Paul Little at large
Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Floods of laughter, thanks to Craig

Craig's beef was that some people thought he had actually made the clearly parodic statement. Photo / APN
Craig's beef was that some people thought he had actually made the clearly parodic statement. Photo / APN

How many Colin Craigs does it take to change a light bulb? At least 20. One to change the bulb and the other 19 to slowly and in very simple language explain the joke to his supporters.

When the satirical website The Civilian published a clearly satirical piece quoting Colin Craig to the effect that rainbows were God's promise never again to flood the world, the Conservative Party leader became upset.

Which is odd, because Craig's personal friend God is quoted in the Bible (Genesis 9) saying just that: "I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and earth ... And I will remember my covenant ... And the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."

The Civilian put other words in Craig's mouth that are not found in Genesis, though they are implied, to the effect that the flood would be all on again if we made God angry, and that we had done that by legalising gay marriages.

Perhaps that was the source of contention. And though Craig denied saying it, he didn't deny believing it.

Instead, he went to Chapman Tripp who, in a commendably brief missive, demanded a retraction, an apology and $500 to meet Craig's expenses. Good to know you can still get A-list lawyering in this town for three figures.

Their letter even included a handy retraction and apology portion for The Civilian to sign and return to them - just like the bit you tear off and send in when you have a parking ticket.

It's a shame they didn't also do their client a favour by refusing his instructions and preventing him from making a fool of himself in public.

Craig's beef was that some people thought he had actually made the clearly parodic statement. It's the people who couldn't tell the difference who should have been getting professional help, not Craig.

But The Civilian should definitely flick Chapman Tripp the $500. This week's PR would have cost considerably more - not to mention the interminable meetings - had a regular PR company been employed.

In the aftermath, Craig wanted it to be known he has a sense of humour. When someone says this you can be pretty sure it's on the same basis that people say, "I'm no racist, but ... " or, "I've got nothing against gays, but ... "

The charge is almost certainly true. However, Craig may be the exception to this rule. He has certainly provided us with plenty of chuckles this week.

One of the main reasons The Civilian got into trouble was that it is getting harder to distinguish satire from reality.

This is an observation made so often it has become a cliché, but we do seem to be enjoying something of a Golden Age in this respect.

From Novopay to John Key and the GCSB, and privacy breaches as policy, we have entered an era that will be looked back on as The Years When You Couldn't Make That S*** Up.

So, when it was reported that Race Relations Conciliator Dame Susan Devoy was to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato, which has a culture of monumental staunchness about race relations, I began assembling materials to make the joke about this being her year for getting things she hasn't had to qualify for.

Alas, reality outstripped satire yet again.

"I feel a little bit disingenuous to have not done the hard yards like the people here today," Devoy wisecracked at the graduation ceremony, beating me to the gag by several days.

- Herald on Sunday

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