Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's Paramount: Public Safety or Political Correctness?

A somewhat bizarre incident aboard a Cook Strait ferry on the weekend, when crew observed a man strapping small boxes to himself.
They kept a close eye on the suspicious-looking character, while armed officers waited at the wharf. Two men were searched before being taken away...and later freed without charge.
Turned out the boxes (known as tefillin) contained Biblical verses, not explosives - they're tied to one’s arm and forehead and are part of a Jewish prayer ritual. Followers would think nothing of doing this practice, but those unfamiliar could well be excused for thinking they were witnessing a terrorist act.
KiwiRail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw: “These may well have been part of religious observance, but to people who are involved in the travel business, there were what seemed to be wires attached to them.”
Unfortunately our race relations commissioner Joris de Bres feels the crew "over-reacted": “Just because someone is doing something religious in public doesn’t mean they are a terrorist. If you analyse what they were doing, it doesn’t lead one to think that a terrorist act was envisaged. I think it’s unfortunate. It reminds us of how we need to stop and think before we jump to conclusions.”
But this is not a one-off incident. Last January, a US flight was diverted after alarm prompted by a Jewish teen using a tefillin to pray: an attendant mistook his religious items for a bomb. Many US Orthodox Jews avoid using tefillin on flights to prevent such misunderstandings.
I would have thought that was good common sense...just like the response (not "unfortunate over-reaction") of the ferry crew. Pardon me Mr.de Bres, but if someone nearby saw something that could... might... possibly have potential to end my life, I'd hope they point it out to someone in authority, rather than wait to see if it actually did go bang!
PS: 13 March 2011 - ...and it's happened again!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've made too many concessions to ragheads and others under the title of Political Correctness. When can we just stand up and be new zealanders! If threy come and visit our country, be more discreet with things that are not "us". I'm not saying I want to restrict religious freedom - but just use your brains and use discretion.