All the fuss created by one Rory English, son of National’s deputy leader Bill, exposes some very real and concerning issues.
Firstly, just what standards do the English family think they are setting at the moment? Rory English’s posts to his now mysteriously deleted (well, not very mysterious actually!) pages on Bebo were truly offensive. And not just to the gay community either. Rory also appears to believe it is ok to preach hatred against black people and Jews as well. Those who were unfortunate enough to look at the site before it was hurridly taken down following its exposure yesterday would have also seen that it featured an extremely violent cartoon sequence that would have been quite at home on homepages of those responsible for the Columbine tragedy. At one level it’s easy to dismiss this as the behaviour of a teenage boy showing off, but when murder and extreme violence is being encouraged solely on the basis of one’s sexuality, race or religion it should be of concern to any decent parent. New Zealand does actually have a significant problem with cyber-bullying and with homophobic and racial abuse in schools. It’s more than a little incredible (revealing, even) that the former education spokesperson of the major opposition party has still not said the grossly offensive material his son posted to the site was not acceptable. And this from the man who during the recent debate on the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act said that he is “totally responsible for his children’s physical and moral welfare,” and that children need parental direction.
Secondly, just how gutless is the New Zealand media? Today the newspapers have been full of Bill English’s spin that somehow Gaynz.com has executed a “disgusting and sick attack on a young teenager”. Excuse me! Who was attacking who? Where was the question to Mr English about his reaction to the comments made by his son? All Gaynz.com did was publish comments posted on a public website and for that the nation’s media are happy to run National Party spin that somehow they are the guilty party here. Isn’t the real reason the media have been so slack at asking the obvious questions over this issue because Bill English said he was consulting his lawyers? A truly apolitical media committed to ethical journalistic standards would have said ‘fine, talk to your lawyers, but in the meantime why are refusing to answer simple questions about whether you think homophobic, racist and anti-semitic tirades are acceptable in your family?’ In any case it’s not like Gaynz.com invented the Rory English webpages so what possible prospect of success would Bill English have in any legal action. Truth, is after all, the ultimate defence.
Thirdly, what does the Rory English post say about his family’s attitude to the Key family? Perhaps these posts are yet more evidence that Bill and the whanau still haven’t forgiven John key for assuming the National leadership – a job Bill English still covets. It hasn’t escaped our attention that Rory English reserved some of his most strident abuse for ’emos’ – which for older readers Gaynz.com helpfully translates as ‘young people who openly express emotional angst through their fashion and music.’ We remember not so long ago John Key describing his own teenager as ’emo’. Could this cyber-attack be yet another front in the English family battle to regain the National leadership for their dad?