Friday, July 18, 2014

One Thread

There is at least one fundamental thread woven through the fabric of recent scandals that seems to have been left out of the dialogue so far.

Whether it's the GCSB shitmagnet, the rape culture flavours of West Auckland's Roastbusters, Wellington's diplomatic thrusts, or other examples of official intransigence, such as the recent night raid on children in a Taranaki marae, there is at least one common thread.

I don't know if there's a Latin name for the principle, but it runs thusly: Citizens can do whatever they like as long as there's no law or regulation prohibiting their actions. The benefit of the doubt lies on the side of the citizen. Reasonable doubt, for example.

Conversely, government officials (military, police or bureaucrat) can ONLY do what the law or regulations permit (acts and omissions, blah blah). The onus is on them to prove they stayed within those regulated margins.

It's a concept that frequently eludes the powerful as well as the powerless. For instance, police union mouth Greg O'Connor regularly spouts that the cops can bend and break rules with impunity for the greater good. He's talking bollocks with a side order of smeg.

It's a lesson that might have to be learned the hard way. Beware the political backlash. Such things tend to over-compensate.