We need to talk about Tory.
Not in judgement and ridicule, but with support and understanding.
The first I knew of the news about Tory Whanau was when a tweet came up in my feed.
The sort of tweet that makes you question humanity, or at least why you bother with Twitter. Which is increasingly a cesspit of vile inhabitants who lurk spreading negativity, hate, and every ‘ism you can imagine.
Except this tweet was slightly different. It wasn’t from an anonymous cellar dweller with a fake account, this was the verified account of a person who many in my city wanted to be mayor, Leo Molloy.
A man who, in the smallest of mercies, seems even worse than the one the citizens of Tamaki Makaurau sought fit to elect as our Mayor.
On the one hand you might charitably suggest Leo was attempting humour. But really this is much as he was on the campaign trail. I think, in his own unique way, this was Leo actually applying for a job. Listing his qualifications for public office.
They’re certainly more modest than the man himself.
It was pretty obvious what the story was about, and sure enough every news site was carrying a similar headline about Tory being a “flawed person” and admitting a problem with alcohol.
We’re all flawed, every single one of us. Which made it harder to comprehend Leo’s tweet. Where was the compassion, the basic decency? These aren’t things you learn at woke school for liberals, they are how to be a human being - 101.
Who am I kidding? This is a man who while running for mayor released a video in which he suggested installing water sprays among other things to keep the “drunks and undesirables” from congregating. His way of addressing the issue of homeless people in the CBD.
Quite a lot of my friends don’t do Twitter, so I popped Leo’s tweet on Facebook to see what they thought. The general reaction was one of disgust and disappointment, not I should add in Tory, but certainly in Leo.
Facebook friend Meg responded with an excellent point, and a wonderful phrase, “Yeah nah let's use someone's substance use disorder as a reason to crow....fecking syphilitic canker on the taint of humanity he is.”
She was absolutely right, in my opinion. Tory needs to be left alone to get the help she is receiving, not have someone put the boot in. I found myself inevitably thinking of others like Kiri Allan, and what they were put through.
I am so bloody sick of seeing female politicians, especially young Māori, targeted and pilloried by the media, and right wing politicians, in this country. It isn’t subtle, it is out of all proportion compared to the way a white male would be treated after the same sort of transgression, it is unacceptable.
If you think that’s nonsense, then open your eyes because it’s happening again and again in this country. We should all be as outraged as Meg. Feeling quite emotional I put up my own tweet:
Just so we’re clear, I’m not suggesting that the troubles Kiri Allan went through were all the responsibility of the media and those spewing their negative poison.
But I don’t think having every issue she was going through amplified by a press eager for scandal, or the commentary of those who wanted to see her career destroyed, regardless of the personal impacts, given such prominence, can have helped.
Tory Whanau is not a criminal, no one is pressing charges that I’m aware of. She is a larger than life character who wears her, very decent, heart on her sleeve, and she has a problem with alcohol.
There is no scandal, there is a human being who has said I have a problem and I need to get help. That’s a bloody hard thing for someone to do, especially I imagine in such a high profile position.
If you disagree with her politically, you don’t think the council is prioritising the right things, or fixing problems, then absolutely challenge that. But don’t attack her over this.
Just so you don’t think Twitter is all bad, there are still some decent people there, including Wellington councillor Rebecca Matthews:
The following words are from Tory:
"I am a flawed person, but I care deeply about this city. I will continue to represent the hopes and aspirations of my local community and I will do so with the compassion and care of those around me and with the professional help required.
I would like to say to others struggling with alcohol issues that you can seek help and still commit to your passions, work, family, friends in a way that is meaningful. We are complex, layered people and deserving of love.
I would appreciate respect and care from the media whilst navigating this period of sobriety and professional support."
Hear Hear. We are all flawed, and we are all deserving of love. I very much hope that Tory is left alone by the vultures, and that we’re not going to see another politician, who happens to be a human being, have their career curtailed as a result of intolerable pressure. When what they need is help.
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I have nothing but praise for Tory in speaking out honestly, and for being realistic about the situation with her drinking. We should be offering her support and understanding, not hounding her with vicious nastiness and so-called jokes. The tweet I have highlighted from Leo Molloy is the tip of the iceberg.
Shouldn’t that be the default in our society? That when someone says they need help, whether it be drug addiction, mental health issues, or problems with alcohol, that we should show them support? Regardless of which political party they represent, their gender, or their race?
What do you think?