Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.
Sir,—As the greater part of Mr Gager's letter is a personal attack and has little constructive value, I shall let the good sense of the reader answer it himself. In the letter I am misquoted and my first name has been changed. The only relevant point raised occurs near the end.
When any person or persons wishes to put "a case as openly as possible to ordinary people, and believing that, if this is done, people will arrive at a right decision," then I can only be in sympathy. Democracy makes provision for the airing of such issues through free speech, the Press, and action through the M.P. whose job it is to be aware of the opinion and feelings of his constituents.
A demonstration, as its name implies, is not a means of airing an issue, but direct action indicating the opinion of the group who are demonstrating. It is a means of indication opinion, not forming it. A demonstration implies that constitutional means are not sufficient to gain the desired objectives, and thus cannot represent an act of faith in democracy.
We in New Zealand are fortunate enough to have inherited the British tradition of political behaviour which ensures political stability and also allows for change in the light of new situations and ideas. I do believe in "the common sense of the ordinary man," and I also believe that if an idea has merit then he may come to a more rational decision based upon the rights of the case if given more time and information than is present in the inevitably emotional atmosphere of a demonstration.
I hope that the quality of argument in Mr Gager s letter is not a reflection upon the quality of argument used by the demonstrators. I also hope that Mr Gager takes more trouble to understand why he should rush into the street than he has taken to understand my article before rushing into print.