Well, since the 1940s it’s actually aluminium foil (or aluminum if you’re from North America), but it’s still referred to as tinfoil here. And for those who are unfamiliar the our political system, the Beehive refers to the building that houses the executive wing of government. It’s named so because, well, its architecture has a more than passing resemblance of a beehive and there’s a lot of buzzing and scurrying around going on inside.
So what, you may ask, is the connection between the beehive and tinfoil hats? Well, according to some of the protesters camping out on the lawns in front of the Parliament, everything. The protesters, now into their third week of occupying the lawns and blocking surrounding streets with all manner of vehicles are a motley lot consisting of covid deniers, anti vaxxers, anti maskers, anti covid mandates, opponents of 5G technology, 1080 opponents, QAnon theorists, and more. There’s even some who want the military to depose the government and ban all politicians irrespective of political party affiliation from ever being a part of any government in the future.
As you can imagine, after two weeks, with no running water and no proper sanitation, there’s a high risk of diseases such as dysentery breaking out, and indeed it has. Some protesters are suffering from nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, blisters and “flu-like symptoms” which the protesters deny is covid. To quote one protester, “Only a fool would take a covid test”. Instead they put it all down to high powered EMF radiation being beamed at them from the Beehive. They’re “protecting” themselves with tinfoil hats, foil thermal blankets, and “holistic natural remedies”. I kid you not.
While they may have loony ideas, I’m not convinced that they necessarily have mental health issues. Most, but not all, of the protesters appear to be from the lower socioeconomic rungs of society and lacking in the skills necessary to think critically. And while it’s easy to scoff at their beliefs, I think it’s reasonable to to hold the view that there but for fortune go you or I.
More challenging is how we can assist them and even more importantly how to assist their offspring learn the skills necessary to be able to think critically. Education helps, but even in this nation that had been (note the past tense) the most egalitarian of nations for over a hundred years, education benefits the affluent and privileged much more than the poor and disadvantaged. We shouldn’t write them off, but does anyone know what could be done to make a difference?
28 Feb, 2022 at 1:12 am
Barry, this is hard.
If they are not interfering with anyone, let them be, eventually they will tire and go home. Attempts at forceful removal will work for a time, but eventually they will come back
28 Feb, 2022 at 2:30 am
As much as politicians from both sides of the house want them gone, the police have been quite cautious. They’ve stated that while the occupation is illegal, inconveniences a great many people and the protesters are harrassing and threatening the public including children who must pass by on the way to and from school, their conclusion to date is that attempting to evict and/or arrest them would cause a great deal more harm. An angry mob of 3000 “provoked” by the police could turn very ugly. There’s less than 10,000 sworn police in the entire country so the logistics of having sufficient personnel on hand to cover every eventuality would be a nightmare.
The last time police used force to break up protests was in 1981 during the anti apartheid protests when the Springboks rugby team toured here. The resulting riots were unsettling to most Kiwis and the harm done to the public’s confidence and trust in the police took literally decades to recover. The commissioner of police has stated he doesn’t want that repeated.
On the other hand, there’s several petitions circulating demanding the removal of the protesters, one of them already having received 140,000 signatures, so it’s quite clear that the public has had enough. Last night the police announced that from today they are going to tāke a no tolerance stance on harassment and threatening behaviour and will arrest anyone exhibiting such behaviour. We’ll see what transpires
28 Feb, 2022 at 3:51 am
Here, no one in their right mind would attempt a thing like this. An occupation is almost impossible. If police know of such plans ahead of time, those grounds would be inaccessible. There would be police waiting at any possible entrance. They also have no qualms in using force.
28 Feb, 2022 at 7:18 am
Have you looked at the Twitter feed on which the, as far as I can see, SINGLE picture of people in Wellington in tin foil hats is posted? If you did look at it, do you really think the writer is serious in what they say? If you didn’t, should you be commenting on something without going to the source? There has been huge uptake of commentary on the tin foil hats which appears to be more like a spoof than reality, and denigration of a large number of people on that basis. The media reporting of it is poor and the social media discussion is worse.
28 Feb, 2022 at 9:37 am
Apart from WordPress I avoid social media. In mainstream media there are a number of different images depicting some protesters wearing tinfoil hats, and whether or not the wearing of them is intended to be a spoof, there are among the protesters those who do really believe that the authorities do have “secret weapons” that produce EMF radiation, that there is a plan for a “New World Order”, that the vaccine is more dangerous than covid and much more. The point of the article is that a great many of the protesters maintain false but genuinely held beliefs. By this I don’t mean that they are wrong because I disagree with them. Any two people given the same facts don’t always agree on what those facts mean, their significance, or what should happen as a result.
With regards to covid mandates there is sound medical evidence that mandates have been effective, and I for one believe they should be continued at least until the omicron peak has passed. On the other hand there’s sound social evidence that resistance to mandates is increasing. The government has to balance all aspects – from the stress on the public health system to the unintended consequences that inevitably arise from the mandates, to the public’s willingness to comply, to respecting the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. I don’t envy being in Jacinda’s shoes.
