Film-maker apologises for comments
Sun, 26 Aug 2012 9:44a.m.
A film-maker who sparked on-line fury with provocative comments about a woman soldier killed in Afghanistan has apologised to Jacinda Baker's family while hitting out at the extreme reaction.
Barbara Sumner Burstyn, a Canadian now living in New Zealand, on her Facebook page accused Lance Corporal Baker of "killing innocent people".
"Oh, so fallen soldier Jacinda Baker liked boxing and baking - did they forget she also liked invading countries we are not at war with, killing innocent people and had no moral compass," she wrote.
"She 100 percent does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices. Go to war expect to be killed. You can't have it both ways - oh nice little career with the military and shock horror when you get blown up."
The post went viral around the internet and by Sunday around 20,000 people had joined a Facebook group called "Sumner Burstyn give back your NZ Passport!".
Sumner Burstyn, in a blog on Sunday from Canada, said it had been a difficult few days.
"I made a...thoughtless comment for which I unreservedly apologise to the family, friends and loved ones of Jacinda Baker.
"I do not in the slightest gloat at this young woman's death - I bemoan the tragic loss of her valuable life. Certainly my choice of words at the time was not good."
However, she said the Facebook group response had been extreme.
"On it the men and soldiers of New Zealand threatened to rape me...to run me over, to burn down my house and murder me. They extended the threats to my family.
"This is the black underbelly of my country. Many of these men, and mostly they were men, posted these threats as members of NZ Armed Forces."
She said no one in the Defence Force had tried to control their staff.
The soldier who created the page, Ted Grainger, has tried to calm the outrage.
"Right people. No one on this site will advocate rape or murder," he wrote.
Sumner Burstyn, who is also a regular columnist for the New Zealand Herald and has received government funding for her films, told the Herald on Sunday she did not know when it would be safe to return.
Her family had had to flee their home after her contact details were published. She said the New Zealand police and Interpol were investigating the threats.
27/08/2012 5:18:15 a.m.
Burstyn it was not a thoughtless comment it was stupid. As a columnist you know such actions are unwarranted and totally unacceptable whilst a nation mourns in respect.
27/08/2012 12:17:15 a.m.
The amount of hateful nonsense posted staggers me. Were her comments offensive? Obviously, the evidence is right here. Does that justify threats of rape and murder? Of course not. I hope the police follow up and punish those people for BREAKING THE LAW. Posters here are correct; she does have free speech but its not because it was guaranteed by the barrel of our guns in Afghanistan. She is free to speak because we are a nation that tolerates dissent and allow people to make offensive comments like this. Once we start trying to restrict comments that offend us then we have lost free speech. And for the record we don't know why Jacinda Baker decided to serve and frankly it doesn't matter. Whether she signed up to liberate the people of Afghanistan or was just doing what she was paid to do is irrelevant. There's no need to dress it up. A family lost their loved one and that is always a tragedy.
26/08/2012 11:48:27 p.m.
I would avoid any paper that publishes anything she writes
26/08/2012 11:23:52 p.m.
Returned Serviceman wrote:
I'm all for saying what you want to say. But the fact is; Sumner Burstyn made comments about LCPL Jacinda Baker (right or wrong), who at the time of comment, was on her way home in a coffin. LCPL Baker could not defend herself. Therefore, everyone else did.
26/08/2012 9:45:13 p.m.
Vivienne Crawford wrote:
How dear she have any comment on where NZ sends their troops. Canada were known as peacekeepers till they joined America to fight this action, and long before NZ did. How dear she accept the right to freedom of speech and attack the very people who fought for her right to that freedom. I am a Kiwi living in Canada and as far as I'm concerned her comment about "she did not know when it would be safe to return. Do us all a favour STAY IN CANADA. NZ is safer then Canada, but people with attitudes like that shouldn't leave their own countries.
Kia Kaha NZ Armed Forces.
26/08/2012 9:23:41 p.m.
Whilst she attempted some kind of apology this was all more about her than what she did wrong. If she is a kiwi then she should realise by now the only way anyone wiil belive she is sorry is if she fronts up in person to apologise to both the familys and to the members of the 2nd of the 1st. I belive most all of New Zealand has huge respect for those who serve and sacrafice to help others and this little person has tried to belittle what they all do. Sumner front up in person or renounce yourself as a kiwi forever.
26/08/2012 9:12:10 p.m.
I believe Ms Burstyn posted her comments onto the 2/1 site with the intent of causing as much anger as possible, how else do you explain the timing and the singling out of L/Cpl Baker? She may have got more than she bargained for (and I don't sanction any threats made to her or her family). But seriously for a person of her supposed intelligence how could it not be a deliberate attempt to gain some attention? As for the apology, well in my book it wasn't, just another its all about me ploy. A shame filled act.
26/08/2012 8:51:29 p.m.
Maybe instead of judging other peoples choices in professions (that of a our first WOMAN fallen solider) maybe you should be thankful for them! Even though you are anti war get a grip woman war is war its 2012 its happening and by posting on Facebook your not gonna stop it! We as a nation are lucky to have these men and WOMAN who serve for us so we don't have to - so we can sit on our Facebook and make thoughtless and insensitive comments on their choices when all you do is what? Make films? Report some news? All men and WOMAN who support our country by being in any force is a hero in my eyes and the eyes of our fellow "NEW ZEALANDERS". Maybe before you criticize solders and the people who are threatening you look at yourself and ask why? Your comments and so called apology were heartless, insensitive and certainly had no mana! You wonder why the backlash? Because as a nation we 'New Zealanders' support, awhi, love, care and help those who have lost their loved ones who serve for us in the NZ army and other forces! And we are proud and thankful for the sacrifices that they have made for US!!!!!! This is why I am proud to be a NEW ZEALANDER and why I am proud of our army... TRUE MANA!
And to everyone one agreeing with these insensitive comments Burstyn made how about you put yourself in these solders parents situation? Their partners, brothers and sister, families and friends position!!! Even if they weren't in the army and your daughter died how would you like to find some woman you don't even know saying "she 100% does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices". Don't lie you'd want to hunt her down as well!!!! Have some freakin' RESPECT!
26/08/2012 8:50:45 p.m.
The worst thing to come out of all this is the disgusting nature of the support for our "defense" forces. WTF are they doing in Afghanistan anyway? This is not a defensive mission. You cowards who've threatened this lefty for her ill-advised statements are the ones who aren't welcome here
26/08/2012 8:44:53 p.m.
James J.Read wrote:
This woman's comments are outrageous. I regret that some people think she represents a Canadian viewpoint. Although not a Canadian, I am confident that she does not in fact do this.
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