Sean Plunket: Not guilty means not guilty

Opinion 11/02/2019
Cricketer Scott Kuggeleijn. Photo: Photosport.

By Sean Plunket, Magic Afternoons host

OPINION: Harassment takes many forms, none of them pretty. We are all at risk of being bullied at school, at work at home and in public places.

It is encouraging that our society is increasingly intolerant of harassment and those who perpetrate it. Targets of harassment should by now know it's OK to call out those who are treating them badly and it's likely they will be listened to and action will be taken.

Many forms of harassment are illegal, and our criminal code provides sanctions for those found guilty of perpetrating such behaviour.

But some forms of harassment are on the rise and are seemingly encouraged by our news and social media.

Take the case of cricketer Scott Kuggeleijn. The 27-year-old was tried and found not guilty of rape. I’m not going to reprise the case here as it is a matter of public record and the young man walked from court a free man.

What a load of third-wave feminist twaddle.

That doesn’t make what occurred back in 2015 OK, but it does mean Kuggeleijn can set about doing what he apparently enjoys - playing cricket at the top level and vying for selection for our national team.

Well that is if he wasn’t the target of a harassment campaign.

Last week, a woman at the T20 match in Wellington help up a banner with the express intention of embarrassing and vilifying Kuggeleijn and New Zealand Cricket. But her feelings were hurt after the banner was taken away from her.

In an, alas all too common, act of PC capitulation security later apologised for overreacting to the incident. I think they did the right thing.

The self-appointed arbiters of moral outrage have continued to harass Kuggeleijn in the days since, most notably a particularly silly column by Stuff scribe Olivia Caldwell.

In it she sprayed generalised accusations about sexual abuse and violence amongst national sportsmen before suggesting that “the continued selection by sports organisations of players who treat women badly sends a clear message that the black uniform is a license to do what they please, and a defence to get away with it.”

What a load of third-wave feminist twaddle. I don’t want rapists, murderers or thugs representing New Zealand in any sporting code, but I’ll leave it to our police and justice system to decide who the criminals are and our national selectors to pick the best players from the good guys and gals.

Meantime crowds at international fixtures can do what they always have, bay for the blood of the other team rather than engage in an extrajudicial witch hunt against our own players.

Sean Plunket is host of Magic Afternoons, weekdays from 12-3pm.