Building Minister Maurice Williamson cracked jokes about Muslims at an awards ceremony – just days before he accused Kiwis of racism over foreign ownership.
So what. First of all learn the difference between a religion and a race. Secondly cracking a joke about a race does not mean you are a racist.
I hate this desire some people seem to have, to turn MPs into bland robots that never show any personality or sense of humour.
Mr Williamson climbed on stage to present two awards and asked MC Oscar Kightley, the Samoan star of Sione’s Wedding, if his “papers were in order”.
He went on to tell jokes making fun of Islam. One asked: “What is the difference between Muslims and Kiwis? Muslims get to commit adultery and get stoned, Kiwis get stoned and commit adultery.”
Some jokes can be hateful, or nasty. This was not one of them.
Mr Williamson also quipped about the weather being “Shi’ite in the morning and Sunni in the afternoon,” a reference to the two main denominations of the religion.
Heh. Personally I regard it as a good thing when one can tell jokes about a religion.
I once told a joke about how in heaven you get a better car, if you have never committed adultery, and the punchline was about Father McDonald rolling along on a skateboard. Does that denigate Catholics – of course not.
Kightley, a member of the comedy group Naked Samoans who write the animated series bro’Town, said he thought the remark directed at him was “a bit fresh”.
“I guess me, as an MC, was a natural target. He said it on stage. It didn’t really offend me. The last person you’d expect it from is the minister.”
Kightley said Mr Williamson’s performance seemed to go down well with the crowd. “As I recall he was very funny and the crowd liked it. I doubt he would have made those jokes in another setting.”
Of course, you choose your setting. In celebrity debates, almost anything goes. If you are an MC at function, you get to push the limit a bit. If you are the graduation speaker at a capping ceremony, then lave most of your jokes at home.
At the time, he didn’t think Mr Williamson had been drinking. “Someone told me later he’d had a few, but I didn’t think he was stumbling or slurring or anything. He was in fine fettle. But he was definitely in a nice and relaxed and jovial mood.”
I wasn’t at that event, but have been at many debates and the like with Maurice, and I can testify he does not need a drop of alcohol to let loose with a barrage of jokes.
Mr Williamson refused to comment last night. “I’m in a meeting about the Christchurch earthquake with a whole lot of people and can’t actually talk to you,” he said.
When approached later by a reporter and asked repeatedly about the remarks he walked away.
As he should. MPs should front up and answer questions on policy, on issues of substance. But why give any credibility to such a nonsense story.
Other guests said they believed Mr Williamson was drinking at the ceremony.
One said he thought the remarks were “not appropriate”.
“To be honest he was trying to be a bit of a lad.
“I couldn’t tell you he offended anyone. It was a load of builders. It was right at the end of the night and there was quite a lot of alcohol.”
So, no one actually claims they were offended. The worst quote they can find from someone is Maurice was a bit of a lad, at a conference of builders.
The problem with stories like this, is they turn MPs into dull automatons, who never say or do anything.