Gang insignia, genitals and whanganui
by Jake Quinn
The Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill passed its third reading last night, 62-59. Very close. It’s wonderful to see the Act Party and Rodney Hide sticking to their principles. I just cant imagine what we’d do if we didn’t have a true liberal party in Parliament utterly committed to battling to the death for our freedom to wear what ever we wanted.
The Standard has some interesting insites into how and why Act voted the way they did:
The law only passed because John Boscawen, David Garrett, and Rodney Hide (who in an eariler moment of anger revealed that supporting this law is a trade for National’s support on the 3 Strikes Bill) voted for it. More principled libertarians Sir Roger Douglas and Heather Roy voted against it (it was Douglas’s refusal to back this bill that led to ACT announcing their MPs would be allowed to vote against the party line).
The Bill originally passed its first reading by 106 votes to 13, with Labour in support. Labour withdrew its support at second reading as they simply didn’t think the legislation would work. Michael Cullen, in his usual fashion, had an cheeky observation or two. I particularly enjoyed these bits:
“No doubt National Party supporters will say `this has worked’ because the one gang member they saw last year they haven’t seen again.” He scorned its provisions, saying it would require signs to be put up. “Dear gang member, please don’t display your insignia. “Some gang members will wonder what insignia is for a start. They may think it’s their genitals, I have no idea.”… “Given our knowledge of gang behaviour, those signs aren’t going to last very long.”
I live in the Black Power part of town. Each day I drive past the house where Jhia Te Tua was shot. The shopping centre where I go each morning to get the mail is frequented by these thugs. Wearing a patch gives them a swagger which reduces markedly when they are out of the patch. As Chester Borrows said yesterday in the House, the gang code is that you die to defend your patch, and the ultimate insult is to be “skinned” by a rival gang, i.e. to have your patch forcibly removed. Take away the patches, and you neuter a significant part of gang culture.
But hang on, won’t the patches remain as members will simply turn their jackets inside out, like they do in bars up and down the country?
This legislation is an example, like the Section 59 debacle, of a debate that is not actually about the legislation in question, but about a broader much more complicated social issue that cannot be fixed with a simple local, or any other, Bill.
But hell, if it makes the good people of Whanganui happy, then i’m glad they got their Bill.