Standard joins Key/police pre-blaming

Anthony Robins has joined in the pre-blaming of John Key and the police for any violence that might occur in TPPA protests.

National – trying to provoke TPP violence?

A couple of days ago Chris Trotter set out an interesting theory: Let’s Not Lose Our Tempers: If John Key wants a riot outside Sky City – don’t give him one

Now with the news that the police are visiting (i.e. intimidating) known activists, Jane Kelsy has reached a similar conclusion: Desperate Key trying to redefine TPPA as law & order issue

I think Kelsey is right, in harassing activists Key is cynically trying to blow the “law and order” dog whistle. Is Trotter right too? Would Key really go so far as to try and provoke open violence for political gain? It worked for his idol Muldoon.

I don’t believe either Key or the police will in any way try to provoke violence, I think claims that they are is either deluded or a deliberate attempt to both talk up trouble and try to divert the blame from themselves and troublemakers.

I doubt that Robins is deliberately trying to talk up violence, it’s more likely he has bought into the dirty messaging.

This is a form of dirty politics.

Added comment: I haven’t seen any evidence of police intimidation or activists, nor any evidence the Key or National are trying to provoke violence, so I condemn those making up accusations and posts. If any evidence is produced then I’ll condemn Key or the police.


Kiri Te Kanawa beaten by nuns

Violence in New Zealand used to be a normal part of New Zealand society. Many of the effects of this continue, as does much violence.

Today it’s hard to imagine nuns being violent but there have been many claims of violence in religious institutions and schools.

Kiri Te Kanawa claims to have been beaten by nuns at school.

NZ Herald reports Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: ‘I was beaten by the nuns as a child’

“I’m tough … I’m tough because I have had to be. I was beaten by the nuns as a child.”

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s revelation stunned an audience of several hundred in Whanganui.

The celebrated singer, in the city to teach at the two-week New Zealand Opera School at Wanganui Collegiate, was speaking candidly in a public conversation with fellow international opera performer and Baptist Church minister, Rodney McCann.

“I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns,” Dame Kiri told the audience at the Collegiate auditorium.

Some aspects of our society have changed markedly for the better in my lifetime. It would be unthinkable to hear of nuns beating children now.

Unfortunately some in our society continue perpetuating the violence they learnt as normal behaviour as children, and pass that on to their own children.

We have a long way to go before we can become relatively non-violent society.

Debate continues on alcohol and violence

Following the previous post  Alcohol, violence and inhibitions here are more comments on the alcohol and violence debate at The Standard post Not all research is created equal.

Psycho Milt:

“This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions.”

What lie by omission? First, saying that alcohol lowers inhibitions is a very different thing from saying that alcohol causes violence. Second, Fox’s statement “violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations” assumes the situation “inhibitions lowered by alcohol.” What exactly is the complaint about Fox’s research, other than that you don’t like the resulting recommendations?


“First, saying that alcohol lowers inhibitions is a very different thing from saying that alcohol causes violence.”

Tell that to the Police, Ambulance staff, and staff in Hospital Emergency rooms around the country. You might also try telling that to all the battered women, beaten by intoxicated partners.
It’s not the greatest leap of reason, to move from
“Intoxication lowers inhibitions” to
“Intoxication increases the propensity for those with a violent disposition to behave violently”.
Had Fox actually said that, then the report would not have been published, because it would have admitted that alcohol was a prime factor in many instances of violent behaviour. But No! we have the weasel words
“violent people were more likely to act violently in certain situations”
The lie is in the deliberate omission that alcohol is involved.

But Macro has omitted many things that Fox wrote in her report about alcohol’s involvement.

Psycho Milt:

Her point is that the person’s culture and personality bestowing them with a predisposition to violence is the prime factor, so she’s hardly likely to declare alcohol the prime factor. Alcohol is incidental, contributing no more than a lowering of inhibitions. It’s true that in some people, the lowering of inhibitions is a very bad idea because their true selves are malicious and violent, but the bottom line is that the problem isn’t the recreational drug, it’s the loathsome creature using it. Policy that directs itself to the drug rather than the loathsome creature is a waste of effort.


“There is overwhelming historical and cross-cultural evidence that people learn not only how to drink but how to be affected by drink through a process of socialisation…Numerous experiments conducted under strictly controlled conditions (double-blind, with placebos) on a wide range of subjects and in different cultures have demonstrated that both mood and actions are affected far more by what people think they have drunk than by what they have actually drunk…In simple terms, this means that people who expect drinking to result in violence become aggressive; those who expect it to make them feel sexy become amorous; those who view it as disinhibiting are demonstrative. If behaviour reflects expectations, then a society gets the drunks it deserves.”

Heath, D.B. (1998). Cultural variations among drinking patterns. In M.Grant and J.Litvak (eds.), Drinking Patterns and their Consequences. Washington: Taylor & Francis.

Magisterium then explains the different approaches to alcohol and violence from a health perspective versus a behavioural perspective:

There is a big divide between people studying alcohol from a health perspective and people studying alcohol from a behavioural perspective. The former tend to have as a baseline the position that alcohol is a poison and poisons are bad for your health so we should research alcohol’s health impacts; the latter tend to have as a baseline the position that drinking alcohol is something that people do and what people do is interesting so we should research the things that people do with and without alcohol.

Thus we have Doctor of Anthropology Anne Fox publishing a paper that says “alcohol doesn’t cause violence, violent people cause violence” so Miss Nicki Jackson, Auckland Uni PhD student in the Dept of Health and Medical Science calls the report “completely flawed”. These two people speak different languages, and I wonder why the Herald contacted a person working academically in the field of health and medicine to comment on a report in the field of human behaviour.

