Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


Have we changed forever?

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand:
“We, New Zealand, we were not a target because we’re a safe harbour for those who hate, we were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we’re an enclave for extremists, we were chosen for the very fact we are none of these things.”

I have been able to look at the world, and think how irrational, intolerant and hate-filled it is and think that this little corner of the South Pacific is so very different. We pride ourselves that we are a compassionate and caring people. We can fly around the country and at domestic terminals being checked only for a valid boarding pass – no baggage checks or x-ray machines and no armed police or security guards. The Prime minister and members of the Cabinet travel on public transport and may not even have personal “minders”.

We expect to be able to approach members of parliament, from the newest backbencher right up to the Prime Minister to express our opinions and concerns. We are a very open society. Members of the government can expect disgruntled member of the public to express anger or frustration from time to time, but until recently such emotions would be expressed by hurling eggs, cow manure or even dildos, at a politician. Violent acts? Sure, but it’s mostly self esteem or pride and not body that has been hurt.

Yesterday morning, the Minister for the Environment was assaulted punched to the ground as he walked to his parliamentary office. Typically, he wasn’t accompanied by security personnel, and although we all felt angry that someone would abuse their right to approach a government minister, we all felt this was a one-off incident, and unlikely to be repeated. Ant then today we learn that a group of four terrorists attacked two mosques in Christchurch. Im a few months short of my 70th birthday, and up until today, there had been few terrorist attacks in Aotearoa New Zealand in my lifetime:

  • 1961: Four students attempted to blow up a flag pole on the Waitangi treaty grounds.
  • 1982: A pun rock anarchist blw himself up in the entrance of the Wanganui law enforcement computer centre.
  • 1984: A suitcase bomb killed the building caretaker of the Trades Hall in Wellington.
  • 1985: the French DGSE sunk the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour killing one member of the crew
  • 2008: a Somali refugee attempted to hijack a domestic flight and divert it to Australia.

Perhaps trivial by world standards, but not by ours. But today all that changed. 40 people are now confirmed dead and another 20 critically ill from gunshot wounds. What makes it so gut wrenching is that many of the victims are new New Zealanders, having chosen Aotearoa New Zealand to be a safe haven from the violence they experienced in their homeland. The evil in the world has arrived at our doorstep and barged straight in.

I would like to hope that this event will not change the way we kiwis see ourselves and we continue to place as much, if not more, faith and trust in the almost 200 ethnicities that make up New Zealand as we have in the past. It would be very sad if we as a nation became suspicious of our fellow citizens simply because they follow a different religion, have a different coloured skin, wear different clothing, or speak a different language.

We should remember especially at times like this that we must avoid “othering” anyone who is different from ourselves in any way, be it language, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender identity, or ability. The best way to show the terrorists that they will fail is to become more inclusive and do it willingly and cheerfully.

My heart goes out to all those directly and indirectly affected by this outrage. If I believed in a deity, I’d be torn between praying for the victims and expressing hatred at the deity for allowing it to happen. Instead, I will consider what practical assistance I can give to make the lives of all those affected a little less painful.


Last meal

I’ve just had my last meal – well until Tuesday evening anyway.

On that day I am due for a colonoscopy, so from this evening I can not consume any food apart from some liquids until after the procedure is completed. I’ve been on a restricted diet for a few days which has limited my diet to rice, products made with white flour, egg, potatoes, fish and chicken. Absolutely no red meat, fruit, vegetables or nuts. Kind of takes the fun out of eating.

Hospitals are stress producing. I seem to end up there once or twice every year. I dislike hospitals due the noise, bright lights, constant activity and the lack a fresh cool breeze. Not the best place for someone hypersensitive to external stimuli. If I don’t have a migraine when I enter hospital, you can guarantee I’ll have have one by the time I leave.

The colonoscopy is causing some emotional stress. Not because of what the results might be, but the thought of what happens during the procedure itself has brought back a very unpleasant memory from way back last century – 1963 to be precise.

As a thirteen year old going on fourteen, I was somewhat of a loner. I had only one school friend, who also did not mix socially with our peers. I didn’t much like contact sports and couldn’t throw a ball as well as the girls, let alone any of the boys. Up until I was eleven, I often spent time talking with the girls at school, but once puberty kicked in, I found it even more difficult socialising with the girls than I did with the boys.

