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Banning gang patches is a waste of time

James Robins | View Archive November 12, 2012, 7:44 pm
National MP Todd McClay speaks to the third reading of the Government Asset Sales bill, Parliament Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

SNPA / Ross Setford © Enlarge photo

National MP for Rotorua Todd McClay should not be allowed to ban gang patches.

His latest piece of legislation that attempts to crack down on patches for gangs like the Mongrel Mob, Black Power, or the Tribesman in public buildings is a blatant restriction on freedom of expression, though he sees it as a stepping stone to later ban gangs altogether.

Like hate speech laws, a ban on gang patches doubles-up provisions that already exist in the statute books.

For example human rights lawyer Robert Hesketh said yesterday in a NZ Newswire piece: “the ‘unnecessary’ bill should not proceed past its select committee stage, unless it is rewritten to include a requirement that the gang insignia it covers tends to intimidate the public or incite confrontation between gangs.”

As Labour MP Andrew Little pointed out in Parliament back in August, “It is an attempt at gesture-politics that will do nothing…it is poorly motivated.”

From a cynical perspective, I would imagine if that if Parliament voted tomorrow, unanimously, to ban particular gangs altogether, then the level of gang involvement in illegal activity would not change in the slightest.

By their very nature, gangs are covert and hidden, carrying out their foul and vile deeds under dead of night, within their own run-down houses, and the homes of others. So to ban their symbols in clean and pristine public buildings is arbitrary – it serves no other purpose but to infringe on freedom of speech.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor warns us not to underestimate the power of gang patches: "It's all about the patch, “he says, “People die for disrespecting the patch.” This should be taken in to account, but through other means. For example: wearing a patch when you’re arrested? Police can confiscate it, permanently if you’re convicted of said crime. It’s as simple as that.

Just as we are all equally able to express ourselves in public through speech, images, and the written word, we are all equally culpable under the law for the actions we carry out. Wearing a gang symbol while carrying out a pack-rape of a 12-year-old girl does not make that crime any more severe or disgusting, but evidence of a culture of violence that ought to be crushed from its foundations.

Todd McClay’s attempt to both ban patches and gangs themselves is ultimately arbitrary, as it does not address the root causes of membership: poverty, systemic violence, and a sense of belonging in desperate situations. Instead, it proves to be a threat to our fundamental liberty.

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46 Comments

  1. b1smarc02:22pm Sunday 30th December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Ban patches? - why. Gang members are merely a group of individuals who are not capable of distinguishing themselves by their own talents or abilities. Many politicians fall into that category as well and the clown who proposed this ban is such an example. Is it not better to prevent the perceived need to be recognised because of a piece of cloth? Tighten eligibility to DPB, the number of children women have while on the DPB. Restrict access to the dole unless applicants have worked for at least five years. If that means they grub gorse, pick fruit, pick up rubbish generally tossed by their own ilk then so be it. Nobody owes them a living.

    Reply
  2. Tony06:35am Sunday 02nd December 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Lisa I agree with your comments. Although gang patches may well intimidate the public which is worrying. Gangs are going to be a hard problem to solve and I’d like to see more innovation. Politicians need to reach out to the people who spend a lot of time philosophizing about societies problems. We need cunning, brute force is not likely to work with gangs.

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  3. WATCHIN YOU!07:44am Saturday 17th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    I do not like gangs..however I guess a Patch shows that they are associated with gangs..so be on guard. National has their emblem...and they could be to a lot, considered a gang...especially with the "I do not remember, I can't recall"...makes one think like that there is something to hide when one comes up with that continuously. (devious sayings)

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  4. Lisa08:18pm Friday 16th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    i've worked in the corporate world. I've seen suit and ties at conferences, smoking P, smoking dope, pissed and openly crude. I do not condone the intimidation of gangs, but there are more dangerous gangs that wear patches made by reputable fashion houses. My point is, what is the difference? it is a fundamental human need to belong. One begs the question, what has happened to these people, to seek a sense of belonging from any group that is hell bent on self destruction. What have we done as a community to instil a sense of belonging towards each other. Mr Todds needs to provide these answers, not ostricise any one group. He will unwittingly create more gangs.

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  5. Free Speech06:05pm Friday 16th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Maybe they're looking at it the wrong way? Rather than ban them, it would be more interesting if there was a law that made it compulsory for gang members (and associates) to wear a patch. That way we would know who the assholes are, and not have to guess.

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  6. Donald02:28pm Friday 16th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    The comment made by Murray below was given 2 thumbs down, I would love to know what exactly he wrote that you are giving a thumbs down to ? I would love for the 2 people who gave the thumbs down to not cower behind the scenes but please comment here as to why you gave his comment a thumbs down.

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  7. Count Kammick08:11am Friday 16th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    This idea of banning gang patches in a region has always been foolish. They will just get gang tattoos or wear gang jewellery. I personally like gang patches as it helps me identify which idiots I should definitely be wary of.

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  8. michael12:13am Friday 16th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    What about the general public's rights. These low life scum bags are not of a normal human breed. The Government has allowed them to exist for what reason I don't know. At least getting rid gang patches in public places is a start to them not been noticed.

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  9. John07:01pm Thursday 15th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    Just as the Schedules to the acts of parliament define what is and what is not a controlled drug or substance, so too could a schedule of banned patches, symbols and words be listed publicly. Thus you would be deemed to know which patches are outlawed, and anyone wearing one in public at any time could be arrested by any citizen over the age of 18 years, using as much force as necessary to obtain that patch. This could be quite exciting if the patch is seen on a bikie.....or even a group of them. $10,000 reward for the patch, immunity from prosecution for any offences committed whilst catching the offender, $100,000 each year for the person obtaining the most patches. Could rival duck shooting season as a popular sport.

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  10. Murray05:22pm Thursday 15th November 2012 ESTReport Abuse

    I am sick and tired of snivelling left-wing fools like Robins getting publicity way beyond their intellectual capacity. To be blunt it is Maori, yes Maori scumbag gang members who are responsible for violent crime,drug growing ,manufacturing and distrubution far in excess of their actual numbers. The Police should have legal powers to arrest and confine these animals which even the liberal activist Judges of this country can't argue against. It is time that the out-moded concept of the separation of Judiciary and State was re-visited to ensure the INTENT and reason of the law was taken into account by the Judiciary.

    Reply

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