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COMMENTARY: Open letter by Nick Rockel to the Parliament protesters.

So the Parliament protest goes on, the first protest I can recall having absolutely no sympathy for. I’ve been on marches protesting lack of education funding, nuclear testing, abuse of GCSB [Government Communications Security Bureau] powers, the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] etc.

All of which I cared about, but this protesting against health measures – yeah nah.

People have been through a lot during this covid-19 pandemic; some have lost loved ones, and some have endured serious illness. We’ve all missed events or time with family and friends by following restrictions for the greater good.

But these people? No they don’t want to comply with mandate restrictions to help others, no they don’t want to do their bit for herd immunity like the other 95 percent

Sure a small number have suffered as a direct result of mandates although unless there is a genuine medical reason you can’t be vaccinated I have no sympathy, choices have consequences.

You’re entitled to not get vaccinated, despite your placards this isn’t a fascist state. But if you want to be able to do certain jobs then get vaccinated, it isn’t hard, it is well tested, the science is out on this one.

There is a false equivalence between “no jab no job” restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of a virus with the persecution of people based on race or sexual orientation. How ridiculous.

Heavy machinery regulations comparison
A better comparison is of someone being outraged at regulations where because you work with heavy machinery you have to pass a drug test to check you’re safe to do so for the benefit of others around you.

Even that falls down, you’re not a danger to others if you turn up to work on Monday having smoked a joint on Friday evening, but if you refuse to get vaccinated to perform a role where you come in to contact with vulnerable people, for example in a retirement village or on a hospital ward, you present an additional risk to others.

It may be a small risk but it is an additional risk that you are happy to impose on others for your “freedom”.

There is also the additional, and unnecessary, cost to the health system of people not being vaccinated — the hospitalisation rate of the unvaccinated versus those with at least two doses is many many times higher. If our health system becomes overwelmed leading to the need to increase restrictions ironically it will be disproportionately down to people who want to remain unrestricted by regulations.

Some suggest we could run parallel systems for the unvaccinated so the odd nurse or teacher who doesn’t want to get vaccinated can continue working. Our public services have limited resources, they are already under pressure, to think that we should run a parallel system for the 5 percent of people who choose not to be vaccinated is absurd.

In addition to those opposed to health measures there are people at the protest for many different causes. According to their placards they oppose Jeffrey Epstein — which seems a reasonable thing to do if a little weird to include in this protest, fluoridation, 1080, Three Waters, and support Groundswell, Trump etc

Some refer to “Jewcinda”, paint swastikas on statues and carry placards of the PM as “Dictator of the year” with a toothbrush mustache, or talking about Nuremburg trials. But those are just a few bad eggs, like the ones that threw, err eggs, at a child for wearing a mask.

Not wanting others to wear masks
Apparently their desire for freedom extends to not wanting others to be allowed to wear masks.

Yes many people are there simply to oppose health measures rather than support these other causes, but the nutjob quotient, the thug element, even allowing for media sensationalism, seems incredibly high. I note the local Iwi have called for an end to the abuse and the threats at the protest.

If Philip Arps or Kyle Chapman turned up at many protests they would be made very unwelcome to say the least. Seemingly this group is quite tolerant of them, tolerant of white supremacists. Nah — you’re supposed to be intolerant of fascists. Not protest alongside them and pretend you can’t see them.

I don’t know if the other protesters are intimidated by the far right elements that are there with them, or happy that they have a common enemy in the government and content to co-exist.

What is not plausible is any claim that says they are not aware of them, of the abuse and the death threats by those around them. I call BS.

The Speaker of the house, Trevor Mallard, playing repetitive songs and covid health messages to the protesters, has outraged some people — many of us think it is rather funny.

New Zealand has seen protests where people have really endured hardship for causes, be it Ihumātao, Bastion Point, the Springbok marches. Honestly the people outside Parliament have been there in the middle of summer, had some rain, probably don’t have enough toilets, and listened to some annoying music — its not much compared to getting battoned on Molesworth Street by the Red Squad.

No return to Red Squad
I would certainly not want to see a return to the approach of the Red Squad, but the police, as they have at other protests against covid health measures, have really lost credibility with the lack of action, at least against those intimidating people. The failure to tow, or at least clamp, illegally parked vehicles has become a joke.

The mandates will eventually be gone of course; the government has already acknowledged this. When they go it will be based upon health information, one would hope, and not a relatively small group of people protesting.

Not protesting, it should be noted, when these health measures were introduced a year ago when border workers became the first workers who had to be vaccinated in order to stop more spread into Aotearoa, but when the end is likely already in sight.

Barring of course the unforeseen, the unknowable, that protesters demands would have ignored.

I’ve been on protests of 10,000 people, and boy that feels like a big protest when you’re on it. These people though look to have maybe 400-500. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say there are a thousand protesters. That is still a very small number to be getting this level of media coverage, making demands the majority are opposed to, or to be claiming to speak on behalf of others.

Don’t claim to be standing up for my rights, put down the placard and stop holding the good folks of Wellington — who would like their city back — to ransom. As one old fellow interviewed on the news said: “Go home — and take a bath.”

These people do of course have the right to protest, not erect tents or park illegally mind you, but certainly to protest. I also have the right to think and say they’re a bunch of selfish idiots, a view I suspect is shared by a very large number of people.

Nick Rockel is a “Westie Leftie with five children, two dogs, and a wonderful wife”. He is the author of the Daily Read where this article was first published. It is republished here with the author’s permission.

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