Paul Henry must go - TVNZ is culpable if it nurtures this culture of bullying any longer

Paul Henry is a bully who should be fired forthwith. His latest insult aimed at the Governor General is an insult to all Indians, and to all New Zealanders of whatever background who don’t wish to be identified with such racist abuse.

His employer, TVNZ, should also be held to account for their ongoing defence of the indefensible.

The statement by TVNZ spokesperson Andi Brotherston yesterday, widely reportedthat "he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud" assumes that all of us want to be identified with Mr Henry’s attitudes.

Far from it.

I suspect the vast majority of us, from whatever part of the political spectrum, do not want to be associated with his ongoing abuse of women, people with disabilities, and people from ethnic backgrounds other than Mr Henry’s own.

It is a disgrace that no-one in a politically powerful position appears to be calling for his sacking.

John Key was with Mr Henry yesterday when he made his remarks about Sir Anand Satyanand. Why didn’t he immediately leave the studio and make a statement calling for his dismissal?

And where is Labour leader Phil Goff on this? Does Henry have such power that even some of the most influential people in the country are worried that either they won’t get a return invite to Breakfast or that they’ll be subjected to vitriolic abuse themselves?

TVNZ’s ongoing defence of Henry every time he mounts an outrageous insult on yet another guest seems to be that he pulls in the ratings.

Indeed he does, but I’ll bet you anything that there are any number of other people who could take on Henry’s job on Breakfast tomorrow and quickly build a similar audience in this juicy spot.

Interesting, provocative current affairs television does not need to make fun of women, ethnic minorities, or people with impairments to be successful.

I’d be delighted to apply for the job myself, and I’m sure there’s be many others who’d happily queue for the chance to give Henry’s ratings record a run for its money.

One of the worst aspects of Paul Henry’s carry on is that he is purely and simply a bully.

There are huge problems with bullying in our schools, homes and workplaces.

Unionists with whom I work tell me that there is an epidemic in workplace bullying, particularly against the most vulnerable people, for example migrants; people on short term contracts; and beneficiaries who are being forced into low paid, part time work.

This bullying by bosses often takes the form of derogatory comments about the way people look – so similar to Henry’s shameful attack on Stephanie Mills from Greenpeace last year.

This culture is fed by public figures who insist that bullying is just a bit of a joke.

Invariably when unions challenge bosses over this behaviour they’ll say they are only joking.

Henry doesn’t say what the rest of us are quietly thinking – he says what the bullies believe.

No one should have the sort of power Henry has to intimidate and abuse the comparatively less powerful on television, over and over again.

If he was replaced by someone competent, within a week most of the population would have forgotten who he was.

TVNZ needs to make up its mind whether it wants to be a reputable public broadcaster or a clone of Fox News.

 

Comments (69)

by Mr Magoo on October 05, 2010
Mr Magoo

One commentator suggested that TVNZ was trying to play both sides of the "BBC vs Fox" coin. Breakfast would of course be the low brow and truth sparse side and things like the nightly news would be on the other end.

Of course they might try to pretend that Close Up was also on the "BBC" end of the spectrum but I would suggest such a position makes a fool of us all.

I see he has been suspended for 2 weeks. Great.Now he is a martyr...

by Mr Magoo on October 05, 2010
Mr Magoo

Another note is that I seriously suggest anyone who is interested try reading the comments section on the herald or stuff on the Henry articles. I understand these are not representative of the average NZer...or even rational human beings, but it is insightful nonetheless.

Don't fool yourself into thinking a large chunk of NZ thinks he should be sacked. If you add the pros and "don't cares" together I am not sure you don't have a large percentage.

I would ask you to back up with fact your statement:

"I suspect the vast majority of us from whatever part of the political spectrum, do not want to be associated with his ongoing abuse of women, people with disabilities, and people from ethnic backgrounds other than Mr Henry’s own."

I would love for the facts to bear out this conclusion. However I fear that the reality of the majority, should it exist, may not be as vast as we would hope.

by Tim Watkin on October 05, 2010
Tim Watkin

Latest is that Paul Henry has been suspended for two weeks without pay. So who's going to host This is Your Life? And is that enough for the critics?

by stuart munro on October 05, 2010
stuart munro

I don't watch Paul Henry, or listen to talkback of the Michael Laws or any other variety - it is crude and stupid stuff.

But the role of GG is both symbolically and constitutionally important, and Anand Satyanand is not brilliant in either role. The culture of New Zealand, like the Kakapo, is confined to a few small islands, and its most significant feature is probably not multiculturism. It would be nice to have a GG that was recognisably kiwi.

Moreover, Anand Satyanand did not react when the Christchurch suspension of all previous legislation act crossed his desk. So he is not up to the constitutional function.

