Here in New Zealand we woke up this morning to a grubby little story dominating the news.
One of our national heroes – an All Black – has been sent home during a tour of South Africa after revelations that last month he had sex with a women in a disabled toilet at the Christchurch airport.
It was September 18, the day after the All Blacks beat the Springboks in Christchurch and Aaron Smith and the rest of the team were out and about at the Christchurch Airport, wearing their “number ones”, representing the team, meeting and greeting fans.
At 2 pm Smith disappeared into the disabled loos with a woman.
According to witnesses they were in there for about 10 minutes.
“Rhythmic tapping noises” could be heard and these same witnesses thought it prudent to record the noises and take some snaps of the couple as they came and went.
Our coverage and commentary about this incident speaks volumes about our culture and the reverence with which we hold All Blacks.
And I’m pissed off.
I’m pissed off at the inherent blokey, winky, jokey, wanky lightweight headlines ;
“Smith was “Dumb”
“Did Smith Do Anything wrong?”
“Full witness account”
The tone of the stories – especially the one revealing the eye witness version, manages to make the people who were waiting to use the cubicle sound creepy, pervy and then in awe of this rugby hero even as they were outing him;
“He said he found it quite amusing and wasn’t too worried about what Smith had done.
“I almost feel bad for putting the poor bloke in it now,” the husband said in a subsequent email.
But in none of the reporting , commentary, moral outrage, finger pointing and opinion pieces which have spewed from this nation which reveres the game and its players – has there been condemnation of the fact a man who runs for his living used a disabled loo.
The media, the commentators, the fans, the misogynists, the feminists, the jilted partners, the armchair critics, the anti PC brigade and the players themselves have all missed the point in their breathless excitement.
Regardless of the fact he was representing the All Blacks in public and ducking to a public lav for a shag with a woman who wasn’t his partner was bloody stupid –
how the bloody hell dare he?
Those lavatories are not for him – whatever he seeks to do in there.
But where is the moral outrage about that?
I rarely challenge people to spend a day in my shoes.
But I suggest to Aaron Smith, the girl he rooted, the couple who watched and waited and the people who think it’s just all a bit of fun and he should be left alone and given some privacy that if they spent just one day supporting, toileting and sometimes changing depended teenage children in public loos they would know better than to use them.
That the arrogant and selfish choice of location for this tryst has itself drawn minimal criticism in this story shows me that on whichever side of the morality fence kiwis sit there is a general sense that disabled loos, like disabled carparks, are pretty much for “me too”. As someone who has no choices but to use these facilities with my daughter I really resent that.
We need them when we need them and I’ll be buggered if we have the patience (me) or ability (her) to wait for ten minutes while able people get their end away in some of the most filthy unsexy places imaginable. How bloody dare you.
For me the failure to call this is the most shameful thing about this sorry story.