When kindness is retold unkindly

A few years ago I had a staff member who was working long hours and many days away from home. His job required a lot of travel, and a lot of time away from his partner, friends and family. At one point his partner’s son was undergoing treatment for cancer and he was working away and couldn’t be there to support his partner. One of the staff in the office arranged for flowers to be sent to his partner – a small token of caring at a hard time.

Looks fine to me, I’ve authorised flowers, movie tickets, and more for family members whose lives have been disrupted by work I’ve given my staff. I was once given plane tickets to spend time with my family after work kept me tied up through Christmas and New Year.

But time passed, and my staff member made some enemies, and that purchase of flowers was used to humiliate him and damage his career.

This makes me wonder a couple of things:

1) Was the decision to buy flowers a bad one?

2) Was the use of the purchase of flowers by his enemies, repeatedly retold by the media, fair?

3) Is my gut feeling right that this particular purchase was used by his enemies to remind us all that this partner is male, and imply that there is something distasteful about that fact?

I’m not for a moment suggesting that spending on and by employees should be uncontrolled, unmanaged or concealed; just wondering where to draw the line between transparency and self-serving malicious prurience.

4 thoughts on “When kindness is retold unkindly

  1. Welcome back Anita, You obviously felt the need to balance peace and war.

    I read this without noticing the tag and thought
    1. No
    2. No
    3. Yes and that says more about the repeaters than the person.

    Then I thought about it a little more and I thought that if this was public service there is a slightly higher duty of care but in the circumstances this was sent my an independent person and was still completely justifiable and my answers stood.

    Then I noticed the tag and my thought process changed. If buying flowers is part of a pattern of behaviour that includes frequent first class air travel with the partner paid by the state and the first line of defence is “its jus cos i is gay” then my attitude changes.

    The flowers of themselves were perfectly harmless. The pattern of behaviour was not, because state funds were involved and because an organisation may use a small amount of funds to indicate the staff are thinking about somebody but this does not give the person a blank cheque.

    FWIW I have only the vaguest recollection that some flowers were sent but I have complete contempt for Carters abuse of the perquisites of office.

  2. I always thought there was a bit of homophobia, or homophobic dog whistling in SOME of the responses to Carter, especially the way the flower incident was portrayed in the media.

    Still waiting to see camera crews chasing Hide around parliament and camping outside his home – following his string of hypocrisies, including paying for a trip for his gilrfriend with taxpayer money, and, more significantly using his win in ONE electorate to push through undemocratic, laws without any accountability to the people most affected by them: hypocrisy in the extreme from a guy who spoke out for transparency. Such laws & practices include the organisation of Auckland supercity, extending the 90 Day trial in the employment law…

    Where’s the repeated media coverage of Hide that continually uses images of Hide and his girlfriend, whether or not they are relevant to the issue being covered?

    And these laws that Hide promoted and/or put into practice have a much wider impact on large numbers of taxpayers’ lives and pockets than any travel or flowers for Carter paid by tax-payer money.

  3. Since I’m not currently living in NZ, it’s a little difficult for me to weigh up the two stories, but I do seem to remember a few pictures of “the girlfriend” during the coverage of the Hide affair (no pun intended), zeroing in on her age in particular.

    As a woman married to a much older man, I can tell you that the potential for snickering, nastiness, or at least automatic judgments about a May-September heterosexual relationship are potentially just as mean as those about a gay or lesbian relationship. This is particularly true of the liberal left (to which I belong), where it hasn’t been cool for some time to be a homophobe (I said the liberal left, which doesn’t necessarily include bullies like Trevor Mallard), but where it appears perfectly ok to make judgments about money, intelligence, and importantly, equality/inequality in these other cases. This was brought home to me by a newspaper article about my husband that made a big deal about my age and how we had met ten years previously, (not something we talked about with the journalist so he must have done some dirt-digging), but failed to acknowledge any of my independent achievements since.

    Not that I think Rodney Hide deserves a lot more than what he’s got so far. Going for him on the grounds that he an an opportunistic betrayer of the libertarian principles that ACT is supposedly founded on with his feeding-at-the-trough-of-the-state and law and order authoritarian nonsense seems like a good way to go.

  4. No, No, and No. I think a lot of people no longer bother about those with different sexual orientations.

    Carter’s problem was misuse of other peoples’ money, and failing to understand, and adhere to, the responsibilities associated with spending such money.

    I did note with interest that one media scrum around Hide was aggressively fronted by 4 female reporters. They may choose to present unflattering perspectives of their “victims” without actually being enemies.

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