In the world of human behaviour and how alcohol affects it, the defining work of academic scholarship is MacAndrew, C. and Edgerton, R. (2003) “Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation”. Aldine, Chicago. If you haven’t read it and you’re not familiar with its conclusions then you really shouldn’t be making claims on how alcohol affects people’s behaviour. Because some very clever people have done decades of research involving people and cultures all over the world and they know more about this shit than you, and their findings have been critiqued and dissected and reproduced by other very clever people. And if you don’t know what conclusions all that research produced then you really shouldn’t go around claiming that alcohol causes violence, because you’re like someone claiming vaccines cause autism because everyone knows that because you saw it on Facebook.

Just about all anthropological research arrives at the same conclusion (I say most because I haven’t read every single paper in the world, and who knows one might disagree, but I have yet to find it): the way alcohol affects human behaviour is entirely cultural. People who get drunk don’t become violent as a matter of course; rather, people who get drunk act the way they have learned to act when drunk, or they act the way they think they can get away with while drunk, and in some cultures that means violence.

Basically, anyone who’s done any research on drunken behaviour will be completely unsurprised by Dr Fox’s research paper because, well, it just confirms everything that every other anthropological study on the topic says. They all reach the same conclusion: alcohol doesn’t cause violence.

Public health professionals all cringe when such papers are published because, like I said at the start, they’re coming from a position of ALCOHOL BAD and anything that says drinking alcohol can be a completely pleasant and uncontroversial experience for all involved is tantamount to heresy in that academic field.

A One News report had slammed Fox’s report in Lion’s research suggesting booze has little relation to violence slammed by academics

The report was funded by booze company Lion and took just seven weeks of research, suggesting alcohol has little to do with violent behaviour.

Gristle picked up on this:

7 weeks to undertake research and write a report is pretty good going. My guess is there was no research but reinterpretation of other people’s research. I doubt the report went through the normal peer reviewing by suitable qualified people.

this sounds like the “tobacco research” where the industry purposely created dubious research and skilfully placed it in the media to create the impression that the science was not settled and no regulation was required. This same approach has occurred with lead in petrol, car safety, CFCs, global warming.

The media is being played. It is a fundamental failing of the media not to have developed skills and methods to handle scientific debate and the role of self interested corporates and their supporting institutions and funded science.

It seems to me that the media can be played by different sides of the debate.

Psycho Milt addressed the 7 week diss.

The 7 weeks involved a team of researchers looking specifically at the Aus/NZ environment. There’d already been an extensive literature review, not to mention the 20 years she’d spent researching alcohol use in non-Aus/NZ situations. Writing the report took a further year.

The report states: Fieldwork commencing in July 2013. The paper was finalised in January 2015.

That’s 18 months rather than 7 weeks.


Of course one of the tests of research is to see how often it is referenced by leading researchers in the field. Unfortunately this process takes years.

And it is more likely to be referenced by researchers who agree with the behavioural approach to the problem rather than those who have a health perspective.


this sounds like the “tobacco research” where the industry purposely created dubious research and skilfully placed it in the media to create the impression that the science was not settled and no regulation was required

No, it pretty much just confirms what every other anthropological study of the subject has concluded. It’s an entirely uncontroversial paper containing no real surprises.


There is nothing in the Fox Report to indicate that it has undergone anything like a peer-review. There are many assertions that are not backed up with literature citations but simply rely on her personal beliefs and experience and are subjectively worded.

”Elsewhere in this paper I acknowledge that alcohol has a very real physiological effect, but based on decades of research in the field, I am convinced that these physiological effects in no way determine a behavioural response.” [p# 15]

”As an anthropologist who has spent thousands of hours observing drunken behaviour, I can confidently assert that it is as predictable as any other ritually governed human behaviour.” [p# 16]


This is a pretty good metasummary of the current understanding of drunken behaviour, drawing on the conclusions of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers:

TLDR? Everyone concludes the same thing as Dr Fox.


Looks interesting, thank you; will read later if you don’t mind. I do note, in passing, that the Foreword is dated 1998.

Who’s “Everyone”? Am I supposed to take this literally, in which case it is clearly incorrect?

The debate on alcohol and violence will no doubt continue, as will research.

Some questions I have from all of this:

  • If alcohol causes violence why are most people who drink alcohol not violent when drinking?
  • If alcohol causes violence are do some people only violent some times when they are drinking alcohol?
  • Why are people who are violent when drinking alcohol also violent when they are not drinking alcohol?
  • Were humans non-violent before alcohol use began (thought to be about 9,000 years ago).
  • Were Maori and other native populations non-violent before alcohol was introduced by Europeans?
  • If we had alcohol prohibition would violence reduce?

I have never become violent or felt like being violent when drinking alcohol.

Fox’s study report: Understanding behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand night-time economies

Frequently asked questions on alcohol use at CDC.

Alcohol, violence and inhibitions

Debate has continued on whether alcohol causes violence or not. This started earlier this month with references to a study done by anthropologist Dr Anne Fox. Karl du Fresne in the Listener wrote about this in Bar None.

A recently published paper looks at alcohol and its associated social problems through an anthropological lens and concludes we’ve got it all wrong. It’s not booze that’s to blame for violence and antisocial behaviour – it’s us.

Understanding Behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand Night-Time Economies” is a paper by British anthropologist Anne Fox, who has studied drinking cultures for 20 years and worked as a consultant on substance misuse for the British Army.

