t know that he was even investigated properly – it might have just been something that was written off.
“Women had complained about him when he got drunk. But certainly I don’t think they ever initiated any proper investigation into him. He might have had a smack on the hand, but that was about all.”
The future police commissioner’s actions reflect the police culture he tried to distance himself from when he spoke last month at the release of the Bazley report:
“To the women of New Zealand I say: I have been disgusted and sickened, as you will be, by the behaviour put before the Commission of Inquiry in many of the files that covered some 25 years of our recent history.
“To all New Zealanders, I am truly sorry that a very few of our number have undermined the high expectations you rightly have of your police.
“We are encouraging every staff member to have the fortitude to come forward where they perceive things aren’t right. I am personally sponsoring our leadership, management and accountability programme.
“Thankfully, the Commission did not find evidence of any concerted efforts across Police to cover up unacceptable behaviour and I hope the report will provide reassurance that we all take sexual abuse complaints seriously.
“To any victims of sexual abuse who have perhaps been reluctant to make a complaint, please come forward.”
Howard Broad should know. As a member of the Dunedin CIB in the early to mid-eighties he would, or should, have been well aware of the parties that went on inside the CIB offices after hours.
“Let me tell you about Dunedin police in the eighties and nineties,” says one source. “If there is a Royal Commission of Inquiry, it will hear evidence of rookie female police officers being forced to have sex or perform sexual acts on senior officers as part of a ‘rite of passage’ when they joined the force down here.
“Because they were sworn staff, the senior ranks held enormous power over the careers of those girls.”
One Dunedin policewoman was run out of town in the nineties after being sodomised by the police officer son of one of the city’s highest-ranked detectives.
“She was told by National Headquarters staff that making a complaint ‘would not be good’ for her career,” says our source.
Additionally, he says, the CIB had raucous Christmas parties where women were fair game.
“There were a couple of civilian typists on our floor, and I remember at one party seeing both of them naked, legs spread, in two police interview rooms side by side, while a large group of male police officers waited in line to gang-bang these women.”
Former Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis is another who remembers wild behaviour.
“There used to be the early morning shift parties, and they finished at five or seven, they used to allow them the key to the police club. They could help themselves to grog and they worked an honesty system. It was the craziest thing that ever happened. When I was doing internal investigations within the police for [CIB boss Laurie] Dalziel and the CIB, I was attached to him to inquire into police crime and misbehaviour. By God, I reckon at least 60 to 70% evolved from those early morning or party situations. We even had indecent assaults then. In fact even in the book [Cover-ups & Cop-outs] I mention John Kelly [not to be confused with John Kelly from the traffic safety branch of the police] who became a Superintendent in Wellington and would probably have been Commissioner until the book came out. I named him as indecently assaulting policewomen at parties. He didn’t dare sue me because I would be able to name names.
“He actually indecently assaulted the-then police commissioner’s daughter,” exclaims Lewis down the phone from his home in Australia. “Do you know what he got for it? He got put back to uniform branch for seven or eight months. If you were the police commissioner and some jerk had indecently assaulted your daughter, do you think the punishment would fit if you just put him back to uniform branch for six months and transferred him as a detective sergeant to Dunedin?
“From my recollection it was breast grabbing and crotch grabbing. But he had a penchant for indecently assaulting females in social company.”
John Kelly is still attached to Police National Headquarters in a senior role.
But when Police Commissioner Howard Broad said last month there was “no evidence” of any “concerted efforts” to “cover up unacceptable behaviour”, it appears one key incident slipped his mind: an incident that happened while he was based in Dunedin, working under Tom Lewis.
Investigate’s inquiries into this particular incident have uncovered a major political dimension – allegations that senior Labour MPs Michael Cullen (now the Attorney-General) and Minister in charge of CYFS, David Benson-Pope – a schoolteacher at the time – helped police cover-up a major pedophilia, bondage and bestiality ring in the city in the mid-1980s. We’ll have full details of the political angle shortly, but first we’ll take you through the incident itself.
“In June 1984,” writes former Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis in his 1998 book, “I was absent from the office for approximately three weeks. During that time, a number of complaints were received about what appeared to be attempts to recruit young girls for sex shows.
One mother of a 14 year old girl went to the Dunedin CIB office to report that not only had her daughter been approached in the street regarding the sex show, she had also been telephoned at home and propositioned.
“The fourteen year old was able to graphically describe the details of the proposed sex show and describe the young woman she had met in the street who tried to recruit her.
“The mother, Cathy, had also spoken to the woman while she was on the phone. This person, who introduced herself as ‘Audrey’, told Cathy that, for $1,000 a performance, her daughter would be required to dress in a sheer nightie and perform in the private suite of one of the upmarket hotels in the city [The Parkside, now known as The Carisbrook].
“The audience would be mixed, with well-to-do people including members of Parliament, lawyers, doctors, ministers of religion, councilors and businessmen present. She told her that it was essential that confidentiality be maintained at all times even if some of the audience were recognised.
“Audrey then said her daughter would be required to lead a naked man, wearing a dog collar, around a small stage. She would be shown how to whip him and later would masturbate him. If she [the fourteen year old] then had sex with him on stage in front of the audience she could earn a bonus. She would also receive a bonus if she had sex with those members of the audience prepared to pay for the privilege.”
As Detective Sergeant Lewis records in his book, Cathy, although shocked, had sufficient presence of mind to play along with the idea in order to get more information and, if possible, a contact phone number from Audrey [Audrey had rung the 14 year old at home].
Cathy was even more stunned, however, when she took the information to the Dunedin CIB only to be met with a “get lost” attitude. Instead, the CIB clerk suggested Cathy conduct her own inquiries if she was bothered by it.
“To instruct a complainant to take on what was a police function was unethical and unprofessional,” wrote Tom Lewis in 1998. “It could also have put Cathy in danger. The CIB clerk was also aware that this was not an isolated complaint as by that time other complaints had been received.”
Non-plussed, Cathy nonetheless pushed ahead under her own steam, and managed to convince Audrey to put her in touch with Audrey’s boss, a man known only as ‘John’.
When Cathy phoned John, the call went to his answering service. When he rang back, Cathy had a tape recorder rolling, as Tom Lewis writes:
“[John] suggested to Cathy that a mother and daughter act would go down well with the type of clientele he catered for at his sex shows. She expressed her interest in his suggestion and asked exactly what he had in mind.
“John told her that for the sort of money he was proposing – $1,500 for each show – they would be required to indulge in sex and masturbation. He explained that the format of the sex show would be Cathy’s daughter leading a naked man around the stage on a dog lead while clad in a see-through nightie. She would be required to verbally abuse him and to whip him before masturbating him.
“Cathy was told that if she ‘measured up’ she would be required to appear on stage naked and to have intercourse with the ‘slave’ while her daughter whipped and verbally abused him.
“In the latter stages, a dog would be introduced to the act and she would be paid a substantial bonus for having sex with the dog. After the main show was over, male members of the audience might request sex with her on stage. The price would be $150, of which she would receive half.
“John reiterated Audrey’s warning about the need for confidentiality as many prominent people attended these sex shows – lawyers, Members of Parliament and the like – and they could be ruined by loose talk.”
By the time Cathy stumped up to the CIB with her taped conversation with John in hand, it was July 1984, and Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis was back on deck in Vice Squad. For the record, it was against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to be employed in a “parlour” – a euphemism for being involved in commercial sex work. Cathy’s daughter, a student at Otago Girls High School, was only 14.
The girl told Lewis that Audrey had been hanging around the school gates waiting for students to come out each afternoon, and approaching attractive 14 and 15 year olds with an offer of several hundred dollars to appear in a “modeling show”. If a girl expressed interest, Audrey took her phone number and arranged to ring later, which is how Cathy became involved.
Lewis immediately went to check what other complaints police had received.
“What I found was disturbing indeed – pieces of paper recording alleged incidents outside Otago Girls High School, in many cases without even the name or phone number of the complainants. Those that I could contact I did, and I found the approaches that had been made were similar to that made to Cathy’s daughter.”
When Lewis raised the slack attitude of CIB staff to taking complaints with his boss, Detective Chief Inspector Laurie Dalziel, Dalziel told him:
“That’s why I have a uniform branch police officer on the front desk, to sort the wheat from the chaff…It was a victimless crime, they [the schoolgirls] hadn’t been hurt, it’s low priority as far as I am concerned.”
Regardless of his boss, Tom Lewis asked a young policewoman, Judy Devlin, whether she would volunteer to go undercover for ‘Operation Audrey”. Devlin agreed, and responded to a newspaper ad that appeared to have been placed by Audrey seeking “models”.
“Audrey…mentioned the show was an adult show which regularly took place in private suites at top hotels in the city,” writes Lewis. “The audience would comprise men and women, many of whom were well known professional people.
“Audrey then proceeded to ask the constable her age, her measurements, in particular the size of her breasts, and then she told her that they had a show organized for Christchurch that weekend. She asked her if she was prepared to travel to Christchurch to perform.”
Constable Devlin declined, expressing a preference for Dunedin. Further conversations followed over the next three weeks, and by the end of it Devlin had been given the same information Cathy had: she would be leading a naked man wearing a dog collar around the stage while whipping and abusing him. She would perform sexual acts on the man and invite women from the audience to participate, and she was then required to have sex with the bondage slave on stage.
“Audrey also told the constable she could double her fee by having sex with as many of the audience as she could manage. The more she serviced, the more she would be paid. She was, like Cathy, told that if she had sexual intercourse with the dog she would receive a large bonus.”
Audrey and Devlin – using the name ‘Jenny’ – agreed to meet at a city coffee bar, and Devlin was given John’s phone number to call the next morning. Detective Sergeant Lewis traced the phone number – it belonged to the Parkside Hotel, now known as “The Carisbrook”, owned and operated by John Lewis, the father of another Dunedin police officer, Murray Lewis.
John Lewis told Devlin that his sex shows were based on the Marquis de Sade’s book, and that people attending the show “were right into bondage and perversion”. He warned her however that confidentiality was extremely important because “prominent people such as members of Parliament” would be present.
