A member of Christchurch's Muslim community stands across the road from the Dean Street mosque. (Photo: MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

The best of The Spinoff this week

Rose Hanley-Nickols: I survived a mass shooting 23 years ago. Here’s how to help survivors today

Laura Vincent: Remembering the cute, podcast-less Joe Rogan

“I’m an expert on Joe Rogan. You know the guy, right? If not from yelling enthusiastically at UFC cards you’ve surely heard of his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, where he talks about smoking weed or the benefits of sensory deprivation and meditation while riffing with comedians, actors and public figures.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Lately, he’s been hosting prominent alt-right figures in his unchallenging, friendly space. He claims no political affiliation but his ability to placidly agree with almost anything his guests say is getting increasingly weirder to behold. Yes, that guy! You know him! He conveys a kind of ‘whoopee cushion straining at the join’ vibe. He smoked weed with Elon Musk and his opening serve to this billionaire – who called one of the rescue divers of the kids in the Thai cave a “pedo” – was to skittishly ask how someone “constantly innovating” finds time to make a flamethrower.

He brought on Jordan Peterson and they merrily talked smack about gender pronouns, diversity, and income equality. His name comes up more and more as his podcast grows in popularity. Its clips go viral, reddit analyses them, and your not-yet-radicalised cousin on Facebook clicks on them out of idle curiosity.

Yes, I’m an expert on Joe Rogan.”

Katie Meadows: How do we reckon with Michael Jackson in the wake of Leaving Neverland?

“While the sexual abuse detailed by Robson and Safechuck is extremely graphic – allegations of molestation, mutual masturbation, oral sex and penetrative sex between Jackson and each boy – Leaving Neverland exists as a thorough exploration and explanation of how the more covert grooming of child abuse victims functions, and the insidiousness of the seduction that takes place.

When we think of child sexual abuse we think of the physical violence. But in cases where the abuser is well known to the victim, abusers often employ behaviour similar to a romantic courtship, making their victims feel special and loved while convincing them that the sexual abuse is a part of that. Both men admit to feeling in love with Jackson, to a point that even now they feel like they’re betraying him by speaking out.

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The brazenness of Jackson’s inappropriate relationships with the young boys is so apparent it seems beyond hiding in plain sight. Both describe the betrayal when Jackson prioritised spending time with other young boys as they grew older, akin to being suddenly dumped by a long-term partner and lover.”

Amanda Thompson: It took Michael Jackson’s victims 20 years. It took me 20 years, too

“I like to imagine people’s opinions about this doco on a kind of bell curve of vehemence, with the Y axis measuring the amount of people, and the x axis measuring how certain we are in what we “know”. The graph will have a small, flat lump of people at one end vehemently believing that MJ was a philanthropist, musical genius and all-round good guy who has been unfairly maligned. Right up at the other skinny end another tiny amount of people are just as sure that he was a psychopathic paedophile who ruined the lives of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, and had enough money and influence to cover it up. The large majority though, are milling around in the big bulgy bit in the centre, confused and ambivalent, perhaps thinking Jackson was “a bit troubled” and maybe did some weird stuff? Or are those two guys are just “a bit troubled” and maybe imagined some weird stuff? But, also, they think, who cares any more? Why kick a man when he is – well, down – six feet down to be exact – and coincidentally dead? Why deny it then but drag it all up again now, 20 years later?

I can’t tell you who to believe, but I can answer the last question for you.”


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