Let’s cancel the lynch mob

Stuff reports:

A couple who breached lockdown rules to fly from Auckland to Wānaka have apologised for their “irresponsible and inexcusable” actions as their names are revealed.

William John Lawrence Willis, 35, and Hannah Rawnsley, 26, a lawyer, are set to be charged with breaching the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act over police claims they crossed the Auckland border unlawfully, using essential worker exemptions, on Thursday.

They would have been better to have apologised a couple of days ago, and not ever sought name suppression. Glad they saw sense.

Explaining their bid to get name suppression, they said they sought it after receiving death threats, and they had a “genuine fear for our safety”.

The response to their actions has exposed an ugliness in many of us. It has been like a tar and feathering.

Don’t get me wrong. The couple did wrong. They broke the law, abused their essential worker status and were selfish. For that they deserve to be fined, and to suffer a degree of social stigma. But it should go without saying that death threats are unacceptable.

Also some people have mused about whether Rawnsley could get disbarred for her actions, seeking to do so. I think that would be a gross over-reaction. That is saying that for their actions, she should not just lose her job, but her entire career. I don’t think destroying someone’s life for breaching lockdown restrictions is anything other than petty vengenace.

Again don’t in any way think I am arguing the couple should not suffer consequences. They should be prosecuted and face the legal consequences for their actions. They will have to face the media at some stage and have their court appearance splashed all over the media. They will no doubt face backlash from their family and friends.

But the social media lynch mob should not be allowed to destroy their lives. We should not seek to be a society where people are only judged on the worst thing they have done, rather than their overall contribution.

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