So like most decorative appointees - and face it, Labour appointed him as a gesture toward multiculturalism - he isn't especially worthwhile.

TVNZ is in no danger of becoming a clone of FOX news, that would require them to embrace a coherent and consistent position (albeit a nakedly biased one). Such a move is beyond them.

by Graeme Edgeler on October 05, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Sue - perhaps one way to avoid your being associated with Paul Henry would be to sell TVNZ :-)

by Mr Magoo on October 05, 2010
Mr Magoo

Two points Stuart.

1) Thanks for providing a perfect example of what I was talking about.

2) Could you please explain the criteria in a bullet point list that would satisfy: "It would be nice to have a GG that was recognisably kiwi."

If you cannot it sort of makes you argument silly.

by stuart munro on October 05, 2010
stuart munro

Perhaps I can turn your second comment around on you: explain to me in what way the GG is recognisably kiwi. From where I stand he could be a carpet-bagging political appointee from a practically infinite number of backgrounds - none local. He has never done anything that makes me think either "he is one of us" or "he is protecting our interests" - arguably the prime functions of his job. We can advantageously have a local content quota in our music industry, and perhaps we should do something comparable with major symbolic appointments.

Anand Satyanand was appointed for international consumption by a governing elite so arrogant and out of touch that they imagined the public were ready to fund them as permanent representatives. Accordingly he is not a poster boy for local values or interests. Of course, most of his predecessors were rubbish too, which makes Henry's comments seem a little unfair - but he is the man there now.

This issue is, whether Henry's comments were so objectionable that he should be in danger of losing his job over them. I believe that contemporary academic constructs of racism are unmitigated nonsense, and that they try to enforce a false standard of behaviour, which generates a great deal of heat but no light. The bible calls on us to love our neighbours, but the standard the law requires of us is merely not to harm them. Anand Satyanand was not harmed by Henry's comments, and they are therefore permissable.

'Racism' hysteria is very prevalent in New Zealand at present, it is the modern version of the prurience once associated with the churches, and a leading reason for the decline of those institutions. Prurience never helped anybody.

 

by MikeM on October 05, 2010
MikeM

Does anyone happen to know if there's something legislated these days that says the Governor General even has to be a New Zealander, or why it should matter?

Given that the Governor General is officially there to represent the Queen of England and everything....

by Mr Magoo on October 05, 2010
Mr Magoo

I am not being Prurient and I don't know many people that know me would say I was politically correct. I am merely pointing out the fact that there is an underlying thread of racism and bigotry to all of this. Let's not muck about and just call it what it is. (rather than be PC about this abhorrent opinion)

This is racism. Not the jackboots and shaved heads racism but racism nonetheless.

You can fluff it 10 ways from Sunday about whether "he is one of us" by his actions but this is complete and utter bollocks. He  was born, trained and worked for DECADES here in NZ. He was on the law society and was a district court judge. He also speaks maori apparently.

You may not agree with his views or something he has done, but that is irrelevant. And the fact that he did not break with tradition and take the unprecedented act to refuse to sign the act of the current, "extremely kiwi", government is likewise.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anand_Satyanand

Behavioural justifications are just double speak and simply do not survive the light of day. This is also the reason you would not answer my question.

What everybody means when they say he is "not a kiwi" is that he is of the wrong ethnicity and/or does not overtly show off stereotypical kiwi accent/behaviour - whatever that behaviour is deemed to be.

And to answer your question: He is recognisably kiwi because he was born here and lived and worked here and considers himself a kiwi. And while there may be examples of other kiwis who may have trouble with the above definition this is the one I will use here.

And I full well know that the question was a disingenuous one because I am sure you fully understand that your sense of where you belong is as much your own view as it is anyone else's if not more so.

In fact the primary reason that this topic causes so much friction is that the whole concept of nationhood and belonging to a country based on static external in the modern world is utterly ridiculous.

Nationalism never helped anybody.

by Claire Browning on October 05, 2010
Claire Browning

What follows is not a defense of PH's conduct on this particular occasion, or any of the slew of other occasions: serially, he behaves like a dick, which may well lead one to the conclusion that he is in fact a dick. A bigoted one, possibly, going on form. Or less prejudically, what I've called him before here on Pundit: just a small boy in long trousers.

The sad thing is, whatever devil drives him to do it -- whether his own or the TVNZ ratings devil -- he's so much better than that. He went to England for the UK election. The stuff he filed from there was fascinating, and not even the election stuff. He could have a second career lined up, as a tour guide, or a travel reporter, which might be lucky for him in the circumstances.

