bill's pen is mightier than the family sword

Deputy Police Commissioner Maara Tetava takes morning tea with Rev. Ngarima George. is the pen is mightier than the sword? Do the heads of ministries report to their ministers? “Yes.” Do the ministers report to cabinet? “Yes.” Does the minister table that report in Parliament? “Yes.” So it was claimed at today’s session on Freedom of Information but is that really the reality? “Supposed to be,” said one participant. Part of the problem is that countries like the Cook Islands are being expected to absorb in a few short decades concepts of democracy that have been in development for 2,000 years. More recently, for example, “my ancestors came from Normandy,” explained NZJTO's Bill Southworth. “They had a big sword.” Democracy as it is today has a history drenched in blood from swords like Southworth's family, with many kings (and queens) beheaded, battles fought, pain and anguish suffered by countless people. Many died so people could vote freely. Any denial today of freedom of information is based on an “an antiquated view of leadership between people and their governments,” says Southworth. Maybe, said one participant. But some might still object to someone like Southworth coming in and trying to tell people what to. “Why are you going into the affairs of my country?” said the participant, jokingly imagining criticism such as “You are a s*** stirrer!” Certainly, replied Southworth, this is why it people in each country need to debate what form of freedom of information laws are appropriate to them. Besides, he teased back, “I’m a journalist. I’ve been a s*** stirrer from day one.” Better the pen than the sword.