The Thick of It was a searing satire on how modern politics works (and doesn't work). I don't think it was meant to provide a script for Rugby chief executives who say stupid things when their players get accused of harassing a woman just doing her job. 

What with Northern Districts cricket player Scott Kuggeleijn running a "it wasn't rape because any man would do the same" defence (and thanks for spattering that shit all over me and my 5 year old son, Scott), Chief's lock Michael Allardice thinking it's OK to shout homophobic remarks at a public swimming pools, before his team mates allegedly treated a women working as a stripper as their property to use for whatever yuks took their fancy, you could be forgiven for thinking that something is rather rotten in Kiwi masculine culture.

To which I'm sure any woman reading this will roll her eyes any say: "Really? You're just getting that now?". So rather than belabouring the obvious, let me focus on just one aspect of this whole pretty sad state of affairs; the behaviour of Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman.

Here's how RNZ News covered his response to the allegations made by Scarlette against the Chiefs players

Mr Flexman also apologised for earlier comments he had made, saying the woman's "standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach".

He said in retrospect he probably regretted the way that was expressed.

"As a person and the values I have, given the vocation that this particular woman is involved in, do I cast aspersions on her as a person as a result of that vocation? That's simply not what I believe in."

And further,

“Anybody that knows me well ... knows that that’s not the person I am, that’s not consistent with the value set that I have. In no way, shape or form would I ever make that assertion about a woman based on a vocation that she chooses and has the choice to be involved in.”

Reading this, I can't help but think of the scene in the penultimate episode of The Thick of It where the three political advisors (Emma, Phil and Adam) appear before the Goolding Inquiry and are confronted by Baroness Sureka with emails they wrote about a now-deceased homeless nurse with mental health issues, Mr Tickel. Emails such as the following:

"How many Mr Tickles does it take to change a light bulb? He doesn't have a light bulb, he's in a tent.

How do you turn Mr Tickle into Mr Happy? Lithium.

What's the difference between Mr Tickle and Captain Oates? Captain Oates has a less stupid name.

And one I feel that is particularly cruel, Miss Messinger, given Mr Tickel's mental health issues, 'The fucker's a nutbag.'"

 Forced to acknowledge the moral shabbiness of their words and views, the three squirm in the spotlight, with the truly pathetic Philip Bartholomew Cornelius Smith reaching a nadir of terribleness: 

Sorry. If I could add a mea culpa here rather than dancing around it. Others may choose to attempt to wriggle off the hook of shame, but I cannot. I cannot deny that my name is on those emails and yet I do not recognise that man. It is me, and yet, it is another, and for that I am truly sorry. This has been a humbling moment in my quest to become the man I know I can be.

Sometimes it seems like history really does repeat itself, first as farce and then as a PR exercise on Radio Sport.

Comments (24)

by Ross on August 04, 2016
Ross

What with Northern Districts cricket player Scott Kuggeleijn running a "it wasn't rape because any man would do the same" defence

Actually, it was Kuggeleijn's lawyer who made that comment. By the way, the jury failed to reach a verdict, which perhaps is a little surprising given that one witness said that Kuggeleijn hadn't raped her and that she was trying to "scare" him.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hamilton-news/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503366&ob...

by Andrew Geddis on August 05, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Ross,

Lawyers may propose lines of defence, but it's the client's call as to whether these are pursued.

by Megan Pledger on August 05, 2016
Megan Pledger

@Ross

Maybe some of the jury believed first hand testimony:

Under cross examination by Morgan said she initially took a non-forceful response to his advances when they were both in bed together, in the early hours of the morning.

"I was saying no," she said. "I was not coming out all guns blazing. I thought I should be adequate saying no. It should not matter what tone of voice I was saying it."  

by Megan Pledger on August 05, 2016
Megan Pledger

From what I read the jury was 8 male/4 female.  I suspect the jury was split across gender lines which was why the judge didn't bother sending them back to have another go.

by Ross on August 05, 2016
Ross

Megan,

Kuggeleijn testified that his accuser didn't say no. He also told a friend that he didn't rape her.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/82547825/Scott-Kuggeleijn-denied-t...

by Ross on August 05, 2016
Ross

I suspect the jury was split across gender lines which was why the judge didn't bother sending them back to have another go.

I don't see that as relevant. I would've thought that just about every jury trial would feature male and female jurors, yet there are plenty of convictions and acquittals where juries reach a unanimous verdict.

by Stewart Hawkins on August 05, 2016
Stewart Hawkins

I thought the lawyer's line was - so having been acepted refusal what young man wouldn't try again later? Can any man honestly say in these circumstances they wouldn't at least ask? "they got their gear off and got into bed".. come on guys stop being PC and be honest... you'd at least pop the question in the morning. THEN he didn't hear a "no" and she didn't claim to say one.

by Andrew Geddis on August 05, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Stewart,

Can any man honestly say in these circumstances they wouldn't at least ask? ... THEN he didn't hear a "no" and she didn't claim to say one.

That's not what the evidence at trial suggests (there was no "asking", rather "trying"). And I disagree with your assumptions about what "any man would do". The fact you believe this is a part of the problem. 


by Ross on August 06, 2016
Ross

That's not what the evidence at trial suggests (there was no "asking", rather "trying").

Kuggeleijn testified that his accuser "was breathing heavily. She seemed like she was enjoying it".

How often do men and women, when initiating sex, typically ask for sex? Should a wife who initiates sex formally ask her husband before she initiates it? The parties can believe there is mutual consent without explicitly stating it.