Contrast that with an exchange of his recently with Matty McLean: Matty was doing his piece to camera, somewhere down on the Wellington waterfront, with a sculptural thingy in the background. What's the thing behind you? asked Paul. Matty looked utterly mystified. No idea, he said. Have to find out and get back to you. You just knew, if it was Paul down there on the waterfront, he'd have fossicked all round and about the sculpture before he stood up in front of it, and been able to turn it into a whole narrative, one that would stick with you afterwards.

You, on the other hand, Stuart, are just shameful. Yes, you've a right to air your views, and I've a right to draw my own conclusions about whether I want to waste breath on you in the future. Even on Kiwiblog today, you won't find yourself in much company. Read Ben Gracewood's comment -- who has resigned from his Breakfast slot:  

Thing is, if you want a clear definition of racism, you can look at Paul’s comment. He disgregards the entirety of Satyanand’s career, standing, achievements, and mana; and simply says “he’s brown, pick someone ‘better’ next time” ... 

As do you. Answer Magoo's question. What exactly would someone have to do, to persuade you he (or she) is qualified to be (a) GG and (b) "one of us"? What qualifies you, yourself, as "one of us"? Right now, I'd be glad if you weren't.

Apart from anything else, Henry fronts for a broadcaster that has had a promo on 7 on high repeat (that of course you won't have seen) about what makes a NZer, a multi-cultural mash-up. Perhaps he should watch TVNZ more often. I doubt we'll be seeing much more of it, in the very near future.

If nothing else raises the question in your mind, he's therefore embarrassed his employer. Whether or not you personally are inclined to call it "'racism' hysteria" (love those inverted commas), that's a performance issue.

by Chris de Lisle on October 05, 2010
Chris de Lisle

@ Mike: It would surprise me. Until 1967 they were always British. The written law on the GG hardly reflects how they are expected to behave in practice anyway. For example, legally, the GG represents the the Queen of the Realm of New Zealand, not the Queen of England- obviously not the case in reality, as you point out.

@ Stuart: I don't see how he's any more or less representative of New Zealand than any of the former judges.who have preceded him in the role. To be a carpetbagger he would actually have had to have come from somewhere outside this jurisdiction. Auckland is not.

I definitly don't think that he has the constitutional role that you (& the letter of the law) attribute to him. His role is purely symbolic. He represents sovereignty, a non-democratic sovereignty that we don't really like any more. But we maintain some reservations that completely disposing of this form of sovereignty might undermine our new forms of sovereignty so we keep it around, strictly limited, like a modern Archon Basileus. I think those reservations would be completely dispelled in all quaters if he attempted to exercise sovereingty outside those bounds.

@ Sue: "It is a disgrace that no-one in a politically powerful position appears to be calling for his sacking."

I strongly disagree with this point. I really, really don't think it would be positive for politicians to attempt to regulate journalists, even informally. It threatens the independence of the media. That said, I don't think for a moment that that is the reason everyone politically powerful has been so quiet about this, and I entirely agree with your sentiment.

by Graeme Edgeler on October 05, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Does anyone happen to know if there's something legislated these days that says the Governor General even has to be a New Zealander, or why it should matter?

I know that there is nothing which requires the G-G to be a New Zealander.

ref: the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand.

Indeed, a few years ago, Richard Worth was pushing for Prince Edward to be made Governor-General, as New Zealand was the only* former dominion which hadn't had a Royal Governor-General. [Australia having had Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester; Canada Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn; and the Union of South Africa Prince Arthur of Connaught and Strathearn (not the same)]

* only seeming to exclude Newfoundland, and the Irish Free State.

by Andrew Geddis on October 05, 2010
Andrew Geddis

@ Stuart: "Anand Satyanand was not harmed by Henry's comments, and they are therefore permissable."

I think that the real problem is that Henry's comments (and your at least tacit endorsement of them) are harmful to a bunch of people in NZ ... "visible minorities" who, no matter where they were born/what their life experiences are, immediately get dismissed on first meeting as being "not real Kiwis". It's the attitude that leads 4th generation NZers of Chinese ancestry to constantly face the question "where are you from?" And that constant exclusion from being a "real" part of the country you inhabit does hurt - which is why the condemnation of Henry from the Indian community has been so damning.

So - Henry may well have spoken for a whole lot of people in New Zealand. But what he had to say was reprehensible and so requires some official mark of condemnation - because the New Zealand he speaks for is a bad one.

 

 

by Graeme Edgeler on October 05, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

what he had to say was reprehensible and so requires some official mark of condemnation - because the New Zealand he speaks for is a bad one.

1. You're not seriously suggesting that our politicians should have a role in punishing members of the news media?

2. Surely that's the place of the BSA?

3. I predict that the BSA will decline to uphold any complaints.

by Mr Magoo on October 05, 2010
Mr Magoo

1. They should speak loudly about the views they stand for (whatever they are) on the issue. This is NOT about gagging a "journalist". This is about whether we give a free pass, and thus acceptance, to a view which alienates a significant percentage of our community.

