We woke up this morning to the news that Shane Warne aged 52 had died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Since he was travelling in Thailand at the time, no doubt he had had a Covid-19 vaccination. Was this causal? Possibly. At the very least you can forgive me for asking this question. Aha, warning—conspiracy theory. An article in Circulation, the official journal of the American Heart Association, has already warned of an association between Covid-19 mRNA vaccination and precursors of heart disease, but never mind.
Oh, and UK cardiologists have warned of an increasing prevalence of heart disease. And um, pericarditis and myocarditis are known side effects of Pfizer vaccination and according to the prestigious Mayo Clinic these diseases often progress to heart disease and strokes within 3-5 years, but never mind this can’t be true. It must be a conspiracy theory or the result of unsound science, right? Our government is the only source of truth, and they say the mRNA Covid-19 vaccination is completely safe. SO NEVER MIND.
What is a conspiracy theory?
Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reassured us this week:
“One day, it will be our job to try and understand how a group of people could succumb to such wild and dangerous mis- and disinformation…. There has been an element of this occupation that has not felt like New Zealand. And that’s because it is not…. It’s a dangerous place when citizens are led into spaces where they believe so deeply in conspiracy theories…”
Ever willing to support our PM and her noble causes, MSM Stuff came out fists swinging today in support with a long analysis of the dangerous places within NZ society.
Central to Stuff’s analysis was the opinion of Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa, a researcher at the New Zealand think tank Te Pūnaha Matatini who works on something called The Disinformation Project. We have come across Te Pūnaha Matatini before and commented on their work.
Te Pūnaha Matatini has advised our government among many other things that adverse effects of Covid-19 are a conspiracy theory, that concepts of herd immunity are a misrepresentation of science, and that Gerry Brownlee is a right wing conspiracy theorist.
In today’s article Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa is credited with explaining that ‘it’s the politicians, like Winston Peters, Matt King, Marama Fox and David Seymour, who legitimised the protest, but should have known better’.
Who is Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa and why is he so qualified to tell us about ourselves?
Dr Hattotuwa comes from Sri Lanka. From 2002 to 2020 he was a senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Sri Lanka which is an organisation devoted to promoting liberal democracy in Sri Lanka. Since 2006 Dr Hattotuwa has also worked for the ICT4Peace Foundation to ‘counter violent extremism online’. To achieve this, ICT4 has worked with, yes you guessed it, among others the World Economic Forum, the NZ Government, and the United Nations.
Dr. Hattotuwa received his doctorate from the University of Otago in 2021 just last year. His thesis examined the intersection of social media, political communication, violence generation and the realisation of Sri Lanka’s democratic potential. In other words his doctoral work examined Sri Lanka.
Yet suddenly in 2022, a mere few months later, Dr. Hattotuwa has become an expert on New Zealand and has been able to identify and deride the failings of NZ opposition politicians such as Winston Peters and David Seymour who dared to ask protestors at Parliament what they were concerned about. Dr Hattotuwa’s opinions have even been quoted by the UK Guardian as representative of NZ public opinion. And as a newly minted research fellow at Te Pūnaha Matatini, he enjoys the full support of the Labour Government!!!
Constitutional safeguards in NZ are missing in action
In 2016, the prestigious International Journal of Constitutional Law based at Oxford University published an article pointing out vulnerabilities in the governance structure of New Zealand:
“The governing arrangements.…combine a highly centralized system of government with formally unlimited legislative authority and strong executive dominance of the activities of the nation’s Parliament. Public decision-making power is concentrated in ways that an observer schooled in the orthodoxies of constitutional design best practice might expect to cause some significant problems.”
The article went on to explain (in 2016) that so far NZ seemed to have avoided these problems. I wonder what they would say in 2022?
The hunt for scapegoats
The Stuff article further reports Dr Hattotuwa as warning us all:
“Once Kiwis start genuinely engaging (on alternative social media platforms), there is nothing we can do to get them back into a shared reality.”
Dr Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner for New Zealand, is quoted by Stuff as concurring, reportedly he said “then there’s the beast that is social media”. Dr. Hunt believes there should be a small, nimble, NZ independent monitoring organisation which can hold social media companies to account.
It is hard to imagine under the current constitutional arrangements in New Zealand how any organisation formed and funded by the government could actually be independent of the government.
Is our government guilty of misinformation?
Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson are joining in this week with calls for accountability and control of social media. If such laws were ever introduced would the government itself be called to account for policies such as these:
- Why did our government publicly describe mRNA vaccination as completely safe, when they were aware from the beginning of the risk of heart disease?
- Why did the Ministry of Health decide to refuse exemptions to those injured by their first mRNA inoculation, thereby exceeding the safety recommendations of Pfizer itself.
- Knowing that mRNA Covid-19 vaccination did little to stop transmission, why did the government impose harsh mandates which have disenfranchised and impoverished a large sector of NZ society, and why are they still continuing with these policies when Omicron is a mild disease adapted to infect the vaccinated?
The list of such government disinformation is a long one, and they must know it. Trying to deflect blame onto others is a classic ploy of the guilty.
What would a sensible precautionary approach look like?
Should precautionary warnings have been issued concerning the risks of heart disease following vaccination right from the start? YES.
But is our government capable of acknowledging updated findings of Covid-19 journal publishing, rather than clinging to their outdated narratives? So far NO.
Some of you may think these are marginal issues which do not affect you. Just reflect for a moment that our NZ government readily calls out government disinformation and human rights violations overseas which sound very similar to those it is promoting here. Ask yourself—is this what I want for our nation going forward? Am I prepared to have plurality and expression stifled? Is there only one truth—government truth? Does that make any sense?
According to Te Pūnaha Matatini, continuing promotion of disinformation is a right wing agenda which poses significant threats to social cohesion, freedom of expression, inclusion, and safety. I wholeheartedly agree. I hope those responsible in our government are brought to account.
Image Credit: Jennie Hatherley
Guy Hatchard PhD was formerly a senior manager at Genetic ID a food testing and certification company (now known as FoodChain ID). Website: HatchardReport.com.