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Taking the law into your own hands

  • October 4th, 2008

Media are rightly celebrating the life of Austin Hemmings.

But I fear that we are making loud noises to drown worries, like the the worry that his death was meaningless, the worry that the evil abroad in our community is not matched by the forces against evil, the worry that evil will triumph when we no longer ensure that evil’s agents come off worse than its victims.

I’m prompted to this reflection by the contrast between the praise for Mr Hemmings, and the lack of interest in Varinder Singh. I want to know a lot more about Mr Singh’s case. I want to know why he is not already a media hero. I want to read interviews with bystanders. I want to know more than the standard police answers to queries.

I want to be reassured that the difference is not just that we prefer our heroes dead, or that our media value white heroes more than brown ones.

Mr Singh was one of the Otara liquor store owners whose defence of his store and his colleagues is now described by the police as a brawl.

Perhaps the evidence in court will show that he went too far beyond defending himself from the fate of others in his district this year.  Maybe he did the unthinkable and was trying to defend his property instead of his life.

But for an understanding of why the police are losing the battle in South Auckland look no further than Det Sgt Dave Pizzini’s explanation.

If Mr Pizzini had no alternative but to charge Mr Varinder Singh, he should have made it plain it was in sorrow, not sanctimony, and that it should not discourage others from trying to uphold the law.

Only in a police state can policing be left to the police. In free societies the police and innocent citizens have the same powers, and the same excuses – the difference being that the police do full time what ordinary citizens do when confronted with law-breaking (see my ealier posts here and here).

It is long past time for the police to bury that stupid phrase – ‘taking the law into your own hands’. In our own hands is where the law always was, and must be. It must be something all of us are willing to uphold. In this stretched out land there will never be enough police to protect the weak from the strong if the police are the only ones trying. The law can only prevail when those tempted to prey on the weak know that the weak have behind them not just the police, but an entire community.


  • mike mckee
  • October 4th, 2008
  • 3:37 pm

Thank you again Stephen for highlighting the police’s relationship to us the citizen.

i.e. the same but they do it 24/7.

I fear that our fellow citizens aren’t listening for some reason.

Where is your leader with this?

He missed a point of principle with the anti smacking amendment, it was and is HOT with the electorate as this will be.

  • Jim Maclean
  • October 4th, 2008
  • 11:18 pm

This case simply makes me angry. The immediate spin which turns a violent attack by an armed street thug into a reported “brawl” as if the brave shopkeeper and his family had entered the offenders home or workplace. The Police whose quarantine of the scene of an earlier shooting after the assassin had fled almost certainly resulted in the death of the proprietor and the sanctimonious comments of a police officer about how all one needs to do is ring 111 and the Police will “deal with it”! It is less than a month ago that a very capable undercover officer was brutally murdered before the armed backup officers only a block away were able to “deal with it”. The fiction that time will stand still while calls are made and police will mobilise, travel arrive and intervene can only be believed by someone divorced from reality.
I have no doubt that police officers have good reason to feel bitter that the courts regularly seem to ask the impossible of them and may feel that this unkind society should also feel some of the same scrutiny and legalistic pressure over their actions but it helps no one.
Anyone with a television set knows or should know that murders of innocents happen regularly now, even when (often particularly when) no resistance is offered. Large, strong capable and courageous people can lose their lives at the hand of small young innocent looking armed offenders and successive governments have completely ignored the communities often stated desire for strong sanctions against those caught.
Even a Judges comment castigating the police for charging the victim in an obviously justified shooting has been simply ignored by a police force incapable of applying a test of reasonableness. So much for the assurance given over the anti-smacking bill that police do have discretion in prosecution and concerns expressed that good parents would be charged (once the political heat dies down) were brushed aside as hysterical nonsense.
John Key needs to show unequivocally that a National government is prepared to adopt Stephen Franks commonsense proposals if he really wants to capitalise on the present public outrage. His flip flop on the anti-smacking bill was a poor start and the electorate has had enough of parties which talk a good game but renege on promises once in office.

  • David
  • October 5th, 2008
  • 3:59 am

Couldn’t agree more with the comments expressed here.

That dipstick Pizzini should be made to resign as he’s completely blown any chance the Police had of maybe making a prosecution stick!

They recently had a win with their case against the fed up shotgun blazing citizen, and now it seems that its gone to their heads.

It’s fairly obvious too that we will continue to see an upsurge in citizens fighting back, as it’s a clear sign that we’ve all been pushed over the edge by this overly PC Police force!

  • Steve
  • October 5th, 2008
  • 9:21 pm

Your final paragraph is chilling in its simplicity and wisdom.
That paragraph should be placed in bold type on your electorate advertising.

  • Lukas Schroeter
  • October 7th, 2008
  • 8:36 am

Hi Stephen

Great post.


  • October 7th, 2008
  • 9:24 am

I can see where the Police are coming from as it is typical passing the buck so common in our current society. Pass the buck to the Courts to decide if somebody, perhaps terrified out of their wits, has used excessive force.

I also doubt if the average untrained person has any real concept of what acceptable force would be. Personally I am not a skilled person and if it happened to me my thought would be to put them out of action completely but not permanently.

Then going to court would be quite acceptable to me if it wasn’t for the fact that the costs involved of defending myself in the system would likely cripple me and my standard of living.

As I’m sure many victims appreciate and why I support SST in their work for victims of crime if not their proposed treatment of the crims.

  • October 7th, 2008
  • 9:29 am

I like your re-designed site, nice and ‘clean’, except for all the ‘block’ links on the right which mean I have to scroll down to find the ‘month links’ below them which I use to navigate around the site.

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