2. No it is not.

3. This matters less than you are making out it does.

You are confusing freedom of speech with whether (very public) reprehensible comments should be commented on by community leaders.

Hint: They should.

by MikeM on October 05, 2010
MikeM

Thanks Chris and Graeme for that clarification re the GG's nationality.

@Andrew, yeah I think he speaks for a lot of people too, sadly. Possibly even some people I know.

For some reason this whole thing reminds me of the last time I walked through Wellington at 11pm with a couple of friends from a relatively small town. It was really interesting so see how wide the eyes were open just in seeing the variety of people hanging around at a bus stop near Cuba Street. (Ethnic Indians, Chinese people not speaking English, a couple of women wearing burqas, some drunk guy sitting outside Whitcoulls trying to play a harmonica, and the list goes on.)

These are the same friends who have really different views than I do about something like the welfare system, but their view is also based having lived around certain people I've never met and probably would never want to meet. Outside the stuff we have in common, they have a totally different perspective on life that's all shaped by what's dealt with day-to-day.

The stuff on Cuba Street is part of the country I know that's quite multicultural and full of people who aren't necessarily living in a perfect world. I sometimes have thoughts about what's happening and things that could change, but I don't feel threatened by it. I work with people from different backgrounds and perspectives on a day-to-day basis, and I'm surrounded by people who also do. For someone without that exposure (and it's not necessarily a city/non-city thing), it's going to be a foreign world to them every time they see something high profile, and it's probably natural to jump to conclusions or resist, or find whatever silly irrational justfication pops out for sympathising with the kind of provocative rubbish Paul Henry says when he wants to ensure he's still on everyone's radar. Maybe an expert could correct me but I'm guessing very few people see their behaviour as racist or racially motivated -- they'll nearly always have some other way of justifying it to themselves.

If Paul Henry ever leaves TV then I won't complain. I never bother watching him or Breakfast anyway, and I only hear about him when he decides he needs publicity. But I hope there's a correlation with the support evaporating for the kind of idiocy he spouts rather than just because it's easier to censor a symptom of the problem.

by Andrew Geddis on October 05, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

Not political sanction ('tho nothing to stop anyone saying "Paul Henry is a dick and we disagree with him"). But employment repercussions are an "official sanction" of the sort I mean ...

by stuart munro on October 05, 2010
stuart munro

@ Andrew - I understand the view - but I think broadening the definition of harm to this extent is frankly untenable. If Henry's assertion against Satyanand were actionable, how much more so would Hone Harawira's white m***f****s comment be? I contend that the standard is not universilizable, so it is improper to pursue it.

@ Mr Magoo

Nationalism never helped anybody.

On the contrary, the nation state is the polity with which our fortunes rise or fall. It is globalisation that never helped anybody, except fleeing fraudsters and transnational corporations. Oh, and politicians seeking to avoid responsibility for their failings.

 

by stuart munro on October 05, 2010
stuart munro

You, on the other hand, Stuart, are just shameful. Yes, you've a right to air your views, and I've a right to draw my own conclusions about whether I want to waste breath on you in the future. Even on Kiwiblog today, you won't find yourself in much company.

Well good luck with that. The rightness or otherwise of my views is not determined by how many bigots on kiwiblog espouse views that you consider comparable.

by Andrew Geddis on October 05, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Yes, Stuart ... the place of New Zealanders of Indian/Chinese ancestry in Kiwi society is exactly equivalent to Pakeha New Zealanders, so the effect of Paul Henry's comments are directly comparable to those of Hone Harawira. I mean, when will white New Zealanders finally get some respect, acceptance and sense of belonging in this country?

But, seeing as you chose to raise the comparison, let's take a little ride down the Stuart Munro memory lane to when Harawira's "white mofo" comment was in the news: "In the UK, there used to be a nasty crowd of muckraking reporters who would shame this kind of MP [Harawira] into resigning, but that has never been part of NZ political culture. Perhaps it's time that it was, because the MPs don't seem to be in any hurry to self-regulate."

Gosh .. sounds almost like someone thinks Harawira should suffer consequences for expressing his views on Pakeha New Zealanders, even though they didn't hurt anyone! Then we've got this contribution, from back when Hone was expressing his discomfort at his kids dating non-Maori: "Hone's problem is that he's a gibbering idiot with a big mouth - not that he has or plans a personal mass grave in his backyard."

No problem with that particular conclusion - bit one wonders why Hone's speaking without activating his brain attracts such disapprobation, while Henry's comment passes by you with a
pat on the head.

