Macsyna King and free speech

30 Jun

Here in New Zealand, there has been a huge public outcry against the publication of a book. Macsyna King had two little twin boys who were murdered at the age of 3 months. Wikipedia has an explanation here. For an account, see: The Kahui Twins: Murder – and the cover-up. Both articles are horrifying reading. There are so many things wrong with this story. Obviously the main tragedy is that the twins were fatally abused in such an awful way. I was also concerned to read that CYF removed the twins’ 12 month old brother and 6 month old cousin, who were treated in hospital for ‘injuries resulting from neglect’ and malnourishment. That’s the good bit. The bad bit is that they were due to be returned to their parents a few months later. Those poor children. Thank goodness no one in the family would step up and be their caregiver.

Although I agree in theory that every effort should be made to support parents and kin so that children can stay with the birth family, I am horrified that these children were due to be returned. Back to a family responsible for injuries, neglect, malnourishment, filth, and two homicides. Sometimes the family they are born to is the worst place for children to be.

I was quick to join the Facebook page Boycott the Macsyna King book. I wasn’t the only one: within one day there were over 30,000 members. There are now over 42,000 and the number jumps if you refresh the page. Child abuse is clearly something the general public have no tolerance for.

It does lead me to wonder about the question of free speech and how that applies in a situation like this. No one has been convicted of the twins’ murder, but someone killed them. So their mother has teamed up with journalist Ian Wishart and written a ‘tell-all’ book.

Of course they’re allowed to write a book. And no one has to read it. Lots of people probably will, because the human race seems to be a sucker for schadenfreude. What else can explain horror movies and crime shows? Anyway, that’s a whole different topic. Free speech is a basic human right and we are all entitled to it. But I agree with the detractors: it just doesn’t feel right that she is trying to sell a book and profit from the death of her baby boys. If she wants ‘the truth to be known then they can make it available as a free e-book. And if she isn’t profiting from it, as Ian Wishart says, who is?

It brings to mind the case of the e-book sold on Amazon about how to be a paedophile. I don’t remember the exact details but the blurb was something about how to not get caught, and how to do it right. It was sickening. No one likes to be confronted with examples of child abuse and paedophilia, but I was disturbed by Amazon’s free speech stance on the book. Unlike the Macsyna King book, it wasn’t a ‘tell-all’, it was a ‘how-to’. Eventually after an intense amount of public protest, they removed the listing.

Here in New Zealand, Paper Plus and The Warehouse have already declared they won’t be stocking the book. I’m glad about that. Free speech means that they are free to write the book. They’re not being arrested or lynch mobbed for it (at least not physically, they’re almost being cyber-mobbed). But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. It’s not even so much about the book itself. It’s about the public and the retailers making a statement that child abuse is not OK. Stonewalling police investigations into infant homicide is not OK. The lifestyle that these people led is really no way to live. Bring this to the forefront of people’s attention. Make it absolutely clear that the sort of behaviour the Kahui family and associates have displayed is not acceptable.  In the video I linked to above, author Ian Wishart asks ‘what went wrong here, and what can we learn from this?’ which I think are valid questions. Emotionally though, I just can’t deal with the book and the case.

Eventually, people will forget all about it. I wish I dared to hope that this sort of tragedy would never happen again. New Zealand has one of the highest child abuse rates in the developed world. I feel ashamed to say that. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. When I think of my precious little boy I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly abuse a child. Something has gone seriously wrong in this society and it hurts like heck.

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