Should we bring back public executions?
It's a strange question to ask, but a growing number of people are asking it
First off — not to be a giant liberal cuck — but the comments to last week’s Tell Me Anything made me cry. There were so many stories shared — and they were so honest and open — I couldn’t respond to them all. Some of them I just had to sit with. Cup of tea in hand, cold breeze whirling through the window, I just sat with them and thought: What a strange, rough few years it’s been.
And yet strangely… none of you are turning up at anti-mandate protests to rant and rave, throwing your metaphorical toys out of the cot. In New Zealand’s Capitol, the crowds continue to build. The privilege of America’s Cup skipper Russell Coutts and City Impact’s Peter Mortlock have entered the fray.
“It’s the first time I've ever felt compelled to join a protest,” 59-year-old Coutts said. 59. That’s almost six decades of not caring about anything enough to protest. That is, until his personal freedoms had been encroached upon.
In amongst the crowds and Telegram groups, a growing distrust of the media. This is something I am always curious about, because since I graduated journalism school in 2005, I’ve been part of the media. I care about it.
I worked in a commercial newsroom for almost a decade (funded by ad revenue, as opposed to the government), then turned to some documentary making — partly funded by government grants to make Tickled, and Netflix to make Dark Tourist.
And in amongst these mandate protests in Canada and New Zealand, there’s this idea that the media are part of some sort of conspiracy — working with the government to toe the line of mandates and vaccines, boosters and mask-wearing.
This distrust comes in a variety of forms, and like conspiracy theory belief, it falls on a spectrum of intensity and craziness.
To illustrate this I thought I’d use examples of this from two different New Zealand musicians who have decided to make it very clear that they support the Wellington protest.
Nathan Haines, and Jason Kerrison.
Nathan Haines is a jazz musician, and is at the “dipping his toes in” end of the spectrum. Over on Instagram he posted a variety of photos the protest last week — including one with a pro-Ivermectin image on the bottom left corner:
Underneath he left a rambling caption — making it clear that while he was vaccinated, he didn’t support any mandates.
Then he got the media stuff:
“As we all know Labour set up a journalism ‘fund’ to promote their rhetoric at the beginning of this pandemic — which means us New Zealanders are not getting any balanced reporting.”
He’s commenting on the fact the New Zealand government poured a bunch of money into various media organisations so they could make more hires. I’m not sure if you noticed, but the internet is killing a lot of journalism. Revenue is down, and journalists around the country — and the world — are being let go. The government decided to step in and help.
If you’re worried about what that means for democracy, this episode of Mediawatch is a good place to start:
The Public Interest Journalism Fund has bankrolled 110 new journalism jobs - the biggest investment yet from this recent government initiative. News media companies welcomed this boost - but critics claim giving the fund $55 million of public money undermines editorial and financial independence. What will we get from the new roles paid for by the public purse?
Haines thinks because newsrooms are getting government money, that means editors and journalists will automatically become government mouth pieces. That is not part of the deal. That’s not how newsrooms work. New Zealand’s largest news outlet — TVNZ — has been government owned forever, and has been openly critical of governments (left and right) since its inception.
Also, there’s the fact Nathan Haines has got plenty of government money from New Zealand on Air to make his music — and yet I’ve never once suspected his lyrics to be infused with government propoganda.
So there’s the Nathan Haines end of the spectrum — sort of gently suggesting the media has sold out. And underneath — a sea of support for his “brave” words:
Then there’s the extreme end of media distrust.
Enter Opshop frontman and proud conspiracy theorist Jason Kerrison. If you’re unfamiliar with Opshop, I’d liken them to New Zealand’s version of U2.
But at the moment Kerrison appears less interested in rock anthems and more interested in suggesting members of the press will end up being publicly executed for their transgressions:
To be fair to Jason — I don’t see this as a death threat from him per se. He’s merely stating the narrative set out by those conspiracy theorists that have come before him (mainly in the QAnon movement) that executions will take place.
Remember that noose at the Capitol Riots in January of 2021? Yeah, same idea.
But while it’s not a death threat (I don’t think for a minute Jason is going to attempt to hang anyone himself) he doesn’t exactly seem unhappy at the concept of journalists and the New Zealand government being publicly executed.
