Many years ago the Rufus Painter story got a lot of attention on political blogs and on social media. David Shearer made a speech that opened with a story about a constituent who complained about a neighbour who was a sickness beneficiary painting his roof.

Politicians like to use stories to illustrate their points and policies, and sometimes the stories are works of fiction. Rufus Painter was the nickname given to the fictional sickness beneficiary roof painter by the blog Whaleoil.

There has recently been some speculation that Shearer’s fellow lover of the UN, PM Ardern, has created her own version of Rufus Painter. Her allegedly fictional creation is the “Muslim boy in Kilbirnie.”

Her story is part of her speech to the UN and at first glance seems believable.

[…] It was only days after the shooting and I visited a mosque in our capital city. […] I exited and walked across the car park where members of the Muslim community were gathered.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young boy gesture to me. 

He was shy, almost retreating towards a barrier, but he also had something he clearly wanted to say. I quickly crouched down next to him. 

He didn’t say his name or even say hello, he simply whispered “will I be safe now?” […]

The young Muslim boy in Kilbirnie, New Zealand, wanted to know if I could grant him all of those things.

UN Speech
bullshit detector GIF
bullshit detector GIF

I find it hard to believe that no one in the media captured this touching moment on camera or tape. Let’s face it, a photo of her crouched down beside a young Muslim child two days after the terror attack could have become as famous worldwide as this image did.

Footage of Jacinda Ardern visiting the mosque in Kilbirnie that day includes footage of her heading towards the carpark. She leaves the Mosque with Grant Robertston and her security minders. There is no touching moment with a child on its own visible in the footage. There was wall to wall media coverage of the visit. If she had stopped to talk to a child and crouched down do we really believe that a camera would not have captured the moment?

In the case of Rufus the painter David Shearer pretty much admitted that he had made the story up. He justified it by saying that it was true that that sort of thing did happen. In other words, Rufus Painter was his “Mr X” and simply an example of “creative licence”.

Someone should ask Grant Robertson if he can verify Ardern’s touching story. I am sure that the NZ media or a women’s magazine would love to do a follow-up story with the “Muslim boy in Kilbirnie”


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