Prosser a nonentity on a generous income

ROSEMARY MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
Prosser

NZ First MP Richard Prosser in Parliament: He wrote in a magazine article that young Muslim men shouldn't be allowed to fly on western airlines.

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Rosemary McLeod

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OPINION: If I don't vigorously lash NZ First MP Richard Prosser for his effusions about Muslims, it's partly because he's such easy prey and partly because the rag that published his rant doesn't deserve the credibility.

Publications in general toe a line, deliberately or otherwise, sticking close to social responsibility. There will always be exceptions, though, especially on cheap-shot topics like race, culture, gender issues, beneficiaries and religion, points of difference you can rely on for energising readers into a cosy sense of shared prejudice. People, however ill-meaning, like to know there's somewhere they'll always feel at home.

Publishers who invite columns like Mr Prosser's will claim they're being brave and free thinking in publishing opinions no-one else would touch with a barge pole, but when they make a point of it they can't seriously claim a high-minded defence; for that there'd have to be something high-minded in the opinions those people express.

Still, I always think such attitudes are better out than in, as with just about everything except icecream. They should see the light of day if only to prick the complacency of right-thinking people who assume that everyone else agrees with them. They don't, and they never will.

What luck Mr Prosser's had, though, getting a list seat in Parliament. He was a nonentity before; nobody would have been interested in what he had to say about anything apart from the weather, and even then they'd have been indifferent.

He wouldn't have had a hope of being elected to Parliament the old-fashioned way, by actual votes, but now he has both a platform for his inanities, with a media eager for fun, and a generous income to encourage him. I predict more merriment as the mantle of celebrity settles on his grateful shoulders.

And what luck Gareth Morgan has had, too, of another kind. He became wealthy himself, then had a son who made him much wealthier. A trained economist, one of the grey subjects that mostly look like soothsaying to me, we hang on his every outburst as if little drops of gold will thereby roll into our threadbare pockets.

Dr Morgan doesn't like a lot of things, I expect, but he especially dislikes cats and wants to see them eradicated because of the harm he says they cause to native bird life.

He keeps us all amused with this position, but the truly searching question that needs an answer here is why he prefers ferrets.

It doesn't take a lot to attract media attention, as these examples prove. You simply have to stand out in some way - any way will do - and relish being the centre of attention.

Pretty girls are naturals at it, rich wives expect it and sportspeople attract it, which is a shame. Increasingly they are commodities (Dr Morgan would appreciate this) that attract advertising sponsorships, pose for underwear adverts and have to appear in public like schoolboys in matching uniforms. Basically just blokes who enjoy being physical, they're called on to open up their private lives to the peering public.

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We then develop opinions about them, especially those with a god-like status, like Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius, until very recently the paper dolls of their sports, lovingly presented as being much, much more than perfect.

As with Dr Morgan and the pressing ferret question, a host of questions were never answered about these two, such as what they were really like.

Now that they've admitted cheating and bullying, and Pistorius has been charged with killing his girlfriend, we can see the kind of sociopathic patterns in their natures that so often bless people with success in public life.

What bad luck it was on the part of these two to reveal such qualities, and not so much fall from grace as crash-land.

We have a right to be aggrieved when we've been fed fairytales about people who prove to be not at all nice, and are quite possibly very nasty.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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