I never thought I’d say this, but for once I’m on Winston Peters’ side.
The New Zealand First leader was quoted earlier this week as saying to a female journalist, “God, you dick” – this in response to a question about whether former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams, a new recruit to NZ First, would be a party spokesman.
Granted that Peters is often irascible in the presence of the media, but this didn’t sound quite right. I’ve never heard a woman called a dick, which is a term of abuse reserved for males. Besides, for all his huffing and puffing, Peters isn’t so ill-mannered as to direct such an offensive putdown at a female.
So it was no surprise to see in today’s Dominion Post that Peters denies saying any such thing. What he actually said, he insists, was “crikey dick”.
This rings true to me. “Crikey dick” seems a much more likely thing to say, particularly for someone of Peters’ age. But it’s easy to see how it could be misheard, especially if it’s an expression the reporter is not familiar with.
Is this partly a generational problem? Many of the journalists now covering politics are young women – you can see that whenever gallery journalists swarm around John Key or Phil Goff in the lobby at Parliament.
The expression “crikey dick” is used frequently by people of a certain age but might be less familiar to anyone in their 20s or 30s. It’s not inconceivable that someone of that age might mistake it for something more objectionable.
The Dom Post says Fairfax journalists played the tape to four people, all of whom heard “God, you dick” – but then conceded, when told that Peters denied using those words, that they could be wrong. I’d be curious to know what age they were.