Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 10. 1965.
Mr. Hanan, the Minister of Justice, has invented a new weapon. He uses it to quieten critics and to explain how it is impossible to break up prison riots.
When the prisoners in Mt Eden attempted to rid themselves of their arsonist repressions a less sympathetic outside world thought that perhaps the prisoners' actions were inappropriate. In particular the prison officers and the fire brigade thought so. They tried to put the fire out.
They tended to succeed at first. So the prisoners lit some more fires. Then some more.
And this is where the situation got just a trifle ludicrous. The firemen could not get at the fires because the prisoners kept throwing rocks at them. And no one could convince the prisoners that they ought to stop.
Here, perhaps, was a good case for the use of tear gas. We thought so. But Mr. Hanan in his wisdom informed us that it would not work, because the prisoners were not in a confined space.
Now overseas police and troops have been using tear gas for years. Mostly, they have been using it in the open air. A fortnight ago Greek police used tear gas on students rioting in the streets of Athens.
The mob dispersed. And ex-MP, Mr. Holloway, who was watching the riot from behind a police cordon, was led to believe, as the tears streamed down his face, that the tear gas was in some way responsible for the dispersal of the rioters.
Other examples abound. In Japan recently riot police broke up a violent demonstration using tear gas. In the open street. And the same technique was used during the Dominican crisis. In the open street.
So much then for the use of tear gas overseas. One might have thought that it would have worked here, too. But we do not have the ordinary sort in this country. We have Hanan gas instead. This is released not in the open street, not even in confined spaces, but in the newspapers. And it is used on the general public.
As the convicts incendiarised everything that would burn, and as the public wondered if perhaps they ought not be stopped, the Minister produced his own weapon.
Tear gas, he said in a press release, would not be effective, as the inmates were not in a confined space. He knew. He spoke as the inventor of Hanan gas. The public seemed satisfied. The prisoners were, too. They burned down the kitchen to show their approval.
So we commend you on your invention, Mr. Hanan. But we think you were wrong to use it. We don't want to hurt your feelings, but the original tear gas is better. You see, it not only silences the critics, but it disperses the rioters as well.—G.E.J.L.