Film maker apologises for Facebook comments


 Film-maker Barbara Sumner Burstyn who shot the movie This Way of Life in Hawke's Bay and owns a home in Bay View, has apologised for posting insensitive comments on her Facebook page about a female soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Ms Sumner Burstyn incurred a furious wave of negative feedback, including death threats to her and her family after accusing Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker of killing innocent people.

"Oh, so fallen soldier Jacinda Baker liked boxing and baking - did they forget she also liked invading countries we are not at war with, killing innocent people and had no moral compass," Ms Sumner Burstyn wrote on Facebook. "She 100 per cent does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices.

"We are not at war. We are helping America invade another country for their oil. No more than that.

"Go to war expect to be killed. You can't have it both ways - oh nice little career with the military and shock horror when you get blown up."

The post went viral on the internet and by last night, 21,945 people had become members of a Facebook group called "Sumner Burstyn give back your NZ Passport!".

In a blog from Canada yesterday, Mrs Sumner Burstyn replaced her harsh words, with a message of apology.

"I made a ... thoughtless comment for which I unreservedly apologise to the family, friends and loved ones of Jacinda Baker.

"I do not in the slightest gloat at this young woman's death - I bemoan the tragic loss of her valuable life. Certainly my choice of words at the time was not good."

But the blog had another purpose - giving her the opportunity to lash out at those who had taken their anger toward her, too far.

"The men and soldiers of New Zealand threatened to rape me ... to run me over, to burn down my house and murder me.

"They extended the threats to my family.

"This is the black underbelly of my country.

"Many of these men, and mostly they were men, posted these threats as members of NZ Armed Forces."

She expressed concern that no one in the defence force had taken action to control their staff and was fearful to return to New Zealand.

Ted Grainger, the soldier who created the Facebook page in reaction to Ms Sumner Burstyn's comments, said yesterday he had achieved what he set out to do, and would be removing it as soon as possible. "I will be closing this page down when I return from Task. I have not been pressured and those who know me know that would be impossible to do anyway. Sumner Burstyn your apology sucks but [it is] accepted. Let's move on."

Ms Sumner Burstyn told the Herald on Sunday, she feared for her safety and that of her family, after her address and contact details were published.

"To post my details and that of my family and threaten us all in such vile ways I think it is shameful and disgusting behaviour."

She was forced to shut down her Facebook page and change her email address.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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