So ... either give up being critical of Hone Harawira, or have the good grace to recognise that Henry's comments were equally objectionable. It's what is known as universalizing your standards.

by stuart munro on October 05, 2010
stuart munro

Given that in fact no credible action was taken against Harawira, to take any against Henry now would be in conflict with that precedent.

And indeed the cases are closely related : a gibbering idiot with a big mouth describes Henry perfectly. But he victimised himself, not Satyanand.

But there is a difference too - while many MPs do indeed act like shock talkback hosts, they are in fact employed to represent others' opinions. Henry seems to be doing exactly what he was employed for. He should make a claim against TVNZ if he is censured.

by Sue Bradford on October 05, 2010
Sue Bradford

Hi everyone - great to see the diverse range of comment and debate my column this morning has triggered..  Since posting, news came through that Paul Henry has been suspended for two weeks.  But this isn't enough - TVNZ continues its complicity as long as it retains him in this key public role.

I'd also love to see TVNZ take some responsibility for the statement made yesterday (quoted above) which made the blatant assumption that the rest of us  - presumably, in this case, white New Zealanders -  actually secretly agree with what Mr Henry said.  This is why I headed the column 'not in my name' - I refuse to be the silent colluder TVNZ assumes me to be because of the colour of my skin.

I know damn well that many others of you  feel just the same.

Chris makes a comment about the danger of politicians controlling journalists - and of course he's right, and we only have to look at what's just happened in Fiji to see where this can go.  But at the same time, I do believe that  politicians should play their part in speaking out clearly to expose and oppose the kind of intimidatory abuse Mr Henry delights in.

I am struck how most comment today has been around the racial insult to our Governor General - in fact, as i've already said, this instance is just the latest in a long string of equally damaging, bullying insults. I continue to hope that, in the end, yesterday's episode may turn out to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

 

 

by Anonymous on October 05, 2010
Anonymous

Thanks for this, Sue. I am one of those "many others" that feel the same, and was compelled to create a Pundit account to say so. The man is odious in the extreme.

by stuart munro on October 05, 2010
stuart munro

Well it seems I am to be be the focus of a cone of critics- but I'll state my views anyway: It would be hypocritical to fire Henry given the tolerance displayed to Harawira.

The GG is a public figure,and comments relating to suitability for his job go with the territory.

My objection to Harawira was not his racism- an overrated phenomena when measured by spoken utterances - but that he continually displayed a lack of integrity and judgment- making him 'the wrong stuff' to be an MP. Mind, we have many unsuitable MPs.

Henry's comments were not beyond the pale, and it would be improper to discharge him for them: though why TVNZ believes it serves the public by lowering the tone of public discourse is hard to fathom. Maybe the program should be canned for want of taste.

 one wonders why Hone's speaking without activating his brain attracts such disapprobation, while Henry's comment passes by you with a pat on the head.

Criticising a public figure Andrew, however crudely, is a legitimate part of public discourse. Describing one's constituents as white m***f***s has no purpose that can redeem it, it was only a gratuitous insult.

Thank you all for trying to mould me into your ill-conceived models of racism, I think that you too are all pretty inferior moralists.

by Alex on October 06, 2010
Alex

Stuart: http://www.derailingfordummies.com

I also suggest you do a bit of reading and thinking on the minute-to-minute presence of the symbolic order in human social life, and what spoken utterance contributes thereto. Speech acts are even more indelible than written acts. They cannot be deleted from existence once uttered. They feed in and out of, nay, define our attitudes (which drive our behaviour) and can condone or condemn.  Context is king, and spoken words are our most basic conduit to context.

With reference to the Harawira bit: Yes, it may have hurt you to hear this. But racism exists within extant structures of power and control. It simply does not work the other way around. Perhaps when and if there is ever a level playing field, then Pakeha can claim reverse racism. But oppression does not exist in a vacuum. And we do not live in a post-racial society, whatever those with social privilege may claim. They do not get to define racism or claim its absence.

And finally, this isn't about morals: it's about ethics.

 

Thank you for the rousing read, Sue.

Mucho respect, as always.

 

 

by stuart munro on October 06, 2010
stuart munro

@ Alex - sounds Wittgensteinian. Contrary to the assertions of that ... gentleman, and the modern Sapir Whorf, utterances are much less powerful than acts in most cases. Read your Goethe -in the beginning was the deed.

The determination of contemporary academics to prove otherwise may appear as heroic as any other struggle against reality to you. But not to me. You are elevating the calling of names -a playground offence- to the cardinal sin of our society. Our society has real problems, and giving offence to the most privileged elite in NZ is not one of them.

