Looking beyond the veil into news beyond our own
by Lyndon Hood
From time to time, Scoop gets email from alternate universes.
I don’t mean the press releases written by individuals who, while inhabiting this physical world, are mentally on another planet entirely. If we were to reject PR from these people we would, frankly, have nothing to publish.
That said, the collision of things like Lindsay Perigo, The Climate Science Coalition and Peter Shirtcliffe in the single high-speed broadband pipe into our office seems to result in more Strange Particles than a Large Hadron Collider’s worst nightmare. Hence, I suppose, the periodic weakening of the walls of reality.
Whatever the reason, there comes a time when a Scoop employee learns that, if a press release arrives that only makes sense if, for example, Hitler won the Second World War by deploying steam-powered dinosaurs, it’s probably best just to bin it.
Of course, many alternate histories are more subtle. The worst, from our point of view, being from Other Worlds where someone just didn’t happen to write that particular release. If you’ve every seen the ‘This story has been removed’ message on Scoop that’s more than likely what’s behind it.
Recently, in one particularly difficult case, myself and a colleague both received emails from two different incarnations of Simon Power. We had the choice between “[the bill] allows police to collect DNA from people they ‘intend to charge’, and to match it against samples from unsolved crimes” and “…to collect DNA from ‘basically anyone they like’ …”.
A clue the second release came from a parallel universe was the presence of a justification – unheard-of in these dimensions – for the bill being progressed under urgency. “The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill, ” it said, “obviously needs to become law in time for Hallowe’en.”
Something similar happened with Judith Collins’ release – her natural preposterousness levels seem to be a magnet for this effect – on the new unit charged with hunting down and seizing the alleged proceeds of unproven organised crimes. One version said these crime-fighting accountants would be “a team of hardened investigators”. The other said, “They’ll be all like ‘Let’s roll! Vrrm Vrrm WEEEoooWEEEoooWEEEoo SCREEEE Freeze – police! Pew! Pew Pew! Pewpewpewpewpew! Pew!!! Aaargh urg! Take that, criminal! Public safety!'”
I’ll leave it as a challenge to the reader to guess which was real.
The problem is, if you try to exercise your judgment you end up deleting actual press releases from Roger Douglas by accident. Even knowing that risk, it took me a week and a half before I realised the new Telecom logo was from this planet.
After some experiments, I’ve found it helps to keep some extremely mundane object near the computer. As I write this I have on top of my monitor a picture of Phil Goff holding a potato, which seems to do the trick.
I mention all this because this month I saw something I thought I should share. Before digital reality reasserted itself I was able to take a few notes on a correspondence between an alternate Police Minister and an alternate opposition spokesman in a world alarmingly close to our own.
Labour moves to toughen up National’s boy racer bill
Labour law and order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove has tabled an amendment to the Vehicle Confiscation and Seizure Bill making it compulsory to confiscate a vehicle permanently after two street racing offences within four years, no matter who owns the vehicle… “[The bill] is undermined by making confiscation a discretionary matter for the court for the third-party owned vehicles.”
Labour okays more street racer misery
A Labour Party attempt to stop the vehicles of repeat illegal street racers being crushed would result in dangerous cars being put back on the streets, Police Minister Judith Collins says… it proposes confiscating cars of the worst recidivist offenders and allowing them to be sold to their friends.
Harsher Equals Better – Cosgrove
“Labour has always welcomed the provisions in this bill allowing the police to crack down on people driving along streets,” said Mr Cosgrove. “But National cannot deny that the Collins bill still allows young people in cars. My amendment closes this loophole and includes penalties for supplying cars or car paraphenalia to a minor.”
Labour’s “Opposition For The Sake Of Opposition”
Clayton Cosgrove is just delaying the difficult work of implementing a solution to the boy racer menace, says Police Minister Judith Collins. “It’s all very well to sit on the sidelines and complain, but these human rights don’t violate themselves,” says Ms Collins.
National Challenged On Urgency
Labour law and order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove has slammed National’s use of urgency to pass laws relating to traffic offences. “It’s not fast enough!” said Mr Cosgrove. “If National were serious about the boy racer crisis they wouldn’t have let us go home before the bill was passed, let alone allowed submissions!”
Cosgrove Should Resign
Police Minister Judith Collins today welcomed Labour’s offer to support “any anti-youth-hysteria bill she likes” through all stages, but condemned Clayton Cosgrove’s description of the arrangement as “government by fiat”. “Mentioning any car company in this context sends exactly the wrong message,” said Ms Collins, “let alone a company that also owns Ferrari and Maserati.”
“Where Are The Parents?” Asks Cosgrove
“… Let’s find them and lock them up!”
Labour Soft On Criminals
Police Minister Judith Collins has decried Labour’s proposal to execute young drivers with”humane” explosive harpoons, saying it misses the whole point of the justice system. “‘Humane’ indeed,” said Ms Collins, “Where’s the deterrent in that?”
Holmes: … so you’re no longer innocent until you’re proven guilty.
Collins: It’s fantastic, isn’t it?
So you see, readers can be reassured – however hard it gets, at least we don’t live in that universe, where a Police Minister who actively dislikes human rights uses a Government majority to override due process in Parliament and in criminal law, while the only response of the Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is to beg to make it worse.
Oh, hang on. Those first two were real.
And the last one.