Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Roast Busters freaks forced back to reality

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Luckily, the deplorable Joseph Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales are far from being typical young men.
Luckily, the deplorable Joseph Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales are far from being typical young men.

A young girl wanders into her local police station. She has been unhappy at home and has spent a lot of time with a gang, a gang that meets mostly for sex purposes. The 15-year-old has become worried about the well-being of the younger members of the group and wants the police to take action.

Another female victim of the Roast Busters? No. Readers old enough to remember the incident, and those who have studied New Zealand history, will know that this girl's testimony was one of the reasons the Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents was set up by the National Government in July 1954.

It was chaired by Queens Counsel Oswald Mazengarb, considered a puritan moralist and a fundamentalist by some other committee members.

The Mazengarb Report was released just a few months later and found that the (perceived) promiscuity of New Zealand's youth was the fault of women who worked outside the home, young women who enticed young men into having sex and young people having ready access to contraceptives.

The report advocated a return to traditional moral values and a return to Christianity and was the catalyst for the drafting of three bills relating to sex and young people. The Mazengarb Report was sent to every home in the land and, not surprisingly, caused outrage among the populace.

Roll forward 60 years and we have our own moral panic. The story of the Roast Busters has been commanding news headlines since TV3 broke the story. A group of young men have been engaging in group sex with young women, some of whom were stupefied with alcohol and some of whom were under age, and then bragging about their exploits online.

Two of them, Joseph Parker and Beraiah Hales, have been the frontmen for the group, although other young men have been involved. The video footage they have displayed and the comments they have made through social media are repugnant.

They are delusional losers, starring in their own fantasy of what the rock-star life is all about. They are so self-satisfied, narcissistic and self-obsessed I am amazed they even thought of introducing girls into their lives. I would have thought their preferred means of gratification would be oiling themselves up and giving themselves pleasure in front of a full-length mirror, so pleased they appear to be with themselves.

If their actions hadn't been so harmful and damaging to young women, they would be laughable. Pathetic little wannabe gangstas, with absolutely no concept of empathy, humility or consequences.

How on earth can they believe it to be cool to rape an underage stupefied girl? What universe are they living in where that is considered worthy of praise? Penetrating somebody who is unconscious has nothing to do with sex - it's all about degradation and control.

Attracting the most intelligent, attractive, strong and talented young woman in Year 13 would be something to crow about - even managing to attract somebody who was conscious would be a step up from what these young men were doing.

It's hard to understand looking in from the outside.

Parker and Hales believed they could create a fantasyland of their own making through social media and that they could control what went on there.

They're now learning how things work in the real world. Parker has lost his job - to be honest, I'm amazed he had one - and both men, with their offsiders, are being subject to derision, disgust and more dangerously, vigilante threats.

As for the inactivity in the police in the matter - dear me.

The Police Minister has called for an independent inquiry into the police handling of the case, and the police officers involved have only themselves to blame for that.

After a week of saying police inaction in shutting down the group was because they'd never received an official complaint, we learn that a 13-year-old girl made a formal complaint against men who she said had raped her two years ago, and three other girls had made complaints as well.

It must have been terribly difficult for them to come forward, given the intimate nature of the complaint and the peer pressure and condemnation they were getting from the young men - and more incredibly, their female friends - and I hope that now, their complaints will be taken seriously.

But in the midst of the repugnance, most of us feel regarding the actions of the group and before we send working women back to the home and are commanded to turn our eyes to the Lord, we must also acknowledge that most young men aren't predatory rapists. And not all young women are susceptible enough to be taken advantage of by predatory men.

Only one in four teenagers attending secondary school is sexually active, according to research from the Adolescent Health Research Group, and of those who are sexually active, only a tiny proportion would be engaged in these degrading sex sessions.

It would be wrong to go back 60 years and treat all young people as promiscuous moral delinquents in need of control and punishment. Officials need to treat the young men as the aberrant freaks they are.

- Herald on Sunday

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