Let’s put a stop to this

IF oil distortA message* from the Police Commissioner

Most people will now be aware that a vicious gang has been targeting a number of vulnerable people in our community, ritually humiliating and degrading them in a brutal manner. We are now investigating the activities of these gang members to determine whether any criminal offences have been committed.

Let me make it very clear that we take a very dim view of this sort of activity. Some people may see it as a bit of fun, but the consequences can be devastating to the victims.

Members of this gang have been identifying themselves as “bloggers”. The activities of these bloggers appear to be nationwide, and we are deploying police resources all around the country to ensure we can properly investigate their movements.

We are investigating at least one alleged parody by one of these blogger gang members. We believe a number of other bloggers may be engaging in parody or satire, and that their activities may be encouraging others in their gang to get involved.

Now everyone likes a laugh from time to time, but policing is a serious business, and we can’t have people running about out there making a mockery of our institution. Where would it end?

So I wish to assure the public that we are moving quickly to put a stop to any fun being had at the expense of the New Zealand Police. Our officers are feeling hurt and vulnerable, and we owe it to them not to stand by and do nothing while people say things about them that they don’t like.

We fully support freedom of expression, at least in theory, but freedom of expression must have its limits. Those limits ought to be whatever we decide they are. Those of you of a liberal persuasion needn’t worry yourselves about any abuse of power on our part, because you can always trust your local copper to do the right thing.

That is why we are putting all of our considerable resources into an investigation into parody and satire, and we will be speaking to a number of persons of interest in respect of and pertaining to this matter, in order to determine what laws, if any, have been broken.

I reiterate that this is no laughing matter. The people responsible for the spread and use of parody and satire are doing terrible damage to our communities. They are making people question whether we are doing a good enough job, and this is causing senior police management stress and embarrassment. Our job is hard enough as it is without a bunch of civvies interfering with our operations.

Thanks to these activities my officers are being forced to publicly justify their actions, when they should instead be out there catching villains, like that fellow who recorded the Prime Minister’s conversation without his knowledge, and that fat German man. This outbreak of parody, satire, and generally irreverent behaviour is causing people to ask tricky questions about the conduct of our officers, which in turn is forcing us to take officers off the front line in order to make themselves available to answer media questions. But taking people off the front line makes it even harder for us to apprehend parodists and satirists, and so the cycle continues.

I have heard some people say that parody and satire are victimless crimes. But the real victims in all of this are the children. Their faith in the police is being slowly eroded, thanks to the efforts of some people who use humour, parody and satirical devices to make a point. When a bad man tries to steal your children, will they look for a policeman’s help? Or will they decide that the police are an oppressive instrument of authoritarian power, and conclude that they are better off taking their chances trying to escape on their own from that horrible sweaty man wearing a raincoat?

This is not about the police being afraid of scrutiny. On the contrary, our people welcome the scrutiny of fellow police officers, in the privacy of the police station, in a totally informal and off-the-record manner.

Too much prying into the activities of our officers can be damaging to staff morale. Justice Louis Brandeis famously said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. But the problem with disinfectant is that it can often leave quite a strong smell, and nobody in our office wants to work in an environment that smells like a recently-cleaned public toilet.

I have heard a lot of justifications for parody and satire, and I have to say that some of them leave me feeling sick to my stomach. Freedom of expression should never be used as an excuse for people to express themselves. If we let people say any old thing they like, they might end up saying things we don’t like, and I don’t like the sound of that at all.

But for now let me assure people that we are well underway with this investigation. We welcome any support the general public can provide, so if you are aware of anyone behaving with parodic intent or acting in a satirical or mildly humorous manner in connection with the police, please let us know.

Safer communities together!

* No, it’s not really from the Police Commissioner. It’s all a joke! Please don’t charge me. I have a wife and kids.

3 thoughts on “Let’s put a stop to this

  1. Dear Mr York

    On behalf of the whole Police Force, I want to assure you that we certainly do have a sense of humour and we will not be taking any action on this blog post. To show that there are no hard feelings, I have instructed your local police branch to post a permanent police officer outside your house, for your safety, of course.

    When you leave your wife and kids in the morning, the police officer will be there to give you a reassuring stare and a slow wave. He will also check in on your wife at her work and your children at school. You can rest easy knowing that he is keeping your wife and children safe. Indeed, he may be the only thing keeping your children safe, Mr York.

    Maybe this is something to think about when you are doing your next blog post.

    A message from the Police Commissioner

  2. You should take a good hard look at your own conduct and reconsider whether you should be making fun of the police’s conduct in respect of Martyn Bradbury’s hilarious and effective parody.

    Have you bothered to spare a thought for the children?

    It’s important that our youth have role models as they form their world views and attitudes, and as they seek to identify effective and appropriate behavior. If the police are mocked for their bullying, how are children to look up to and respect such conduct and best benefit from NZPolice’s role modeling of that behavior? Will you even feel any sense of shame if your mockery discourages so much as a single child from seeing this bullying behavior as appropriate?

    Do you also make fun of or disparage sport cheats, editors who are so committed to their pay check they will sanction and then attempt to cover up illegal phone hacking, banks who routinely violate the law by rigging benchmarks like libor or the currency market and other such role models in modern society, and governments who change the law every time it produces an outcome that doesn’t fit with their preferences? How are our youth supposed to benefit from such role models if people like you act in ways that imply such genres of conduct are undesirable, disreputable or even completely unacceptable?

    If the police cannot model bullying tactics to get their way, what then of the future of bullying in this country? Sure bullying will not go away if respected role models like the police and current government are mocked for such conduct, but surely even you can see that the ability to abuse ones power to bully others, free from negative or disparaging responses, is an important element in teaching our youth that bullying is an acceptable, nay admirable way to get your way?

    Will no one think of the children?

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