Wednesday, 17 March 2010

And the best thing about it is they're guilty!

In Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford she tells a story of the 1960s. I can't remember the details of the political trial - had the defendant's been accused of . But they were found not guilty, and in the party to celebrate the result a young man stood on a table and shouted out "And the best thing about it is they're guilty."

Today the jury took just two hours to find Adrian Leason, Peter Murnane, and Sam Land not guilty of willful damage and burglary.

In April 2008, they went to the Waihopai spy base and destroyed one of the domes. Since then they have been very clear that they did damage the spy base, but they were not guilty of any crime. They had taken the action that they did to avert much greater harm, including the on-going war in Iraq.

For those interested in the exact legal details I recommend Brian Law. But it's not the legal aspects of this that I'm celebrating. It's that the Waihopai 3 maintained that they did it, and that they were right to do it, and the jury believed them.


Trouble said...

I wouldn't get too excited just yet. According to Radio NZ News today, Right to Life sees this as a positive precedent. I'd be bloody outraged if they'd gotten away with damaging an abortion clinic on those grounds (honest belief that they were saving lives).

Paul said...

Quite. These nutters have created a precedent. Something wicked this way comes.

Maia said...

Right to Life have tried and failed to use this defense before. Given the prevailing opinion on abortion in this country I think getting eleven out of twelve jury member sto agree is unlikely, particularly in a location where abortions are performed.

Trouble said...

Yes, but if it depends on a jury deciding on the popularity of a cause (as to the legality of property-damaging protest), isn't that going to hurt rather than help causes that only have minority support? I think someone else has written that they doubt the Urewera 8 will receive that kind of support.

While I'd be outraged if Right to Life got away with something like that, I'd also be pretty upset if they tried it on and got done for it regardless, on behalf of the women who would be seriously inconvenienced by protest action.

While I understand the case was decided on fact rather than law and doesn't in itself set a precedent, it certainly gives a kind of public encouragement to righteous protesters of all stripes. And in that sort of environment, the bigger your mob, the more you rule. It's going to be the weakest, most marginalised groups who are the most disadvantaged.

Brett Dale said...

Think about what you have said

"and the best thing about it is they're guilty!"

There maybe a few other protestors who are against something you beleive in, that may try a similar stunt.

Paul said...

All Right to Life would need to do is convince two jurors of the rightness of their cause.

Julie said...

For those interested, and feeling particularly full of positive will today (and thus able to lose some without threatening their equilibrium) Right to Life's media statement on the issue is here.