Brian Edwards Media

Archive for December, 2009

Death Out Of Season


Photo: Ursula Abresch

Photo: Ursula Abresch










One of the worst arguments I ever had in public was with my teenage son Olly and stepson Quentin. We were in a restaurant in Lower Hutt. Lorraine and Aaron Cohen had just been arrested for drug trafficking in Malaysia. The boys thought the Cohens deserved whatever they got. They knew the risks.

 I remember asking them if they were in favour of the death penalty. They said they were. I then began describing in graphic detail what happens when a prisoner is hanged, electrocuted, gassed, shot, given a lethal injection. At the end of each description, I heard myself screaming, ‘Is that what you’re in favour of? Come on, tell me, is that what you’re in favour of?’ I was red in the face and they were as pale as sheets. The whole restaurant was listening to this exchange. I had really lost my cool.  Looking back, I don’t feel too bad about it. I think I did the right thing. Perhaps not in the right way, but the right thing nonetheless. Read the rest of this entry »


Lazy Blogger Has No Choice But To Re-Hash Old Column On Hard Determinism







If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll have noticed that crime and punishment are predominant themes and that my position on these issues can be summarised as either pragmatic and enlightened or pie-in-the-sky wishy-washy liberalism. I’m not a great believer in punishment.

There are many reasons for this, the most important being that as a form of correction punishment is largely ineffective. We all want less crime, but putting people in prison for longer and longer doesn’t lead to less crime. It may in fact do the opposite.

Another important reason is that I’m a hard determinist, that is to say I don’t believe in free will. I’ve held this position since I was 16, long before the ever-expanding list of physical and personality traits that we now recognise as genetically determined had even been conceived.

Hard determinists have trouble with punishment, since blame can only attach to those with genuine freedom of choice.

Among my predetermined personality traits is laziness. If I weren’t so lazy, I would blog more often. But for the next few weeks I have an additional excuse. I’m on holiday. So I’ve decided to re-publish some columns I wrote for various newspapers and magazines over the years which have at least some relevance to the topics discussed on this site over the past year.   And where better to start than this piece from the Listener on why you really don’t have a choice. Read the rest of this entry »


Meeting Brutality with Brutality


Rotorua Daily Post

Rotorua Daily Post

There can be no doubt that the killing of 78-year-old John Rowe was brutal. Rowe was in bed recuperating from an ulcerated leg and due to return to hospital for treatment the following day, when 16-year-old Courtney Pauline Churchward and 14-year old Lori-Lea Waiora Te Wini beat him to death with his own walking stick and a broom handle.

Mr Rowe’s death was not quick. Churchward, the senior partner in this murderous duo, testified that she stood by Rowe’s bed for a good two minutes ‘trying to prepare myself. Then I just hit him. He tried to get up. I hit him again. He was still trying to get up. I hit him again and again.’

Rowe’s fully-clothed body was found the next  morning by a neighbour. His face and head were extensively bruised and torn. His left arm was broken and his right  arm badly damaged. His fingers were torn and broken, injuries apparently consistent with attempting to ward off blows. Blood was spattered around his bedroom walls and ceiling.

‘Brutal’ – the word barely does the killing justice. Read the rest of this entry »


The TVNZ Charter: a toothless tiger out of its misery.

telly-setWe appear to be the only country in the developed world without a public service television channel. By this I mean a channel that is state funded, commercial-free and programmed with the interests of the audience in mind, rather than a commercial imperative.

Now the TVNZ charter is to go, and this will no doubt be the trigger for public outrage and dire warnings. However, before we all start weeping, wailing and gnashing our teeth, we need to look at what we’ve lost.  The Charter was always a paper tiger, so watered down from its original intention of ensuring public service broadcasting, so limp and cautious and ineffectual, that it held the state broadcaster to – well, almost nothing but good intentions.

It came with a very large annual chunk of money for ‘public service broadcasting’, which was accounted for only in retrospect.  That money was spent on a number of projects, some of them very worthwhile.  But it was also spent on programmes that had previously been funded from commercial revenue; it was spent on buying overseas programmes; it was spent on Dancing with the Stars.