There is growing disparity between the privileged and the the less fortunate and along with that come grievances – some real some perceived. It’s under those circumstances that perception bias and confirmation bias com into play. These are common human traits, and no one is immune, including myself. I’m sure there are evolutionary benefits from behaving this way, but in the complex social world we live in today it can be a handicap. Those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are often denied the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to thrive in the modern world. At best they seem to be given the tool to survive. The protest/occupation is symptom of that. My question is what can be done to turn that situation around
28 Feb, 2022 at 12:11 pm
How do you know what the protestors believe? Given the lack of accuracy in reporting as verified by people on the ground, I wouldn’t be making statements of “knowledge” based on any media, MSM or other. I am really despairing if people spreading misinformation that they haven’t fact checked to the best of their ability, no matter what their intentions. Please do provide links to the variety of pictures that are supposedly out there because they are not very visible.
28 Feb, 2022 at 2:27 pm
Again you’re missing the point of my article.
I know of people who have been verbally abused by protesters. I know what was said to them. Can I verify it? No, I wasn’t there. However I have no reason not to believe what I have been told. Nor have I any reason to think that those who shouted the abuse didn’t believe what they were shouting or what they had written on placards. And I’m certainly not going to identify those who have told me of their expeiences.
I listen to interviews with protesters. Mainstream media organisations have flipped and flopped between grudging sympathy and open hostility towards the occupation. While I might question editorial opinion, I have no reason not to believe the reported facts.
We have the word of the police that on the day the protest started they were assured the demonstrators would not camp on parliament grounds, yet within hours that assurance was betrayed. I’m not a believer in mainstream media having an agenda, or being in cahoots with the state or some anonymous power. Individual publications sure, but not the media as a whole.
The protest may have started by those who have been adversely affected by mandates and I do have some sympathies for their cause even though I support the mandates. But there are now multiple causes, both rational and irrational within the occupation, including all those I have mentioned. If you want to believe those causes have been made up by the media with an agenda, go ahead, but take your comments elsewhere.
As I have previously stated, the protest/occupation is a symptom of the malaise that affects much of the world and the conspiracy theories that have arisen as a consequence. When it comes to pandemics, I’ll listen primarily to epidemiologists and health professionals. When it comes to the effectiveness of efforts at controlling covid I’ll rely primarily on the statisticians who crunch the numbers. Anecdotal evidence has its place but it it must be used advisedly as it’s prone to misinterpretation. Its best use is perhaps to trigger more vigorous investigations.
My concern is not the specifics of this particular occupation but what lies behind conspiracy theories and what can be done to counteract them. I’m persuaded that much of the cause is the growing gap between the haves and the have nots,the disparity between those with power and those without. If you wish to discuss those concerns, then you’re welcome to do so, but I have sufficient faith in my sources of information not to argue their accuracy with you.
If you are convinced that my sources are being falsified it’s up to you to provide the evidence. Your blog is a more appriate platform for that, not mine.
28 Feb, 2022 at 2:37 pm
I don’t think these protestors are incapable of knowing better, they simply don’t want to. Children know those ideas are loony. Ignorance is en vogue these days in so many countries. People are willfully being stupid as form of protest–mostly, I think, because it drives the rest of us nuts. People will look back on these years with disbelief. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urglg3WimHA
28 Feb, 2022 at 3:30 pm
I’m not convinced. I’m not persuaded that willful ignorance is the predominant cause. As much as we pretend it doesn’t require a special skill set to thrive in modern society, my own experience tells me otherwise.
If you’re from a disadvantaged household, the odds of your own household and those of following generations also being disadvantaged is very high. This is a factor of the prevailing social order, not the fault of individuals trapped in a cycle of surviving instead of thriving.
I struggle to thrive but was fortunate to have a skill set that was in high demand. But outside that narrow sphere I have been a victim more often than a victor. I was fortunate to have been born into a middle class family with a very liberal, slightly left of centre ideology in an egalitarian society. Our neighbours included doctors, lawyers and other professionals, tradesmen and unskilled labourers and beneficiaries all rubbing shoulders on a daily basis. These days society is more stratified. Entire suburbs can consist of a single socioeconomic group. The opportunity to understand and empathise with those whose circumstances are different from one’s own no longer exists or is very limited. And it’s only going to get worse unless we make a conscious effort to change it. The protesters at Parliament are a product of our society. While l concede that there are those who will exploit the situation I’m not so sure that the protesters choose to ignore the facts. It seems to me that they lack the skills necessary to properly evaluate the information they receive.
1 Mar, 2022 at 12:14 am
Possibly, six years of Trump have hardened my heart, but I feel that Qanon, and antivaxxers and and people randomly beating up seventy year old Asian women is a natural evolution for the people who chose to ignore the egregious and disqualifying actions and statements Trump made 6 years ago (and to this day). Clearly, there are those who just don’t get it, and I’m sure that socioeconomic status plays into that, but there are also plenty that get it that play along because it’s a finger in liberal culture’s eye. And yes, too many people are exploiting the situation entirely (starting with Trump and moving right down the line). A couple of decades ago, I read the “Left Behind” book series, which is a Christian tale of the rapture (no I’m not remotely Christian, I was in it for the dystopian elements of the end of world scenarios). In this series, the antichrist becomes a charismatic global leader and sends the world’s population off course. Essentially hypnotizes them into believing certain things. Sound familiar?