Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Christchurch KidsFest goes to the Dogs

Perceptions VS Realities.
The above image is a capture from my computer screen showing the STUFF (PRESS) coverage given to the TV2/PRESS/CCC KidsFest (school holiday activities) alongside [just] one of a number of images (and video) I took of the 'helicopter/dog' AOS activity.

NZ Police subdued Armed Offenders Squad should...Image via Wikipedia

There is an acute contrast in subject matter given everywhere else. If the mission is to 'scare kids into societal compliance' the message has somehow become more important than the kids.

This POLICE Armed Offenders activity caused concern to a number of the children attending the event. Military grade weapons were pointed in the direction of the young people and the parents (see photo, children are all to photographers right). While in reality, I am completely aware these weapons would have been made 'safe' for the purposes of the demonstration, this is about perceptions in the context of today's 'news and reality television' that children are exposed too. Along with the drama of the moment my video sound captures parents having to reassure clearly concerned children that this was "its just an exercise." Other remarks were overheard (but not captured). These include "Are they going to shoot him Dad" and other remarks that clearly indicated that this wasn't about 'the police dog, its handler and any demonstrable skills' rather a bigger picture as observed by parents and seen children.

The dog played a small and insignificant role and in the view of this handler, was neither very proficient, focused, or skilled.

It was shown to be used as an instrument of fear and control. It certainly wasn't about health and safety, rather one of suspected criminal activity associated with drug use (broadcast by announcer).

[ Note: the writer requested CCC to formally discuss the appropriateness of and inconsistency of this activity in the Dog Day Out advertised objectives with CCC administration as both a parent, an exhibitor/participant (School of the Naked Dog - ) and in my capacity as a founding director of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy ). - "I look forward to your confirmation of a meeting to view and discuss these photos & video content at your earliest convenience, and, I trust, how we might contribute ideas to replacing this 'activity' so that the overall tenor, themes and objectives of Dog Day Out are positively enhanced for future events."]

These concerns are mutually shared by front line health delivery specialists (nursing staff) that recognise the use of WestPak rescue ambulance/helicopter in this case also has public relations implications.

Trained Police DogImage by bartmaguire via Flickr

The response from CCC was to deflect any concerns commenting variously 'its not the first time we have done it, no one else has complained, its just one of 220 events, we are greatful to Garden City Helicopters for their support, and we used to have the dog bring the guy down....' - This was a school holiday activity, if this was to occur as a formal part of an intermediate school health and safety initiative it would be seriously questionable 'use of resources' but worse, while hopefuly ineffectual, likely counterproductive.
I have, since the Jan Molenaar incident seen AOS response twice in my near neighborhood. Are we to believe we are safer for all this increased prevelance of police precence in the community... media continues to report fearful crime epidemics yet statistics show crime is decreasing.
Is Dog Day Out just another example (expression) of the media x police collusion in manufacturing consent - the attached image makes a strong case. Despite the offer of use of video proof no media would take the opportunity to 'tackle' the seeming vexing complexity at the nexus of this.
That said... "in all other respects an enjoyable day was had. It is a refreshing reminder to naysayers who see dogs as problematic in the community that here we had hundreds of children and dogs and the only spat we saw was a fox terrier with a napoleon complex grrr'ing a 60kg behemoth that could have sat on it! All in all and excellent public relations (for dogs and owners everywhere) that should remind us all that 600,000 kiwi-dogs never bit anyone today."
We hope that the CCC can be just as creative and committed to 'Take a Dog to Work" day for much the same reason and societal reward.

Yours faithfully, Blair Anderson

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