I must abandon this thread - the post-modern piffle is grown a little too thick for me:  as I stood on this hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly.

by Andrew Geddis on October 06, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Stuart ... you just don't get it. Anand Satyanand is a big boy who can look after himself. If Paul Henry had called him a "moron" or "ugly", we may well be saying that Henry is dickhead who specialises in abuse-for-ratings behaviour. But he didn't just do this ... he effectively stated that  Mr Satyanand is not appropriate to serve as our Head of State's representative because he has brown skin. That goes far beyond insulting Mr Sayanand in person - it expresses a disparaging view on the place and role of entire groups of people in our society based purely on their appearance ... groups that already suffer marginalisation and discrimination that I suspect you can't even begin to imagine. So it's not a case of "giving offence to the most privileged elite in NZ", and to describe it as no more than name calling is to try and define the issue out of existence in a quite po-mo fashion.

As for "Hone didn't get punished, so Paul Henry shouldn't" ... you need to brush up on your basic constitutional facts. Hone is an elected MP, whose job depends upon the choices of his electorate. Only they can "punish" him. Paul Henry is the employee of an organisation that relies upon audience good-will to pay its bills (i.e. it has to sell advertising). So there will be no equivalence in the response the two statements attract as the two are not susceptible to the same treatment. My point simply was that you seem to change your tune depending on who is "being racist" ...

So, by all means take your Wittgenstein, Whorf, Goethe and Conrad (along with your criticism of "academics", you common man of the people, you!) and flounce off in a huff. Because, to quote an aphorism, when in a hole ...

by Mr Magoo on October 06, 2010
Mr Magoo

On the contrary, the nation state is the polity with which our fortunes rise or fall. It is globalisation that never helped anybody, except fleeing fraudsters and transnational corporations. Oh, and politicians seeking to avoid responsibility for their failings.

I think you need to look up the definition and not confuse it with citizenship and patriotism. Specifically how it most commonly relates  to ethnic groups....

Because that is exactly what this is all about. And it never helped anybody and racially based nationalism is simply racism.

by Claire Browning on October 06, 2010
Claire Browning

Not sure when I became the apologist for Paul Henry, or why I would risk looking like one; others here seem better suited to that role, if not very effective in their argument.

But interesting, isn't it, or ironic, or something: the very fact of him having stepped way out of line has sparked the kind of national conversation a charter broadcaster can mostly only dream about. Was it worth it, ie, any sort of net benefit, given the collateral harm of his kind of approach? I doubt it. But it does say something about us, that's not much more palatable than Andi Brotherston's suggestion.

And also, you might argue this, in itself, is a measure of the success of Anand Satyanand's appointment, Stuart. If he does nothing else in his whole tenure (and presumably, he's done no fewer worthy things than any other GG), he's prompted a healthy important debate about national identity and bigotry, and challenged some people's prejudices, even if its through no fault or merit of his own.

by Richard Aston on October 06, 2010
Richard Aston

 

I see Breakfast's Tech guy, Ben Gracewood, resigned in disgust saying "I do not wish to appear to condone his perspectives by my inaction" . Ben also points out the role of Henry's producer - constantly whispering in his ear piece. Who is pulling the strings behind the puppet then?
Also Paul Henry's slur on Jeanette Fitzsimons has been lost in all this. Henry was so dismissive of Jeanette's name being on the GV list. I think he said to the PM "Please tell me you won't let her get the job" or words to that effect.

by Mark Wilson on October 06, 2010
Mark Wilson

Where was Bradford's condemnation of Hone Harawira's comments?

What a hypocrite she is.

by on October 06, 2010
Anonymous

[Redacted, for personal abuse, profanity and threats. Try that again here on Pundit, and you will be permanently blocked. Ed.]

by on October 06, 2010
Anonymous

[Bye, Mr 'Master Chief'. You can't say you weren't warned.]

by stuart munro on October 06, 2010
stuart munro

No, I don't get it.

I'm waiting for an explanation - and fishing for the double standard by which you explain it - which I expect lies with one of the linguistic philosophy crowd - they have them to burn.

But he didn't just do this ... he effectively stated that  Mr Satyanand is not appropriate to serve as our Head of State's representative because he has brown skin.

And it is the effectively which is problematic - what he said was:

"Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time ... Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander this time?"

Are we not permitted to want one of our own in this 21st century dystopia? And I mean culturally. Henry should defend his utterance - not because he is an ornament to NZ broadcasting but because it was sufficiently innocent.

I'm sorry if my writing leads you to presume that I flounce - but that is a figment of your fevered imagination, and, though it's probably forbidden to say so under unwritten rules relating to imaginary hate speech - you should indulge that kind of fantasy with someone else.

by Chris de Lisle on October 07, 2010
Chris de Lisle

@ Stuart:

Paul Henry said that Mr Satyanand did not look or sound like a New Zealander. Therefore he believes that the community to which Mr Satyanand belongs do not look or sound like New Zealanders.

