In defence of Nicky Wagner's thoughtless comments

Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner has had a tough weekend on Twitter.
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Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner has had a tough weekend on Twitter.

OPINION: So Nicky Wagner apparently hates disabled people. Which is awkward, given she's this country's minister for disability issues, but the inescapable truth to take from the unholy mess she brought upon herself on Sunday.

Wagner was the dumbest bell that rang all week on Twitter when she felt compelled to share a picture of her view of the Auckland waterfront on a lovely winter's day with her followers.

"Busy with disability meetings in Auckland," read the accompanying tweet, "rather be out in the harbour!"

Wagner's reference to her disability issues portfolio in her ill-fated shouldn't have mattered, but did.
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Wagner's reference to her disability issues portfolio in her ill-fated shouldn't have mattered, but did.

It took three days for Twitter to notice, but once it did, it wasn't happy.

READ MORE: Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner in Twitter firestorm over 'disgraceful' tweet

Just about every single one of the hundreds of tweets in response went like this one: "You disgust me. You obviously have no clue and no compassion to make that statement and think a Sorry is going to sort it. RESIGN."

Which on first reading, doesn't seem all that out of line. A heartless politician complaining about pesky constituents keeping her from her yacht and a day on the Hauraki Gulf – time for a take-down.

But Wagner was so obviously not complaining about how her boring job working for disabled people was a total drag and instead making a good old-fashioned hash of trying to appear like regular folks who'd rather be sailing than working on a sunny day, that the whole crusade immediately rang hollow.

If she had tweeted "Busy with budget meetings in Auckland - rather be out in the harbour!", zero people would have cared. We all hate budget meetings, right?

Disabilities, though, that's real people. Real people in wheelchairs, real people with missing limbs. Real people living with often debilitating physical and mental impairments who it is Wagner's job to champion the rights of.

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Again, sounds bad the first time, but the logic doesn't stack up. Inserting one different word about a slightly more delicate issue doesn't change the sentiment of the whole tweet.

If it did, it wouldn't have taken us three days to decide we were outraged.

To be clear, it was a brain-dead thing to say. Of course Twitter was going to tear her apart.

Righteous outrage is Twitter's favourite thing to do. But is it too much to ask that we wait until someone tweets something actually terrible before piling on?

It's not like there's any shortage of them, and it'd make the usual firestorm – the hot takes, the half-a.... apology, the comment sought from the Prime Minister – a lot less tiresome.

Plus we could devote all our energy to enjoying politicians' hapless attempts at appearing relatable on social media. Much better.

 - Stuff

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