A key finding is that despite a tightly regulated drinking environment, we accept a level of drunken behaviour that would not be tolerated in many other Western countries.

Scapegoating alcohol as the sole cause of violence, she argues, merely diverts attention from “maladaptive cultural norms” that allow New Zealand and Australian men to be violent and aggressive.

Fox blames our macho violent culture on violence more than the effects of drinking alcohol.

And Fox predicted:

Fox expects to be dismissed by some as a propagandist for the liquor industry, but insists that her contract with Lion stipulated no interference in her research, analysis or writing. “In fact, it was quite brave of Lion because it didn’t know what I was going to say or what the results would be.

Her researched has not just been dismissed, it has been slammed: Lion’s research suggesting booze has little relation to violence slammed by academics

Academics have slammed a report that weakens the link between alcohol and violence.

The report was funded by booze company Lion and took just seven weeks of research, suggesting alcohol has little to do with violent behaviour.

“It’s a report that’s completely flawed and it shouldn’t be informing policy on alcohol,” Nicki Jackson from the University of Auckland said.

“[The] biggest concern is that this report is being used by the alcohol industry, it’s getting into government circles to try and change the debate around alcohol harm reduction.”

“It’s just another attempt by the alcohol industry to try and create confusion and get in the way of good positive change in alcohol related harm,” Ms Jackson said.
Lion argues the alcohol industry should be involved in more research.

This has been picked up on by Anthony Robins (another ‘Academic’) at The Standard in Not all research is created equal.

Research, the scientific method, is the best tool we have for understanding the world. It isn’t a set of facts or dogma, it’s a process for evaluating hypotheses. Honest disagreement and changes in consensus are not evidence of flaws in the process, they are the process, it is “self repairing”.

Sadly however, there is material out there that dresses itself in the garb of research, but isn’t. It is paid for propaganda masquerading as science.

An anonymous editorial in The Herald yesterday managed to get straight to the heart of the issue:

“Academic research into public health problems has an uncanny way of confirming the concerns of its funder.”

Similar examples on a global scale include the “research” purporting to show no harm from smoking tobacco, and of course the climate change denial industry. It’s tragic but it’s true, in evaluating supposed research we need to apply the almost universally useful maxim – “follow the money”.

So Robins has slammed Fox, concluding her research is invalidated due to who funded it, without addressing any of her research apart from claiming:

Violence is part of our society yes – as are the inhibitions that hold violence in check.

Violence is far from held ‘in check’ in New Zealand. It is one of this country’s most insidious problems.

This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions.

Accusing a researcher of lying ‘by omission’ is a serious accusation. Based on what? I don’t know if Robins has read the report. Here’s a link to it:

Understanding behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand night-time economies
An anthropological study by Dr Anne Fox

Starting on page 12 the report has a whole section on inhibitions.

Belief in Disinhibition

Key Points
– Alcohol is almost universally believed to be a ‘disinhibitor’: a substance that ‘loosens our inhibitions’.
– But inhibitions are rules that we follow and break only when we believe we have licence to and, as such, are largely socially, not chemically, determined.
– Likewise, in a large part, drunken comportment is also culturally determined and can largely be voluntarily engaged and disengaged even when alcohol has been consumed.
– Drunken comportment can be heavily influenced by situational cues that reinforce cultural norms.

The report continues on disinhibition for several pages including quotes and references. Robins doesn’t address any of this, he just accuses Fox of lying by omission.

In comments Magisterium challenges Robins’ accusation:

“This report’s lie by omission is that alcohol weakens those inhibitions”

It doesn’t. That’s just plain empirically untrue, in the same way that “vaccines cause autism” is untrue.

Alcohol does not “weaken inhibitions”. If you have learned through the lessons of your culture that the way you are supposed to act when drunk is stoic silence, then you will be a stoic silent drunk even if you were loud and gregarious before drinking.

If you act as if you have had your inhibitions weakened after drinking alcohol, that’s because your culture has taught you to do that. And you’ll act that way even if you’ve had a placebo that contains no alcohol.


alcohol consumption is disproportionately associated with violence and injury in a variety of cultures and settings. There is a clear association.


No, there isn’t. There just plain isn’t.

There are:

– societies in which drunkenness does not result in any ‘disinhibited’ behaviour at all

– societies in which the type of behaviour associated with drunkenness has undergone radical changes over time

– societies in which drunken behaviour varies dramatically according to the circumstances in which alcohol is consumed

– societies in which apparently ‘disinhibited’ drunken behaviour remains within well-defined, culturally sanctioned limits.

Seriously, the “alcohol as biochemical disinhibitor” theory went out the window in the sixties.

Incognito responds to this:

Yes, it does. You can read all about it in this excellent (and recent!) review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience entitled Cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol-related aggression (it can be downloaded for free through ResearchGate).


Seriously, you’re stuck in a time warp! Please check out the review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience that I linked to in comment 10.3.

The closing sentences of that paper:

Although animal experiments provide a mostly coherent picture of the neurobiological correlates of alcohol-related aggression, more research in humans is warranted, especially considering the societal impact of alcohol-induced aggression. Such studies in humans need to take into account that, beyond the effects of acute and chronic alcohol intake suggested by animal experiments, cognitive variables such as implicit and explicit expectations regarding the effects of alcohol and previous experiences of violent encounters can modify alcohol-associated aggression.

A much more ‘nuanced’ view of the state of the field than the passive-aggressive stand by Dr Fox and many (all?) of her anthropologists colleagues.

