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Punch-ups and hypocrisy

  • November 1st, 2007

How does Rodney keep his face straight as he deplores Mallard’s punch, and urges H Clark to show that “all violence is unacceptable”.

When I knew him his private language was full of violent idiom. He was always going to “smash” people. When he had dealt to them they were to be “dead”. 

Were his tights too tight? Is dancing anti-testosterone therapy. Because Rodney knows the current penchant for denunciation of violence, without discrimination on circumstance or intent, is pure hypocrisy. Even to our moral relativists in power violence is frequently “acceptable” (an earlier generation would have asked whether it was “justified”).

Our security and peace, domestically and internationally, depend on violence or the ability to do violence along with demonstrated readiness. There is no other purpose for the billion dollars per year we spend on our military.   Policing depends on willingness to use force. The only novel element in our current hypocritical consensus is the view that only the state should be permitted violence.

During the long golden years  of extraordinarily low crime rates in this country (which our forebears and those of us lucky enough to be growing up then thought normal) it would have been preposterous for the state to claim that monopoly.

Courts confronted with a punch up automatically asked “who started it?”, or “who was in the wrong?” The law and custom respected the knowledge that bullies would proliferate if others could not respond to their provocation. No one would have imagined a politician seriously suggesting that aggression could be dealt with lawfully only by the Police. There was a shrewd appreciation that there could never be enough Police for that task if ordinary people were not ’empowered’.

Books, films, comics and playground ethics reflected the shared duty to preserve civility. The necessity to distinguish between ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ honoured the  willingness of ordinary people to take their own steps to ensure that arrogance or thuggery or foul abuse did not pay.

The opposition should highlight the hypocrisy in H Clark’s position, but not by endorsing the stupidity of her credo. They’ve replaced the age old judicial question – “who is in the right” with an inquiry that needs no judge (a blind computer could do the job)  -“Was force used – did the defendant have a state licence to use force? If not – no excuses”.

An inspirational government would authorise and instruct judges to use judgment again. Justice would ask why the fight happened, not just whether it happened.


  • Lindsay
  • November 4th, 2007
  • 11:07 am

I have heard Rodney talk like that too. And I didn’t like it because I really don’t like violence – verbal or physical. But if there is anything a liberal will allow it is that people can change (or change back as the case may be). Yes, the opposition should ‘highlight’ the hypocrisy but that alone isn’t enough. You know that it won’t be reported or effective without some concrete action forcing the issue. And I don’t agree that laying a complaint with the speaker is ‘endorsing the stupidity of the credo’. It is making the govt defend the stupidity.

  • sfranks
  • November 4th, 2007
  • 1:27 pm

I agree that laying the complaint is not endorsing the hypocrisy. Indeed, what I’ve sen of the complaint letter was very well phrased.
What prompted this note was a clip of Rodney appearing to parrot uncritically the line that all violence is “unacceptable”.

I have an allergy to the “unacceptable” word anyway. Its so all encompassing but non-explanatory.

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