Isn’t it disappointing that it’s only now he’s out of office that former Labour Minister of Education Trevor Mallard has realised the importance of One Law for All? "It would have been prison if they weren’t Maori," says Trevor of the decision by Justice Simon France not to jail the family who tortured and killed their niece Janet Moses.
I’m not entirely sure he’s right, however. When Pastor Luke Lee killed a parishioner in January 2000 for trying to rid her of some indeterminate Korean demons, he was jailed initially, true, but then released on appeal, citing “the freedom of religion.” [Story here at the Canterbury Atheist.]
It’s true that the “makutu” defence on which Justice France let them off has been used – and accepted – before, despite Dr Ranginui Walker insisting in 1997 that makutu is now a “non-issue” in Maoridom, and warning that the justice system had to be very wary of what he called the “cultural re- invention” of “makutu."
That warning came after a man was found not guilty by Justice Morris of pushing a crucifix up a young woman’s nose and into her brain – not guilty, said Morris, because he “accepted unreservedly” that the man thought he was under a Maori curse at the time.
And what did former Minister of Education Mallard, or any of his colleagues, say at the time about this rampant Political Correctness in the courtroom? To paraphrase Lindsay Perigo, “Absolutely zilch, zero, nothing. They were too busy advocating it for the classroom!”
As my colleague Robert White said as the time, if he (White) was Attorney General then he would have seen to it that Justice Morris would have swiftly become Inmate Morris. Inmate France would certainly deserve to join him. And frankly, when we have witchdoctery used as an excuse for crime that’s bad enough, but when the learned gentleman of the Bench explicitly throw objectivity out the judicial window, then it’s time to take defensive action.
Absurdity is not a racial thing, it’s worldwide. The whole idea of exorcism itself was hardly a Maori invention – it was the invention of religious zealots eager to exercise their own inner demons.
As Voltaire observed three centuries ago, those who believe absurdities are apt to commit atrocities. He’s still right. It is not the job of the courts to debunk and to neuter the absurdities – that is the job of reason and sound philosophy. But it is the job of an objective court system to neuter those who do commit atrocities, whatever the reasons they commit them.
We urgently need to have objectivity brought back into the courts, back from the dustbin of judicial neglect.