John Lewis, however, wanted to inspect his merchandise, and asked ‘Jenny’ – constable Devlin – to meet him at the hotel the following afternoon. Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis (no relation) tried to put a full surveillance team in place but was lumbered with Detective Sergeant John Scott. Scott had been run out of a small South Island town after being found getting rather too close to the young daughter of a local farmer. The farmer and his sons confronted Scott in a barn where he had the girl with him, and the farmer fired up his Poulan chainsaw – threatening to chop off the policeman’s tender portions.
Scott was subsequently transferred to Dunedin, where his nickname around the office was “Poulan”.
“Even [current police commissioner] Howard Broad used to get in on the act,” one former officer told Investigate. “He would stand outside Scott’s office pretending to pull a chainsaw and making the appropriate noises.”
Scott organised only three detectives for the surveillance, not the required six, so when undercover agent Judy Devlin entered the Parkside to meet sex show boss ‘John’, Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis was not a happy man.
Over the concealed microphone embedded in the policewoman’s bra, they could hear John talking about the bondage and sado-masochism of his sex shows, which included “group and kinky sex”. An alsation dog was a regular peformer at the sex shows, he told the woman, and she would be extremely well paid if she allowed the dog to have sex with her on the stage.
“You look young and pretty good to me,” John could be heard saying lecherously, “but I like to inspect my merchandise more closely...let me see you naked. I want to look over you closely. Take off your clothes.”
Constable Devlin made an excuse that she needed to use the bathroom first – a pre-arranged signal to the surveillance team that she needed back-up.
When police burst in, they found John clutching a bottle of baby oil and whip, while on the bed nearby lay a copy of the Marquis de Sade’s book as well as a dog collar and leash. A videotape was found of one of the previous Dunedin sex shows, and included the type of sexual acts John and Audrey had described to Cathy and Constable Devlin. One local man on the videotape was instantly recognisable to police.
“This film was later placed in the custody of [Detective Sergeant] John Scott,” wrote Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis. “It subsequently disappeared without trace.”
The suspect, John, was panicking meanwhile. As the father of Murray Lewis – now Tauranga’s Area Police Commander – he recognised Tom as a colleague of his son’s. He initially tried to suggest that the policewoman was simply a prostitute he had picked up, but slumped in his chair when Tom Lewis informed him they knew he had been attempting to recruit 14 year old schoolgirls for the sex shows through Audrey.
“Yeah, it’s true she did recruit them for me but it was just for me to screw,” he told the police officer. His hands were shaking and he was described as “sweating profusely”.
“I paid Audrey to get young girls for me as I enjoy sex with young girls. It’s just one of those things, a lot of men do.”
Detective Sergeant Lewis asked him how many young girls Audrey had arranged.
“I can’t remember. Not many. I only remember the name of one, Bonnie. I think she was over sixteen but you can’t be sure these days. I admit I’ve had sex with a few but I honestly can’t remember their names Tom.”
John initially denied knowing that Cathy’s daughter was only 14, but folded when the police officer confronted him with the existence of his taped phone call to Cathy. In it, he had told the mother that the fact her daughter was only 14 “did not bother” him when it came to letting her take part in the sex shows.
“I’ve had nightmares about this,” John confessed. “Yes, I did say that.”
Tom Lewis’ book, based on his copy of the police files, reveals John admitted he was hiring the children to have sex with “people in high places”. He would not, however, reveal specifically who. He did, however, provide contact details for ‘Audrey’ – real name Lynley Deaker.
Tom Lewis immediately instructed Detective Sergeant John “Poulan” Scott to action a search warrant at Audrey’s home and bring her in for questioning. The events that followed are the first evidence of a massive police cover-up operation beginning.
John Scott had instead gone to Dunedin’s police chief, District Commander Ross McLennan, and informed him that they’d just picked up Detective Murray Lewis’ father in the pedophile sex ring investigation.
McLennan wanted the father released into the custody of his son, and immediately bailed. Detective Sergeant Lewis wasn’t happy with that idea, especially as Audrey had not yet been brought in. The bailed suspect could easily alert other key suspects and evidence could be destroyed. The police officer also knew that some of his colleagues had a very close relationship with John and his hotel.
“I was aware that John Lewis was the ‘host with the most’ among the hierarchy of the Dunedin Police. I had been to his hotel on more than one occasion, with the head of the Dunedin CIB, and partaken of his hospitality as he curried favour with his son’s bosses. I also knew that Scott was a regular visitor to the hotel and I suspected this was the start of a campaign to minimise the seriousness of the charges against Lewis.”
Despite Tom Lewis’ protestations, Scott was adamant that releasing John was the District Commander’s explicit instruction. Although Audrey was subsequently located, John Scott’s team “forgot” to obtain a search warrant, so no evidence was seized and she was now at the police station refusing to answer questions and demanding to be either released or charged.
John Scott had also decided to send undercover agent Judy Devlin home, so nobody was available to run an identification line-up. If they had, Audrey could have been pinged and locked up for attempting to procure schoolgirls for sex. Instead, with events collapsing around him, and Devlin unable to be located, Tom Lewis was forced to release Audrey as well.
The following day, August 9, 1984, an unbowed Tom Lewis organised his own search warrant of Audrey’s house, and arranged for Constable Devlin to accompany him so she could identify Audrey as part of the process. Just as they were about to head out the door, John ‘Poulan’ Scott pulled Lewis aside and told him CIB chief Laurie Dalziel had ordered “the sex inquiry is to be stopped until he gets back tomorrow”.
The wheels of a police cover-up were well and truly spinning by now.
When Dalziel returned, he came to Lewis’ office and allegedly urged him to drop the case.
“He wanted me to report the John Lewis offences along favourable lines,” says Tom Lewis in his book, “even to the extent of changing my report to say there was insufficient evidence to charge him.”
“Don’t you understand?” urged Dalziel, “It’s a victimless crime!”
In a nutshell, that summed up the attitude of Dunedin Police – a sex ring where 14 year old girls were offered huge sums of money to have sex with old men in bondage gear and an alsation dog, was a “victimless crime” – a statement the parents of Dunedin schoolchildren would have been less than happy to hear.
The investigation, however, was quashed.
Tom Lewis responded by trying to file an official complaint about Detective Chief Inspector Dalziel attempting to pervert the course of justice by preventing an active investigation of a pedophile/BDSM/bestiality ring involving prominent Labour government MPs and Dunedin business leaders.
“I went upstairs and reported it to the District Commander that the head of CIB had tried to pervert the course of justice by stopping me with my inquiry. And of course for 9 months they wouldn’t take my complaint, so I can sort of see how these women went when they tried to complain about being raped. Here was I, a detective sergeant, with 20 years experience and I couldn’t get a complaint laid, so you can see the problems they must have had,” Lewis told Investigate.
Audrey had named a high-ranking Labour cabinet minister as one of those attending the shows, but Lewis wasn’t allowed to question him either.
A phony war broke out, with Dalziel trying to convince Lewis to withdraw his complaint and drop charges against the publican, John.
“Eventually I decided to force the issue,” Tom Lewis records in his book. “I obtained a search warrant from the District Court for Audrey’s address. I took Constable Devlin and another police officer and we raided her address in mid-September 1984.
“When I spoke to Audrey at the door, she said, ‘What’s going on? I was told this had all been squared off and all charges dropped. I better not be taking the rap on my own. Are you doing a warrant on John again? If I’ve been set up to take the rap for this then I’ll take him and his mates with me’.”
Constable Devlin made a positive ID, although Audrey denied meeting her, and inside the unit police found an alsation dog, BDSM bondage gear, and handwriting samples that matched copy supplied to the Otago Daily Times newspaper seeking girls for sex shows.
In other words, they had Audrey dead to rights.
It was during one of these conversations that Tom Lewis says Audrey coughed to the identity of the high-ranking Labour cabinet minister visiting the sex shows when he had the chance to get into Dunedin. Investigate has the minister’s name – for the record they are no longer in parliament.
Audrey’s boss, John, had however already talked of Labour MPs in the plural sense, not the singular.
Despite now having enough evidence to charge both Audrey and John, Tom Lewis was still running up against a corruption wall inside the police when it came to getting action on the file.
“A week later, I learned that the Dunedin children’s sex file had been hastily sent to the police legal section in Wellington without the additional evidence. Still later, I learned that the file that was sent had been interfered with and much of the documentary evidence against Lewis removed before being sent.”
Dunedin police perverting the course of justice? Again, dead to rights.
The trail, and the chance to bring a pedophile ring to justice, was going cold.
Simultaneously, Lewis’ colleagues slipped him photocopied pages from Detective Sergeant John ‘Poulan’ Scott’s diary, revealing Scott had apparently been stalking Tom Lewis’ wife and teenage daughter, even though neither had anything to do with the case.
Tom Lewis engaged a lawyer, Bruce Robertson, later to become a Court of Appeal judge, who suggested a complaint was laid directly with Labour’s Police Minister, Ann Hercus. But Labour refused to act. Lewis believes police bosses may have been blackmailing the Labour Government:
“They had a file in CIS [Criminal Intelligence Section] on her [Hercus] which I was aware of because I was in CIS at the time. They had a couple of things on her so she was under quite a bit of pressure, so the Labour government were very keen to cover this up.”
Instead, amid mounting public pressure and increasing media speculation, the government appointed what it called an “independent examiner” to review the allegations. Except the “examiner” wasn’t independent, but instead was closely allied to police bosses.
His report, issued in 1985, whitewashed the claims, stating there was insufficient evidence to lay charges in the sex ring case. Tom Lewis choked on his cornflakes. The only reason there was insufficient evidence, he knew, was because senior police – backed up by the Labour government – had shut down the investigation. Furthermore, when you added back the hard evidence stripped from the file sent to headquarters, there was indeed sufficient evidence. The whole case reeked.
But it was what happened next that adds a political dimension to this case. Local Labour MP Michael Cullen – now the Attorney-General – and one of his enthusiastic party workers, a schoolteacher by the name of David Benson-Pope, helped quash public concern about a cover-up by circulating copies of the “independent” examiner’s whitewash report to service clubs and high schools, along with a covering letter expressing the hope that it would “dispel unrest in your community”.
Their line: “there’s nothing in it, the claims are unsubstantiated, move on”.
Who were they protecting, and why?
