Dylan honoured and Dillon dishonoured
EDITORIAL: Just as a former Southland Stag rugby player, identified as Dylan Halaholo, is convicted of public masturbation, Bob Dylan receives a Nobel Prize for literature. Coincidence?
Of course it was. Don't be silly.
But while humiliation and reproach are being heaped upon the head of Halaholo [who, in spite of what the court documents say, goes by the spelling Dillon] it is sufficiently tempting to project into this case some of that other Dylan's award-winning writing.
Especially this: "Hold your judgment for yourself . . . "
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Settle down. We're not suggesting that there but for the grace of God go the rest of us. Not when the offending in question takes place, three times, in a supermarket car park, sometimes in front of young girls.
The thing is, Bob Dylan is generally a contrarian. The sound of a loud, angered chorus of agreement seems to make his skin crawl.
As a young man he even repudiated much of his own brand-new career-making protest songwriting on that basis, identifying the problem like this: "Rip down all hate, I screamed".
Halaholo is now an officially legitimate target for all sorts of public scorn and ridicule. A man in the modern equivalent of medieval stocks.
Yes he brought it on himself but, honestly, the length of the queue lined up to assail him is less explainable by the character or scale of his offending, indefensible as it was, than by his frankly minor fame.
And by timing. This is the latest mortifying incident in a series of falls from grace (fame nowadays being held to be something of a state of grace) by noted rugby players.
The Southland Times chose to give Halaholo's case some prominence and we stand by that. People should know about this, we reasoned.
Frankly, Bob Dylan doesn't help us here. "People don't do what's right," he sang. "They do what's convenient. And then they repent."
Well we're not penitent, even as we acknowledge that we've long banged on about the folly of anointing people as role models when we should content ourselves with admiring them for what's admirable about them, without requiring the same to be true for every other aspect of their lives.
Each of us is more interested in news about people we know, or at least feel as though we know a bit. There's nothing shameful, or illegitimate, about that. But it doesn't follow that their fame necessarily makes their bad behaviour worse. You should know what Halaholo did but that doesn't mean we don't have to be self-critical about how appropriately we react.
And, for what it's worth, Dylan has had the odd thing or two to say about redemption too.