The rush to judgement of former All Black Ali Williams for his alleged cocaine buying in France this week is not surprising.
Williams was an awkward media presence at times, prone to the odd touch of arrogance and perceived by some as having a holier-than-thou attitude. He was, however, an All Black so held a certain gravitas in this country and subsequently cashed in on that status, earning a contract to ply his trade in the moneyed world of French rugby.
When you look at the context you can hardly blame him for allegedly attempting to purchase narcotics; relatively young, cashed-up, pseudo-celebrities out for a good night in the City of Lights. Can you really judge? But hey, we all do. Nothing like bringing down an up-himself JAFA a few pegs ay? As for his mate Carter... well, he's a legend in comparison and let's face it - it's a bit of booze, not drugs - way worse. (That's tongue-in-cheek for those of you that don't stop and think before posting on social media).
So it's interesting, although not surprising, that the drug issue has reared its head back here in Aotearoa as well this week. Prime Minister Bill English was asked why there's high immigration in New Zealand despite the fact there's around 140,000 people on the unemployed list. His response was that many New Zealanders can't get the jobs on offer because they can't pass the mandatory drugs tests. He went on to say he's told by several businesses each week that it's a real problem.
At first glance some thought this was a clanger; the product of some conservative, backwater, dyed in the wool resident of Hicksville NZ with an attitude straight out of the 1860s. This could well be the case, but as has been pointed out by some commentators, it's a thought that probably resonates with at least half the country. Which begs the question: was it calculated?
There is a school of thought that says most definitely. There are a few factors at play here. Firstly, Bill's outward dislike for the Greens. Unlike his predecessor, those that know him say Bill's never really felt comfortable with the left side of politics and was moved to call the Greens tree-huggers during an interview last week.
This was no slip of the tongue, it was a calculated jab to the Left and part of a narrative the Nats are attempting to spin; there is once again a clear and decisive line between left and right in New Zealand politics. John Key's reign is over; there will be less finger-to-the-wind pragmatism and more steadfast positioning of a conservative nature. After all, it seems to be working in other parts of the world...
But while we may choose to elect a conservative regime when we go to the polls in September, there's no denying we're a nation that likes to get off our chops; it's the Kiwi way and we're picking up the pace.
Recent figures released by Statistics New Zealand reveal total alcohol consumption is on the rise, some of the fastest growing companies in New Zealand are craft breweries, there's been a big rise in the consumption of high strength beer and there's simply more alcohol on our shelves .
Just a few days later Customs released figures showing a record year for drug hauls that kept an estimated billion dollars of meth off New Zealand streets. We're also doing a fairly good job of producing illegal drugs within our own borders too.
Graeme Smith who operates the Waikato/Coromandel branch of the Drug Detection Agency has told me drug production in the rural hinterland is not only easy, but relatively common due to the isolation of many properties.
He also affirms the assertion by the Prime Minister that many current and prospective employees are willing to risk that employment in lieu of abstinence, hence the need for foreign workers to fill certain gaps in the employment market.
So given all this, is it any wonder some of our ex All Blacks are heading overseas and going to concerts, driving fast cars, quaffing vino by the ton and hoovering up lines of ching?
Given our genetic predilection for getting off our collective gourds and a natural penchant for a party, I think we should all ask ourselves if we'd be doing things differently if we were in a similar position?