Somewhere about that time, rumours started to spread about my sexuality. I was mostly unaware of this, but it seems there was some controversy amongst my peers as to whether I was a “queer” or a “queen”. I suppose my social awkwardness was the catalyst behind the rumours. At that time Aspergers Syndrome wasn’t recognised and people like me were simply considered antisocial, unsocial, or just odd.

On a somewhat cold autumn day, I was invited to join a game of bullrush. Being invited to join in games was a rare event for me, so even though it is quite physical, I was happy to take part. I had no idea who the boy was, but I guess he was at least two years older than I was.

The game was to take place on a rugby field on the far side of the school grounds, so I followed a group of some twenty or thirty boys to our destination. It never occurred to me that most of the boys were considerably older than I was. The game started, and as was usual. I was never called to make the solo run. What was odd in hindsight that I was never caught during the bullrushes, and eventually I was the only player not “in”.

An unwritten rule of the game was that the more people who were “in” the higher the requirement for being caught. Early in the game, being tagged was all that was necessary, but as the game neared the end, it was necessary to have the runner pinned to the ground.

So, my name was called and I started to make my run, knowing full well that there was no way I could make the 25 yard dash through a group of boys large enough to form two rugby teams. But I was determined not to make it easy for them. Instead of being tackled as I expected, the others were gabbing at my clothes, at first I didn’t realise their intent, but after my jersey was pulled off and they started pulling on my school shorts, I began to realise they might have other plans for me.

I won’t go into full details as to what happened next, suffice to say that I was eventually stripped naked, my lips and cheeks smeared with lipstick. The same lipstick was then used to write sexually derogatory slogans on my chest, and then on my back while I was anally penetrated by several objects.

I don’t know how long the assault lasted, but eventually the school bell rang indicating classes were about to recommence, and I found myself alone and naked. I don’t recall where or how I found my clothes, but I remember creeping into the adjacent reserve of native bush and attempting to remove the lipstick from my face using grass and my underwear. I stayed hidden in the reserve until after school ended and finally when it was almost empty, I found the courage to make my way to the bicycle racks to collect my bike and make my way home.

I never told anyone about the incident. I was too embarrassed and wouldn’t have been able to face the scrutiny that would have occurred if I reported it. I wouldn’t have been able to identify any of my assailants as my facial recognition skills were almost non-existent. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was finally able to talk to a counsellor about the assault, and even then I left out the most humiliating parts.

It’s an event that I have mostly been able to suppress the memory of, but the forthcoming colonoscopy has brought it flooding back. Quite irrational I know. A few medical staff in a hospital facility is so very different from a pack of savage youths at the back of a school field. But as the same same piece of anatomy is involved in both, the two are becoming interwoven in my mind as the day of the examination approaches.

For those who don’t know the game of bullrush:

How to play:

One person is “in” and stands in the middle of the field and calls out a name.
The person named has to try to run to the other side of the field without getting tackled.
If they get tackled they are in and another person’s name is called.
If they get to the other side they yell “Bullrush”, and everyone runs.
The game continues until everyone is in.
The last person “in” is the winner.


X Factor NZ Judges fired.

I’m not one to follow shows such as X factor,  NZ Idol or the voice, but the wife is a fan, She especially called me into the TV lounge to watch an announcement on tonight’s episode of X Factor New Zealand that two of the judges had been fired.

The two judges, husband and wife team Natalia Kills and Willy Moon were fired after Kills’ tirade over the appearance of one of the contestants, who she claimed was ripping off her husband’s identity. Whether or not you agree that it’s a rip off (i don’t, he simply looks like someone wearing a suit), isn’t imitation a form of flattery in the entertainment industry?

Controversy is one way to ensure improve ratings, but apparently Hills’ comments were too much for MediaWorks who fired them five hours before tonight’s show. Chief executive Mark Weldon made this statement:

“Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges. Contestants put their all into this competition and they should expect to receive feedback and criticism that is professional and constructive. We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of X Factor judges and they will leave the show, effective immediately.”

Natalia Kills tirade:

Hills’ tirade was was as bad as a fundamental Christian might rage against an atheist, or a religion hating atheist might rage against Christianity. That is not the way to win friends and influence people. Personally, I feel such outbursts are never appropriate. Disapproval could have been conveyed more effectively in a reasoned and polite manner.