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So it's come to this: Air New Zealand has had to cut a scene from its in-flight safety video to head off a rash of gay male suicides.
The offending scene features All Black pin-up boy Richard Kahui declining an invitation to give a gay flight attendant a peck on the cheek.
The airline says it cleared the scene with various "stakeholders," including members of the gay community, and the video has been a "phenomenal success."
But in the past week a number of complaints have been received, including one from a professor who warned that Kahui's coyness could cause a lemming-like rush off the deep end.
Air New Zealand is to be commended for seeking creative solutions to the problem of passengers ignoring in-flight safety videos as a point of principle, but its capitulation is disappointing. By giving in it has bolstered the pernicious and preposterous notion that whenever an individual or group takes offence, their feelings have to be respected and addressed, regardless of the legitimacy of their grievance.
With its diversity, multiculturalism and robust competition for attention and rewards, modern society functions on tolerance. Tolerance doesn't mean accepting the unacceptable in order to keep the peace, but it does mean that occasionally we have to put up with something we might take a dim view of, but which others consider innocuous and/or amusing.
You'd hope gay Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson would get this. Not quite: although he took the scene in the spirit of fun, he could "certainly understand some people might be concerned about it".
In other words, it's your right to be offended by something that's transparently light-hearted and not intended to cause offence; it's your right to impose your neuroses on the rest of us. Chalk up another victory for the cry-babies.
As for the anonymous professor who invoked the spectre of the lights going out all over Gaytown, there can only be disdain. Just as patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, in the sense that demagogues always end up wrapping themselves in the flag, so self-harm is that last resort of the passive-aggressive bully determined to make others dance to his whine.
The only person who emerges from this abject episode with credit is spurned flight attendant Will Coxhead. "I'm absolutely gutted that a couple of people in the gay community have ruined this for everyone else," he said. "I'm proud to be gay and extremely proud of my role in the safety video. Obviously there are some people in the gay community that can be a little precious and need to lighten up."
Coxhead is this column's New Zealander of the week. And in the spirit of fighting back against the forces of censorious small-mindedness, our Aussie of the week is Shane Warne.
This column hasn't always been an uncritical admirer of the Sheik of Tweak, particularly when he pointed the finger at his mother after he'd tested positive for a banned substance. (He claimed she'd nagged him into taking a fluid tablet so he'd look good on TV.)
Unless your mother is Madonna or the Octomom, no grown person should ever blame their mum for anything.
Warne is reinventing himself as a multi-media personality and professional larrikin. He's already brought an overdue note of irreverence to Channel 9's cricket commentary, suggesting septuagenarian, pigeon-fancying fellow commentator Bill Lawry is a closet fan of indie band Arctic Monkeys.
And with a defeatist nation imploring him to come to the rescue of Australian cricket, Warne signalled he aspires to strut an even bigger stage by jetting off to London for a two-night stand with middle-aged sex kitten Liz Hurley.
This is a relationship made in celebrity heaven. Ever since she got our attention by wearing a gravity-defying Versace dress held together by gold safety pins from which her breasts threatened to erupt like the baby alien bursting out of John Hurt's chest in the first Alien, Hurley has shown herself to be a consummate celebrity: adept at manipulating the media and entirely at ease in the spotlight of her making.
True, there seems to be confusion over whether their respective ex-partners were aware things had moved on to this extent, but that's life in the fast lane. If you couple up with people who embrace their celebrity status - ie are vain, indiscreet, incapable of shame and addicted to publicity - there's always the risk that they'll gravitate towards someone who has what you lack and they admire above all: fame.
Just as if you ask someone for a kiss, there's always the risk they might turn you down.