Why Kerre Woodham is wrong

Breaking Silence, Part Deux
By J Tertullian

Macsyna King has been in the news again.  This time the context has altered somewhat.  The coroner investigating the death of her premature twins has placed the blame firmly upon her then derelict “husband”, Chris Kahui. It was impossible for Macsyna King to murder the children, the coroner concluded. By process of elimination, Kahui was the only one left to blame.  This must have come as a shock to a more than a few people.

Here was a woman who was vilified throughout the country as the indisputable murderess, a child killer, a swine, a monster, the lowest of the low, etc.  In fact, when Chris Kahui was charged it took the jury only a minute to declare him not guilty.
  His defence team had pulled off one of the most successful and compelling misdirection moves in criminal history.  It was aided by a suppliant, prurient, and sensationalist media which aggressively framed Miss King as the murderer from the outset.  Apparently it sold more papers and pushed ratings up.  Clearly the jury had been tainted by this abuse of Forth Estate responsibilities. It is the closest thing we have seen in our lifetimes to vigilante justice in New Zealand.

So incensed has the public remained that when Ian Wishart announced the pending publication of Breaking Silence several years later–a book which allowed Macsyna King to tell her own warts-and-all back story and presented Ian Wishart’s review of the evidence of the trial–a spontaneous eruption of public anger successfully pressured some leading book retailers to refuse to sell the book about the monster.   Once again, the media took sides, giving a tacit cheer to this development.  So much for freedom of the press.

As a result of the coroner’s verdict, one news outlet managed to get an interview with Macsyna.  Talk-back radio host, Kerre Woodham used her weekly column in the NZ Herald to reflect upon the interview and her callers’ reactions.

Good on Campbell Live for getting an interview with Macsyna King on the day coroner Garry Evans’ report came out into the deaths of her twins, Chris and Cru.  The report in effect blamed Macsyna’s former partner and the father of the twins for the death of the babies – but given that Chris Kahui has been tried and acquitted for the murder of his twins, it seems likely that yet again in this country no one will be held accountable.

Macsyna spoke very well in the interview but towards the end, the poor me’s started to get on my nerves.

Ms Woodham then went on to engage in some classic Monday-morning quarterbacking:

Sure, she may not have inflicted the fatal injuries on her twins but if she loved those babies so much, why had she not picked up the earlier rib fractures the twins suffered, before they were fatally injured?

We don’t know whether Ms Woodham has ever born and raised twins.  But her remark implies not.  She elides over the twins having been released from hospital whilst still five weeks premature.  Broken ribs are not uncommon in such babies–nor do they necessarily imply rough treatment.  Moreover, she chooses to ignore the numerous visits of professionally qualified caregivers who failed to notice the broken ribs.  But Macsyna was a negligent mother because she too failed to pick up the symptoms.  Tut, tut.

Ms Woodham hangs tough in true Macsyna King style:

Some who saw that interview felt enormous compassion for Macsyna King – they told me so on the radio. Good on them. I wish I had their depth of humanity.  But I used all my compassion for those defenceless twins. The mother, who made her own choices and must bear the consequences of her decisions, can take care of herself.

Yes, Macsyna King can take care of herself.  She is no doubt bearing the consequences of her decisions.  But some of those consequences have been manufactured by an hysterical, misdirected  public whipped up into a mob demanding vigilante justice.  Those consequences are our responsibility, not Macsyna King’s.  No amount of compassion poured forth from Ms Woodham for the dead twins is going to justify or absolve that lapse in public justice, righteousness, and truth.  It remains a blot upon us all.

One presumes that Ms Woodham believes that two wrongs do not make a right.  If she does, then she has chosen to breach that maxim here.  Maybe her self-righteousness is protesting a little too much.  Regardless, the whole tragedy shows how easily the public and juries can be facile dupes in the hands of a clever barrister and a complicit media.   That’s something we are all responsible for, not Macsyna King.