Don Brash is the last person who should be silenced. It's charitable to listen to the irrelevant, an act of simple kindness – and costs nothing.

I would listen to Brash. I'd be thinking about other things, and doodling in my notebook, but I'd be present. Every now and then a key phrase of his would slip through, I'd feel a momentary ticklish annoyance, as if a small insect was crawling on my skin, and then I'd slip smoothly back into reverie. He has that effect. The snooze factor.

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I don't know what Massey University was thinking – only I do. The far right is likely to catch on, they've thought, and it's dangerous to let that happen because look at Donald Trump, who is embarrassing. There's only a surname difference between Brash and the supposed leader of the free world, and that's scary. Besides, someone said they wouldn't like it.


This is the era of the someones. Their hour has come. All they have to do is make a comment online, perhaps suggest a protest at an event, and universities tremble. It's about health and safety, Massey says; someone might trip over a banner, or fall under a police truncheon.

But nothing worse could happen to Brash than the mud slung at him at Waitangi, which he survived, or the TV footage of him trying to get into that pedal car, which was pure comedy.

Bearing that in mind, Massey should apologise and send flowers. It's not nice to be nasty to the elderly: we'll all be old one day, if we're not already.

Once being mean to the young was more the done thing, and freedom of speech, let alone freedom of expression, did not exist. It was a time when the state broadcaster – the only broadcaster - banned Barry McGuire's tedious Eve of Destruction, Donovan's syrupy Universal Soldier and The Who's grunty My Generation from the air because they were anti-war, we currently had a war on in Vietnam, and anyway kids had long hair. Long hair was wicked.

In the Auckland Town Hall, Germaine Greer, then an internationally famous feminist author, used the word "bullshit" and was arrested for using obscene language. Women were forbidden to wear trousers to some workplaces for dubious reasons long forgotten, and for similar reasons didn't get equal pay or promotions because men were always bosses, and they had short hair, which made all the difference.

Schoolboys were forced to have short-back-and-sides haircuts because humiliation was good for them, the same reason why they have to wear shorts and long socks today, and for the same reason schoolgirls had to wear hats and gloves to school, like old ladies.

The miniskirt had adults terrified.

Abortions were illegal, and contraception was not available to unmarried women because sex was something they might get to like, but it wasn't good for them unless they'd had a wedding first.


Doctors, mostly men, were paternalistic. They knew what was best for us. Lawyers were deemed to be moral paragons.

Girls who got pregnant gave the babies up for adoption. They had no choice because there was no welfare for them. The pubs closed at six o'clock. Illegal drugs were just beginning to appear, probably among people with long hair.

Communists were the enemy, and very wicked, though short-haired. Māori lived in the country, out of sight and out of mind. Why did they ever leave, and why did all these other genders happen?

It was a country Brash, with his significant hair loss, would have been happy in. And that's exactly what was wrong with it.