This story jumped out at me yesterday. An older man takes exercise in the Rotorua Redwoods Forest, a huge public reserve. He’s a bit unusual in his manner. He dares to say “a good day for it” to a woman also exercising who passes by him on the track and this “made her nervous”. He walked along the same track behind her, allegedly rambling or talking to himself. There is nothing to suggest she asked him to stop talking to her or to move further away, and there is nothing to suggest he harmed her or showed any indication of wanting to do so. On the basis of his heinous crime (Imagine, he actually had the audacity to talk to a woman! Who does he think he is?) a local policeman issued him with a trespass order banning him from that huge public area for two years. He thought the order only referred to the particular area he had been exercising in. The policeman’s wife later saw the man on a couple of occasions in another part of the Redwoods Forest, muttering to himself and this was really really scary to her. How dare a lowly man think he is allowed to mutter to himself in a public area where women might be? Another woman (we don’t know if she knew either of the other two “victims”) also suffered the deep trauma of seeing this man on the track and having to share the track with him as he continued his walk. All three women testified against this man on charges of intimidating behaviour. This particular man was lucky because the judge did not agree it had been proven that the man intended to be intimidating, but it seems the man was still convicted for breaching the trespass order.
The case seems to be an example of “Protection Order” ideology creeeping into criminal law. A woman’s claim to “feel frightened” is enough to see a man stripped of his normal rights and dragged into Court, regardless of whether he actually did anything illegal. The police happily collude to put state power behind the female class. This is very similar to the relationship that existed between white gentry and black slaves in old America and elsewhere. If someone from the white gentry felt inconvenienced or annoyed by the behaviour of a black slave, for example if he dared to speak without being invited to or to venture into places where the white gentry preferred not to see him, he was likely to be be tried and punished on some cooked-up charge on the basis of the white gentry’s preference. In the case of our Rotorua man, the cooked-up charge of “intimidation” was an offence category designed to deal with gangs and the like threatening people through aggressive behaivour, not some old, slightly eccentric man trying to be friendly. Even if he was hoping for some romantic opportunity, can we not expect from women the decency of saying “no thanks, please leave me alone now” before rushing off to the police? When the police were involved by the first woman, could we not at least expect a reasonable response from them in the first instance, making him aware that she was uncomfortable and giving him suggestions about his on-track behaviour rather than issuing an order stripping him of normal civil rights? His main crime, it seems, was to be unattractive to the women he spoke to. Off with his head!