An Open Letter - Objections to the Cancellation of This Year’s Meeting With the Commission.
As the person initially responsible for imitating contact with the Families Commission in 2007, I write to you requesting that you reconsider your decision to cancel out at short notice, the meeting originally scheduled for 1pm on Wedbnesday, 22nd 2009. I understand that it was cancelled because of publicity given by Sunday News to the actions of Jim Bagnell of Auckland conducting his own separate campaign in furtherance of the many issues (such as male suicide) detrimentally affecting men and boys in today’s society and taking this campaign as a former teacher into schools in the Auckland region.
Please appreciate that all member of the Wellington delegation were totally unaware of this initiative and therefore played no part whatsoever in the planning or implementation.
Like any movement including the feminist movement itself, masculist campaigns for gender equality range from mild to moderate to radical (street level) forms of protest.
May I remind you that you were due to meet in deputation principally to discuss the high male suicide rate of men following breakdown with:
Hans Laven: a registered clinical psychologist
Craig Jackson: a registered educational psychologist, an advocate of men’s issues and commentator on Family Court politics for over thirty years
Dr Viv Roberts: Registered Medical Practitioner and authority on male suicide
Kerry Bevan: Retired teacher and grandfather and leader of the Republican Party.
Roger Payne: Retired public servant.
These people, as responsible professional men, were not unknown to the Commission as Dr Roberts had originally presented a paper on male suicide at one of our first meetings with your Commissioners in 2007 along with myself and Mr. Payne whom, until his shift to the South Island, was our spokesperson. The commission had met last year with Mr. Bevan and, prior to that, with Mr. Bagnell.Yopu have previously declined to meet with Mr. Benjamin Easton, an activist with views at the radical end of the spectrum who organized the street level protest in which Mr. Bevan and I participated. We did so because we were both driven back onto the street by your decision ( which we would adjudge as a gross over-reaction) to close off the lifts to your office floor and to post two security guards in the vestibule of the building in which your office is located. We were also placed in a position of explaining the situation to two policemen.Mr. Bevan and I were interviewed at some length by a Radio New Zealand social issues reporter who also interviewed Mr. Curry and a well balanced item featured on the following day’s Morning Report. This featured part of a media release from the Commission detailing the initiatives the Commission had taken as a result of our previous meetings with you including initiatives to be taken by Family Court registers to help with men known to be suicidal as a result of decisions of the Court. You my not have appreciated that it was Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier’s recommendation to approach the Commission in the first place to table before it cases of gross injustice affecting not only men but women and foster parents as well.
These cases were accompanied by bound readings of adverse press publicity about the Family Court including two critical Editorials from the Law Journal. We continued to meet, not that we did not appreciate the male and father friendly initiatives the Commission was taking in other areas, but because the rate of male suicide had remained steady and had not diminished over the three years of our periodic meetings with the Commission. Our intention, had you met with us, was to ask for a more proactive response by way of social education programmes to reduce the man toll, men-bashing and the denigration of fatherhood in New Zealand society. A discussion paper of this title was made available to Francis Luketina prior to the cancelled meeting.
We were going to suggest that the Commission get behind a black armband day in the same day in the same way that the Commission supports the white ribbon day for female victims of male-initiated domestic violence( 12 -14 deaths a year) contrasting with the 300 deaths a year to male suicide.
The cancellation of the meeting has, in our view, diminished the standing of the Commission as well as the professional reputation of those who were due to attend the meeting because you have perpetuated the myth of the angry potentially violent male by stigmatizing us as anti-feminist (instead of pro - family and pro-parents) and by lumping us together with the more radical voices of the men’s right movement. We have been found guilty by association in disregard of our freedom of association and democratic right to orderly street-level protests.
We ask therefore to reconsider your decision to cancel out future meetings which have been positive and productive and agree to meet our professional delegation in the not too distant future. If you agree, we will invite another expert on male suicide to attend.
We will be seeking publicity for this initiative.