New Zealanders have had a collective experience this year – 97.6% of us have seen Gareth Morgan on television or social media and thought to themselves “There’s something fucking wrong with that guy.” Even by the mediocre, ignorant, bombastic standards of the puffed-up pissants who comprise New Zealand’s political class, Morgan stands out as a particularly vile specimen. This article takes a psychological perspective to examine what might be wrong with the man.
Having a go at someone on the occasion of the sudden death of a beloved pet, as Morgan did upon the death of Jacinda Ardern’s cat this week, is about as worthy of admiration as having a go at someone on the occasion of the death of a grandparent. It’s a really low thing to do, and a person wouldn’t normally think to do it unless something was missing from their brain. After all, many pet owners consider their animal friends a legitimate part of the family.
Imagine if Sam Morgan suddenly died and Jacinda Ardern had a go at Gareth on social media, taunting him on account of the damage Sam did to the environment with frequent international air travel. It would be the most appallingly unprimeministerial conduct ever witnessed in the history of the country. The whole nation would be united in agreement that someone who behaved like that was not fit to run a pub, let alone lead a country, on account of lacking basic compassion.
That this sort of conduct is not beneath Morgan won’t surprise the large numbers of people who have observed him speak and got a creepy vibe from the man, as if he was someone who you wouldn’t leave alone in a room with a pet or a small child.
Probably the reason for this is that Morgan, like most individuals who give other people the creeps, has a very low opinion of the importance of other people. As evidenced by his proposal to buy a section of Awaroa Beach, Morgan considers other people lesser beings, their opinions less worthy, their feelings less valuable.
This is not news to anyone who criticised Morgan’s refugee policy on one of his billions of sponsored FaceBook threads, and was verbally abused as a consequence.
It is cause to believe that Morgan has utterly failed at what a psychologist would call the development of a Theory of Mind – in other words, Morgan has absolutely no idea what’s going on in other people’s heads.
This hypothesis is supported by Morgan’s rude, crude, almost autistic dismissals of other people’s viewpoints. Like most narcissists, Morgan responds firstly with disbelief and rage when people disagree with him, and then when this cools becomes snarky and contemptuous. No effort at creating a common understanding with another person is made – you agree with the truth as divined by Saint Gareth or you are simply subhuman.
No amount of explaining could get it into Morgan’s head that most people are appalled by a tax plan that calls for taxing the family home. For the vast majority of people, their tenure of dwelling is their basic security in life: their castle and their home base. Of course, someone with hundreds of millions who can buy a house with pocket change cannot understand these sentiments, but the telling thing is that Morgan made no effort to – anyone who disagreed was simply a misinformed idiot.
Neither does he seem to have the faintest idea how much joy people get out of cats, and therefore the great anti-depressant effect that cats have on the people that spend time around them. He seems to have completely failed to understand that most cat owners see their cats as fellow beings of a similar order of importance to other people. This is pretty weird, all things considered, because there are very few people who are mentally defective on such issues of empathy.
Probably the main reason for this failure is that Morgan just doesn’t care. Judging by his behaviour on the campaign circuit, other people are, for him, just tools to be used in the achievement of a greater objective.
In other words, Morgan shares a failure to develop a theory of mind with all manner of criminals, psychopaths and dictators, who, like him, are missing the basic empathy that makes people truly human.