This annoys that community because they do consider themselves New Zealanders. This annoys many people not of that community because they consider that members of minority groups are New Zealanders.

 

I think you understand the above, but object because:

a) You don't think members of those groups are part of us New Zealanders,

and/or

b) You think that Satyanand isn't one of us New Zealanders because he is part of an elite which you perceive to be parasitic & corrupt.

either way

c) You think that Henry has every right to say whatever he likes and that the harm arising from 'imaginary hate speech' does not justify gagging him.

 

Have I got this right? I'm going to respond to those points, but if I've misunderstood your objections then my response is going to be worthless (even if I've got them right, you may still find my response worthless, of course...)

 

I'm going to dismiss (b) off the bat. I don't think there is the slightest chance that that is what Paul Henry meant, and I think his apology, which explicitly references racemakes it quite clear that that was what he meant.

Obviously whether (a) is true depends on how you define 'us.' I don't think there is a majority opinion on what 'we' are, based on shared cultural ideals. My grandparents might assert that our ideals are essentially British and that Maori probably don't share them. You generally seem (and I really apologise if I'm wrong here/oversimplifying) to believe that they include the welfare state ideals of equality/interdependence of pre-1984 and that the modern elite doesn't share them. ACT-types would assert that they include libertarian ideals of freedom/independence, and that unions don't share  them. A lot of people who have been arguing against you appear to consider multiculturalism to be an important New Zealand ideal, .

I really don't think there's a lot of consensus there, so I think shared ideals is probably the wrong way to determine this. I think the fact that minorities and majority actively engage and participate in the same economy, and society suggests that they are part of a common 'us'. If they weren't, we would see minorities forming their own ghettos (Like the Chinatowns of America). We don't, really; minorities form some 15% of the population, trade in the same shops, go to the same schools, play in the same sports teams etcetera etcetera. (I may be showing my youth, here; I'm not sure how long this has been the case)

As for (c). Yes, Paul Henry does have every right to say pretty much whatever he wants. But that doesn't mean that we should be giving him a megaphone with which to project it.

It is especially concerning because the temptation to exclude groups from the in-group is one to which people are, unfortunatly, weak against. The consequences of excluding groups, and of reinforcing existing exclusions, are not positive. Deeds are, of course, worse than words. But deeds are often motivated by words; exclusory ideas lead to discriminatory acts. Discriminatory acts are extremely unpleasant for those discriminated against and they can lead to civil strife.

 

I'm sure you've heard all this before and don't find it very convincing

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

Ok Chris - I appreciate at least the genuine effort that you have made. There are a few bits that I don't quite buy though:

Paul Henry said that Mr Satyanand did not look or sound like a New Zealander. Therefore he believes that the community to which Mr Satyanand belongs do not look or sound like New Zealanders.

It may be true,or it may not be true that Henry believes that Satyanand's community does not look or sound like New Zealanders. But he did not say so. The racist presumption comes from projecting a racial or ethnic judgment of Satyanand that he did not actually state.

In answer to your points

a) It is possible to be a New Zealander without necessarily displaying any of the cultural traits that might be considered worth preserving - which would be fine outside important symbolic public roles. But a lack of such characters is a legitimate criticism - though not necessarily one that inevitably would rule out an applicant for the position. And Henry was discussing the next GG with Key -not trying to oust the incumbent.

Treatment of minorities is problematic for democratic states- if they are treated equally they may be overidden, if they are preferred they will be resented. The trick might be to distribute some of the spoils differently,or demographically from time to time. So perhaps the next GG should not be a New Zealander of Indian descent -unless he or she possesses very conspicuous virtues.

b) Parts of our ruling elite are parasitic and corrupt - but current evidence is that Satyanand has perfectly clean hands.

c) Look, Paul Henry is not much better than Paul Holmes when all is said and done - neither are an ornament to their profession. But Henry is being hunted down as a racist on very flimsy evidence. He may well be a fool, he may well have bad taste, his program may well be a waste of space. But the crime for which folk are baying for his blood is trivial in the extreme. This is what we might expect of a McCarthy witchhunt, not a well-ordered democracy.

Witchhunting does not build better and more enlightened socities - it is a dark age practice. We should avoid it, even though Henry is not the best of journalists. Maybe he will mature into something better -or maybe TVNZ will.

 

by Andrew Geddis on October 07, 2010
Andrew Geddis

@Stuart: "Are we not permitted to want one of our own in this 21st century dystopia? And I mean culturally."

Adding the word "culturally" here doesn't make you any less, well, racist. Unless you have some reason why a man born in New Zealand, schooled in New Zealand, practiced law in New Zealand, served as a judge in New Zealand, served as an ombudsman in New Zealand, married to a New Zealander, with three children born in New Zealand is not "one of our own"?