The result of the charter disappearing will be that TVNZ no longer has to pretend it is a public service broadcaster, that it no longer has to pay lip service to the needs of the wider public, that it can concentrate on returning a profit to its major shareholder, the Government. I suspect we’ll find that we’ve lost almost nothing but the excuses. Read the rest of this entry »


The Dangers of Discretion (Based on a Shameful True Story)

Photo: Dean Purcell

Photo: Dean Purcell

I was recently stopped at a police checkpoint in Ponsonby and breath-tested. I’d had a couple of glasses of wine with a meal and a small brandy with my coffee to follow. I didn’t expect to be over the limit or anywhere near the limit. And indeed I wasn’t.

If an experience I had many years ago, when we were somewhat less scrupulous about drinking and driving, is anything to go by, I could have had a great deal more to drink and still been under the limit.  

I’d had a rather fine dinner at Valerio’s in Parnell and been shouted to several grappa after the meal by our generous host. I was pissed as a newt. I would have asked Judy to drive, but she was  equally merry. It was 2am. Read the rest of this entry »


Tiger, Tiger Burning… but not very bright!


BE says:

Ten ways to guarantee you will be found out when having an affair:

1. Have the affair with a cocktail waitress

2. Have the affair over an extended period, preferably several years

3. During this period, meet and have clandestine sex with the cocktail waitress often

4. Communicate regularly with the cocktail waitress by email, text and phone

5. When faced with likely discovery, leave a message on the cocktail waitress’ answering machine (asking her to delete  her name from her voice message, because your wife has gone through your phone, found the name and ‘may be calling you’.)

6. Sound nervous and guilty and finish the message, ‘Do this for me. Huge. Quickly!’

7. Have other affairs

8. Be incredibly famous

9. Be a billionaire

10. Be incredibly stupid


 JC  says:

 Four ways to guarantee a young man will go off the rails eventually:

1. Make sure he doesn’t have a childhood.

2. Make sure his teenage is about getting ahead in life, not getting experience in life.

3. Hold this kid up as a paradigm of perfect behaviour.

4. Make sure this role-model image carries through to adulthood.

Tiger was a public phenomenon from the time he was a toddler.  Check him out with his ever-present and over-ambitious father on the Mike Douglas show, where he putted against Bob Hope and beat him.  At two years old he was in the spotlight; at eight years old he was winning world championships.

It wasn’t enough for this kid to be brilliant at golf, though.  He was expected to be perfect in every way. In his own words: ”From early childhood I dreamed of being the world’s best golfer. I worked hard and applied my family’s values to everything I did. Integrity, honesty, discipline, responsibility and fun; I learned these values at home and in school, each one pushing me further toward my dream.” Not a lot of room there for Friday night cruising, chatting up girls. Not a lot of room for tantrums and heart break and hangovers and all the  things that are part of life’s education.

It’s a bit like plugging up a volcano.  If you’ve been forced to be a good boy all your life, if you’ve never been granted the freedom to run wild, to make mistakes, to learn the lessons only bad behaviour and its consequences can teach you, then one day you’re going to break loose and do something incredibly stupid – like having affairs with women who have everything to gain from kiss and tell.

However, when debating crime and punishment with my determinist spouse, who argues in mitigation for violent criminals because of their childhood experiences, my mantra has always been, ‘It may be an explanation, but it’s not an excuse’.  So I suppose that applies to Tiger, as well.  Just because it was inevitable, doesn’t make it OK.  Bad boy, Tiger!

BE Says:

I yield.


Media Tip: The Fine Art of Saying ‘No’

The media is wooing you, but you don’t want to give an interview. NO!!

Just how do you say ‘No’? Well, the first thing not to do is to make dishonest excuses. ‘Look, I’d love to come but my husband’s got the ‘flu and I can’t find a babysitter.’ The truth is that you’d hate to come, there’s nothing wrong with your husband and your youngest child is 17. So what are you going to do when they ring back 10 minutes later to say that they’ve employed a state registered nurse to look after the family while you’re out? Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

This sort of difficulty arises because most of us feel we have to justify our actions by giving reasons. We don’t. Assertive people realise that the best reason for not doing something is not wanting to do it. And that should be your approach when turning the reporter down. Read the rest of this entry »