It was not as if Labour was unaware of the central allegations: that the father of a police officer had procured underage schoolgirls for a bondage and discipline sex show that also included bestiality. Why would Michael Cullen, now the Attorney-General and Deputy Prime Minister, want to pour cold water on such a devastating allegation?
Why would David Benson-Pope, a schoolteacher, want to reassure teachers and parents that there was no truth to the allegations?
Lewis firmly believes the whole affair – with the implication that a senior Labour politician was involved in bondage and discipline, underage sex and bestiality – was ultimately shut down for political reasons, not just the fact that the man organising it was the father of a police officer.
It is significant that while Prime Minister Helen Clark was fully prepared to set up a Commission of Inquiry into historic police rape allegations from the Bay of Plenty, equally serious allegations with a political overtone have been strangely ignored – even though two politicians involved in damage-control at the time are now senior figures in Helen Clark’s cabinet.
It is significant that former Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis, now resident in Australia, was unaware that David Benson-Pope had even become an MP himself.
“Did you come across any junior Labour people like David Benson-Pope?” Investigate asked Lewis.
“Yes I did. Now he was a schoolteacher wasn’t he?”
“Yes,” we confirmed, adding that he was now an MP.
“At Bayfield High,” continued Lewis. “That’s right. Now he was one of the ones who would have helped get it into schools. I know that he was very close to Cullen in that St Kilda electorate. Now is he an MP himself now?”
“Yes, he is. Dunedin South.”
“Well that’s where Cullen was, but I think it was called St Kilda. Yes, Benson-Pope was active, his name did come up. That name was definitely prominent around that time. He’s a bald-headed guy isn’t he?”
“Yeah. And he was a teacher, something to do with Bayfield High. I think at that stage he might have even been involved in Cullen’s campaign. His name certainly came up in relation to those schools and I think he was the man who distributed them at Bayfield High.
“The examiner’s report was very widely spread,” Lewis told Investigate. “These MPs took them to those service groups and asked them to distribute them. Detective Murray Gallagher was the head of the Lions in Dunedin, and he came to me pretty disgusted.
“I suppose they worked on the basis that if they got all the service groups, the movers and shakers of Dunedin, and into the headmasters when concerned parents tried to talk about the cover-up, that they could dampen the fires a bit.
“They defended their actions, they said there was so much innuendo going on about the inquiry, and they were sorry the guy they appointed as an independent examiner wasn’t independent at all – he’d been a member of the police tribunal – but they didn’t think that influenced his report...Nobody wore that, and that was the thing that was going on then with regard to that inquiry.
“It was Cullen, the whole lot, carte blanche across the board, all the Dunedin MPs. Cullen I think was the MP for St Kilda. There was another guy, a younger guy, Clive Matthewson as well.”
It is here that the story takes a much more sinister turn. Had Dunedin’s rogue police team been brought under control by the Labour government in 1986 – when Tom Lewis finally gave up the fight and left the country – much of what followed might not have happened.
If, instead of running damage control, the current Attorney-General Michael Cullen had pushed for an open and honest police investigation, and prosecution of any officer found perverting the course of justice, history might have changed. Cullen, even then, had influence in the Labour government in his position as senior government whip.
It didn’t happen, and instead the corruption in Dunedin worsened, setting the scene for even grislier offending, as you’re about to read.
One of the unspoken themes in the 1984 investigation outlined above was the possibility that the audience in the sex shows may have included Dunedin police officers, as well as the aforementioned Labour cabinet minister. Investigate has now been able to document instances of senior police officers visiting the city’s brothels and demanding free sex in return for not busting the joints.
You’ve already seen us quoting one police officer about the fact that rookie policewomen were forced to have sex with higher ranked officers, now we can reveal how police were pulling a similar stunt in at least one major establishment, Reflections, owned and run by Jack Ingersoll and his business partner Winnie.
‘Megan’, a former escort interviewed by Investigate in Dunedin says police had an “arrangement” for free sex in the brothels.
“I worked at a parlour at one stage and there were police that came in there. They never paid. They thought they had every right to come in there and have the services. It was all quite shocking to me and I didn’t know what the procedure was, I was a bit naive about it all and I wasn’t very impressed. But obviously if a person can do that with me, and I had more clues than some of them, then yes, girls could be taken advantage of.
“Definitely it went on, without a doubt, that police took advantage of the girls...This was about 1991, 92, when I worked there.”
There was, she says, a mixture of uniform branch and plainclothes detectives. She also recalls one police officer who had sex with her then tried to get her to smoke a cannabis joint with him.
“He had a big bag of this dope, a huge bag. When he went to the toilet I reached across for an ordinary cigarette and accidentally knocked some of his papers on the side table, and I saw he had an invitation to the police ball.”
In return for enjoying free sex with prostitutes, police officers turned a blind eye to offences such as using underage schoolgirls in the parlours.
Which brings us to yet another twist in this increasingly serious story: in late 1993, perhaps early 1994, Bayfield High School dropout Laniet Bain began working part time at the Reflections massage parlour. She would have been aged just 17. It is extremely likely that part of her “initiation” involved being forced to have sex with Dunedin police officers. And one of those officers was quite likely Detective Sergeant Milton Weir – the man who later controversially spearheaded the Bain family murder investigation and allegedly planted evidence to implicate David Bain.
In a statement dictated to Colin Withnall QC in his presence but left unsigned amid fears for her life, Dunedin woman Susan Sutton recounts a conversation where one of her friends told her about Milton Weir’s behaviour.
“Joyce has also told me about what Milton used to do when he was in the squad that was in charge of the Dunedin massage parlours. She said he would insist on having sex with the new young girls at the parlours as a perk of the job, and that Jack and Winnie Ingersoll would arrange it for him.
“Also, some of the girls who were under age or had a drug conviction and accordingly weren’t allowed to work in the parlour would be allowed to work in parlours provided that they gave Weir free sex, not only for him but for his mates.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Susan Sutton’s statement confirms what Investigate had already heard from Megan. But there’s even more corroboration – Megan doesn’t know either Sutton or her friend Joyce Conwell (aka Joyce Blondell); she’d already quit the parlours to work as a private escort before their time there.
Were senior Dunedin police officers sexual clients of underage prostitute Laniet Bain? Did that have a bearing on how the police conducted their investigation into the Bain homicides of June 20, 1994?
One man who knows something is Dean Cottle, who told police he’d met Laniet in a bar in Dunedin in August 1993.
Cottle’s statement was taken by Detective Malcolm Inglis, who later worked on the David Benson-Pope tennis balls investigation. The statement is intriguing for both its explosive content, and the apparent lack of interest of police in what Cottle was telling them.
For example, he reveals:
“About the family, she told me that her father Robin had been having sex with her and this had been happening for year [sic]. That he was still doing this as I believed it...she didn’t want it coming out what had happened to her, I wasn’t to tell anyone.”
The Bain family had lived in Papua New Guinea for years, in a region where incest and group sex were cultural traditions. One book on the Bain murders alleges the family fell victim to sexual misconduct there and that the practice took hold. Cottle’s statement seems to back that up to an extent:
“The night she told me about what her father had done to her, she also told me before this that something had happened to her in Papua New Guinea. She didn’t say what, but I presumed she meant something sexual. After that she started crying and told me about what her father did to her...She also told me that her sister Arawa had been involved in some prostitution.”
It is well documented that Laniet’s mother, Margaret Bain, was becoming increasingly deranged and obsessed with New Age rituals. It has also been alleged that Margaret Bain had a sexual relationship with her sons. It is no exaggeration to say that the Bain family was seriously dysfunctional.
While author Joe Karam has speculated that Laniet sparked the murders by threatening to reveal how her father had been having sex with her, it seems likely that such a revelation would not be news inside a family with wide incest issues resulting from their Papuan lifestyle. Indeed, Karam asserts that Laniet may have given birth at age 11 to a child resulting from her father’s incest, which was adopted out in Papua New Guinea. Hello! If Laniet was truly pregnant at 11 to her father, how was a revelation of further incest going to add anything to the debate within the house?
A more likely explanation is that Laniet was planning to reveal her involvement in prostitution at the brothel used by Dunedin’s police force, and Cottle’s statement again appears to back this up. He says he saw Laniet just before she was murdered:
“I stopped and spoke to her on the footpath for about 5-10 minutes. She told me that she was going to make a new start of everything, that her parents had been questioning her about what she was doing. She said she was going to tell them everything and make a clean start of things...She had always been very scared of her parents finding out what she was doing. I thought by saying this she was going to tell her parents about prostitution.”
You’d think with dynamite like this in Dean Cottle’s statement that police would be all over him with questions. Apparently not. There appears to have been no major effort to follow up Cottle’s leads, and Laniet’s diary containing her list of clients’ names and phone numbers mysteriously disappeared.
The officer in charge of the scene examination at the Bain murders was Milton Weir.
Susan Sutton and Joyce Blondell were both working in the sex industry in the mid 1990s.
“I first met Milton Weir in 1995,” Sutton told Colin Withnall QC in her statement, “when Joyce Blondell asked me to perform a foursome with her and [Detective Sergeant Jim] Doyle and Weir and myself at the Golden Fleece Hotel, Waikouaiti.
“The main thing I want to talk about is his unstable nature...he had a very short fuse and would fly off the handle over virtually nothing at all, would rant and rave. He would have to take pills to get himself back under control.
“Some particular occasions that I recall was one night he took me to a barbecue at a house in Waverley, the address of which I have not yet been able [to] locate but I remember it because there [are] two ornamental lions at the entrance to the drive.
“There were about 20 people present at this barbecue and in the bathroom in the house was a supply of cocaine there for people to use. During the night we were out by the barbecue and there was a cat which started rubbing up against Milton Weir’s leg – Weir reacting by grabbing a barbecue tool and chopping the cat to death in an absolute frenzy. I was just horrified but other people there just laughed.”
Significantly, a Dunedin lawyer has independently confirmed he was told the Milton Weir Cat-killing story by another police officer who attended the same barbecue. That lawyer has never seen the statements of Susan Sutton or Joyce Blondell and is unaware they even exist. Needless to say, no police officer has ever seen the statements either until now.
Elsewhere in Sutton’s statement there are equally chilling nuggets:
“Weir has told me about an incident at the Police Club one night when a police officer put a bag over the head of a girl (I think another police officer) and then raped her in the Police Station. Weir told me this because he thought it was very funny. I wasn’t told the names of the people involved.
