John Key spanking behind closed doors

A few days ago the DomPost ran on p2 a generally positive story about John Key’s parenting which contained, without comment, the follow paragraph:

“Apparently it’s called planking but I don’t know – if we hadn’t changed the law, it would have rapidly moved to spanking,” [John Key] joked in a speech to the Parents Inc fathers’ breakfast in Wellington yesterday.

It struck me at the time that it was a joke at odds with the image of Key publicly taking credit for brokering the passage of the legislation. Of course it wasn’t a public joke, it was to an an entirely friendly audience pulled together by Parents Inc[1], of men paying $59 a head to hear Key, Gordon Tiejtens, and others and “enjoying the fellowship of other men”. This is reminiscent of Key joking about Tuhoe being cannibals, again Key showing a reactionary conservative face to an appreciative audience behind closed doors.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, perhaps John Key’s public/private image contrast is no more than we can hope for. But shouldn’t the media be looking out for and commenting on this? If he’d told an equivalent joke about beating his wife, having sex with a 15 year old, or snorting cocaine, would the media have taken the time to point out the contrast?


[1] Parents Inc, a conservative Christian organisation, lobbied against the repeal of section 59, and has since had National appoint its Executive Officer to a term as a Family Commissioner and, more recently, had $2.4million of untendered contract awarded to it.