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Paul Henry the Fox?

  • October 16th, 2010

  When the howl went up over Henry's question to John Key about Anand Satyanand's successor on Jim Mora's Panel I defended Henry's right to ask the question. Several people I respect emailed their dismay to me.

I've thought more about this after considering Wallace Chapman's admirable piece on the issues, and the comments it attracted.

Classical liberals may prefer to make themselves colour (gender/religion) blind, but we cannot require the people, or our public speakers, to work at or to share that selected blindness. It is our law and the state that must treat all as equal before the law, giving favour to none.

Now the state is under the control of people busy peddling race obscurantism – the notions of inherited relations with land and spirits, inherited specialness. Those who have supported a state sponsored search for “national identity” can scarcely complain when this is translated by ordinary people into seeing merit in promoting as our symbolic leader someone who seems to them closer than others to embodying whatever that identity is.

It is hypocrisy to bawl at Paul Henry for highlighting the dissonance in appointing people on the basis of the 'statements' thus made about 'diversity', then pretending that representativeness does not matter.


  • Jim Maclean
  • October 20th, 2010
  • 7:30 pm

Paul Henry's comment about Sheila Dikshit was offensive, juvenile and racist. It breached the Broadcasting act in a number of ways and it unnecessarily created a negative impression of New Zealand in the minds of hundreds of millions of people who we may well look to for export earnings. It was however in my mind of less significance than his comments about the Governor General.  The request that we should have someone who "looked and spoke like a real New Zealander" was simply hate speech. Delivered with a smile and without anger but still hate speech which taps into the darkest recesses of human and animal nature, seeing any differences as a threat to our very survival. If Paul Henry appeared on a late night talk feature, I might be prepared to consider his comments something to be decried, but protected under the guise of "free speech" but it was clear that both he and TVNZ accepted without question Andi Brotherston's claim that Paul  simply said what most people thought but were too afraid to say out loud. She was wrong and it is intolerable to have it said on our National Broadcast network by what is perceived as New Zealand mainstream media in conversation with a shamelessly acquiescent Prime Minister.
The USA likes to claim itself to be a bastion of free speech and personal liberty, but a closer look at recent events suggests otherwise. A close personal friend of the President was arrested in his own dwelling for loudly criticising a Police officer for "profiling" him. A Cancer patient in his own home who had suggested that if he had a gun he would put a bullet in his head to end his suffering was ordered by a Police Officer (who came uninvited into his home) to accompany him for Psychiatric assessment and Tased him when he refused to do so. In both cases, the Police departments backed their Officers actions as correct and legal in the circumstances. Protection for the KKK to spout their racial hatred seldom extends in practice to those of other races. There are many such examples and for this reason I do not see true "freedom of speech" applying in that society. In more mature societies there is less hypocrisy. In Germany you may not display a Swastika or say "Seig Heil" it is simply against the law and their society has seen what comes of failing to confront such things in their incipient stages. The radio personalities who egged on the Hutu murderers or stirred up the Serbian population against their neighbors’ in Bosnia could well claim "free speech" but their comments were not harmless and what they led to is now history.
There are mistakes made and even racism committed by those acutely aware of Treaty grievances and eager to present New Zealand as purely Bi-cultural, but I still do not believe that the law of the land should not vigorously protect the right of any person born here to claim their birthright as a New Zealander, and THAT I believe is worth fighting for.


"What is freedom of speech?  Without the right to offend, it does not exist"
Salman Rushdie

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