“Joyce also told me that she had some video tapes of Dunedin Police involved in various sexual acts. I told her that I didn’t believe her and challenged her to show me the tapes. She did show me some of the tapes although some of them I wouldn’t look at because they were just too disgusting. However, the ones I did see included a film of Detective Sergeant Doyle having sex with a dog. In another one, a ginger haired girl was tied down while four people had sex with her. She was crying and definitely not looking as if this was willing. I recognised Milton Weir as one of them and also [name withheld].”
According to Sue Sutton, this was standard M/O for Milton Weir when it came to aggressive sexual advances.
“On one occasion he rang me at work and wanted me to go out with him. When I told him that I couldn’t, he got very angry, came up to where I worked and again insisted I go with him...grabbed me by the throat and dragged me out to the car and took me to Allanton.
“On another occasion...he came around [to her work] and brought some blue cord and grabbed my wrists and tied them up, and said I was going with him and I could either get in the front of the car or he would put me in the boot.
“I have been asked by Mr Withnall why I didn’t go to the Police about Weir’s behaviour. My answer is that Milton Weir was the Police, and I was scared of him – I am still scared of him – and I didn’t think that going to the Police would help. My father is a retired policeman and believes that the Police can do no wrong, and I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”
Sutton wrote that Weir knew she’d been talking to the David Bain defence team for several months, “and over that period I have been receiving dead budgies in my letterbox wrapped up in newspaper. I believe Weir is sending me these.”
When she confronted Weir, he claimed to know the bird-breeding habits of the Bain defence team and claimed one in particular had an aviary. He didn’t.
But the police were prepared to fight even dirtier. A file note by Colin Withnall QC reveals:
“On Thursday June 1 I was told by a person who is closely associated with and influential in the Black Power movement in Dunedin that police have been spreading the word to gangs and to ‘lifers’ in prison that [a Bain defence associate] ‘was kicked out of the police for sodomising his son’.”
The clear intent of the police, records Withnall, was to make the associate a marked man in the criminal world where “kiddy-fiddlers” are not tolerated. The man, of course, had done no such thing and the official records show he resigned from Dunedin Police in 1992 honourably. But in the context of dead budgies in the letterbox, rape threats, violence and intimidation, this criminal slander by members of the Dunedin Police was par for the course.
Joyce Blondell’s statement records similar intimidation and slander:
“Milton Weir and other police have gone out of their way to try and stop me from talking to [the Bain defence team] and others...more importantly the threats and violence we have suffered at the hands of certain police to stuff us up and stop us from talking to [them].
“Last year, 1999, Milton Weir visited me at my Mum’s after he had finished in the police and threatened me not to talk to [the Bain team]...or there would be serious repercussions.”
Are you starting to see the pattern? These are police officers, sworn to uphold the law, knowingly lying in order to intimidate witnesses who could testify about police rape, drug use and corruption.
In another report obtained by Investigate, it is alleged that the corruption extends far higher than Milton Weir, and much further than Dunedin:
“It has come to our attention that Weir has been afforded a level of protection from a very high rank within the Police,” says the report, before naming the individual and his position in another major city police force.
The report tracks Weir’s activities at other locations where he has been stationed, including this from Christchurch:
“Whilst in Christchurch we managed to ascertain that Milton Weir was a regular visitor to certain parlours as a client. Information gleaned was that he looked after at least three of the parlours, meaning they were left alone and allowed to break the law openly in the following areas:
1. Running an unlicensed bar
2. Live sex shows which included audience participation
3. Drug dealing
4. Underage sex
“Weir left these places alone on a professional basis on the condition that he and his mates could visit them at any time free of charge and obtain free sexual pleasures for turning a blind eye to any breaches of the law. The establishments where Weir was indulging are the following:
1. Atami Bath House
2. Felicity’s 140
4. The Boutique Lounge
“Weir regularly arranged private shows for him and his friends away from the Atami in places such as the Ferrymead Tavern and the Christchurch Police Club. At the Ferrymead Tavern it became public that a uniformed police officer actively took part in indecencies on stage. This was covered up by Weir who conducted the inquiry.
“There was an incident on one occasion at the Police Club which involved hookers and Weir bundled one of them into the boot of an unmarked police car after striking her.
“From all the information gleaned whilst in Christchurch the picture which was painted for us was one of police corruption on a large scale. A lot of other information [about] offending by police was obtained but not relevant to your matter or the person you are interested in. For example, we have the names of several police officers who are dealing in illicit substances (drugs) and using.”
The report also reveals that TVNZ’s Holmes show conducted an on-camera interview with a prostitute detailing “very compelling complaints about Milton Weir criminally offending”, but didn’t run the story because other sex workers were too scared to go on tape.
While investigators were talking to the woman concerned, a CIB car pulled up and, as the report notes, “she was visited by members of the local CIB who intimidated her. Colin Withnall QC was contacted immediately – he proceeded to the property where he ordered them to leave. This is documented on a television news broadcast.
“As a result of this ‘lady’ not only talking to [TV reporter] Mike Valintine, but also to Colin Withnall QC and Stephen O’Driscoll, solicitor [now a judge], [it] led to Withnall having a private meeting with the Commissioner of Police and tabling a formal complaint of police corruption. The Commissioner of Police then appointed a police member from outside the district to conduct an inquiry...unfortunately, when this officer interviewed the said lady she then started to recant...the matter then fell over. It could be said the Police obtained the statement they desired.”
It was, of course, simply a matter of police protecting their own by intimidating the witnesses. And the sheer scale of that intimidation is incredible. According to Joyce Blondell, she confessed to two crimes she did not commit – one of them murder – because of Milton Weir’s threats if she didn’t take the rap.
Blondell is now serving a life sentence at Christchurch Women’s Prison for murder. Her first inkling of trouble was when police reopened a case originally determined as death by natural causes.
Nursing home resident Doreen Middlemiss was found dead in June 1998, as elderly rest home patients often are. An autopsy was performed, no foul play was found: death by natural causes was the verdict.
It so happened that Joyce Blondell worked at the rest home, but this was purely coincidental – the rest home had other staff as well. But Milton Weir knew Joyce worked there.
And when he found out later in 1998 that Blondell had been talking to the Bain defence team, he hit the roof, as you’ve already seen. Blondell alleges the pressure hit boiling point in late 1999.
“I went into the Dunedin Police station late last year and made a statement admitting hiding in Doreen Middlemiss’ wardrobe and then attacking her and leaving her for dead,” says Blondell in her statement.
Before we continue, how often do you see people – especially former sex workers – turn themselves in voluntarily on an attempted murder when the death had already been ruled natural 18 months earlier? The correct answer, of course, is that you are more likely to see a herd of pigs fly past in RNZAF colours.
Sure enough, Joyce Blondell alleges it was a forced confession.
“I didn’t kill Doreen Middlemiss, I did not hide in her wardrobe, I did not attack or assault her. I made the statement and pleaded guilty because of threats made to me last year  by Milton Weir, a former detective with the Dunedin CIB.
“Late last year I was walking down the street in Dunedin when Milton Weir came up behind me and said to me to keep walking and not to turn around. He told me that I had to plead guilty and confess to murdering Doreen Middlemiss. Weir further told me what I was to say in my confession and that if I did not, then serious injury or worse, someone I care about a lot could be killed.
“I dwelled on it for a couple of days and then went into the police station and saw Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis. When I was interviewed regarding Doreen Middlemiss late last year (1999) it was a video interview. I had to do a second video interview because what I had stated to Kallum Croudis in the first one was not what they wanted to hear – it was not what I was told to say.
“Croudis, in my opinion, knew what I was supposed to say because when I said anything he, Croudis, was not happy with my first statement and made me make a second one stating what I had been told to say.
“I have known Milton Weir over a period of four years. Over this period I have been subject to much harrassment, threats and violence by Milton Weir and other police. I live in fear of Milton Weir and some of his friends in the police, even to this day. Milton Weir used to visit me at my address regularly. He would just arrive unannounced. If I was in bed he would hop into bed with me and force me to have sex with him.
“He raped me on a number of occasions and told me that if I did not do what he wanted he would rape [name deleted] who boarded with me. [Name deleted] is the daughter of my friend Sue Sutton.
“I at no stage consented to his advances but I feared for [name deleted’s] safety and believed and still believe to this day that Weir would have abused her had I not allowed him to have sex with me. By allowed, I don’t mean willingly. Intercourse took place on a number of occasions and I can say that he hurt me when this occurred. On these occasions he would also help himself to money after having demanded money from me.
“Over four years, Milton Weir has pinched a number of wallets out of my bag...I would estimate between two to three, maybe four thousand dollars.”
As well as rape, extortion and theft, Blondell alleges Weir enticed one of Blondell’s co-workers at the rest home, Murray Childs, to attack her when he found out Blondell was talking to outsiders.
“When I was beaten up with a baseball bat in 1999...it was Murray Childs who beat me up with the baseball bat which resulted in my having to stay in hospital for a period. As Murray Childs was assaulting me he made the comment to me that I was getting the beating because I had upset Milton Weir.
“The words used were ‘You didn’t listen to Milton – this is from Milton’.”
Blondell also alleges that on one occasion when she couldn’t pay the head scene detective on the Bain murders $500 in extortion monies, he rang her to say she’d be sorry and there “would be repercussions”. The following day her car was stolen – witnesses reported seeing a CIB car parked nearby at the time – and left in the raging surf at St Clair beach, with the word “murderer” graffitied on the side.
So Blondell’s “confession” to the attempted murder of Doreen Middlemiss, resulting in a four year jail sentence, was the culmination of police bullying and attempts to pervert the course of justice.
Murray Childs, who’d already shown himself as one of Milton Weir’s enforcers, then shot dead Blondell’s former partner Alec Rogers, who Blondell had hired to help protect her. Childs then implicated Blondell, who was jailed as a co-conspirator in the murder and sentenced to life. Another crime she says she didn’t commit.
Blondell’s statement confirms that videotapes of Milton Weir and other police gang raping a woman do exist, and Blondell concludes her statement:
“I was forced into confessing to the murder of Doreen Middlemiss by Milton Weir. I fear for my safety even though I am in prison as Milton Weir and Kallum Croudis and other police can arrange things to happen. I genuinely fear for my safety when they find out I have made this statement to you. I fear for my life and that of Sue Sutton and her daughter.
