Hood: Satirist Seeks Angle On McVicar Comments
Satirist At Loss For Angle On McVicar Welfare State Comments
By Lyndon Hood
Scoop.co.nz's resident satirist has been left at a loss by recent press release from the Sensible Sentencing Trust, headed 'Welfare State Killed Kahui Twins, Says Watchdog'. "Normally I can think of something pertinent and humorous to say about any release if I put my mind to it," explained the satirist, "but this one does not seems to be risible in any way."
"Satire is, as Wikipedia says, a literary technique of writing or art which exposes the follies of its subject to ridicule. So there are no grounds for satirising this release at all. It seems to me that every part of it is not howlingly insane."
"Of course we have to be reasonable in interpreting these comments. Mr McVicar is obviously not suggesting that the police should commence a manhunt for a 70-year-old rampaging, murderous government institution for devouring taxpayer money and destroying the souls of the deserving poor with its engulfing tentacles. That would just be silly."
In the release, the trust's spokesman Garth McVicar says, "There is nothing more lethal than a person who is made to feel worthless by their country and given handouts instead of being helped to help themselves."
"This makes two important points," explained the satirist. "Firstly, that crime is caused by low self-esteem. Before, I thought research showed that violent offenders have high opinions of themselves - hence the bashing people who don't give them what they want. Oh well, you learn something new every day. Guess that's why he's the justice watchdog and I'm the satirist."
"Secondly, it shows that society should be blamed for individual criminal acts. This fact has been long known to and espoused by the criminals themselves. It's nice to see the Sensible Sentencing Trust explaining this lack of criminal's personal responsibility to the general public. It compliments their views on harsher sentences for offenders well."
The satirist expressed hope that, as a result of this press release, the unfortunate person who did the actual physical killing of the toddlers will make him or herself known. Then, with McVicar's support, he or she can sue Work and Income New Zealand for the wrongful death of the children and their own personal trauma. "The Department be made to face the consequence of its actions," said the satirist, "It knew what it was doing - it should be put away for a very long time."
Mr McVicar's alternative plan is that society's most needy should be "helped to help themselves". The satirist described this proposal as "both detailed and constructive". That satirist also praised Mr McVicar for making such obviously well-informed comments in a field so directly related to his mandate as a spokesman for the victims for crime.
The satirist found Mr McVicar's opposition to the welfare state difficult to dismiss. "Presumably he has some examples of places without welfare where the streets are safer," said the satirist, "Obviously not Soweto or Sao Paulo. Somewhere else, I guess."
The satirist expressed confidence that prior to the introduction of social welfare, there was no problem of a persistent entrapped underclass. "It's like that guy said: 'In the old days, you were poor, you got sick, and you died' - problem solved. Who was it said that? Actually, I think it was Alan B'Stard from The New Statesman. He was a fictional character made up to mock ideologically blind conservatives. But the point stands."
Impressed as he was with the content of the release, the satirist was also unable to fault its tone.
"Two innocent children have died," said the satirist, "It wrong of Mr McVicar to use their tragic deaths to score cheap political points. For the sake of his conscience, it's just as well that's not what he's doing. The attention-seeking headline is entirely justified by the worthiness of the ideas. The trust is just saying what people are thinking. People in the comments section of David Farrar's weblog, for example."
The satirist also complimented the Sensible Sentence Trust for putting out the release weeks after the events it refers to. "It's nice to see someone taking the time to think things through and get a sense of perspective," he said.
The release's unassailable good sense may be partly credited to Marc Alexander, the trust's newly-appointed crime prevention strategist. Mr Alexander is known in his many political roles for his lucid arguments and his relentlessly mild and rational tone.
The satirist, however, remains determined to find some chink in the armour of "the most comprehensively non-stupid thing Scoop has been sent this year".
"Maybe I should call Internal Affairs and check that the Sensible Sentencing Trust is in fact a trust. Imagine. That might be kind of funny, if some part of their name somehow didn't match their behaviour."