Monday, June 20, 2011

[pima.nius] How Paul Henry exposes New Zealand’s smugly-racist underbelly

1:56 PM |

How Paul Henry exposes New Zealand's smugly-racist underbelly


Paul Henry

Television broadcaster Paul Henry ... "insignificant ruling" against him by BSA. Photo: Telegraph Group

Pacific Scoop:
Opinion – To The Front! By political commentator and activist John Minto

Paul Henry tells us a lot about New Zealand. Not that we are losing our freedom of speech or our sense of humour, not that we are over so-called "political correctness" or tired of sticky beak intervention from meddlesome prats.

Instead he tells us that this country has a persistent, smugly-racist underbelly. He reminds us of the reasons racist or xenophobic attacks on minority ethnic groups take off in tough economic times when scapegoats are needed.

There's a big difference between laughing at human foibles (even ethnically associated foibles) and making nasty, derogatory comments about a vulnerable minority group.

John Minto

To The Front! columnist John Minto

Henry specialises in the latter and those who, between giggles, brush off his comments as a joke should remember it was media jocks like him who helped stir the ethnic distrust which led to the Rwandan genocide, the civil war in Yugoslavia, attacks on Jews in Nazi Germany and white farmers in Zimbabwe.

This week's Broadcasting Standards Authority decision to find against Television New Zealand for Henry's racist comments against Indians was the only possible outcome. I work for a union which has many Indian members who were shocked and dismayed at Henry's puerile humour. They know racism when they see it.

"…also the dip shit woman, god what's her name (hysterical laughter), Dick Shit, is it Dick Shit? Look there she is there, Sheila Dick Shit (hysterical laughter) … Anyway, that's so appropriate because she's Indian, so she would be dick in shit, wouldn't she, do you know what I mean, walking along the street."

The pity was no penalty could be imposed on Henry so it was left to TVNZ to pay the $3000 fine. Worse though, was TVNZ's pathetic excuse for his behaviour.

Their initial reaction to viewer complaints was to describe Henry's comments as inappropriate. When the complaint was taken to the BSA TVNZ agreed Henry's comments would have offended and distressed a significant number of viewers. They acknowledged the comments were unfair and discriminatory but then tried to tell the BSA that what Henry said was about the Commonwealth Games and not to any "inherent negative characteristic of the Indian people".

What a pitiful attempt to disguise blatant racism.

The BSA saw it for what it was:

"Mr Henry's attitude and behaviour on the programme, which consisted of sneering and uncontrollable laughter, made it clear that he was using the words "Dick Shit" in a pejorative sense to mock and belittle the Chief Minister. His subsequent comment, which associated the words 'Dick Shit' with people of Indian descent was not only derogatory but entirely dissonant with common decency and a clear breach of the discrimination and denigration standard."

The only problem with the BSA ruling was the focus on derogatory remarks without labelling them as the racist comments they were. Similar dog-whistling racism was evident in his remarks to Prime Minister John Key questioning the nationality of Anand Satyanand.

Henry's reaction to the BSA was predictable. He said it was ridiculous and went on.

"Will it never end? It is a completely ridiculous ruling made by completely ridiculous people for completely ridiculous reasons … I have been able to move on. Why others cannot, I do not know. New Zealand has a lot more to worry about than these insignificant rulings made by insignificant people for insignificant reasons. Notice how I repeat words: I like to get good mileage out of words."

Henry's words speak for him in all they smug arrogance.

This doesn't worry the legions of good Kiwis who apparently support Henry. But when it comes to racism being a good Kiwi is just not good enough.

John Minto's column is republished from Auckland Scoop.

BSA ruling against Henry, TVNZ


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pacific islands media association
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aotearoa, new zealand
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pacific islands media association
pima.nius@gmail.com
aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
DISCLAIMER: These emails are unedited and discussions made through this googlegroup are unmoderated. Announcements made through this googlegroup do not constitute endorsement for the organisations, individuals or opinions featured. Please check the integrity of organisations and individuals before exchanging personal information with them.
 
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