Oh yeah - he's a darkie.

Challenge is there, Stuart. Stop throwing accusations around about "witch hunts", stop wittering on about "post modern" linguistic constructs, and take some responsibility for what you actually are saying. How and why is Anand Satyanand not "one of our own", culturally or in any other fashion?

by Mr Magoo on October 07, 2010
Mr Magoo

Witching hunting is a terrible practice.

Racism hunting on the other hand I have all the time in the world for...

by Mr Magoo on October 07, 2010
Mr Magoo

Just another perspective to see if we can get this thread to the most comments on pundit ever...

What exactly was henry (the eighth?) asking key to do?

Breech future candidates human rights by making race and "culture" a overriding factor in his choice of who to employ for the role?

Interesting that people are rushing to defend this.

I wonder if they would be happy if NZ Post, Solid energy or whoever decided that they would no longer hire managers who were "too ethnic" and not really that "kiwi looking".

Food for thought or will it just make your brain fat?

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

@Andrew - Anand Satyanand is not one of my own because he is a lawyer from Ponsonby - and a first generation New Zealander. Nothing in his speech or actions resonates with me -he could be an Australian or a South African for all that I can tell. You're the guy who is making a big thing about his race.

Calling me a racist merely demonstrates your intellectual arrogance and lack of judgment - for which we already have sufficient evidence.

The inference we are supposed to draw from your opinion is that criticism of minorities of any kind is not permitted - you mean to legislate love your neighbour - which as I mentioned before - and you are supposed to know being a lawyer of some description, is improper.

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

@Magoo -when I was a little younger I also thought hunting racists was kind of cool - but in NZ atm (and apparently in the US too) it has become a bizarre exercise in guilt-tripping.

Show me the mass graves and I'll hunt rascists with you. But if calling names is all it comes down to, I have bigger fish to fry.

As for banning ethnic CEOs of SOEs - there has been no move in that direction- the argument is spurious.

It was another person trying to racistify me on this thread who argued that the GG is only a symbolic role - defending Satyanand's inaction on the Christchurch bill. It's not true, but it is mostly true -the role is mostly symbolic.

Funnily enough, it is as important to have positive role models in symbolic positions for the majority as it is for minorities.

 

by Claire Browning on October 07, 2010
Claire Browning

Stuart, do yourself a favour. Stop digging.

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

I will stop digging if Andrew stops calling me a racist and apologizes - and not before.

by Andrew Geddis on October 07, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Then by all means dig away!!! 'Cause you have this odd habit of writing comments that are racist ("Anand Satyanand is not one of my own because he is a lawyer from Ponsonby - and a first generation New Zealander. Nothing in his speech or actions resonates with me - he could be an Australian or a South African for all that I can tell."), then refusing to explain what is the "non-racist" meaning behind them. Hence, you are a racist (unless you want to get all po-mo and explain how your words are different from you, and to conflate the two is a mistake ...).

On the other hand, "racist" is only "a word", so what's your problem with being called it? It's not as if I'm putting you in a mass grave or anything ... and anyway, you have bigger fish to fry ... and I thought this whole thread was beneath you in any case? Let's try for some consistency, please.

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

The problem arises from your broad definition of racist Andrew - when you use it, it means 'a person I happen to disagree with whom I intend to blackguard', when I use it I mean 'a person who mistreats people because of their race.'

You of course could explain in a single sentence what race an Australian is, or a South African - but these polities are too complex for me to define in terms of race. So which race is it that you think I hate then? I'm really curious.

You are right, this thread is beneath me, but I should not wish to submit you to unhealthy stimulation by flouncing off.

Perhaps you should address one or two points - oh but don't bother on my account - I'm sure your superciliousness will carry you through the parts where your intellect fails you.

 

by Andrew Geddis on October 07, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Perhaps YOU could show how Anand Satyanand is an Australian or a South African, given his birth in Auckland and his life experiences in this country? Otherwise the difference between him and yourself would appear to be ... oh gosh, I wonder? Oh, that's right - he's stayed in this country.

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

Mate, since you're making the accusations the onus of proof lies with you. Let's hear it. Can't wait.

by Claire Browning on October 07, 2010
Claire Browning

Mate, you need help, and not with your writing style.

by stuart munro on October 07, 2010
stuart munro

Claire - stay out of this. This rupert started this - let's see him finish it.

by Andrew Geddis on October 07, 2010
Andrew Geddis

And not only is Stuart racist, but he displays dicriminatory tendencies toward much-loved childrens cartoons!

Have you no shame, sir? Once again I ask, have you no shame?

Actually, your antipathy toward ruperts surprises me. There's a few volumes of his adventures that I would have thought appealled to you...

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