So there is plenty to debate here without resorting to pissy dissing of a report without providing any substantiated counter arguments or facts.

In a recent post Robins criticised media:

Now you (the responsible media) might say that you’re offering a range of opinions. But when some opinions are clearly and provably nonsense that excuse is just an abdication of responsibility. It’s laziness, clickbait, and harmful.

I guess I’m asking for context and sanity checking in the media. Fact-based narrative instead of isolated and inconsistent snippets. Harder work, but much better for everyone.

How about some fact-based narrative instead of isolated and inconsistent snippets Anthony.

It’s harder for sure, but wouldn’t it be better?

Another footnote – my last post generated such a predictably facile misrepresentation by the right wing blogs (Slater / George) that I can’t wait to see what I’m going to be accused of this time!

How about your facile misrepresentation of Fox’s report?

And calling this a ‘right wing blog’ is a fairly facile misrepresentation too, isn’t it. Lazy.


Solutions to violence and alcohol

Further to Drunken thuggery not alcohol’s fault  anthropologist Anne Fox makes some suggestions about how to address a culture of alcohol related violence in New Zealand.

Fox’s paper includes a raft of recommendations.

The first is that we should stop focusing on “alcohol-fuelled violence” and address what she calls cultural reinforcers of violence, such as aggressive masculinity.

A cultural shift can be achieved, she says, by recognising that individuals are in control of their own behaviour and should face consequences, such as social stigma and heavy penalties, for transgressions.

Fox also suggests we should de-emphasise consumption of alcohol for its own sake and refocus on entertainment and group conviviality. She urges better drinking environments, with higher ratios of females (both staff and patrons), a wider range of ages (violence is less likely in mixed-age groups) and a clear message that bad behaviour will not be tolerated. She was alarmed at the number of bars and clubs in New Zealand and Australia that served people who were clearly drunk.

She is also an advocate of consistent, visible policing (she found that police are more effective on foot than in patrol cars) and clear penalties for bad behaviour.

In the New South Wales city of Newcastle, Fox notes, police show little tolerance for bad behaviour and young people are well aware that infringements, such as sexual harassment or urinating in public, will earn them a heavy and immediate fine.

Safe, well-managed 24-hour food outlets are important too, she says, as is adequate transport out of the entertainment districts of large cities.

Fox suggests that even language can be used to change harmful concepts of masculinity and to indicate social disapproval of violent behaviour. In Australia the term “king hit”, meaning a powerful blow delivered without warning, has been rebranded in the media as the “coward’s punch” following a series of highly publicised king hit-related deaths and injuries. The long-term effectiveness of this change in terminology has yet to be measured but Fox calls it a step in the right direction.

She is especially emphatic about the need for better alcohol education. Young New Zealanders and Australians appear to know very little of the basic facts about alcohol, she says. Effective programmes should offer a balanced portrayal of both the negative and positive aspects of consumption and provide unbiased information about alcohol’s real effects.

Scare tactics don’t work and can even be counter-productive, she insists. “The element of risk is, for many young people, an added attraction to drug-taking or binge drinking.”

Establishing a culture that uses peer pressure to oppose and condemn all violence including attempts to use alcohol as an excuse for thuggish behaviour can be done.

We managed to change the New Zealand culture on drink driving where it is now seen as unacceptable by most people and frowned on socially, because it was a serious risk to the safety of innocent people.

Person perpetrated violence via fists and boots isn’t much different to person perpetrated violence via vehicle, except that those who use fists and boots do so very deliberately. We should be more appalled and more determined to change our culture around alcohol and violence.

Most of us already abhor violence in most situations. But we can do more to speak up against it to make it clear that whether using alcohol as an excuse or not thuggery is socially unacceptable in New Zealand.

So seeing a blog describing itself New Zealand’s biggest and best make excuses for socially abhorrent behaviour – see Victim blaming and excusing thuggery – is very disappointing.

Responses to victim blaming

Following up from Victim blaming and excusing thuggery  here are contrary responses allowed on a Whale Oil post that criticised a victim blaming post that has many comments that doubt the victim and excuse the attack.

Responses to the criticisms continue to blame the victim and make excuses for the attacker.


I’m not sure what she was expected to say to a man who ought to have minded his own business. He objected to her speaking Maori. The headline is valid.

By the way, calling an assault victim a crybaby? How lovely.


Nothing… She should of said nothing.


…and he should have taken her advice, but he didn’t – instead he hit her. It would be nice if we all had the discipline not to respond to people who are having a go, wouldn’t it? I suspect most of us aren’t like that though. Most of us would probably say the same thing she said. She did absolutely nothing wrong, and I don’t think she should get blamed for what happened, or called a crybaby on a blog afterwards.


Where is your outcry about the other hundred or so violent offenses that occurred over the weekend then?

gender should not factor into the determination of whether something is acceptable or not. Violence is violence and is never acceptable.


Whale Oil didn’t blog about any of those. I commented on the one he did blog about. But just for you, I would like to take this opportunity, at this time, to condemn ALL the violence. Everywhere. All of it. I would like world peace, harmony, and understanding between people of different genders, races and faiths. Kumbaya!


That’s a nice dream. You do realize however that it will never become a reality because it’s against human nature.

You sir are a sheep. There will always be wolves who wish to prey on sheep. And I hope there will always be sheep dogs to protect you.

Sheep abhor violence. 
Wolves love violence. 
Sheep dogs accept violence as a necessary reality.


