Your view: Where is the integrity?

Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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A close relative of mine was recently caught speeding on his motorbike during a trip around the South Island.

He was stopped, ticketed, and then he continued on his way.

Once home, he informed me that he was going to challenge the ticket in court, based on a reason which I quickly informed him had no standing in law.

This relative, despite the fact that I have witnessed him speed on numerous occasions, was last ticketed for speeding in the late 1970s.

Apparently this gap in time gives him some basis on which to claim that he should be immune from the consequences of his actions.

He is now proceeding to waste the financial, temporal and physical resources of both the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Courts in fighting a fine for which he is undeniably liable. And he's not even intending on going to the hearing.

I do not want to be dragged into a debate about the laws regarding speeding limits and their enforcement.

I absolutely support the right to a fair trial and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty before a court of law.

However, I do wonder whether these rights have facilitated the subtle degradation of one of our most precious personality traits: our integrity.

If you bump into someone at the supermarket and they turn around in response, the majority of us would not throw our hands up in exasperation and shout at the curious victim "Don't even dare thinking about getting an apology out of me until you prove I did it!!!".

To do so would be awkward and very embarrassing, not to mention that it might affect the amount of people who want to share their dinner table with you. So why is our attitude towards law enforcement and government authority such that we do take this approach?

Not only is this attitude unprincipled, it is also not economically sensible.

No-one likes paying taxes (or lawyers, for that matter), yet our determination to challenge the authorities results in the courts being stuffed full of cases which have little to no legal basis for challenge.

Even if there is some technicality which could see an offender get let off, what on earth has happened to us that we would rather take advantage of an administrative or human error than simply shrug our shoulders and say politely "Ok constable, you caught me. I'm sorry."

New Zealanders tend to hold the (very sad) view that our police officers are a bunch of jerks who thrive off power trips.

Has anyone ever considered that our culture may be to blame for their perceived subculture? Perhaps, if we showed them a bit of humility for a change, they would not have to put on the tough act in the first place.

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A little love goes a long way.

I, personally, am embarrassed for my relative. The way in which this episode has exposed his arrogance and his contempt is a shame.

While my words will likely be lost with him, it is open to others to find in this story one of the many ways in which we each can contribute to the development of a better society, a society filled with integrity.

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