Liberal vs "Liberal" on the Rickards Case

ACT Deputy leader, Heather Roy commenting on the Clint Rickards case.

Like many people I was initially surprised by the finding of “not guilty” in the trial of Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickards and the two former policemen, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, who had been facing charges of raping a woman in Rotorua in the 1980s.

However, as surprised as I was, politicians have to be cautious about second guessing the courts, so I feel the need to remind myself that the jury heard all the evidence while I have been exposed to no more than selective media coverage. Normally, under such circumstances, I would leave things at that.

But this is no ordinary case. One of the accused is a high-ranking police officer, apparently in contention for the top job until February 2004, when he was accused of rape by Louise Nicholas.

The Prime Minister has copped some criticism for questioning whether there could have been genuine consent when three police officers took it in turn to have sex with a vulnerable teenager. Well the critics can hark all they like, the fact of the matter is Helen Clark was speaking for the vast majority of women in this country, myself included, and many of our menfolk.

And there the matter should rest except that Mr Rickards has been suspended – on full pay – and now wants his $155,000 per year job back. But as Auckland’s Mayor, Dick Hubbard, has pointed out the law merely sets a minimum standard of behaviour. To be a police commissioner a much higher standard is expected, certainly by the public and one would hope by the police themselves. It is necessary to do better than just stay out of prison. Being one of a number of older men having group sex with a 16-year-old girl may be deemed legal but surely remains outside the bounds of moral acceptability for most people.

So hat’s off to Helen Clark, so far so good, but why did she stop there? Asked about Mr. Rickards’ four promotions, after the police became aware of these horrific claims against him, Miss Clark satisfied herself with a throwaway headline: “The mind boggles.”

Here’s Green Party co-leader Russell Norman’s take on the same scenario

From Indymedia
Should Rickards be allowed to be Auckland police chief?

I don’t see that being involved in consenting group sex is any reason for him not to go back to work. And people use sex aids so using a police baton in a consenting situation doesn’t seem grounds for refusing him his job back. He cheated on his partner but nor should that be reason to stop him being a senior police officer. Sex on the bonnet of a police car many years ago (if it’s true) probably shouldn’t stop him either. He can be into S&M or whatever for all I care so long as it’s consenting – it’s his private life and he’s entitled to it.

New Zeal Two ‘liberals’ with entirely different views of the same subject.

No prizes for guessing that I favour Heather’s view.

Heather is “liberal” in that she favours freedom with responsibility. She holds Rickards morally responsible for his actions and condemns them, even if he has acted within the law.

Russel Norman seems more into freedom from responsibilty. Anything goes here. One of NZ’s top cops can do all sorts of kinky things to a teenage girl in his private life and that’s OK as far as Russel is concerned.

Heather has daughters, as far as I know, Russel doesn’t. But I don’t think that that is the key determinant here.

Heather clearly believes that public officials should behave not just legally, but ethically-that this may also apply to their ‘private‘ lives.

Russel seems to not mind much about Rickard’s moral failings, as long as he broke no laws.

Which viewpoint do you think would best serve the governance of this country?

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87 thoughts on “Liberal vs "Liberal" on the Rickards Case

  1. Great catch Trevor! I didn’t think Russell Norman would stoop to that. Why doesn’t this get greater play while parliament discusses a law that will turn many parents in criminals and potential convicts overnight?

    And I’m glad to see some very conservative reasoning in this post 🙂

  2. Thought you might like it Berend.

    One of my pet theories is that “conservative” social values will easily beat “lefty liberal” social values in an open market.

    A real libertarian society will tend towards strengthening many so-called conservative social values.

  3. He does say this in the comments:


    Russel Says:
    March 5th, 2007 at 5:09 pm
    I didn’t realise that she was 16 which I agree does make it much more morally dubious.

  4. I completely agree Trevor. Lefty liberal values are only perpetuated when the state insures all the cases where it didn’t work.

  5. True anon-Russel did add that after he got a bit of a beating. Doesn’t make his comments any less apalling in my book.

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