Yeah, a drunk, violent PI says something stupid to someone he thinks is a “palagi”, gets called out, and responds with his fists. Happens every day, sadly.


“Gets called out”, telling someone to f off inevitably leads to confrontation. Why should anyone (including a woman) think they can say that to a big guy and get away with it?


Because it’s not normal, legal or acceptable to punch somebody, especially if you are harassing them about something they said, and the civilized thing to do IS in fact to “f off” and mind your own business.


Yes key the word you used was ‘civilized’. My advice don’t ever tell someone to f off just in case they are an uncivilized thug.


I don’t make excuses for uncivilized thugs. I want them out of our civilization. Victim blaming, and making excuses for these guys will ensure that he, and others like him, will keep thinking it’s okay to respond that way.


Victim blaming? If I wore an offensive t-shirt, something really derogatory about Maori and was beaten up. Wouldn’t I have to take at least some responsibility? The woman was a fool, she should have walked away because as much as you might wish it, thugs are everywhere and not going away.


No-one’s making excuses here. No-one thinks its OK to respond as he did. With the benefit of hind-site, and a clear head, what some are saying is that what happened was kind of inevitable. That doesn’t change the fact that the person responsible was the one who used his fists.

Usually this sort of behaviour is inflamed by alcohol. And in some cases, its perfectly normal sober behaviour. Either way, my sympathy in this case is for the woman. How would any of us react when some PI abuses you for speaking your language because you’re (in his eyes) the wrong colour? Unless you believe telling someone what she said, means she ‘deserves’ what happened.

Mrs R:

Two stories appear today on WO with surprising similarities. One, we see a young man out on the town who became the victim of late night physical abuse (see earlier story ‘Another criminal Labour can cuddle’). Did this teenager also verbally respond to his abusers before he was punched to death? Irrelevant. He was the victim, and the mother in me cries for his family’s loss.

Here we see another story with a late night victim who was subjected to physical abuse. Whether or not she responded verbally to her abuser is irrelevant. There should be no ‘but’. She was brutally attacked simply because her abuser wanted to, and he could.

To my knowledge WO has never been a crim hugger so I’m surprised at the tone of this article, particularly in light of the previous article where Kelvin Davis is scorned for doing exactly that.

Spanish Bride:

The man is totally in the wrong.No one should be hit like that no matter what they say and this was incredibly violent to knock out her teeth. He is going to punished by the law so no problem there. If he was going to be let off or not punished adequately then there is a reason to complain.

I guess the point this article was trying to make is that the bar is not the reason the incident happened.Blaming the bar for not having enough security seems unfair. The story should not be about the bar but about the offender. Also the headline was misleading. He didn’t hit her when she spoke Maori, he hit her when she told him to f off after he verbally abused her.


This is gratuitous sledging and is very unfair on the woman who now through no fault of her own besides telling an obnoxious gorilla to **** off got badly assaulted. Now she also has to deal with a negative google result to her name with a photo of her and her innocent child courtesy of WO.

We don’t know if she was drunk, we don’t know much at all about what really happened. Not that it matters- Throw that gorilla in jail. Just ask yourself this- if this had happened to you and played out as it appears to have done here… how would you feel about appearing on WO’s CBOFTW…. Justice??

[As for going to the newspaper- well that was a bit silly, but we all deal with trauma and injustice in different ways- still doesn’t excuse WO from giving her an unnecessary beat up today]

Rex Widerstrom:

Precisely. The “punishment” in no way fitted the “crime”. In Australia they are calling this sort of Neanderthal behaviour a “coward’s punch” as a way to try and make it socially unacceptable, in the way that has – to some extent- worked with drink driving.

This post does the opposite. It’s a mealy-mouthed defence of a violent thug of the type WO would normally be baying for the blood of (hell that’s an awful sentence, but you know what I mean).

Her dad’s silly – it’s not the bar’s fault and we’re already grossly over-policed as it is – so by all means call him on that.

But victim blaming? That’s low.

Yes, there’s some low comments on a low post, but some good responses.

Victim blaming and excusing thuggery

On the same day the Listener posted an article about a study that says that alcohol isn’t an excuse for bad and violent behaviour -see Drunken thuggery not alcohol’s fault  –  Whale Oil attacks the victim of an assault with alcohol involved.

NZ Herald (and other media outlets, I saw it on 3 News) ran a story about a woman who claims she was assaulted.

Mother loses teeth after man punches her in the head for speaking Te Reo

A single mother says she lost five teeth after she was punched repeatedly in the head by a man who angrily asked why she was speaking Te Reo.

Shona Maiden was heading home after celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends at her local bar – 123 Casino Karaoke Bar, in Howick – when she was assaulted, she says.

At the bar’s closing time, Ms Maiden, who is of European and Maori descent, said she said “ka kite ano” (see you later) to people who had been standing outside. The mother-of-four, who lives in Howick, said a man then swore and yelled at her, questioning why a “palagi” would use such words.

Ms Maiden admits she responded, telling the man to “f*** off.” He then punched her several times.

While she was a little “tiddly” she said she wasn’t drunk when she was leaving the bar.

A police spokeswoman confirmed they are investigating the assault of a woman, aged 46, outside the establishment in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

This is just one side of the story, and there’s no indication the alleged attacker had been drinking but it’s a reasonable assumption to make. Assaults outside bars are not uncommon.

Cry baby of the Week: Shona Maiden

She was pissed, he was pissed, and she told him to F off.

It doesn’t take a Rocket Surgeon to figure out what happens next.

And now her dad wants “something to be done” about the security “around the bar”.

