John Key scores two own goals for stupidity

NOT SO SMART: PM John Key has questioned David Beckham's intelligence.
NOT SO SMART: PM John Key has questioned David Beckham's intelligence.

The All Blacks have landed in England. That nice Mr Carter, a gentleman to the last, takes some time out from his busy training schedule to visit a couple of poorly children and then talks rugby with the prime minister's son for half an hour.

David Cameron milks the photo opportunity, bides his time and then, with appropriate Etonian hauteur, lets it be known that Dan Carter is thick as pig shit.

Well, you can imagine the fallout over here. No letters page would be big enough. Newspapers would have to print an extra section to accommodate all the epistles of outrage.

NO EXCUSE: John Key reportedly called David Beckham "thick as bat shit".
NO EXCUSE: John Key reportedly called David Beckham "thick as bat shit".

A public apology would be demanded. The New Zealand ambassador would protest to Downing Street. Union Jack underpants would be burned in the street. British Hobnobs biscuits would be removed from supermarket shelves.

It is quite bemusing, then, that John Key, who reportedly called David Beckham "thick as bat shit" is almost getting away with it. This is the prime minister of the country.

Key's comment is unforgivable on more levels than he can probably count.

Parents who coach a bit of sport in schools from time to time will be quite appalled that Key chose an educational establishment to make his remark.

The word "thick" is a vile term used to belittle children, many of who find their only outlet in sport.

All Black Victor Vito is supportive of children with learning difficulties and he wants to write a book to improve their grasp of language.

Some of these kids will make something of their lives, just as Beckham did coming out of the east end of London, and perhaps some will become All Blacks. Will it still be all right to snigger at them then for being thick?

What was the point of Key's remark? Perhaps, he was suffering from jetlag after the long flight down to Dunedin and needed a dose of the All Blacks' curative long haul drinks. It was certainly unbelievably bad manners, a gaffe that one comedian put on a par with Borat.

But if our prime minister is as rude as this, can we expect other high profile sportsmen to follow Becks to these shores.

Perhaps we were ill-informed about Mike Tyson being refused entry because of his rape conviction. Perhaps the former champion of the world was refused entry because of stupidity and a speech impediment.

The word "bat shit" did the prime minister no credit either. "Shit" is not an appropriate word for teachers to use in schools, so it is hard to see why the prime minister thinks it is OK.

We discourage kids (and parents) from swearing on sports pitches but Key apparently thinks it is all right to peddle crude language to our kids.

Jamie Mackintosh might be forgiven the odd verbal wreckage into a TV mike after 80 minutes of stoush for the Highlanders, but Key has no excuse.

And that is another bothersome thing about this whole episode. No excuse, or rather, no apology. The first thing that Key should have done was to write a long letter of apology to Beckham.

The second thing he should have done was to say sorry, very sorry, to the people of New Zealand, whom he has embarrassed.

One of the great things about the World Cup-winning All Blacks was their ability to recognise where they went wrong. Graham Henry took the rap for the mistakes of 2007. Richie McCaw is always humble in both victory and defeat. Carter blamed himself for missing the last-minute drop goal against Australia. These people take responsibility for their errors.

But according to the Book of Key (there is also a 12-volume, leather-bound encyclopaedia available written by Tony Blair) it is vital never to say sorry or admit a mistake.

Key hid in his bat cave over the weekend. When the prime minister did finally emerge, he said it was a "personal" and a "private" conversation, not "an open forum" and then implied that he may have been slightly misrepresented. That was courageous of him.

The best Key could manage was: "He's smart [Beckham]. He's made more money than I have."

OMG, as those cool kids like to text on their phones. Going by Key's assessment of IQ, Donald Trump is smarter than Albert Einstein.

The prime minister of this country obviously judges achievement through weight of money.

Unfortunately, these are not the only things that the prime minister has said in recent days. Key also accused a radio host, who was about to play in a golf tournament, of wearing "a gay red top".

Sorry Tiger Woods, I know you like to wear red on the final day but it's a bit gay. And Gareth Thomas, I know the Welsh rugby jersey is red, but it's a bit gay. Oh, you are, are you?

Thomas, of course, had the courage to come out. But how is a gay All Blacks rugby player ever going to have the courage to come out when the prime minister uses "gay" as a term of abuse and thinks it is all right.

It is a concern that a man with so little grasp of fair play and language is in charge of sport and education in this country.

I have just explained why "gay" is an inappropriate term of abuse to my 11-year-old. I shouldn't have to do the same for Key. I am starting to worry that he might be a bit thick.

Fairfax Media