“Bummer for you and yours,” he says.
Jason Kerrison has been somewhat unhinged for quite some time. He has a strong belief that UFOs have been visiting earth for eons, and he’s had a bunker for over a decade. He’s a proud doomsday prepper:
“It’s just getting close to home more often. I guess we live such ephemeral lives that we expect this potential global cataclysm we’re discussing to happen overnight or out of the blue. But there are signs everywhere that this accelerated pole shift is being triggered and ramping up.”
“If the shit were to hit the fan as much as some people talk about, you could get a whole crustal displacement of the eight to 20 miles’ worth of crust on this 8000-mile-wide planet, slipping like a peel on an orange.”
And like Nathan Haines’ fans throwing their support behind his ideas of media sell-out, Jason Kerrison isn’t alone in his more extreme narrative.
On my own Facebook wall there are plenty of messages telling me that I’ll be rounded up and put on trial, too.
This is of course all a part of the Sovereign Citizen movement (see this Webworm piece on that) — a bunch of people who plan to perform (or at least watch) a bunch of citizen’s arrests, and citizen’s executions:
All this came from America — both the talk of executions (via QAnon), but also this wider idea of “fake news”. I’d argue Nathan Haines wouldn’t be thinking the way he’s thinking without one Donald Trump.
Will there be public executions in New Zealand? I doubt it. But I’d prefer it wasn’t being talked about like it was a real thing, and I’d prefer it if people like Kelvyn Alp weren’t hanging amongst the protestors discussing hangings.
Because he does give me cause for concern.
I’m going to throw his over to my sometimes-Webworm colleague, Dylan Reeve. I need a shower.
Inside the Deeply Unpleasant World of Kelvyn Alp
by Dylan Reeve
The first time most of the New Zealand public might have heard the name Kelvyn Alp was in 2002 when TV3’s 20/20 aired a story about his mercenary private army, the Armed Intervention Force, and their claim to have declared war on the government.
But a couple of years earlier the group had been profiled in the niche Investigate Magazine, where it was reported they were suspected by police and intelligence agencies of planning terrorist activity, and that the group had confronted police head-on about the the threat they posed.
One AIF leader, Investigate reported, met police to warn that interference with the group would be met with deadly force. The article quotes the leader saying, “We will go through you like a dose of salts.”
Alp claimed to Investigate that his group, which stated its aim was to “return power to New Zealanders”, was made up of former members of the military, including the elite SAS. The article quotes an unnamed “top-ranking police officer” acknowledging the group was well armed, “we know they have semi-automatic, and fully automatic military firearms.”
In 2001 the group was reported to have become involved in a dispute between BNZ bank and a conspiracy theorist Philip Verry, who claimed the bank owed him more than $8m. During the dispute it was claimed that Alp threatened BNZ’s managing director, and members of the AIF made night-time visits to his home dressed in military outfits. Charges against Alp for harassment were dropped by the police.
Alp made another small splash in 2004 when armed police raided his home after he purchased a pistol holster on TradeMe. At the time police said Alp was trying to “overthrow the New Zealand Government.”
As we clearly know now, Alp’s attempts to overthrow the government and “return power” came to nothing, and somewhere in the mid-2000’s the AIF appears to have quietly dissolved.
Alp popped up again in 2010 as the operator of a gold mining venture in the Solomon Islands, which company receivers later reported to be the subject of a police investigation into fraud. No charges were brought after a Serious Fraud Office investigation.
In 2011, Alp stood as a candidate in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election for the OurNZ party. It was not his first dabble in politics — he’d previously formed the Direct Democracy Party which counted Kyle Chapman, founder of the white supremacist group National Front, among its candidates.
More recently he has been seen in the media again as the frontman of Counterspin Media, an online “news” program effectively devoted to conspiracy theories and Covid disinformation, that has previously been connected to Trump hype-man Steve Bannon through his GTV online media platform.
Alp’s profile has been further boosted over recent weeks as his Counterspin Media show has operated a daily multi-hour live broadcast from the Wellington protest.
