Sat | Jan 19, 2019

AJ 'badding up' women now?

Published:Wednesday | November 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

A.J. Nicholson's flexi-rape comment in the Upper House of Parliament last Friday was a genuine attempt at humour. The trouble is, nothing about rape can be humorous.

Rape is one of those subjects you never trump for when, as A.J. did, you want to test your ability to elicit a laugh from among your friends in a room. It's the wrong material to use for a wisecrack.

So the incongruity between Nicholson's attempt at being ribalding and the subject of that attempt meant the Lord should have rendered him speechless in the moment his brain pieced together the flexi-rape comment and compelled his tongue to drum out the sounds to the words which should at least force the prime minister to officially call time on his career as leader of government business in the Senate.

But alas, Nicholson cannot blame God for not smiting him with a giant fist in his gob the moment his lips opened to elicit the sound that has correctly infuriated so many, especially Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith. God did not cause you to run a tasteless, tactless and juvenile joke at Senator Malahoo Forte's expense. You did that on your own, Mr Nicholson. When asked by the Senate president to withdraw the comment, Nicholson said, "All I was doing was running a little joke, you understand, I never meant any offence, I meant no offence."

quick apology

Perhaps if he had withdrawn there and then with a quick apology, he would not now be the subject of such opprobrium. But continuing the cricket analogy used by Daraine Luton, writing in Monday's edition of The Gavel in this newspaper, it is a fact, Senator, that you have been caught.

For those of us who listen and watch the proceedings in the Senate as a matter of course, we know there's no love lost between Minister Nicholson and Senator Johnson-Smith. We have always noted the minister's brusqueness with the lady and his controlled disdain for her opposition colleague, Senator Malahoo Forte.

Given that those who know Nicholson well say that he is a lady's gentleman, this veiled acerbity towards two of the many fine women serving both sides in the Parliament does appear quite odd.

The recrimination from the flexi-rape gaffe has been revealed in an email thread between Minister Nicholson and Senator Malahoo Forte. I must confess to being troubled by the minister's statement directed at Senator Johnson-Smith that "the big payback is coming, mark my word".

Precisely what do you mean, Minister? You have tabled your intention to pay back the senator? For what? For being put out by your joke about rape? For being upset that this latest incident represents a totting up of various remarks made by you towards her? So, is it that you want to divest Senator Johnson-Smith of her right to be upset about a comment about rape?

Listening to the proceedings in the Senate live last Friday, I never for a moment got the impression that Nicholson meant injury with the remark. But as the Senate president reminded A.J. as he slammed his foot down on the matter, it doesn't matter what you meant, Minister. Offence was indeed taken for a comment that should never have come from your mouth.

Here you are Minister, a man regarded by men my age as a general of the Parliament, a don. Yet you have now blotted your copybook with what you have said, how you've sought to defend it and, worst of all, by your attempt via email to 'bad up' those you've offended. What a time in your career to be seeking the title of A.J. Nicholson, Lady Bad Man!


George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to and