I fear many readers of the December 17 Chronicle story about naming a new street won't have reached the penultimate paragraph before venting their skin-deep prejudices on social media or elsewhere.
That's regrettable because that paragraph, and the heading used online, provided important context for the latest flare-up that's diminishing our district's reputation.
The paragraph said: "[Ken] Mair's complaint to the Human Rights Commission is against the mayor, for not 'pulling up' [Rob] Vinsen."
The story's focus was councillor Vinsen's ill-advised comment on te reo name put forward by iwi organisations in response to a council invitation to be part of the naming process. The subdivision developer wanted it named after respected Whanganui sculptor Joan Morrell, and Morrell St won the vote.
While councillor Vinsen copped the bulk of iwi opprobrium and was accused of racism, the video of the December 10 meeting on the council's website reveals yet another debate lacking in leadership and going off the rails as a result.
The leadership that should be expected of Mayor McDouall was again absent, and he typically showed his lack of respect for meeting process and common courtesy by interrupting councillor Joblin with another of his silly "non-jokes". When she pulled him up, he said: "I was just having my little rant".
The video also shows newly-elected Brent Crossan and re-elected Hadleigh Reid, who flanked Vinsen, giggling and smirking at the comment that caused the whole thing to blow up in Whanganui's face.
There are also the usual "Some of my/council's best friends are Māori BUT..." style cop-outs from the likes of councillors Duncan and Baker-Hogan, who voted against the iwi suggestion. Joan Morrell rightly received nothing but respect in councillors' comments supporting the street in question being named after her.
It's all horribly reminiscent of the gratuitous offence caused by councillors five years ago, when they rejected a move to include the "H" in the name of our district. Some were recently re-elected.
A week later, after iwi spokesman Mair announced relationships with the council would be called off, those elected members realised the consequences of their stupidity and the majority overturned their own vote.
As former MP Tariana Turia said at the time: "This is about our identity and how we respect one another and how we go forward."
I totally understand and support Ken Mair's frustration (and despair) at the naming of Morrell St in favour of Te Repo St and calling it racist.
I thought we had, several years ago, got over the utterly ridiculous practice by Whanganui District Council of taking the advice of the developer on names to give to streets in their residential development, which often would be their grandchild's first name like Kylie (Close) or the name of a flower, e.g. Petunia (Place) or something equally nonsensical and infantile.
Going for more logical names in te reo which have meaning and give a real sense of place, function, and history is where I thought we had decided we might go.
If the majority of the council finds the possible mispronunciation a limiting factor or humorous, then it's time to learn the correct pronunciation and have representation on the council that better reflects the nature of our constituency.
Just had a conversation with my daughter about the possibility or impossibility of a person "accidentally" killing someone during sex. This is a conversation I had not anticipated having with an underage child.
However, with the continued swamping of the web and social media with porn of many kinds, it is a conversation parents may need to have at ever younger ages.
It is well past time for porn blocking to be applied across the board through at least schools and public organisations, including restaurants and shops.
Porn animalises and objectifies human beings and encourages a fantasy life that results in disatisfaction with normal human "lovemaking", a term we rarely hear in a society saturated with sex.
Sex apart from an intimate loving relationship is an abusive caricature of the beautiful, joyous interaction it is meant to be.
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