While he was already an influential voice within the online mis- and disinformation community in Aotearoa, his comparatively polished broadcasts and messaging from the protest have boosted him even further — with clips and content from his show, website and Telegram channel being shared widely across social media channels used by those opposed to government Covid measures.
Those who’ve watched Counterspin during its fairly short life have been “informed” about countless conspiracy theories — largely related to Covid, but often connected to broader conspiracy ideas that posit a sinister global agenda being carried out by powerful elites (read: Jews) as well as claims made by Q, the eponymous “leader” of the far-reaching QAnon conspiracy theory.
In some ways, however, Alp is an unusual ally for conspiracists.
He is (or perhaps was) a Freemason at Auckland’s Lodge Kauri. Widely considered by conspiracy theorists to be connected to the Illuminati, or otherwise part of the global cabal, Freemasons are typically the focus of suspicion. And, indeed, Alp’s status as a Mason has caused rifts with some other local figures, but for the bulk of his audience it apparently isn’t a problem.
Over recent weeks, alongside coverage of the Wellington protest, the show has been heavily promoting a “documentary” about the Christchurch shooting that claims to reveal the entire event was staged by the New Zealand Government, with no real victims, in order to confiscate guns ahead of a move toward a one world government.
And so it is with that background of publicly stated intentions to overthrow the New Zealand government — and a history of threatening armed violence and loud repetition of diverse and violent conspiracy theories — that Alp posted on his Telegram channel on January 29th, his “strategic plan” for what was to come.
WHEN ASKED “WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP IT”?... MY RESPONSE IS:
As you know, time is of the essence. The opposing demonic forces of democidal intent, have planned for ‘almost’ all eventualities.
What they have not considered, is real and tangible action taken by the people in numbers.
They expect protests, marches, rallies and other such gatherings and expect the organizers of those to be passive in their approach.
This expectation can be their Achilles heel, so to speak.
We need to make places available to hold public trials, but I suspect a deficiency in numbers unless real Men step up on behalf of the people.
The plan continues with a bullet-pointed list of steps to take, and groups to target for arrest ahead of these public trials: Politicians, councillors, members of the media, police, judges, and more.
As outlined, the plan echoes popular QAnon tropes that predict “the storm” in which elites and political leaders will be arrested, given speedy military trials, and — it’s assumed by believers — put to death.
Aware that “authorities” monitor his Telegram channel, Kelvyn commented that he had “taken that and other things into account” with his post.
In other words, this was just the plan he was happy for police to see. It doesn’t explicitly call for the executions that follow the trials, but Alp has made it clear in other broadcasts and posts that he hopes for that outcome.
In the QAnon plan, this imagined reckoning is for the crime of slavery and human trafficking connected to the entirely-imagined harvesting of Adrenochome, a stimulant said to be derived from the blood of children.
But the same idea — arrests, tribunals, and executions — was quickly adopted in the Covid denial and anti-vax communities where the theoretical crimes were initially to do with imprisoning populations and destroying economies, but rapidly became medical torture and mass murder once vaccines arrived on the scene.
Alp is far from the first person to suggest this public reckoning.
It’s become so wide-spread within the “Covid sceptical” community that practically every health educator, journalist, politician or academic opining in favour of Covid health measures will have been told, often very directly, that they will face trial, or warned about “Nuremberg 2.0” a widely-held idea that public tribunals, reminiscent of the post-WW2 Nuremberg trials, will be (or are currently) taking place.
The Telegram message outlining Alp’s specific strategic plan for New Zealand attracted more than 15,000 views and close to 300 comments, was shared to at least 19 other local telegram channels, and was copy-pasted even more widely. The very first comment on Alp’s original post was an invite to the (at the time) newly formed ‘New Zealand Convoy’ channel on Telegram.
Among the replies are countless people — many using what appear to be their real names — expressing excitement, agreement and a willingness to participate.
Among them, Victoria [last name withheld], a former political candidate from Central Otago, said she was, “Keen to help coordinate an assembly in our area and secure meeting place and court,” and Julie [last name withheld] a 67-year-old business owner from Whanganui who offered her help, saying, “I’m past trying to tell people what’s going on. They just don’t want to listen.”
