Rex Widerstrom has watched the carnage and outrage unfold as a result of just eight words in a headline.
He has written an interesting perspective on the situation.
Judd Hall â€“ an alternative viewpoint
by Rex Widerstrom
More than 20 years ago now, a close friend of mine knocked on my front door (well, technically it was my parentsâ€™ front door) and asked if I wanted to come for a ride over the infamous Wainui hill. In those days any chance to get out of the valley and do somethingâ€¦ anythingâ€¦ was welcome, so off I went.
At the end of our drive sat a car, festooned with signwriting promoting a major soft drink. My friend introduced me to the driver, who was clearly our age. I inquired how he came to be in possession of what was obviously a company car, and was told he was a sales representative. At that point in life so was I â€“ and selling prescription medications to GPs, not just fizzy pop â€“ so thought nothing more of it and piled in the back seat.
Although the driver wasnâ€™t too bad, by the time we reached Waiwhetu (just on the other side of the hill) Iâ€™d begun to think all was not as it should be. I was considering phoning a cab from the Waiwhetu service station, where weâ€™d stopped to buy fuel, when my reverie was interrupted by police, some with weapons drawn, demanding we get out of the car.
Turns out it was stolen â€“ something neither I nor my friend had any real reason to suspect. And though police didnâ€™t share the details with me, judging by the weapons it may well have been stolen somewhat violently.
Two points emerge from this. First, like Judd Hall, in my naivety and inexperience â€“ and in trusting my friend not to put me in harmâ€™s way â€“ I made a momentary error; one that could easily have ended with my death. Iâ€™d be appalled to think that someone decided â€“ on the basis of my home town and my presence in a car over which I had no control once Iâ€™d decided to sit in the back â€“ to call me a â€˜feralâ€™ and virtually celebrate my death. Not because it would have made any difference to me, but because I, like Hall, have a family and friends, even more blameless, who should be allowed the dignity of grief without having to defend attacks on my character. Â Â Read more »