Then they run to the paper for a good old bitch’n’whine.

It should have read:   Drunk woman loses teeth after being punched for telling a drunk man to F off.

Slater (if it was he who wrote the post) attacks the victim of the assault.  He does also say:

Listen, it’s never OK.   You don’t punch a woman in the mouth for being a bit lippy.

But he directs most of his criticism and blame at the victim.And I presume he has no more knowledge of what actually happened than what he read in the Herald coverage.

A number of commenters played along with Slater’s framed blame game, expressing doubts (about the victim’s story), diverting and criticising many things – except the attacker.

Keanne Lawrence:

Simple action and reaction by a couple of drunks. Most people are unlikely to say “see you later” to bystanders outside a bar in any language. This is not newsworthy as it is a common occurrence throughout the country frequently.
If it is her way to be so lippy best she learns to duck, bob and weave in a ladylike manner. Lol


“F**k off” isn’t Te Reo – the headline is not only misleading but incorrect.

Lesley NZ:

““I’ve lost five teeth, my top plate is cracked … my lip is out there, I can’t eat yet,” she said.” Was it 5 false teeth that were lost?


Looks like The Ferald is really getting the hang of clickbait headlines!!!


why dont they just say – ‘Brown looking person offended by White looking person speaking Te Reo – assault ensues’
This begs the question – is it ‘cool to korero’ if you dont look the part?


No one really deserves to be assaulted but it has happened so the best hope is that she learns from the experience. Maybe being in a bar tiddly in the early morning and answering back wasn’t the wises of moves.


My tried and tested method for avoiding fights with thugs is to not inflame the situation at all. So someone took exception to what she said, the better approach would be to try and placate things and apologise to the aggrieved individual, and exit stage left. Being indignant and telling the other person to “get lost” only inflames the situation.

Betty Swallocks:

“Her father, John Maiden, is upset at what happened to his daughter and says he wants something done about safety in the area around the bar.”

OK Dad, you can make a start by making sure your “tiddly” daughter doesn’t use abusive language to complete strangers on the street. That will go some way to raising her chances of getting home safely at least.

Wolfman Jack:

I call BS on the story. Read it this morning and did not believe a word of it. It’s all “She says” and the ridiclulous photo with it means I support the cry baby title.

No bullswool:

Strange that a PI would be offended that Te Reo was being spoken.Seems that there may be more to this story than appears on the surface of it. No woman deserves that treatment at the hand of any man for any reason.In saying that if better judgement had been used, could have avoided this situation.


This isn’t about whether the assault was bad, it’s about the media deliberately misleading the public. In this case looking to incite racial discord.


why would you antagonise a big mountain gorilla, did she not realise that these people will hit anyone irrelevant of age or gender.

Johnny Bravo:

She is all class. Especially the video clip on her facebook page involving the black power gang. I dont think her teeth were punched out i think they saw a tube of tooth paste coming and jumped out and ran away


Now that is the comment of the day. Thanks for giving me a huge laugh.

Johnny is not so brave, or classy.

Pete Belt:

This should be a man assaults woman for a police complaint. The fact this is not a police complaint and ended up in the paper with only one side of the story makes this very much a story that WO shines sunlight on.

It is a police complaint, that is clear from the article and from the post.

What WO is shining a light on is the blog’s habit of attacking victims. And perpetuating the culture of excusing or acceptance of thuggery as shown in Drunken thuggery not alcohol’s fault.

To the credit of Whale Oil moderation they allowed a number of critical comments to remain. They are detailed in the next post Responses to victim blaming.


Drunken thuggery not alcohol’s fault

An article by Karl du Fresne in the Listener – Bar None – cites a recently published paper that lays the blame for violence on bad behaviour and not on alcohol.

A recently published paper looks at alcohol and its associated social problems through an anthropological lens and concludes we’ve got it all wrong. It’s not booze that’s to blame for violence and antisocial behaviour – it’s us.

This doesn’t surprise me. Most people manage to keep behaving themselves to a reasonable degree when they drink alcohol. It’s just that a minority become thugs when drinking booze, and too many others excuse them too much for their bad behaviour.

And it’s not just drunken thuggery that that is excused too much, it’s other anti-social and self harming behaviour that is accepted as ok and even funny that contributes to our ongoing binge culture.

“Understanding Behaviour in the Australian and New Zealand Night-Time Economies” is a paper by British anthropologist Anne Fox, who has studied drinking cultures for 20 years and worked as a consultant on substance misuse for the British Army.

A key finding is that despite a tightly regulated drinking environment, we accept a level of drunken behaviour that would not be tolerated in many other Western countries.

Scapegoating alcohol as the sole cause of violence, she argues, merely diverts attention from “maladaptive cultural norms” that allow New Zealand and Australian men to be violent and aggressive.

She cites other countries where a lot of alcohol is drunk but that don’t have similar levels of drunken violence:

  • Iceland has high rates of per capita alcohol consumption, along with a culture of preloading (drinking before going out) and all-night bar opening, “and yet violent crime [there] is almost non-existent”.
  • The Danes are big drinkers too yet remain “famously harmonious and peaceful”.
  • She points to Japan as an example of a culture where heavy drinking is widely tolerated, but overtly drunken or antisocial behaviour is not. Japanese drinkers seem quite capable of conforming to these social norms, according to Fox.
  • In Cuba men generally pride themselves on self-control when drinking, and risk being stigmatised if they behave badly.

