The Clayton Weatherston wipe-out: a Sunday rag’s role in a shabby case of biblioclasm

December 11, 2011

Book burning in Berlin, May 1933.


Alf was about to express his astonishment at a major newspaper championing censorship.

But no. In fact he is by no means astonished. The populist press will do anything to curry favour with its readers, and if that means forgetting about guiding principles – aw shucks, why not?

One of the principles typically promoted by newspapers is entrenched in the phrase “the public has a right to know”, or some variance of it.

The buggers will often delve into people’s private lives, shrieking – if thwarted – about a denial of the public’s right to know.

When it comes to private lives the public only sometimes has a right to know, but it does have a huge appetite for gossip.

So when we come to shaping public attitudes to book burnings, what role should we expect a newspaper to play?

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Please, please Sandra – tell us the professor has got it wrong in dismissing you as a dumb moral pygmy

September 21, 2010

Alf is a tad bewildered by party colleague Sandra Goudie’s indifference to what he regards as harsh criticism.

She seems remarkably unbothered that a university wallah with some credentials in the law racket is reported to have put the boot into the Law and Order Select Committee, which she chairs.

Otago University’s associate professor Andrew Geddis, the wallah in question, is saying National and Act Party members of the aforementioned committee have no regard for basic individual rights.

So far, so good. Having no regard for basic individual rights will probably go down well with most voters in this country.

But then comes the damaging bit: he also reckons they have come up with a bit of legislation that will give William Bell, Graeme Burton and Clayton Weatherston the vote.

More than that, the select committee’s recommendations to the House – if passed into law – would mean any other murderer, rapist or violent criminal currently serving a sentence of more than three years will get to vote at the next election.

The professor accordingly is saying the Nats and ACT members of the committee

… are not only moral pygmies, but they are really, really dumb.too

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Let’s not forget the real victim

September 16, 2009

(as dictated to Mrs Grumble)

Alf is a bit scratchy about the headline writers at the NZ Herald today.

He takes issue with Victims have say at Weatherston sentencing atop the rag’s account of the sentencing of Sophie Elliott’s killer, Clayton Weatherston, who will be banged up at least for 18 years.

After a month-long murder trial in which Weatherston, 33, spent hours bragging about his achievements and attacking the character of his dead victim, he was silenced in the same Christchurch courtroom yesterday while Sophie Elliott’s family had their say.

Ms Elliott’s father Gil stood only a couple of metres away as he told Weatherston he was the “epitome of evil”.

Weatherston glanced upward only briefly, unwilling to hold the gaze of the man he had robbed of a daughter.

But it was Sophie who was the victim in this tragic case.

And she had no say in what happens to the crazy bugger who killed her.