I don't know what the jury made of the evidence in the Kuggeleijn case but I got the impression from the snippets I read that there was a misunderstanding or miscommunication between the couple. With a lack of corroborating evidence, getting a conviction in cases which turn on the issue of consent can be difficult.

by Megan Pledger on August 06, 2016
Megan Pledger

Kuggeleijn rang her up the next day and aplogised to her for what had occurred.  

This is what the text said 

"I heard you felt you couldn't say no and were pressured into things.  It's pretty chilling to hear and think of myself in that kind of light but looking back I was pretty persistent.  I'm so sorry and it has made me think about a few things.  I hope you are ok and I am sorry for the harm mentally I have caused you. "

http://www.pressreader.com/

by Megan Pledger on August 06, 2016
Megan Pledger

<continued>  

(That should have been txted not rang but I hit post before I finished,)

Given that he was probably trying to show himself in the best possible light, given that the circumstances seem to be known amongst her friends,  what occurred was probably a lot worse than he is admitting to in the text. 

 

by Antoine on August 06, 2016
Antoine

@Ross and Stewart

The link in the OP says: "The alleged victim claims that Kuggeleijn pinned her arms down and had sex against her will."

Do you believe that claim? If so, do you think it was OK and what "any man would do"?

A.

by Ross on August 07, 2016
Ross

Antoine,

I'm not sure why you're directing that comment to me. I have no idea whether the claim is true or not. I'd note that consenting couples and do what the alleged victim described.

Certainly, the vast majority of men don't rape. Whether a rape took place in this case isn't clear. Which might explain the result was a hung jury.

by Ross on August 07, 2016
Ross

I'd note that consenting couples *can* do what the alleged victim described.

by Ross on August 07, 2016
Ross

Megan,

The first line of Kuggeleijn's text said: "I heard you felt you couldn't say no..."

That's exactly what he said during the trial, that she didn't say no. However, she said that she did say no.

by Antoine on August 07, 2016
Antoine

Ross you seem to be angling towards suggesting that this guy was pretty much an OK bloke and that they were just having some kind of consensual sex game. I am by no means of the PC brigade but I think you're trying to (obliquely) defend the indefensible. Why don't you just stop digging?

A.

by Ross on August 07, 2016
Ross

Ross you seem to be angling towards suggesting that this guy was pretty much an OK bloke and that they were just having some kind of consensual sex game. I am by no means of the PC brigade but I think you're trying to (obliquely) defend the indefensible.

I'm not defending the indefensible at allI have no idea whether this guy is an OK bloke or not. But I would hope that if he didn't rape his accuser, you might want to defend him. 

by Andrew Geddis on August 07, 2016
Andrew Geddis

But I would hope that if he didn't rape his accuser, you might want to defend him. 

I am disinclined to do so, because as a man I find the line of defence he has chosen to put forward deeply offensive. 

by Megan Pledger on August 07, 2016
Megan Pledger

The key to me is this comment "but looking back I was pretty persistent".  A person can only be persistent if they are refused.   

Of course, he is going to say "I heard you felt you couldn't say no..." - that puts all the blame on her rather than himself.  



by Ross on August 07, 2016
Ross

I am disinclined to do so, because as a man I find the line of defence he has chosen to put forward deeply offensive.

Well, his defence was that the sex was consensual. Besides, I don't think he can be held responsible for everything his lawyer says.

Megan, I assume that you - like me - weren't on the jury so we don't know the full story. The jury didn't reach a guilty verdict.

by Megan Pledger on August 07, 2016
Megan Pledger

@Ross

I don't know the full story but his own text message paints him very badly (and it's more credible evidence than the overheard, second hand conversation you wanted to  defend him with).  He might be on the right side of the law - he may have asked her for the 20th time for sex and at that time she didn't say no (giving him the benefit of the doubt)  - but in that case, while being on the right side of the law, still makes what he did pretty darn awful.

by Andrew Geddis on August 07, 2016
Andrew Geddis

Well, his defence was that the sex was consensual.

No. His defence is that "the young woman can't prove that the defendant didn't have a belief based on reasonable grounds that the complainant was consenting." That's not the same thing at all. And his reasons for saying that he had "a belief based on reasonable grounds" - that any man would have done the same - deeply offends me.

Besides, I don't think he can be held responsible for everything his lawyer says.

Yes. He can. He may not have scripted the words, but he OK'd the defence and has to live with what his lawyer is saying on his behalf.

by Ross on August 08, 2016
Ross

Andrew

I recall you making analagous or similar comments in the Roastbusters case. In that case police found insufficient evidence to lay charges despite a rather large public outcry. Fortunately justice is blind, so whether you like or dislike an accused is irrelevant in the context of the legal system. Each and every accused is entitled to a fair trial. It's not a popularity contest. Otherwise Kuggeleijn might now be residing at her Majesty's pleasure.

by Andrew Geddis on August 08, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Ross,

The young men at the centre of the roast busters case boasted on line about having sex with drunk underage girls. I'm happy to let their own words condemn them, irrespective of whether the police were able to press criminal charges. Before punishing an individual, the State must produce evidence to show beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. As a private citizen making moral judgments about the individuals involved, I have no such limits upon me.

Similarly, I don't know if Kuggeleijn is technically guilty or not of rape (or, rather, if a jury will find that this is the case). However, I object strongly to the line of defence he has taken in relation to this charge and his behaviour on that night (even on his own account of that behaviour). So yes - he's entitled to a fair trial, presumption of innocence and the requirement that the Crown prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt. And I'm entitled to reach my own conclusions about his character and express these on my blog.

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