My first reaction to the news that Clint Rickards was elected to the Waipareira Trust Board was outrage.
The second was a stern lecture to myself about the fact everyone, even rapists, deserves a second chance, rehabilitation, and forgiveness.
After some reflection and chat I reckon outrage is fair. Rickards has a history of abusing a position of power, of taking sexual advantage of the vulnerability of youth, and of condoning and supporting rapists. The role he has taken is one of power, of authority, and of governing and directing services and interactions with the young and the vulnerable. He is in a position to shape the culture of theÂ Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust.
Sure, he deserves a chance to apologise, make amends, and rehabilitate himself – but that’s not what he’s done.
This is a man who, in the recent past, said that the gang rape of a young woman was ok. He has never apologised and said he was wrong. He has consistent spoken against the victims of rape.
He is not a man who deserves a leadership role, and not one who can be trusted with power.
I agree on the matter of principle, but isn’t it really just a matter for TWOW? In spite of his many and documented failings — failings that led to his not being fit to serve as a senior police officer despite a previously distinguished career — they’ve elected him. And now we get to judge them on their decision.
Mind you, this is the organisation led by John “Front Bums” Tamihere, so the difference is of scale rather than kind.
You’re right that I can judge the voters for their decision, but I also get to judge Rickards both for his past behaviour, and what his decision to stand for this role says about him.
Rehabilitation has to be a consideration in any society that aspires to civility. A friend of mine forgave her father recently for appalling violent behaviour towards her and her mother in her youth. How can you do that? I asked. â€œitâ€™s for me, not himâ€ she said.
John Tamihere is a reasonably offensive person with multiple DICs and a persistent mysoginist streak, and got a hard time during his parliamentary period from Rodney Hide in particular.
The Waipareira Trust has long been a pain in the rear outfit with overlapping circles of personal and organisational awfulness; being one of the orginators of large scale privatisation of welfare and anti union to boot in terms of employees of and contractors to the trust.
Rickards is a good fit for the culture there.
I tend to think that rehabilitation and forgiveness are different things. It is up to Rickards to rehabilitate himself, forgiveness is (as you say) something his victims can do for themselves.
As a Wellington resident I don’t know much about the Waipareira Trust, except for my distaste for Tamihere and my general understanding of the UMAs.
What disturbs me, I guess, is their importance in providing support and services for many vulnerable women, men, kids and families. They deserve better than Rickards :(
Particularly since UMAs will likely be heavily involved in the provision of (what are usually thought of as) government services under WhÄnau Ora.
IMO we need to worry about actually punishing rapists before we have to start thinking about forgiving them. Though almost anyone will say that rape is bad, if you actually look at the way it’s treated (along with sexual assault, molestation, sexual harassment, stalking and other gendered, sexual crimes) it really doesn’t seem that we, as a group, actually do. According to the RAINN stats you could line up 50 rapists and pick out only three to actually face jail time – and almost certainly those three will be POC who don’t have a position of respect in the community, with victims that fit a very narrow type of “good” victim – for example, elderly women raped violently in their homes. Men in positions of power who use coercion to pressure their much younger victims, particularly victims from lower socio-economic backgrounds, almost always get away with it, because they know how to use the accepted rape narratives to their advantage. Until that changes, I really don’t feel any need to give “second” (generally it’s highly unlikely that they’ve only victimised once) chances to these people.