“You need to be talking to Murray Childs. If you can get him to talk you will get most of your answers and evidence against the police who have been criminally offending, but if Childs speaks he will be killed. That is why I don’t think he will talk to you.
“I have more to tell you but I have had enough for one day. I am exhausted.”
Now here’s the next political twist in this explosive police corruption scandal: Labour MP Tim Barnett was sitting with Joyce Blondell the whole time she was giving her statement. Barnett had been asked as an MP to help facilitate the urgent meeting with the prisoner, and listened to every word.
Labour cabinet minister Pete Hodgson, likewise, was briefed on the explosive nature of the revelations. Police Minister George Hawkins is recorded as telling Hodgson that the allegations are “groundless” and “old news”. For the Minister to make such a statement, he first had to obtain advice, and Hawkins’ advice would have come direct from Police National Headquarters – the same Police National Headquarters now claiming misconduct was limited to “a very few officers” and was nothing for the public to be concerned about.
Hodgson, meanwhile, appears to have been unconvinced. He wrote to Corrections Minister Matt Robson expressing concern about the safety of Joyce Blondell in prison, particularly because:
“Joyce Blondell has information that would be damaging to a number of Dunedin officers. The information has been described to me. If it exists, it is serious indeed.”
In reply to Pete Hodgson’s concerns, Corrections Minister Matt Robson sent in the elephants:
“My private secretary contacted the manager of Christchurch Women’s Prison last week...Prison management interviewed Ms [Blondell] who stated she is not concerned at all for her safety.”
No, she was probably freaking out that suddenly prison bosses knew she’d spoken up.
Robson did acknowledge a key point:
“This inmate has alleged she has knowledge of a videotape which demonstrates serious misconduct by members of Dunedin Police. You may wish to follow up this matter with the Minister of Police directly.”
Indeed. So where was the government-ordered inquiry into police corruption back in 2000? It didn’t happen. Labour has known about these allegations for seven years, but nothing has been done. A woman continues to languish in jail for crimes she probably did not commit, whilst allegations of police corruption far exceeding the Louise Nicholas case go uninvestigated.
Perhaps a clue as to how corrupt the New Zealand Police are can be found in our interview with former Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis.
“Just as an aside to show you how the police work, when I was going around NZ doing the book tour [in 1998], I ended up in Christchurch in a little bar in Merivale, and [Superintendent Paul] Fitzharris who was then the head of the South Island police district asked me to join him at his table. I said no thanks, so then he came over to me and said, ‘Look, I’ll just give you a bit of information. You are not going to have your book reprinted, you will not get any more publicity after this week on your book. It’s virtually sold out now and that’s going to be the end of it. And there will not be a reprint, even though it has sold. You can believe me or not believe me, but that’s what’s going to happen.’
“And that’s exactly what did happen. My book editor at the publishing company resigned in disgust over it. And the funny thing is many of the copies of my book were actually bought by the police department!”
For a book that sold a bestselling 10,000 copies, there are remarkably few copies of Cover-ups & Cop-outs in public circulation. It was never reprinted.
Investigate has been shown the names and specific allegations about a large number of current and former police officers alleged to have been involved in multiple rapes, drug deals, extortion, perversion of the course of justice, sexual misconduct, abuse of power, bringing the police into disrepute, abduction and kidnapping, fraud and a range of other crimes. Multiple police districts and National Headquarters are involved. There is far, far more than we have published in this major investigation.
Investigate understands that the people who compiled the list will only provide it if a fully independent Royal Commission of Inquiry is established into the performance of the New Zealand Police, with wide terms of reference and full powers to subpoena, compel and take evidence on oath. Our contacts do not believe the police have sufficient integrity to investigate these allegations against senior officers, and no other independent law enforcement agency exists capable of investigating the police.
If the matters had been solely historic in nature, we would have chosen not to publish. But we have obtained extensive evidence, not published as part of this report, of alleged serious criminal offending by Dunedin police officers right up to the present moment.
Additionally, some of the people involved historically remain highly placed in the police.
One final point, in court testimony a former police inspector has confirmed that the police bond is “a brotherhood” that transcends the end of the job and continues “your whole life”. Police officers who testify against their mates are said to have broken “the brotherhood”. Therefore, investigators trying to break through this “brotherhood” will be up against officers who may be prepared to lie on oath to support those accused. Investigate has been told that it is common practice amongst “bent officers” to keep a notebook listing any indiscretions of their colleagues they may become aware of, so that if the need ever arises the colleague can be blackmailed into toeing the line. Investigate understands those blackmail lists may include the names of judges and other prominent people who have visited prostitutes – it has been suggested compromised judges deliver the verdicts that their blackmailers require.
Any Royal Commission of Inquiry will need to be able to invite submissions from former police or the public, and should be able to provide immunity from prosecution to those officers willing to testify where it can be shown their own role in criminality or breach of procedure has been minor. This would prevent the criminal element within the police from exercising their blackmail “card”.
Submissions should also be invited from the criminal fraternity and prisoners – especially as the police have had no qualms about using prisoners as secret witnesses in high profile trials for years.
Because of the allegations that the Labour government has been implicated in covering-up the real extent of police corruption, decisions on immunity should not be made by the Attorney-General but by a panel of retired High Court judges untarnished by political links. Any attempt to skew either the Royal Commission or the judges panel with compromised appointees will be uncovered by Investigate magazine, if it happens.
This is not the first time a media organisation has called for a full Royal Commission – back on October 2, 1985, the national Catholic newspaper The Tablet called for just such a Commission in the wake of the Dunedin sex scandal. The Labour government refused.
Investigate has absolutely no doubt that the corruption uncovered here is of a scale similar to that afflicting the New South Wales and Queensland police forces in times past, and that New Zealanders cannot regain confidence in law enforcement until the rot has been cleared out.
For obvious legal reasons, and also because lives have been threatened already, Investigate has chosen not to seek advance comment from any of those police officers named in this article. The magazine has, however, corroborated allegations and assembled similar fact evidence that we have not published.
Finally, some may ask why Investigate has chosen to release the names of the women making the statements about Milton Weir, given the extreme fear they have for their lives.
The answer is very simple: in our experience of extortion and death threats, sunlight is the best disinfectant. For more than a decade, some of these people have lived in fear of retribution if they ever spoke up. Now that they have been named publicly, the entire country is aware of their plight.
Additionally, with the Beehive instituting clumsy inquiries about the women through both Police National Headquarters and the Corrections Department at a political level, their safety was compromised seven years ago. Investigate is, if anything, giving their evidence some much-needed context and ensuring that fresh questions are asked about Joyce Blondell’s convictions in the first instance.
Police National Headquarters, Dunedin police and other police regions need to know that a number of people now have copies of crucial documentation, and if anything happens to a witness – particularly one that documentation exists for but who we haven’t named – there will be, to use Milton Weir’s turn of phrase, “repercussions”.
To briefly recap the main points of this special report, the magazine alleges:
1. That current Police Commissioner Howard Broad had, and was watching, bestiality videos at his going away party from the Dunedin CIB at 19 Arawa St
2. That current Police Commissioner Howard Broad fondled junior staff whilst stationed at the Dunedin CIB
3. That Howard Broad, when he stated that only a “few” officers were involved in sexual misconduct, either knew or should have known of the extensive sexual misconduct in the Dunedin CIB
4. That Police National Headquarters, Dunedin Police and the Labour Government helped quash an investigation into a child sex, bondage and bestiality ring operating in Dunedin in 1984 run by the father of a police officer and attended by at least one Labour cabinet minister
5. That current Attorney-General Michael Cullen and the current Minister responsible for CYFS, David Benson-Pope, helped run damage control over the child sex, bondage and bestiality case in 1985
6. That current Labour coalition MPs Pete Hodgson, Tim Barnett, George Hawkins and Matt Robson were aware of major allegations of police misconduct from 2000 onwards, including the existence of videotapes of police rapes and bestiality involving police officers
7. That by failing to rein in police corruption brought to their attention in the eighties and again in 2000, the Labour government has permitted the culture of corruption to widen in that time, wrecking more lives
8. That former Wellington District Commander and current Police National Headquarters officer, Superintendent John Kelly indecently assaulted a number of women, including the daughter of a previous police commissioner
9. That Dunedin and Christchurch Police had arrangements to turn a blind eye to organised crime – including underage sex and drug dealing – in return for sexual favours from brothels
10. That police have maintained files on key politicians and public figures capable of being used to blackmail the government, judges, lobby groups and even police association members into supporting the status quo
11. That Dunedin police officers, former and current, have been involved in multiple rapes of junior female police staff, prostitutes and civilians, drug deals, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including falsifying charges
12. That several of the top officers in the David Bain case, including Milton Weir, were allegedly corrupt police officers
13. That the officer involved in the alleged rape of a court worker, detailed in our last issue and cleared by Police National Headquarters last month, is also a corrupt officer
14. That the culture of police corruption, far from being localised to the Bay of Plenty or historic, extends to a large number of jurisdictions because of staff movements, and continues to the present day
15. That the only way to weed the bad cops out of the force is a Royal Commission, because the Old Boys Network within the police is currently looking after its own interests and bringing discredit to the many hardworking honest police who do not have the institutional power to bring change
August 03, 2007
The Rise of the Neo-Coms
RISE OF THE NEO-COMS
The Socialists Are Back
New Zealand’s new communists wear designer jeans, frequent Ponsonby and Thorndon, are hypocrites-extraordinaire, and have far more influence than Karl Marx ever fantasised. IAN WISHART discovers the links between radical socialism and radical Islam in New Zealand
A major investigative article in this magazine exposing radical Islam’s growing stranglehold on New Zealand mosques has flushed out an unlikely bunch of bedfellows, and the return of some old favourites. As you will have seen in this month’s Letters pages, more than 150 people have now signed a hate-letter to Investigate for daring to delve into visits by Islamic terror-fundraisers to New Zealand...
But the letter is surprising for one big reason: the huge number of socialists and local “moderate” Muslims prepared to condone the most extreme form of Islamofascism: the Wahhabi Salafist strain followed by the al Qa’ida terror group.
