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Before you read on, take a look at this video clip which appeared on Campbell Live earlier this week.
The word ‘disgusting’ is used by two people in the clip to describe the behaviour of the men in the boat, but it barely does justice to the characters of the sub-humans who took pleasure in repeatedly driving a jetboat into black swans on Tauranga harbour, then returning to have a second go at the birds they had already injured as they struggled in the water; who laughed as they mowed the swans down; who were so proud of their brutality that they filmed the slaughter and themselves:
To what purpose? To relive the experience? To show their friends? To demonstrate the skill and the manliness of driving a jetboat at creatures that had little or no chance of getting out of the way? To savour once again the heady taste of inflicting such terrible suffering?
I guess you could call me a liberal in the area of crime and punishment. You’ll find several posts on this site where I attempt to persuade readers that before condemning people for their misdeeds, it’s important to look at the formative experiences and influences in childhood and early life that predetermined their later offending. That’s still my position.
But sometimes, in the face of such cruelty, it’s difficult to make the connection.
My instinct watching the video was to shout obscenities at the screen, to verbally abuse these killers with as much force and energy as they had physically abused their hapless victims. You worthless, f**king, bastard scum!
When I calmed down I realised that in my rage I’d missed the real crime: they had their children in the boat with them.
What message do you give a child when you take pleasure in torturing and killing animals? That it’s OK to torture and kill animals. What message do you give a child when you laugh at the suffering of animals? That making animals suffer is fun. It’s common knowledge today that violent offending frequently has its beginnings in animal cruelty. I doubt that the men in the boat would have known it or would have cared if they did, but they were schooling their children to become the violent offenders of tomorrow.
In the telephone interview with Campbell Live reporter Tom McRae one of the men expresses surprise that what he and his mate had done is illegal and that this degree of deliberate animal cruelty could attract a fine of up to $100,000 and/or five years in jail. He says, ‘A bit hard to believe.’ I wondered just what it was that he found ‘a bit hard to believe’ – that mowing down black swans in a jetboat was illegal, or that the penalty was so stiff. Either way, the fact that he found it ‘a bit hard to believe’ spoke volumes about him.
This is what I think should happen to these guys: they should forfeit the boat and should be sent to prison for a month at least. I doubt that their kids will suffer from the temporary absence of their parenting.
Their names and occupations should not be suppressed.
Media trainer and commentator Dr Brian Edwards blogs at Brian Edwards Media.