Spokesperson for the Green Party
Morally appropriate behaviour is not generated reliably by a vague threat of incarceration. Behavioural science has known for decades that it is immediacy of reward and punishment that drives behavioural choices.
To a mixing pot, add some poverty, a limited sense of social responsibility, violence as a normal life experience, boredom, and perhaps some mind-altering substances.
Stir in a policeman as threat, and a violent upheaval becomes unsurprising. Any notion of consequence is lost in the actions of the moment.
It is utterly ridiculous, and totally unacceptable, that a policeman is attacked while doing his job. But equally ridiculous is the idea that a greater threat will solve the problem.
The Kawhia policeman was armed with pepper spray, a taser, and a gun. With those ingredients, he inflamed a tense situation and cooked up a spectacle.
Reduced poverty, better parenting, effective education, mana, and compassion: address these issues at source and unwanted behaviour will slowly fade away.
Ian McLean is a spokesperson for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.