Here’s what the signatories wrote in a preface to their letter published on the Scoop website:
“The March 2007 edition of Investigate magazine carried a lengthy article by Ian Wishart which claimed that the New Zealand Muslim community is being infected by ‘Islamic extremism’. Mr Wishart's 18-page rant is New Zealand's first full-on example of Islamophobic gutter journalism,’ said Grant Morgan, organiser of RAM Residents Action Movement.
"The most basic fact is that nobody in the New Zealand Muslim community has ever been charged with any act of 'terrorism', let alone convicted. That puts the lie to his propaganda of fear, suspicion and hate."
Morgan deliberately overlooks the Saudi men discovered in Hamilton trying to photocopy flight manuals for Boeing 757 jetliners – the same aircraft that were used in the 9/11 attacks just a few months later. Morgan also ignores the discovery that a roommate of the 9/11 hijackers at the time was later found living in New Zealand. Morgan ignores the plans for Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor found in an Auckland house used by former members of the Afghan mujihadeen.
Most of all however, Morgan and the 160 or so “useful idiots” who signed his letter deliberately ignore that the local Muslim community have been inviting Islamic clerics with documented links to terrorism, to come to New Zealand and run youth camps and lectures.
Morgan’s letter talks of “our Muslim community” and “peaceful Muslims”, yet those same people invited guests here whose published literature, DVDs and comments include such gems as:
• “The clash of civilisations is a reality. Western culture ...is an enemy of Islam.” – Bilal Philips • “We know the Prophet Muhammed practiced it [marrying a 9 year old girl], it wasn’t abuse or exploitation” – Bilal Philips • “There is no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend” – Khalid Yasin • “This whole delusion of the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness...there’s no such thing” – Khalid Yasin • “If you prefer the clothing of the [infidels] over the clothing of the Muslims, most of those names that’s on most of those clothings [sic] is faggots, homosexuals and lesbians” – Khalid Yasin • “Tried, convicted...punishable by death” – Khalid Yasin on the penalty for being gay • “Are you ready to die?” – essay by Siraj Wahhaj on jihad martyrdom • “The blessing of death” – essay by Siraj Wahhaj on the need for jihad • “The easy way to Paradise – how to get there” – essay by Siraj Wahhaj on the benefits of becoming an Islamic jihadi • “Kill Jews and worshippers of the Cross...as well as Hindus” – book worked on by Yahya Ibrahim • “Islam is a religion of peace” – Siraj Wahhaj talking to Western reporters
On the strength of those claims, all documented in our March article (now available online) from firebrand Wahhabi fanatics who’ve been teaching New Zealand Muslims for at least seven years, Investigate can only conclude that the list of signatories to Grant Morgan’s letter not only endorse such Islamic hatespeech, they also welcome it in New Zealand and believe local “peaceful” Muslims should bring more of these preachers out here.
In their letter, the signatories accuse Investigate of suggesting “that all Muslims adhere to the same ideas, and from this absurd generalisation he attempts to link peaceful Muslims to violent extremists.”
Investigate did not have to “attempt” to link anything: local peaceful Muslims invited the scum of Islam to New Zealand for lecture tours every year, while encouraging followers to read their books and watch their DVDs.
Are the invited guests “violent extremists”? Some were conspirators in terror plots to blow up New York landmarks. Others frequently talk of a coming battle between Islam and the West:
“It is abundantly clear that the big battle is inevitably coming,” said invited guest Yahya Ibrahim, “and that the Word of Tawheed (Islam) will be victorious without a doubt.”
Siraj Wahhaj told journalists that America and the West “will be crushed” unless they “accept the Islamic agenda”.
But no, the fact that men with opinions like these are the star attraction in peaceful New Zealand mosques is merely – according to Morgan in a Three-Wise-Monkeys impersonation – an attempt at “negative transference”.
Morgan wants “all New Zealand communities, including our Muslim sisters and brothers, to unite for peace,” but it seems that could be difficult if local Muslims take the advice of the hate preachers listed above.
According to the signatories, they are ordinary New Zealanders extending the hand of friendship to local Muslims and fighting Islamophobia on their behalf. But as you’re about to discover, many of the signatories are far from ordinary, and the groups they affiliate with are linked to support of extremist Islam in Britain as well. They are, in fact, a 21st century manifestation of an old Western foe – Soviet-style communism.
In a stunning display of dishonest hypocrisy and chutzpah, the Neo-Coms last year shot their mouths off about the Exclusive Brethren failing to list their religion on an election pamphlet, yet as you’ll see from the letter to Investigate, few of the most interesting signatories to us told anywhere near the full truth about who they are and what they represent.
Of the 163 signatures listed randomly in the letter, only two – Vaughan Gunson and Warren Brewer, declared themselves openly to be socialists. But an Investigate inquiry, coupled with revelations posted on Act party member Trevor Loudon’s blog, has shown a full 40 – at minimum, are socialists or communists, with potentially a further 20 falling into those categories as well.
Why would organisations so vocal about the apparent failure of the Brethren to be open, themselves be involved in a much larger covert exercise to disguise the political organisations they represent behind a series of entities with misleading names?
Take Grant Morgan, for instance, who organised the hate-letter. Morgan lists himself merely as “the organiser of RAM, Residents Action Movement”, which gained nearly 10% of the vote at the last Auckland Regional Council election in 2004. RAM portrays itself as standing up for the rights of Auckland residents in fighting rates hikes and the like. It arguably should be forced to stand at this year’s local body elections under its real name: Socialist Worker. RAM, you see, is merely a front organisation for the New Zealand branch of the radical British communist organisation, Socialist Worker.
Robyn Hughes, listed as the second signatory to the hate-letter, is a RAM member elected to the ARC. She just happens to be Grant Morgan’s partner, although this point, like the socialist background of both of them, is deliberately not declared.
But if you think this article is going to be an earnest hunt for “Reds under the Beds”, forget it, this hunt is hilarious in what it discloses about Neo-Coms. Did you know, for instance, that they still talk like party apparatchiks from a bad Cold War spy movie?
“I joined Socialist Worker,” David Colyer told an international socialist paper three years ago, “in 1997, my first year of university. I’d been a Marxist, in theory, for several years before that. The comrades, none of whom were students of the university, encouraged me to help build a movement.”
Did he just use the word “Comrades” in 2004?
“We want to replace the Labour Party with a new mass workers’ party, one in which...Marxists participate fully,” Colyer continued, veering onto his plans for a “broad left” newspaper, “which will include contributions from Socialist Worker [and] may well become the most important vehicle for spreading socialist ideas...We are still going to need some kind of Socialist Worker publication, around which to organise a Marxist current within the workers’ movement.”
And you thought Communism’s wombles had given up the ghost with the collapse of the Berlin Wall? Apparently not. They fever away to this very moment plotting the “revolution”.
“Here in Aotearoa,” notes a recent post on Socialist Worker’s blogsite, unityaotearoa.blogspot.com, “there are a number of events to remobilise the Anti War Movement. This Saturday will be an Anti-Imperialist St Patricks Day.”
Internationally, some members of the socialist groups organising “peace” marches have taken to wearing tinfoil hats in the hope of avoiding CIA “mindscans”. The CIA, however, takes the much simpler route of reading their online posts, some of which will have you rolling on the floor in hoots of laughter.
“If more decisive measures on global warming aren’t taken,” panted communist ARC councilor Robyn Hughes breathlessly during an Auckland protest last November, “Queen St may be under water in a generation...and then we will be swimming, not obeying road rules.”
Oh really? Even in Al Gore’s rib-tickling Inconvenient Truth it isn’t suggested that sea levels will rise by 3 to 4 metres in 25 years. Or even a hundred years. Sixty centimetres, at most, 10 centimetres more likely.
Regardless of how you rate their chances, the tinfoil hat brigade are still intent on world domination, however, with Peter Boyle – the editor of socialist magazine Links - citing “a new climate of collaboration in the international left. This is a project involving the left from the Communist Party, the Trotskyist, Maoist, ex-Social Democratic, independent left and liberation theology (‘Christian’ Marxism) traditions.”
A guest speaker at these international communist gatherings is New Zealand’s own Matt McCarten, the telegenic former advisor to the Alliance and Maori parties who’s now behind Socialist Worker and its plans to introduce a new hard left political party before the next election.
As Trevor Loudon notes:
“He began building a movement called the Workers Charter Movement, as the basis for a new mass-based political movement. The WCM was based around the Socialist Workers Organisation (and its front, the Residents Action Movement), elements of the Greens and Maori Party, the ‘Unite’ trade union, the late Bill Andersen’s Socialist Party of Aotearoa, and John Minto and Mike Treen’s Global Peace and Justice Aotearoa.”
The activities of the “comrades” wouldn’t normally be an issue, except for the fact that they have friends in high places.
Prime Minister Helen Clark, for example, has been a card-carrying member of Socialist International for most of her political career, and was a keynote speaker at Socialist International’s world conference in Wellington seven years ago. The organisation’s website lists the NZ Prime Minister as a member of its ruling “Presidium”, in the capacity as “co-chair, Asia Pacific Committee”.
Clark has appointed other key socialists to commanding positions in New Zealand’s bureaucratic infrastructure. They include Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.
Of de Bres, Trevor Loudon records:
“While studying German at Auckland University (1965-68) de Bres became active in the Student Christian Movement. Like many Marxist groups, the SCM hid it's real emphasis behind an innocuous name. Far from being a bunch of clean cut spiritual seekers, the SCM was and is a "Christian-Marxist" organisation.
“ ‘I studied Marx, Engels and Lenin, Marcuse, Rosa Luxemburg, Frantz Fanon, and modern German writers of the revolutionary left. Students saw their hope for revolutionary change in an alliance with the working classes, through radicalised trade unions. They had nearly pulled it off in Paris in 1968,’ [said de Bres].”
De Bres, among many incarnations, once ran the CORSO ‘charity’, which was a front organisation for the Maoist Chinese brand of communism, and later joined some of his old CORSO colleagues in setting up OXFAM New Zealand.
“OXFAM NZ tends to focus its aid into countries that have active revolutionary movements,” writes Loudon. “This is not surprising as its staff, trustees and patrons include a significant proportion of socialists and Marxist-Leninists.”
