I've been trying to lay off the booze during the week. It's been a big year and the Piss Fairy was sprinkling her dust rather too liberally on to my shoulders towards the end of it, so it seemed like a good idea to keep the drinks to the weekend.
But as I write this on Thursday night, I'm sitting with a stonking great glass of red wine beside me to try to calm my nerves. I blame the Falun Gong. Yet again, this militant, strident, obsessive group is trying to gatecrash Auckland's Santa parade and won't take no for an answer.
The quasi-political, faux-spiritual group has been trying to get in behind Santa for years and when they're told to shove off and take their poxy pastel posters with them, they get stroppy.
They threaten High Court action and if you're the Wellington City Council, you cave in. If you're the Auckland Children's Christmas Parade Trust, you say "see you in court", and good on the Trust.
We were discussing this on talkback and, within minutes, the loyal practitioners of Falun Gong, aka Falun Dafa, were clogging the lines wanting to tell me how spiritual and peaceful and gentle they were and all they wanted to do was spread love and light.
Which is great. Just dandy.
I have no problem with a little light love spreading - just not in the Santa parade.
I've seen them at Mission Bay doing their thing and although I wasn't converted, I can't see why they shouldn't be allowed to prospect for clients. If they want to have their own parade, apply for the grant, pray for fine weather and go for it. But why on earth should they demand the right to participate in the Santa parade?
It shows how little the Falun Gong are willing to understand or appreciate New Zealand's traditions that they try to bully their way into the parade. Remember the Falun Gong have form - they are now banned from the Dunedin Santa parade after what the mayor called "dishonesty about their intentions" in the past.
If they think they're going to win friends and influence people by taking the Santa parade trustees to court, then there's clearly a cultural disconnect that needs to be corrected. It's the Santa parade, for goodness sake. Could there be a more benign organisation?
As it was, the twittering defence of Falun Gong bored me to sobs within a couple of calls. I have strong views about what should be in a Santa parade. No political groups, lobby groups or activist groups, no matter how benign they might appear.
There should be fairies, cartoon characters, Santa and a nativity scene. Definitely a nativity scene.
It is the Christmas parade, after all, not the Farmers Happy Holidays Santa Parade. If Jesus is the reason for the season, then He should at least get a look-in.
But then it's not my parade and not my decision. It's the decision of the trust. Their parade, their rules. And if you don't like them, establish your own rival parade or, better still, try to gatecrash another.
We didn't see the Falun Gong at Boobs on Bikes, did we? Or any of the Destiny marches.
I quickly tired of the Falun Gong lobbyists after a couple of calls and banned them from the airwaves.
I pretty much indulged in a little totalitarianism of my own. And it felt really, really good.
That didn't stop them calling constantly, threatening legal action, wanting my boss' number (sorry, Bill) and promising all kinds of retribution. My flabby liberal laissez-faire attitude towards these people has turned into active dislike. They are passive-aggressive bullies - and they don't belong in the Santa parade.
Original text from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10544538
(New Zealand Herald, Sunday, November 23, 2008)