Everyone loses when families become fair game. That goes for the attacker as well as the target

Multiple motivations are behind my various attempts to reduce involvement in online life. The preciousness of time is a big one. The pointlessness of digital feuds is another. The inevitable temptation to meanness is a third.

There is a certain tendency online towards spiting a political opponent by attacking their family. Undermining Jacinda Ardern by damning her by association with fiance Clarke Gayford is a prime example. My fellows on the right should really just not do it. It is not worth the moral toll.

Gayford is not a politician. He is not our "first man" (that's the Duke of Edinburgh). He has no public functions.

He is, however, the father of a politician's daughter and therefore an inseparable element of her family life. Politics is hard enough on families without having political opponents use them as leverage for political gain. And when the gains to be had are so small, it's hard to see the point of the snark even at the most cynical level.

From time to time, people rationalise that Gayford's alleged hunger for fame or social media activity means he has some culpability in the matter. I do not know what there is to be surprised about when somebody who has sought out a career in television turns out to enjoy attention.

It doesn't change the fact that if he was not the Prime Minister's husband-to-be, the same sense of ill-will would simply not exist.

I felt the same way about Max Key. Was he a spoilt rich kid? Maybe. But I truly couldn't say since I have never met him. I don't think anybody who doesn't actually know him really knows. Even if he was so bad, however, it's hard to see how it justified the negative attention he received, which bordered on bullying.

One word which is often invoked but seldom applied these days is tolerance.

When you see a member of a politician's family doing something that grates, then we would all do well to step back and think. Is any harm really resulting from this, other than your own irritation? If not, there's much to be gained by breathing through your nose.

You might even start making it into a habit.

Comments (4)

by Gavan O'Farrell on June 13, 2019
Gavan O'Farrell

I haven't been aware of attacks on Clark Gayford, but I can blindly agree with the sentiment of this article.

I'd like to immediately extrapolate, though, and suggest that we can all cope with things that "grate" if we try really hard.  We are so caught up with emotions in recent times that many of us seem to think they are somehow sovereign when it comes to forming views and making decisions.  I suggest that they are not.  They don't justify actions:  for example, anger (or feeling "grated") doesn't justify violence, an adulterer who is "in love" is still an adulterer etc.

Does the sovereignty of emotion come from the feminisation or psychologising of society and discourse - or, have the two (and perhaps other causes) aggregated?  I'm genuinely curious. 

Anyway, I think this is one of the issues that underlies present difficulties.




by Ian MacKay on June 14, 2019
Ian MacKay

Too true Liam. But in the case of Max key he was used by Mr Key to make him appear part of an every day normal family. Reap what you sow. 

by Liam Hehir on June 14, 2019
Liam Hehir

If that is true, and I’m not saying that necessarily, then it was hardly the fault of Max Key. And that’s really the point. What was achieved by people not biting their tongue?

by Gavan O'Farrell on June 14, 2019
Gavan O'Farrell

"biting their tongue" involves personal discipline.  While some people's speech is prohibited, others are encouraged to be completely self-indulgent in their speech.  Your expression relies on personal responsibility, which is becoming a kind of Old School.

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