Scathing Criticism: Sir David Carruthers, Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Authority, criticised the officers assigned to the Roastbusters' case for having "failed to adhere to the basic tenets of any form of criminal investigation."
WHEN A FORMER High Court Judge decides that a group of Police officers couldn’t pass “Policing 101”, it’s worrying. But, when he goes on to say that the officers tasked with investigating the notorious Roastbuster abusers of underage girls “failed to adhere to the basic tenets of any form of criminal investigation”, it’s time to get angry – very angry. Because what Sir David Carruthers, Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA) is telling New Zealanders, is that their Police Force cannot be trusted to do its job.
But Sir David’s scathing commentary is only the most explicit message emerging from the Roastbusters inquiry. A close reading of the IPCA’s report reveals a reality much darker than mere incompetence. Deep within the Police, an apparently ineradicable culture of misogyny continues to thwart every attempt to improve the Force’s handling of rape and sexual abuse cases.
What is it that prevents these misogynists from being exposed and rooted out? Because, Lord knows, the official Police policy on rape and sexual abuse could not be clearer. Senior officers are constantly being brought up to speed on the issue at seminars and conferences. The protocols and procedures are equally clear. But still, only one out of every 99 rapes reported to the Police ends with the rapist being convicted and imprisoned. Clearly, the policy is not being enforced. Why?
Part of the answer may be found in this morning’s (20/3/15) NZ Herald. Columnist Paul Thomas suggests that, in both Britain and New Zealand, society is, increasingly, separating itself into two groups: “The divide is between what might be called enlightened metropolitan opinion (EMO), aka the chattering classes, aka the forces of political correctness, and popular opinion (PO), aka the silent majority, aka the great unwashed.”
Thomas clearly locates himself in the camp of PO. Right alongside John Key. The Prime Minister’s political success, opines Thomas, is attributable to his being “someone who speaks our language, the voice of bluff, non-PC common sense.”
A Distinct Minority: Early New Zealand was an overwhelmingly masculine society. One whose members were never entirely sure where women fitted in. Contemporary New Zealand's staunchly masculine culture still struggles to create spaces in which women feel comfortable.
This description of society as an endless battle between the forces of urban vice and rural virtue has a very lengthy pedigree in New Zealand. In spite of the fact that ours has been an overwhelmingly urban society for well over a century, New Zealanders (especially male New Zealanders) still like to think of themselves as worthy descendants of the sturdy settlers who tamed the wilderness with axe and plough.
Though most of them live in the country’s largest cities, they nevertheless think of themselves as self-sufficient men; rugged individualists who prize practical knowledge over “book-learning”. They want the country to be run by sensible blokes like themselves. Blokes who can be relied upon to use their common-sense and not be influenced by intellectuals and so-called “experts” who would like nothing better than to tie up the whole world in politically-correct knots.
The great problem with this “sturdy settler” (Southern Man?) role model is that it was forged in a world without women. Or, at least, a world in which women were for a long time a distinct minority.
The overwhelmingly masculine culture it produced is one in which physical prowess counts for much more than intellectual or creative endeavour. Sport, and the barely suppressed violence that sport redirects and absorbs, is its most pervasive artefact. It’s an authoritarian culture that expects to be obeyed and which finds it next-to-impossible to tolerate dissent and debate.
It is also a culture which has never quite worked out where women fit into it. The Kiwi bloke’s hackneyed lament: that he can’t live with the female of the species, but also can’t live without her – is hardly a sentiment to put Kiwi women at their ease. Especially when it leads New Zealand’s good keen men to look upon “the little woman” as simply another piece of gear to be stashed in the back of the ute, along with the footy-boots, fishing rods, and a few dozen cold ones. By this reckoning, women become mere adjuncts to otherwise masculine pursuits: something to make the evening go better – like beer.
The Police Force – so overwhelmingly male, and so demonstrably steeped in New Zealand’s rigidly masculine culture – in large part still sees itself as an institution dedicated to upholding and defending Thomas’s “popular opinion”. The policies of “enlightened metropolitan opinion” foisted upon them by left-wing politicians and radical feminists, may require them to pay lip service to the goal of eliminating New Zealand’s “Rape Culture”; but the “common sense” of real men, good men, strong men reassures them that “boys will be boys” – and that girls like it that way.
This essay was posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road on Saturday, 21 March 2015.