If this were my son…



Toward the close of New Year’s Eve Eve, this post from TV3’s excellent man about various towns, David Farrier, happened to percolate across my newsfeed.

It’s a photo of a temporary memorial called Arlington West that’s erected every Sunday on California’s Santa Monica beach by a group called Veterans For Peace. It’s dedicated to US servicemen killed during the course of the Iraq War, with each of the thousands of crosses in the photo representing one of the fallen. (As an aside, the plaque next to it points out that while this monument to the American war-dead takes up an area some 141 feet wide by 310 feet long, if done at the same scale for the Iraqi dead … it’d be some 141 feet wide by 12.8 *miles* in length)

However, it’s not just *any* photo of a war memorial and contemplative space … it’s also one of Max Key’s holiday snaps.

As the lad himself puts it, “Fun”.

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Now, when this came up for debate amidst my friendcircle, the point was made that as a general rule, the spawn of politicians we don’t like shouldn’t ordinarily be singled out for especial targeting merely by virtue of their parentage. We don’t usually get to choose those who contribute our patronymics and chromosomes, as you may have noticed.

The same gentleman then followed this up by asking the rhetorical question “If this was your kid, would your reaction be different?”

And I have to say (leaving aside, for a moment, the fact that I’ve never really considered blogging about my unborn presumptive children/hypothetical-next-generation-of-naescent-Rolinsonian-political-supersoldiers before) … yes, yes it would be a bit different. I’d be giving him a clip round the ear – something that, I can’t help but note, you aren’t *usually* allowed to legally do to somebody else’s kids. (Particularly given my rather amusing previous run-in with Key’s diplomatic protection squaddies…)

In any case, while 19 is getting a little old to run the excuse of youthful exuberance and indiscretion; the reason why Max Key editorializing a memorial to Western troops who’ve died in Iraq as “fun” is arguably comment-worthy, is the fact that at the same time Max is shooting photos amidst the sand … his father has our own military gearing up for a deployment to a new shooting war *also* in Iraq.

I’m not always a believer that you can judge too terribly much about a given father based around his son’s arguable misconduct (because otherwise there’d be some seriously, seriously unfortunate conclusions to be drawn about The Rev. Rolinson based the continual stream of *ahem* “eccentricity” I indulge in) … but if Max Key is *this* blase about America’s war-dead from Iraq, we can only wonder whether this has anything to do with John Key’s potentially somewhat cavalier attitude to putting our men and women in harm’s way in the same foreign country.

Let’s hope Key the Elder possesses a little more perspicacity than his son does about the gravity of what it means to die in a far-off land in service to your (or, in this case, someone else’s) nation.

[My thanks to Andrew Paul Wood for his assistance with this piece]


  1. Hi Curwen 🙂

    Good point.

    ‘Fun’ in this case seems to be about tourism. Fun because I was lucky enough to be in a place and see something special that wasn’t always going to be there. Nothing about why it’s there or what it might mean.

    You pose the question, how long should allowance be made for youthful ignorance? Good point, but there’s more than that at stake here.

    How long should I wait before telling my son ‘the facts of life’? Things a boy needs to know to become a man, I mean, every respectable adult’s responsibility.

    But this is a special case. How long should I wait before telling my son that I am morally and ethically bankrupt, a special kind of criminal ‘comfortable’ with sending other people’s children to their deaths, at home and abroad, as long as the lies I tell about it can be believed by enough people?

    How long shall I allow my son, already becoming aware of his father’s dirty secret, to go on rationalising it or living in a ‘fun’ world where he can go on pretending it isn’t so?

    It’s tough for children of honest parents to grow up.

    It’s much tougher for children of dishonest parents who have been convicted of their crimes, but at least what they have to face has been acknowledged.

    And it’s far tougher again for children associated with publicly known practising lying criminals.

    Ultra cringe or brazen out?

    I don’t envy this son his choice.

  2. Thanks for this … what a horrible little oik Max the Plank is… if he were mine, he’d get a clip round the ear as well – but if he were mine, he wouldn’t need it. I have brought them up to be sensitive.

  3. Sounds like Key the elder is heavily influencing Key the younger in the footsteps of Key the elders attitude of blasé outlook on life according to the wealthy. Unfair comment? No, I don’t believe so. And to boot, no apologies in my statement.

  4. I sense that “Max” is keen to be one of the first to go, to fight ISIS in faraway Iraq and Syria. Give him a gun, a backpack and send him off, I suggest. He can learn more “fun” when the bullets and larger projectiles will fly around his ears.

    Maybe the “fun” he will have will make him a “real man”, or maybe not so? But perhaps a dose of “reality” is what the young Key needs, while his dad is paving the way for even closer cooperation between the US and little Niu Zilliland.

  5. There naturally will be those who consider that Max should be left alone to live his own live and the sins of the father should not be laid upon the son.

    Another angle is that the trappings of dad’s office are undoubtedly grasped and enjoyed, the golf, the popstars and whatever else. Should the opprobrium not also be welcomed as “part of the job”?

  6. You could take the comment as weary sarcasm, however it just goes to show the indelible nature of a blown off comment posted to the internet and the number of potential readers and interpretations of said comment. I’m surprised he hasn’t migrated to Rich Kids of Instagram.

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