NZ Officials Regret Gunman Letter | Talking Points Memo

New Zealand officials expressed regret in allowing the alleged Christchurch mosque gunman to send a hand-written letter from his prison cell, according to a statement obtained by the Associated Press Wednesday.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Ya think?!

“Tarrant also thanked ‘Alan’ for postage stamps that he apparently sent and added that he’ll have to hide them from guards.”

Am I the only one who sees elbow-length latex gloves in Tarrant’s future?


A mistake was made in a society that values freedom. The prison erred by granting this guy too much freedom of expression. It happens. The New Zealand officials learned and it won’t happen again.


Well … you’re not the only one now.

Thanks a lot for the visual.


A tad OT, but as long as we’re going to talk about crazy white nationalists…

Looks like Steve King of I-Oh-Way is not looking to rehabilitate his reputation.

“Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Wednesday defended his opposition to letting victims of rape or incest get abortions on the grounds that rape and incest have been vital to sustaining the human population.”

Ay, caramba!

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He seems nice.

It’s like hobbits trying to hold a ringwraith in custody. They have no mechanisms in place for such a development.

Hey, it worked in the myth that the Romans created for themselves. And theirs was an unmitigated success story.

… eventually he would have to lick the stamps …


Evidently, “Alan” didn’t tell him not to out his GRU handler by using the stamps to send a letter to him.

“We have never had to manage a prisoner like this before — and I have asked questions around whether our laws are now fit for purpose and asked for advice on what changes we may now need to make,” Davis said.

No deflection, no blame game. Just a straightforward admission the laws on the books weren’t designed to deal with this situation, and may need to be addressed and adjusted with this in mind. In short, how mature people solve problems. In the US, by contrast, we prefer to play Constitutional Gotcha! and $10,000 Slippery Slope.


For what it’s worth, I guess I think this guy has a right to spread propaganda from jail.

No, I don’t want him to do it. (And no, I don’t know NZ laws, so maybe they don’t have the equivalent of 1A.)

But I guess I wonder what legal justification there could be for preventing a prisoner from sharing their beliefs about the world with others. I think history is littered with people who wrote important correspondence while in prison. And I guess I feel like propaganda is kind of like porn: hard to nail down in a “I’ll know it when I see it” kind of way. So, I think a narrow prohibition specifically against propaganda would be really problematic.

And, like everyone else, I’m impressed with the matter-of-fact way NZ officials are handling this. It turns out government usually works just fine as long as you don’t hand the keys over to people intent on breaking it.

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I thought NZ might splurge and give him the Full Hannibal.

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I thought the same thing - one can regret that he is alive and capable of writing letters, but he why can’t he write letters to whomever he wants? How is he ever going to find a nice girl and settle down?
The system has the right, I assume to monitor all correspondence.

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The Tarrant letter … is addressed to a person named “Alan” in Russia.

I understand that Tarrant’s next letter is addressed to a person named “John Barron” in the USA.

From the Raw Story article:

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

I guess that this is one thing on which I can agree with Steve King: I also can’t say that Steve King was not a part of a product of that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that he was. Well, either that or incest.

The right of prison systems to censor as well as monitoring is pretty well established in most countries’ laws. You can argue against it, but it’s difficult because, among other things, you have to get into just which freedoms you give up when sentenced for a crime. (Also remember that NZ has hate speech laws, so there he doesn’t have the right to say such things even if not incarcerated. Incarceration merely provides an obvious avenue for prior restraint.

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Mark Twain said something like, " “If a cat sits on a hot stove, that cat won’t sit on a hot stove again. That cat won’t sit on a cold stove either."

Trouble with the learning is that it doesn’t always apply to every circumstance. Not that they shouldn’t have caught the letter / sentiments, but how far does it extend?

An elephant?