Guest Post: Lady Justice

A guest post by :

We are all familiar with Lady Justice: her sword is her authority, her scales her weighing of evidence, her blindfold her impartiality to power, wealth and status.

In recent times, judges have slipped her blindfold.

In July High Court Judge Whata took a peek to see Ms Ratauhunga Puriri was Maori and wanting to be a teacher.  He accordingly overturned her conviction for aggravated assault and theft. The good Judge explained: “The woeful statistics of Maori underachievement on all walks of life, are testament to the difficulties confronting Ms Puriri as she embarks on this important phase of her life”.

There are only two possibilities for Ms Puriri confronting difficulties as a Maori: one would be endogenous which would make Judge Whata racist; the other would be exogenous, which would mean he is claiming the institutions of teaching are racist.

Presumably, Judge Whata is arguing the second.  But in doing so he has made a common but gigantic leap of logic that requires throwing away Justice’s scales as well as peeking under the blindfold.

The fact of Maori underachievement doesn’t prove that Ms Puriri confronts difficulties. The statistical result may well have nothing to do with Maoriness.  Indeed, there are hundreds, no thousands, of successful teachers who disprove Judge Whata’s prejudice.

There are also a great many variables that explain Maori underachievement better and more reasonably than racism. It’s a lazy prejudice to declare race the cause of statistical difference without regard to other more significant factors.  Indeed, the only evidence of discrimination in the case is Judge Whata’s in overturning the Ms Puriri’s conviction because she is Maori.

The Judge’s prejudice is highlighted by the very title of the academic Working Paper he cites in support of his judgement: “Indicators of Inequality for Maori and Pacific People”.  The Report is nothing but a summary of “Indicators”: there is nothing there to suggest Ms Puriri has an uphill battle because she’s Maori. The Report provides no analysis of the cause of inequality with race undoubtedly a confounding variable and the one indicator of direct relevance to teaching (tertiary participation rates) shows no racial divide.

Judge Wahta lifted the blindfold and tossed the scales aside to make inflammatory assertions without a shred of evidence.

He has also deliberately denied teaching authorities, schools, and parents knowledge of her aggravated assault.

It’s an extraordinary conceit on a Judge’s part to assume to know better than teaching institutions (and parents) what information is relevant to teaching and what is not.

For my part, I would want to know the following facts before Ms Puriri was ever to be responsible for my children:

“Ms Puriri went to a two-dollar shop. She stole a $4.50 mobile phone cord and left the store. Outside the store the shop owner tried to stop her. Ms Puriri slapped the owner twice to the head and pushed her to the ground. The shop owner got up and Ms Puriri kicked her multiple times causing the shop owner to fall to the ground.”

Ms Puriri is an adult.  She stole from a shop. When confronted,  she attacked a middle-aged woman multiple times including kicking her to the ground.  She’s proved herself dishonest and violent. I would not want her teaching my children. Not before she accepts full responsibility for what she’s done, demonstrates genuine contrition, and proves she has her life under control and on a decent path.

That to me is what Justice demands  And that is precisely what she escaped.

It’s also upside down that Don Brash gets de-platformed and accused of hate speech for wanting public policy and the law to be blind to race while our judiciary happily use their esteemed platform to make decisions precisely based on race.

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