Denise [last name withheld], who appears to have a joint LinkedIn account with her husband, was also keen, posting: “We're in North Otago and in our 70s but we’d both love to help in some way”
Others offered suggestions of more people who should be facing trial. “Add medical personnel that have promoted and participated in the genocide,” said a user calling themselves Jason Bourne, while another user, Manui, wanted to make sure school principals and deputies weren’t forgotten for their crimes.
While protesters in Wellington claim they are peaceful and primarily opposing the government’s vaccine-related mandates and restrictions, the widespread belief or expectation of a coming reckoning simmer (usually) quietly beneath the loud proclamations of freedom.
Recent signs of this include a Christchurch protest arranged, partially, in support of the Wellington occupation, which feature far more overt connections to these ideas in both their promotion of the event and on the day.
As David mentioned earlier, Jason Kerrison threw down with journalists Hilary Barry and Russell Brown, saying he “hoped” they’d remember the past, while including a mis-captioned image of Nazi war criminals being publicly hanged.
Kerrison later deleted the images, claiming he hadn’t meant them as a threat. While it’s hard to understand a way to interpret them otherwise, the simple fact that he had the image — and had believed the past to indicate some risk to the journalists he was communicating with — makes it clear he was aware of the idea that “justice” was coming for those who’ve supported Covid responses.
Now, more than 20 years after Kelvyn Alp threatened to overthrow the government, Parliament appears to be surrounded by aggrieved protesters, many of whom have been told to expect a reckoning — and Alp is providing a roadmap for that very event.
It’s hard not to suspect he might be hoping to turn the protest into the coup he’d be unable to achieve two decades ago.
David here again. I’d note that both Nathan Haines and Jason Kerrison have removed their posts — but that doesn’t mean their opinions have changed. I think it’s vital to document this stuff as it drops off the internet.
Webworm will be keeping an eye on these protests. While New Zealand is at the bum end of the world — a tiny country that seems perhaps insignificant on the world stage — it’s also a perfect little petri dish of what is happening elsewhere.
It’s also my home, and I care about it. I hate seeing the brainworms setting in — whether they are the smaller creatures found in Nathan Haines’ brain, or the slithering beasts threatening to burst out of Jason Kerrison’s eardrums.
PS: If you want to share this, it’s webworm.co/p/hangings
Super intense times eh. I’ve been getting death threats for as long as I’ve been writing (women having opinions online is hard for some) but it’s definitely escalated to a place that makes it harder to ignore. It’s the strangest thing seeing a neighbour who you chat to about plants and share cuttings with head to a protest where there are signs calling for you to be hung. Like, she knows my family, knows my kids...it’s hard to reconcile. It really impacts your mental health. And she might not mean that I would be included in a public hanging (just my colleagues?) but I truly don’t know. The proximity of all of these threats is just building to such an extent and now it feels like it’s being normalised. It has also had a big impact on how I use social media - I am much more wary about anything I write or share because the aggression from anti vaxxers is just so intense and to be honest I’m afraid for my family. We were asked to talk about disability and vaccination for a campaign but said no because we felt it would put our babies at risk. I’ve had someone scream at me in public that I’m “fake news” while I had my child with me. The end result is more people from already marginalised communities (the disability community for example) being “muzzled” as Wannabe Bono put it. And these are already very isolated members of the community - some parents of kids with immunity disabilities have been in lockdown since 2020. Anyway I’m rambling I’ll stop! Just thank you for continuing to speak out. I’ve lost so much work and so much income and I’m basically in lockdown for my whānau and it sucks but still I’m not shitting on the street...so???? Anyway arohanui x
David - your line about Coutts just sings out. And maybe it’s an old thought, but it’s one I’ve never had… “six decades of not caring about anything enough to protest. That is, until his personal freedoms had been encroached upon”.
I’ve heard so many say recently “I’ve never protested before, but…” as if that fact is legitimising. And I’ve given them that credence… but… what utterly selfish, disengaged, passive, injustice-tolerating fucks are these people? In this ratfucked century, to state that the only thing that has made you mad enough to get off your arse is a government trying its sometimes misguided best to keep its populace safe… yeah. You found my anger button and pushed it hard. Thank you!