And Fox details the example of Gilbralter…

…“a unique Anglo-Mediterranean hybrid” where she researched drinking and drug use among British soldiers. The drinking culture there is essentially Mediterranean and revolves around wine, food and good-natured sociability. Displays of inebriated extroversion, such as staggering about drunk or urinating in the streets, attract harsh penalties and social disapproval.

Fox says arriving soldiers are briefed on how to behave and are able to modify their usual drunken comportment to comply with Gibraltar’s social rules. Despite still drinking “vast” quantities of alcohol, they manage to remain self-controlled and well mannered.

An army wife from Glasgow told Fox she loved taking her children into Gibraltar pubs because it enabled them to see grown-ups drinking and enjoying themselves all afternoon and then walking home sober – something they never saw at home.

The lesson Fox took from Gibraltar was that “ultimately, to make any fundamental change in the culture of behaviour, we need to focus on the behaviour, not the drinking.”

New Zealand and Australian culture around drinking and violence are different.

Drunken behaviour is largely culturally determined, she says, and can be heavily influenced by situational cues. It can also be engaged or disengaged at will.

“As long as we continue to promulgate the myth that alcohol can radically transform a person’s behaviour, we can expect to see undesirable conduct in and around drinking venues. We must take the genie out of the bottle and return the responsibility for conduct to the individual.”

The lesson Fox took from Gibraltar was that “ultimately, to make any fundamental change in the culture of behaviour, we need to focus on the behaviour, not the drinking.”

Experiments show that even highly intoxicated people can control their behaviour and exercise good judgment, she says. She also points out that whereas we tend to excuse people who get aggressive or obnoxious when drinking, we don’t apply the same tolerance to other types of behaviour.

“Most people would not excuse theft because the person was drunk. Neither is it acceptable to insult or injure vulnerable members of society such as the elderly, handicapped or children. But taking off one’s clothes, urinating – but not defecating – shouting, fighting, singing, flirting and even going home with the ‘wrong’ person are all blamed on the drink.”

Most people control their behaviour most of the time when drinking.

“All the scientific literature suggests that as long as they have an incentive to control their behaviour, 98% of people can remain perfectly controlled even though heavily inebriated.”

But some use alcohol as an excuse to be thugs. And our culture has allowed that.

Fox doesn’t just blame antisocial behaviour on the self-fulfilling belief that drinking causes us to lose self-control. Where violence is concerned, Fox says, there are other, uglier forces at work.

We like to think of ourselves as an easy-going society, but as Fox puts it, “the flip side of the New Zealand national character reveals darker features of hyper-masculinity with its attendant norms of male entitlement, pride, honour, competition, fighting, racism and misogyny”.

Some of those things don’t need alcohol as an excuse.

Aggressive masculinity, she says, is evident everywhere, from schoolyards to sports fields, politics and pubs, movies and media. Violent sports, a culture of male domination and strong codes of male honour are all violence-reinforcing factors in society, as is conspicuous income inequality.

“Drinking culture doesn’t exist on its own. As one anthropologist has put it, drinking is a window on culture. So you see other aspects of culture, such as the macho culture in New Zealand, being expressed through drinking.”

And even victims of violence make excuses for drunken violence.

Fox tells of British army wives who blamed alcohol when their husbands assaulted them. “It’s not him, it’s the alcohol,” they would tell her. “He only does it when he’s drunk.” At which point the conversation would typically proceed along the following lines:

Fox: “Does he only drink when he’s with you?”

Army wife: “No, he drinks with his mates.”

Fox: “So does he beat his mates up when he’s drunk?” Awkward silence.

Alcohol does not cause the violent behaviour.

“There is no evidence that for most normal, healthy individuals, the presence of alcohol in the brain results in, encourages or unleashes violence. Alcohol can, in certain cultures and situations, be a facilitator of aggression if aggression is there to begin with, both in the individual and in the cultural environment. But it does not produce it where it doesn’t already exist.”

A major problem is that angry men (and women) drink.

She quotes a policewoman with long experience of weekend patrols in a large Australian city as saying: “I’ve never met a violent drunk who was not also violent when sober.”

Alcohol doesn’t increase anger, Fox argues. If anything, the reverse is truer: angry men drink.

If alcohol is merely used as an excuse for violent behaviour, government efforts would be better concentrated on social education, health promotion and sanctions on violent individuals.

New Zealand has successfully changed social behaviour on drink driving through education and sanctions. So perhaps we should do something similar with drunk thuggery.

She calls New Zealanders out on careless and inaccurate use of language that absolves people of responsibility for the consequences of their drinking. The commonly heard phrase “alcohol-fuelled violence”, for instance, suggests it’s all the alcohol’s fault, when Fox says the responsibility should be placed squarely on the perpetrator of the violence.

“If 100,000 people go out drinking and one person behaves badly or violently, we say it’s alcohol-fuelled. But what about the other 99,999? As long as you talk about alcohol-fuelled violence, you’re helping to perpetuate the belief that alcohol causes violence.”

I’ve almost fallen into that habit writing this post, thinking of using terms like ‘alcohol fueled’ and ‘under the influence’.

She also objects to the unhelpfully loose use of the phrase “binge drinking”, pointing out that a binge used to be defined as a period of drunkenness lasting two days or more. It was associated with neglect of self, job, children and other responsibilities. Now, however, the term is used to describe any alcohol consumption above the safe recommended guidelines. Fox says this blurs the boundaries between high-risk consumption and low to moderately risky drinking.

