Oh, hang on, that's not Garth George of 2009. That's Garth George of 1955. Of course, I'm not conflating the civil rights movement with the questionable claim that it is in Auckland's long-term interest to open up the bridge permanently to foot and cycle traffic. It's the wider argument I'm interested in, the one that has been spouted by every authoritarian since the beginning of history: deference to authority is the chief and only civil virtue. But it only gets worse. Garth's not only in favour of people unquestioningly obeying the law; he's in favour of the physical assault of those who peacefully protest it.
The prime example of the sort of behaviour which should be of concern to us all is that of those arrogant negroes who last Sunday invaded white-only areas of buses, disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of other people who were going about their lawful occasions [sic].
These selfish, thoughtless louts defied transport authorities and a police cordon just so they could sit at the front of the bus.
This contemptuous behaviour towards the police is indicative of a breakdown in law and order which, unless it is nipped in the bud, can only get worse, for already the leading dickheads of this push to have public transport desegregated are threatening to do it again on a larger scale.
What a shame that the police haven't already been provided with Tasers. Confronted by a cordon of cops with zappers on their hips, these nutters might have had second thoughts.Jesus. Garth goes on to talk about the hard-on he got the very first time he saw an armed policeman, in the United States, and asked if he could 'touch it'. Freud would have a field day:
From that day for several months every time I so much as jaywalked I felt an itch in my back.Three cheers for being gripped by fear of the police! I remember walking past the Houses of Parliament at Westminster and seeing the 'bobbies' there; gone are the ridiculous blue hats, friendly moustaches and truncheons. In their place are black, military-style uniforms and submachine guns. It made me truly value coming from a country where all the police have to wear sky-blue shirts, and where my local police station is a quaint cottage. The idea of peaceful protesters who have brought their children to walk across the bridge being tasered to maintain respect for the law is not only awful, but downright contradictory.
But the bigger idea is that a lot of social change comes from civil disobedience of one sort or the other. People like Garth George have opposed every progressive change in the history of humanity, grumbling away about respect for traditions and inconveniencing the majority. Quite how Garth could get so angry at the hour-long disruption to drivers (is there anything more ridiculous than the moaning of drivers about cyclists?) beggars belief. But it's his willingness to countenance an armed police force to reinforce 'respect' that really marks him out as a basket case - as if we needed any more evidence.
The irony of the bridge affair is that it needn't have happened. There is no reason the bureaucrats who run the bridge could not have dedicated a couple of the eight lanes for pedestrians and cyclists for the entire Sunday, save that saying "no" is always the easiest option - for them.The irony of Garth's column today is that he concedes that the marchers' cause was essentially fair - at least to the extent of having one day out of every 18,250 to cross the bridge on foot. The arrogance of the authorities, including the police, to think that they can irrationally make decisions and suffer no consequences reeks of the authoritarian spirit. Whatever you think about the justice of the bridge cause, surely we liberals can all revel in the rejection of Nanny State by those two thousand martyrs on the weekend.
Now, back to marking.