It is de Bres’ Human Rights Commission, with Helen Clark, that is ramming through the “National Religious Diversity Statement” in time for a declaration at Waitangi on May 29 that New Zealand is no longer a Christian country, and that New Zealand is adopting as Government policy the highly controversial “Alliance of Civilisations” programme commanded by the United Nations.
Unlike those who value Western civilisation and its traditions based on Judeo-Christian laws and institutions, the “Alliance of Civilisations” project rules that all cultures, from Stone-Age and recently cannibalistic Papua New Guinea through to the US, are equal.
“There is no hierarchy among cultures, as each has contributed to the evolution of humanity.”
The Alliance of Civilisations, incidentally, was the brainchild of Turkey’s Islamic Party Prime Minister – whose party is currently at the centre of riots in Turkey over suspicions of a plot to turn the country into an Islamic state – and also the socialist Prime Minister of Spain, whose Socialist Workers party swept to power after the al Qa’ida Madrid bombings. Under his stewardship, Spain pulled out of Iraq and legalised gay marriage.
Unlikely bedfellows, the socialist and the Islamic conservative? Perhaps, but it reflects a fascinating development worldwide.
As the hate-letter to Investigate magazine reveals, a huge number of Neo-Coms are swinging in behind Muslim groups and individuals in a PR jihad against Investigate. But it is not just New Zealand. Socialist Worker’s sister parties in Britain and Australia are doing exactly the same thing:
“The Australian media, working hand in hand with the Howard government and the opposition Labor Party, has seized upon a sermon delivered last month by a Sydney-based Islamic cleric to escalate its hysterical campaign against Muslims,” begins one report earlier this year in a socialist publication across the ditch.
“Last Thursday, the Australian published translated excerpts from a sermon delivered by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali last month, in which the Muslim cleric appeared to blame rape victims for their plight. ‘She is the one wearing a short dress, lifting it up, lowering it down, then a look, then a smile, then a word, then a greeting, then a chat, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay Jail, then comes a merciless judge who gives you 65 years,’ he said. This was an apparent reference to the extraordinarily harsh sentence imposed on 20-year-old Bilal Skaf for gang rape convictions in Sydney six years ago.”
Pause for just a moment: the Socialist movement in Australia is describing the prison sentences handed down to a group of Lebanese men who gang-raped an Australian girl just because she was an “infidel” as “extraordinarily harsh”?
Nice to know where the tinfoil socialists really stand on women’s rights.
“There is now an inescapable necessity for all those opposed to militarism and war, and committed to the defence of democratic rights, to develop an independent political opposition to the xenophobic campaign being directed against Muslims,” the report continued.
And from Socialist Worker’s New Zealand blog:
“Even amongst revolutionary socialists, there is...Socialist Worker proudly on the side of Muslim people fighting Islamophobia in countries like Aotearoa and Britain.”
In other words, if you think the hate-letter to Investigate is anything more than part of a worldwide political stunt, think again.
NZ Labour list candidate, Anjum Rahmun of the Islamic Women’s Council, told a rally in Auckland two years ago that Muslims need to wage jihad against “those in our society who will use race and religion to divide us.”
This is the same Anjum Rahmun who signed the hate-letter, but left off the bit about being a Labour list candidate. A bigger question though is why Rahmun is not urging her fellow local Muslims to wage jihad against their guests Yahya Ibrahim, Khalid Yasin, Bilal Philips and Siraj Wahhaj for commanding that Muslims cannot be friendly with non-Muslims. If that jihad notice went out from the local “peaceful” mosques, Investigate missed it.
It is hard to work out which group is playing the role of “Useful Idiots” – the puppet of the other. Is radical Wahhabi Islam using atheistic socialists to help get a toehold in New Zealand? Or are the socialists simply taking gullible Muslims for a ride as part of their own schemes? The evidence strongly suggests the latter.
The Alliance of Civilisations document, for example, is 90% socialist ideology, and continues the aim originally spelt out by Karl Marx of abolishing national borders as part of a unified world, and encouraging greater immigration from the third world to the first.
“The solution is not to build walls around nations,” says the report. “Migrants make important contributions...Indeed, Muslim immigrants to the US, on average, have higher levels of education and are more affluent than non-Muslim Americans.
“Political, civil society and religious leadership in the West can help set the tone within which debates regarding immigration take place by speaking forcefully and publicly in defense of the rights of immigrants.
“American and European universities and research centres...should promote publications coming from the Muslim world on a range of subjects related to Islam and the Muslim world.”
The Alliance of Civilisations report, whilst stopping short of recommending outright censorship of the news, nonetheless recommends that sympathetic media outlets be identified to promote the goals of greater immigration and integration, and be encouraged to produce good-news stories about Islam whilst downplaying the negative.
“The Alliance of Civilisations should take advantage of major media, cultural and sports events for the promotion of its objectives.”
The report, due to be adopted by the New Zealand Government later this month, is a public propaganda campaign almost without precedent outside Nazi Germany. David Benson-Pope’s Ministry of Social Development is working on it, and a briefing document released this month explains some of it:
“The Waitangi Dialogue will focus on the broad themes of peace, development, security and education, and aims to develop a plan of action with proposals for practical projects in these areas. The overall emphasis of the Waitangi meeting will be on developing relations – or building bridges – between faith communities.
“High Level Symposium on the Alliance of Civilisations Report: Auckland, New Zealand, 24 May 2007 The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, with co-sponsorship by the government of Norway, will host a high level symposium in Auckland on 24 May 2007 to discuss the report of the Alliance of Civilisations High Level Group.
“Prime Minister Clark wishes to ensure that the report receives full consideration including in the Asia-Pacific region. The symposium, which will be by invitation only, will bring together a small group of leaders, community representatives and experts to discuss the implications of the report for the region. Norway’s involvement will bring to the event the benefit of its considerable expertise as a leader in peace and reconciliation processes.”
As the letter-writer to Investigate put it:
“Basically the Alliance of Civilisations is a UN strategy whereby the secularism of the West can accommodate Islam peacefully - the focus appears to be on reconciliation of secularism with Islam with isolation of evangelicalism. Helen Clark has recently stated that NZ is no longer a Christian country. - meaning that Evangelical Christianity no longer has a place in NZ. It will be interesting to see who attends (‘by invitation only’) the coming meetings in NZ on the AoC, which Helen states she is going to personally facilitate, and who is not going to be invited - this may tell a story in itself.”
Which brings us back to the Socialists and Muslims’ Letter of Hate. Suddenly, with the revelation that die-hard tinfoil-hat wearing communists are using Muslims as “useful idiots”, the socialist-inspired Alliance of Civilisations document starts to make sense, especially with Helen Clark listed as the Asia-Pacific chair of Socialist International on their website, www.socialistinternational.org, in its report of the 2004 Socialist International World Council meeting held in Madrid that February.
“New Zealand is hosting the first symposium on the Alliance of Civilisations’ report in the Asia-Pacific region next month,” Clark said in an April 2007 speech in Valencia attended by the Spanish Prime Minister.
“It will be followed by a meeting in our country of the regional interfaith dialogue which brings together multi- faith delegations from South East Asian and South Pacific nations.
“The Asia Pacific region is at the intersection of many of the world’s great faiths. Peace and security in our region, as throughout the world, are dependent on us breaking down the artificial barriers we human beings have built between ourselves, so that we can celebrate our common humanity.
“We applaud Spain, together with Turkey, co-sponsoring the Alliance of Civilisations initiative at the United Nations. That has led to an important report on how to overcome the distressing polarisation we have seen between the Western and Islamic worlds...I believe that New Zealand’s close involvement in the affairs of the Asia Pacific make us of much greater interest to Spain at this time.”
Little wonder then, that New Zealand socialists are moving swiftly to try and prevent Investigate’s revelations from gaining wider traction or interfering with the implementation of the Alliance of Civilisations here.
Independent media, like Investigate, who dare to expose the arrival of extremist Wahhabism in New Zealand are targeted in the hope we’ll be intimidated into backing away from publishing further details.
But don’t expect other local media to report this. Socialist groups have also managed to buy the silence of most of the New Zealand news media, by offering inducements via the Media Peace Awards. The awards were set up in 1984, at the height of anti-nuclear protests worldwide, with the aim of encouraging reporting favourable to Peace Foundation causes. The Peace Foundation is another socialist front agency (see sidebar story). For the record, Investigate magazine has never entered them, but regular entries are received each year from:
North & South
North & South’s Jenny Chamberlain took the premier award in 2006. A year earlier it was her editor Robyn Langwell. The year before that it was North & South again, with both Metro and the Listener “highly commended”.
This is not to say that winners and finalists have not done good work, but as with any “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement it is journalistically ethically questionable whether any media should take part in a Media Peace Awards requiring them to give favourable coverage to a particular socio-political view. For example, would Investigate’s expose on Wahhabi Islam win a prize?
Journalism should only be judged on its news value, not its propaganda value. The obvious answer shows how the media can be bought and paid for with a few crumbs and a pat on the head.
The Media Peace Awards encourage slanted reporting. If you see a media outlet crowing about winning a Media Peace Award, you can judge their journalistic credibility for yourself.
Indeed, the close relationship between the Peace Foundation and NZ media may explain why neither TV3 nor TVNZ picked up the rights to the internationally acclaimed Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on radical Islam infiltrating British mosques this year. The documentary features many of the same people in the Investigate article, but it is arguably possible that neither TV channel wants to mess up its chances of winning a “peace” award by screening it.
The Peace Foundation, thanks to its close links with Labour, is also responsible for Ministry of Education policy on “peace studies”:
“From the outset,” records the Foundation’s website, “the Foundation concentrated on providing resources and stimulus for peace education in educational institutions, as well as servicing community groups. It also acted as a catalyst for the formation and/or maintenance of a number of groups including Students and Teachers Educating for Peace (STEP), Media Aware and the World Court Project. It also participated in a series of conferences arranged by Russell Marshall, during his term as Minister of Education from 1987-1990, and made a major contribution to the development of the Peace Studies Guidelines for schools.”
“In collaboration with the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), and in consultation with the Curriculum Development Unit of the former Department of Education, the Foundation published a resource book for teachers at the primary/intermediate level entitled Learning Peaceful Relationships. This has become almost a standard resource and some 12,000 copies have been sold both in New Zealand and overseas.
