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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Jacinda Ardern - bewildered and confused

15 May 2019

I'm often accused of being cynical - but I have my doubts that this is true :-)

One thing that does concern me deeply is the nagging feeling that our Prime Minister has become addicted to crusading and that's bad, very bad.

She rose to global prominence and was the subject of wide acclaim when she led the current government to move swiftly in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings to ban most semi-automatic firearms.

Pictures of her done up in Muslim headgear spread around the world like a wildfire and since then she's been leading the charge to have social media clamp down on hate speech, live-streaming and a whole lot more.

I'm sorry but to me, her actions are now starting to look a lot more like self-promotion than a considered, objective, realistic response to a problem.

I also found it shocking to hear that Ms Ardern admits to having watched the video first spread by the shooter via a livestream.

Excuse me?

The mere possession of this footage by you or I would be considered a crime punishable by up to 10 years behind bars -- but it's okay for the PM to watch it?

It's refreshing to see that Ms Ardern, just like her predecessors from both sides of the house, firmly believes in the "do as we say, not as we do" mantra when it comes to our laws.

If she'd backed off this crusade after the initial round of firearms law review and focused on the root cause of these crimes then I'd have been most impressed with her response to what was an awful situation. The fact, in my honest opinion, she's now "milking it" for all it's worth begins to chip away at my initial belief that her actions were far more than things done on the advice of her spin-meisters so as to boost public opinion rankings.

It is not the job of an NZ Prime Minister to force the global reform of social media policies -- she has far more important things to do, right here in NZ. Isn't child poverty still a big thing here -- didn't she campaign on the promise of reducing this blight on our society? How about getting NZ's house in order before you set about solving the rest of the world's problems?

Now I'm not speaking out of political bias here. I'm neither red nor blue when it comes to politics -- I think they're all about as bad as each other and, as regular readers will well-know, I'm in favour of changing our whole political system, so as to restore true democracy and accountability within the field of politics.

Compulsory link to my Recoverable Proxy proposal.

I really have little respect for any political party or politician who believes that painting over cracks is the best way to fix a structural problem with our society.

Yes, we have hate speech. Yes, some borderline-insane people end up committing atrocious acts of violence.

But these are symptoms of a much deeper problem, one of intolerance. One that can only be fixed through education and information.

There is no overnight fix to these problems and certainly moving to clamp down on the freedoms of innocent people (by way of banning live-streaming, banning certain types of firearms, etc) does nothing at all except penalise the innocent for the actions of the guilty.

The changes have to be made at a much more ground-roots level. Right from the start, we need to educate people as to the benefits of cultural diversity and the importance that everyone's rights are respected and preserved, so long as they do not impinge the rights of others.

This is indeed a great challenge. Sadly, it seems that our politicians aren't up to such a challenge and instead of reinforcing the foundations of a healthy society, they're just going to try yet another coat of cheap paint before slapping a big "see, we fixed it" sign on the front.

How disappointing.

Never mind though, I'm sure Ms Ardern's PR people are stoked at their success so far and will have a nice plan of action to continue leveraging this tragedy to the benefit of at least one individual and her political allies.

Tragic.

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