Describe the Katipo | The daily blog

THE ACTING CHIEF CENSOR’S decision to ban the latest hate criminal’s “manifesto” doubles the error of his predecessor. Putting aside the universal tendency of all things forbidden to stimulate popular interest just because they are forbidden, keeping the deranged and hateful ramblings of Paul Tarrant – and now Payton Gendron – out of the hands of New Zealanders has once again robbed of the opportunity to gain some understanding of the tortured and fantastical world these individuals inhabit.

Since the ideas of these mass killers are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly, it is certainly in society’s interest to have the means to recognize them when they are encountered. When a family member or friend starts spouting the kind of racist ideas that drove Tarrant and Gendron, it’s probably a strong indication that all is not well. But, with the two men’s ideas kept out of the public eye, how are those closest to potential offenders supposed to know what they’re looking for?

From an early age, New Zealanders are warned to leave out small black spiders with a red spot on their abdomen. The Katipo, we are told, is poisonous: and although its bite does not kill you, it can make you very sick. That said, isn’t Mr. Rupert Ablett-Hampson’s decision to absolutely delete Gendron’s manifesto a bit like a parent telling their child that, yes, New Zealand does have a poisonous spider, but, no, he’s not going to give him information on what he looks like and where he’s most likely to find him?

Ablett-Hampson’s press release justifies its decision to declare Gendron’s manifesto “objectionable” – making it a serious offense to possess and/or distribute its content – by referring to the harm it could cause s was viewed by the wrong type of person:

“We understand that most people in Aotearoa reading such posts would not support such hateful posts, but these types of posts are not intended for most people. We have seen how they can impact people who are on the path to violence.

It is highly doubtful, however, that declaring such material “objectionable” would have the effect Ablett-Hampson intended. Those willing to argue white supremacy, for example, need only research the topic on YouTube to activate the algorithms that will feed them far more information than is good for anyone’s mental digestion. .

Moreover, if our white supremacist is persistent, he will soon be able to go far beyond the material available on YouTube. There are places on the web where the red meat of murderous racism is served with raw, dripping blood. In these hellish regions of the internet, the tenure of acting chief censor just doesn’t work.

Another place where the term of acting chief censor doesn’t work (at least, I hope it doesn’t!) is in the past. History, unfortunately, is a long chronicle of human cruelty and suffering. The acts of injustice committed by our ancestors cannot be repaired by the simple expedient of declaring them “reprehensible”.

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One could try, I suppose, but that would be tantamount to banning any material relating to the Knights Templar (who inspired the Norwegian serial killer Anders Breivik) and the Ottoman conquest of South Eastern Europe (which played an important role in the formation of Brenton Tarrant’s team). world Vision). All literature and films relating to the Ku Klux Klan (Kill a mockingbird, Burning Mississippi) should be outlawed, along with all stories of the Third Reich and, of course, that of Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf. A similar fate would presumably be in store for the writings of eugenicists and “scientific racists” of the early 20th century. The thoughts of HG Wells, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, Winston Churchill – all should be declared objectionable.

The list of things that could be sent to prison for possession and dissemination is growing!

And then there are the daily conversations and personal rantings of ordinary New Zealand citizens. A good proportion of these are bound to contain all sorts of objectionable ideas and claims. Racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia are found everywhere. Misinformation and disinformation are not limited to social media, they are the daily subject of our national discourse. It is still possible to sit on a bus and hear the person sitting in front of you regale their companion with the long discredited myth that the Maori, on arriving in these islands, encountered the culturally less sophisticated Moriori people and the have exterminated.

Objectionable? Of course it is. But what is the best way to finally put an end to this myth of white supremacy? By imprisoning all those who repeat it? – A solution that would require us all to become government spies ready and willing to take care of our neighbors, relations, friends, lovers? Or, for New Zealand society to use its considerable educational and media resources to clearly set out the anthropological and historical evidence revealing what really happened – thus enabling our children to go beyond the myth and embrace the truth ?

Would there still be diehard racists still peddling the Moriori myth? Yes, there would be. The point, however, is that when we heard them shouting their racism, we would be well placed to assess whether we were listening to nothing more alarming than a bore in a bar, or, to an individual “on the road to violence ” .

Hate speech is shocking, distressing and potentially indicative of murderous intent. After the Christchurch mosque bombings, it was completely understandable that many of us went from the terrible events of March 15, 2019, to the terrible idea that another such event could be prevented by banning expression objectionable ideas – on pain of imprisonment.

But, notwithstanding the actions of the Acting Chief Censor, we cannot incarcerate our path to virtue, we can only arm our fellow citizens with a reasonable depiction of vice. So when they come across him on the street, in the pub, on the bus, or at some dodgy Coastal Otago shooting club, they’ll recognize him and contact the proper authorities – who do something about that.

Like the blood-red stain of the Katipo, mass killer manifestos must be allowed to familiarize us with the offensive smell and bitter taste of ideological poison.