“In 1989 the Foundation produced a pamphlet to provide all Boards of Trustee members with specific information about the implementation of peace education, when the School Charters were being drawn up. In 2000 the Foundation published Thanks not Spanks, a book designed to give parents and caregivers ideas on how to raise children with out resorting to violence.”
Peace Foundation director Marion Hancock is one of those who signed the letter against Investigate.
But perhaps the final word as to the credibility of Grant Morgan’s list should go to some of the signatories themselves. When we first received the letter via email, we doubted that Morgan had either properly obtained all the signatures or properly set out Investigate’s case when seeking comment.
Morgan refused to provide a copy of the email he had sent to prospective signatories, so we decided to ring a few signatories at random. Rosemary Arnoux, a lecturer in French at Auckland University, admitted in a hilarious phone exchange (www.investigatemagazine.com/rosemary.mp3) that she had not even read the Investigate article she was “complaining” about, until after we’d queried Morgan’s bona fides.
INVESTIGATE: I’m just double checking that you have in fact seen it?
ARNOUX: What, your article? I scanned it rapidly on my computer this morning.
INVESTIGATE: You scanned it rapidly –
ARNOUX: [interrupting] I read it fast, very fast!
INVESTIGATE: You read it –
ARNOUX: [interrupting] Oh look! [click, hangs up]
Another was Mua Strickson-Pua, who told Investigate he actually quite liked the article, but needed to be staunch.
“I had a quick browse through. Ian, I felt it wasn’t too bad, I felt it was middle of the road, but I thought I would get in behind in terms of the people who had their concerns. I said I was happy to be a co-signatory, but at the same time I thought your article wasn’t too bad!”
A similar sentiment was echoed by Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, who said he had to take a public stand regardless of what he privately thought.
“If I was you I’d probably do it the same, but I’m not doing that I’m being the mayor of a city and I actually care about some harmony before bloody car bombs start going off in Henderson.”
Quite. But if local Muslims keep mixing with al Qa’ida terror fundraisers and local communists spoiling to “bring on the revolution”, Harvey may not get his wish.
July 23, 2007
Camille Paglia, defender of the West: June 07 issue
Rod Dreher discovers feminist icon Camille Paglia channeling ‘Eve’s Bite’
“That's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy. I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West...We could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire" – Camille Paglia
If you ask me, it's a pity the cigar-smoking Bohemian Tory and the self-described "feminist bisexual maniac" never met. I think the late Russell Kirk and Camille Paglia would have hit it off at least as well as Pope Benedict XVI and the irrepressible Italian atheist Oriana Fallaci did in the months before she died. Here's why:
Dr. Kirk, the traditionalist man of letters widely considered the godfather of modern American conservatism, believed that the great task of contemporary conservatives was not any of the goals likely to appear on Republican campaign literature. He knew that culture was more important than politics and considered poets to be, in Shelley's phrase, "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Because of this, Dr. Kirk taught that reviving the "moral imagination" - meaning re-engagement with the art and literature of the West's cultural patrimony - in the face of the disaster of modernity, was vital to saving our civilization.
Dr. Paglia, a professor at Philadelphia's University of the Arts who made her name in 1990 with the publication of "Sexual Personae," is no conservative - in fact, she's an atheist libertarian Democrat who extols the virtues of pagan sexuality. But she's downright Kirkian in her contempt for the egalitarian instinct and in her roaring disgust at modernity's disinterest in, or even contempt for, Western tradition.
And she holds her own tribe - American humanities professors - chiefly responsible.
"I remain concerned about the compulsive denigration of the West and the reductiveness so many leading academics in the humanities have toward their own tradition," she tells me. "They reduce it all to the lowest common denominator of racism, imperialism, sexism and homophobia. That's an extremely small-minded way of looking at culture and a betrayal of the career mission of these educators, whose job is to educate students in our culture."
Dr. Paglia, one of three judges for this year's Hiett Prize, has been saying that for a while now, which is one reason that conservatives love her. If modernity is, as one traditionalist conservative writer put it, a "perversion of the responsibility of stewardship," then Dr. Paglia, by championing Western culture against the sophisticated barbarians inside the academy, counts as a convicted anti-modernist.
But that wouldn't be quite right; she's a passionate partisan of modernist giants like Picasso, as well as low-culture rock `n' roll Dionysiacs. What galls Dr. Paglia is that the politics of leveling - affirming or denying greatness according to therapeutic political standards - is compromising scholarship.
This is not just an academic dispute. If students don't learn the Western canon, they will remain rootless, ignorant and alienated. They will fail to grasp what makes the West unique - and why it should be cherished, conserved and defended. "Sexual Personae" was a tour de force of cultural criticism, arguing that the genius of the West came from the irreconcilable conflict between classical paganism and Judeo-Christian religion.
The decline of religion in Europe frightens this stalwart atheist. "The Europeans have become very passive, all of them," she says. "There's a fatigued worldliness typical of Europe right now, and that's why nothing very interesting artistically is coming out of there."
Can you have a vibrant culture without cult? Traditionalist conservatives say no. Dr. Paglia is inclined to agree - and says that our lazy secularism and superficial religiosity puts America at risk of succumbing to acedia, the Greek term for spiritual slothfulness. She is shocked to discover how few of her college students grasp basic biblical concepts, characters and motifs that were commonly understood one or two generations ago. This stunning loss of cultural memory renders most Western art, poetry and literature opaque.
"The only people I'm getting at my school who recognize the Bible are African-Americans," she says. "And the lower the social class of the white person, the more likely they recognize the Bible. Most of these white kids, if they go to church at all, they get feel-good social activism."
What are they left with? "Video games, the Web, cellphones, iPods - that's what's left," Dr. Paglia laments. "And that's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy. I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West."
Our cultural crisis is precisely that serious, says Dr. Paglia, who believes - as does Pope Benedict, one of the most cultured men on the planet - that we could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire.
"If the elite class sees nothing in the West to defend, we're reproducing this situation of the late Roman Empire, which was very cosmopolitan and very tolerant, but which was undone by forces from within," she says.
What are those who want to conserve the traditional Western humanities as a refuge from cultural barbarism supposed to do? Says Dr. Paglia, emphatically: "It's up to people to educate themselves."
In this light, it's not a stretch to think of the Dallas Institute for the Humanities as a sort of secular monastery. Like the European monks of old, the scholars and teachers at the Dallas Institute are keeping the light of Western humanist tradition burning in a new Dark Age. We need more institutions like this in days to come. Friends of what the poet T.S. Eliot (and later, his friend Dr. Kirk) called "the Permanent Things" are going to need intellectual sanctuary.
July 05, 2007
Dunedin Police Corruption Part 1
June 16, 2007
Radical 'moderates' squash real moderates: Jun 07
Documentarians battle America’s PBS TV to get Islam film on the air, reports Karoun Demirjian
The film features grainy footage and dramatic music, presenting itself as a stark look at the way fundamentalist Muslims in America and Europe crush dissent by their more moderate co-religionists.But the very production of “Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center” has highlighted sharply different views about the state of Islam in the United States and showcased how intensely sensitive that subject remains.
PBS, which commissioned the project, is delaying airing the film after protests that it is anti-Muslim. Now its creators are launching a public campaign against PBS to get it shown.
The hourlong documentary is one of 22 episodes funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for PBS’ “America at a Crossroads” series, which examines post-Sept. 11 subjects such as terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience of American troops overseas and global perspectives on U.S. foreign policy.
“Islam vs. Islamists” follows the efforts of socially liberal Muslims in America and Europe to reclaim their religion from political extremism by speaking out against ultra-conservative imams in a sort of modern-day Muslim reformation.
But the film never made it into the initial lineup of 11 shows that aired recently. A film about widespread discrimination against Muslims, “The Muslim Americans,” did air as part of the series.
The producers and subjects of the “Islam vs. Islamists” film, who began to show it in private screenings last month, say that PBS began to demand what the producers saw as unrealistic editorial changes after the series’ advisers, acting on criticism from such Muslim groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Nation of Islam, claimed the documentary unfairly portrayed Muslim religious leaders. They say their experience with PBS proves the point of their film: that moderate Muslims have no platform from which to criticize extremists in their own religion.
“I can’t see what they object to, except that they don’t want to see the true plight against modern-day Muslims,” says Hedieh Mirahmadi, a representative of a moderate imam who spoke at a screening in Washington that was organized by the film’s producers. “Not being able to see the political reality means that it may come to root in a very dangerous way.”
Mirahmadi argues, for example, that the Saudi-based Wahhabist movement, a fundamentalist form of Islam, has spread across the U.S.
Mary Stewart, a spokeswoman for WETA, the PBS station in Washington, and executive producer for the Crossroads series, said in a phone interview that even though the film hadn’t made the cut for the first 11 parts that were broadcast, it would be aired as soon as PBS feels that it has been satisfactorily edited.
“It is a film with a lot of promise,” she said. “But every film that comes through PBS goes through editorial standards. They have received notes on what editorial changes would need to be made to bring it up to standards for PBS.”Producers and hosts of the Crossroads series have publicly accused the production team for “Islam vs. Islamists” of showing an editorial slant by being overly alarmist and demonizing imams.But defenders of the documentary say it merely portrays, in realistic terms, the divisions within the Islamic community in the West.
The Muslims portrayed in the movie - including Naser Khader, the Danish parliamentarian who spoke out against Imam Ahmed Abu Laban and others leading the riots over last year’s cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad - say that PBS does not want to consider Western Muslims as a variegated group.
“In my opinion, we don’t have a crisis of civilizations, we have just one clash,” Khader says. “It is in Muslim society, between Islamists and those who say `yes’ to democracy and modernity.”
Speaking for the film’s production team, Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington national security think tank, insists that the film is finished and says PBS’ refusal to budge on editorial demands meant that the film’s relationship with the network was finished too. “They’re insisting on structural changes that would essentially eviscerate the message of the film,” he says.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided $675,000 for the production of “Islam vs. Islamists,” nearly all federal funds. Some members of Congress saw the film at a showing late April. A Corporation for Public Broadcasting spokesman said it is committed to finding a way to publicly show the film.