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Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda ArdernPhoto by Phil Walter/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — The documentary River of Freedom is a filmic record of the protests in New Zealand against the COVID lockdown policies and the mandating of vaccines. It has made its mark locally. Despite being ignored by the mainstream media, and only playing on a few screens, it reached number 10 in the box office.

The film documents the objections against then-prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s mandatory “No Jab, No Job” vaccination regime. It shows how the New Zealand politicians, when confronted by the protestors, hid in the building; all 120 parliamentarians refused to communicate with them. Two ex-members of parliament did visit and were later served with trespass notices.

The protestors seemed neither organized nor threatening; most of them talked repeatedly about the need to love one other. The mood was rather one of confusion and trauma as people who had mostly trusted their government saw their politicians turn into bureaucratic tyrants.

Many of them had lost their jobs and suffered the accompanying distress. There were photos of the vaccinated, often young, who had either died or been seriously injured. There was an especially sad story from a woman who had to undergo four rounds of chemotherapy after getting jabbed because of the extreme inflammation.

It is another chapter in the bleak history of what will come to be seen as the greatest medical crime in history. Yet strangely it is clear that both sides thought they were in the right.

The film starts with a truck convoy similar to the famous Canadian event. They arrived in the capital city Wellington as a diverse group, coming from many different walks of life. Their claims were simple. People should have the right to make choices about what goes into their body and should not be forced by the state. They should have the right to air their views and be involved in public discussion without being censored, demonized, abused, and ignored, including by the mainstream press.

This would once have been a statement of the extremely obvious. As one unjabbed policeman, who lost his job, pointed out, whenever he detained someone, he was required to inform them of the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Yet those rights were completely ignored by the NZ government.

The politicians, meanwhile, displayed a smug certainty that only managerialist functionaries can achieve. They had their deliverables (get everyone vaccinated) and, my goodness, they were going to deliver them. It is another demonstration that imposing a management discipline inevitably impedes peoples’ conscience, the ability to reflect on one’s own actions.

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Manipulative techniques, especially spin, were on full display. There was absurd marketing messaging to persuade the citizenry to, in effect, take a risk with their health. There were extreme efforts to depict the protestors as extremists. Ardern ridiculously described them as “pure evil,” adding that the vaxxed had every right to see the unvaxxed as a threat.

In parliament Michael Wood, the minister for Workplace Relations and Safety said, after pretending to have some understanding of the protestors’ fears, that underneath it all was “a river of filth, a river of violence and menace, a river of anti-semitism, and … a river of Islamophobia”. What the latter two claims were about is anyone’s guess. Oh, and I nearly forgot. There was also a “river of genuine fascism”.

The legal sophistry was provided by the Attorney General David Parker, who burbled on about “collective rights” versus individual rights. He opined that in communist and fascist countries collective rights are taken too far – a better description would be that rights are largely removed from people – and then warned against “an extreme version of individual liberties trumping community rights”.

Apart from slipping between “rights” and “liberties,” which have different definitions, it is hard to see how what the protestors wanted was in any way “extreme.” It is indisputable that freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, the right to be free from discrimination, and the right to work are foundational in New Zealand. Yet free speech was attacked as “spreading disinformation,” discrimination against the unvaccinated was vicious, and the right to work was removed for anyone who did not comply.

The right to freedom of religion was also compromised. An unjabbed Catholic man said he was locked out of his church, and a Hare Krishna practitioner said could not go to his temple.

The film shows the protestors engaging in many “extreme” activities such as singing songs, having sausage sizzles, and talking about love a lot. When the politicians refused to meet them – with the exception of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters – they doubled down by having more sausage sizzles, singing more songs, and passionately speaking of the need for people to treat each other well.

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Enraged, the politicians unleashed the police who looked very much like the “river of violence and menace” that Wood mentioned. Except it was the state sending it, not the protestors. Even then, the reaction was mostly peaceful despite a number of the protestors being hurt.

New Zealand did not experience the highly suspicious involvement of its military, as occurred in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. And the country turned out to have a functioning judiciary, which definitely was not the case in Australia, where judges discovered new meanings for the word “cowardice” (they were exempted from the jab).

Some sacked New Zealand police and defence force personnel challenged the vaccine mandate in the High Court and won. It is the point at which the documentary ends.

The Covid disaster showed that, when put under pressure, most Western countries do not have an effective judicial branch of government, an independent rule of law. So New Zealand’s High Court victory was not trivial. At least some of country’s institutions were willing to protect democracy.

What emerges from the film is a political class without conscience. It turns out the government’s COVID advisory group knew early on about the vaccine side effects and advised the cabinet against the mandates. But the government went ahead anyway.

Why? Managers are required to produce measurable outcomes, and the outcome was to get everyone jabbed. Anything else, such as listening to peoples’ objections, considering possible risks, abiding by the principles of democracy, or even remembering what it is to be human, were ignored. That icy callousness of the politicians makes quite a contrast with the heartfelt outbursts of the protestors.