“In some surveys, you need only to have consumed more than four drinks in one sitting once in the past 12 months to be classified as a risky drinker. “There’s absolutely no argument that the medical and health implications of drinking too much alcohol need to be well publicised and well understood by the general public, which currently isn’t the case. But to brand as pathological the amount most normal people drink at a dinner party or wedding or on a night out turns the entire population into risky drinkers. So then how do you identify those who really are risky drinkers?”

I think this is an important point. Most of us can over-indulge occasionally without without causing any harm to anyone else and doing little or no harm to ourselves – no more so than occasional over-indulging of eating..

When it comes to violence it shouldn’t be difficult to identify risky drinkers, especially when they become drunken thugs.

It’s not alcohol’s fault some people become dangerous while drinking. But it’s our society’s fault that they have been allowed to use alcohol as an excuse.

Note: Fox’s study was commissioned by Sydney-based liquor conglomerate Lion.

Fox expects to be dismissed by some as a propagandist for the liquor industry, but insists that her contract with Lion stipulated no interference in her research, analysis or writing. “In fact, it was quite brave of Lion because it didn’t know what I was going to say or what the results would be.

“I am not a mouthpiece for the alcohol industry but I do believe that every stakeholder in the drinking culture has a right to be heard.”

Prison overcrowding, Springhill, worse than Mt Eden

Someone with inside experience considers there are bigger problems with the New Zealand prison system than Serco and Mt Eden.

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, who describes himself as ‘Former political prisoner of Spring Hill Corrections Facility’, details serious issues and claims that avoidable problems are mostly caused by overcrowding.

What I want to discuss here is my experience in Spring Hill and to some extent in the remand prisons in relation to the current public outcry about the standard of the Serco private run prison because the Serco debate is diverting attention from the atrocious standard of management in state run prisons.

On getting the message out about overcrowding:

There is no real means for prisoners to get the message out to the general public. They are forbidden internally from talking to journalists. The internal process of escalating these issues is nothing short of a whitewash and cover-up, and prisoners WILL experience prejudice for putting in official complaints.

For this reason, some prisoners in units higher up the hill from where I was began planning in January 2013 what is now known as the Spring Hill Riot which took place later that year. There haven’t been many full blown riots in NZ prisons. A couple of riots in the 1960s, one in 2004, and the one at Spring Hill in 2013.

Typically the cover up system kicked in with the then minister immediately calling it gang related, and the final report whitewashed the riot as being frivolous. But let me be clear, the initial report that this was gang related, and the final report putting the riot down to home-made alcohol was a total, utter, whitewash.

The intention of that riot was to raise the issue of overcrowding I have detailed, and a recent UN report confirmed.

This is the number one issue prisoners have in Spring Hill, it is the only issue they want fixed (even though I will provide what I believe are fixes for all of the above except prison justice), and I promised them that when I had completed my parole period, I would get this message out to you all.

He concludes:


The UN Committee Against Torture actually identified these three areas I addressed in its latest report to the New Zealand Government, which the current minister of Corrections has soundly rejected.

Among other things, the report identified overcrowding, inadequate health services and over-representation of Maori in prisons.

Now you all have a better idea that all of that is true and have some ideas of how to fix this without building any new prisons.

These measures only address what the Justice System and Corrections can do to fix this issue.

You will always have high levels of crime and gangs while your society is so unfair to the less fortunate.

Get over it or do something about it.

Your call…

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara
Former political prisoner of Spring Hill Corrections Facility

It’s worth reading the whole post. All MPs should read the full post.

Our prison problems are far bigger than Mt Eden and Serco. This isn’t a surprise, but politicians need to be pressured into addressing things – the Government in particular should take note but Opposition parties could also do far better by  drawing attention to the whole problem, not just things that suit them to complain about for political gain and on ideological grounds.

Prison violence concerns beyond Serco and Mt Eden

There are sufficient concerns about alleged violence at Mt Eden prison and about the private management of the prison by Serco to prompt the Department of Corrections to temporarily take over management of the prison.

That seems fair enough.

But there are potentially wider issues. While Labour MP Kelvin Davis has successfully publicised this and has got a result one could wonder about the timing of bringing this up in Parliament, at a time that Labour were facing considerable embarrassment.  If it was designed to divert some of the political heat then it’s also been successful.

But the spotlight on one privately run prison has major political ideological implications. Labour have used this to try and discredit privatisation in general.

But what they haven’t done is make a case that this one prison is significantly worse than any other prison.

Many of the most violent people in New Zealand are in prisons, so it will be difficult to make them violence free zones.

Peter Dune put this media release out yesterday.

24 July 2015

Prison Violence Should Be Eliminated Wherever It Occurs

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne wants a strong focus on eliminating violence in all prisons.

“The current allegations about what has been happening at the SERCO run Mt Eden prison are appalling, and SERCO needs to be held to account.

“However, it is fatuous and naïve to suggest that violent attacks on prisoners occur only in privately-run prisons, and that the state-rune system is free of such behaviour.

“The sad and unacceptable truth is that violence is an endemic feature of prison sub-culture across the system, and has been forever,” he says.

Mr Dunne says the overall focus of government policy has to be on ending prison wherever it occurs, not just Mt Eden.

“Otherwise, the current campaign looks much more like part of the ongoing opposition to privately-run prisons, than a genuine effort to eliminate prison violence across the entire prison system, “ he says.

Perhaps Labour could now pressure the Government into a wider investigation into prison violence.

Then we would find out whether it’s the private running of prisons that’s the problem or not.

If Labour are not interested in a wider investigation them it could be assumed their motives are more political than concerned about reducing prison violence.


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